Check out photos of one of my latest pride-and-joy summer projects, posted on Houzz!

Outdoor Entertaining at Oak Street, designed by Linda M. White

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Smart Investments in Kitchen Cabinetry — a Realtor’s Advice

Smart Investments in Kitchen Cabinetry — a Realtor’s Advice

Read the article at the above link for excellent advice on specifics related to kitchen remodeling!

The Best Kind of Kitchen

What would be your ideal kitchen?  Something fancy and grand?  Something quaint and cozy?  Something simple and sleek?

Even more important than the appeal of the design is the feeling you get when living in your kitchen.  It is the heart of the home, the most used room in the house, the warm place everyone tends to gather, no matter how small.  If you think of it like that… a gathering room… then what becomes of the dream kitchen you imagine?

Take a look at House Beautiful’s slideshow of designer kitchens.  Here are a few of my favorites…

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Call me old fashioned. I am! But, I just love this mix of farmhouse and formal elements.

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The size and beauty of this kitchen is cleverly extended with large, untrimmed archways.  Simple and breathtaking elegance!

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Small and casual kitchens are not to be thought fruitless of potential!  What a fun idea to paint the cabinet interiors with a bright and cheery color!  Such a delight should give one joy to be in the kitchen!

There are endless, fabulous solutions for every size kitchen and every size budget.  What do you want to improve in your kitchen?  Ask me!  I’ll be more than happy to help with a free consultation!

Work for More Than A Dollar

There are things that are worth more than money.  Relationships, integrity, honesty and loyalty top my list.  There are few others that share this belief.  But, I have found some of those few.  Together, we have formed an alliance, the Marblehead Builder’s Consortium, to share our resources and do what we love – renovating homes to enrich the people’s lives who live in them.

We are not a general contracting firm.  We do not follow the traditional processes of managing home renovation projects.  The homeowner comes first.  Not our bottom line.

The MBC is a team of renovation professionals.  We pour our hearts into our craft.  Because, after all, if one’s heart is not in it, it is not worth doing.

iPad Giveaway!

Well, of course like everything else, it requires a bit of effort on your part.

Houzz.com holds a monthly drawing for a free iPad to those who review their favorite home designer or building pro (hint-hint!).

So, whether you really, really like me or just want a chance to win a new iPad, give me a super duper review on Houzz.com!

Click the link on the left that says “See my Houzz profile” or click here for more details.

Thinking About Resale Value

Do you have the future resale value of your home in the back of your mind?  Most real estate agents will have good input when it comes to discussing improvements that will or will not help make your home more attractive to buyers.  After all, they work with buyers and sellers every day of the week.  But, I have a few cents to put in, too.

Not too long ago I worked with a couple who wanted to renovate their bathroom.  We designed option after option after option only to come to the conclusion that we would keep everything in its place and simply replace the fixtures.  The hang up was that the owners were overly concerned about what the next buyers would want.  They had no plans to sell soon, but they just couldn’t get beyond that hump of wondering what the next people who lived there would want.

Another couple was convinced that they would not be able to sell their house unless they renovated the kitchen.  They spent loads of time in planning and about $50,000 to do the construction.  Then, the next owners came in and tore the whole thing apart again to make it their own.

So, here’s the deal.  You cannot interpret the tastes of the people who are going to buy your house.  If you are certain you are going to sell in a relatively short amount of time then you should be as conservative as possible with the money you spend and styles you choose when renovating and decorating.  (Check out this brief article on Home Renovations That Could Hurt Resale.)

However, if you do not have definite plans to move soon, I whole-heartedly recommend making your home a place in which you love to live.  After all, why not?  It’s yours!

Delightful Curb Appeal

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “curb appeal”?  The purpose of curb appeal is to make one feel welcome, invited, happy, warm, cozy….all of that.   But, what elements are needed to create those feelings?  My short answer is color, texture and proportion in a harmonic blend.

Let’s look at two examples…

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This is a nice house with a good lines, but it seems shy and underestimated.  It’s at the dance, but it’s just not dressed for the occasion.  Imagine this home with the following improvements:

1. An arched entry with a sturdy wood railing, stained wood entry door and warm lighting

2. Lush landscaping along the path and entry stairs

3. A new garage door with windows and a crown

4. Thick trim and a crown moulding at the triple window

5. Black painted window frames

6. A belt course of trim at the joint of siding and brick

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Voila!

