Decorating Beyond Grays

modern kitchenDid you just recently buy a new house, or are you considering redecorating your current house? If you’ve got an eye on the decorating world, you know everything gray! Gray has been in the spotlight for a while now, but there’s a hot movement for colors, bold shapes and other trending decorating styles that you might find inspiring.

Geometry: Backsplash tile, wallpapers, bold rugs and even lampshades: If it’s angled, it’s in. The increasing popularity of a simple geometric form adds a modern flair and a bold edge to almost any space.

Bold sofas: Is it red? Wonderful. Is it velvet? Even better. Design trends are renouncing the plain for something that pops in the living room.

Marble, terrazzo and stone: Two are bold, the other sparse. But all are making a comeback in design trends, from lavish marble countertops to austere stone tables to funky, chunky terrazzo tiles.

Metallics: Take a few picks from copper, silver, gold or even rose gold to achieve a trending affection for mixed metal accents.

Macrame: Not just for the 70s anymore, macrame is back in action prominently as plant holders, but inside the home it also is adding a vintage touch hanging on walls and as textured fringe.

Warm color palette: Design color trends are shifting from cool tones to embrace warm browns and earthy, light accents. Yellows and browns make spaces more inviting while still retaining a minimalist sense of style.

Colorful cabinets: Move over, white. Kitchen design is all about the blue, green and other cool, moody shades for a cabinet look.

Southwest inspiration: Lucky for us, cacti are cool. The modern Southwest feel is especially trendy, so break out that ceramic pot, woven rug or rough-hewn basket.

Let me know what type of a home you are looking for.  I can help you find a home that meets your needs and decorating style! 602-329-7782

Pergola, Ramada or Gazebo?

ramadaThe beautiful spring weather encourages us all to spend more time outside. As a result, many homeowners start think about backyard projects. Have you ever considered building a pergola, ramada or gazebos? Is there a difference? Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there are distinct architectural differences between each structures.

What is a Pergola?
Pergolas have cross beams as a roof. They are also commonly used for outdoor kitchens and built in BBQs. Pergolas have become popular in recent years because their design accommodates modern styles and can be less expensive to build than a ramada.

What is a Ramada?
A ramada is rectangular or square in shape with a solid roof. It is often built over outdoor kitchens to protect the appliances from rain and other outdoor factors that can damage them. If you plan to install an outdoor kitchen in your backyard, a ramada is a smart choice.

What is a Gazebo?
A gazebo also provides shelter and has a solid roof like the ramada with open sides. The shape of a gazebo is either octagonal or circular in shape. The gazebo design has been around for several centuries, they can be seen on old properties all over the world.

Which one is right for you? Ask yourself if you want full protection from the weather or partial shade. If you want full protection, a ramada might be the best option for you. If you want partial protection, then a pergola or gazebo may be best. Of course, you will also want to consider your personal style preference and the style of your home. Or you can give me a call and I can help you find a new home with a pergola, ramada or gazebo all ready for you to enjoy! 602-329-7782

Home Renovations And Upgrades With Big Resale Value

backyard photoIf you’re considering renovating or upgrading your home, you probably have a few reasons for that. You may feel that your fixtures are outdated, or certain things aren’t working the way they should anymore. You might also feel as though upgrading your home could be a good way to help you get back even more on your investment when the time comes for you to sell the house. If this is the main draw behind the idea of upgrading, then you should pay attention to the types of renovations that are bringing in more money when it comes to resale value in the housing market today.

Basic Bathroom
Redo your bathroom, but don’t worry about trying to take apart the whole thing. A bathroom remodel should really consist of a replacement for your tub, toilet, sink, and tile. You don’t have to change the layout of the room, which may be very costly, but you should update the fixtures to suit what’s popular at the time. Don’t forget to redo the wall coverings if they’re outdated, too.

Kitchen Fixes
Just like the bathroom, you don’t have to gut your kitchen and redo the whole floor plan to update it enough to sell well. Bring in a new oven, sink, and new countertops, and consider redoing the cabinetry if it’s very outdated. The refrigerator may not need to be updated, but don’t forget to replace it too if it does. Recessed lighting and a kitchen island if you have the space for it are both great options, too.

