Category Archives: Renovation

Renovation Resource: It’s Not Always About Square Feet

Kitchen Money HorizontalA common complaint I hear is “we need more space.” Often it’s not about square feet, but rather, the use of space.

There are many creative ways to use space, but layout, furniture selection, and room arrangement matter!

To demonstrate I pinned photos of great ways to use space!

Here’s my quick inventory of tips based on the photos:

Living / Family Room: try a loveseat with two chairs for basic seating, use upholstered ottomans for coffee tables and extra storage, or employ a sectional to fill a corner or divide rooms.

Dining Room: use large windows to make the room feel bigger, substitute benches along a wall for chairs, or combine with a library space.

Kitchens: use smaller appliances (you really don’t need a full size dishwasher), employ two levels of cabinets for more storage, or try open shelves.

Bathrooms: try wall mounted sinks and toilets, or install built in shelves for storage.

Bedrooms: consider a tall headboard or wallpapered accent wall, cover windows if necessary to make room for the bed, or have built-ins constructed around the bed.

Home office: convert a closet, use the area under your stairs, try a corner desk, or use wall space strategically for shelves/art/cabinets.

If I can help you better use your space, contact me today! 202-905-5369 |


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Renovation Resource: The importance of pictures!

CIMG4601When it comes to home improvements, we often assume someone else can envision what we envision. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When doing a remodeling project, find pictures of what you like! A couple reasons why…

1) Helps you know what you want: Pictures help you refine your vision. After cutting out or pinning several pictures, you will see patterns emerge of what you like.

2) Helps your contractor build what you want: Contractors can do most anything you want. If you have a picture to show them, you almost guarantee you’ll like the end result.

Where to find pictures? You can cut them out of catalogs and home magazines and create a collage. Or sites like Houzz and Pinterest allow you to save/pin pictures you like electronically.

The internet is an incredible resource. Use Google images to search paint colors, products, styles. Similarly, you can search any term on Houzz and usually find a bunch of examples.

If I can help you create the home you want, contact me today! | 202-905-5359.

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Renovation Resource: How do I select a contractor?

CIMG28891. Get referrals: The best way to find a contractor is usually by referral. Ask friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, your real estate agent, and lender. If that doesn’t yield enough names, check Houzz, Angie’s List, and Yelp.

2. Start calling: Call several until you are able to secure a few appointments. Don’t panic if they don’t call you back immediately. Contractors are on their feet or in the car most of their days – so sometimes can’t easily return calls the same day.

3. Have a plan: The key to getting comparable clear estimates is to have a plan for what you want to do. Type it up and print it out to share with each contractor. Or use my renovation consultant services to help you figure out what you want and to put together a plan for you!

4. Questions to ask: Make a list of the questions you want to be sure to ask each contractor. Some topics important to include: approximate start and end dates, architect/permit requirements, licensing, insurance, lead certification, communication style, and how overages are handled.

5. Price isn’t everything: Be wary of bids that are much higher or lower than others. Check these to be sure something extra isn’t being added or something important forgotten. If a reason is not clear, you could risk paying too much or selecting someone who doesn’t do a great job.

6. Pick someone you can work with: Most projects are tense, emotional, and have some problems. Pick someone with whom you can go through these ups and downs.

Need help, hire a renovation consultant! Contact me today! | 202-905-5369.

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The Power of a Front Door: June 2014

April 2014Tip of the month: There are many creative ways to put flowers near your front door!

Note the pretty hanging baskets in this picture. You can also do pots. Or simply plant flowers near the door. Remember to do shade plants if your front door area is covered.

My suggestion with front door flowers is keep it simple. One or two pots can be plenty – and easier to do and maintain. And don’t get caught up in symmetry. One pot on one side of the door looks great!

If I can help with your front door, let me know! / 202-905-5369.

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Renovation Resource: What should I do before I move in?

Living Room (2)I believe one of the best ways to build equity in real estate is to buy a house that needs a little work. But what to do first? Where to start? What if the budget is tight?

These are the priorities I recommend:

1. Floors: If you don’t do the floors before you move in, you probably won’t do them. It’s also more labor intensive and expensive to do them once furniture is in the property. So focus on your floors – refinish wood, replace old vinyl/ceramic, and install new carpeting.

2. Paint: Like floors, it’s easiest and most cost effective to do before you move in. I do not recommend painting yourself. It’s time and labor intensive and you can hurt your resale with an average paint job (and most people do an average paint job). Be sure to have all trim, walls, ceilings, and closets painted.

