Archive for the ‘Home improvements’ Category

How to Make a Bathroom Show Better Without a Renovation

June 19, 2012

Are there inexpensive ways to make a bathroom show better when you are selling your home, without a renovation?

The answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, when someone is selling their apartment or house, I don’t recommend a renovation as the buyers would more likely want to renovate for their own tastes and preferences.

So the objective becomes removing the “ick” factor.  What can we do to spruce up and update this space so that the condition and datedness don’t turn off a buyer?  We want to get past the buyer turn-off and at least get the bathroom to a condition where the buyer can move in and live with the way it looks for a few months before they tackle the renovation.

First of all, bathrooms should be CLEAN.  I always tell my sellers to envision a hotel bathroom:  it should be sparkling clean and free of any personal toiletries, shampoos, children’s bath toys, etc. when showing the home.

The biggest impact in updating a bathroom but at a reasonable cost is changing out outdated and/or poor condition:

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Faucets and, if possible, tub and shower fixtures (a friend of mine spray painted her brass fixtures a brushed silver and they looked great and are still holding up two years later)
  • Cabinet door and drawer handles (this same friend spray painted these, including the hinges on the doors)

You don’t have to shop at high-end specialty stores for these items.  Try a Home Depot or Lowe’s.

 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(tiles regrouted, tub recaulked, walls painted, new accessories added)

The next biggest impact is to paint the walls.  Paint always freshens up any space.  But if the tiles are white, don’t paint the wall white. Choose a color that will add some contrast but is neutral such as pale gray or warm beige. And it there is wallpaper, remove it.

And if you are going to paint the walls, consider removing those large, frameless mirrors that span the length of the vanity.  These are dated, and smaller framed mirrors are more in fashion these days.

And if you’re not painting the walls and don’t want to remove the mirror, it can be updated by placing trim around it to give the appearance of being framed.

Then tackle the tub area.  If the tub is in poor condition, or of a dated color, it can be re-glazed by a professional for $400 to $500, much cheaper than removing and replacing the tub.  Often the grout between the tiles surrounding the tub is mildewed or crumbling.  A re-grouting can do wonders and make this area look like you just had new tile installed.  Also, removing old and moldy caulking at the top of the tub where it meets the tile, as well as where it meets the floor and re-caulking can give a fresh and clean appearance.

The sink, vanity and vanity top are additional areas to consider having a big impact if they are dated.  Depending upon the price point of the home you are selling, at the low end you can replace the entire unit for about $500 by buying one at the big box home improvement stores.

Or if you have an outdated oak vanity, painting it in a darker color with a semi-gloss finish, and affixing new hardware will go miles towards an updated look. 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(outdated wallpaper and brass towel bar removed, walls painted, new accessories added)

You can also just replace the vanity top, some of which come with a sink, for a few hundred dollars.

No need to replace the toilet usually, however replacing a well-worn toilet seat is a must!

In some cases where towel bars and toilet paper holders are affixed to drywall, rather than to the tile, these can be changed out as well.

Then of course there are the finishing touches:  new shower curtain and hooks, bath rug, and fluffy bath towels; artwork; matching accessories such as soap dishes and wastebasket; bath oils and soaps placed strategically in a tray or basket with rolled up towels and a loofah or back brush; and a potted fake orchid.  You want buyers to feel like they’ve walked into the closest thing to a spa and imagine themselves enjoying that space.

And before the open house or other showings, make sure:

  • Toiletries, shampoos, used bars of soap are stored away
  • Wastebasket is emptied
  • Toilet seat lid is down
  • Fluffy new towels are out and used towels are in the laundry

© Copyright 2012 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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How High Should Artwork Be Hung and Other Tips on Hanging Artwork

May 30, 2011

Many of us like to be surrounded by photos of our family and beautiful pieces of artwork, but are afraid we are going to “make a mistake” when hanging them on the wall. Or worse, some of us don’t even know that the pictures are not hung properly. For you and others to get the most appreciation out of your pictures, here are some helpful tips on how high a picture should be hung to how to hang a group of pictures: 

  • Generally, pictures should be hung at eye level, but whose eye level? Hang it so that the center of the picture is at 5’8″ to 5’10”.

