Lighting 101: Part 2- Lightbulbs

I am so excited to talk about this subject! I know that this sounds like a ridiculously boring topic, but when was the last time you stood in the lightbulb aisle of a home improvement store? There are so many different options out there it can be totally overwhelming. If you were married to my husband, you would be even more overwhelmed. I remember when we were engaged he asked me to run to the store to pick up some lightbulbs. I called him at the convenience store asking him what kind to get and THIRTY minutes later after he asked me a dozen questions and had me tell him every single kind they offered, I realized that the complexity of the lightbulb choice went far deeper than I ever realized. Jonathan, my husband, is a lighting guy. The light fixtures, lightbulb type, dimmer switches, lightbulb warmth, etc. all mean a great deal more to him that I ever knew to be healthy. However, after living with this man for 10 years, I am a convert. LIGHTBULB CHOICE IS SO IMPORTANT.

It is important to be open-minded when thinking about the lighting for your home. As a real estate agent, I walk into so many homes that show poorly because of their lack of good lightbulbs in the fixtures. It is such a simple fix, I wish someone would just tell them! Homebuyers want to walk through a space that feels like it lets in good light and isn’t dark and dingy. You know, bright and shiny like the listing photos showed (thanks editing software). More importantly, as a homeowner, you want to live in a well-lit home. So I brought in a lighting expert through the firm my husband works for: ZH Commissioning in Florence, Kentucky. Tama Wagner was so generous with her time in answering my questions for you all. Here is the interview:

Tama Wagner, my friend and local lighting expert at
ZH Commissioning in Florence, Kentucky
  1. What makes you a lighting expert? What is your role at ZH Commissioning?

I wear many hats at ZHCx, but related to lighting, I am a Commissioning Technician (CxT) and I specialize in testing lighting and lighting control systems. Although I wouldn’t call myself an expert, I do have extensive on-site experience with observing and testing lighting in commercial settings. Hopefully this will translate to providing advice to homeowners purchasing light bulbs.

  1. What is the one thing you wish homeowners would know about the lightbulbs they’re buying?

A little bit of research can go a long way. Many articles have been written to assist in simple lighting design for the home as well as to help homeowners choose lightbulbs that not only enhance the space, but also help them save money. Each space throughout the home requires different types of lighting depending on the intended use of the space. The “mood” of the room can shift dramatically depending on the type of lighting in it.

One blog that I follow is called “The Language of Light” written by a lighting designer named David Warfel (https://languageoflight.blog/). He also has articles on Houzz.com. He does a great job of illustrating the impact of lighting through various spaces. Homeowners should look through information like this as part of the design of the space. Once the lighting is done, continue to buy the bulbs that fit the design.

  1. What is a common mistake when it comes to the lightbulbs homeowners use?

Buying the same type of lightbulb for all spaces throughout the home or buying light bulbs without reading the package (see above). The information regarding the lightbulb is printed directly on the package. This information will help decipher what type of bulb he or she is buying, how bright it will be, as well as the best application for it.

  1. What kind of lightbulbs are out there to choose from and how do we decide?

There are different types of lightbulbs such as incandescent bulbs, CFLs, LEDs and halogen bulbs. Each of these bulbs consume different levels of energy.

  1. What are your top recommended light bulbs?

I recommend LEDs because they save a ton of energy and last a long time (this could be a blog in itself). I hear people saying, “they’re too bright/I don’t like the way LEDs look” or “they’re too expensive.” LEDs come in many different sizes, colors, color temperatures, and brightness levels (lumens) with options such as dimming/non-dimming. Do not be overwhelmed by the options – many resources are out there to help pick the right LED bulb from articles to online quizzes.

Because I come from a world where the control of the lighting is just as important as the lighting itself, I am now choosing light bulbs for my home that I can control in more ways than just a flip of a switch. So, one particular lightbulb that I use at home is by Wiz Connected. These lightbulbs each connect wirelessly through Wi-Fi, and I use their app for control of the lighting through my mobile phone and Alexa. They can also be controlled in many other ways, but this is the way I personally use them at home. What do I mean by control? I am to view the status of each lightbulb from my phone, so if a light is on when it shouldn’t be, I can turn it off from my phone (whether I’m home or away on vacation). I can also group the bulbs together as different rooms throughout my home and schedule them to turn on, off or brighten/dim, change colors, etc. at different times throughout the day. For more information on this specific lighting check out the site: https://www.wizconnected.com/en-US/consumer/

  1. Why is this so much more complex than it was 20 years ago?

As described in question 4, there are SO MANY options to choose from when picking a lightbulb – this can be very overwhelming.

