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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!

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.


  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.