  • The height at which it should be hung should relate to the height of the furniture (and the objects on it) and not be hung too high. Otherwise the artwork will look as if it’s floating. Hanging artwork too high is one of the most common mistakes made.

  • The width of a piece of art or group of pictures should be a minimum of 2/3 the length of the piece of furniture it is hanging over, and should not be wider than the width of the furniture it is hanging over.

  • The size of the piece of art or group of artwork should relate to the size of the wall on which it is hung.

  • If hanging two or more pictures next to each other, the ideal spacing is 3 to 4 inches between them but no more than 8 inches.
  • Use a laser level to make it easier to hang pieces side by side evenly. A laser level, which can be found in national chains such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, is placed against the wall. It emits a red laser beam along the wall so that you can find the spot to place your hook or nail, once the liquid in the bubble is at its level position.
  • While a laser level makes things easier, make sure that the pair of same-sized frames have their hooks and/or wires in the same spot. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If they don’t, then use the laser level to make sure the top of the frames are aligned, then measure down from the top of each frame to determine where you should place the nail or hook.

  • If hanging a group of pictures of different sizes, lay them out on the floor first for the optimal arrangement. There aren’t any rules here, but the arrangement should appear cohesive and balanced. You can also trace the arrangement on a very large piece of paper and then hang the paper on the wall as a guide for placement.
  • Use the proper hardware for the type of wall (e.g., sheetrock vs plaster) and the weight of the picture.
  • Use adhesive anchors like ZotsTM on the back of each corner of the frame to ensure that the picture doesn’t move.
  • If you are staging your home for sale, it is best to stay away from nudes or other artwork that might offend a potential buyer in the target market.

  • Use art to bring some color into an otherwise neutral room. Or if you are afraid to use too much of a bold color in larger pieces in the room such as bedding or the fabric of a sofa, you can still add this bold color to the room through artwork.
  • If hanging art on a wall with busy wallpaper, make sure they art you have chosen has a simple pattern and/or lots of white.
  • The pictures in a room should relate to one another in style. For example, traditional botanical prints and abstract paintings don’t really go well in the same room.
  • Placing art vertically can add the illusion of height to a room. Same with placing art horizontally: it can serve to widen the room.

  • A single large piece of art can have more impact and draw your eye to the focal point of a room more than a grouping of pictures.
  • When hanging a group of pictures on the wall of a staircase, hang them diagonally next to each other. Once you find the optimal placement for one of them, increase/decrease the height of the next one by the height of the step.

Note:  All photos are from Designd to Appeal’s stagings of homes for sale.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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 About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Paint Color and Lighting: Tips and Information

March 27, 2011

Recently I attended a Color and Lighting seminar for the trade at the Benjamin Moore showroom here in New York City.   As a home stager and interior redesigner, I often recommend paint colors to homeowners looking to “stage to sell” or “stage to dwell”. 

The two speakers were a Color Engineer and the Associate Manager of Color Design. 

Here are some interesting tips I learned from their presentations: 

  • When choosing a color, paint a small swatch against a gray surface.
  • Look at a color vertically against the wall, not horizontally in your hand.
  • Two colors that may appear to match in one light source may not match under another light source. This is known as metamerism.
  • Look for a Light Reflective Value (LRV) of 50% or more in paint to be used for residential interiors.  LRV is the amount of light reflected from a painted surface (0% is the blackest black and 100% is the whitest white).  The LRV for Benjamin Moore paint colors is listed in the index at the back of the Benjamin Moore “fan decks” (available through your paint store or design professional).
  • When choosing a light bulb, try to get a Color Ranking Index (CRI) of 80% to 85% in order to show true and saturated colors.
  • Incandescent light bulbs have a CRI of 100% but unfortunately will be phased out of production by 2014.
  • Halogen light bulbs have the next highest CRI but they too will probably go the way of incandescent bulbs.
  • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs have a lower quality of CRI – 75%.
  • LEDs are the newest form of lighting but have a very low CRI.  However, they are great for outdoor lighting.

