“FIX ‘N’ LIST” list

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®

You guys know I love a good list! A to-do list, a grocery list, a list of all my hopes & dreams…

In the real estate industry, lists are paramount.  Seller lists, buyer lists, attorney lists, inspection lists.  The list goes on and on (ba-dum bum.) But what about before any kind of transaction happens? Yep, there’s a list for that, too. I like to call this one the “fix ‘n’ list” list.

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s important to ensure it looks its best! Taking time to highlight its strengths [re: gleaming wood floors! New kitchen fixtures!] and fix up some of its [possible] weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are the NDT’s top recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

1: Repaint walls.

Giving your house a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a DIY project (unless you have major OCD or you’re too short to reach the 2-story foyer even with one of the tall ladders.)  TIP: Cover all walls that have scratches and/or chips, and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat. FAVORITE COLORS RIGHT NOW: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Grey; Sherwin Williams Light French Gray; Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray

2: Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas.  *See my previous post on DIY wood floor scratch repair! If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them–especially in the “first impression” rooms, like foyer or great room, where potential buyers’ eyes (and feet!) will land first. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

3: Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well! Have your walkways and driveways pressure washed; plant seasonal flowers (or display potted plants on the porch); trim hedges and trees; fill in mulch and gravel. *See Nancy’s post on front porch decor for some super easy DIY ideas!!

4: Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds….especially in your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. You don’t have to go all out with a gut & renovation.  New cabinet hardware, an updated faucet, and a modern light fixture over the sink can make a frumpy kitchen look fabulous! I like to buy fixtures of all kinds (my newest lights, kitchen sink & faucet) from Wayfair.com! TIP: if you decide to update your old light fixtures, I always recommend you do them all together so they match. Buyers don’t like to see old brass upstairs and rustic farmhouse down. Keep it simple & aesthetically pleasing…and easy on your wallet!

 

SPRING INTO CHEERFUL FRONT PORCHES

From the desk of Nancy Kapp, REALTOR®

It’s amazing how the dull, drab browns and grays of winter quickly disappear into a burst of color.  Spring is here, at last!

Decorating my porch and/or patio is not my strong suit.  I have a black thumb, but I still try to include flowers because I love the splash of color they add to anything.  I’m always looking for inspiration. The ideas below are from the homebnc.com site.  There are so many amazing ideas on the site.  Some are simple:

And some are a little more involved:

With a busy schedule, it’s hard sometimes for me to keep up with the seasons.  I try to keep things simple on my front porch, and found this idea for three cute little rabbits.

rabbit inspiration

First, I had to create the pattern.  The first step was figuring out how tall.  My scroll saw has limitations, so I made the largest rabbit 18 inches tall.  The middle rabbit was ¾ that size (13 ½ inches) and the smallest rabbit was ½ of the largest rabbit (9 inches).  To keep it symmetrical, I drew one half of each of the three rabbits, then flipped it over to make the actual pattern.

I traced the patterns onto ¾” birch plywood and cut the pieces out using my scroll saw. The noses were just simple triangles and they were cut from 1/8” birch.  The pieces were sanded with my favorite “mouse” sander.  I glued the three rabbits together to make a more sturdy base using Titebond Original Wood Glue.

The rabbits are painted white, the noses pink and the whiskers and eyes black using DecoAmericana paint (Titanium White for the bodies, Petal Pink for the noses and Lamp Black for the eyes and whiskers).  For a protective finish I used water-based acrylic varnish (satin).  My favorite is J. W. Etc.’s Right Step.  Then I added ribbon bows to add a little color. The wood glue was used to attach the bows to the rabbits.

Rabbits are finished

I added the rabbits to my front porch with pots of flowers and I’m ready for spring.

bunnies on the porch

Watch out bunnies … there’s a fox lurking.