Everybody enjoys outdoor spaces, and if they’re ready to use as soon as someone buys your home, that’s even better. Put in a patio, porch, or deck to encourage buyers to look twice at your home. The nicer your outdoor space, the better off you’ll be.

Outside Matters
Don’t forget to spruce up the outside of your home before you try to put it on the market. Repaint the house if it’s looking a little ragged. Consider painting the doors as well to help improve the curb appeal. And don’t forget about the landscaping! A small investment will go a long way toward making sure your home gets noticed when it goes on the market.

Basements and Attics
If you have an unfinished basement or attic, what’s keeping you from finishing it? If you have the funds to do so, finish the space and make sure it’s ready to be used as a fully functional room. While it doesn’t have to have a bathroom on the same level, that’s always a nice perk too, provided you have the money to do that kind of major renovation.

Are you looking to sell you home?  Click here to get started with a free, no obligation home value estimate.

Hot Kitchen Trends That Sell Homes  

Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes.  That’s a real estate truism that’s actually right on the money!  Whether you have just purchased your home and want to update the kitchen, you’re getting your home ready to list for sale, or whether you are looking to remodel your home in the future, you should consider the long-term resale value of any updates you undertake in the kitchen.

Nowadays, buyers want homes that are already updated, as their lives get busier and busier.   Therefore, if one of the most important rooms isn’t updated, many potential buyers will start adding up the cost to update the kitchen, at minimum, and may not offer as much for your home down the line.    Therefore, if you are considering updating your home to maximize the sales price, as well as to compete with similar homes in your neighborhood, here are some current design trends to consider:

  1. Stainless Steel Appliances.   This is the first, and most important, item to update in any kitchens. Buyers still want stainless steel appliances, and this trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon.  Swapping out any black, white or ivory appliances for stainless steel (silver, black or slate stainless) is a relatively inexpensive, yet simple way to quickly update your kitchen.   If you do decide on an “alternative” stainless steel, black stainless is quickly gaining momentum as being on trend in kitchen appliances as well, so you may want to consider this color if it coordinates with your existing cabinets and countertops (ie, whites and grays rather than browns and beiges).
  1. Paint.  Painting your kitchen in a soft, neutral color, especially if it hasn’t been painted in the past five years, is a simple, inexpensive and quick way to update this area of your home.  Paint also covers a multitude of sins so any fading or dinginess that occurs from all of the heat and dampness in a kitchen will disappear with a fresh coat of paint.  It is important to pick a color that will appeal to the widest range of buyers, and that will coordinate with your existing cabinets, countertops and appliances.  I’d be happy to assist you with this decision.
  1. Flooring.  After paint and appliances, consider the flooring in your kitchen.  Buyers prefer tile, stone or other hard flooring in the kitchen.  Eighteen-inch porcelain or ceramic tiles in neutral colors are relatively inexpensive, yet provide a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to updating the look of your kitchen.   While hardwood flooring is always in style, it’s not a favorite in kitchens due to potential issues with water damage.  Wide plank porcelain tiles are absolutely on trend, especially in larger dimensions (for example, 12 by 24 inches). Be careful not to choose patterns that are overly busy.
  1. Countertops. Anything but laminate and tile is what buyers are looking for in today’s market.  Granite or quartz countertops in the kitchen are upgrades that will quickly update the look and style of your kitchen, and because they are very low-maintenance, they will stay popular.  There are various levels (or pricing) of granite, and I would be happy to suggest which level of granite would be appropriate for the price range of your home as you don’t want to price yourself out of the future resale market.
  1. Cabinets.  Your cabinets are the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to kitchen updating.  Depending on the type of wood and the style of cabinet you currently have, simply painting or refinishing your cabinets may do the trick. White-washed, light maple or oak cabinets are considered dated in today’s kitchens.  If the interiors of your cabinets are in good condition but the style of the doors is not current, re-facing may be a better option to update your cabinets.   With re-facing, the doors and drawer fronts will be removed, and they can be replaced with any style or finish.  A finished wood veneer will be affixed to the cabinet sides, and new knobs and handles can complete the updated look.