3. Kitchen/Baths: Get these livable, but spend as little as possible if you plan a bigger remodel down the road. Paint and flooring go a long way, as do new countertops, vanities, and light fixtures.

4. Basic Furniture: This may seem counter-intuitive, but I do think it’s worth investing in a few nice pieces of furniture early on. I think a good couch is worth every penny and you get what you pay for with couches, so go for quality! I also think a dining room table and chairs is important. Craigslist can be a great resource if your budget is tight.

Obviously, any important system (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) or foundation work identified in an inspection or otherwise should be first priority!

Want to buy a house needing a little work? Bought a house, but need a consult on where to start? Contact me today! | 202-905-5369


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Renovation Resource: Let’s Start with Kitchens!

CIMG4035Investing in your kitchen can have huge benefits while you live in your home and when you go to sell.

Some tips for renovating kitchens:

Configuration: Consider opening doorways or removing walls to integrate kitchen and living spaces. But be careful–removing too many walls can distort proportions and disturb architectural integrity. And always consult a licensed contractor or architect before making structural changes.

Flow: Make sure there is flow through the kitchen. Can a person enter one way and exit another? People are often hesitant to give up counter space or add additional doorways, but it can completely change the feel and traffic flow of the kitchen for the better. (If your kitchen is too small for more than one entrance, just be sure there is plenty of openness between the kitchen and adjacent room.)

Function: The stove, refrigerator, and sink should form a triangle for good kitchen function. Beware though of islands that cut off too much of the triangular flow. For instance, do not put a refrigerator on one wall, the sink on another wall, and the stove on yet another, with a huge island in between. Cooking will be difficult in that kitchen. Imagine when pasta is ready and you have to walk 10 feet and around an island to dump the water!

Lighting: Install good lighting over work areas. Pendant lights work well over islands and seating areas. Under cabinet lights also add warmth and drama.

Seating: Create places to sit. Consider peninsulas, bars, or islands—they allow seating, create workspace, and add storage.

Hardware: Knobs, pulls, hinges, and faucets are low cost and high impact. Select the ones you love and, if necessary, pay a little more for them.

Open Shelves: I always recommend some open shelves or glass door cabinets to create interest. Shelves are also nice to store cookbooks, large bowls, jars, etc.

Art: Often overlooked, art adds interest. Frame photographs or pictures that reflect a hobby. Hang or display items that are part of a collection.

Rugs: I like small area rugs or runners in kitchens. They add color and texture and are nice under your feet. Avoid thin rugs that slide around a lot- they can create a hazard and won’t look as nice.

Do you need help with your kitchen? Contact me today for a renovation consult: / 202-905-5369.


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The Power of Front Door: March 2014

March 2014Tip of the month: Add attractive hardware (door knocker, mail slot, knob, doorbell) to your front door to get a finished look!

For older houses, you might simply need to polish what is already there. To buy hardware, check out your local hardware store or Rejuvenation.

If you invest in quality hardware, make sure you also have a solid, quality door.

If I can help with your front door, let me know! / 202-905-5369.

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Decorating Dilemma: Will I get my money back when I sell?

Kitchen moneyIf you’re planning to sell in the near future, some renovation projects might be a better investment than others.

Check out the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report for estimated recouped cost of various home projects in Washington DC.

A few examples: Basement Remodel: 90.7%, Bathroom Remodel: 98.5%, Minor Kitchen Remodel: 99.9%, Two- Story Addition: 95.3%, Siding Replacement (fiber-cement): 123.9%

I’d love to assist with your renovation project! 202-905-5369 /

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The Power of a Front Door: January 2014

January 2014Tip of the month: Casing (also known as trim) on a front door can make a huge difference!

One of the things that makes this door so pretty is the casing, or trim around the door. Interestingly, the front doors of many houses do not have casing.

It’s easy for a contractor or carpenter to add, and relative to most home improvements, pretty inexpensive – especially given how much it adds to a home’s curb appeal.

Check your front door. If it doesn’t have casing, consider adding it. Take pictures of doors with casing.  I recommend selecting houses similar in style to yours. Show the photos to your contractor / carpenter.

If I can help with your front door, let me know! / 202-905-5369.

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From Rendering to Reality: Dining Room Cabinet!

IMG_1673[1]Dining Room CabsBuilt-ins can be a great way to economize space, increase storage, and add a focal point to a room.

They are pricey, but maybe not too much more than a good piece of furniture (remember though, they don’t go with you when you move).

If you are planning built-ins, your contractor or carpenter may request a drawing to get a sense of what you want. I can help! Check out this example of a dining room cabinet rendering and the finished project.

Use my renovation consultant services to help you with built-ins! / 202-905-5369

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