Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Making Your Home Ready for Sale

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Making Your Home Ready for Sale

Think you know what it takes to sell your home? The Jills share their top 5 “do’s and don’ts” for getting your home in tip-top shape for the market.
Preparing your home for sale takes some effort. By following these tips your home will be ready to hit the market.
Do: freshen up your home so that it shows in the best light possible. A fresh coat of paint, some landscaping and pressure cleaning goes a long way. You want to wow people from the second they lay eyes on the home so curb appeal is crucial. Be consistent from the outside in and make sure every room makes a great impression.
Don’t: overspend on major renovations that may overvalue your property. Be aware of comps and know your limits. You don’t want to spend a significant amount of time and money becoming the biggest fish in a small pond when that fish will still be worth about the same as it was before.
Do: Make your home as inviting as possible- leave a coffee table book open to a random page and a candle burning to give off a relaxed and intimate feel. Flowers are always a plus but make sure they look alive and well.
Don’t: leave out personal items or clutter in your home. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in the home and they can’t do that when all they see is your family and your life. Clearing out and cleaning up will allow them to see how beautiful the home is and will give them the opportunity to envision themselves living there.
Do: listen to advice. You hired your agent for a reason. Let him or her guide you as to when it makes sense to improve and when it  doesn’t. When it does, seek help from a decorator and/or architect. Find the best professional and let them do what they do best.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mastering the Art of Brushed-On Finishes for Kitchen Cabinets

Mastering the Art of Brushed-On Finishes for Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re a fan of the classic look, brushed-on cabinet finishes have a lot going for them.
Guest Post by Michael Chotiner
Professional kitchen renovators tend to have strong opinions about cabinet finishes, yet there’s surprisingly little consensus about what makes for a great paint finish. I’m a former custom cabinetmaker. One past partner favored the pristine, straight-from-the-spray-booth look; another—an old house aficionado—valued a patina that included faint traces of brushstrokes to suggest that the paint was applied by hand in an era when spraying wasn’t an option.
The fact is that professional-grade painted cabinet finishes are applied in at least three coats, and most fabricators prefer to apply as many of them as possible with a sprayer because it’s faster than brushing. Yet, at least one coat—usually the last touchup after cabinets are installed—is most often applied with a brush to save the hassle of masking the surfaces surrounding the cabinets.
What the Pros Say
Cabinet pros don’t universally agree on whether brushstrokes should be evident in the finished product. Some even take pride in applying paint with a brush that ultimately looks as if it was sprayed. The bottom line is that it’s up to the customer. Visible brushstrokes are a personal preference.
Brushstrokes can give vintage, classic style to your cabinets, and there are several strategies for achieving the effect. Most techniques are intended for raw wood cabinets and involve some spray-applied coats (which I wouldn’t recommend for do-it-yourselfers). But below, I’ve combined and adapted some brush-only techniques with a few tricks of my own that should work well for anyone with patience and a keen sensibility to achieve a professional quality paint finish on cabinetwork.
Step-by-Step Brushstroke Finish
  1. Remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts (if not glued) and take off all hardware.
  1. Fill all scratches, nail holes, dings and open grain with a suitable filler. In most cases, I like to use Durham’s Water Putty. Unlike most fillers, which shrink as they dry, Durham’s expands as it cures, locking itself into cavities and puffing up a little proud of the surface plane.
  1. Sand all surfaces to be painted with 180-grit sandpaper (start with a heavier grit if necessary and work up to 180) to attain a smooth surface with enough “tooth” to promote paint adhesion.
  1. Vacuum the dust from all surfaces; then, wipe each piece with a tack cloth.
  1. Set doors flat on blocks or on another horizontal surface like a workbench or table, to keep the edges elevated. I like to set them face down in preparation for the first priming step; after coating the back of a door and letting it dry, I can flip it over in preparation for painting the front without worrying that the more visible surface will be marred by contact if it hasn’t fully hardened.
  1. Apply BIN shellac primer to all surfaces with a china-bristle brush. If the finish coat will be off-white, ivory or a darker color, tint the BIN to match it closely. Start by brushing the primer across the grain; then, even out the coat by brushing with the grain using just the paintbrush tips.
To work faster, apply paint to larger surfaces like doors with a roller, then back-brush with the tips, working with the grain, to smooth and level the paint. Once the shellac begins to set, stop trying to work it. Give the shellac two hours—or however long your product’s label says—to dry.
  1. Sand the primed surfaces with 280-grit abrasive sandpaper to smooth out the heaviest brush marks, but you don’t have to remove them all. Repeat Step 4 to remove all dust.
  1. Apply two thin coats of alkyd enamel using the method described in Step 6. Sand and clean between the first and second coats. Whatever brush marks remained after you sanded the primer will telegraph softly through the enamel topcoats. Add a third coat of enamel, sanding beforehand, if the color and/or finish don’t appear sufficiently opaque.
The Argument for Visible Brushstrokes
In addition to imparting an aura of hand-crafted charm, many proponents of brushed-on paint finishes for kitchen cabinets argue that they mask joints and defects in wood surfaces that develop naturally as cabinets age. Brush-grade oil finishes are also easier to repair than sprayed-on coatings, should they become damaged through ordinary wear and tear. If you’re a fan of the classic look, brushed-on cabinet finishes have a lot going for them.
Michael Chotiner is a cabinetmaker and contractor who writes about home improvement topics for The Home Depot. He provides all kinds of tips and tricks from resurfacing cabinets to building your own cabinets.  To see a variety of kitchen cabinet types and finish options, visit The Home Depot.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 Trendy Kitchen Design Tips