For more amazing ideas, click on the links below:

https://www.homestoriesatoz.com/decorating/20-beautiful-spring-porch-and-patio-ideas.html

https://www.pinterest.com/frontporchideas/spring-porch-decorating-ideas/?lp=true

https://homebnc.com/best-spring-porch-decor-ideas/

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: morning person

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®fruit***Disclosure: I am a morning person.

Pretty sure it’s due to my insomnia (self diagnosed in 2006 with my first pregnancy and never regained hope) but nevertheless…it turned me into a morning person. I like to get up, have a cup of coffee in peace before the troops trundle down and begin the breakfast brigade. I really do feel like I get more QUALITY out of my tasks when I complete them in the morning. And, when I start burning through my to-do list, and I get more items done than I originally intended, it is extremely gratifying!

todo

*Sidebar: I like to physically make check marks — with my pen — on the boxes I draw next to each item on the to-do list because I love the feeling of accomplishment.  Who else does this? It’s either super satisfying or incredibly sad. Let’s go with satisfying.

Ever wish you could become a morning person? Someone who wakes with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. Someone who will get in a morning workout or wrap up some work before others even hit the snooze button for the first time.

Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

  1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. [Aha! The aforementioned checkboxing!]  It may take maximum effort the first few mornings… but like anything else, it does get easier.
  2. LET THERE BE LIGHT. Literally…Let the light in!!!  Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain it’s time to get up and get going. This can be especially difficult during that weird week of daylight savings/daylight savings ends. But anyway.  If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.
  3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many people who choose to skip breakfast, [I see you, all you intermittent fasters out there!] it can be key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake up. PINTEREST HAS AMAZING EASY PREP RECIPES. I PROMISE YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.
  4. Get your body moving!!! Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood (take Fido out for goodness sake) or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, (Peleton anyone?) getting your blood pumping will not only help wake up your body, it has many other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction. And really, you feel SO much better when you’re done.
  5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions. [I would advise against jumping on Instagram first thing in the morning, but it’s one of my rituals too.  Coffee, Instagram and the sound of nothing. For about 4 minutes. Then: SportsCenter, cereal-crunching, lunch-packing, dog-wagging, “where’s my book?” “where’s Dad?” “Mom I need $5 for school”… you get where I’m going with this.]

The point is!!! It doesn’t take a lot… It just takes some effort on your part. I really do believe that early bedtime and early wake time makes for clarity, strength, and wisdom. Try it for a week and see how you do. And if you don’t like it, go back to bed.

KINDNESS ROCKS!

From the desktop of Nancy Kapp, Realtor

It truly is the little things that make us smile and connect us.  I don’t really remember how I  started painting kindness rocks.  I think it was about two years ago when I heard a friend talk about finding a painted rock at Harrisburg Town Center.  I researched and found it’s a nation-wide scavenger hunt designed to promote kindness.  Community groups are formed on social media.  When you find a rock, directions are on the back of the rock that tell you where to post your find.  Then you can have the fun of posting the rock you found and hiding it to make someone else’s day.  And it’s not a crime if you fall in love with a rock you find and keep it.  Whoever painted it will just be glad they made your day.

This sounded like an amazing idea so I started painting rocks and hiding them.  I painted with my grandkids and we had a great time.  The pictures below show the products of one of our painting sessions, a pic of the boys hiding our rocks, and some I painted for Halloween.  And while we were hiding them, we even found one!

My younger daughter is an Occupational Therapist and she asked if I would help her paint with some of her clients who live in assisted living.  They loved it as well.  There’s just something about spreading a little kindness that makes you smile.

And if you paint or find a rock you love, they make great garden decorations and little surprises when people look at your garden or landscaping.  I painted this fox and I just couldn’t let him go.

fox rock

All you need to start is a few brushes, markers, paint, rocks, something to coat after you paint the rocks, and your imagination.  My favorite inexpensive acrylic paint is DecoArt Americana.  I also use a water-based clear varnish.

rock painting stuff

If you’re like me and need some inspiration, you can google “painting rocks” and click on images.

rockpainting ideas google.jpg

Because my grandsons live in Harrisburg, NC, we hide and post ours on that Facebook page which is “Harrisburg + ROCKS.”  I’m sure there’s a Facebook page in a city or town near you.

