YOUR HOME ON STAGE

“Setting the Stage for your Next Move” As a Realtor® in Madison, that was my slogan. As a Realtor® and professional Stager®, I feel it is very apropos. When you are getting ready to move, you want to make your home look like it is on the stage in a beauty pageant. Think about when you go shopping, the neat store with a beautiful display draws you in vs the store with items strewn about.  Of course, you do not want to overdo your decorating but rather have everything clean, repaired, touched and freshened up.

I was going to write an article about getting your home ready but then this one titled       8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home popped into my mailbox. Thus, I thought, why write a new article when someone has done it for me? I encourage you to read this article and contact me if you have any questions.

I also recommend adding a nice outdoor seating area that says welcome to our house. It makes people feel very comfortable.

If you or anyone you know is thinking of selling your home, please give me a call and we can discuss listing and staging your home so you can maximize on it’s potential and sell for more money. I’ve plenty of more tricks to welcome your home’s new owners.

 

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

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Life is exciting, you’ve just tied the knot and now are combining households. You need to decide what to keep, what to throw away, and how and where you want to live. These 5 tips will guide you through the home buying process.

  1. Be Realistic-  You aren’t moving into your parents’ home that they saved a lifetime to buy or build. You are moving into your 1st starter home. Prioritize your needs and wants.  Make a list with must haves and likes, the areas you like, size of home you need now combined with room to grow for potential children.  
  2. S-CocktailChecklistYour Credit Report- When you marry, your credit reports also join together. Make sure you both check your credit reports, have an open discussion, and work together to fix any blemishes before you start house hunting. Work with your creditors to raise your credit score. Planning for the future? There are 7 simple ways to raise your credit score.
  3. Shop your Lender- Do your research with different mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions. Ask about rates, 1st time homebuyers tax credits, incentives, and closing costs. Check the lenders reviews and sit down with them for a face to face meeting. This is a big step and you want to know with whom you are working and how the loan program works. Be wary of internet based lenders with possible hidden fees. Before you start looking for your first home, get pre-approved. A pre-approval lets you know how much home you can afford and allows you to lock in the lowest interest rate.
  4. 4. Don’t tie the knot and then plan to swing the hammer. In other words, don’t buy a complete “fixer-upper”. Fixing a house together puts a strain on both your marriage and finances. The only reality on HGTV are the surprises that homeowners face when remodeling and fixing up a house. HGTV never tells you how and where the homeowners come up with all the extra money to remedy the surprises. A “fixer upper” is costly and can deplete both your finances and energy when you should be focusing on building a life together. Homeowners need to budget for taxes, insurance, maintenance, and the occasional emergency such as the water heater or furnace failing.
  5. Hire a Real Estate Agent- Homebuyers need professional guidance when making big decisions. Emotions and excitement may get in the way blinding you to possible downfalls in different homes and neighborhoods. A professional real estate agent that works with first time Buyers will guide you as they would their children, helping you buy the best home for your money while negotiating the best dollar amount for your purchase.

Creating Ambiance with Lights

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Properly used lighting combines style and function to your room while the design makes it distinctively yours. Correctly placing lights in layers serves different functions in the room including overall lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting.

Today, we often use can lights to illuminate the room while providing task lighting at the same time. Can lighting definitely serves a purpose, is relatively inexpensive, and takes the onus out of having to select lights. Can lighting also has a larger arc eliminating shadows and keeps the room from looking cluttered. But can lighting alone doesn’t give the room a focal point and lacks warmth.

Using chandeliers, sconces, and lamps warms up the room, provides layers of light, and makes a home expressively yours. Choosing the right fixtures helps to define your focal point such as the fireplace and complements the room. Wall sconces glowing softly alongside windows, at the sides of the fireplace, or at the entrance to the room are welcoming and create the feeling of elegance.

Chandeliers have always been classic features in the living room and dining room. Ceiling fans often replace the chandeliers in homes built with the open concept featuring a great room versus a formal living space . When designing a home to markedly reflect your personality consider putting chandeliers in surprising places such as the powder room, master bath, or closet.