5 Trendy Kitchen Design Tips

HomeAdvisor offers up their hottest trend tips for the kitchen.
Guest Post by HomeAdvisor
Looking to put your kitchen on point with the latest trends? Here’s how to incorporate what’s hot right now into an enduring design that will never go out of style.
#1 Give in to grey
If you want to update your kitchen’s color, consider going grey. Designers have noted that grey is racing toward the top spot for kitchen design color, especially when mixed with white or black. Grey is great for cabinets and shelving, in particular, because it complements the color of many plates and glasses — and it’s also less likely to show scratches and dents than other colors. If your cabinets are in good shape, consider talking to a painter about painting them grey.
#2 Focus on function
Your kitchen should always be functional — and these days, there are a number of innovations available to help increase efficiency. Cabinet designers have revolutionized cabinets and with the introduction of soft-close and button-activated drawers and doors, for example, which minimize wear and tear. And there are a number of pull-outs, inserts and hideaways sure to make any homeowners life a lot easier. If you’re interested in updating your cabinets, consult a professional to see what’s possible.
#3 Embrace tech
No modern kitchen is complete without some form of tech gadgetry. Install only what you’ll actually use — and what you can actually afford. Some options include:
  • Energy-saving, sensor-activated lights
  • Meat thermometers that plug into your smartphone
  • Hands-free faucets
  • A digital counter to keep track of how long food’s been open
  • Smart countertops that can measure the weight of food
  • Bluetooth-enabled frying pans
  • Remote-controlled crock pots
#4 Go with the flow
Your house has a flow; the rooms are designed to integrate into one another — dining room, living room, etc. Keep the integration of your kitchen in mind when you’re designing, and achieve a flowing aesthetic with:
  • Appliances that blend with cabinets or shelving
  • Books, vases, servingware and other pieces complementary to those in other rooms.
  • A color scheme that extends or balances the colors used throughout the rest of the house.
#5 Maximize your space
Everything in your kitchen should have and do a job. Storage should be sleek and efficient, making the most of every nook and cranny. If your cabinets aren’t performing at their peak, consider reorganizing them. You might also consider replacing some of your upper cabinets with open shelves — a growing trend that can either help or hinder in the efficiency department. If you need help designing an efficient kitchen, we recommend consulting with a designer.
Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Your Home’s November Honey-Do List

Prep your home for the holidays and cooler weather with this list of home to dos that you’ll be especially thankful for.



