House Hunting Checklist for Those Who Love to Entertain - Guest Post By Houzz

Feeling overwhelmed by the home-buying process? Don’t get swamped, get focused. Beyond the basics of location, price and condition, what do you really want from your home? In this series, we’re zeroing in on the top items to look for in a house based on your personal passions and lifestyle. Consider adding these 10 items to your home-buying wish list if you love entertaining.

 

1. Welcoming entry. Greeting guests is easier when you can usher them into a spacious entryway. Look for one with room to maneuver and good lighting. On the exterior, look for a covering over the entry to keep visitors dry during inclement weather. 2. Coat closet. A coat closet near the main entrance is helpful for stashing guests’ coats and bags, and it keeps these items out of sight. If the house has a spacious entry, you can fill this need with wall hooks or a coat tree, but if the entry is more compact, a closet will really help keep things tidy.

 

3. Kitchen counter seating. Inviting friends and family to pull up a seat and chat while you cook is a fun way to start a casual gathering. Look for a kitchen counter with plenty of space to prep, plus one side with room for guests to pull up a stool. Related: Pull Up Some New Counter Stools 4. Walk-in pantry. You need space to keep your ingredients and entertaining essentials like serving platters organized and accessible. Look for a walk-in or butler’s pantry with deep shelving and good light.

 

5. Open floor plan. Open-plan spaces are ideal for encouraging mixing and mingling during parties. Look for a spacious living area where you can put flexible seating to fit a big group and for good flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. 6. Formal dining room. If you prefer hosting cozy sit-down dinners, a formal dining room is a must. Look for one with distinctive architectural features and enough space to fit your dining table and chairs, plus a buffet. A fireplace in the dining room can be the ultimate in coziness, but remember that a wood-burning fireplace requires more upkeep (and prep) than a gas fireplace.

 

7. Main-level powder room. A petite powder room is a big help when entertaining: It’s typically easy for guests to get to, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up your main bathroom each time you have people over. Look for a powder room (also called a half bath) on the main level but preferably not directly off the dining room. 8. Basement rec room. A finished basement can be a big plus, especially for those in areas with cold winters. A fully finished and heated basement offers bonus living space for extras like a bar, pool table or big-screen TV. If you’re considering a home with a finished basement, be sure to find out if the ceilings are regulation-height, and ask your home inspector to check for signs of leaks or excess moisture.

 

9. Deck, porch or patio. Vast lawns are gorgeous to look at, but a deck or patio is where friends tend to gather. Look for one that’s next to the house with enough room to set up an outdoor living space or dining area. A covered porch can protect your gathering from bright sun and inclement weather. Privacy from neighbors, in the form of hedges or fencing, will make the area more appealing to use. And if mosquitoes are a concern, a screened-in porch makes it possible for you and your guests to enjoy the outdoors without getting eaten alive. 10. Indoor-outdoor flow. Encourage mingling both indoors and out with sliding glass or French doors. The visual connection helps groups feel connected and makes it obvious to guests where they are supposed to go. Look for large glass doors leading from the living room, dining room or kitchen (in an open-plan space) to a back deck or patio.

The post was written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


6 Perfect Paint Colors for Staging a Home - Guest Post By Houzz

When prepping your home for sale, one of the most important tasks is giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. The standard advice from most real estate professionals is to keep them neutral with shades of white. But as a home stager and an interior designer, I prefer to take a more stylish approach. Remember, the overall goal of home staging is to make each room feel fresh, inviting and neutral enough so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. That doesn’t have to translate, however, to bland, boring and devoid of style. Sometimes white can work, but a greater concern is making sure the room doesn’t look too stark. These elegant, crowd-pleasing neutral paint colors can help you stage your home to perfection.

As you consider these choices, keep in mind that to present your home in the right light, you’ll want to select a neutral paint color that coordinates with your furnishings and finishes. The following warm or dark neutrals can add style and while maintaining a mainstream look. Gorgeous ‘Greige’ Gray has been the new white for years now. But not all grays are created equal. “Greige,” a pale gray with a beige undertone, is one of the most versatile colors for staging. Essentially a pale taupe, greige is a cool, sophisticated hue that can elegantly complement and add depth to a mostly white room. It’s great in both large and smaller spaces.

