Decorating a Small Front Stoop

Grand porches get more press, but you can pack just as much style into a small space. Whether you have a city stoop, an apartment building landing, exposed exterior stairs or a small porch, these 10 ideas will help you make the most of your home’s entrance.

1. Add a quirky planter. Done with that umbrella stand? Tuck a plant pot in there for an instant transformation. Or take a funky vintage find, like an elephant-shaped stool, and use it as a plant stand beside the front door. It’s sure to make guests (and you) smile.

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2. Paint your door a bright color. A cheerfully bright, mood-boosting hue is a great way to light up a small or dark entryway. Try yellow, lime green or aqua.

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3. Paint pots to match your door. This is quite possibly the easiest way to make your front entrance feel put together: Cluster flowerpots in the same hue as your front door on the stoop. Stick with odd numbers and vary the sizes of the pots for a more casual look. For a formal entrance, choose two giant, identical pots to flank the door.

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4. Roll out a big rug. Why stick with itty-bitty doormats when you can offer guests a big, cheerful outdoor rug instead? A larger rug on a small stoop will help the area seem more spacious — a tiny doormat tends to break up the space. A big rug on the porch also does wonders for hiding imperfect floors!

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5. Position trellises to frame the entrance. Positioned at each end of the porch or front steps, trellises provide welcome privacy and shade to the entrance. If the area gets good sunlight (and the climate allows), why not plant something fragrant, like jasmine, so you can enjoy a delicious scent each time you return home?

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6. Style some beachy finds. Driftwood, shells, glass lanterns, striped beach blankets and woven seats create a laid-back vibe on this front porch. If you have only a tiny amount of room, try arranging a single chunk of driftwood, a big shell and a glass lantern beside the door.

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7. Plant a window box. When you hardly have a stoop, let alone a full porch, it can be difficult to find ways to personalize your space. Try hanging a window box from the front window and installing a handsome lantern beside the door.

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8. Invest in topiary. A pair of topiary trees or neatly trimmed potted shrubs flanking the front door makes for an elegant entrance. You can’t miss with classic blue and white ceramic pots, moss-covered concrete or black urns, or square wooden planter boxes. If your stoop gets zero sun, consider investing in high-quality fake topiary — it’s really hard to tell the difference, and you can’t kill it!

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9. Draw the eye up with hanging baskets. Big hanging pots of ferns look bountiful and lush, and can handle the shade under an eave. Be sure to choose pots that are on the large side, and hang them about two-thirds of the way up from the porch floor — small pots hung too high look awkward.

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10. Swap plain numbers for an address plaque. A custom address plaque imparts more sophistication than plain house numbers. If you like, personalize it further by making up a name for your house.

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Posted on April 6, 2016 at 10:53 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Fun Things to do on Bainbridge Island, Home Improvement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Falling in love with “Home”

Whether you're an owner or a renter, odds are that you have a complicated relationship with your home. As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, good times and bad, things you love and things you hate. But despite it all, you stick with it — hopefully because you love it. 

And also as with any relationship, your love for your home progresses as time goes on. But there's always that honeymoon stage, the time when you're totally infatuated. We asked what one thing made you fall in love with your home — the thing that tipped you over the edge and made you decide it was the place for you.

Here is a list of items that make my clients swoon, over and over again.

Grand fireplace

Sometimes functional items are designed so beautifully that they blur the line between architecture and art. The fireplace surrounds in this collection are sculptural, stunningly beautiful and, arguably, works of art.

Jackie Syvertsen

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Transom windows/sunlight

There are many reasons for using transoms. Here's the rundown on this fun-to-say architectural term. Transoms gained popularity after being used in spaces where an intricate shape or style door met another transverse architectural element. Pretty and purposeful, transoms are often used as ornamentation. They can also be functional; adding more sunlight to a room and (with the right hardware) they can swivel forward or backward for good air flow from the outdoors.

