Little things that make a BIG difference – Shower Curtains

shower curtainRecently I have been showing a lot of vacant houses. Not for any particular reason, it’s just sort of a random coincidence that they are empty. Some of the houses have been vacant rentals and some have been houses for sale where the owner has already moved out.

Either way, the one thing that is certain is there is a particular starkness or a “emotional coldness” to an empty house.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when a bathroom is “vacant”, it doesn’t feel as clean. I have no idea why, but that’s just MY overall impression. Now, new construction doesn’t feel that way, but a vacant house that was once lived in most often does.

Even if it has been cleaned from stem to stern, there still maybe a lingering film of soap scum that won’t come off the tiles. Or, maybe the tub isn’t as glossy as it once was after years of cleaning. Whatever it is, I just always feel like I can “sense” the prior person living in the house and that’s just not ideal.

I think one way to warm things up and distract from the sense of the prior inhabitant, is to put up a fresh clean shower curtain. Perhaps something bright and fun if the bathroom is primarily white. Or, maybe something clean and neutral if the bathroom fixtures have color. Whatever it is, it should be clean and crisp and new.

Also, if you can, make it fabric. Fabric lends an elegance to the situation. But even if it is plastic, just make it brand new.

The objective is to deflect the eye from the imperfections of the bath. When there is nothing but blank fixtures, it is human nature to concentrate on them. If there’s a fun, splashy shower curtain, people viewing the home won’t focus so hard on what’s not perfect.

So, if you have a house on the market for sale or rent and it’s vacant, put up a nice shower curtain, it may just bring the needed panache you need to get the deal done.

Image: Garnet Hill

 

 

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Which front door color to pick?

Pick them all!

(This reminds me of the bus on the Partridge Family)

color block door

You can look at many other pretty front door colors I have featured

herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,

hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,

herehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere & here

Image: Claire Bock Design

 

 

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Sunday snooping time! They paid how much for that house?!?

I am including Patch.com as a source for property transfers (by town) this week. Originally I did not want to use this as a source because the pages don’t always load properly. I use a Macbook Air and my browser is Chrome and unfortunately the way the real estate sales are coded, the pages appear blank on my computer. If I want to see the pages, I have to switch browsers to Safari. If you pull up the pages and nothing appears, switching browsers may do the trick. Good luck and happy snooping!

gladys

Westport 

Fairfield

Easton

Norwalk

Ridgefield

Weston

Wilton

The Master ListDarien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport, Wilton

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I am very happy to report that it’s BEACH STICKER time!

Around here, if you don’t get a beach sticker, then you are out of luck going to the beach! Don’t wait until it’s too late, click on the links below for your town and register.

Don’t forget your sunblock!August 31, 2004  6:36 PM

Norwalk:

Stickers    Beach Hours & Rules

Fairfield:

Stickers    Beach Hours & Rules

Easton:

No info available, check with Fairfield for eligibility there.

Weston:

Stickers    Beach Hours & Rules

Westport:

Stickers    Beach Hours & Rules

Wilton:

No info available, check with surrounding towns for eligibility there.

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Weekly Sales Snapshot – 4/11/14

4-11-14

 

Source: Greater Fairfield County CMLS,  HOUSES Sold = Single Family, Multi-Family, Condo/Co-Op

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Hmmm, I am thinking of a new countertop…what do I choose?

counter compare

While I was showing my new tenant around her new home, I realized we would have to replace the counters in the kitchen soon.

At the time we bought the house, we gutted the original 1955 kitchen (plywood cabinets and all) and installed pretty, white, cottage-y cabinets, wood flooring and a smokey gray laminate countertop.

We installed a laminate counter because 1) we were spending a ton of money on the house and felt the need to conserve money in some places and 2) we were new to the landlord business and just weren’t sure what to expect when it came to tenants treating counters with respect. We figured it was better to learn that lesson on laminate than on granite.

So, we chose a nice neutral smokey gray laminate to hide any potential stains and it looked very appropriate for a rental. Not deluxe, but definitely clean, usable and appropriate.

Well, five years later, I have to say those counters held up and our tenants have been very kind to them. They technically don’t need to be replaced, but I think the place would benefit from a countertop upgrade. The laminate definitely makes the place feel a bit lower in rental value and the dark color in the picture makes the place feel way more somber than it really is.

What to choose? Granite? Some of these “newer” stone-like substances like caeserstone or quartz? I am just not sure.

I think I am leaning away from granite. I have granite at my house and, while I like it and the way it looks, it is not as resilient as I had thought. We have a few chips along the edge and they are quite costly to repair. We naively repaired the first one…$250 for a chip that was HALF the size of a pencil eraser…but then we decided to get over ourselves and left the rest of the chips as they appeared. We don’t have a ton of chips, just two or three and you can’t even really see them, but I don’t need to deplete my son’s college fund repairing a few random countertop chips. And, all I have to say is, the term “hard as granite” is a fallacy. Granite countertops can chip and crack…trust me I speak from personal experience!

But back to the original question, “What to choose?” I think I am leaning toward quartz because I like the clean bright look and I think that kitchen could use a bit of “brightening”, but I will have to do my research on the”resiliency” of different counter choices. Let’s face it at the end of the day, it’s still a rental house that will hopefully see many renters over the course of the years and resiliency is the name of the game.