Bird’s Egg Blue I always refer to this type of blue as a grown-up turquoise. A warm medium blue with sunny undertones, bird’s egg blue is an elegant choice for living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, particularly when the rest of the room is white, beige or gray. A pale serene turquoise works well with both traditional and modern decor to create a soothing feeling in this room. This calm environment can have a positive emotional effect on potential buyers and allow them to appreciate the beauty of the space.

Dramatic Charcoal A darker color can also be a surprising neutral. Many people might be hesitant to use a dark paint color, thinking it will make the room look smaller or darker. A dark color can, however, add depth on an accent wall. In a dark room it can conceal any shadows and replace an overall dark feeling with a serene and stylish one. Charcoal, a deep gray, is a perfect dark neutral that can raise the style factor in a room as well as add a refreshing cool tone that complements beige and orange wood hues. Adding subdued drama, it works well in light-filled rooms or on an accent wall, especially in smaller rooms or on walls where you want to feature an architectural element. For a stylish contrast, coordinate charcoal walls with accessories and furniture in lighter colors, such as whites and pale beiges.

Golden Yellow Let the sunshine in with a little golden yellow on your walls or fixed elements such as cabinets. This photo shows how a cheerful yellow can add warmth to a mostly white kitchen; it works well with white or stainless steel appliances. Related: Pro Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets In other rooms, such as a cozy bedroom or living room, this color’s sunny disposition can add a layer of charm to an otherwise blah color palette. It’s especially helpful in rooms that have low light, no view, or architectural features that cast dark shadows. The golden hues help eliminate a darker feeling and can distract from a bleak view. Look for a yellow that has a slight wheat or creamy undertone and that isn’t overly bright or garish. A mellow yellow coordinates with most wood hues, earth tones, blues and pastel colors.

Classic Navy Navy blue is an excellent paint color to add sophistication, drama and a feeling of refined maturity to a room. Similar to charcoal gray, navy works well in a light-filled room or on a featured accent wall, particularly in smaller rooms or walls with architectural details like a fireplace. Related: Freshen Up an Old Fireplace With Contemporary Fireplace Screens Coordinate navy with contrasting pale hues like whites, silver or beiges. A navy accent wall gives an ordinary room a more designed and notable look. This is a clever design trick to help a room feel a bit larger or appropriately functional to a prospective buyer.

Creamy Whites If your walls are already a shade of white and adding a new color isn’t in your comfort zone, look to neutral creamy whites to give the room a warm and refreshing look. Creamy white has an undertone of pale beige or greige, without being too yellow. The added warmth can give a stark room a welcoming glow without adding color. Pair your creamy white walls with a whiter color on the trim, ceiling and fixtures.

This post was written by Neila Deen, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


House-Hunting Help: Which Home Style Is Right for You? - Guest Post By Houzz

When you are shopping for a house to buy or rent, how much does house style play into your decision-making process? Knowing the features (and drawbacks) of a handful of main house styles can help you search smarter, and help you find a home that works not only for your style but for your life.

What is available on the market depends on what region you live in, as well as whether you are focusing on an urban, a suburban or a rural community. Even specific neighborhoods within a town can be more heavily concentrated with a certain house style — just think of the "painted lady" Victorians in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.

Once you have a house style in mind, take a drive around your area to see if there is a neighborhood you should focus your search on. Learn more here about eight common house styles in the United States to see if one of them is right for you.

White Colonial House

Colonial. This traditional East Coast U.S. style tends to have a symmetrical facade, two stories and a formal entrance front and center. Is it for you? Colonial homes have classic curb appeal in spades and a nice separation between public rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen) on the first floor and bedrooms upstairs. Small, separate first-floor rooms can feel quite formal and sometimes dark — the polar opposite of an open floor plan.

Craftsman bungalow. Influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, American Craftsman houses are known for their solid, quality construction, low-slung profile and use of natural materials like stone and shingles made of wood. Most common in California, Craftsman homes can also be found across the country. Similar in style, Prairie homes dominate in the Midwest. Related: What Defines a Craftsman Style House?

