Pick a room…any room…the room that is the focal point of your home. The one room that sees the most traffic and draws friends, family and visitors in like flies to a bug light on a hot summer night.
Master bedroom? I hope not. Laundry room? Not in my house? I would be willing to wager that your answer is the same as mine – the kitchen.
So when I see a feature with a title like “X Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Bigger”, it’s hard to pass a read. Making any kitchen feel bigger would be a definite plus for any Saint Paul home sale. On the scale of honorable pursuits, it would be right there next to cleanliness and baking cookies right before a showing.
Increasingly, today’s Saint Paul homebuyers think of the kitchen as the center of family entertaining—the center of gravity where everyone hangs out more than anywhere else. It’s true that if another room features a giant TV entertainment center or a tasty buffet, that might be serious competition for the family’s attention….but that buffet has to start somewhere. But although it might be a place that will occupy goodly chunks of everyone’s time, it’s in the kitchen where family and friends wind up interacting the most and which gets the most scrutiny when it comes to a home sale.
There’s no debate that in today’s Saint Paul market, a claustrophobic our outdated kitchen can slow an otherwise appealing home’s sale. It’s an easy fix right? Hiring an architect and/or contractor, pulling permits, trashing your home for months (starting with a Mt. St. Helens sized dust cloud during demo), etc. to physically expand a kitchen is a major undertaking that will cost more than it returns. So finding ways to make your kitchen feel bigger without blowing out walls and tearing up the property for months on end, well—that’s definitely worth looking into.
To cut to the chase, most of the Feel Bigger Solutions aren’t magical: they turn out to be design ideas that maximize storage efficiency. To achieve positive home sale results, the idea is to systematically substitute suffocating kitchen clutter with eye-pleasing open space.
One clear tactic is to make the most of any existing counter space and it’s “support”. The space beneath your granite, silestone, or formica (my house) is ideal for “smart” storage solutions. Googling smart storage yields 1,000,000+ results (not to mention the ads), comprising a ready-made resource for maxing out the cubic feet that are ready to use right there on the perimeter of the kitchen.
On the opposing side of the “feel bigger” agenda is the suggestion to abandon one of Saint Paul most popular design ideas of bygone eras: the overhead cupboard. When you remove those overheads, a whole lot of claustrophobia goes with them. Unfortunately, a good deal of storage space goes with them.
That brings up two other tried-and-true alternatives. First, placing shelving on unused wall space can solve some of the storage dilemma—most pleasingly, when it’s some variety of open shelving. Kitchen design publications are filled with examples of appealing open and glass-windowed shelving – none of which are easy to clean, nor can you reach the items you need on the top shelf….but I’m not forming an opinion.
Second is what could be the most useful, least expensive, and easily adopted insight for making your Saint Paul kitchen fell bigger: just get rid of excess kitchen stuff! It’s simple but true. Removing unused utensils, pots & pans and kitchenware can work miracles. For the gourmet-pleasing cooks who can’t get by without a lot of exotic cookery aids, the solution is an off-site storage solution in the garage or dedicated closet. The minor inconvenience will be worth it if a quicker home sale results—besides, the extra going back and forth is healthy exercise, right – and it’s the time of year when we all get some healthy exercise (on our way to the refrigerator for a snack)?
So the kitchen is a really big deal – the focal point of your home – for you and your potential home buyer. Think long and hard about updates and renovations, especially if you’re planning to sell them home in the near future. There are easy and inexpensive ways to make that most important room in the home more appealing and functional before you start writing big checks and tearing out walls.
If you’re planning to list your Saint Paul home – sooner or later – a good place to start is with a no-obligation consultation about your home and kitchen and today’s Saint Paul real estate market. Call me at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Twin Cities’ meteorological summer is here —although my family and I were shivering as we dined outside last night – so there’s no better time to throw out some useful housing tips for coping with summer’s hot weather – which you know is coming back any day.
Most everyone can guess the commonsensical ones, like the NAR’s number one Home Showing Tip in Hot Weather: “Keep the house cool;” or the lead safety tip from the National Weather Service: “Stay out of the sun.” Ok, those are a little obvious but maybe some of these other ideas can be helpful – some are only applicable in special instances, but all of which make a lot of sense:
- Comb your fins. This tip for coping with Saint Paul heat spells has nothing to do with keeping any tropical fish well-groomed: it’s about your air conditioner. You’ve probably noticed that the sharp metal ridges that populate the exit side (the “fins”) are easily bent: just brush up against them, and they crumple. The problem is that when bent, they slow airflow. What you probably didn’t know is that there is actually a tool called a “fin comb” to straighten the condenser fins. Sub-tip: turn off the power before you comb and be careful not to get cut by the freshly combed fins.