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A Kitchen you’re proud to show off to friends and family

What makes the perfect kitchen? The answer is as varied as cooks are. Style is easier to recognize with your eyes than with words: You know it when you see it, and the one that inspires you most can often surprise you. From ultra-modern minimalist design to rustic woodwork and everything in between… your only limits are in your imagination and your wallet!

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Historical charm relevant to the home but renovated with greener products

Although interior and exterior appeal is essential, history is what earned some homes a spot in people’s hearts. Bainbridge Island is full of beautiful vintage homes that are purchased and renovated yearly. In keeping with adaptive reuse of landmark buildings, subtle renovations can preserve the remarkable craftsmanship and details of bygone eras – while using newer, green products that enhance the style of the home while providing the amenities that modern living requires.

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Indoor/outdoor living space

Some homeowners are all about being able to maximize long summer days with an indoor/outdoor living space that can also be used on slightly less warmer Spring and Fall Days. An outdoor living room complete with a covered area and amenities like a fireplace and cooking area expands your home into new world of dining and living al fresco.

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High Ceilings/unique ceilings

Space and high ceilings make all the difference for some people. The open airy feeling lends to a feeling of sophistication while also making even a smaller home feel much larger. Add a unique ceiling with box beams, exposed rafters or timber framing and suddenly your ceiling has become a large part of your home’s architectural style.

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Amazing View – Water or Territorial

Many people fall in love with the beautiful surroundings and views before actually falling in love with their homes. Whether it is large territorial view, a wooded sanctuary or open water view –  a view that speaks to your heart can make any house a home.

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Statement Staircase

Examples of artful staircases can be found as far back as 1500 BC in ancient palaces in China – but open interior staircases on an ambitious spatial scale cannot really be found before Michelangelo’s at the Laurentian Library, Florence Italy (1524–71).  For many people, a grand staircase can turn a functional part of a home into a focal piece of art that makes them fall in love with a home immediately.

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Interior details like round doorways, wood work, bookshelves and other charming details

Wood is becoming more and more expensive, and the level of craftsmanship in older homes is much higher than what you typically find in a new construction. This may include floors, trim, molding, fireplace mantels, bookcases, china cabinets, staircases and more. Embellishments on cabinetry can make a lovely room feel even more special. Leather, metal and even glass can be used to step a look up a notch.

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Custom or Elaborate Doors

And finally… If a home is a place of meaning, doorways are the most meaningful parts. An opening connects one space with another, while a door sets the stage for the human interaction. Opening a door and crossing the threshold moves us from one realm to the next — from outside to inside, from public to private, from bedroom to bathroom, from big space to small space, from cold to warm.

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Posted on March 2, 2016 at 11:46 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Home Improvement | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Emerging Design Trends For 2016

The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Exciting new materials, strategies and concepts will be coming to more homes in 2016.

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1. Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel; then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions. 
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See more on two-tone cabinets

 

2. Outdoor fabric used indoors. Outdoor fabrics are becoming increasingly hard to distinguish from traditional indoor fabrics, and many designers are bringing them inside – where their durability makes them perfect for high-traffic dining room and living room furniture, as shown here. 
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See more on outdoor fabric used indoors

 

3. Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz in the design world. Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection. Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish. 

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4. Extra-large-format tile. Large-format tiles (such as 12 by 24 inches) have been making an appearance in kitchens and bathrooms for some time now, but stay on the lookout for extra-large-format ones. Just how extra? Try 31 by 71 inches, like the ceramic Ann Sacks tiles shown here on a fireplace surround project by Pangaea. That’s almost 3 by 6 feet!

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5. Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. In fact, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

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6. Deep kitchen drawers. Data shows that ease of storage is the top kitchen priority during a remodel. And while deep drawers have been creeping up to replace lower kitchen cabinets for a while now, they’re only getting better — and more affordable. Dividers and inserts let you organize any shape or size of dish, pan or utensil under the sun, and there are even clever options for deep corners and drawers under range tops and kitchen sinks. 

