Feeling a Little Like Wilma and Betty

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I love my Spa Time and as a Designer I really loved the look and feel of the Sahra Spa located in the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. As I made my way down the long narrow hallway leading into the ladies dressing area I was in aw with its beauty and I couldn’t help, but feel every surface from the roughness of the natural finish of the walls to the polished finish of the floor. From the moment you enter throughout the entire spa you will find “Las Vegas Rock”. A meta-quartzite stone that is very durable and quarried right there in Las Vegas! The colors are absolutely breathtaking and with every slab each has its own pattern and array of colors that represent the reds, yellows and browns of the desert. Depending on whether it’s polished or split faced, each has it own individual uniqueness that glows with the lights reflection. When compared to other untreated hard polished surfaces it has an extraordinarily high “slip resistant” quality, making it a perfect surface choice.

A very relaxing atmosphere I had a wonderful 90 minute massage and then spent several hours in the very Zen surroundings which are now one of my absolute favorites. I did feel a little like Wilma and Betty though, being surrounded by all that natural Las Vegas Rock!

**Also considered a “green product” U.S. Green Building Council,… For more information on Las Vegas Rock please go to their website: Www.vegasrock.com.

Go Green!

Go Green! No, I’m not referring to the Greenbay Packers, although, no doubt many cheese heads are cheering right now. Green as in “Energy Efficient”, “Sustainable Products” and “Water Conservation”. As homeowners we have the ability to contribute while energy efficient upgrades add value to our homes. There are some very simple projects for homeowners such as replacing current bath and kitchen fixtures with “low flow” toilets, shower heads, faucets and changing to a “Tankless Water Heater” or “High Efficiency Furnace”. SoCal Gas offers up to $4.500 in incentives on an Advanced Home Upgrade Package. This is where every nook and cranny in your home is examined by a participating contractor or Whole-House Energy Rater. They identify ways for you to save the most energy. There is also an “Energy Savings Assistance” program available to those that qualify. You can find information on these and other current programs, energy tips, news and rebates being offered at https://energyupgradeca.org Keep in mind most programs have a limited time period so you may need to act quickly.

Resolutions & Reorganization

So here it is, the New Year! If you’re like me, you have been reflecting for about a week or even two now on your successes and failures of 2013. Well, now it’s here and it’s time to clean house, literally. Don’t just make New Years Resolutions, but really take an inventory of your spiritual and physical being. Reorganize and declutter not only your mind, but your home. After all it’s a new year, new day and a new you. Clean out those closets and donate old and unused items to your favorite charity. Paint a room a new color like Red or Orange to bring energy into your space. Remove the clutter from your counters and shelves to simplify and redesign your furniture, even discard extra pieces to make room for the flow of positive energy throughout your home. Then, clear your mind of all negative thoughts and clear your social calendar of all the people that would rather dwell on the past and procrastinate about the future. Now, a hot tip I’d like to share with you to get you focussed on whats important to you this year. The “vision board”. If you write it down, you remember it. If you have to look at it all the time, you will “Make it Happen”! The power of the mind is incredible, just try it. Download one of my favorite apps VB Collage.

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Feeling Blue and I Like It!

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I’ve never been a big fan of blue. It always seemed so boring and boyish to me, but now, I find myself totally in love. Perhaps it’s what appears to be a new found popularity. Just take a look around you, one of the new popular car colors is a blue jewel tone. The above photo is taken from the Johnathan Adler retail store where they attempt to promote blue throw pillows, blue lamp shades and a blue accent wall. What I am particularly noticing is that it seems to not only be everywhere, but it is being used in every room in the house. Looking at the below photos these new blues are being used in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and outdoor spaces. Just maybe this new found excitement over blue is that these “new” shades of blue we are seeing are not the typical Navy Blue or Baby Blue we are used to. Todays blues have undertones of green and purple and whether it’s a new car, sofa or wall color it has me going “wow, I love that blue!”.

(some of the below photos are taken from Houzz)
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Fall is Here,…

fall-roadCooler temperatures, Monday Night Football and aromas of Carmel Pear, Spiced Pumpkin and Apple tell us Fall is here. I don’t know about you, but I get the itch this time of year to move my furniture around, design new centerpieces and bring new colors into my home. Living in Southern California you see the transition from Summer to Fall to Winter in a much different light than that of my home state of Connecticut. It is very important to me to bring that East Coast feel of warmth and comfort into my home. As we move into the colder weather I crave a full-bodied Cabernet, the glow of a warm fireplace and a cozy cashmere blanket. The brilliant colors of fall appear in a basket of fall colored leaves and orange pumpkins against the backdrop of the slate hearth surrounding my fireplace. I change out the bright-colored throw pillows on my sofa to reflect the warm and rich colors of fall using burgundy, orange, green and brown hues. Nothing makes me feel more at home!!!