- When the house is empty, don’t turn the A/C off. Instead, set the thermostat up a few notches so that the place doesn’t absolutely bake. I brought a client through a beautiful home yesterday, a showing which was marred by the fact that the homeowners were out of town and had turned the A/C off. Despite the cool temps, the home was sweltering and my clients were out quickly. Sub-tip: when you enter a too-hot home, resist the temptation to set the thermostat ‘way cold: it won’t cool the house any faster.
- Plant for shade. This is a strictly long-term tip, yet it’s one that’s probably the most valuable of the lot. Saint Paul homeowners whose roofs and walls are shaded by majestic trees and plantings have the best of it: lower cooling bills and the pleasure of shady porches and yards. I won’t mention the raking that comes with these trees when the calendar turns to Fall…
- Visit the hockey rink – this one is my favorite. Sign your kids up for summer hockey games or skating lessons (or let them free skate). There is no more refreshing place on a hot summer night than a nice, cool hockey arena. Just prepare yourself for the smell of the equipment on the way home.
If you’re looking for more ideas for coping with summer’s hot weather – and selling your home in the heat of summer, give me a call and we can swing by the rink to throw some cool ideas around! I can always be reached at (651) 251-4898 or via email at email@example.com.
As the weekend approaches, local homeowners might want to refresh their memory and get ready to face the challenge of staying cool when it’s unreasonably hot.
Everyone has a different relationship to heat and its (very) evil twin – humidity. My relationship is very clear – I hate them both. I suddenly find myself pining for one of those snot-freezing February days. Your level of heat tolerance may be different, but either way some attention must be paid to your house cooling needs – or you can move with me to Antarctica.
For most heat-sensitive Saint Paul residents, house cooling is synonymous with some form of air conditioning—if not central, then some assemblage of window A/C units. As the owner of an older St. Paul home, central air is not an option for my family. We make do with a combination of window units and the newer (and noisier) “upright” or “portable” units that vent directly out the window. Just the thoughts of hauling them down from the attic and installing them today has me squirming in my chair. Big, bulky, noisy and expensive….but 100% necessary.
There are other options which provide varying degrees of the relief needed when the heat index approaches “Inferno Level”. It’s the “Whole House” fan system.
The basic idea is to fight the buildup of heat inside the home by pulling air up and out of the structure, expelling heat and allowing cooler breezes to enter. The house cooling is forced by a powerful fan in the attic combined with appropriately installed ventilation ports. It’s the fan that was the culprit behind the unpopularity of yesteryear’s versions. They were called “attic fans,” and they earned an unfortunate reputation for being extremely noisy. Sounded like a helicopter was taking off on the roof.
Today’s whole house fans are the exact opposite: engineering advances make them whisper quiet, yet powerful and effective. Because they are quiet, homeowners don’t mind leaving them on for extended periods, which maximizes their effectiveness in ridding homes of summer heat buildup. It is true that on really hot days—when the outside air, even in shaded areas, can become oppressive—air conditioning is simply more effective. But for Saint Paul residents who don’t mind an occasional heat spell, the savings in electricity consumption can make whole house fans a modern strategy worth considering.
Another option comes to me in sweat-soaked dreams as I’m barely slumbering through a hot and humid summer night. It’s called “The Ductless Mini-Split System” and is known around my house as “the answer to my summer prayers.” This system is ideal for older homes that lack and HVAC system and rely on hot water heat during the winter (I’ve yet to see cool air emerge from a radiator). As more heating and cooling companies become familiar with this system, they have become more affordable. If you can tolerate some additional materials on the exterior of your home and the expense of installation, this is a very efficient means of cooling in the summer.
Finally, I have one last go-to solution for short term cooling. Sign your kids up for a hockey camp and spend some time in your local ice arena.
Summer is also the second half of Saint Paul’s busiest home shopping season. Kids are out of school, and summer vacations give more families a chance to do some serious house hunting. If you’re in the market for a new (and cooler) home please call me at (651) 251-4898 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been staring cross-eyed at the keyboard for a while now, facing this dilemma: do I run the risk of boring everyone to death by writing the same ol’ spring cleaning blog – or can we (considering today’s weather) just skip it this year?
This time, despite my inclination to do without it for once, here we go again…. another spring maintenance reminder list.
- Clear the gutters, downspouts—and any channel that water finds on your property. This is a no-brainer as a huge percentage of water issues can prevented by simply taking the H2O away from the home.