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7. Formal dining rooms. Not everyone takes the leap to turn the dining room into an office or media room. For homeowners who entertain frequently, a designated space for gathering for special meals isn’t negotiable, and they’re pouring attention into these rooms.
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See more on formal dining rooms

 

8. Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

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9. Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

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10. Workhorse islands. Kitchen islands provide additional workspace, but they’ve taken on so much more than that. With deep storage, prep sinks, room for seating and more, workhorse islands are becoming the central feature in modern kitchens. 
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See more on workhorse islands.

 

11. Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets – hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

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12. Barely-there kitchens. As kitchen layouts become more open, spatial identifiers like walls of cabinetry and full-size appliances fade away, leaving behind airy, fluid spaces that serve multiple functions while looking barely there.
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See more on barely there kitchens

 

13. Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction. 
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See more on tech-free living rooms

 

14. Kitchens that embrace openness and raw materials. The inherent simplicity in open shelves and raw materials plays a big part in the barely there kitchen we mentioned earlier. Embrace these, and the rest will follow. 
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See more kitchens that embrace openness and raw materials

 

15. Surprising backsplash and countertop pairings. You could play it safe with white subway tile and granite countertops, but sometimes safe is so boring. Instead, consider a different combination, such as a brick backsplash with concrete countertops (as shown here) or yellow ceramic tile with butcher block. 
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See more surprising backsplash and countertop combinations

 

16. Fully decorated living rooms that don’t go overboard. How do you know when you haven’t decorated enough, or decorated too much? Designers pay attention to scale, light, function and more to strike the right balance. 
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See more on fully decorated living rooms that don’t go overboard

 

17. Special kitchen features. Sometimes a kitchen needs that one special element that takes it from a useful space to a vital one. Here, a dining table on casters allows various seating arrangements for casual family meals and large parties with friends. 
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See more special kitchen features

 

18. Sunrooms. A sunroom is a top dream space for many homeowners. Even those who don’t have the luxury of having or adding one are finding ways to carve out a special sun-drenched corner in their homes. 
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See more on sunrooms

 

19. Punched-up white kitchens. White kitchen walls and cabinets — and even countertops in many cases — is a trend that will continue for years to come. To avoid a too-sterile look, however, many designers and homeowners are learning to punch up an all-white space with smart, colorful details through tile, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, raw materials and more. 
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See more ways to punch up white kitchens

 

20. Bold powder room wall coverings. Dramatic wall coverings in powder rooms are nothing new, but the options for dazzling prints, textures and custom graphics are ever increasing. Here, Black Quilted Lacquer wallpaper by Phillip Jeffries steals the show. 
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See more bold wallcovering ideas for powder rooms

 

21. Mixing modern materials in the kitchen. Looking for something livelier than white cabinets and granite countertops in your kitchen? Consider mixing several modern materials, finishes and colors. Here, butcher block countertops get broken up with soapstone near the stove and Carrara marble on a nearby baking station. These mix with olive-green cabinets and stainless steel appliances for an eclectic, sophisticated look. 
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See more on mixing modern materials

 

22. Attention-seeking bedrooms. A can of paint will certainly transform the look and feel of a bedroom, but to take the sanctuary to the next level, you’re going to need bolder ideas. Here, a rustic wood wall and ceiling feature warms up the otherwise contemporary room. 

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See more dramatic features to wake up your bedroom

 

23. Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.
 

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See more bathrooms that feel like living spaces

 

24. Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have the ambience without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen. 

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See more rooms designed around fireplaces

 

25. Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount. 

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See more farmhouse-style entryways

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 11:03 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Home Improvement | Tagged , , , , ,

New Listing in Wing Point

1131 Cherry Avenue NE
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Offered at $798,000

Traditional craftsman-style home in a fabulous in-town location near schools, ferry, shopping and Wing Point Golf Club. Bright and cheerful featuring sunny western exposure overlooking multiple fairways. Amenities include a welcoming foyer and cozy den, open living/dining, fantastic updated eat-in kitchen and great room with French doors to spacious deck, perfect for year round entertaining! 
Luxurious master bedroom and bath, 2 more bedrooms and guest bath an abundance of storage throughout. Detached 2-car garage with room for golf cart all located on a select lot On the Green featuring all day sun and across from protected open space. NWMLS #877179

On The Green at North Point

On The Green at North Point

 

To view the entire listing online, click here

 

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Posted on December 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

2015 3rd Quarter Newsletter

Posted on November 3, 2015 at 10:01 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Bainbridge Island Real Estate Statistics, Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Fall Garden Maintenance

Set a festive mood with fresh fall plants while preserving and protecting your landscape and water features.