This month, we’re especially thankful for home. Home is where the family comes together, where we’re protected from the elements, and where love abounds. Your home’s November Honey-Do list will make sure your home is ready for the holidays, prepared for colder weather and loved inside and out.
1. Winterize your home – For most of the country, November is the time when we can no longer deny that the colder weather has settled in. Now is the time to winterize summer tools and appliances like air conditioner units, grills and lawn mowers. Bring garden hoses indoors and check your windows and doors for drafts.
2. Make a Turkey Game Plan – No coach would head to a big game without a game plan up his sleeve. Likewise, no chef should hit the kitchen without thinking through the menu and timeline first. Determine what menu items you can make ahead, decide what responsibilities you can delegate, and take an inventory of your pantry and china cabinet. Oh, and now’s the time to clean that oven, too.
3. Polish the Silver and Dust off the China – Thanksgiving is a special meal, which deserves the best of your entertaining arsenal. Because we don’t often use our special dishes year round, it’s smart to give them a good deep clean and polish before setting the table on Turkey Day.
4. Give your living room a refresh – With the holidays ahead, your living room is sure to get plenty of use. Give the space a refresh by changing out the window treatments for a new look.
5. Use some pest control – Rodents and other pests are opportunistic and seek warmer environments when the temperatures drop. Be sure that they don’t call your house their home by implementing these 5 surefire tricks to pest control.
6. Clear out the gutters – Avoid drainage problems and damage to your home’s foundation by clearing out the gutters before snow and ice wreaks havoc. Here is an easy how-to guide to cleaning rain gutters on your home.
7. Be ready for snow – Before the first winter storm, it’s a good idea to make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in proper working order. Ready to invest in a snow blower after the brutal winter last year? Here is a buying guide from Home Depot that will help you make an educated purchase.
8. Start tackling the December to do list – The holiday to do list is notoriously the longest of the year. Get a head start by ordering your holiday cards, updating your address book, and making a gift wish list for each of your family members NOW. You can even start stringing twinkle lights on your shrubbery before the deep chill sets in. After all, the most important part of the holidays is taking the time to enjoy our family and friends.
Next month we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to make your home holiday ready.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fall Entertaining Ideas You Won’t Want to Miss

Fall Entertaining Ideas You Won’t Want to Miss

Fall is a fun, festive time of year in North Texas. This is the time of year to gather with friends and family, so make your home festive and welcoming. Try out some these fall entertaining ideas to make the most of the season ahead.
With autumn in full swing, it helps to have a few fall entertaining ideas up your sleeve. This is the time of year to gather with friends and family, so make your home festive and welcoming. Whether you want to throw an elaborate fall harvest party in your DFW home, or you’re looking to do something a little more low-key, we have you covered with some fun ideas fit for the season ahead.
Play Up the Pumpkins
‘Tis the season for pumpkins galore, so embrace them as you plan your fall entertaining ideas. One clever way to work these orange orbs into a fall party is to hollow them out and use them as serving bowls. They’re the perfect containers for poppable snacks such as trail mix or chips. To really add some seasonal style, set the pumpkin atop a bed of twigs and fall berries. Check out Hall’s Pumpkin Farm in the heart of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex to load up on pumpkins of all sizes.
Bring On the Hay
Here’s an easy way to add some Texas flair to your fall party: Use bales of hay as outdoor seating. Guests will love the homey feel they bring, and your fall-themed fiesta will score extra points for having some real downhome charm. Arrange your hay-bale seating in a circle or around a focal point in your backyard, such as a fire pit or a tree strung with lights.
Embrace Fall Foliage
When leaves turn rust red or vibrant orange, incorporate them into your decor. String them across your fireplace mantel using rustic twine, or wrap them around silverware at your table’s place settings. Another idea is to write guests’ names on large leaves using a silver marker. Set them atop plates as perfect-for-fall place settings.
Don’t Forget the Fun and Games
Make some memories at your harvest party by organizing some fall-specific activities. You could have a station where guests bob for apples and then an area for them to decorate their own caramel apples. They might be good enough to rival those from local favorite, Jim and Lor’s Candy Store. Another clever idea is to set up a “bowling between the bales” activity. If you’re already hauling some bales of hay into your backyard, get double the use by using them for seating and games.
Fall is a fun, festive time of year, and in North Texas, it’s a great time to invite friends over to your home. Try out some of these fall entertaining ideas to make the most of the season ahead.
Image Source: Flickr/HomeSpot HQ