White and gray colored cabinetry are more updated and on trend than maple or blond cabinetry.   A current trend with cabinetry is contrasting the colors of cabinetry with one color of cabinets in your kitchen island and another color (typically lighter) in your perimeter cabinetry.  Again, I’d be happy to suggest what color and style would be appropriate in your price range.

Updating your kitchen with any of the above suggestions and trends will be sure to help you maximize the final sale price of your home.  I look forward to working with you to prioritize the costs of any remodel or update you plan to undertake with an eye toward maximizing the sale price of your home.

Contact me for more staging tips!

Easy Ways to Update Your Older Home

How updated your home is will be one of the factors I will use to help you calculate what the best price for your home will be.  This calculation is based on a comparison to other homes in your neighborhood (ie, the comparables), as well as what updates you have already done to your home.  If you’re living in an older home, there are some easy ways to update your home to get it ready for sale.

One such way to update your older home is to replace your shower stall glass, first in your master bathroom, then in your secondary bathroom(s).  Even if you can’t remodel the entire bathroom, you at least should remove and replace any frosted shower panels that exist in your bathrooms.  Next up is replacing any older toilets, especially those older than 15 years.  These older toilets aren’t as efficient as newer models, plus new toilets are much more visually appealing.

An easy, and necessary, update to older homes is to change out any brass (especially shiny) hardware on your doors and cabinets.  Shiny and gold-toned brass is extremely out-of-date and will age your home in comparison to more modern antique brass, brushed nickel or even chrome hardware.  I can advise you as to which of these will do best in your home’s price point for sale.  As a corollary, any ceiling fans and light fixtures that contain old or outdated metal should also be swapped out for more modern versions.  These quick changes will instantly update your home for today’s market.

If you are able to go a step further, consider replacing any old fluorescent lighting in your home with recessed can lights.  Any lighting that is in a “box” in your kitchen ceiling or bathroom, and encased in sheets of plastic is not something today’s buyer wants.  Replacing these lights with recessed can lights and/or more modern lighting fixtures is actually a pretty economical cost proposition, especially with the returns it will give you when you sell your home.   Finally, if you still have popcorn ceilings, get rid of them.  They are easy to remove by yourself if they were installed post-1970s.  If they were installed in the 1970s, have a professional test the ceiling for asbestos content as they’ll need to do the removal and repair.  Any potential buyer won’t want to deal with the hassle of this, so it’s up to you.

Whatever you choose to do with an eye toward updating your older home, the results will be sure to help you maximize the final sale price of your home.  I’m available to consult with you about which fixes to tackle to help you to get the price you’d like.

Contact me at 602-329-7782 for staging tips.  Click here to get a free home value estimate.

Pop With Paint!

Paint remains one of the least expensive, and easiest ways to instantly update your home’s interior (and exterior) when you’re getting your home ready to sell.  If your home’s interior hasn’t been painted within the past five years, or if your existing paint colors aren’t in a neutral color family, I definitely recommend painting your home before you put it on the market.  Two things to consider before you begin this easy, cost-effective makeover: color and finish.

Neutral Paint in room photoChoosing a neutral paint color is the way to go when readying your home for sale.  While accent walls in the Pantone color of the year, or that mirror latest interior design trends can be a fun decorative touch while living in and enjoying your home, these colors aren’t necessarily the best way to go when you are trying to appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers.   Some paint colors that are sure crowd-pleasers, and that are trend-proof, are Amazing Gray (Sherwin-Williams), Manchester Tan (Benjamin Moore), Birchwood (Dunn Edwards), and Warm Butterscotch (Dunn Edwards).   Two strong choices for trim (and cabinets) are Swiss Coffee (Dunn Edwards) and Creamy (Sherwin Williams).

If you are technologically-savvy, consider using one of the many free apps to help you explore paint colors for your home.  Dunn-Edwards “Insta Color” app is an easy (and fun!) way to bring up any of the paint color options offered by this popular brand, and it also suggests coordinating trim colors.  Sherwin-Williams has their own app, called ColorSnap Visualizer which also gives you the option to instantly browse all of the colors in their color library, to help you narrow down the paint color that will look best in your home.