November is the final month to prepare the garden for winter. It’s rather like tucking children into bed at night: They have played all day, and now they’re tired. There’s the bath-time ritual, followed by a quiet story before they snuggle under the quilt for several blissful hours of rest — for both of you. 

The garden has been playing hard and growing for more than eight months. Now it’s time to get it clean and tidy before its winter rest. Just a few hours spent in the garden this month will ensure that you both reach spring with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

Protect your water features. Some of us are procrastinators, and some of us are just plain forgetful. This photograph shows what happens to fountains during a hard freeze in either case. 

To avoid creating such dramatic ice sculptures, remember to drain small fountains and either store them in the garage for the winter or cover them to prevent water entering and freezing. Small submersible pumps are also best removed and stored indoors until spring.

Larger ponds and waterfalls may have a sufficient volume of water cascading through them that the entire body of water will not freeze, and the pump is either too deep to be affected or is in a protected enclosure aboveground. If you're in doubt, contact your local pond supply company for advice.

This is also the time to winterize your irrigation system. We use a simple drip watering system for all our containers as well as for our vegetable garden. The hoses can be left in place, but we disconnect the battery-operated timers and bring them inside for the winter.

Landscape irrigation companies usually offer a winter service to drain the lines if necessary — contact them today.

Add a few inches of compost. If you apply compost to the garden now, the rains will help its nutrients leach into the soil, and the worms will till it while I’m nice and cozy indoors. Some gardeners prefer to mulch in spring. If your garden soil is in poor shape, experts recommend adding compost in both fall and spring for three years and then once a year after that.

Check your drainage. In early fall, when the weather is still nice, walk slowly around the house and inspect the ground where it meets the foundation. Soil should not be touching siding and should slope away from the house, dropping at least 6 vertical inches over the first 10 feet.

Fall Planting. Spring is overrated for planting perennials, shrubs and trees. Starting plants in autumn has advantages for both garden and gardener. Not only is cooler weather easier on new plants and tired bones, but planting in a spent garden with rain on the horizon also has advantages – less watering being one of them. Go for some Classic Chrysanthemums, Decorative Flowering Cabbage and Kale, Hardy Geraniums and Seedums to fill in empty spots in the garden and keep it looking fresh and happy until Spring finally arrives.

Posted on November 3, 2015 at 9:50 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Fun Things to do on Bainbridge Island, Home Improvement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Roofing Design Options

Choosing the roof style and which materials to use can be a daunting process.  The roofing material you choose can truly enhance the beauty of your home. The type of material, style, color and cost are all major factors in making the best selection. Additionally eco-friendly alternatives, such as those with a high Energy Star rating and materials that can be recycled, are options that you may want to consider when making your decision.

Investing in a new, energy efficient roof can save a great deal of money throughout the life of your home or business by reducing energy consumption and winter heat loss and summer heat gain.

 

Tried and True Classic Roofing Materials

Get an Old-World Look with Clay Roof Tiles

Authentic clay tile is the historical roof material of choice, dating back to ancient times, and it comes in various soft and rich, earthy colors. It’s a look that pigmented concrete cannot faithfully replicate. Rather than fading with time, clay tiles patinate, blossoming splendidly, and for some architectural styles, clay roofs are the ideal option if you can swing the cost.

 

Slate Makes for Fireproof Roofs That Last

This high-end material is expensive but long lasting. In fact, slate has been a preferred roofing choice of homeowners for hundreds of years. Any material that stands the test of time like this is one that should be on your radar. Genuine slate is a metamorphic stone most often found in quarries in northeast North America, the United Kingdom and Brazil. As a roofing material, no other product can match its durability, high-end appearance and fireproof qualities. Slate quarried for roofing is a dense, sound rock that's exceptionally tough and substantial. 

