OUTDOOR PROJECTS do add value!!

Now that the nicer weather is upon us, (here in NC, anyway,) it is common for homeowners to get to work on livening up the exterior of their homes.  Outdoor Living is a huge trend right now, and fortunately it’s worth the time & effort!! Screen porches, big decks, paver patios, fireplaces, pergolas, built-in seating, flowers/plants/landscaping… even water features like a pool, koi pond or lazy river…the list goes on and on. And, if you create an outdoor living area that you love to use, it’s almost like adding square footage to your house! (almost.)

I came upon a fantastic article on US News & World Report discussing several hardscaping projects that add value to your property.  Let’s face it: yes, you want to have a great usable area for yourself & your family while you live in your home. But should the time come when you want (or need) to sell, it would be wonderful if potential buyers also saw value in ALL of your property, not just the inside.  So everyone wins!


What’s your favorite outdoor living / landscaping / hardscaping project you’ve done?



SPRING CLEANING: a 4-week guide to sprucing up & cleaning out!

springcleaningFinally… the winter is almost, almost over with.  At least, in NC it is.  A couple more cold fronts will come & go, and then we’ll be facing the dog days of summer head on. Well, let’s not put the cart before the horse.  There are still plenty of things to do to get ready for the lovely season of SPRING!!!

Every February or so, I come across a gazillion different tips/tricks guides on how to effectively spring clean without driving yourself crazy or breaking your back (or the bank.) Then I happened upon this beautiful article on www.wisebread.com and what a life-changer it appears to be!  Seemingly large tasks are broken down into smaller, manageable jobs, and suddenly by the end of March, you’ll be done & onto the next!  For the full article, click:

Your One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning

The tasks are broken down as follows:

Week 1: Kitchen

Week 2: Bedroom

Week 3: Home office

Week 4: Outdoors

I plan to take on these chores as well.. looking forward to getting a fresh start to spring.  How do you like to spring clean?!



The back porch.

Could be one of those amazingly HGTV-worthy havens with all the twinkle lights & ambiance. (Probably not though.)

Could be kinda shabby with some old doormats & muddy toys, but still feels like a nice place to hang out. (Most likely.)

If you’re ridden with wood rot and overgrown weeds, you’ll probably want to shape it up come spring. (More on that in a few months! It’s almost winter…let sleeping dogs lie.)

In my business as a real estate photographer, I get to see every kind of back porch out there. Back porches that look like front porches; back porches with pergolas; porches with firepits; porches with doghouses, soccer goals, blowup pools, empty beer bottles… you name it, I’ve seen it! (I tend not to photograph the beer bottles.)

I wanted to share some of my most recent porch-pics.  Take a look at what’s similar & what’s different. Back porches help to define a home; to give it some character; to create a mental image for potential buyers to envision it as their own.

Sunday Funday: weekend wallpaper project

Maybe you’re sleeping in. Maybe you’re heading to the gym.  Or to brunch.

Or maybe you want to take on a little home DIY project: WALLPAPER!

I came across a great article on houzz.com today & I wanted to share… along with some amazing photos to ogle, it’s full of ideas on how wallpaper can transform a room.  These tasks range from easy (done in a day) to moderately intense, and includes ballpark pricing & whether to hire a professional.

Check it out, and enjoy your Sunday, however you choose to spend it!


LAUNDRY MAKEOVER! before & after.

So, if you remember a few weeks back, we decided to give the laundry room a facelift. (See the original post here!!  I wanted to get it done in a day or 2, but life happens (and laundry gets piled to the moon) and so although it took a bit longer than I’d hoped, I’m happy with the results!

Let me remind you of the “before” shot:


And take a look at the “after”:


OK! So here’s what we did:

  • we went to Lowe’s home improvement to buy some unfinished cabinets, a metal hanging rod, some peel & stick backsplash tile & a hook rack
  • after installing the cabinets & the rod, I painted the cabinets (Valspar Woodlawn Snow) & hung the backsplash, and only had to make a few cuts around the outlets. This was a pretty painless job, but the most time consuming. (I used 32 squares.)
  • finished the project by painting the rest of the room (Olympic Stormy Weather) & then hung the hooks.

I will add a cute little “laundry” sign or something, as well as our family calendar & some hangers, but I am excited about the transformation! And all for about $350.  Not too shabby.

It’s FRIYAY: Quick & Easy DIY!

It’s easy to get stressed out just hearing the word “renovation.” You’re instantly thinking of having your home life disrupted by construction debris, cluttered rooms, and loud noises.
But you don’t have to spend a ton of money and brace yourself for months of inconvenience to upgrade your home. Here are a few projects that you can knock out in a single day, and they’ll greatly improve the look and enjoyment of your home.
Paint or replace an exterior door: If you know the correct dimensions and specifications for a replacement door, replacing an exterior door is a quick and easy job. That’s even more true if you’re repainting it. Preparation and a few coats of paint will only take a few hours.
Plant some low-maintenance trees: Young evergreen trees are relatively simple to plant, and after some heavy watering in the first few weeks, they’re very easy to maintain. They’ll add some color and texture to your landscaping, instantly improving curb appeal.
New light fixtures: Whether they’re on the interior or exterior of your home, something as subtle as light textures can have a dramatic effect. Swapping out traditional fixtures for something modern or industrial can completely transform a room.
New hardware: Drawer pulls and door knobs are easy to change out, and like light fixtures, they have a big impact. You’d be amazed how your kitchen or bathroom could look with new hardware.

source: breakthroughbroker.com


Happy New Year, Y’all!!!

So now it’s 2017 & everyone is making resolutions.  I personally don’t make resolutions because in years past they never stuck, and I figure why not just keep trying to be a better human every day (ie: make good choices, learn from mistakes, try not to go insane) rather than set a bunch of unattainable goals just because a sparkly ball dropped down a pole?