Lighting should reflect the ambiance you want in each room. Dimmer switches and the correct bulbs both play a part in setting the mood. I’ve included some of my favorite lighting pictures from our Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes Parade and Showcase Homes.

Most importantly remember, the cost of lighting doesn’t have to break the bank to set your humble abode apart from your friends and neighbors homes.

 

Spring Fever-Is it Real?

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Spring has sprung; the robins, sandhill cranes, and redwing blackbirds are just a few of the birds that have returned. The worms emerged during the recent rains, the “occasional”sunshine exudes warmth and baseball season starts on Saturday.

But, does “spring fever” really exist? While not actually a fever, warmer longer days following the spring equinox creates a biological change in people. Humans experience a higher energy level, need less sleep, reduce their food consumption, and encounter a lifting of their spirits when winter ends and spring begins.

My  personal bout of spring fever started a few weeks ago. I laced up my walking shoes and leashed Riley, my walking companion, for our morning and evening walks. Even our very short legs, his four and my two, yearn to be stretched out and moved. I’ve started my yard tours to check on our bulbs and plantings to discover what survived and is emerging from the previously frozen tundra.We even went to the garden store on Saturday to dream and purchase seeds to start indoors for our flower garden. We met quite a few like- minded people itching to start their gardens. I can’t wait to plant the seeds and watch my yard flourish into a canvas of color. I also suffer from clean window-itis every spring. I want to rid the windows of all their winter dirt and soil so I can clearly see my garden and it doesn’t interfere with the streaming sunlight.

All the people walking dogs, riding bikes,pushing strollers, and in-line skating along Apple Creek trail yesterday was another sure sign of Wisconsinites afflicted with spring fever. We are also experiencing the effects of spring fever at work as people are showing a strong interest in building new houses.

What symptoms of spring fever do you experience? Do you feel the biological pull to exercise, redecorate your home, or plan a garden? Or maybe, it is the lifting of your spirits as well as a makeover with a new hairdo or wardrobe. Whatever your symptoms of spring fever, be sure to embrace the season.

The 5th Wall

Years ago, actually more than a decade ago, I tuned into the Christopher Lowell Show on the Discovery Channel several times a week. Besides encouraging the DIY’s, Christopher spoke daily about the 7 layers of design, emphasizing the 5th wall.

For many years, the 5th wall; the ceiling was often forgotten or just painted ceiling white. Although if we reach back far enough to 1512 and Michelangelo’s’ painting of the Sistine Chapel, we can see the beauty of decorating the ceiling.  Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel mural and sculptures far above our heads reminds us to look to the heavens for hope, guidance, and to meditate on the path of our lives.I remember laying on my back as a child, contemplating the swirls on my bedroom ceiling. Trends in decorating the ceiling come and go as do all decorating fads. In my lifetime I’ve seen various transitions from the white plaster swirls of my childhood to the horrible popcorn finish, to beams, crown molding, coffered ceilings, to several layers of the tray ceiling. Cathedral, tray, planked, and coffered ceilings are hot in today’s’ new construction.

Transform a plain room to one with the wow factor by using a ceiling treatment. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to create interest. A tray ceiling with rope lighting creates romance and ambiance. I especially love it when the ceiling is painted with various tones of the same color creating depth and drama.                                                                    tray ceilings with rope lighting

Coffered ceilings can remain an elegant white, be richly stained, or paint the ceiling first and then add the coffered for a dramatic effect.Tin tiles have made a resurgence for ceiling decor over the bar area or the kitchen island as seen here in the Jon Huss Custom Homes Showcase house.

Since ceiling decor trends come and go, do what feels right to you and it will last forever.Believe it or not, we often look up so it is best not to forget the 5th wall as Christopher Lowell would tell you.

Empty Nesting or Building Your Forever Home

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Your last child prepares to leave home and you embrace the transition with both trepidation and excitement. Your home is yours again to do with as you please. But, as those adorable children aged, so did you and your body. The stairs seem to have gotten steeper, the number of bathrooms to clean have suddenly multiplied, and the extra bedrooms just sit empty. What to do with your family home, the home where you raised those beautiful babies becomes the nagging question.