The introduction of LEDs provides homeowners with energy saving potential, but also more options – which may seem more complex but doesn’t have to be. Usually, the information the purchaser needs is right on the label of the LED bulb package. Once the bulb is chosen, one benefit is that the purchaser will not need to purchase another bulb for a long time. LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs.

Complexity may now be added with how the lights are actually controlled. 20 years ago, lights were turned on with a switch, whether a wall switch or on the fixture itself. Now, with some light bulbs/fixtures, apps can be used to schedule when lighting goes on/off and even the color temperature each bulb is set to.

  1. Would you recommend different types of bulbs for different rooms and areas in the home, or would you streamline it throughout?

I would recommend that at the least the color temperature of all lightbulbs in each space be consistent. But each space in the home has different uses, so it’s okay to have different color temperatures per space depending on the tasks completed in that space. For example, if you have multiple fixtures in your bedroom, and you use this space for relaxing, I recommend going with a warmer color temperature (2700K-3000K which appears more orange), and I would recommend all fixtures contain the same lightbulb. But, in the bathroom, you’ll likely use this space to wake up and start your day. You’ll need to be able to see while shaving, applying makeup, etc. So, in the bathroom, it would be important that all fixtures have a brighter level and a color temperature that is meant for energy and tasks (3000-5000k which appears truer white and is in the neutral range).

THANK YOU, Tama, for the awesome advice and great resources. Your gift card will be in the mail, lady.

5 Easy Ways To Step Up Your Curb Appeal This Spring

Curb appeal, it’s that pesky word that real estate agents and home buyers use a lot. It’s that pesky word I think of every time I think about listing my own house- “Our house just doesn’t have that magical curb appeal.” I would like you to join me on a discovery mission to explore some quick and easy ways to step up your curb appeal this spring. Whether you are thinking about selling or just want to love your home more.

You guys, my house is bangin’ on the inside. I love arranging my furniture with the perfect feng shui in mind, I obsess over paint colors, I am a freak for good lighting, I like a tidy and well-organized home. Would you like to know what is NOT my strength? The outside of my home, specifically yard work. For a perfectionist who loves a job well done, pulling weeds in my flower bed feels like an exercise in futility. It is nice for a week and then those little jerks are popping right back up.

We all are so short on time, so let me point out some really great, easy, and quick ways to boost up the exterior of your home without putting in too much elbow grease.

1. Paint the Front Door

Your front door sets the stage of your entire home. Whether you want to keep it the same color to just clean it up with a fresh coat of paint or get creative and find a new color, painting your door has my top recommendation. Maybe it’s because changing paint colors anywhere is one of my top loves as a homeowner. Changing the color of your front door makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE. I would recommend going on Pinterest to look for the paint color you like and to see what it looks like in full, outdoor sun. Start imagining. Add a fun door knocker, because, why not? Layering door mats is also a new and very appealing trend. I am not quite done with my front door transformation yet. I need to add plants on both sides of the door and my bunny door knocker. However, you can already see the difference below!

Because, why not? Isn’t he precious?
2. Lay Mulch

Nothing ties your outdoor space together like a clean, fresh layer of mulch. If you are wondering what you should do to the outside of your home before you put it on the market, do this one thing. Before I mulch each year, I pull all the weeds I possibly can get my hands on. I then sprinkle triacizide in my flower bed and along the perimeter of my home to keep the invasive bugs away from the structure of the house. Finally, I spread Preen throughout the flowerbeds and anywhere I am going to lay the mulch. I’m sure there is far more I could do in this process. Spoiler alert- gardening is NOT my strong suit, don’t take my words as the final say on this. You should reserve a full morning into the afternoon to this project depending on the size of your yard and flower beds.

3. Plant Some Annuals
I love flowers so much

This is where your creativity can come into play. I love annuals because you can change the look of your yard each spring/summer pretty quickly and easily. Flowers are my jam, you guys. I love color and I love to imagine new possibilities. Do you want the walkers in your neighborhood to do a double-take when they walk by? Add beautiful annuals.

