Hardly Simple

It’s been a long time coming… Ok, it’s been almost 4 years to be exact. While I’ve been feeling paralyzed by both fear and planning tasks, I finally have a general plan for how my home renovation is going to go.

I envy those who can immediately renovate their space and call a contractor to do all of the work. While I know the stress that goes into working with renovations and outside contractors, the idea of calling someone for help and not explaining to them that I want them to teach me something sounds downright dreamy.

Meanwhile, I’m over here, googling the simplest thing for months and asking the most frowned upon questions of the construction people around me. It’s been cringe-worthy. The questions have been dumb, and some of the answers have been too. I have to keep reminding myself that everyone has to start somewhere and everyone sucks at the beginning.

It’s still a hard pill to swallow.

So I remind myself again and again of a quote from Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Well… I’d renovate a little condo in Charlotte, NC. I’d ask all of the dumb questions and I’d make it through this entire process with all fingers and toes still intact, because that’s always a concern with power tools.

Counseling, Advising and Real Estate

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a trend of clients not wanting to “bother” their Realtor and it caused me to pause for a moment.

I absolutely love what I do, to the point that I will talk to anyone, anytime, about their real estate journey. Have a question? I’m happy to hear it, whether it’s 9pm on a Friday night or 6am on a Tuesday morning. I can’t guarantee an instant response of course (I’m only human), but I don’t view it as a bother for someone to reach out to me. Honestly, I prefer the social interaction and the excuse to hear about how you’re doing.

Real estate isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle and my clients, friends, family, all cross paths regardless of what day or time it may be. If you really enjoy something, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel like work. I’m thrilled to hear from you. I’m excited to answer your questions. I’m 1,000% happy to help you find your next home, help with design ideas, call vendors and to be the person you lean on through the stressful moments and the happy ones.

A physical move is an emotional transition and it can be difficult, and stressful, and yet joyful all at the same time. There are a full range of emotions that you will go through, and all of them are normal. All of us need someone in our corner to celebrate with, vent to, cry to and yes, occasionally mediate tough conversations with.

Growth can hurt, so don’t hurt alone. And remember: you are never a bother. Ever.

Home Design Purgatory – Part II

What if you bought a home and now that all of the seller’s items have been removed, you’re feeling a little “blah” about the home itself? It happens more often than you might think and can sometimes feel like buyer’s remorse.

First, don’t panic. If you stuck to your guns and selected your house based on your needs and didn’t get derailed, then everything else can be tweaked.

Here are a few relatively inexpensive things to think about when settling into your new space:

Paint is everyone’s first go-to change, whether it’s to adjust the feel of a space or simply to make everything look cleaner, paint can breathe new life into any room. Painting a room is relatively quick and inexpensive while also packing a big punch. And if you decide you don’t like your choice, it can also be easy to simply repaint it. Though yes, it might not be the most ideal use of a weekend, try to have some fun with it!

Lighting, whether natural or man-made can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling about a space. There’s no need to call the electrician this minute to overhaul all the electrical (unless you into that sort of thing) so go buy a few floor lamps and expand the usable ambiance lighting throughout your home. I found myself wandering around my living room wishing I could simply turn up the light, and fixed the entire problem with a 14.99 IKEA lamp that stays on day and evening to give me a more consistent brightness between the brighter bursts of task lighting (aka directional floor lamps and table lamps).

To go along with lighting, check your source of natural light by rethinking your window coverings. Plantation shutters can be gorgeous, but if you’re struggling with a space feeling a bit gloomy, think about swapping heavy shades or blinds for light-filtering options such as cellular shades or sheer curtains.

Décor items or a small DIY project can increase the personalization of your home, so move in and get settled. If you’re feeling overwhelmed (and who isn’t feeling that way during a move?) then focus only on one room, maybe even one corner of one room. When I moved into my home I had basically no furniture what-so-ever, so I focused on making one cozy corner. This was the corner of what is now my office and includes a reading lamp, a comfy chair, a cute meditation bolster (yes, pay extra for the cute one, you won’t regret it) and a small cabinet. This “first space” is now my version of a reading nook and a calm, cozy place to land, complete with multiple throw blankets for maximum coziness.

Clients are always surprised when I tell them how big a small change can feel when I tell them to switch out cabinet hardware in the kitchen or bathroom, but it’s true! It can change the entire feeling with a few turns of a knob (pun totally intended), from builder-grade mass production hardware to any look that you may be going for, including: glam, industrial, modern, etc. Skip the hardware store and shop online for the best selection.

And remember that it will all be ok. Whether you pull your house together in a week, a month or a lifetime it’s important for you to feel comfortable. Heck, I’ve lived in my house for almost 3 years and I still haven’t had the housewarming party.

… Is it socially acceptable to have a housewarming party when you’re ready and not when you first move in? It should be. Consider my housewarming party date TBA.

