What do I do with my ceilings?

If you feel your house needs a little ‘kick’ painted ceilings are a great way to add interest and dimension to any room. People are experimenting with designs and patterns but here are a few of my favorite looks.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.33.58 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.35.26 AM Bold darker color adds dimension to small or large rooms. Love this look in dining rooms or master bedrooms particularly with tray ceilings and white trim. Suggest a little shine- maybe a Satin but not a flat. Consider a metallic as well in this setting…

ceiling 2ceiling same color

These are two examples where they’ve used the same color. However the grey look with the molding in between to break up the color is much more modern and on trend. There is a theory that painting all one color like the tan room makes the room appear larger. I’m not sure I agree with that but I do think it’s more well suited to a molded room or tray ceiling.

Please resist the temptation to ‘cheese’ ….

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.51.30 AM the cloud ceiling is ‘cheesy’. Today, tomorrow, forever. I’ve seen this in listings before and just thought – Nooooo! and my buyers have looked at it confused and frustrated at the thought of having to have someone come in and paint over it. Feel free to use a modern look like the below if you just need pattern in your life but just say ‘no’ to skies or cheesy looks of any kind. I love the below look for a kids room. I’m an old movie fan and it reminds me of the credits in North by Northwest. Shoot… now I want it for a room in my house. More work on the horizon……

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.54.37 AM

To Paint or not To Paint……

So if you’re like me you love changing rooms and the best way to give a room a whole new look is paint. But if you’re like my husband you hate doing it! It’s been a theme in our house lately when we have people over to our new home that people keep saying ‘I want to do a color like that but I’m afraid we’ll hate it… or that it will make our room look smaller’ etc etc. First off, I don’t always subscribe to the belief that a dark color makes a small room smaller. If the room is 8×10 or smaller it’s just a small room. Tough darts. However, if the room is beautifully designed and well appointed I guarantee no one will complain about the size. I think of it as ‘charm and disarm.’ If you want a potential buyer or even just guests not to focus on a downside give them another focus!

Having said that there’s a time and place for everything and for everything there is a season blah blah blah. What I mean by that is- bold color is fabulous. But if you think you’re staying in a home 3-5 years then painting the predominant amount of the home a bold color and going to that expense maybe isn’t the wisest choice. If you think you’re staying 10-15 yrs then as they say ‘paint the town red!’ Or insert other cliche.

Since I am a constant mover at the moment and love re-doing houses I am skewing this blog a bit towards those in the 3-5 year category. As such, I recommend keeping your main rooms with the most sq footage, hallways, and more common areas a neutral color. That doesn’t mean you have to hate it if you are a color person. When choosing a neutral go with the type of tones you like. Cool or Warm. If you are a warm toned person you probably like tans, camels, warm yellows, browns, creams. If you are a cool toned person you like the current trend of greys, brighter whites, light yellows, greens, blues. Light soft blues or greys are a great way to incorporate some more color but still stay neutral.

IMG_1755Here’s a living room in the warm category. A soft creamy tan color that is used in this home in the living room, family room, and hallways. So approximately 1600 of the total 2100 sq ft.

grey living roomHere’s an example of a cool toned living area. Click the photo courtesy of Houzz for a great article on choosing the right ‘Grey’.

Now that we are past the best rooms to keep neutral let’s talk color! When re-doing my husband’s home office last year I went with pottery barn ‘naval’. Breaking the cardinal rule of ‘don’t paint a small room dark’. Here was the result :

IMG_1761A dark blue, green, or even a red sets off white trim and in this case white french doors not pictured, in a great way. Oddly, the room actually felt brighter and bigger with the sharp contrast. We sold the home six months ago and thankfully no one said how small they thought the room was, just how much they liked the color! Charm and disarm….

Guest rooms or kids rooms are another place where you can easily use color and not offend.

orange alcove roomThis is one of my favs I’ve seen recently courtesy of This old house. I’m  planning to do a modified version next year in one of our alcoved bedrooms with a bit softer grey along the sides and orange in the interior. Guest and kids rooms are the perfect place for something fun and experimental like this. It’s not too much work for a buyer to paint over if they don’t like it, but it offers a great way for you to express your individual design and style.

I’m also into pattern and last year did a bright bold turquoise with a white trellis pattern for our guest room.

IMG_1765Shabby chic furniture gave it that guest cottage retreat that I was going for. This would work nice for a teen room too with a bit different furniture decor and some other pops of color in the pillows- mustard yellow maybe??? Someone do that please so I can show it!

The moral of the story is- in the right environments don’t be afraid of color. Worst case is it’s just paint and can be changed later if you hate it. Recommend ALWAYS live with it for a few days even if it’s a shock to the system at first. I’ve had my mind change wildly sometimes after a few days. Also, my current favorite paint to use that should always be just one coat is the Benjamin Moore ‘Ben’, ‘Aura’ or “Natura’ lines. (Listed in order of $). I covered a dark red dining room recently to a soft light blue in just one coat with the lesser expensive ‘Ben’ line- so be careful not to over buy!

