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Money Saving Design Tips From A Real Estate Expert

Lifestyle

As Principal Real Estate Broker and owner of my real estate firm, I oftenmeet with the opportunity to help clients prepare to sell their homes. This is a unique opportunity in that it forces me to think about ways to make modifications and keep expenses down at the same time. The seller’s goal is to help a client make as much money as possible when they sell the client’s home. That requires being budget conscious. That’s where I come in!


If your home was built before the year 2000 and has not been updated yet, then you probably have a choppy floor plan highlighted by brass fixtures, a combined bathtub and shower in your master bathroom, laminate countertops in the kitchen, and linoleum flooring. You may even have chrome fixtures and those lovely shell shaped faux marble basins in your double vanity. Oh! Let’s not forget the infamous fluorescent light in the kitchen. My how things change with time!

It’s time to make a change. I always say create a budget before you do anything; otherwise, you could end up spending a lot more than intended which leads you to have an awesome new layout, but be mad because your bank account is a lot smaller than you intended.

Here are a few design tips that won’t break the bank, and they will make your home look amazing!

Next take a moment to layout what you’d like your home to look like. Do you want an open floor plan or do you just want new fixtures? Know your limits. If you’re not a D.I.Y. person, hire a professional. Don’t hire the first contractor that you meet. Interview them, ask questions, view their portfolio, contact their references, and find out their payment expectations. If they want their payment up front, consider another contractor. Also consider providing the supplies (i.e. paint and fixtures that you like). They seem to cost more when the contractor buys them for you.

Here are a few design tips that won’t break the bank, and they will make your home look amazing! Let’s start in the kitchen since this is the single most popular room to update.

Color:

The color this year is black or charcoal gray. Naturally, you don’t want to paint an entire room black or charcoal gray. However, an accent wall or blended design will be stunning. I’ve listed a few homes where black and white with a pop of color were the themes. I must say, it was breathtaking. Choose a color, making sure to carry it through to each room.

This doesn’t mean you paint every wall with your accent color. You may choose to purchase accent pieces in the same hue as the accent color. It’s a great way to make the color scheme flow and give your home a look of cohesion.

Kitchen:

Add recessed lighting in the ceiling and lose that fluorescent light. Some refer to them as canned lights. Either way they’re inexpensive to purchase and install. After all, you already have the electricity in the ceiling. An alternative is the ever-attractive monorail lighting. Its central electric connector fits where the original light was. It is much like replacing a standard light with a ceiling fan. They’re amazing in that you have the flexibility to have a lot of smaller lights that follow the S shaped design, but you can add pendant lighting in the same fixture. This option alleviates the need to cut additional holes and run additional wiring to the fixture. Talk about a beautiful outcome without the expense!

Let’s take a look at your countertops. If you’re interested in replacing the countertops in the kitchen from laminate to something more modern, consider a natural stone product like granite. It’s a durable product that doesn’t scorch; however, it’s not an inexpensive purchase. An alternative would be the granite overlay. It gives you the look of granite without the expense. Be sure to update your sink and sink fixtures in the kitchen. Consider an under-mount sink and an all in one faucet. You know, the kind that converts to a vegetable sprayer with the push of a button. Be sure it complements the countertop.

If you feel your cabinets need to be updated, instead of replaced, consider a different stain or painting them. Then, update the pulls/handles to give a more streamlined appearance.

Replace the linoleum floor with luxury vinyl tile. Just like other flooring options, pricing is based on style. Luxury vinyl tile gives the flexibility to choose the style that suits your taste. It will give your kitchen an upgraded elegant look without the headache that the unsightly combination of hardwood flooring and water creates.

The seller’s goal is to help a client make as much money as possible when they sell the client’s home. That requires being budget conscious.

If your floor plan is choppy and you’d like a more open space, consider creating a pass through window between the kitchen and living room as opposed to tearing out an entire wall. Once you create the pass through window, you could add a bar top and voila…you have additional bar stool seating space!

Living Room:

Aside from color, lighting, and flooring there’s not much work to do in this room. You may opt for luxury vinyl tile instead of carpet. If there’s already hardwood flooring, be sure that it complements the flooring in the kitchen.

Usually there’s a wonderful ceiling fan in the living room. Consider alternative lighting like the recessed or canned lighting. Allow it to complement the ceiling fan. Remember, you can change out the ceiling fan globes and it will look like a new fan! Bring on the color!

The living room is a large room so choose a neutral tone so your accent color will pop.

Change the layout of the living room. Instead of the typical sofa, loveseat, end tables, and laps look – opt for removing the loveseat and keeping the sofa, two side chairs and a couple of accent lamps instead. It opens up the space but is still functional. You’ll be amazed by the subtle transformation.

Bathroom:

Try to remain consistent with the cabinetry. Make sure that it is similar to what’s in the kitchen – color only. The bathroom is where you can get super creative with your cabinets and basins.

You can still update the countertops from laminate or cultured marble to granite or the granite overlay. As for the basin, you can get the square basin built into the cabinet or simply purchase an above mount basin. You can purchase the bowl style or the square style. Either way, the colors and designs available make them look more like art. Be sure to buy faucet fixtures that will complement the sink.

Update the lighting and make getting ready for the day exciting! Add dimmers for ambiance. While you’re at it, bring your Bluetooth speaker to enjoy relaxing sounds if you don’t already have an amazing surround sound system in your home.

If you’ve been dying for a jetted tub and you don’t have a large tub space, you can purchase jetted tubs in the standard bathtub size. It doesn’t have to be a garden tub style jetted tub. Install the rain shower-head in your shower.

I continue to remind you to replace any laminate or linoleum flooring with luxury vinyl tile. It’s great! It comes in various colors and textures. If you’re going to update the look/design, go for it!

Bedrooms:

Bedrooms are all about paint and flooring. Be sure to carry the colors from the kitchen and living room into the bedrooms. Consider removing excess pieces of furniture from the bedrooms, which will give you more space in the room. Use the closet! If you need to keep your chest-of-drawers, fit it into the closet.

Here are a few tips and hints.

Color: Black/Charcoal/Gray. Fixture coloring is typically Antique Bronze, Brushed Nickel, and Brushed Brass. Did you know that when home product stores make mistakes on orders, they discount the items? Oops paint may turn out to be just the color you needed. Countertops that are incorrectly measured when cut may be just what you’re looking for. Even amazing doors that were custom ordered and simply not what the customer expected are marked down. For example, I got an amazing Pella sliding glass door with blinds inside the glass for $300!!! It was a custom order for $1,800.

I hope that your home design efforts turn out to be amazing works for art!

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.