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What You Need to Know about September Housing Numbers

What You Need to Know about September Housing Numbers

Home sales rebounded in September; highlights from the latest housing report from the National Association of Realtors
The housing market came back strong in September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Its monthly report on existing home sales marked the year-over-year gain as 8.8% with the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million existing homes sold.
“September home sales bounced back solidly after slowing in August,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “[This is] is the second highest pace since February 2007. While current price growth around 6 percent is still roughly double the pace of wages, affordability has slightly improved since the spring and is helping to keep demand at a strong and sustained pace.”
Yun is optimistic despite September inventory shortages, which decreased 2.6 percent to 2.21 million existing homes available. “Despite shortages, the housing market has made great strides this year, backed by an increasing share of pent-up sellers realizing the increased equity they’ve gained from rising home prices and using it towards trading up or moving into a smaller home,” he said.
Recently, NAR President Chris Polychron testified in support of the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance to pass the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015.” According to Polychron, the bill will help to expand homeownership opportunities and includes changes to current housing policies that limit flexible and affordable financing needed by many first-time buyers. Realtors are hoping the new policy will help sustain the housing market’s upward climb into 2016.
The monthly NAR report also showed that single-family home sales are up 9.6 percent from a year ago at 4.93 million with a median home price of $223,500.
September’s housing rebound helped boost all regional existing home sales. The Northern region rose 8.6 percent to 760,000, while the South climbed 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 2.21 million in September.
September’s housing rebound means existing home sales have now increased year-over-year for 12 consecutive months.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tips on Narrowing Down Where to Buy a Vacation Home

Tips on Narrowing Down Where to Buy a Vacation Home

Thinking about buying a vacation home? Consider these suggestions on finding the perfect destination.
So maybe you’ve been thinking about buying a vacation home after that amazing time you had this summer with the family, but you’re wondering if that destination is the place to put down your vacation roots. As a child, my family traveled each summer to the Great Smoky Mountains, and when I chose to attend college in Western North Carolina, it made perfect sense to my parents to purchase a home in this area. At the time they thought it would be a vacation home, but they eventually fell in love with the area and moved there permanently.
The original plan was finding a home in Asheville because that was the town they knew best. But after exploring the area, they soon learned that their budget prevented them from affording this market. Perhaps you too have been wondering how to identify which area is best for your vacation home purchase. Here are some things to consider when trying to determine where to buy a vacation home.
Google Maps. Take some time on Google Maps to look around the region you’ve identified as your vacation home destination. Maybe you’ve been vacationing for a few years on St. Simons Island and dream about having your own place on the Golden Isles of Georgia. But there are so many other wonderful (and perhaps more affordable markets) on the Georgia and South Carolina coast that you may be missing. Get to know the region and make a list of all the possible cities that provide access to that “thing” that makes you keep coming to this area.
Market Research. Now that you’ve pulled together a list of other cities to consider, do some research on each of the markets. Some initial things to find out would be:
  • Short-term rental demands and occupancy rates
  • Tourism demographics (Is it growing or declining?)
  • Medium sales price for vacation homes (also try to find historic information to determine market growth or decline)
  • Inventory levels of vacation homes for sale
  • New housing construction projects
  • What are people saying about each community on sites like TripAdvisor.com
Here’s to Another Trip. Most of us go on vacation and typically never leave the area we’ve come to visit. But now that you’ve done your research and identified other communities to consider, it’s time to go visit. Reach out to a local real estate agent in those markets to show you some properties that are currently for sale to give you a better idea of each market’s inventory. Also try to set up appointments with property management companies while you are in town to explore your options if you choose to rent your vacation home while you’re not using it.
Main image credit: Flickr user MaxGag

Friday, September 11, 2015

Your Home’s September Honey Do List

Your Home’s September Honey Do List


Tackle these to dos this month and your home will be fall ready in no-time.

