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There’s no debate that in today’s Saint Paul market, a claustrophobic our outdated kitchen can slow an otherwise appealing home’s sale.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 email@example.com.
As we roll through the Holiday season, most if us in the housing industry are planning for 2018, and a home buying and selling season that seems to start earlier and earlier every year. Already I’m meeting with buyer-clients anxious to get their search underway, and have a list of homes that will hit the market after the first of the year. With that in mind, now is a great time to scour the latest “Top Ten” lists of cost-conscious ways to increase the value of your home.
Some make more sense than others. Upgrading bathroom vanity cabinets appears on some of the house value lists, for instance—but those lists were probably thrown together in a hurry since the return on investment is admitted to be 66%. When an investment returns two-thirds of its cost, it’s hardly competitive. For Saint Paul homeowners preparing to sell, vanity cabinets don’t belong on the action list.
The best idea lists are those which show ROI: the return on investment. Here’s a new compilation, offered purely as food for thought (since the “return” number for any individual case can’t actually be verified)—
- Yard improvement, AKA Landscaping. Return on investment registers at a hefty 303% according to the NAR® (and even 400%, per This Old House). And it’s true that a weedy, dried-up lawn is not the way to woo any but the most bargain-thirsty buyers. We can assume that the investment figure the NAR points to does not include the homeowner’s time, but even so, a shipshape yard definitely provides a house value gain. Looking out my window, this one would seem a little tough to accomplish now BUT if you’re thinking of a sale that coincides with the end of the school year – maybe you could start planning for green grass!
- Repair (electrical, plumbing, what-have-you). Return: 299%. This is for sure: Saint Paul houses with unaddressed mechanical defects are handicapped in the marketplace—in the end, it’s just too costly.
- Clean and Declutter. Return: 403%. With an average cost estimated at about $400, there’s no argument that it will be easily returned multiple times. When you can rely on truly professional help, the boost is invaluable…or you can give (or throw) some of your accumulated “stuff” away!
- Carpet. The return on investment for an average outlay ($671) is calculated by the HomeGain website at 160%. I might add a caveat to this one: a truly threadbare or uncleanable carpet surely rates replacement—but if existing carpet is presentable, that cost might be better directed elsewhere.
- Staging. With a return of 196%, it’s hard to disagree—especially since Saint Paul’s professional stagers can often save by directing attention away from areas that might be overly expensive to renew.
- Lighten and brighten. This includes everything from “clean windows” or “repainting dark-colored rooms” to boosting the wattage of living room lamps. As a result, the “return” numbers are all over the map: but they’re all positive.
- Upgrade appliances. Full kitchen remodels are usually too expensive to fully reclaim their cost, although when necessary, minor kitchen remodels reclaim 79%. As an alternative, replacing seriously outmoded kitchen appliances is much more likely to add enough value to make it a canny move.
- Declutter and Clean. (I know—but if anything is worth repeating, this is it)!
Your Saint Paul house’s value is what the market proves it to be—but it’s also the shelter your family calls home. If it’s filled with happy memories, that value is probably the one that winds up counting the most. But as for the other kind, when it’s time to shift gears and cost-conscious ways to increase the value of your home, I hope you’ll give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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 email@example.com.
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!
Probably more than any other time of year, it seems like the onset of fall in Saint Paul triggers an impulse to get things done! True, there is a similar phenomenon in the spring when many an ambitious cleaning project is sprung. But those impulses are not mysterious—especially when they follow long stretches of weather-induced indoor confinement. It’s a jailbreak.
Autumn is different. In addition to being the year’s “last, loveliest smile,” it often sets off an impatience to get things done. Although that autumnal get going! impulse can also seem to be triggered by the latest Minnesota weather, there must be more to it than that. The knowledge that winter is on the distant horizon could be part of it. At any rate, there does seem to be some kind of internal mechanism that tells people now is a good time to move major projects off the shelf and into motion.
The reason may well be astrophysical (I thought the word was “astronomical”—but when you look it up, that’s not quite right). This is the time of year when our planet’s voyage around the Sun causes the daylight hours in Saint Paul to grow noticeably shorter; the nights longer. For primitive humans struggling to survive, the ones who connected the weakening with time to gather and store extra food would definitely have been rewarded. Those would have been the ones who were around to greet the spring. Most likely, our own ancient ancestors would have been among them.
Some modern Saint Paul homeowners who are beginning to take notice of the shorter daylight hours may have already done some summer garden produce jarring and canning, so the food-gather instinct may be less in evidence. But if we sense anything like the same kind of ancient impulse, it can be put to good use by turning it into a tour around the house to check on a few items:
- Door and window seal integrity
- Gutter clearing
- Clean cooling devices
- Exterior cracks (and plumbing and cable entrance points)
- Roof integrity
Each is the kind of maintenance detail that, taken together, can make a sizeable difference in your peace of mind come winter. If it’s been more than a year or two since the last dedicated inspection, the rewards in terms of winter utility bills can also be noticeable.
In case the impulse to get all in readiness has anything to do with your ultimate intention to put your Saint Paul home on the market in 2017, this really is a great time to initiate a decisive first step. The easy first item that will get things rolling: call me!