If your’re interested in the project or some information to help you get started, here are some great links.

https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheKindnessRocksProject/

https://www.scarymommy.com/the-kindness-rocks-project/

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Kindness-Rocks

https://www.pinterest.com/leaderconnectingleaders/kindness-rock-project/?lp=true

 

 

 

 

Get FLOORED.

From the desktop of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®

Wood flooring!! Amazing, isn’t it. Simple concept, yet so complex. So many new styles of wood floors (original hardwoods! Oak! Driftwood! Reclaimed barn wood! 1400’s ship siding!) A multitude of widths; different finishes…wood flooring, what an elevated 

DSC07086feature over a house full of carpet. Easier to clean (hello, Swiffer.) Matches all the furniture; goes with all the paint. Above all, they look absolutely stunning in pretty much every setting.  It doesn’t get any more beautiful than Wood. Floors.

DSC01814

 

 

Except….wood floors. Dang dog walks through the kitchen once and bam, they’re all scratched up.

OK honesty moment: I am a neat freak. I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with OCD but there are times I fully believe I should be.  I’m not to the point of “every pillow needs a perfect chop before I leave the house” but I am at the point where I spend more time than necessary lining up shoes just outside the door in the garage. Bottom line: I try to let smaller things go, just focus on important stuff first and get to other stuff when I can.DSC07057

But when I see a scuff or a scratch in a beautiful wood floor I immediately go into OCD freakout mode and can’t focus on anything else except figure out 1)who did it? (they better run for their life) and 2)how am I going to fix it ASAP?!

I came across an article on houselogic.com that really eased my mind about this. No more spending obscene amounts of money in the hardware store trying to match the perfect wood repair product… no more calls to the handyman (at least not about this. If your toilet sounds like a foghorn when you flush it, you may consider it.) I went ahead and tried tip #1 out on my own floor… it literally took me 20 seconds and while it wasn’t perfect [let the little things go let the little things go] it was certainly less unsightly than a big white scratch!

Check out the article here!DSC03908

 

Winter Weeds Got You Down??

I don’t think there’s anything I hate worse than pulling weeds.  

Allow me to paint the picture: When we moved to North Carolina, we purchased new construction. Unfortunately,  it did not come with sod (something I will definitely consider the next home purchase.)  The soil was clay and, needless to say, we did not get any grass.  After a year or two of fighting the Battle of the Lawn, we had a company bring in top soil and had the lawn reseeded.  While the front lawn came in beautifully, lush and green, the backyard did not.  From a second-story window, I could see rows of grass, and in between, the weeds took over. My husband and I spent countless hours–weeks of countless hours–filling large, green outdoor trash bags with weeds.  We filled at least 30. I told my husband, “Never again!” as I looked at my hands that were stained green. I know I should have worn gloves, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Imagine my chagrin when henbit (see the picture below) started popping up all over my lawn.

henbit

Here I thought I had won the war.  I believed that once I got the weeds under control, my weeding days were over.  Wrong. You can mow your grass at the proper height…you can aerate twice a year, have it fertilized, keep it watered regularly…  But doing all this just means you have fewer weeds, not that you will have none.  This year, we missed the timing on when to treat for these winter weeds because of three weeks of rain.  While we had it scheduled early enough, the weather kept us from having the treatment done. These things happen, but I still have plenty of time to get my lawn in better shape.  

Here are a few articles with great information to help you win the battle!

 https://pitt.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/01/controlling-winter-lawn-weeds/

https://www.thespruce.com/spring-lawn-care-2132455

 

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!

READ THE ARTICLE HERE!

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.

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.