- Take a look at the roof—if it looks odd, something probably is odd. How’s that for profound?
- Inspect the driveway and walks, make sure you’re car is still there.
- Do a test run of the sprinkler system if you have one – I hope you had the pipes blown out in the Fall – if not you’re backyard will look like the fountains of The Bellagio.
- Change smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries, prevent unwanted overnight beeping.
- Check expiration dates on the beers in the fridge, if you’re going to be spending time outdoors you don’t want to be drinking old beer. Show some class already.
- Seal the deck (unless you did that last year, in which case take a break and drink one of those fresh beers.)
- Take a leisurely stroll around the house to check for infestations – I’m not a huge fan of bugs, rodents, or lizards. I prefer they stay outside – especially the bugs.
- Pick up after the dog – unless you have kids…make them do it.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so as you’re taking the leisurely stroll you’ll probably notice one or two details that can use attention: some caulking here, a screen that could use replacement there.
And here are the reasons why I always wind up deciding to repeat the same old points:
- Because first-time homeowners often need to be reminded that now they make up the first line of defense
- Because if and when your home comes up for sale, having religiously maintained the place will make a real difference.
- Because for homeowners, addressing the issue now can save you time and money down the road.
- Because once you’ve attended to your spring maintenance list, summertime enjoyment of your property won’t be spoiled by nagging upkeep worries
That last one could be the most important. Your Saint Paul home will only come up for sale one time, but you can enjoy it year after year when you feel good about how it’s cared for. But from my point of view, when the day comes that your Saint Paul home really is on the market, not having to scramble to correct maintenance lapses makes the whole process that much easier. Then all you have to do is give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com.
A glorious Friday morning is unfolding in St. Paul! The sun is gleaming and shining through the windows of my office (which only I could find annoying as it makes my laptop screen hard to read), the sky is a gentle color of blue that would make Bob Ross glow, and the orchestra of birds makes it clear that it is now – officially – ok to start the Deck and Patio Season.
Deck and Patio Season is that period during which Saint Paul’s homeowners (and even some extremely conscientious renters) take a look outside and begin to plan a spring and summer of outdoor living. This is a period every year that is universally observed by Saint Paul homeowners with only two exceptions
- Those who skip the whole Deck and Patio Season because they don’t have a deck or patio. If you fall under this umbrella, you should call me at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can start shopping for a home and rectifying this situation.
- The less defensible exception – the party-poopers who have nothing to think about because they refuse to get out and slap skeeters with the rest of us. For them, this year’s Deck and Patio Season is almost a non-event. They don’t give their decks a second thought because they simply don’t care to be outside.
Except for those two special circumstances, this year’s Deck and Patio Season looks to be as full of excitement as ever. Our sudden turn in the weather makes this an appropriate time for homeowners to start planning for how to bring their decks and patios back to being the flawless expanses they used to be in their youths.
For the deck-sect – as Better Homes and Garden puts it, “wooden decks receive constant abuse from the elements” which was why Home Depot told you at the very start, “Wood usually changes color quickly unless you apply a finish.” That’s about color, but even more importantly, nobody wants to allow the elements to speed their deck’s disintegration. That’s why Deck and Patio Season should be observed annually, starting right about now. It’s vital to get a head start on maintenance.
Once any deck owner has reluctantly given up on the idea that this spring it won’t need much work (“didn’t we just do that last year?”), the deep ponder can begin. What the fine print on the deck wash container could have made clearer is that no matter what you do, yearly cleaning is the name of the game. And in the even finer print, refinishing every 3-7 years. That’s after that year’s annual cleaning.
For you patio people….the pressure washer is a powerful tool for spring cleaning – literally. Be safe while you’re spraying and enjoy the clean pavers or slabs when you’re done.
But for most, one of the high points of the annual Deck and Patio Season is its conclusion: the moment that marks its official spring time event. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee on Saturday morning, or firing up the grill for the first time, or cracking that first beer of the season – regardless of how you kick things off things off I hope you have a great summer in the great outdoors!
If you want to learn more about how decks and patios can impact your home’s value, feel free to call me at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com…we’ll get together for one of those cups of coffee (or ice cold beers) for a conversation!
If you’re like me, springtime flips the switch in your brain that opens the floodgates to home improvement planning. The notion of opening the windows and getting outside is so appealing that I actually get motivated to take advantage of the longer days by checking off a litany of home improvement projects! Where do we usually start? I end up online in search of home improvement ideas (yesterday I googled “jacking up your front stoop” because who doesn’t think lifting a ton of concrete by yourself is a good idea?).
