Selling Your Home? Resist These Costly Renovations

If you’re reading this, we assume that maybe you have a home in central Virginia that you’re thinking of selling. If so, you want to do everything in your power to make your house look attractive, and it’s hard to compete with some of the other homes in the Charlottesville area. But go overboard on your pre-sale renovations and you run the risk of alienating potential buyers and losing thousands of dollars in the process. The key ideas expressed in this article relate to a) making modest but effectual improvements while maintaining the spirit of the house and b) depersonalizing the space as best as possible without compromising its attractive features. Let’s begin.

Leave the garage alone
A garage is more than just a place for high school bands to sound terrible. It’s a valuable reservoir for seasonal storage, a place to keep stuff dry, and oftentimes the place where your cars and lawnmowers live. If you’re considering a garage overhaul, you may want to think again, and carefully. Is the resultant space going to be more attractive to buyers than a huge space devoted to junk storage and safe, dry parking? Consider the volatile rainy season that could land in Charlottesville at any point…it’s nice to have a place where you can toss wet stuff in a hurry. There are, of course, some instances in which a family would prefer the garage to be a living space, but that option will still exist if they decide to move in, and you will have spent zero dollars on costly garage renovations. You may be contemplating a home office or TV den in the space where your garage is now, but what if your prospective buyers are neurosurgeons (can’t work from home) who hate television and drive convertibles? You get the idea…let the garage be what it is, and if people want to change it, they can. Chances are if the house has a garage, it probably has a sufficient amount of bedrooms. At the very least, leave the garage doors on…that way buyers have the option to change it back.

Keep the outside in check
Some people believe that potential buyers make up their minds as soon as they see the outside of a house. Whether or not that’s true, it’s pretty crucial that the outside of your home maintains a certain standard. You want your grass cut and hedges trimmed and all that, but you want to avoid anything too showy or flamboyant. We’re talking about that army of garden gnomes and flamingos, or that expensive fountain; anything that may come across as excessive, you know? The lawn could come across as high-maintenance, which isn’t what you want. You want the house to stand out, but you don’t want it to look markedly more expensive than other places in the neighborhood; this affects the resale value, as the biggest, most elaborate looking house on the block is often the most difficult to sell.

Avoid excessive bedroom conversions

People like bedrooms…after all, they are great places to sleep, and they provide storage for beds.
Thinking about knocking down that wall and making those two small rooms into one big one? Generally speaking, quantity is more important than quality, plus for some, a bigger bedroom isn’t necessarily better than a smaller one. People tend to react favorably to big master bedrooms, but not as much as they used to. And buyers generally want separate rooms for all their kids and a guest room if possible. But there are no hard and fast rules here. If the house has a substantial number of bedrooms already (over five or six) then it may be wise to break some walls down, but always be thinking, “Does the amount of money I could potentially add to the asking price outweigh the cost of these renovations?” And if you can’t give a definitive “Yes,” then keep thinking. This also speaks to the idea of depersonalizing the home. If you’ve converted your college-aged kid’s old room into a home gym or music studio, emphasize that it was a bedroom first and if possible, convert it back. This is the same logic we employed when advising against eccentric wallpaper choices in an earlier article…prospective buyers are looking to buy their house from you; present a blank canvas where possible, and allow their own ideas and aspirations to inhabit the space.

High-end renovations are not always great
It’s been said before (even in this very blog) that when you’re selling a house, you’re really selling a kitchen (insofar as the kitchen is often the most memorable room and the one that makes or breaks a potential buyer’s relationship to your place). Even so, think carefully about springing for those expensive upgrades right before selling. These have the potential to show a house’s age, especially if the new improvements clash with the existing feel or vibe of the house. Consider your dad wearing backwards hats and picking up on some of the youthful colloquialisms…more often than not, this will only serve to reinforce his quintessential “dad” characteristics. This applies to everywhere in the house but especially the kitchen and bathrooms, often the areas of the house that need a facelift. The $3,000 built-in coffee/espresso system is probably pretty cool, but if it’s next to a dishwasher and sink from the 90s, it may do more to make the house look dated than to make it look fresh. This goes double if your potential buyers prefer tea. Stainless steel looks good with granite and marble but maybe not with all shades of porcelain? Hard to say…choose wisely. It’s always a good call to update cabinets, countertops, and sinks by the way.