The Magic of Lighting

Lighting plays a very important role in design. When considering lighting options you not only have intentional lighting to consider, but natural lighting that you may have little or no control over. The effects of our lighting choices are endless. Lighting not only changes the appearance and functionality of a room, it effects how we feel when we are in the room. Just think about how natural lighting effects your emotions when its a dark rainy day and causes you to be lazy and stay in bed a little later or the bright ray of sun peaking through the curtains has you jumping out of bed to start your day. Lighting also plays a large part in the colors you select, causing different variations as the amount and type of lighting exist.

That’s why it is important that before buying paint, fabric or floor coverings, you check the colors where they will be used. Pay attention to the color throughout the day and night. Direct sunlight and indirect sunlight will show variations of the color in different shades. Consider which direction your room is facing and know that rooms facing east and north will get more direct sunlight and may benefit more from warmer colors. West and south-facing rooms may feel more comfortable with less direct sun light and therefore the use of cooler colors may brighten darker rooms. Colors are flattered by lighting with similar hues. For example incandescent lighting is warm and tends to enhance yellows, reds and oranges, whereas, daylight bulbs enhance blues and greens. Lights from the opposite side of the color wheel can muddy a color and even bring out less appealing shades of the chosen color. Clear, halogen lighting shows intense colors at their best and is a great choice for a vivid, multicolor decor.

Choosing lighting fixtures is like adding the icing to the cake! There are so many different styles and functions that before you begin your search it is wise to have an idea of what you want the outcome to be. 1. Identify the mood or ambiance that you want to create. 2. Are there any decorative elements you wish to emphasize, such as artwork or wall textures. 3. Be aware of areas with dark wall colors and finishes. These areas absorb more light than those with lighter finishes, so additional lighting may be required. 4. Functional requirements. Keep in mind the following basic types of lighting and be sure to utilize them together in each room or space.

Ambient Lighting: Provides overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, it should have a comfortable level of brightness, no glare and allow you to see and walk about safely. Wall Sconces would effectively achieve this.

Task Lighting: Allows you to perform specific tasks, such as reading, cooking, homework and playing games. Easily provided by recessed and track lighting, under-cabinet lighting, as well as by portable floor and desk lamps. Pendant lighting used in this area can also act as accent lighting with the many styles and colors to choose from they can be the focal point of any space. Task lighting should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.

Accent Lighting: Adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, a Chandelier, for example, makes a statement in any room. Recessed or track lighting is used to draw the eye to houseplants, paintings and sculptures. It can also be used to highlight the texture of a wall, window treatments or outdoor landscaping. To be effective, accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it.

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Depersonalize, Neutralize, Sell!

A blank canvas allows buyers to picture your place as their new home.  Many of us enjoy living in our homes and it shows.  Our busy schedules don’t always allow for us to be tidy, however, when it comes time to attract buyers and offers we can’t refuse.  Make your home picture perfect.

Think about the feeling you get walking through a model home.  Clean, crisp, everything in its place, everything matching and you immediately fall in love!

Here are some tips to assist you with preparing your home for sale:

1. Remove the Clutter; let them see the beautiful Granite kitchen counters. After all your not selling appliances. Too much furniture in one room will make the room look smaller than it is.
2. Depersonalize; put away the family photos, remove anything that’s controversial such as, religious and political decor; buyers can be superstitious or offended.
3. Paint; a fresh coat of paint does wonders!  Gives a clean and crisp look.
4. Neutralize; Color can be nice, however, a buyer with all boys won’t be thrilled with the pink bedroom.  If color selection is not done by a professional Designer a large space can look smaller and a well lighted space can look washed out.
5. Carpets; Replace dirty, matted down and out of date carpeting.  Newer Carpets can get a lift from a good shampoo.
6. Cleaning; a professional cleaning should cover ceiling fans, vents, door jams, mirror wardrobe doors, chandeliers, windows, blinds and shutters along with appliances even if they are not included.
7. Repairs; taking care of deferred maintenance and making tiny repairs shows potential buyers you care for your home and removes any opportunity for a buyer to make a reduced offer based on these repairs.
8. Landscaping; weed flower beds and planters, make sure the lawn is mowed and green,… never hurts to add some color.
9. Curb Appeal; first impressions!! Clean up the driveway and entry way. Remove junk, trash cans and old cars that may not run. The front door area should be welcoming,…I.E. welcome mat, sitting area, water fountain, potted plants, etc.. If the exterior hasn’t been painted in 10 years, chances are it needs a fresh coat or at least a power washing.
10. Day of Showing; open the windows and let natural light into the home, spray a mild air fresher or light a few candles, make the beds, hang the towels, put away dishes, toiletries, children’s toys, personal items and small items of value and don’t cook anything with a strong scent such as fish.

This is just a basic check list.  Hiring a professional Realtor or Interior Designer will give you the expertise needed to sell your home for top dollar or remodel your home so you fall in love with it all over again!

Color Me Ready for Sale!

A new client called me this week with the simple question “what color should I paint the outside of my house?”.   Of course without having a consultation as of yet, I knew nothing of my new client, except that she lived in Norco “horse country” and her home was built in the past 5 years or so.   My first instinct was to be sure she knew she should be thinking about “re-sale” which obviously meant no crazy bright “primary colors”.