Diving headfirst into the planning is one thing, but seeing it through to completion is another (insert snide comment from my wife)—but it’s amusing to review the almost unlimited number of clever and inventive notions people have put online.
When it comes to the kitchen, for instance, there are unlimited home improvement ideas. There’s the herb garden wall (in addition to a green thumb, a powerful sunlamp in the ceiling is required) or the pool table top that slips right over the dining room table.
But among the clever and innovative home improvement ideas you will also find some that are totally impractical—or just plain terrible. Here are some of the silliest I’ve found—
- Hammock Over the Stairs. A space-saver, yes. How do you safely get in and out of it?
- See-through Bathtub. Glass walls for the tub = a housekeeping nightmare to say the least. Also, I polled my family and it seems no one (with the exception of the dog) has any interest in seeing me in this.
- Ping Pong Door. This one is complicated: the closed door has pins halfway up that allow it to tilt horizontally, whereupon the plastic net is slid into notches provided in the door frame…anyway, it’s a really small ping pong table.
- Cat Transit System. A CTS consists of 8” diameter tubes running throughout the house just below ceiling level. I’m all in, if it means I can lock the cat up to keep him from walking across my laptop as I work.
- Beach Sand Under Work Desk. This would be a housekeeping disaster but I kind of like it – alot.
- Glass Floor Over an Open Shaft. This home improvement idea is available only to condo dwellers in buildings with abandoned elevator shafts. If this appeals to you, I would be happy to start searching for that perfect building with an abandoned elevator shaft….
Home improvement ideas can be fun—but are best left in the idea phase if they are so off the wall they would drive away potential buyers. Even if you aren’t planning on selling your place any time soon, it’s prudent to keep that in mind (and keep in mind the fallout from a failed glass floor bathroom floor covering an abandoned elevator shaft).
On a serious note, if you’re considering a home improvement project and want to know what the benefits (beyond aesthetics and keeping the cat away from your laptop) are, give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I see a feature with a title like X Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Bigger, I’m someone who’s unlikely to pass it up. Making any kitchen feel bigger would be a definite plus for your home sale. On the scale of honorable pursuits, it would be right there next to cleanliness.
Increasingly, today’s Saint Paul homebuyers think of the kitchen as a (and possibly the) center of family entertaining—the center of gravity where everyone hangs out more than anywhere else. It’s true that if another room features a giant TV entertainment center, that might be serious competition for the family’s attention. But although it might be a place that will occupy goodly chunks of everyone’s time, it’s in the kitchen where family members wind up interacting the most and which gets the most scrutiny when it comes to a home sale.
There’s no debate that in today’s Saint Paul market, a claustrophobic kitchen can slow an otherwise appealing home’s sale. Yet actually hiring an architect, contractor, pulling permits, etc. to physically expand a kitchen is a major undertaking that runs the risk of costing more than it returns!
I emphasize that last point because so often potential sellers want to spend thousands of dollars improving their home, only to recoup those thousands MINUS a big bucket of money.
So finding ways to make your Saint Paul kitchen feel bigger without blowing out walls and tearing up the property for months on end and spending bucketloads of money…well—that’s definitely worth looking into.
To cut to the chase, most of the Feel Bigger Ways aren’t magical: they turn out to be design ideas that maximize storage efficiency. To achieve positive Saint Paul home sale results, the idea is to systematically substitute suffocating kitchen clutter with eye-pleasing open space.
One clear tactic is to make the most of any existing kitchen island. The space beneath is ideal for “smart” storage solutions. Googling smart storage yields 1,000,000+ results (not to mention the ads), comprising a ready-made resource for maxing out the cubic feet that are ready to use right there in the center of the kitchen.
On the opposing side of the “feel bigger” agenda is the suggestion to abandon one of Saint Paul most popular design ideas of bygone eras: the overhead cupboard. In most layouts, those utilitarian storage solutions assail kitchen occupants’ sightlines exactly where it will do the most harm. When you remove those overheads, a whole lot of claustrophobia goes with them. Unfortunately, a good deal of storage space goes with them.
That brings up two other tried-and-true alternatives. First, placing shelving on unused wall space can solve some of the storage dilemma—most pleasingly, when it’s some variety of open shelving. Kitchen design publications are filled with examples of appealing open and glass-windowed shelving.
