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Posted by Julie Shanks on 8/18/2019

With all the fixing, renovating, and flipping showing on television, your standard builder grade home seems sadly lacking. When you bought it, you intended to plant yourself here for a while, to moving to a farm to get the farmhouse look isn’t in the cards. Luckily, builder-grade makes the perfect canvas to boost your basic look without busting the budget. 

Get the [Farmhouse] Look for Less

  • Beadboard: Adding beadboard along breakfast nook and dining room walls bring instant country charm. Instead of expensive solid oak beadboard, choose four-foot by eight-foot faux pressed beadboard panels from your local DIY store. Cut them in half width-wise to get two four-foot by four-foot sheets. Attached them side by side to your walls with a nail gun and glue for best results. Top it off with flat pine board and paint it all a glossy white.
  • Board and batten: This wall-treatment works best for mudrooms or hallways and adds character and charm to a plain stairway wall too. Get the look by nailing flat four to six-inch pine boards evenly spaced vertically along the wall. Leave measured room at the top and bottom for baseboard and chair rail or crown molding. Paint the boards and the wall between in a satin or semi-gloss paint in farmhouse blue, mint green or another color that speaks to you.
  • Faux shiplap: While you sometimes can find real pieces of shiplap in outlets that handle reclaimed wood, you can get a similar look using pine planks. Similar to the board and batten treatment, nail the boards onto the walls, but horizontally, with about a three-quarter inch space between them. For easier installation create a couple of spaces from scrap wood to hold your boards in place. Choose an accent wall or niche for your installation area, then paint the boards with chalk paint to give you that aged country look.
  • Butcher’s block countertops: If your budget lends itself to replacing the countertops, replace that Formica with natural butcher’s block. If solid butcher’s block is out of the question, stores like Ikea carry a bamboo version for less and Wilsonart has laminate versions with coordinated edges that are hard to tell from the real thing.
  • Fixtures and finishes: Even if you can’t afford the farmhouse-style sink, you can change out the fixtures to give you the look. Opt for bronze or coppery finished for cream or white sinks and go for brushed satin nickel to complement your stainless steel. Change out light fixtures, drawer pulls, and knobs from the “that’s-so-90s” brass ones and consider chalk-paint to give your cabinets a stress-free new look.
  • Timely trims: Finally, trim the doorways with—you guessed it—more flat pine boards. Use four-inch boards on the sides but add some drama to the top with six or eight-inch boards and a little bit of half-round to cap it off.

If you love the farmhouse style, try one or several of these steps to get a look that sets your builder-grade home apart from all the rest when it comes time to sell. For an estimate on what your re-imagined farmhouse will fetch on the market, talk to your realtor.




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Posted by Julie Shanks on 4/14/2019

First things first, if you are just in love with modern bathroom or kitchen features, they are worth it for you. It's always worth it to create a space that you love. Now, if you want that new kitchen or bathroom to add value to your property, increase its marketability or its future resale value, its time for the research because not all upgrades are made equal and there may be a better way to spend that renovation money.

Upgrades that Add Value

The most straightforward way to increase the value of your home is to add usable square footage. That means more living space to use. You can add this space by finishing out a basement or attic, and by adding another bedroom or bathroom to the home. Extra space goes a long way to increase your properties market value. As many buyers consider homes by bedroom and bathroom count, adding just one more can change the category in which your home resides. A three-bedroom, three-bathroom house sounds larger and sells for more than that same home when it was just three-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

You can also increase your home's value with small upgrades. You can get the best bang for your buck with—you'll never guess—a new front door. Nearly 100% of the cost of the door adds to your home's value. Now, that won't work with just any front door, talk to your contractor or real estate agent about the best style for your property. You need a door that will enhance your entryway and not look like an afterthought to get that instant dash of curb appeal. 

You can also get substantial value from minor repair upgrades such as new windows or replacing discolored vinyl siding. These minor upgrades work like a new paint job and can increase the value of the home and the curb appeal at a much lower cost than a full kitchen or bath remodel.

Still, want that kitchen upgrade? Minor kitchen upgrades can have high returns of their own. You don't have to completely gut the entire thing; just new cabinet doors and fixtures make a huge difference. You can finalize it with classy new appliances and get yourself an 80% return on your new kitchen investment.

Upgrades That Aren’t Worth It

Pay attention to the cost of your remodel compared to the overall value of your home. Spending 50% or more of your equity on your kitchen remodel just isn't going to work well. A $100,000 remodel on a $250,000 property won't add nearly that in additional value to your home. So, if you want to sell your property for $350,000 instead, this isn't the plan for you. Nothing says you can't get plenty of enjoyment out of the kitchen upgrade, just don't plan on selling it for as much as you paid and focus on getting the kitchen you really want.

Similarly, while a pool sounds like a fabulous investment, they are usually much more expensive than they are worth and only really increase home value in specific locations, mostly those without colder winter weather. If your area has even a bit of winter, the pool will take a lot of extra care and can actually decrease the interest in your property.

Talk to your real estate professional about the best upgrades to increase your property’s value in the current market.





Posted by Julie Shanks on 6/10/2018

Working from home is a job benefit many dream of. However, despite what some may think working from home is not all fun and games. While it may make for an easier commute it also can make for more distractions that keep you from your work. Learn how you can create an office in your home that is a productivity oasis. Function before form. It may be tempting to run out and buy all the beautiful office supplies and knick knacks, but before you do plan out the function of your office first. Create a list of must-have items. Will you need a printer, file cabinet or shelves for your reference binders? Perhaps a fax machine, large whiteboard or a sprawling desk with plenty of elbow room. Knowing what you need on hand to create the most efficient work environment will give you the ability to sit down and productively work without running out to get supplies or inventing workarounds. You will also want to invest in a good ergonomic chair since you will be spending so much of your time sitting in it. Your back will thank you. Location. The location of your home office in your house may be more important than you think. Choosing a quiet secluded room with lots of light will create an ideal working environment. If you have children or a partner that will be home during the day you will want the room in a place where they will not have to tiptoe around like if you, for example, set up shop in the dining room. Creating some “do not disturb” signs may be a good idea to further set boundaries with your family. Organize. Set yourself up for success off the bat by developing an organization system that works best for your home office. Since home offices tend to be set up in smaller rooms of a house make the most of your space by organizing vertically as well horizontally. Neatly manage and label cords when you set up any electrical equipment. Keep the items you use daily within easy reach so you don’t need to jump up and down all day to dig through your cabinets. Inspire. This is your home office, after all, and not a cubicle so don’t be afraid to add personality to work your space. Pick up posters with uplifting quotes or imagery or a cork board to pin inspiration and goals. Paint your office a color that uplifts and inspires you. A calm blue paired with a vibrant yellow can help boost your focus and alertness. Setting up a home office is an exciting house project, especially when you will have the opportunity to work from home. While it’s tempting to make your new office one that is visually appealing don’t forget to keep function at the forefront of your planning process. In the end, you’ll have the best of both worlds and may even be more productive for it!




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