4. Spruce Up That Mailbox

I’m going to take my own advice on this one. My mailbox is on its last leg. It used to be painted black, now it’s mostly bare and silver and leaning to the side. A good mailbox overhaul will help tie everything together outside of your house. You can go to your local hardware store or home improvement store and buy one. Or, if you want to get really fancy and imaginative, I’ve seen some beautiful mailboxes hanging out on Etsy.com. Keep it simple and if you want to add numbers to the post, make sure they’re large and easy to read.

5. Mow The Grass Regularly

This is a no-brainer. Keep up with mowing the grass all spring, summer, and fall. I don’t have a lot of advice on this topic other than to do it! Maybe I’ll devote another blog to the topic of lawn care one day. One day, in a dream far away, I will pay a lawn care service to come to my home. I’m fairly clueless when it comes to this area, I can only tell you it is important! This would be a great opportunity to share in the comments any lawn care tips, thanks!

First-Time Home Buyers and Setting Expectations

How many of us love to watch home improvement and home buying shows? *scans room* All of us? Yes. When my husband and I were living in our 800 square foot apartment, engaged to be married, about to set off into our new careers, those were my favorite shows! It let me dream and envision the life that was possible in front of us. It’s fun. It’s warm and fuzzy. It’s the best. Fast-forward a few years when we were actually buying our first home with a 2-month old baby in tow, trying to make ends meet with a strict budget, it felt a lot less dreamy. I knew nothing about the mortgage application process, nothing about how to put an offer on a home, and certainly nothing about the home inspection process. It all felt overwhelming.

With the right agent, your tears should run dry.

I’m a planner and even in my best-laid plans I felt lost. This is the perfect moment to find the perfect real estate agent. Someone who is willing to teach, be patient, listen to and to serve you. Working with a top-notch professional can make a huge difference.

As a REALTOR®, my first step is to set up a meeting with my buyers after they go through the mortgage pre-approval process with my preferred lender or theirs. In our meeting, once I gather information from my buyers, my next job is to set expectations of the process. I walk them through each step of the full timeline of the buying process shown here:

graphic courtesy of my amazing broker, HUFF Realty

After that, the real work begins. The buyer must turn their HGTV brain off and their reality brain on. Sometimes the reality brain takes a good deal more imagination to consider all possibilities.

The mortgage lender pre-approval process should take care of the first-time homebuyer setting a reasonable budget. Next, I work with my clients to set a wide search on the MLS (multiple listing service) to capture their parameters:

  1. Price range
  2. Location
  3. Required bedrooms and bathrooms
  4. Any other must-haves

I try to keep the search wide, so they can get a reasonable understanding of what is out there in their local market. I look at the property matches with them online and talk about them. This is a time for me to listen carefully to their thought process and perspective they are bringing to the table.

I truly believe the best thing to do with a first-time homebuyer is to get them into a home to view as soon as possible, whether they think they are ready or not. It starts putting their dreams into a more concrete reality. They may have a list of preferences but once they step into a home, it can easily start to change. A good agent will be logging all of this information as they go. This first house showing is as much for me as it is for them. While walking through the home with them I can further start to hone in on what they are looking for. I can also help them imagine practical things they can do to change the house and make it more their own, such as:

  • Paint- we all know from this blog that re-painting a room goes a LONG way.
  • Lighting- swapping the old, dingy light fixture for a new, modern one is an instant update to a room and can help make their home feel more like theirs.
  • Furniture layout- just because the owner’s have it arranged a certain way, they need to imagine their own furniture in different layouts. It can totally change a room.
  • Kitchen details- cabinet hardware, backsplash, appliances can all be really achievable changes to make as a first-time buyer.
  • Bathroom details- mirrors, cabinet hardware, lighting, vanities are all attainable fixes.
  • Flooring- it is a pricier item to change in the home but it can make a big impact on updating the house.

Of course, buyers have to prioritize in their budget what they can and cannot afford, but it is oh, so helpful to make that first showing productive rather than sobering and scary. From there it is all about focus and constantly naming and listing their wants/needs into helping them make a clear-headed decision to place an offer on the right house.

Buying a home for the first time is a big achievement and needs to be an enjoyable and empowering experience for buyers that are deeply rooted in the realities of homeownership. It is important to work with someone who can harness all of that for their buyers and get them to the closing table and beyond.