Another thing to consider when updating your home for sale by painting the interior is to paint all of the rooms the same color.  This will create a clean, cohesive look, and will be a blank slate for potential buyers to later decorate or add accent colors if they should so choose.

Finally, choosing the correct type of finish of paint is as important as the color you choose.  The four basic types of paint finish are: flat, eggshell, satin and semi-gloss.  Flat paint is paint that has zero-reflective qualities, and is better suited for deep rich colors.  Because it’s not a washable finish, it’s better used in rooms such as an office or a master bedroom.  Ceilings can be painted in a flat finish.  Eggshell finish is a finish that is very washable, so it’s much better for rooms that see a lot of use, such as the dining room, the kitchen, a playroom, kids’ bedrooms and the laundry room.  A satin finish is also durable, and has a smooth, subtle shine and is also great for higher-traffic rooms.  Finally, semi-gloss is a higher sheen paint that is generally used in bathrooms and kitchens because this paint is very washable.  Semi-gloss paint is typically used for trim and baseboards, as well as cabinetry.  However, semi-gloss paint isn’t forgiving when it comes to flaws on the wall, so that’s something to keep in mind.

While the multitude of color and finishes when it comes to paint can seem overwhelming, the payoff when it comes to readying your home for sale is instantaneous.  I would love to assist you in choosing the appropriate paint color and finish that’s specific to your own home.

Environmentally Friendly Home Updates

Easy Luxury Fixes Buyers LoveEnvironmentally friendly features are updates that will only increase the value of your home, whether you are listing your home for sale, or simply seeking to update your current home.   One simple way to go green is to install a digital thermostat.  Digital thermostats are programmable, have no moving parts (thus need no repair), and they increase the efficiency of the energy used to heat and cool your home, which is better for the environment, and your wallet.  Some digital thermostats can even sync with your smartphone!

Motion sensor light switches in all bathrooms and closets are another easy way to update your home while increasing both the efficient use of energy in your home, as well as the value of your home.   Another simple way to go green is to replace your older appliances with energy-efficient versions.  Appliances with the Energy Star certification are 10-50% more efficient on average than traditional appliances.  Energy Star refrigerators, for example, use 40% less energy than refrigerators produced in 2001.  This update will be noted as part of the upgrades in your home when it’s listed for sale.

Low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets are all easy ways to reduce the amount of water used in everyday life, and are key ways to conserve water here in the desert.  Drinking water is another area where a small investment can pay big dividends for the environment.   Water filtration systems such as reverse-osmosis will greatly reduce reliance on wasteful plastic bottles and containers, and will reduce one’s carbon footprint.  Potential home buyers will see this system as a definite plus when touring your home.

Finally, whether you are painting your home to prep it for sale, or freshening up the paint to update your current residence, using low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint is an easy way to reduce the toxicity of your environment.  The EPA has determined that inside air is 3-5 times more toxic than outdoor air, thanks to the toxic compounds in paint and finishes in your home.  Low or no VOC paint is also beneficial for health reasons, and people with allergies or sensitivities to chemicals will also appreciate these paints.

I look forward to helping you determine which of these environmentally friendly updates is a smart way to prepare your home for sale!

Keeping Your Home Safe from Burglary

Keeping Your Home Safe Burglary Prevention

Keeping your home safe from burglary is always a priority for homeowners. We all know that the break-ins happen and think they will never happen to us, but there are some simple steps we can execute to assure our home is safer than not.

Although it’s true that burglaries may occur on any day at any time, it is important to note that according to FBI crime reports, 65% of residential burglaries happen between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m and that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. in November and December. There are many techniques for keeping your home safe from burglary and here, we outline some of those most effective.

Pretend to be home: Break-ins typically happen when nobody is home, especially during the day. Create an illusion that someone is still there during these times by leaving a light and music or television on in the home. Also consider motion detecting lights for your home for after the sun sets.

Don’t showoff: If you’ve recently purchased a new high priced item, such as a television or computer, breakdown the box and put it in the recycle receptacle rather than leaving it in full view at the curb. Also consider walking the perimeter of your property to see visibility of expensive items through windows. You may want to move some of these items out of view to avoid enticing robbers.