Is it for you? With an open floor plan and plenty of built-in details like desks, china cabinets and shelves, Craftsman homes make excellent use of a compact space. Repairing and replacing period details can be costly.

Home Renovation and Addition in Decatur

Cape Cod. A popular East Coast U.S. style, the Cape Cod house is a small, usually shingled cottage with a pitched roof and dormers.

Is it for you? With its petite footprint and charming cottage style, Cape Cod style is great for smaller households. It's also a natural choice for vacation homes and can be found across the country. As with many older house styles, Cape Cods tend to have little storage space.

Traditional Exterior

Victorian. Fancy gingerbread trim, towers and wraparound porches are hallmarks of this unmistakable style. Inside you will find lots of cozy, private rooms and nooks.

Is it for you? The warren of small rooms can be either a help or a hindrance, depending on your lifestyle. If having a separate library, den, music room and office appeals more than one large space, the layout of a Victorian home could be a great fit. Historic Victorians can be costly to repair and maintain.

Colombatto Oceano

Spanish style. Especially popular in warmer regions of the country, Spanish revival–style homes tend to feature arches, tile work and white stucco. Some may have balconies or a central courtyard.

Is it for you? Thick stucco walls and tile floors are naturally cool, which is ideal for warm climates. The charming gardens, courtyards and balconies are perfect for outdoor entertaining. In older Spanish revival homes, bedrooms and closets tend to be small.

Chimney Corners

Ranch. These sprawling, single-level homes can be found all across the country. Key features include open floor plans, patios and an attached garage. Related: Thousands of Design Ideas and Inspiration for Your Patio

Is it for you? With big yards, open floor plans and plenty of storage, ranch homes are a natural choice for families. With their single-story layout and low maintenance requirements, smaller ranches are ideal for retirees and empty-nesters as well.

Brooklyn Heights Addition

Row house. This urban housing style takes on a different look depending on the city, from the brownstones of New York to the Victorian row houses of San Francisco. All feature long, narrow floor plans and can be either divided into flats or kept as single-family homes.

Is it for you? Newly constructed lofts and townhouses have more spacious floor plans, but a classic old row house has character to spare and may feature hand-crafted built-in details.

front landscape

Modern. While "modern" covers pretty wide ground, you can count on modern homes to feature large expanses of glass, crisp architectural lines and open plans. Related: Fill a Modern Home With Contemporary Furniture

Is it for you? Lovers of modern design will surely gravitate toward this home style. The wide-open spaces also make modern homes ideal for entertaining.

This post was written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


8 Lessons You Can Learn From an Open House - Guest post by Houzz

When we were in the process of selling our home, I was surprised to learn from my real estate agent that open houses are not typically thought to be effective in selling a house. “They’re just for the neighbors” is the going logic. But there are plenty of reasons to attend open houses, whether or not you are looking to buy. Here are eight reasons to check out those weekend open houses near you.

Nest in the Trees

1. Get to know your local housing market before you sell. This is something I wish we had done. Simply attending a few open houses in your neighborhood can give you an education about the housing market in your area beyond what your real estate agent can tell you. The prices of comparable homes, features that are popular and attendance levels at open houses can be valuable data to gather before you put your home on the market.

Northside Colonial

2. Get ideas for staging. Whether you are looking for a professional to help you stage your home or want to do it yourself, attending open houses is a great way to pick up ideas. Notice wall colors, furniture arrangements, styles and accessories, and use this information as a jumping-off point for your own staging process. Related: Spruce Up an Overlooked Space in Your Home With These Home Decor Products

Laguna Vista

3. Gather design inspiration. On the other hand, if you’ve recently purchased a home and are looking for decorating and remodeling ideas, local open houses can show you what other homeowners have done. It’s especially helpful to look at homes that have floor plans similar to yours. Related: Browse Bedroom Design Ideas

Contemporary Farmhouse

4. Get comfortable in a home you are considering buying. If you’ve been seriously looking to buy for a while, and you have narrowed your prospects down to a few favorite homes, attending the open house can be a nice way to explore the home further and hear what other open house attendees are saying.