If you’re local to Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, please reach out to me on my blog or go to my “Contact” page located at the top of this page if you are in need of a REALTOR®. I’m here for you. If you are not local but would like a stellar referral for an agent in your area, please drop me a message and I will work with you to find the right agent. My broker, HUFF Realty, is an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway and Leading RE (the leading real estate companies of the world). I can connect you to someone great. I’m local, but I’m also global. Imagine the possibilities.

Lighting 101: Part One- Light Fixtures

Fancy, schmancy bedroom chandelier from West Elm.

Lighting is one of the most effective upgrades in your home that can also improve your daily life. It’s often an ignored subject! This blog will focus on re-dreaming the fixtures in your home (or in the home you’re considering buying). Part two of this blog will focus on lightbulbs. Who knew they deserved their own blog post?!? Trust me, they do.

I have owned two homes in the last 6 years and have changed light fixtures in those homes a total of 10 times. I have only regretted one of the installations and had it changed a year later. Every time a fixture is updated, it completely changes the entire look and feel of the space. It’s an automatic update in an outdated room. If you are looking for a quick update ahead of listing your home, I would highly recommend changing the lighting. There are plenty of affordable approaches to this. The logistics of installing a light fixture can be done on your own if you are very careful and have researched ahead of jumping right in for the first time. If you’re not comfortable with electrical work, please hire an electrician.

Before/After

The very first thing we did when we moved into our new home was to swap out the kitchen cabinet pulls and updated every light fixture on the main floor. We chose a combination of fixtures with black and brushed gold details. Three of the fixtures on our main floor are opaque glass and the dining room light has fully exposed bulbs. I wanted variety but also was seeking cohesion. We kept most of the fixtures simple and went for a big design pop in the dining room with the chandelier.

After a year of living in our home we discovered our main floor just didn’t bring in enough light and my husband decided adding recessed lights to the living room would solve our problem. The attic is directly above our living room so it turned out to be a surprisingly easy DIY project for my handy honey. Recessed lighting is a creative solution to a practical problem. Changing the other lighting was a way of updating the space to our younger eye for desing.

As far as how to choose what type of light fixture to install, there are a few different kinds to keep in mind:

It is good to consider the room and the height of the fixture. Often, it is advisable to have a chandelier or pendant above a dining room table. A flush or semi-flush light for your entry way if your ceiling is low, but if you have an open entry, a chandelier would fill the space much better. Track lighting can sometimes work well in a kitchen. Some people like ceiling fans in their bedrooms or living room, some people don’t like ceiling fans at all.

Under cabinet task lighting in a kitchen is wonderful. I never had this until we moved in two years ago and I will never go back. It makes any cooking project more manageable and really brightens up a dull kitchen.

This next part is where your vision and creativity come into play. Stand in the room (whether it’s in your home or at a house showing) and try to imagine what it would look like without the current light fixture. Then, think about what type of lighting would suit your needs best and what general size would work. Then it’s time to start browsing fixtures online or in store if you prefer. My favorite places to dream about lighting are Etsy (Olde Brick Lighting shop), IKEA, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Rejuvenation.

The light fixture in the baking nook beside my kitchen. OBSESSED. Photo credit to OldeBrickLighting shop on Etsy.

I am more than happy to share where all the specific lighting in my home was bought, just ask in the comments below! Happy daydreaming!

Fixer-Uppers and Investment Properties

I got the opportunity to list a home last week in a great neighborhood. The home was being previously used as an investment property and had been rented for years. The market here in Northern Kentucky is hot and it was in a great school district so I knew it would sell fast. All of my senses were spot on and the house was under contract in 36 hours. While it was in an ideal neighborhood, it was not in move-in ready condition and it had a lot of cosmetic updates needed.

Enter: a great blog topic. I’m going to use my listing as an opportunity to talk about what this house could become. First, if you haven’t thought about buying a home as an investment, you should seriously consider it. Buying properties for investment offers a big opportunity to build wealth. If you have a young child you want to send to college one day, it is a good rule of thumb that for each child in your family you should have one investment home to pay for this goal. Two children, two investment homes. So on and so forth.