To set up an appointment for a Paint Color Consultation, contact me at donna@designedtoappeal.com.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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DIY Home Staging Returns 299% of Your Investment

January 18, 2011

Low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements produce a significant return on investment when a home is sold.

HomeGain just released the findings of their survey of 600 real estate agents nationwide to determine the top 10 low-cost (less than $5,000), do-it-yourself  home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell.

Based upon return on investment (ROI), Home Staging ranked 3rd as the most profitable improvement that can be made to a home, yielding a 299% ROI.  An average investment in home staging of $550 produced a $2,194 price increase.

Home staging as defined by the survey includes adding fresh flowers; removing personal items; reducing clutter; rearranging furniture; adding new props or furniture to enhance room/s; playing soft music; and hanging artwork on walls.  A home staging checklist compiled by HomeGain offers more tips for making the home attractive to buyers so that they can envision themselves living there.

Cleaning and Decluttering ranked number 1, with a 586% ROI.  Almost every real estate agent (99%) recommended this in the survey.

Cleaning and decluttering was followed by Lightening and Brightening which produced a 313% ROI.  Lightening and Brightening include opening windows; cleaning windows and skylights inside and outside; replacing old curtains or removing curtains; removing other obstacles from windows blocking light; repairing lighting fixtures; and making sure windows open easily. 97% of real estate agents recommend this step.

80% of agents surveyed recommended home staging to their clients.  Here are what a few had to say:

“We believe staging is so critical. We own our own staging company and provide a $3,000 staging for free as a part of our listing package.” – Carl Medford, California Prudential Realty, Castro Valley, California

“Staging, I think, is the most important item when selling a home. I usually give my clients a free consultation, so no need to hire anyone. But if they hire someone, I think it’s the best money they will ever spend. You need a neutral party who knows what homebuyers focus on when looking at homes.” – Harry Martin, RE/MAX United, Escondido, California

“Homes that are “Priced to Sell” and “Staged” to look better than all other competitive listings are the homes that are selling in this challenging housing market.” – David Jaffe, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Arlington Heights, Illinois

“I always tell clients to stage. It’s more effective than price reductions and usually costs less in the long run.” – Edward Sullivan, Massachusetts

Here are the full results of the survey:

For more information on this survey, as well as for definitions and homeowner checklists for each improvement, click here.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

 
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Home Staging New York: The Forgotten Rooms When Staging a Home for Sale – The Garage

August 22, 2010

Many home sellers think that it’s perfectly okay to leave their garage “as is” when selling their home, or worse, think it’s okay to move items out of the house and stuff them into the garage in an effort to declutter and minimize furniture and personal items.

Well, it’s NOT OKAY!  The garage is extra square footage and should be treated just like any other room in the house when staging it for sale. 

It should be shown to its highest and best possible use – to store and shelter cars most importantly, and secondarily, to store and shelter tools, hardware, sporting equipment, etc.

It’s NOT to be used to store furniture and other items that should be discarded, given away to family or friends, donated or stored offsite in preparation for your move.

A clean, neat and sparse garage will tell the buyer he has plenty of room to store his car(s) and tools.

Here are some specific tips for staging your garage when your home is on the market:

1. Get Clean – A garage must be clean.  Just because it’s a garage and is quasi indoor/outdoor space, doesn’t mean it’s okay to have dirt, debris, leaves, dead insects, oil stains, etc. 

  • Begin by removing everything from the garage (this will help prepare you for the next step). 
  • Then sweep the floor and brush cobwebs away from corners and ceiling.
  • Remove oil stains with TSP cleaner purchased from your local hardware store.
  • Hose or powerwash the floor if there is adequate ventilation to dry it and the temperature is above freezing. Or at least mop or scrub the floor.
  • Painting the floor, walls and ceiling, makes the garage seem newer and cleaner and tells the buyer you must really take care of the rest of the house. 
  • Wash the windows, if any, and make sure all bulbs are in working order.