Our to do lists always seem to grow in September. Summer is coming to a close, school is kicking into full swing and the homework just keeps piling on. To make your fall home prep just a little bit easier, here is your home’s Honey Do List for September.
1. Clear out those closets – As you pull out the sweaters and jeans this fall, make a point to weed out the clothing items that don’t fit any longer or that are no longer in style. Donate or trash unwanted items.
2. Sneak in one last backyard bash – Host a barbecue before the weather gets too cool to host outdoors. These 10 cleaning tips from Maids.com will make you a rockin’ backyard party host.
3. Brighten up your kitchen – We spend a lot of time in our kitchens in the fall and winter months. We cook holiday meals, gather with family and pour over homework on the kitchen counter. With shorter days coming quickly, a few simple changes to brighten up your kitchen can make a big difference. Bonus: they won’t break the bank!
4. Inspect and Repair Your Roof – Now is the time, before the snow and ice arrive, to inspect your roof for leaks and cracks. Today’s Homeowner suggests paying particular attention to the area around the chimney as that is the most common spot for damage to occur.
5. Add a pop of color to the porch – Consider adding a fall wreath and some fall-blooming flowers like garden mums to give your home some extra curb appeal this fall.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Reason First Time Homebuyers Should Shop Around

The Reason First Time Homebuyers Should Shop Around

Homebuyers, particularly inexperienced ones, often become enthusiastic about pursuing the first home they look at. I can personally attest to this as I am in the process of house hunting for the first time.
It is common for first time buyers to contact an agent after seeing a property and say they are sure they want to buy it. This sort of hurried enthusiasm is not necessarily as promising as it sounds, as it is often beneficial to buyers to examine several properties before deciding to make an offer.
The Process of Buying a Home
Buyers should have a general idea of what they are  looking for in a home as well as what general area they would like to live in. The process of looking at different properties can often help them refine their criteria. Because it is common for buyers to adjust their expectations and reconsider their desires throughout the process, buying the first home seen can be problematic.
Doing so means there is no time or opportunity to compare homes or re-evaluate properties. Often, comparing two homes is how buyers decide what factors are more important to them. For example, buyers may initially think that they want to have a larger backyard, but decide when actually looking at homes that one with a smaller yard is more appealing.
Beyond individual homes, the chance to look at different neighborhoods may also be lost. It is important for buyers to remember that neighbors can be as important as where and how large a home is. For example, parents with young children might find that the chance to live near other families is worth more than an extra bedroom.
Pacing the Home Search
Looking for a home can be a complex process. For busy individuals balancing the search with other aspects of life, it may become difficult or stressful. Buying the first home they see may be a way for some buyers to try to cut the process short.
Many buyers who initially wanted to buy the first house they looked at were later glad they did not end up doing so. Again, I have just recently gone through this experience with a home that I fell in love with but realistically was just too small for my family. Looking back I am so glad my husband was able to snap me back to reality!
Unfamiliarity with local markets can also play a part, since buyers may not initially understand what types of choices are available to them in a given city, town or region.
Working with a real estate agent can help to guide you through the home buying process and will give you expert advice and insight on the best way to compare homes and locations.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Staging an Empty Home