 

Asphalt – Affordable and Easy to Install

Let’s just get this out of the way: Asphalt shingles are not exciting. Your friends will not drop their jaws in awe over this material, and if your home were a Broadway production, asphalt shingles would not be the star of the show. But that’s OK. Asphalt shingles do not seek the limelight. They do their job quietly, protecting more homes across the United States than any other type of roof material. Asphalt shingles (alternatively called composition shingles) are a manufactured product consisting of a fiberglass base mat coated in composition asphalt material to provide waterproofing and additional strength. Historically, the base layer was often made of organic material, but over time fiberglass has become the preferred choice for the base.

 

The Advantages of a Metal Roof

If you are interested in making your house more energy efficient, adding a beautiful and striking major design element, and never having to replace your roof again? Consider a metal roof. While the cost of a metal roof is significantly higher than a shingled roof, it will likely last a lifetime and it is practically maintenance-free. The practical advantages of a metal roof are that it makes your home safer in harsh weather and can significantly cut down on your energy bills. Aesthetically, a metal roof is versatile in design to complement many architectural styles, from a century old farmhouse to a contemporary home.

 

Concrete tile roofs are the master of disguise

From an architectural standpoint, concrete tile can play many parts. Molded styles are made to mimic natural clay, slate and shake roofs. Concrete roof tiles are as well, which helps make this material one of the most universally popular roof selections around the world. Concrete roof tiles consist of cement, sand, water and pigment. They are mass-produced at regional facilities, where materials are mixed and extruded before being coated, cured and prepared for shipment. Concrete roof tiles are widely used. They have a long life span and are available in various colors and molded shapes — and cost less than clay, shake or slate.

 

The Natural Beauty of Wooden Roof Shingles and Shakes

Natural Wood is not the popular roof material choice it once was, thanks to the proliferation of asphalt, composition, and concrete roof tiles. But for some there is simply no substitute. Wood can be faked but never perfectly replicated. Like the inhabitants it keeps dry, wood roofs age with the passage of time, turning a silvery gray under the sun. If you live in North America, this is likely the roof material of your childhood home (or at least your parents’), and is the ideal choice for many traditional home styles. 

Since a roof must withstand the worst of nature’s onslaughts, only the heartiest of species will suffice. Western red cedar is the most commonly utilized wood for shingles and shakes in North America. California redwood and cypress are also readily available, while pine shingles are offered in some regions. These wood types all have a superior resistance to decay plus other characteristics related to ease of installation and appearance, making them superior wood material options for roofs. 

 

Alternative Roof Materials to Buck the Mainstream

A Green / "Living" Roof

A natural green living roof can become a true landscape, and though arguably more expensive and requiring more maintenance than other alternatives, these rooftop habitats offer fantastic advantages. The lush, natural curb appeal, superb insulation and stormwater management benefits are difficult to match. This is also a roof material type that actually reduces greenhouse gasses. It’s a living habitat on your roof, attracting birds, bees, butterflies and more. 

 

Thatch roofs

This old-world option has drawbacks, such as flammability and lack of mold resistance, but these common criticisms are possibly overstated. Thatch installers say this ancient roof material, when installed correctly, can last 50 years or more, and is more fire-resistant than folks give it credit for. The natural look is undeniably authentic, and the material is renewable and cheap. Thatch roofs are not common in the U.S. for residences, but are more frequently used on ancillary structures, especially in tropical climates.

 

“Cool” roofs

The truth is, many of the materials covered in this series on roof options can be used to create a “cool” roof, one that reflects or otherwise mitigates heat. Metal roofs, membrane systems, white tile roofs (like the one shown here) and even living roofs can all be described as cool roofs. There are also added coatings available to improve the reflective characteristics of most roof materials. Cool roofs offer superior reflective qualities due to material characteristics or color, reflecting heat from the home structure and thus decreasing heat gain in the home. This lessens the extent of air conditioning required and is undeniably a benefit in hot climates.

