Category Archives: Design Tips

Finishing Your Lower Level To Sell Your Home – Part 1

This subject is close to my heart because I just went through the process. I also have many clients that wonder about finishing off a lower level or doing a major renovation when pondering an upcoming sale of their home.

Let me first state that it all depends on WHEN you are selling your home. You do not want to complete a lower level or do a major renovation and turn around and sell your home within a year. The chances of you getting your money back are low. There are exceptions to finishing small areas, updating kitchens and such but I am talking a full big renovation or finishing.

Personally we are looking at perhaps selling our home in about five years so we started wondering if it made sense to finish our lower level. This would add a 5th bedroom, a 4th bathroom and three distinct living areas. I did a lot of research and got a lot of bids.

We were starting with only cement floors and the exterior walls insulated. We needed to frame up the rooms, add HVAC, Electrical etc. And purge

 

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Here is what I did….I took on the task of being our own general contractor. I am not a licensed contractor, I became the ‘manager’ of all the trades involved. By doing this I saved more than 50% of the contractor bid prices. THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE AND I AM NOT SAYING CONTRACTORS AREN’T WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD. I just found myself with a lot of time on my hands during Covid and made use of it.

I got bids from all trades and made bargain purchases at outlet centers and big box stores.

So….let’s cut to the chase and show you some ‘after’ photos. I am going to start with the bedroom and bath. You have to wait for the next post to see the really cool stuff. 🙂

 

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I made decisions based on the fact I was selling in five years and that it was a lower level. I did not tile the shower, I purchased a prefab vanity and top, the blinds are not special order and so on. I was strict on my finishing budget so that I love it now for my enjoyment, but also kept in mind the return on investment for sale purposes.

Check in for Part 2 to see the finished living areas and we will determine if I can get my money back in five years.

 

Should I Paint My Kitchen Cabinets To Help Sell My Home?

Such a good question and one that I get at least once a week during a Home Staging Consultation. It really is something to take a hard look at. Questions to consider:

  1. How old are the cabinets?
  2. What is the price of my home?
  3. What is the current market?
  4. Is there a lot of competition in my area?
  5. What will be the cost to paint the cabinets?

I did a consultation for a starter level home in a suburb of Minneapolis. The cabinets were original and in pretty good shape but in a medium oak stain which is not what the buyers are looking for. Since this home was a starter level home we know that the buyer may not be coming in and gutting a complete kitchen right away.  They want a kitchen they can live with for a while until improvements can be made down the road.

 

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It is a hot market right  now and homes in that price range are going fast but you also want to get top dollar.

I had the homeowner get a bid to have the cabinets painted which came in very reasonable. I recommended the painting be done.

 

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Isn’t the difference amazing!! Because the cabinets were being painted they could also take down the decorative bar across the top of the sink that is very dated and add an updated pendant light. The home got a couple other small updates, was staged and the outcome??? The homeowner received an offer the first day with multiply offers coming in and selling for over the list price! Painting the cabinets paid off with a quick sale, did not leave any money on the table and in fact put a little extra in the homeowner’s pocket.

If you are selling your home be sure to get professional advice from a Certified Home Stager.

 

 

Wood, Wood and More Wood. But Should They Match?

In the 80’s and 90’s the trend was for all woods to match. Your floors matched your trim, which matched your doors which matched your kitchen cabinets and even went as far as having all the wood pieces in your furniture being the same color.

 

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At that time Honey Oak or Golden Oak was the big deal and there really was a sea of oak when you walked into homes from that era. You still see a lot of these oak stains in cabinetry and trim but many people are tired of it and it is considered very dated.

What you want to see in a home now is contrast. So if you have two wood pieces next to each other one would be darker than another.

For example:

If you want a dark stained island, make sure your floors are lighter.

 

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If you want wood cabinets, make sure your floors are lighter or darker than your cabinets.

 

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It’s okay to mix in painted pieces as well. A white kitchen, gray island, and dark floors.

 

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The same rule applies to your furniture. If things don’t match they add character, interest and bring depth to a home. It makes it feel like it has been acquired over time rather than purchased all in the same section of a furniture store. Note the dining table above contrasts with the floor.

 

Below, the cabinets don’t match the island, which doesn’t match the floor, which doesn’t match the kitchen table, which doesn’t match the locker system way in the back and so on.

 

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It is difficult for some to get past the rule that all the woods should match. I get that. But start slow and practice. Perhaps it is as simple as adding an end table that is different in stain color or is painted. If a couple things match that’s okay. Just try to have the larger pieces show a contrast, each piece standing out instead of blending in.

 

Whether selling or dwelling, if you need assistance in making new wood selections call in a professional designer or home stager to walk  you through the process.