Secure your yard: Overgrown or tall bushes, shrubs and trees can be hiding places for burglars waiting for you to leave so they can get into your home. Keeping landscape trimmed and manicured is the key prevention factor here.

Secure sliding doors and windows: Older sliding doors can easily be popped off their frames even when locked. This is more difficult with newer doors, but extra precautions may still be necessary to secure them since they can be an inviting entry for a burglar. To prevent intrusion through the sliding door, simple place a strong wooden dowel or two by four in the back groove track. For windows, install a pin or nail into the frame to stop it from opening more than a few inches. This adds extra security in the case of someone popping off the screen to a window left unlocked.

Never leave a spare key out: You may think it a good idea to leave an extra key hidden under a doormat, flowerpot or rock in the case of getting locked out of the house. A hidden spare key is really not difficult for a burglar to find and becomes an open invitation for the person to walk in without difficulty. If a spare key is something you feel necessary, give one to a friend or neighbor you trust. Also, remember not to put any identifying information on your house key. If you happen to lose your keys, it is not difficult to trace them to you and your home.

To-do before vacation: Let neighbors you trust know about your trip and ask that they watch your property while you’re gone. Upon leaving your home for vacation, don’t leave signs of an empty house. Avoid having piled up mail or newspapers and unkempt landscaping, as these are signals the home is currently vacant.

Social media factor: Although it’s tempting to post vacation announcements, photos and updates on social media, these can invite burglars to a home they know is empty. Checking in at places out of town on social media sites can be very easily tracked by people with whom you may not even be friends. Many people don’t have private or highly secured profiles and may not realize how many people can see they are on vacation. Save the vacation sharing with friends until after returning home.

Very simply, Lock it up: More than 40% of break-ins happen without use of force, meaning doors and windows are left unlocked when people leave their homes. If your doors have deadbolts, always be sure to keep them locked. Locking the door leading from the garage into the home is very important as well. Even a closed garage door can be opened fairly easily. Don’t leave a garage door remote in your parked vehicle, as this gives someone the ability to open the door without effort.

Our homes are our safe haven and contain many of our most prized possessions and happy memories. Many of the above mentioned techniques for keeping your home safe from burglary seem like common sense, but we can never be reminded enough of the ways to keep these havens secure for our families.

For more tips on keeping your home safe from burglary or information on insurance for your home, please contact Elise Fay and Associates.

To Pool or Not to Pool?

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

To Pool or Not to Pool?

Are you one the many families in the Valley who can’t decide whether or not to install a swimming pool in the backyard? Before you take the plunge, here are some things to consider.

Most importantly, think about why you want a pool. Adding a pool is an expensive endeavor and, realistically, just because you spend $40k on a pool does not mean that it will add the same amount to the value of your home. It could even add nothing to the value, depending on current market and neighborhood standards.

The only real reason to add a swimming pool to your home is because you want a pool. The investment lies in the fun, enjoyment and recreation for your family, enhanced appearance of the yard and the cool escape from hot summer temperatures. If you’re only looking to add a pool to your home with the expectation that you will recoup the cost upon sale, it’s really not worth the investment.

The fact is, there is no definitive answer as to whether a pool will or will not help sell your home. Many Phoenix area buyers want a pool. Some people fall in love with homes, but don’t buy because there isn’t a pool and they don’t want to go through the installation process physically or financially. Although already having a pool appeals to some buyers, there are also many buyers who won’t look at homes that have a pool at all.

My personal opinion, as a buyer, is that if the home is perfect except it doesn’t have a pool and I want one, I’d have one installed. Were I a buyer looking for a home and did not want a pool, I would not consider looking at homes with one. This is simply because having a pool filled and landscaping the yard seems like unnecessary work, whereas adding a pool would be a value to my family’s enjoyment and recreation.

Only you can consider whether the investment is right for your family and answer the ultimate Phoenix homeowner question: to pool or not to pool?

For more information on adding a pool or other upgrades to your home and their potential values, contact Elise Fay or the Fay Team.