2. Get Rid of the Clutter – don’t use the garage as a dumping ground for all of the items you’ve so proudly removed to stage the interior of the home. A few boxes or plastic bins of items are fine, however.  Begin by removing everything from the garage in preparation for cleaning and/or painting it.  Separate items into Keep, Discard, Donate or Give Away. 

3.  Get Organized – For those items you are keeping, organize them into categories such as tools, lawn and garden equipment and supplies, paint cans, seasonal items like beach chairs or holiday decorations, sporting equipment, etc.

Here are some suggestions for getting organized:

Pegboards or slatted walls and hooks

 

 

Plastic shelves and bins

Tool organizers 

Sports Equipment Organizers

 

Overhead Storage Systems

Photo source: www.uglyhousephotos.com

Storage items: www.spacesavers.com

© Copyright Designed to Appeal 2010.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Home Staging New York: The Top 10 Home Improvements that Could Devalue Your Home

August 7, 2010
Sometimes, making an improvement to your home could actually hurt you when you try to sell it. 

Here are the top 10 home improvements that can make your home harder to sell: 

1. Kitchen Renovation. Any renovation of a kitchen that is too taste-specific or extreme in design. For example, a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-level stove or multiple refrigerators may not appeal to the buyer who is a simple cook. You want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers when selling a home, and if a buyer thinks they need to spend money re-doing what you’ve done, they will offer less. 

2. Bathroom Renovations. The same can be said for bathroom renovations. Any design that is over the top could detract from the value of the home. It’s best to avoid garish sinks, faucets, and tiles.  And skip the heart-shaped bathtub!

 3. Painting. Painting the walls is a great way to freshen up a space prior to putting your home on the market, but painting with bold colors such as red, orange, purple or even black (I’ve seen this) is a sure way to turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to feel like they can move right in and not have to re-paint the walls to match their own tastes and their existing furniture.  The same goes for painting the exterior of the home – no bright blues, yellows or greens please!

4. Water Features. Having an in-ground pool, hot tub, waterfall or pond can also devalue a home, as buyers may perceive these as extra maintenance expenses they don’t want to incur. Also, buyers with small children may be fearful of these as well. The only exception of an in-ground pool definitely adding value is if the home is an investment property in a resort area where renters find homes with a pool to be more desirable.

5. “Wasted” Square Footage. Taking valuable square footage in a house and using it for a specific, personalized purpose can make the house harder to sell and/or detract from its value, for example, turning a garage into a gym. Also, on the Bravo TV show, Nine By Design, the hosts of the show were trying to sell their NYC townhouse. The ground floor was taken up by a basketball/squash court because the owners liked to play these games. However, most buyers would see this as wasted space and an expensive project ahead to change.

6. Redecorating. Redecorating in a highly taste-specific style, such as Asian, country clutter or extreme modern can turn-off potential buyers. When selling your home, you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers, so it’s important that the furniture and décor is neutral and broadly appealing.

7. Illegal home improvements.  Decks, driveways, expansions, etc.  not approved by the local town authorities  can devalue the home as you will probably be forced to correct the situation prior to selling which could result in something as extreme as actually removing it.

8. Laminated Wood Flooring.  Installing laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood in an upscale home can also cause a buyer to think “I’ve got to rip this out”!  Better to refinish existing hardwood floors, if any, or cover floors with new but inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting.

9. DIY Home Repairs. While needed repairs and maintenance should be done to a home before putting it on the market, doing these yourself could end up costing you money in the end as buyers perceive your shoddy workmanship as something they have to spend money correcting, and therefore offering you a lower price.

10. Gardens and Landscaping. A high-maintenance garden and landscaping could also lower the value of a home. If buyers are not avid gardeners or don’t want to spend money watering or on hiring someone to constantly weed, trim and rotate your plantings, this could be a real turn-off.

So, before you decide to make that improvement to your home, stop and ask yourself: “Will most buyers find this desirable so that they would be willing to pay for it, or is it just to satisfy my own needs and tastes?”.

Do you know of any home improvements that could devalue a home?

For more information: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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