Princess Margaret Residence

5. Get referrals for pros. If you live in the neighborhood and are looking for a good contractor, designer or other professional, scoping out open houses can be a good way to view that pro’s work firsthand. Most agents have established relationships with pros they know and trust, and are happy to share recommendations. But if you are there without any intention of buying, don’t take up the agent’s time during a busy open house. Wait for a slow stretch and be honest and upfront about what you are looking for.

Mountain Hill Home-- Family Room

6. Be a fly on the wall. If you’re thinking of selling your home soon, having some idea of what buyers are looking for in your neighborhood can be incredibly helpful. There’s no need to pretend that you’re a potential buyer while attending open houses. Most agents realize that neighbors like to attend open houses, and it’s best to be honest (or at least quiet) and not waste an agent’s time with pretense.

Rockridge 2: Designed, Staged, & Sold

7. Meet your future agent. Seeing an agent in action is a great way to get a feel for his or her style and consider whether you would work well together. We met our buyer’s agent at an open house she was working. We didn’t really mesh with the house (and weren’t quite ready to buy), but we were impressed with the agent, so when it was time to get serious about house shopping, we looked her up.

1215 NE THOMPSON ST, PORTLAND OR

8. Think of it as a practice run. We’ve all heard stories of the “love at first sight” home purchase. But if you’re buying a house for the first time, it can be a good idea to get in a few practice runs before you begin your search in earnest. Once you’ve viewed 10 or more houses, you won’t be as thrown off by the process. Tip: Keep a list of must-have items to check at each home you see, and get some practice running through your checklist at open houses before you really begin your search.

This post was written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


How to Sell Your Home Faster to a Younger Buyer - Guest Post By Houzz

Educating my clients about the audience they will be marketing to is one of the most important things a home stager can do. When you put your home on the market to sell, you should know that the next owner will likely be younger than you are. That's why you should stop thinking about what you like or want in a home and start thinking about what your most likely buyer will want.
Modern living
1. Stick with warm, neutral walls. If your target demographic is "young professional" or "young family," try using a warm gray as a neutral wall color. The gold or pinky-beige wall color you chose 10 years ago is going to seem outdated to this new group of home buyers. On-trend neutrals like grays allow potential homeowners to envision bringing in complementary colors and clean-lined furnishings to make it their own.
Various Work
2. Invest in white cabinetry. Many home buyers younger than 40 prefer white or off-white kitchen cabinetry. They don't want to see their momma's dark kitchen cabinetry in their new home! Consider a kitchen facelift if you have dark kitchen cabinetry with orange or red undertones. Benjamin Moore's Advance is a great paint to consider. It's a hybrid of latex and oil, and it requires very little prep work.
Teri Turan
3. Update your appliances. Many younger home buyers cannot fathom buying a home without stainless steel appliances. You'll need to update your almond ones with stainless replacements before putting it on the market.
Impala Black
4. Look for simple stone countertops. Granite and stone countertops are a must-have for most young home buyers — it will make the difference between whether they choose your home or your neighbor's home. But don't make the mistake of installing busy or taste-specific granite that may not appeal to everyone. If you plan to be in your home for a long time, go for it — but not if you plan to sell within the next few years. Instead, choose a granite that is almost black or something with a minimum of colors and veining. Anything more might be a turnoff to those picky younger buyers.
Summer Home
5. Open up your shower space. Young professionals love large, open glass showers. The garden-variety tub isn't where it's at anymore.
Cow Hollow Historic Home
6. Keep it simple for families with children. People with young kids are less likely to want a fixer-upper. If your target demographic is "young family with small children," it's important that your property be ready for them to move right in. Make sure the home has no unfinished projects or red flags for young families. 7. Consider selling your home as a fixer-upper. If your neighborhood is becoming a mecca for young professionals, there may be some appeal to the fixer-upper if the price is right. These younger adults without children may have the time, energy and imagination for making over an older home. Even so, the price will have to be lower than if it were picture perfect.