Thursday, December 4, 2014

Curb appeal is important all year long!

Selling or renting a property can be daunting between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Most folks don't want to move during this time frame unless forced to do so by a job relocation, divorce or some other event.  They don't want to pull the kids out of school, take down the Christmas decorations that they've only just put up or deal with weather issues.  It's just not an attractive time for moving.

So what if you have a property that is vacant during this time?  Do you just lock it up tight and wait for spring?  No!  You make it as fabulous as you can with the budget you have and then wait for the offers!  After all, people do still move in the winter.  They may not be the majority but they're still out there.

The first thing to do is amp up with curb appeal.  In the spring/summer curb appeal almost takes care of itself.  Grass is green, flowers are blooming, trees fan out and offer shade.  Winter time, not so much.  Grass is dead, leaves are gone...well at least not on the trees any longer....and everything just has this deserted look to it.

One way to liven it up is with plants and/or flowers that weather the cold better than most.  If you don't have planters or urns in which to plant them, get some wood, make a box, paint the box and plant them in that.  It's not hard and only takes as long as an hour to do from start to finish.  Below are a few plants and flowers specimens that weather the Alabama winters just fine.  Note.  I would recommend putting the flowers in an area protected from heavy frost or ice such as on a covered porch if at all possible.  Whatever you choose, remember if it hasn't rained in a while - someone will have to go over and water them....just sayin'.

Camellia's are strong plants that even bloom in the snow, their leaves stay glossy green and they give off an amazing scent.  They come in an array of colors and can be planted in a pot or directly in the ground.  If allowed to grow they can reach heights up to 8 feet depending on the variety you get.

  The picture above is a Winter Hazel which if planted in the ground becomes a beautiful tree that while only gets up to 8 feet tall fans out to create a gorgeous yellow canopy of color.

Blue holly is an extremely tough plant which requires very little care.  Also, due to their sharp edged leaves, thieves are not tempted to steal them much.

Another way to brighten the exterior of any property is to paint the front door.  Paint is an easy and inexpensive do over if anyone wants to change it down the road.  But in the meantime, it will make a statement, it will brighten up the exterior of the house and it will stick in potential buyers/renters mind.  They may not remember exactly what the interior looked like but they will remember the house with the yellow door.  Look at the photo's below for a few ideas.

If you don't want to repaint your door but still want to give it a punch....add a wide kickplate and hang a wreath or basket with faux flowers.  Always remember to change out or add a bright doormat to give the entrance a finished appeal.

Once you've added the shrubs in planters, painted the door, hung a wreath and added a welcoming mat....all you need to do then is keep the leaves raked and wait for the offers!

As always, enjoy your space!

What to do this winter?

This time of the year can be a bit boring and a lot unproductive.  But it doesn't have to be!  Just because it's gotten colder and the days shorter - it doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of things still left on your to do list.  Let's look at a few ideas that can kick start you on your way to checking off all the things left on your list.

The most important time of the year to clean your windows is (believe it or not) the winter.  Clean windows let in more light and we all need more light in the winter.  A great way to boost the amount of light that your room gets is by placing an arrangement of mirrors on the walls opposite the windows.  This will bounce the light all over your room.

Are there a couple of ceilings in your house that have stains from an old leak?  Or maybe the plaster has cracked from the house settling and no matter how many times you repair it - it just comes back?  Why not cover it?  You can use cork tiles, tin tiles, wallpaper (I like the paintable kind for ceilings.  Then I leave it natural which gives the ceiling a nice texture) or you can even use beadboard sheets.  Regardless of the material you choose (with wallpaper being the only exception) always bead construction glue on the back before you nail it to your ceilings.  Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get a nail into a stud every time.  The glue will give it extra support keeping the nail from turning loose and the tile from falling.

Drafty house?  Hang heavy drapery or hemmed fabric over the doorways.  This not only keeps the drafts out but it can add a lot of color and interest to wherever you choose to hang them.  Sometimes in mid-century homes character can be hard to come by and this is a good way to add it!

Live in a house with a frameless mirror in the bathroom or maybe over your fireplace?  These were all the rage for decades.  If the mirror is in good shape why replace it?  Just frame it!  Want more reasons that framing is a better idea than removing? Removing a mirror can not only be dangerous, it can be time consuming, extremely messy and there's always the wall behind the mirror that will more than likely have to be repaired (and painted) before you can hang the new mirror.  Mirrors aren't cheap these days, so that's yet another reason to work with what you have whenever possible.

I have a lot of bookshelves in my house.  Sometimes bookshelves can just be large ugly boxes.  To take them from large ugly boxes to an interesting focal point, try addressing the inside of the bookshelves.  You can paint the inside back wall a bright vibrant color.  Pick a color you love but would hesitate to paint an entire room with.  Like a bright lime green or a hot pink or maybe even a lemon yellow.  Once you fill the bookshelves with your books and collectibles, it won't be an "in your face" effect.  Only a bit of the color will peek through but the effect will be amazing!  If you don't want to paint, then try adding wall paper, left over fabric that you glue on or you can even use left over laminate!

I actually love wallpaper.  I like the depth and interest it gives the room.  Almost like a 3-D effect.  But wallpaper can be pricey.  My solution?  Pick a theme like travel, or flowers or even fashion and head down to the local thrift stores to look for maps, catalogues, magazines or even old newspapers.  The room above used maps to cover their walls.  You can tack them up, staple them or if you want a more antiqued, permanent look, you can use wallpaper glue and glue them onto your walls.  For a more finished look, apply a top coat of poly.  If you want a more antiqued look, dip a rag into a bowl of very strong coffee.  squeeze out the liquid until the rag is just damp - not wet - then carefully rub it over the map in a circular motion until the entire area has been covered.  Let it dry completely before adding additional coats to darken it even more.  Note.  If you don't let it dry completely, it will rip when you add the next coat to it.  Then you can either leave it or you can add a water downed stain to seal it.

Julia Child hated storing her everyday cookware and utensils in cabinets and drawers.   Her solution was genius!  She took common peg boards that men have in every garage to hold their tools.  She painted them and nailed them onto a wall in her kitchen.  She was able to hang all of her pots, pans, lids, and utensils that she used on a daily basis by the stove.  I've never had a kitchen that  allowed me enough convenient access to my everyday kitchen aids so this is a fantastic idea that I have loved for years!!

 Hate to look out your windows and see all those lovely urns, pots and planters just sitting there either empty or with dead stems sticking up?  I do.  Here's a great idea!  Head down to your local nursery and get a few evergreens.  Plant those in your urns to give your yard a pop of green during the winter months.  Once Spring gets here, you can leave them where they are or you can transplant them into your yard.

Short on prep space in your kitchen?  Find an old dresser.  You can go to the local salvage store (Habitat for Humanity has a great one in my area), a thrift store or even drive around and look for one on the curb.  Make sure whatever dresser you find is the right height for you to prep on it comfortably.  It's best to measure the height of your present counters and use that as your rule.  Remember, once you add the prep surface it will add one to two inches to the height.  Once you find that dresser, measure the surface area adding extra inches for over hang and then (with those measurements in hand) call around local tile/stone wholesalers/retailers and see if they have a solid piece of stone, tile or even butcher block that maybe was left over from another job that they will sell you cheap.  Once you have the dresser and the top, all that's left to do is paint the dresser and attach the top.  You now have a one of a kind kitchen island for a pittance of the price a new one would cost but with a whole lot more character!

As always, enjoy your space!!