“I want to like the nursery too!”

Let’s be honest, you spend a lot of time in the nursery too and it should be a room you love! I’ve spoken with lots of friends who get frustrated at the options for their baby’s room when it comes to design. The brave ones will say things like ‘ it’s too baby’ ‘why are there cartoon characters everywhere?’ ‘who else is sick of animal borders?’ Nothing against animal borders if it’s your thing and if you want your nursery to look like a baby store exploded totally fine! But if you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated or a compromise between designer and kid friendly here are some inspirations for you! May take a little extra work and out of the box thinking but so worth it if it’s then also a room you love to be in!

nursery 1nursery 1 2

Love, love, love! admittedly if I could switch out the crib for a bed I’d want this to be my room. More on the side of sophisticated vs a blend of style and baby but still an absolutely lovely room to spend a lot of time in. In recreating the look- these are grasscloth walls. Any textured wall is going to kick the room up a notch in designer quality. Then the patterned rug which you could find at Target or Home Goods, if looking for an inexpensive option, also adds an element of spice! This is a very neutral, cool, relaxing color palette, which might help a lot in the middle of a baby melt down!

Finn Room

Finn Room

nursery 3

These two nurseries are a great way to have boy or girl colors and not go too crazy with the gender theme. Soft colors with a hint of glamor for the girls room and modern simplicity for the boys jungle infused room.

nursery 4 I also ordered this giraffe as a decorative piece. I absolutely love it! A few toys interspersed also gives it that kid feeling but neutral seaside colors in this space keep it feeling calm and lovely for Mom and Dad.

nursery 5 For a totally different style I’m in love with this look. The decal/ stencil/ painting look is so special and unique. It’s clearly a room for a little one but the pops of color and stylish lines of the furniture give it still that designer look that it’s not completely out of place in say a pottery barn or crate and barrel style home.

So admittedly this topic has been on my mind for months because I’ve been working on my son’s nursery. We aren’t complete yet but here are my first looks….

IMG_0084thumb_IMG_0288_1024

One accent wall is a Moroccan stencil from CuttingEdgeStencils.com with an antique gold paint from royaldesignstudios.com. I chose the prints off Etsy and had them framed at hobby lobby. The Crib wall has a decal from Etsy and his new pottery barn giraffe. I’m still working on the rocker glider and waiting for the dresser with changing topper to arrive then we will be done! I like color and was excited to be able to use some bold colors in the nursery with Tourquoise and Orange.

Alternatives to Stainless Steel?

I hear it all the time from my friends ‘My stainless appliances are always dirty!” And yet it’s been on trend for many years in new construction and renovated existing homes. I’ll be the first person to tell you I hate to clean! In particular I hate cleaning the appliances. So what are some alternative that are still on trend and won’t turn potential buyers off later on?

1) Pearl White.

white appliances

Not your 80’s white appliances but luxury homes are showing more and more iridescent pearly white appliances. Sheen and shine of luxury with easy to wipe off surface materials. Often paired with Italian marble countertops and pops of grey. Can also look lovely with the design trend of grey painted cabinets.

2. perhaps my favorite – Wood paneled appliances.

hidden fridge 2hidden fridge 3

Cabinet fronts give the kitchen more cohesion and in newer construction we are even seeing new kinds of fridge styles like the one above with it built into the lower cabinetry. Undoubtably more expensive than some options but if you want that luxury look you’ll get it!

3. Now if you like the steel grey color but not the cleaning issues- GE has a slate color line that is not stainless but looks darn close.

GE slatae appliances

Always check with a local experienced Real Estate Broker to see if your choices are on trend with what buyers in your market are looking for but these three examples should be neutral enough to appeal to a large buyer base.

Facebook Ads: How do I start a Facebook Ad?

Facebook Ads: What’s the Skinny?

One of my number one hot topics in trainings right now is Facebook ads. It can seem like an illusive concept at first; how to capitalize on the target marketing platform available through Facebook. However, once you start to dig into social media and learn about how it can help your business,it’s pretty exciting to watch the doors of a potential market open wide. Many other agents tell me that advertising platforms like Zillow zip code ads or Realtor.com featured listings are too expensive for them to consider implementing in their business. While I’m a believer in spending money to make money, it can be frustrating to feel like the advertising world is passing you by because you don’t currently have the funds to use. Meanwhile, the established agents just become more successful as you try to figure out creative marketing techniques with your limited budget. If this is the case, Facebook ads might be just the right avenue for you to “get in the game”. Facebook gives you the opportunity to set your own budget threshold and cap out where you feel comfortable.

