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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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!
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.