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!
When their frustration with current fabric care options had fashionistas Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd worn out, the two entrepreneurs made it their mission to start a new niche and launch their very own at-home, eco-friendly laundry detergent line.
With a mission of turning an everyday domestic chore into a luxurious experience, these entrepreneurs not only conjured up an idea for an unconventional product line, but they successfully built their business while turning down the offer of every venture capitalist to knock on their door.
Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd co-founded The Laundress in 2004 after dealing with their own personal frustrations with limited clothing care options. Whiting, having worked at Ralph Lauren in design and Boyd having worked at Chanel in corporate sales, soon accumulated a stylish wardrobe of designer pieces as perks of their jobs in the fashion industry. However, the duo quickly realized that the maintenance required for upkeeping these items were far from adequate. Laundry products on the market at the time did not cater to delicate textures and fabrics such as tweed blazers, cable-knit cashmere and silk blouses. Taking their clothing to the dry cleaners also proved hopeless as their clothing would often come back with stains or even be ruined despite the overload of chemicals used to clean them. With nowhere left to turn, Whiting and Boyd were determined to create their own laundry solutions designed for specific fabrics.
Not only did the entrepreneurs develop the business expertise needed to finally begin their own company, but they also shared the same educational background that equipped them to pursue their unconventional business venture. Whiting and Boyd met in college as students at Cornell University majoring in Fiber Science, Textile, and Apparel Management and Design. The pair was introduced by a mutual friend and instantly knew they would become business partners. "It was inevitable that we were going to have a business together. We are both extremely entrepreneurial by nature, and it was one of the connections that we instantly shared" said Whiting. After focusing on pursuing their own individual careers for a while, Whiting and Boyd quickly discovered a void in the fabric care marketplace when their clients would continuously inquire about the upkeep of their designer pieces.
The entrepreneurial duo was committed to researching and developing their own eco-friendly laundry products and soon launched their own at-home solutions for specific fabrics like silk, wool and denim, which ultimately eliminated the need for dry cleaning for those particular items. Despite their products filling a necessary void in the market, it quickly became challenging for the founders to persuade people to shift their focus away from traditional laundry care options in order to try their products. However, Whiting and Boyd believed in their mission for the Laundress and bootstrapped from the very beginning, refusing all venture capital funding with the goal of growing organically. In order to be successful, they had to get creative in fundraising. "In the very early days, we funded business development by hosting a 'for profit' party at a New York City restaurant and inviting friends, family, co-workers, etc. to support our new venture. That was pre-Kickstarter and an inventive way to make everyone feel a big part of our decision to be entrepreneurs," said Whiting.
While turning down VC funding as new entrepreneurs seems unimaginable, it is as equally unfathomable to consider how these women gained national traction without social media, all the while hustling to fund their business. For Whiting and Boyd, who started their business before social media existed, it was imperative that they promote their brand by leveraging the resources they had available to them. The CEO's were one of the first to sell consumer goods, let alone detergent, online with the goal of reaching a national audience. Despite having limited retail distribution, they leveraged the power of their website and became featured in publications on both a national and international scale. "Before social media platforms existed, we nurtured our own Laundress community with engaging content on our website, step-by-step tutorials on our blog, and one-on-one communication through our Ask The Laundress email," Whiting explained. With technology evolving and the birth of social media platforms, the founders expanded the conversation about their products from website, blog and email to platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
As female entrepreneurs, Whiting and Boyd faced additional hardships as misconceptions about their mission ultimately proved to disappoint more than it encouraged them. As women selling luxury detergent, there existed a preconceived notion that funding would be more easily attainable based upon their gender.
"Everyone thought it was easy to access capital as female entrepreneurs, but it was actually very challenging. We had this unique and disruptive idea within a very traditional space and it was hard to get people on board at first. It's been a continuous journey to educate people in fabric care and home cleaning," said Boyd.
Reflecting on their journey as entrepreneurs, the founders express no regrets about refusing to accept venture capital throughout the process. "Over the years, we could never quantify the cost benefit of VC funding so we continued to grow organically and remain independent by funding ourselves with credit cards and loans," explained Boyd. While their decision proved fruitful, the duo expressed their consideration towards other entrepreneurs who may not be able to fully fund their business as they grow. Because funding is a situational experience, entrepreneurs must ultimately do what is best for their business as no one path is optimal for every entrepreneur or every business.
With an increasing amount of women entering entrepreneurship with their own unique set of products or services, the CEO's offer up one piece of advice on how female entrepreneurs can be successful in their endeavors.
Whiting: "Our advice to anyone looking to build their brands: Have a strong business plan and vision. If you are not disciplined to write a business plan first then you are not disciplined to start a business. Get your ideas down so you ask yourself the right questions; it helps you get organized and plan next steps."
Boyd: "Create quality products without sacrificing the ingredients—no cutting corners. What you create should be the most important piece. Stay passionate, and trust your instincts and follow your gut—something woman are awesome at!"