Staging an Empty Home

Many homeowners find themselves in a predicament when they are forced to relocate quickly for a new job or other extenuating circumstances without having time to sell their existing homes. In these cases, most owners end up purchasing a home in their new location and selling a home that is empty in their previous location.
Selling an empty house can present challenges to individuals, because a large part of a property’s appeal is viewing it when it’s properly staged. However, there are ways to overcome this obstacle and have a successful home showing.
Rent Furniture
The most immediate solution to an empty home is renting furniture sets to spruce up a home. Traditional staging rules should still be adhered to, and individuals should seek out furniture color palettes and accent pieces that are warm and neutral. Consumers do not have to break the bank to purchase extensive sets. Instead, a basic dining room set, a living room suite and bedroom set should suffice. In addition, consumers can borrow accent pieces from friends and family members to add more color and character to the home. Lastly, bringing small appliances, pictures and warm touches from their new home allows sellers to make the house feel more welcoming and family-oriented.
Clean and Update Thoroughly
A clean home is crucial for any sale, but it can be even more imperative for empty houses. Dust on the floors, dirty windows and grime on countertops will be even more visible to potential buyers because there are fewer objects around to distract them or cover up imperfections. Pressure wash carpets, clean windows, wash walls and make sure corners, vents and ceiling fans are dust-free before a showing.
In addition, sellers may want to take advantage of the empty space and repaint walls or put in new floors to make the area appear more modern and fresh.
Don’t Ignore the Outdoors
Sellers should avoid getting too caught up with the interior of the home and pay equal attention to the exterior. Curb appeal is important in selling a home, and the landscaping and condition of the house is the first thing buyers will see when they pull up to a property. Keep grass trimmed, plant a few flower beds and make sure the home itself has been touched up to keep the outside profile looking neat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Think Like a Buyer When Selling a Home

When selling a home, “Pride of Ownership” is a phrase often used to attract buyers. It may seem counter-intuitive then, that homeowners who show pride are asked to remove evidence of family life before listing their home for sale.
A homeowner who is able to view their own home through the eyes of a buyer has a much better chance of a quick sale — and a higher profit — by completing some simple tasks that set the stage for a buyer.
Make the Mental Break
Selling a home is an emotional experience, especially for the homeowner who is parting ways with family memories. As a result, many homeowners attach a monetary value to their homes strictly based on sentimental reasons, which can negatively affect everything from setting the asking price, to redecorating to attract a wider audience.
Consider your opinion of your home when you bought it. What attracted you to the property as a place to call home? Try visiting other open houses in the area before listing, and take notes about what you liked, and didn’t about the property. Take the list home and apply the same critical eye to each room of your house to see if it will pass the buyer test.
Your home is entering the market with the aim that it will become someone else’s home. Doing everything you can to ensure the most buyers will fall in love with your home can ensure that the next owner will provide it with the same care and attention you have.
Create a Neutral Palette
With 90 percent of home buyers browsing properties online, according to a joint survey by the National Association of Realtors and Google, it is no surprise that the home viewings are spurred by images browsed online. To attract a buyer’s eye, photos that show clean, spacious, and neutral spaces will far outweigh the competition.
Browse current listings in your area and make note of any appealing images. Chances are, they will project a light and airy space, with no clutter or personal knick-knacks. These images allow a buyer to picture themselves — and their things — in your home. This is the much-touted concept of depersonalization.
It may seem inconvenient, but tucking away personal photos, awards, mementos, and even furniture will create a blank canvas from which to stage your home for sale. A general rule of thumb to follow involves packing up anything to which you have a sentimental attachment. Whether buyers realize it or not, they will feel mentally ready to consider your house as a potential new home if they don’t have to overlook your life while doing it.
Paint color is another item, which is entirely personal, and should be tamed down to allow the features of the house to speak for itself. Beige, gray, or greige (a mix of the two) are fantastic choices to create a neutral palette that will allow a buyer to picture your home as theirs.
Assemble the Right Team
Every great home sale begins with a knowledgeable professional — and sometimes buyers need a reality check. Your real estate professional is invaluable during a sale, and can provide you with an unbiased and experienced opinion on your home, and any changes that will make it more attractive to buyers. Your agent is also the go-to source for comparable listings and can guide you to an informed decision about the correct asking price for your home. An agent who can provide an objective view can be a powerful ally when selling a home.
Written by Melina Gillies
Image Source: Flickr/Stephen Harris