The number of baby boomers with the desire and need to age in their “forever”home continues to increase each year.Very few homes exist on the market today that fulfill the needs of the empty nester desiring their next home. Thus many soon to be or those already experiencing the empty nest are considering building their last home.

So what should be incorporated into the new empty nest?  Although there are many elements, this article focuses on the top 7 on most everyone’s list.

  1. Easy access- Your new home should be built in an area with easy access to shopping, doctors, and cultural activities that you enjoy. The home should also be built with easy access from the garage to the home with either zero entry or room for a future handrail or ramp.
  2. One floor living. Consider one floor living with as many maintenance free features as possible. Incorporating an open floor plan with enough storage eliminates the need to use the basement stairs as much as possible.
  3. Open floor plans. Open floor plans allow for extending the dining table and adding extra chairs for entertaining. You can easily move furniture around when entertaining family and friends.
  4. Fewer but larger bedrooms that can serve both as an office, sewing room, and guest bedroom with ample storage.
  5. Functional kitchens with good storage and entertaining space. Becoming an empty nester doesn’t mean life stops, it just changes. Entertaining becomes more enjoyable since your family no longer requires large daily meals.Many empty nesters look forward to finally building the kitchen of their dreams with the latest technology
  6. Wider hallways, doors, and walk-in showers. Plan ahead just in case the inevitable happens and a wheelchair or walker is required at one time or another. No one wants the frustration of trying to maneuver equipment in tight spaces.
  7. Convenient laundry rooms. Although downsizing, doing less laundry since the kids are gone, and moving to a ranch home eliminates carrying the laundry up and down stairs; consider locating it off of the master suite. Saving a few steps and being able to put the clothes away straight from the dryer is just another benefit of a well planned home designed for just one or two people.

The above are just a few suggestions for planning and building your next forever home. Finish the lower level with another bedroom or two if you want to encourage your children to visit frequently. We downsized twice in the past 3 years; first from a 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath 4,000 sq. ft home to a 4 bedroom 3 bath condo with 2 bedrooms in the lower level,and finally settling in a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath ranch home with an unfinished lower level. Cleaning and maintaining our home is much simpler and easier and our kids still visit comfortably for an extended period of time.

Are you thinking of downsizing or resizing? Let me help you plan and build your empty nest filled with light, well planned spaces, and great storage.

 

 

Just in Time for the Snow

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Just in time for winter, snow and the arctic blast our 3 season room is completed. We started planning the room last February when we met with 4 different contractors to draw up plans and give us bids. Unfortunately the process took us a lot longer than we ever anticipated as some of the contractors dropped the ball, changed jobs, and decided that they did not want to build the room. We wanted a custom built room , not one built from a kit. Once we finally settled on a contractor we were excited to begin. Unfortunately for us, it was to be a long wait.

Our 16 x 16 ft. three season room was to be started the third week of August. I don’t think we started until sometime in October. Luckily for us and for our contractor, we had a unusually warm fall. Of course we received quite a bit of rain which also set things back a bit. We received at least an inch of rain on the day the pilings were dug and poured.20161221_145125

Our contractor doesn’t like mistakes and believes in measuring twice and ordering once. Therefore our windows were ordered after everything was framed putting us back another couple of weeks. We can’t complain about that because the windows fit perfectly. Even though the room consists of mostly windows, our contractor took special care to thoroughly insulate the roof and the floor. Even with only a small electric fireplace and the 12 below zero temperatures that we received last week our room only dropped to 42 degrees. Not ideal for the Luxury Vinyl floor but so far it is working.

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Our 3 season room was supposed to be done by Halloween, then by Thanksgiving, but was just completed last week. When building the client must have patience. The delays while he worked on other jobs is really our only complaint. But we have experienced that before as contractors try to satisfy several customers at once. The wait was worth it. We love the room with the high cathedral ceilings and clear story windows. It is so bright and on a sunny day reaches temperatures in the mid 70’s even with the minus zero temps with 20 below wind chills we received this past weekend. It is beautiful at night with the glow of our lights shining on the glistening white snow. We love the white trim against the lavender/blue paint that we chose.

Our three season room already received several compliments and we feel like we are on vacation as we drink our Sunday morning coffee, read the paper , and listen to soft jazz.