How to Begin an Ad on Facebook: Begin by going to www.facebook.com/ads/create. The very first blank is ‘Destination’. Facebook gives you the option of selecting your business page as the destination consumers arrive at when they click on your ad OR your ‘external url’, meaning another website of your choice, like your personal website.

Once you’ve written your title, short 90-character ad, and uploaded a very small photo of your choice, you move onto my favorite part – ‘Targeting’.  You’ll notice to the right of the targeting section you have “estimated reach”.  This tells you that based on the criteria you are putting in to the left, how many people Facebook has that will fit into your search criteria. This is particularly useful  and very powerful tool for those looking to farm a certain University or community organization network, to reach those individuals.

The Facebook Ad Financials: Your last section in creating your ad is setting the payment structure. They ask if your budget is per day or lifetime. For most beginners looking to dip their foot in the water with Facebook Ads, I suggest starting at $50 lifetime budget with your specifications in targeting set and see how long it takes you to hit that budget. Once you’ve chosen your total budget you can then decide if you want your ad to run continuously or only at certain times of the day. (Suggestion: Looking up the highest Facebook usage times might be a good strategy.) Lastly, you get to pricing, and this section can be confusing to some. There are two options: Pay for Impressions or Pay for Clicks. Impressions mean you are paying every time Facebook shows your ad in the newsfeed of a user. Pay for clicks is you only pay if someone actually clicks on your ads. Though more expensive, the pay for clicks is the better value. To simplify; if you said you would pay $1 per click your lifetime budget is $50 then you get 50 hits on your website or Facebook page.  The suggested range they give you is based on what others are spending on ads in your area and therefore is the “going rate”.

Lastly, the final benefit of using Facebook ads in my opinion is the ad management reporting information. Simply put, Facebook has a phenomenal database of information available about the type of people clicking on your ad and their demographics, so that you can make adjustments in the future to the targeting and  effectiveness. The reporting shares details such as age and gender  and can identify  common interests listed in your consumer base. This is a link to Facebook’s guide on using the reporting system http://www.box.com/shared/sb7sokvyv9 .

If you haven’t tried Facebook advertising yet, what’s stopping you? You decide the budget, you manage the targeting, you view the report data and can adjust accordingly.

“I downloaded the latest ipad update and lost my mail icon and inbox ! Help!”

This just happened to me, and as usual I hate to see it happen to anyone else and potentially have them paying $29.99 to Apple Care for a simple fix. If you update your ipad and find that suddenly when it reboots your mail icon isn’t where it was before the solution is simple. Use your finger to scroll through your home screen onto the next page even when you think you are on the last page of where you store your apps still scroll one more because for some reason it has put the mail icon on a page by itself. Initially I thought when I got the answer I had gone through as many pages as it could have been on and then I did one more and there it was. SO glad I didn’t waste $30! Hope this helps many of you save the time and expense and gives you a quick resolution.

Great Websites for Real Estate and 3 Website Building Tips for 2012

In researching this blog post I stumbled upon a 2009 Smashing Magazine article written by Jacob Gubeseveral years later this article is still the number one result on google for the search “Great Real Estate Websites”. As the title implies, he looked at 30 websites highlighting their attributes and forward thinking. I thought it might be interesting to give you all some website building tips for 2012 while incorporating a look at some of the sites he highlighted and how many of them have kept up with the times and new technology. First let me say when I talk about percentages it is now based off of 23 sites because 7 of the 30 original sites no longer exist (an interesting stat in and of itself.)

1.) Thou Shalt No Longer Use Flash
Anyone who has a smart phone or ipad knows that sites using flash technology for their image display options STINK! I could say it nicer but frankly I find it so frustrating when particularly restaurant sites won’t load because they built the whole darn thing in Flash that I have to stop myself from Yelping them and adding a comment- “Didn’t go to your restaurant because your stinky site doesn’t load!” Ugh. I feel better now after that vent. But seriously with Mobile traffic increasing by a staggering 85% in the fourth quarter of 2011 can you really hang a “closed” sign for your business to all of those users? Because by using flash that is what you are doing.
Alternative? I’m not a web programmer but I have heard that HTML 5 will give you the same scrolling image results that flash provides but is mobile ipad friendly. Of the 23 sites left on Smashing Magazine’s list of great websites 22% are using flash. One that looks beautiful on all three devices pc, ipad, and BB or smart phone is Ranchline.com

Unlike many of the sites, Ranchline since 2009 has changed the look of its site dramatically. It has a new dark color scheme, they no longer have a property search or featured listings on the home page, and they’ve added social media. They have made theirs more of a “lifestyle” Brand. I appreciate most of their changes with the exception of the property search. That is still the number one function people look for when on the homepage. When building your website do your homework. Whatever your industry, be sure you’ve researched what your demographics want and provide that on the homepage because anytime you put something in a tab that requires them to go to a new page you will start to have traffic drop off. Use Google Analytics to test that fact. Continue reading

What is Pinterest? A 2012 coming attraction?