Friday, July 17, 2015

How to Hang a Gallery Wall

How to Hang a Gallery Wall


Every homeowner should know how to hang a gallery wall. It’s a great opportunity to express your personality and creatively display your favorite paintings, prints, artwork, and family photos. Whether you want to arrange the pieces on your stairs, above your couch, or along an open wall in your DFW home, here are some helpful tips to get your gallery display just right.
Pay Attention to Size
For the best-looking wall, it helps to start with the largest piece and then work out. Be careful not to put too much space between photos and artwork.
Get the Right Frames
Your gallery wall should have a cohesive look, so be sure to use frames that blend well together. They don’t all need to be solid gold or silver, but they should look as though they belong together. Frames with flecks of each create a consistent look. This Ft. Worth picture frame shop can give you some guidance if you need help selecting the best frames.
Do a Test Run
Before you bring out the hammer and nails, arrange your photos on the floor. Move them around and adjust spacing until you get an arrangement you like. Be sure to check the installation instructions if you have a particularly large or heavy piece of art. Don’t attempt to install pieces that require professional installation.
Incorporate More Than Just Photos
When it comes to creating a gallery wall with interest and personality, think about adding a shadow box. If you have sentimental objects — like seashells from a family vacation or tickets from a big concert — work them into your arrangement. Also, don’t be afraid to add a punch of color to your wall by framing a swatch of fabric or decorative piece of paper. You could even incorporate a shelf or two. You don’t want to haphazardly work things into your gallery wall, but don’t be afraid to add some dimension and depth by venturing away from flat prints.
Mix It Up
Once your gallery display is in place, don’t forget to update it. Keep the frames in their original places, but freshen up the artwork or photos from time to time.
There’s nothing like a gallery wall to showcase your favorite pieces of art or photographs. While there’s no definitive rule to creating the ultimate display, it helps to keep the pointers above in mind. Want more? Here’s a helpful step-by-step tutorialon how to hang a gallery wall.
Written By Audrey Sellers
Image Source: Flickr/Travis Isaacs

Thursday, July 9, 2015

BBQ Food Ideas: Beyond Ribs & Burgers

BBQ Food Ideas: Beyond Ribs & Burgers

North Carolina homeowners pride themselves on their grilling skills. Most North Carolinians grew up on barbecued ribs, burgers, Grandma’s potato salad, pork ‘n’ beans, and white bread slices. But health-conscious options abound. But today’s more health-conscious barbecue fans have found some delectable, more nutritious options.

Grill Fruits and Veggies
Foodie haven Central Market provides some BBQ food ideas for grillers who want some healthier or vegetarian options. Start by keeping an eye on your grill temperature: Medium-hot coals work best for fruit and veggies, so consider cooking them first before you increase the heat for the meat.
The best way to cook vegetables is to prepare them on planks. Long planks keep the food from falling off the grill. Or use skewers and grill fruits and veggies as kabobs. Be sure to coat the food with olive or canola oil and season with your favorite spices and fresh herbs. Onions can be cut in slices, and you can even grill a whole head of garlic away from the flame.
If you want to avoid the whole issue of vegetables falling off the grill, there are plenty of barbecue accessories that will help, like kabob racks and grilling baskets. The downside is that it’s one more item to clean after your barbecue is over.
Central Market foodies say the best vegetables to grill include yellow squash and zucchini. Also consider corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and asparagus. Top picks for grilling fruit include apples, pears, and pineapples.
Start a new hamburger tradition by going vegetarian with grilled portabella mushroom burgers or black bean burgers. Go with whole wheat buns to cut down on the processed flour.
Healthy Protein Options
BBQ food ideas today go way beyond beef and pork, or chicken slathered with sugar-laden barbecue sauce. New poultry favorites include chicken rubbed in mint and limecooked with pineapple or grilled chicken quesadillas.
With proper preparation and grilling tools, fish is easier to grill than ever before. Place shrimp on skewers and add your favorite spices and sauces, like with this ginger-garlic shrimp recipe. Or wrap your fish and vegetables in foil packets to create a yummy meal — a versatile whitefish like tilapia works well with this grill-friendly en papillotemethod.
With such a wide variety of healthy and flavorful grilling options, you’ll have lots of delicious reasons to fire up your grill every weekend.
What are some healthy suggestions you have for amazing (and healthy!) recipes!?
Written By Tammy Valentine

Thursday, July 2, 2015

America. This Is Home.

Image from http://www.happychildrendayx.com

Photo by Kayla Hott
In the heat of the summer months, it is easy to focus on the stress of planning trips or just staying cool! During this Fourth of July holiday, I like to think about catching lightening bugs at my Grandmother's house, rocking on her porch swing, and simpler times where we kids would laugh with abandonment while the home made ice cream was being hand turned. 