 

Copper

A copper roof is a statement, and it’s one you’ll pay a premium for. Metal roofs themselves are relatively expensive, and copper is the premium roof metal. But there is something grand about copper on a roof, and it’s bright sheen, seen on the rooftop above, will turn a blue-green hue in time. While a copper roof provides excellent longevity, durability and reflective qualities, it is an extremely expensive option that does not have much demonstrative benefit (except appearance) compared to standard metal roofs.

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 10:31 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Home Improvement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Making Color Work for You

We all want our homes to provide comfort and ease. And something instinctual tells us that color — whether a can of paint, a bright new patterned rug, maybe that sun-drenched painting you saw at the last art opening you attended — can change our world for the better.

Picking the right colors for our homes is not magic. The process simply requires that we look at the physical qualities of our home’s architecture and apply color that will put the focus where we want it. Here’s how.

Create a positive entrance. Storage is key to organizing typically cluttered areas, like a front entrance or mudroom, but color is equally important. Use a light color for walls and trim for an entrance that is cramped. Small, awkward spaces expand when painted a cool white or blue, dropping walls back. 

Pick wall colors that optimize sunlight. Natural light is what we all crave in varying amounts. Decide how the light coming from windows and doors aids your use of each room, and at what point during the day. A sunny kitchen first thing in the morning is perfect for a busy family that wants to get up and meet the day. Want to amplify light? Use white and shiny surfaces that reflect. Want to cut back on glare? Window treatments are an easy fix, but consider that you may want to keep the view and subdue the impact of the reflective planes. Gray is a color solution for a room with a glare.

Use color to play up or play down features. Sometimes the house that you call home is as uncoordinated as a growing teenager. Additions built when space was in demand can confuse the overall design. Proportions in one part of the house may be different than those in another, which can make certain features stand out when you wish they’d recede. Doorways that are too large make others look small. 

The visual presence of architectural elements can be controlled by the value and intensity of their color. Want something to stand out and make an impression? Paint it the most saturated or contrasting color in the room. 

If you want something to go away, paint it the same color as its surroundings. Is something too large and imposing for your space? Choose a color that is dark and gray. Charcoal will shrink and set what was once a foreground element into the shadows.

Let color create a visual path. Repetition is an important element in good design and helpful for finding our way through a space. Establish a feature or material in your home that you want to have noticed, then use its color repeatedly throughout the floor plan.

Posted on July 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Could You Live in a Tiny House?

10 things to consider if you’re thinking of downsizing — way down
 

While still a bit of an oddity, there is no doubt that the tiny house is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you crave more financial freedom, wish to reduce your impact on the environment or want to live a simpler life, tiny homes have a lot to offer — but they are not without tradeoffs. If you are enchanted by the idea of a tiny home but aren’t sure if it’s for you, here are 10 things to consider before diving in.

What is a tiny home? It can be tricky to pin down exactly how many square feet a house must come in under to be considered “tiny.” According to the Small House Society — a cooperative organization founded by tiny-house pioneers Jay Shafer, Shay Salomon, Nigel Valdez and Gregory Paul Johnson to promote smaller housing alternatives — “it’s not a movement about people claiming to be ‘tinier than thou’ but rather people making their own choices toward simpler and smaller living however they feel best fits their life.” Size is relative — so although generally speaking, a tiny house is under 400 square feet or so, the most important thing seems to be the intention to reduce living space to the minimum the occupants feel they need.