Let’s get back on track. The main goal of my blog site is to get you and my clients to imagine the potential in opportunities and the potential in homes, whether they’re your own home or the one you’re looking for. To look under the surface and see what you uncover. This house I’m going to feature today is rich with opportunity. A blank slate, if you will.

What do you see, just from the outside? I see:

  1. New paint for the siding, shutters, and trim.
  2. If you really want to go all the way, paint the brick.
  3. Either paint or replace the front door.
  4. Dress up the porch, maybe add some railings around.
  5. I would plant a tree somewhere in the front yard, perhaps a tulip poplar which is lovely and grows quickly.
  6. Lots of new landscaping with bushes and flowers.

Let’s go inside.

What would you do with the kitchen? I see these 4 big changes:

  1. Either paint or replace the cabinets.
  2. Upgrade all appliances and sink.
  3. Replace and upgrade the countertops.
  4. Upgrade the flooring from laminate to tile.

In addition to that, depending on the budget, I would take the outside piece out of the “U” shape of the cabinetry and possibly add an island with lower cabinets. That would depend on the space available and what would be done with the breakfast nook. I would also consider having the same flooring throughout the entire first floor, so hardwood would work through the kitchen if that’s what was replaced the carpet in the family room.

This seems like an automatic for me, but may not occur to everyone. Change the lighting for something more updated. It is not as expensive as big renovations but can make a huge difference aka lots of bang for your buck. I have an upcoming blog that will strictly cover the topic of lighting. Speaking of easy updates, don’t forget- paint, paint, paint those walls.

What about this owner’s suite bathroom setup? There’s the bathroom AND an area on the other side of the bathroom wall for dressing, hair/makeup just outside of the bathroom. I stared at this configuration for awhile and I think I would knock out the wall where you see the bathroom door and extend the bathroom all the way out to the closet. This would give more space to add a tub, tiled shower, and a double vanity. Something more like this:

Photo by PickComfort on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

To tie this to my last blog post about Pinterest, I constantly go to Pinterest to bring my imagination to life and to bring it to a tangible reality. I just went to Pinterest and searched “long, narrow bathrooms” and these two images came up. Easy peasy, right?!? Now my imagination is really rolling.

Here’s your homework, my readers. Look at these listing photos and tell me where your imagination takes you. What would you do if you had a healthy budget to fully update this home? Feel free to offer your feedback in the comments below.

Let’s Talk About Pinterest

Ah, Pinterest. Who uses this platform? Me, me, me, me! I do! I just checked and between my personal Pinterest page and my business page I have 6,871 pins. I will not be shamed by this number, don’t even try to go down that path. If you’re not completely sure of what the purpose of Pinterest is, according to Wikipedia, “Pinterest is an American image sharing and social media service designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the internet using images and, on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos, in the form of pinboards.”

I am a real estate agent because I love to help people and I absolutely love being a homeowner. Being an agent for me is not about the transaction (that’s the easy part), it’s about connecting with clients to help them find a place to call home. Part of homeownership is to be empowered enough to make your house the best home for yourself. BUT, do you lack creative vision? Or do you have creative vision, but sometimes need a little extra boost from time to time? Pinterest is an incredible resource for you.

Now, I don’t use Pinterest as a “social media” platform in the same way that I use Facebook and Instagram to stay connected to those I know. I use Pinterest for ideas. Here are my recommendations on how to use Pinterest to your advantage:

  • Paint colors: Choosing paint colors is one of my super powers. I’ll let you in on my secret: I study pins on Pinterest well before painting a room, I’ll read blogs attached to some of them about the “perfect greige” or whatever color I’m pondering, and I’ll narrow my choices down. Once I have a small handful of colors that I think I like, I go back into the search bar, type in the color and paint company and see what pops up. I then try to find photos that are similar-sized spaces to my room with similar lighting to further narrow my choices. Everyone knows paint color can vary greatly depending on the lighting of the room, so pay close attention to that detail when you are searching.
I wanted my daughter’s room to be a very pale and dusty pink. I would have never chosen this perfect paint color if I saw only the photo of the bathroom with that color. Too pink! Too dark!
  • Furniture placement: Sometimes when you look at your new, completely empty house it can be overwhelming to wonder how everything should be arranged. Even worse, it’s hard to UNSEE what it looked like when the last homeowners lived in the space. Go to Pinterest for ideas! The search bar is a powerful tool on this platform. Get creative with the way you do your searches. I promise that it will unlock your mind to what is possible.
  • Homeowner Hacks: Did you know that you can combine equal parts Dawn blue dishsoap with warm vinegar to a spray bottle to create a powerful weapon against glass shower doors? Did you know there are probably 1,000 creative uses for pool noodles around the house? DID YOU KNOW you could create a dam on your garage floor using expandable foam? I knew all of these things because I am obsessed with Pinterest.
WHO KNEW?!?
  • Landscaping: The ability to search ideas on landscaping and plant care has saved me. I am not intelligent when it comes to the outside of my home and I could use all the help I can get. Why not go to Pinterest and let the pins speak the information to you?
  • Checklists: “Year-Round Home Cleaning Checklist”, “Things To Do Before Selling Your Home”, “15 Hacks to Make Your Home Look More Expensive”, “29 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Cleaner Than It’s Ever Been”. There are lists from blogs and infographics for everything your heart can imagine.
  • Anything and Everything In-Between: I could continue to add bullet-points, the benefits of creative inspiration you can gain on Pinterest is endless, especially encompassing the topic of homeownership. Jump in. The water is warm.

If you want to follow my Pinterest page, here is the link: http://www.pinterest.com/LindaGloverHUFFRealty. The link is also on the little “P” button at the top of my blog webpage.

I try to add items daily to help my friends and clients gain inspiration for their homes. If you have any questions, please comment below or reach out to me directly. Happy pinning!

Prepping Your Home Before Meeting With a Real Estate Agent

If you have considered putting your house on the market, there is a good chance one of your thoughts have been, “gosh, there’s just too much to do to sell this house.” or “there’s no way I will ever have the time to make this happen.” Then, you abruptly give up and kick the can down the road. Do you delay selling by months or even years by this negative thinking? Your dreams for a new home are there, right in front of you, my friends. I’m here today to give you a very manageable step in making selling your home a reality.

DE-CLUTTER your space. Shoot, even if you’re not thinking about selling your home and you just want to refresh your space, this is going to be helpful. Living in a simplified environment is good for the mind and spirit. For selling purposes, you would want to de-clutter before you sign a listing contract with an agent, or even meet with an agent for the first time. This could also happen before you make that first list of repairs and improvements needed to sell.

I think I need to be more specific. I live in a pretty clutter-free environment, but my home is also very lived-in. I would have some work to do ahead of listing my home. My lived-in home does not equal my home on the market. When a buyer walks through your home, they don’t need to see your stuff, you want them to see the house and its potential. If your house is filled up with your stuff it will make it a lot harder for them to imagine themselves living there. If it looks crowded and tight, it will make it even harder for them to imagine their own items occupying the home.

Let me be clear, you are not trying to lie to potential buyers. You want to free up their minds to imagine what is possible. You want your space to inspire them.

In this blog, I would like to do an activity. I will be using my house again for my tutorial. I won’t do this in every blog, but it’s such an easy exercise for anyone to do in their own home. I would like to go through a couple of rooms in my house to show you how to asses what needs to be done. I did very little to prepare the rooms ahead of my husband taking the photos. What you see is what you get here.

When the items in your home are in the same place for months and years they can become fixtures and you hardly notice them. As you walk through each room in your home, you need to access your CREATIVE MIND to see the space from a buyer’s perspective. Imagine the room with nothing in it, that may help you start noticing what is there. The buyer has never seen your house before and will notice things you didn’t even realize were there. Let’s start with my living room and I’ll name what would need to be done to get it “listing ready”:

  1. Well, let’s start with the refrigerator magnets on the door that I completely forgot to take down when my children put them up at Christmas. It became a fixture and I forgot they were even there. Get that mess out of here.
  2. All of those “things” you see by the television in the shelves and below. The only thing I should see in that corner is the t.v, the furniture it is on, and the floor vase.
  3. The violin case resting under the secretary towards the front door would need to be stored somewhere safely, like a closet.
  4. The snowman decoration next to the violin would need to go.

Next up, my oldest daughter’s room:

Oh, I just love her sweet room so much.
  1. The stuffed animals behind her bed would need to be stored away.
  2. The bookcase busting at the seams would need to be minimized.
  3. Everything on the top of the vanity table would need to be boxed up.
  4. I, personally, would take the painting off the wall because it doesn’t match perfectly with the room, but that’s not a clutter issue.
  5. The dollhouse would need to be taken out of the room.