I also get chills thinking about our freedom in this country and the sacrifice that so many have made and continue to do so to protect it. 

What are some of your fondest Fourth of July memories? Please share them in the comments section below!

I wish you all laughter, love of family, and simple enjoyment over this holiday weekend. 

~Jodi Tate

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pros and Cons of Buying a Home with a Pool

Pros and Cons of Buying a Home with a Pool


Tips, advice and the cold, hard facts from pool owners and expert Coldwell Banker agents.
You’re a buyer looking for a new home. You come across an amazing home, but it has a pool. What’s your reaction?
Chances are you react strongly either for a pool or against one. I’m currently in the market for a home, and I went in with a very strong opinion that I did NOT want a home with a pool. But then there are some really nice homes with some really nice pools that got me wondering whether or not I should change my mind.
Isn’t it costly to upkeep? Do I have time to maintain it? Doesn’t it depend on where you live? All these questions are running through my mind so I set out to talk to actual home owners with pools and several Coldwell Banker agents to help me determine the real pros and cons of buying a home with a pool.

Pro: You’re the Cool House
There is no monetary value associated with this, but there’s definite advantages to being the home people want to go to. A number of my friends who have pools talked about how it gave them piece of mind that they knew all their kids friends and what was going on because of the amount of time being spent at their house. Plus parties, birthdays, and backyard BBQ’s are always better when a pool is involved.

Con: It’s an added expense, but maybe not as much as you think.
Pool maintenance will become a new line item in your budget, but how much is it really going to cost you? A friend of mine remarked that they paid someone to open their pool in the spring and it cost about $400, but they soon realized they could probably do it themselves in the future for less than $100. John Houseman with Coldwell Banker Sunstar-Morris Realty in Florida remarked that upkeep on a pool can be as cheap as $40-$50 a month if you do it yourself. Pools will also add an additional liability insurance to your statement, but depending on where you live some pool owners remark that it was only an additional $10-$20 a month.

Pro: It’s a Selling Feature…For Pool People
The concern of a pool being a tough feature when it comes time to sell is really dependent on where you live. If you’re in California, Florida, Arizona or Texas, you’re going to have a ton of interested people. If you’re in Maine, North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan, you might have a tougher time at resale. Some Coldwell Banker agents in warmer markets are seeing a $15,000-$20,000 increase in selling price for homes with pools, but agents in more seasonal markets find homes with pools often take longer to sell as you’re waiting for the right person.

Con: When Something Goes Wrong, It’s Gonna Hurt Your Wallet
Repairing a pool is a nightmare. Every person I talked to that had a leakage problem or a structural repair issue with their pool talked about it as if it was the worst experience ever. Homes with newer pools are the way to go, but even that is no guarantee. You’ll want a thorough inspection of the pool’s condition before moving on buying a home with one.
While determining the pros and cons of buying a home with a pool I also uncovered a number of tips for people who ultimately end up owning one:

  1. Look at getting a salt water pool. It costs more upfront but your investment is made back after 2 years. Plus you’ll save on chemicals.
  2. Put up a fence around the pool. Protects you from liabilities and helps you control who is going in the pool and at what times.
  3. Solar panel heating of a pool is something to consider that might save you money over the course of the time you own your home.
  4. Get a robotic pool cleaner to minimize the time you spend maintaining it.
My biggest takeaway is that buying a home with a pool is really dependent on where you live and the type of person you are. If you live in warmer climates, owning a pool makes perfect sense and the upkeep is not a budget breaker. Also if you have a family, especially with young children, owning a pool can be a great investment into the time you spend at home. However, if you’re in cooler climates and not a big swimmer, chances are you won’t value the emotional rewards from being a pool owner.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of buying a home with a pool in the comments. And if you’re in the market for a home with a pool (or not), we have plenty of options at coldwellbanker.com.

Header image is of a ridiculously gorgeous pool at a Coldwell Banker listing in Princeville, Hawaii listed by John Ferry.