1. Consider what you could be giving up by living tiny. There is no avoiding the fact that scaling down a living space requires significant sacrifices — but not all of the things you may need to give up are negative. Look over this list and imagine what it would feel like to cut back on or go without some or all of these things:

  • Personal space: If you live with a partner or kids, what would it feel like to live in much closer quarters with them?
  • Bills: A smaller space means less to heat; using solar power could reduce energy bills even further. Going tiny could even mean forgoing a mortgage altogether, or taking out a smaller loan that can be paid off in a shorter amount of time.
  • Debt: A lower cost of living makes it easier to live within your means or to pay off debts you have, like student loans.
  • Clutter: Living tiny teaches you to have only what you love, use and need.
  • Objects you love: Scaling back your living space may force you to make some tough choices, including giving up cherished furniture and objects.
  • Big gatherings: While you could host larger groups outdoors, it’s unlikely you would be able to host Thanksgiving for the whole clan in your tiny home. (Is that a good or a bad thing? You decide!)
  • Environmental impact: If reducing your impact on the environment is important to you, living in a tiny home is a great way to reduce waste and energy consumption.

 

2. Consider what you could gain by living tiny. The tiny-home movement is about making an intentional choice to live in a much smaller house — and what motivates many is not what they have to give up in space, but what they can potentially gain in life. Consider how it would feel to live with more of these things in your life:

  • Financial (and job) freedom: Lower bills mean more savings for the future, and more freedom to pursue work you love.
  • Freedom to travel: A tiny house can easily be closed up while you travel and would require little upkeep while you are away.
  • Simplicity: With less to buy, fix and furnish, life is simpler.
  • More time outdoors: A smaller interior space makes the outdoors beckon.
  • Community: Likewise, having less of your own means you’re more likely to tap into your network of friends and neighbors, and the community at large.
  • Good design: Going tiny means it’s easier to afford better materials and design.
  • Time: Less surface area means you could clean your entire house in a few minutes.
     

3. Consider your priorities in a home. In a tiny home, you can’t have it all, so it’s important to be intentional about what you prioritize. You don’t need to sacrifice all luxuries; on the contrary, if you have a pro build your tiny house to fit your needs, you can decide what is important to you. High ceilings, full-size appliances, a washer and dryer, big windows, a sauna, a place to work? Take a few moments to jot down your own personal list of home priorities — try to whittle it down to your top three to five things.

4. Consider your life priorities. Thinking about the bigger picture for a moment, consider what is most important to you in life. Have you always wanted to travel more? Be near your grandchildren? Start your own business? 

Now weigh those life goals and dreams against your current lifestyle and home size — would living tiny help you realize a dream you’ve put on hold?

5. Consider the climate. Living in a tiny home in Minnesota or Vermont is very different from living in a tiny home in Southern California. Before you dive into the tiny-house life, it is important to realistically consider the impact your local climate will have on your lifestyle. In the middle of a long winter in a cold, snowy climate, life in a tiny house can feel very small indeed. 

6. Consider accessibility. Many popular tiny-home designs feature a loft bed accessible only by ladder, but this can be impractical if you hope to age in place. Also, if you have close relatives or friends who you hope will visit or house sit for you, consider whether they will be able to access your entire home. 

7. Consider your past experience with living in small spaces. Have you ever lived in a studio apartment or cabin? How big was the home you grew up in? What about the home you live in now? Tapping into your memories of what it was like to live in a small space can help you anticipate some of the issues that may come up once you are living in a tiny house. If you and a partner or family members are considering moving into a tiny house together, ask each person to share memories or other thoughts about the challenges — and benefits — of living small.

8. Consider your lifestyle. Mentally walk through a typical day in your life right now, from the moment you wake to the moment you shut off the lights at night. Which rooms in your home do you use most, and which do you rarely visit? What sort of meals do you cook, and what do you need in terms of space and supplies to prepare them? Do you spend a lot of time at home, or do you tend to be out and about?

9. Consider the law. Although tiny houses are enjoying increasing popularity, many areas still have building codes that require a dwelling to be over a certain number of square feet. Some tiny-home owners are able to get around this by putting their homes on wheels, but you will need to do some research to figure out what the laws are in your area before making any decisions.

10. Consider your property’s potential. If you are choosing land to buy with the intention of adding a tiny house, consider the potential to add supplemental structures. A tiny home may feel totally doable if you are able to supplement your living space with a separate teahouse, dining pavilion, outdoor kitchen, hot tub or sauna, or even a tiny guesthouse. Or, if you have friends or family also interested in living tiny, what about planning or joining a tiny-house community? When you begin to think creatively about what your home might look like, the solutions you come up with may surprise you.