Next up, our basement, which has been a catch-all of hand-me down furniture and toys.

In this half of the room I would take out the cedar chest, records, and rocking chair.

Whew, Everything in the photo above would be removed except for the large white cabinet (which is filled with toys, games, and crafts).

In this corner of the basement, which is our clutter corner, we would take out everything except for the computer desk and chair, the wall décor, and the telescope. Everything else would have to hit the road.

I’m sure you are asking yourself, “Where will all of this stuff go? A magical closet somewhere?” Yes, as a matter of fact, a magical closet. I would store all of this excess stuff in my garage until I met with the listing agent and was ready to sign a contract. I would then, before listing photos and showings began, rent a storage unit to hold my items until it was time to move.

Let’s move on and talk about closets. I don’t know of many people who have perfectly organized closets from day-to-day in their lives. Mine generally look good, but I would not call them “listing-worthy.” I’ll use my least embarrassing closet in my home as an example. The coat closet in the entryway.

No buyer wants to open a closet and see it completely full. This closet functions well for us but every bit of it is being used. Ahead of listing the house I would:

  1. Take the instrument case off the floor of the closet.
  2. Pack up at least half of the coats hanging.
  3. Keep only the basket and white organizer cube on the shelves, remove everything else.

For closets, it is advisable to strip the contents down to your living essentials and organize it to make it look functional. To sell your home, I would suggest operating with the closets at 50% capacity while listing.

Let’s talk about personal photos. Just like we all know that we don’t want to get hung up on paint colors when looking for a house, we also have heard that we should reduce the number of personal photos around the home when listing. It isn’t a bad idea, especially if you have a lot. You want your buyers to picture themselves living there, not another family. I can count on one hand the number of personal photos I have hanging in my house. In my case, I think I would take one or two down and just leave a couple.

You could probably accomplish all of these organization goals to get your home to a pre-staging phase in one or two weekends of focused work, depending on your home size and the amount of stuff you have hanging out in your house. When you think you are done, go 10% farther in decluttering. I’m serious!

Next steps would be to make a list of repairs needed for your home. Reach out to your local real estate agent (*cough, cough* me) and review the list with them. You might be surprised that your list may not need to be complete to move forward with selling your home. Also, it WOULD NEVER HURT to get your home inspected prior to selling. This will eliminate a lot of surprise and stress once you are under contract with a buyer. You can make some newly discovered and necessary repairs and it will also allow your agent to price your home more accurately. It is appealing to buyers to see an up-to-date inspection report while touring a home. It brings them peace of mind. I will talk about staging furniture in another post on another day. Happy organizing!

The Kitchen Vision

It is very rare that we meet someone with the exact same taste as us, so why would we expect our home buying search to check all the boxes of our style preferences? We all know that we can change paint color easily, yada-yada-yada and that we shouldn’t let small cosmetic issues to stand in the way of buying a home. But can you see the potential when you walk in the door or when you check out those listing photos? In this fast-paced digital world, our brains are wired to make snap judgements and write things off pretty darned quickly. My husband and I walked through the house we live in now and wrote it off. Weeks later we came back with a fresh perspective and it became immediately clear that it was the right home for us. In this current sellers market we would have lost out on the perfect home for us just by waiting two weeks. In some of these blogs I would like to walk you through different things you can easily change as soon as you move in so you can be better equipped to reimagine on your first walk-through. I will often be drawing from my own personal experience. Today, I’d like to start with the kitchen.

A kitchen is one of those places that we don’t think we can do small-budget upgrades.  It absolutely is! In the first home we bought our kitchen was lime green. A simple coat of paint actually did go a long way. The home I live in now, the kitchen was simply not my style. To go a step further, it felt like the total opposite of my style. However, the experiences from living in my first home allowed me to re-imagine what was possible in my new kitchen when I was walking through it with my real estate agent. Below is the before and after of our kitchen.

Before
After

1. First, I made a mental wish-list of what to do (and then wrote it down later). It started with the cheapest and easiest upgrades first up to the most expensive. We have lived in our house for almost two years now, you better believe that list is not complete. Baby steps. We may never get all the way through the list and that’s certainly okay too. We have done enough changes to where I feel like it’s my own.