I then asked her what she saw when she looked around her neighborhood and why she felt her home needed a new look?   She said, “Janine our home is Grey and White and so is our driveway and walkway and patio, it just looks very washed out.   Our neighbors homes on either side are an Olive Green and Terracotta.”.

Another very important factor I needed to take into consideration was that she wanted her home to have a very classic look at the same time it had a curb appeal of “Wow!  Look at that beautiful house.”.

Now armed with my clients objectives and the age and look of her neighborhood I was able to select a color palette that was both neutral and warm and would compliment the neighborhood all while making her home stand out.   I then made my way over to Dunn Edwards Paint Store to gather up samples, it is always a good idea to get sample and see what the color actually looks like on the surface.   Lighting, whether it’s a lot or a little, changes the color, sometimes dramatically and paint is always darker on the surface.

The color palette I chose was:

Bison Beige for the Stucco
Briar for the Trim/Fascia/Front Door
White for the Window/Garage Trim
Rosewood for the Garage Doors

I just loved how the garage doors complimented the red brick columns in front of the home and gave a little “Pop”!  Unfortunately, my client felt it was a little too extreme for them so we decided to go white.   Her husband also preferred keeping the fascia white.

So the painters are scheduled and I can’t wait to see how it all looks when it’s complete!

**Mock drawing not an exact color match or to scale.  ***Fascia is an architectural term for a frieze or band running horizontally and situated vertically under a roof edge.

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Is Your Realtor Really Working For You?

Many Realtors will tell you “list your home with me I have a buyer” and I’m sure they do.  The fact of the matter is “we all have buyers”.   Another fact is that most of the time it isn’t the “listing agent” that sells your home it’s the “buyers agent”.

The real estate market is once again changing, what once was a market filled with bank owned and short sale properties, has now become a real estate market filled with more “equity” or as you may know them “standard” sale properties.  This is great news, no, this is fantastic news, because now as a seller you have the power.  The power to sell your property to the buyer that is willing to pay you “what you feel your home is worth”!

There is one catch to this, you MUST hire a Realtor that is willing to work hard at marketing your home to the most buyers, so that you find them.   An agent that walks in with a buyer ready to go is not working hard to give you, the seller, that opportunity.   Unless you are in a position to where you need to sell your home fast and quietly or it is a short sale and you would just rather not have potential buyers constantly coming and going being insensitive to the fact you are losing your home, there is no true benefit to you.

What this Realtor is really saying is “I’m not going to tell anyone your home is for sale, so I can make both commissions”.  Therefore, your home is not put on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which offers the advantage of being actively marketed to every real estate agent who belongs to that MLS and, through those agents, to their vast network of potential buyers looking to make an offer to purchase the property.  Active marketing on the MLS also generally  includes open houses, broker tours and when your property is in the MLS’s, it downloads to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for properties.

I want to make it clear that this practice is not  illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to you, the seller.  Additionally, that the Realtor follows the rules that are designed to protect, you, the consumer.  Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of sellers, particularly if a seller does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS.  To keep a listing off the MLS, a listing agent who is a participant of an MLS is required, under the rules of most California MLSs, to obtain a signed certification from the seller that he or she does not wish to sell their property via the MLS.  So, that brings me to asking the question, “If a property is exposed to fewer potential buyers with an off-MLS listing, why would you agree to one?   Pocket listings, as we refer to them, sometimes are requested by celebrities for example or others in high profile positions who wish to maintain their privacy.

​The biggest negative to this practice that I can see is what makes a “sellers market” so awesome for sellers and that is the pool of agents and potential home buyers who will know the property is for sale and make an offer.  This could significantly reduce the potential for multiple offers above the asking price, which is a frequent occurrence in today’s competitive market.  Thus, you, the seller now have fewer offers and may not be getting the best possible price for your home.

The following is a list of things you can do and ask of  the listing agent who suggests an off-MLS listing or walks in with an offer expecting you to not only list it with them, but to accept their buyers offer as the absolute best you will receive:
1.   Home sellers should ask their agent about the pros and cons of selling their home off-MLS.  The pros are that the listing remains private if sellers wish to maintain privacy.  The cons are that their home is unlikely to be exposed to the full population of potential buyers, which likely may decrease the chance a seller will obtain the highest and best price for his or her property.
2.   A listing agent may ask his or her seller to sign a standard seller exclusion form (Seller Instruction to Exclude Listing from the MLS or C.A.R.’s SEL form).   Sellers should be sure they fully understand what they are signing and the possible adverse consequences outlined in the form of not listing their property on the MLS.
3.  Sellers should ask their agent to show their home and present all offers from both inside and outside his or her network.  This may increase the chances of obtaining a more accurate selling price and could help avoid any potential for violations of fair housing laws.

As I always say,” hire a knowledgeable REALTOR®” whether you are considering buying or selling a home.