I quite like the look of the kitchen above on the right. I found it on the blog Hooked on Houses. It features the kitchen of another blog writer that I like to read, Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy. It’s such a nice, bright, happy kitchen. I am not sure my kitchen will look quite so elegantly clean, but I think a new countertop such as that above will get me closer to the look.

After I do my research, I will let you know what I find.

If you are thinking of selling your house, take a step back and assess your countertops. Would you benefit from an upgrade too?

Image: Hooked on Houses

 

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I love bay windows

bay windowI just love a good bay window. For me, they are right up there with french doors.

I actually have two of them in my house. One was already there when I bought the house and I put the other one in my bedroom.

The one in my bedroom is used as a window seat but the other one, in my family room, is too high to sit on so my son uses it as a Lego construction table :-(

I love how the windows look from the outside and I love the one I use as a seat in my bedroom, BUT what to do with the one in my family room [the current Lego construction table] perplexes the you-know-what out of me.

After reading a current article on Houzz about what to do with internal bay window space, I am thinking I will remove the “table” part of it, open it up and put a small couch in the recessed area. Sounds good, right?

If my husband reads this post, he will shake his head and think that we have much bigger projects to accomplish at this house other than opening up the floor beneath a bay window :-)

If you’d like some bay window inspiration, you can find the Houzz ideabook here.

Image: Conrad Romano Architects
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A Landlord’s best friend

magic eraserAs I mentioned before, one of my rental houses was recently available for rent.

A cute little house if ever there was one!

Being a Landlord is wonderful while the tenants are happy and the checks are arriving promptly on the first of the month.

BUT, when one tenant moves out and before the next one moves in, getting the house prepared for its next occupant is sheer HELL!

My last tenant moved out on the April 1st and my next tenant moves in today, April 8th. I had one week to get a 1,400+ sq. ft house prepared and refreshed.

For the last week I have painted, scrubbed and cleaned. My contractor repaired damaged tiles and my family, in general, suffered from my lack of attention. Not our best week!

Yesterday, as the finish-line came into view, I happened upon the most fabulous little secret…Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Now, you are thinking, those things aren’t new, BUT I had never used them on door fingerprint grime before. I was afraid they’d dull the semi-gloss finish of the paint. I had purchased a Magic Eraser years ago when they first came out and used it on scuff marks on the walls at my house. It took the scuff marks off, but changed the paint texture and left the walls looking “different”. I never used one on paint again.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, takes off doorjamb grime (especially when the prior tenant did nothing to remove ANY grime in the three prior years :-( ). Well, yesterday, as I stood looking at endless door grime, I happened to have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in my hand. I figured I’d give it a try since I was going to have to paint anyway and, lo and behold, the grime came completely off, the paint stayed semi-shiny and everything looked brand new.

No. More. Door. Fingerprint. Grime.

I almost wept with joy at that moment, because I was as sore and tired from cleaning as I have ever been in my life and my doors were clean and bright with minimal effort. No painting needed!

Today is move-in day and I must say, the place looks pretty spiffy. My cleaning tirade is over. The checks have started to roll back in and things are looking up.

If you want to rid yourself of your doorjamb grime without painting (especially if your house is on the market), grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It will do the trick.

Please note: I have not been compensated by the Procter & Gamble Company for the aforementioned post. They just saved me hours of painting yesterday and I will be eternally grateful.
 
Image: Fun Times Guide
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I never met a decorating quiz I didn’t like…

Houzz Quiz ResultI am such a sucker for those self-assessment quizzes! I take them every time I run into one.

Yesterday, in my Houzz weekly newsletter, I found a quiz asking me my “decorating style”.

Good question as I would be hard-pressed to define my “decorating style”.

I guess my style is a cross between “whatever amuses me” and “whatever I can talk my husband into” :-)

When I took the quiz, the questions were a bit odd and sometimes I had to pick the best answer from the list given, even though my real answers to the questions were not included in the answer list. As a result, while I was taking the quiz, I was thinking it probably wouldn’t be very specific to me.

Au contraire!

When I finished the quiz, it said I was a Transitional, which boiled down means “meeting in the middle” on style. At first I was like, that’s not me…then I realized that I answered the questions for both myself and my husband and our mixed style. As I thought about it, I guess it’s kind of appropriate at my house since my husband and I really don’t have the same style and we do a fair amount of “meeting in the middle”. I also have to say, I liked a fair amount of the pictures included in the Transitional style…maybe a bit more of me there than I realized.

Then I took I retook the quiz and just answered for myself and my tastes and it came out dead-on as a Traditional. Truer words were never spoken written. As it related to me, and me alone, it was 100% spot on. According to the description, “…it’s really about comfort. Every element feels familiar, properly placed and predictable — in a good way.” Yup, that is me, me, me.

Hmmm…maybe this quiz captures more than I realized!

If you’d like to see what your decorating style might be, take the quiz here. At the end of the quiz, it will tell you your style and provide a link that further describes it.

Good luck!

Image: Houzz
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Sunday snooping time! They paid how much for that house?!?

I am including Patch.com as a source for property transfers (by town) this week. Originally I did not want to use this as a source because the pages don’t always load properly. I use a Macbook Air and my browser is Chrome and unfortunately the way the real estate sales are coded, the pages appear blank on my computer. If I want to see the pages, I have to switch browsers to Safari. If you pull up the pages and nothing appears, switching browsers may do the trick. Good luck and happy snooping!

gladys

Westport 

Fairfield

Easton

Norwalk

Ridgefield

Weston

Wilton

The Master ListDarien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport, Wilton

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