2. Paint, yes, can help. Sure.  You know what else can go a long way when you first move in to help update a kitchen? Hardware. Change out those knobs and pulls for something sleeker and fresher. I have done this in both homes I have owned. In my current house, there were round, brushed silver knobs originally on my cabinets. Sure, the knobs were fine and unassuming, but when I changed them out for brushed gold cylinder pulls, it really made the space look more current. You could go to your local home improvement store to buy the hardware but I always like the fresh, unique options I find on Etsy. The set of hardware for my first house came from myknobs.com.

These knobs are great because you just rotate them 90 degrees to become pulls for the drawers.

3. Next, lighting. I will devote an entire blog to this subject in coming weeks, so I won’t dwell here, but change the light. Just do it.

4. The color theme in my kitchen is what I wanted to change the most. Off-white cabinets, white appliances, cream countertops, a beige sink, and off-white backsplash tile. It was a lot of shades of white, but not the super-modern and fresh white kitchens we’re seeing everywhere now. We couldn’t afford to change it all at first, so our first big project was the backsplash. My thought was if I broke up the white parade with a color backsplash it could make the kitchen tolerable for far longer.  I also really didn’t like the Italian scenescape tile to begin with. Through much painstaking thought and brainstorming and tile samples, we finally landed on the navy tile you see in the photo here. I was originally going to order custom glass tile, but when I realized the shipping was going to cost the same as the tile, I decided to scrap the idea and found these awesome tiles at Lowes for 1/3 of the price. The tile shape also complimented the cabinet shape, so it was a big win!

5. We will eventually change our appliances to stainless steel and run a gas line into the kitchen for a gas oven/stove. We will also go with a gray concrete (or composite to look like concrete) sink with a brushed gold faucet.

6. I added a rug to bring it all together. A rug in the kitchen seemed strange at first, but I saw my sister-in-law do it and it really pulls the space together. I waited until I had some reward money at West Elm and I got the really nice rug for under $50.

My point is, you don’t have to do everything all at once, but it helps to decide what will really make it feel like yours and what you can afford first.

There are some kitchen projects that are big and hard, and there are others that just aren’t. I look for smaller projects that make a big impact. The return on investment (ROI) of any kitchen, large, small, or just upgrades is quite high. To add, when making changes to my house I’m always trying to balance my taste while making sure what I’m changing will stand the test of time. You will probably end up selling your house at some point and if it’s 10-15 years down the line, you don’t want to check every trend box on the list in 2021 for it to need a complete redo in 2030 for another buyer to moan and groan about. An updated kitchen will really help your house stand out to potential buyers.

Next time you look at an online listing with a kitchen that doesn’t vibe with your style, imagine what it would look like with different hardware, lighting, backsplash, a rug, new sink and faucet, paint, etc. You can do it!

Before
After

Why on earth is a REALTOR® writing a blog?

Hi guys, if you’ve made it this far and are reading this, congratulations, you are as crazy as I am! I’m totally kidding, maybe. Let me introduce myself. My name is Linda Glover and I live in Edgewood, Kentucky with my husband and two beautiful daughters. I started on a new career adventure in 2020 as a real estate agent with HUFF Realty in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. I am also a professional musician and teacher. The French Horn is my weapon of choice in the music world.

Once I jumped into the real estate arena, I started to think of ways that I could feature my unique qualities and how I can use them to help those looking to buy or sell. One of the superpowers I have is my imagination. I have the ability to see things not as they are but what they can become. I didn’t realized until recently that this, indeed, is a superpower. Creative vision.

I quickly found out that a lot of buyers have trouble walking into a home and imagining what it could be, rather that what it is. Conversely, a lot of sellers have trouble seeing their house for anything than what it already is, rather than how they should want buyers to see it, AKA staging. Enter: Linda. This is all in my sweet spot.

So, weekly, I will add to my blog on tricks and tips and tasks that can make this process easier. SPOILER ALERT: this blog isn’t just for people wanting to buy or sell. It will also be for homeowners just trying to make their home more uniquely theirs. Did I say a weekly blog? Don’t hold me to that. If you know me personally, you know that my life can take interesting twists and turns from day to day. Let’s say I will update this blog *regularly*. Please join me!