I kept hearing about a new site called Pinterest. At first I was thinking ‘great another social media I need to master and talk about’- I was in a bit of a snarky mood. But once I had a snack and took some time to research it I realized it was actually quite cool and there were some interesting potential uses. It may require a bit more site development but it’s something I want you all to at least know about and keep an eye on.

How it Works
Essentially it’s an online bulletin board of photos. You pin your photos to it that you find online or upload your own and people can ‘like; and ‘repin’ your posts. It’s ideal for showcasing ideas, concepts, inventory, garnering opinions, and SHAREING! Their mission statement mentions it is not intended for self promotion. I also say this about facebook and other social medias: it’s about client and friend relations (CRM), keeping up with contacts, reminding people you are still alive, in business, and there to help- not selling!

How do I join?
It appears that this site is still in a beta testing stage. I clicked the join pinterest link when I was on the site and it sent me an email letting me know I would be placed on the waiting list. I heard from a friend you usually get off the wait list in a few days. Hopefully soon it will be immediate, but all good things in life are worth waiting for.

Potential Uses
I could see a few potential uses for real estate. At the moment it is being used by many designers to showcase rooms and ideas. So a staging board might be a great thing to have (see an example above) with ideas and examples of your own listing and work. Or a board of your listings to showcase them on this platform, I think in this instance would be acceptable. Or if you are a photography buff, and enjoy taking photos of your community, a community photos board would be great.

Will it help SEO?
Don’t know yet. From the research some of the staff here did it doesn’t appear to have tags on the photos yet- maybe in back end or in the works – couldn’t say till I get my own account! If they develop the site as other social networks have developed then it certainly has the potential to help with search engine optimization.

One criticism
At times I have trouble loading a page. My suspicion is that it is browser related, I have to use IE on my work laptop usually and I think it isn’t reading some of the pages well. The loading problem is inconsistent. I would imagine with time though this will improve. So if viewing try to use safari or firefox. It worked well on my ipad.

Share with the class
If you are currently using Pinterest or have any feedback/ideas please share with the group. I would love to hear more user feedback!

What is Hootsuite? How do I use Hootsuite?

I have many people tell me they set up hootsuite but then can’t figure out how to use it. Don’t feel bad! It happens to the best of us. But I promise once you get the hang of it, it will streamline your social media posts and make your life easier.

Hootsuite is???
A social media dashboard…I know it kind of sounds like a boardgame. But the main point is it allows you to post to up to 5 social media platforms for free all at one time. It also lets you checks the walls, feeds, etc of each. So if I choose Linkedin, Facebook Page, Twitter, and wordpress I can write my blog – immediately click the places I want it sent AND check the comments on all of them from the previous week’s post. Time saved not logging into each platform posting and checking news.

Added benefit? Scheduling posts: Hootsuite has a calendar button. I find this particularly helpful for people that prefer to allot one hour at a time per week to update social media and schedule the posts to go out every day after that. I.e. Monday at 9am I go on and post then I write another and schedule it to go out Wed at 11 am, another on Friday when I plan to be having my glass of wine with friends to celebrate the weekend 🙂 and so on. Great tool!

How do I post, look up my twitter mentions, post to just one or all 5, add new feeds etc???

Watch this brief video under 5 min and get most of the basic how to steps

Have any of your own hootsuite tips? Comment and Share with the class!

” What happened to the facebook wall? ” mourning the loss of wall welcoming the facebook timeline what you need to know

Facebook wasn’t on my agenda of blogs this month, but as so often happens with social media they’ve thrown us a curve ball and I thought you might need some help. So if you haven’t heard, facebook over the last few months has slowly been introducing the Timeline, designed to replace the Wall. As with all changes it’s been met with mixed reviews but as my old English teacher would say that’s “tough darts”. I have used it just the past 48 hours and am a fan of the change with the exception that it’s a bit slow to load but I have a feeling that will improve with time.

What does it look like?

facebook timeline

Begin at the beginning ...or the end?


It starts with your standard avatar profile pic and a new cover photo (much like website banner)

Next you see a different version of your wall split more into categories- like things you’ve posted, things people tagged you in, things you shared etc.

What’s the point? Below that wall organization is now a scrapbook like timeline since you joined facebook of your photos important posts etc. Those that peruse facebook regularly to not only connect but enjoy their old photos and memories it’s a fun way to do that, reminding yourself what happened year to year.

Privacy : Is this all public???
Yes! It defaults to that (not my fav part) so you need to first go to your privacy settings, then there is a new feature called “Limit the Audience of Past Posts”

Continue reading