If you are thinking about selling your home and want suggestions, feel free to give us a call!

The Most Popular Trends in Kitchen and Bathroom Design

If you’re thinking about updating your home, kitchens and bathrooms still top the list as the most popular construction renovations.  According to Residential Architect, they have identified some of the latest trends in kitchen and bathroom design.

It’s not just about cooking! Kitchens are becoming the central hub of the family home.  Yes, kitchens are where you store and prepare food, but kitchens are also being used for family gathering, entertaining family and friends, and for everyday living.  How many of you have a computer, phone chargers, or some type of technology in your kitchen?  You need to have easy accessibility to that recipe you saw on-line, or that “honey, please stop by the store and pick up…” for those missing ingredients.

For 2014, Residential Architect found LED lighting to be the most popular feature in a kitchen.  This feature is followed by computer areas with recharging stations, large pantry spaces, upper-end appliances, double islands, adaptability/universal design, and drinking water filtration systems.

When it comes to bathroom designs, Residential Architect found the most popular features to be LED lighting, door less showers, as well as adaptability/universal design.

So if you’re contemplating a renovation to your home, consider the current trends in both kitchen and bathroom designs.

Choosing a Paint Color to Create the Right Mood

Can color really affect your mood?  Paint is an inexpensive and easy way to personalize and update your home.  Choosing the right color is more than just selecting the first color that pleases you.  Many design experts and psychologists have found that taking the time to choose a color combination that’s pleasing to your eyes and home will affect your overall mood. The color combination you pick can create a soothing and relaxing environment, or a lively and an energetic one.  In choosing a color for each room of your home, you need to step back and think about the mood you want to create for that area. Do you want the room to be active, tranquil, or neutral?

Light colors will make a room seem larger, brighter and more airy.  Whereas dark colors tend to make a room appear more intimate, sophisticated and warm.  Let’s talk about colors and the affects they have on the mood in your home.

Blue, the color of the sky, is said to create a calm, serene, tranquil spa-like atmosphere.  Soft blues tend to lower stress and promote a restful sleep. Blue is often used in bedrooms and bathrooms.  Make sure to balance the blue with warmer accents.  Too much blue can overpower a room and create a stark and cold environment.  Try a lighter shade to create a calming effect for you and your family.

Yellow, the color of the sun, is said to promote happiness and create a more welcoming bright environment.   Yellow is best used sparingly as not to overwhelm family or guests. Yellow is often used in kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms.

Green, the color of nature…and money, is considered a restful calming color suitable for any room in the house.  Green works to bring the color of nature into your home, as well as create a new and fresh inspirational mood.

Purple, the color relative to royalty, is rich, regal, more formal and dramatic and brings a sense of sophistication to a room. Darker purples stimulate the creative mind and promote a feeling of luxury. Whereas lighter purples, such as lavender, create a restful mood.

Orange, “go hoos”, is not often used as a main color in a home.  Orange tends to be used on an accent wall or as an accent color to brighten a home. Orange is said to evoke the mood of excitement, creativity, and energy.  The color orange would work well in an exercise room.

Neutrals, the basics, such as white, black, gray and brown, are very flexible.  Neutral colors can be used alone with bright accent colors thrown in, or as an accent color to compliment a bright color.  Small doses of black can also give rooms a sense of depth. 

So when you decide to paint your home, take a step back and think about the purpose of that room and the mood you are trying to create for your family and guests.  Do you want a calm and relaxing mood, a creative mood, or an energetic and socializing mood?  Choosing a color is very personal and the decision should be made based on you, your family, and your lifestyle needs.  Once you make a decision about the mood, pick a color, whether it’s blue, red, green, orange, purple, yellow, or neutral. Your next step is to get your hands on a color wheel (you can go online or visit your local home improvement or paint store) and determine which shade creates the right mood. Finally, go buy your paint and start creating that mood.  Initially, you might want to buy a sample portion, go home and paint an area, look at it for a few days and see how it affects your mood.  If that color doesn’t work for you, the good thing about paint is that you can easily change it.  On the other hand, if the color you chose creates the mood you want, then go ahead have fun and paint away.  Now, sit back and enjoy the fresh and new atmosphere you’ve created in your home.