Let’s try one more…

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This one is cute, but it’s a little sad like a little girl who is the only one on the playground without ribbons in her hair.   What if we did this…

1. Replace the thin columns with heavier ones

2. Remove the railing from the porch and plant cottage flowers along the walkway

3. Add decorative window trim, including crowns

4. Apply natural stone veneer to the porch floor

5. Paint it a vibrant color with contrasting trim

6. Ice it with a sweet little cupola

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What do you think?

Would you like to increase your home’s curb appeal but need some suggestions?  Whether you are considering selling your house or just want a more pleasing sight to welcome you home I can help.

Send me an email and we will get started!

Client Relationships

In the business of home remodeling, relationships with clients are different than in any other industry.   The upmost sensitivity and care is required when working in and on someone else’s home.  The process puts the clients in a very vulnerable state and they are at the very mercy of the builder and his team.   Unfortunately, the average builder has no recognition and compassion for this fact.

A few days ago I decided to put my philosophies in writing and place them where I can see them every morning upon arrival at the office.   These philosophies are ones I’ve held internally as long as I can remember, but had never before actually put them into words.  Seeing these beliefs written seems to make them absolute and insoluble.

1.   Infuse passion in our work.  (We LOVE what we do! Let it show! Excitement is contagious.)

2.  Ensure our clients know we care every day in communications and actions. (Let them know they are important to you and your business!)

3.  Take time to plan, be efficient and productive. (Rushing costs more in the end.)

4.  Make team bonding a priority. (Because we are only as good as or weakest link.)

5.  Communicate, communicate, communicate with everyone on the team.  (It is how things get done and mistakes are few.)

A happy client = a successful project = positive referrals and repeat business = a healthy business and a happy owner!

 

It’s Not Just About Looks

Wait a minute, did I just say that? Of course it about looks! But, it’s also about feeling. Have you ever noticed that spaces evoke feelings? Usually it’s the smallest, indiscreet details that create the mood of a space.

For example, have you ever noticed what a difference window and door trim makes in a room? How about crown moulding? Trim details such as these can make or break a renovation.

How about shadows and lines, textures and shapes, balance of color and placement of decor? When assembled well, all of these factors blend together to create a harmonic space in which people love to be.

When I was in design school one of the required courses was freehand drawing. We had to draw such things as pinecones and kitchen utensils and feet. What the heck did that have to do with architecture? I thought the professor was a little tapped, to be honest. But, towards the end of the course, I realized that I was noticing more and more design details, important details that really affected the sense of a space.

Then came the “wax on wax off” aha moment. The smallest elements really count! Pay attention to them! They deserve to be noticed.

P.S. I also learned that I can draw a mean ice cream scoop. 😉

Beware of the “Ball Park” Estimate

Almost every client is interested to know a ball-park estimate of what their project will cost.  Even though I might have a gut feeling of what a project might cost, I am reluctant to share it with the client because it is just that – a feeling, not a detailed estimate based on a clearly defined scope of work.

Ball-park figures almost always lead to disappointment since inaccuracy is practically guaranteed.  What does it include?  What’s not included?  The variables are too vast.  It is crucial to impress upon clients that each project is unique.  It cannot be quickly added up based on an a’ la carte menu.

In addition, it is so easy for a client to get a ball-park figure stuck in their head.  When the real costs are figured and delivered, the client then experiences an initial shock followed by disbelief and either crushed hopes or even anger.

Instead of giving a ball-park estimate when asked, I provide examples of recent projects and their costs.  I can point to a bathroom or kitchen renovation and tell a client the cost of that particular project based on its scale and quality.  That helps give a client an idea of cost without backing myself into a corner by trying to guess the cost of their project on the spot without any specific details.

Trying to guess does no one any favors and in fact ends up causing more confusion than being of any help.  It’s only fair to everyone involved to provide an actual estimate for a specific project scope, leaving much less room for error and uncertainty.

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