Second is what could be the most useful, least expensive, and easily adopted insight for making your Saint Paul kitchen fell bigger: just get rid of excess kitchen stuff! It’s simple but true. Removing unused utensils, pots & pans and kitchenware can work miracles. For the gourmet-pleasing cooks who can’t get by without a lot of exotic cookery aids, the solution is an off-site storage solution in the garage or dedicated closet. The minor inconvenience will be worth it if a quicker home sale results—besides, the extra going back and forth is healthy exercise, right?
If you are planning to list your Saint Paul home, a good place to start is with a no-obligation consultation about your home and today’s Saint Paul real estate market. Call me at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com.
Before we break all of our New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to add a couple more!
For most Saint Paul celebrants, the holiday season hasn’t been a single non-stop flurry of activities (even though that’s what sticks in our memories). In fact, the holidays usually include more stretches of free time than we generally experience. Probably because our regular schedules get shredded over the holidays, you can usually count on injections of unclaimed time—whether spent in airport departure lounges or at home, awaiting waylaid deliveries or overdue guests.
Such moments provide a disguised benefit. Especially this month, as we begin our voyage into Saint Paul’s New Year, there is no more apt time to steal the moments needed to consider what fresh initiatives might be possible.
It is New Year’s Resolution time, after all—and if a change in Saint Paul real estate matters could be due, that’s something that probably belongs near the top of the list. With that in mind, here are the most frequently named real estate-related subjects in popular New Year’s resolution lists:
- Make extra mortgage payments — even a single extra payment a year makes a surprisingly large financial impact
- Downsize — recognizing when family living space requirements shrink can mean significant cash savings as well as property maintenance time and effort
- Upsize — sometimes the extra elbow room yields major quality of living gains
- Save Up for a Down Payment — even if a new home isn’t contemplated in the near future, the sooner a regular saving plan is put into action, the easier it will be to meet the goal
- Tackle Deferred Household Maintenance Items — for efficiency and pride of ownership
- Buy an Investment Property — a thoughtful Saint Paul real estate investment can yield both cash flow and long-term growth benefits. These properties are hard to come by, call (651-251-4898) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) your favorite REALTOR (Joe Anderson RE/MAX Results) if you want to learn more!
- Get Organized — de-cluttering is a near universal New Year’s resolution
- Get Efficient — cutting energy consumption and/or water usage by converting outdated household systems should result in net operating outlays. Learn more at energy.gov
When it comes to Saint Paul real estate initiatives, a list of your own New Year’s resolutions may be minor or monumental. If it’s the latter (and a possible change of residence is nearing) you might add one item to your New Year’s to-do list: call me!
When – as the holiday lyrics have it – “the weather outside is frightful,” that makes it a good time to start planning the coming year’s home improvement projects. If you wait for ideal weather conditions to begin laying out your plans, you’re likely to wind up well behind schedule before you even start.
If the home improvements you are contemplating can be handled by yourself, you are probably a Do-It-Yourselfer who knows that you’ll need your ducks in a row before you pull the first nail or make the first cut. Having plans drawn and materials at the ready saves time and work (but you know that).
Should the scope of your contemplated home improvements go beyond the DIY approach, if you have experience in overseeing similar projects in the past, you know how important it is to hire the right tradespeople. True Saint Paul crafts professionals are perpetually in demand not only because of their skills but because of that demand. It means that they don’t create more work than is necessary or stretch out a project to fill their week—their week is already spoken for (and the weeks after, too!). The issue is more that of reserving sufficient time for any given project. A corollary is that the more experience Saint Paul tradespeople have under their belts, the more skilled they are at accurately projecting time requirements.
If you haven’t tackled any major home improvement projects before—or even if you have, if your own time is fully committed elsewhere—finding the right Saint Paul contractor to shepherd your job is all-important. The best Saint Paul contractors can be scheduled well in advance, so if weather factors into your initiative, winter is the ideal time to get planning underway.
How to find the right Saint Paul contractor follows some familiar action steps—
- Gather recommendations from friends with success stories and from experienced Saint Paul real estate professionals (like me, of course!)
- Call the likely candidates. A phone interview should provide you with a preliminary impression and a list of past clients you can contact
- Meet the few who make your short list. Discuss the scope of the job; request preliminary cost and time estimates
- After you make your decision, make sure scope and schedule are in writing—including bonus payments (it’s sometimes a good idea) and penalties. One thing to always keep in mind is that some of the most expensive words in the English language are “while you’re at it.”
Of course, a fast way to get started is to contact me in that first action item. We can discuss a short list of Saint Paul’s best contractors—as well as some go-to tradespeople who have proven their value to my clients in the past. As with all your Saint Paul real estate questions, I’m always happy to help!