Home Design Purgatory – Part I

When a client sees a home that has been on the market for 100+ days in Charlotte they immediately think that something is wrong with the house, the seller’s expectations or both. Why would a perfectly good house, in a highly-sought-after neighborhood be sitting on the market for that long and especially if the price per square foot is on par or maybe even below that of its neighbors?

 Buyers will always say “there HAS to be something wrong with it.”

Well, not necessarily.

Have you ever walked into a home and everything looked nice, but it just didn’t feel like much? Sometimes this sentiment comes across when someone says “I mean, it’s a nice house. It checks all of our boxes, it’s just not OUR house.”

Welcome to what I like to call, Home Design Purgatory. This is when a house was designed to meet everyone’s expectations and in doing so meets no ones. It takes a trained eye to see a home like this, it was once called a home “with potential” where people dream about ripping up shag carpeting to find hardwood floors, but now it seems to be new-ish builds.

It looks like faux subway tile backsplashes (yes, it’s a thing), and formica counter tops accented by builder-grade light fixtures and faucets. This is not a bad house. Not. At. ALL. There’s a very good chance that the previous owner focused on taking care of the mechanicals of this house instead of spending their time designing and upgrading the little show-y pieces around their home. However, a buyer doesn’t see the perfectly maintained furnace when they walk through, they see fixtures and accents. If it doesn’t feel like home, they move on. This means more days on market and more missed opportunities to sell. Hence, my term of “design purgatory,” there’s no telling how long this home might sit on the market or how much you may need to drop the price to appease a potential buyer.

So, what do you do? The first step of any problem is admitting that there is one. If you’re the seller of this home that can be a hard pill to swallow. First, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or your house. Maybe you have really great furniture that stole the show when guests arrived. Creating a warm and inviting space is what we’re after and maybe you did that solely with furniture, art and décor.

If you’re still living in the house ask your Realtor® about a staging consultation. The home stager will come into your home and move the items you have and maybe add a few design touches that you wouldn’t have picked for yourself. They may reconfigure your seating within rooms to show off the features that a buyer is looking for, for example, creating a conversation area around a large picture window instead of around a TV. While the layout chosen by the staging consultant might not be your ideal everyday living arrangement, it can greatly help with appeal to a potential buyer, and for you it will strictly be temporary.

A staging consultant will also take out some personal items like family photos and trinkets to make it easier for buyers to see a cozy home that they want to live in, and not make their time touring the house feel like they’re imposing on you by coming in. The removal of family photos can also be for your own families’ safety. There may be hundreds of strangers looking at listing photos of your home, they don’t need to know the ages and names of your children. So be safe and not sorry.

If you’ve already moved out of the house and the home is being shown empty, as your Realtor® if it would be advantageous to have the home either partially or fully staged. The temporary addition of furniture and décor not only allows a buyer to feel more comfortable in a space but it can also detract from any small cosmetic issues the home may have. I’ve seen very minor details be what stands between a buyer making and not making an offer, so try to downplay the little things like scuff marks on a wall. If there’s nothing in the home, buyers will focus on things like that because there’s nothing else to look at, but add some seating and a few throw blankets and a scuff becomes a much less impactful issue. Try to keep a level head about the whole situation. If the ultimate goal is to sell the home (and it should be if you’re listing it) then take a look at the home around you as best you can from an outsider’s perspective. And listen to the advice of your Realtor®, if they suggest making small cosmetic changes then listen to them, they are there to support you and your best interests.

It’s a journey not a destination

For the entirety of the time I’ve lived in my own first home I’ve been making steps towards making it FEEL like home. It’s a slow process, and it can be frustrating but it can also be rewarding and very, very healing.

I moved to Charlotte with only a few boxes of clothing, my dog and a yoga mat. I love to talk about this as a light-hearted experience, but honestly, it was anything but. I had lost my job a few months prior, my marriage had abruptly ended, and I was dealing with crippling depression and feelings of worthlessness.

Fast-forward six months and I was signing paperwork to buy a tiny little condo and I was overwhelmed and scared out of my mind. I felt like I had no business thinking that I could take care of a home, even if it was just a condo. I didn’t even own a drill, much less knew how to use one. I felt so screwed (no pun intended).

I spent my first night sitting on the floor crying.

Over the time that I’ve lived here the condo projects have begun to reflect my life at-large and the pressure of moving on. For a long time I didn’t believe that I was going to stay in Charlotte, so my house reflected that. It took me years to put anything on the walls and then when I finally did, I felt a little better. Not only did it feel like I belonged there, but I felt like I had successfully learned something about how to hang picture frames (thanks YouTube!)

Since then I’ve found a passion for interior design and have developed a drive to learn about renovations and repairs, and to further create using the space around me. I’m definitely not a designer, and my goals are simple: to create safe and welcoming space for myself and others, and to learn whatever I can along the way.