 

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 8:32 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Make your home offer irresistible

When you're competing with a lot of other buyers for a hot piece of property, your bid needs to stand out.

You have found a home you can afford, in a great neighborhood with good schools. It even has a fenced-in yard for your dog. What could go wrong?

Any number of things, ranging from a competing buyer's all-cash offer to an insufficient earnest money deposit from you. In markets with houses in short supply, sellers have the advantage over buyers, and bidding wars often erupt between buyers vying for the nicest properties. The purchase offer should persuade sellers that your buyers are a serious contender who will give them most of what they want, even as it protects the buyer’s interests.

1. Pay cash. Investors have been snapping up homes to flip or rent, and they usually come to the table with cash. Sellers love all-cash offers because they're less likely to fall through before the sale closes. In January, all-cash transactions accounted for 28% of existing home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. Cities currently attracting strong investor interest include Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas and Phoenix, reports CoreLogic. If you need a mortgage, a low appraisal could cause your bank to back out of the deal, forcing the sellers to put the house back on the market.

2. Get preapproved. If you can't pay cash, you'll need to get a mortgage. Three or four months before you shop for a home, check your credit reports, says Michael Corbett, a consultant to real estate Web site Trulia and author of "Before You Buy!" That will give you time to dispute any errors and take short-term steps, such as paying off debts, that will improve your credit score. You can get your reports once a year free from the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. Then get a bank's preapproval. It won't guarantee that you'll get a loan, but it will show sellers that a lender has verified your income and credit score and determined that you can afford payments on a mortgage for a certain amount.

3. Make your best offer on price. You may only have one shot to get it right, so make your best offer — what you're willing and able to pay. Base your offer on recent sale prices of com­parable properties in the neighborhood so that it will pass muster when the property is appraised. If you hold back, thinking you'll sweeten the offer on the second try, you may lose the property to another buyer.

4. Up the ante. You can add an escalator clause, with which you agree to ratchet up your offer if there's a higher bid from another buyer. Keep in mind that if you agree to pay more than the market value determined by an appraisal, you're on the hook for the difference from your own funds.

5. Beef up your earnest money. This deposit signals how serious a buyer you are. Try doubling the amount that the seller requests or that is customary in the area. If you must renege on the offer for any reason allowed by the contract or state law, you'll get your money back.

6. Pay for extras yourself. These might include some of the closing costs, homeowners association dues that must be prepaid, a one-time contribution to a community-enhancement fund, or a home warranty.

7. Make contingencies palatable. Most sellers prefer offers with no contingencies, but you probably can't afford to forgo the protection that contingencies provide if you want to cancel the contract. Offset a financing contingency with preapproval and a strong earnest money deposit. If you have enough cash, temper an appraisal contingency by assuring sellers that if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, you'll pay the difference or split it with them (up to a certain amount). Include a home-inspection contingency, but tell sellers that you will cover the cost of any repairs. If the price tag on those repairs gets out of hand, you can back out of the deal.

8. Write a love letter to the sellers. Re/Max agent Gayle Henderson, of Scottsdale, Ariz., says this will help you connect with the sellers, especially if you haven't met them. She suggests such points as: "We're relocating from…" "We see ourselves living in your neighborhood or chose your schools because …" "We especially love …" and "We appreciate your accommodating our visits."

9. Give the gift of time. Express your willingness to work with the sellers' timetable to go to closing. If the sellers want to remain in the home for a while after closing, offer them a "lease back" or "rent back," which means that you will be their temporary landlord. This is a legal arrangement, and you'll need to work out the details with your agents and be sure that the sellers keep their homeowners insurance during their stay. If you are bidding on a short sale, make clear to the sellers that you are patient and can wait for the bank's decision.

 

Download a PDF of this blog post here: JACKIE98110_Make_your_home_offer_irresistible

Posted on March 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm
Jackie Syvertsen | Category: Bainbridge Island Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,