OK. Anyway, one thing that often goes overlooked is resolving to make changes in, and to, your home!  I don’t mean, complete demolition & rebuild. (Unless it’s in your plans and you have the cashflow.) I mean, small things from maintenance (have you had your HVAC serviced lately?) to undesirable chores (when’s the last time you cleaned your ceiling fan blades?) Resolving to do some kind of job, chore, upfit, downgrade, replacement, repair is a great way to save yourself $$ in the long run, but also it gets things DONE, and there’s nothing greater than the feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

Today we decided to give our laundry “room” a bit of a facelift.  Our laundry room is tiny; about 4×6. It’s tight.  Moreover, it doubles as the entry area from the garage into the house, so it’s also sort of a mud-area/wet stuff drop zone.  But if you’re trying to move a load from the washer to the dryer and someone walks in from the garage and nails you in the buns with the door… let’s just say, I wish we had more space.  But knocking down walls isn’t in the plan right now. So we need to create some storage and maybe gain a few inches.

Currently, our laundry room looks like this:img_3528

One long wire rack is all we have for storage.  Not gonna cut it anymore.  So we spent some time on New Year’s Day at Lowe’s Home Improvement grabbing some supplies to create new spaces.

I’m drawing inspiration from the following:

It’s not going to look as polished as these do, but it will certainly be a better solution than our current one.



In many parts of the country, the brutality of winter has already hit.  But here in the south, we’re still enjoying some pretty spring-ish weather: chilly mornings & evenings, and warm sunny days. But don’t let it fool you.  You still need to prepare for the reality that winter, even if it hits after the New Year does, is coming. And you want your house to be ready!


From cleaning out your gutters to checking for leaks and cracks in your windows and doors, check these items off your to-do list this month and get started on winterizing your home.

1. Check batteries. A Simple, but often overlooked, task is making sure to check all alarms in your home. You’ll want to check and test all smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and any home protection devices when prepping your home for winter. Winter is a common time of the year for indoor smoke and fires to occur, and poorly ventilated space heaters and furnaces can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. For your safety, you’ll want to tune up all technology and stock up on extra batteries in case of power outages or other problems.

2. Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to serious water and ice problems during winter, so to prevent costly repairs and long-term damage, clean and clear your gutters before winter hits. Remove leaves, pine needles and any other debris, or book a gutter-cleaning service to ensure your channels for water runoff are ready for winter. Giving your rain gutters a clean sweep will not only add curb appeal, but will also help melting snow, ice and excess rain flow freely and properly.

3. Check for cracks and leaks. Cold drafts can leak through any cracks in your home during the fall and winter months causing your furnace to turn on and ultimately increase your heating bill. Dodge cold drafts by sealing any cracks and crevices around the points that can let air in, particularly around your windows and doors. Add weatherstripping or caulking to remove unwanted air leaks and drafts. This can also drastically cut down on your energy costs.

[See: 12 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Are a Bad Idea .]

4. Trim back branches. Consider hiring a professional tree service to properly trim back branches and ensure your yard stays strong and healthy until spring. Winter storms can weigh down trees and branches with ice and snow – anything located close to the sides of your home that could cause damage should be removed. Prep your yard for cooler temperatures by covering outdoor furniture, shutting off water valves, and storing your garden hose.

5. Reverse your ceiling fan. Looking for a simple fix to keeping your home warm this winter? Reverse your ceiling fans to circulate heat downward in a room, for a little extra warmth. When looking up at your blades, your fan should be circulating clockwise. Ceiling fans properly circulating warm air will help to ease the burden on your furnace in heating each room, not to mention cutting down on your heating bill.

6. Hire a chimney sweep. During the fall and winter months you’ll be spending more time in front of the fireplace. Cleaning your chimney is crucial to maintaining a safe fireplace as highly flammable creosote can build up. Be sure to schedule a chimney sweep early on and check the exterior of your chimney for any loose materials or debris that may be hazardous.

7. Check your furnace. Don’t forget to schedule a routine maintenance check on your furnace before using it full-time in the winter. If you plan on preparing your furnace for winter on your own, you’ll want to complete multiple tasks such as changing the filter, cleaning out air ducts and vents, and checking the fan belt.

[See: 10 Ways to Save Energy and Reduce Utility Bills at Home .]

8. Add insulation. Keep heat in and cold air out by adding insulation to your basement and attic. Properly insulating your home for the season will help cut your home energy bill this winter. If you don’t plan on hiring a professional to complete your insulation, adding thick curtains or floor rugs are quick fixes to trapping heat in your home.

source: realestate.usnews.com

Improve or Move??

Unless you built a custom home, you probably have a long list of things you’d like to improve in your current home. Browsing online listings might get you in the mood to upgrade to a new home, or you might be thinking about renovating your current home after binging on HGTV. The answer to renovation vs. relocation depends greatly on what you’re trying to fix.

Thinking about a new kitchen? If you’re dreaming of a chef’s kitchen with new appliances and beautiful cabinets, renovating your own kitchen gives you incredible ROI and is less costly than moving. You’ll increase the value of your own home if you ever decide to sell, and there’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a custom renovation.

Need more space? If you’re running low on bedrooms, there may not be a lot of options. Converting an existing room to a bedroom doesn’t create any new space. If you’re in a condo, an addition is probably impossible. And additions can be expensive even if it’s a possibility. Moving is usually the best option.

If the neighborhood isn’t ideal You may have seen some potential for your neighborhood when you first moved there, but perhaps it still isn’t welcoming the shops and restaurants you expected. If that’s the case, consider moving. There’s no sense in waiting years for the neighborhood to improve, especially if you can move to a house in the same price range in a more preferred part of the city.

source: breakthroughbroker.com