Kitchen Color Schemes: Avoiding Kitschy Colors

The never-regret kitchen starts with the right hues

The kitchen is the heart of the household, a place where you prepare meals and make memories. So it only makes sense that your kitchen’s color scheme reflects your unique tastes and personality, right? The answer to that is yes — and no.

Although there may be a special hue that gets your heart thumping, there are many reasons why it makes sense to opt for a neutral palette in your kitchen. Many design professionals agree that using shades like white, beige, or gray as the foundation for your kitchen not only open up a spectrum of colorful possibilities, but enhance the value of your home. “Timeless colors are perfect, whether for resale or for your dream home,” says Jackie Jordan, Dallas-based director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “Your kitchen won’t suffer from this-looks-like-it-was-done-in-the-90s comments if you opt for a neutral palette.”  “It’s a space where potential buyers envision themselves spending a lot of time,” agrees Sue Pelley, spokesperson for Decorating Den Interiors in Easton, Md. Thus, although you may believe your purple cabinets are divine, others may think they’re dreadful. And that, she says, can be a real barrier to a sale.

The Versatility of Neutrals

But does going soft and natural mean you have to stifle your inner Van Gogh? Not a chance.

“A neutral kitchen is the perfect canvas to personalize as your tastes change,” says Jordan. “It gives you the opportunity to accessorize with fun rugs, dinnerware — even just a fresh vase of flowers to liven things up.”

“I love being able to change moods with colors, often inspired by the changing seasons,” says Wendy F. Johnson, a certified kitchen and bath designer based in Manchester Village, Vt. “Neutrals can provide the base for a huge range of related or contrasting colors to be used with them, from bright and saturated to peaceful, muted hues.”

Texture also adds enormous impact to a neutral kitchen. A combination of materials from rough to smooth and matte to high gloss creates visual contrast and reflects light differently throughout the day, says Johnson. “For example, you can mix barn wood walls and satin painted drywall, white oak cabinetry with glass insets, lustrous concrete countertops with a stone tile backsplash. These might all be in the same tones, but there is nothing boring here.”

Using Color to Complement Your Kitchen’s Size

Your kitchen’s square footage is another important factor to consider when choosing a color palette. If the space is small, opt for paler hues for cabinets, walls, and countertops. Shades of white, bone, or cream reflect light and help a tiny kitchen feel brighter and more spacious.  Neutrals are also a great choice for kitchens that open up to other rooms, notes Pelley. “If your kitchen is part of a great room design, remember that any new paint will need to work with the color schemes in those rooms, too.”

Non-Permanent Ways to Add Pops of Color

Rather than committing to a single color scheme, a neutral kitchen lets you sample the rainbow. One option is to choose coordinating window treatments and chair cushions to liven up the space, says Johnson. An eye-catching poster, multihued area rug, or a collection of pottery displayed on a shelf all add personality to your kitchen and are easy to change when you’re ready for something new.  Paint is another low-cost way to incorporate a pop or two of color into a neutral room. You can grab a brush and paint your kitchen chairs or counter stools, or add a bright hue to the interior of a glass cabinet. Ready for something bigger? Consider rolling a bold shade on a single wall to create lively contrast in an otherwise single-color space.

Top Neutral Color Schemes

Neutrals may be timeless, but there are some combinations that look especially fresh. “I love warm grays and whites — always have,” says Johnson. “There are so many natural materials available in these tones that mix together beautifully, and all colors look gorgeous against this type of palette.”

Sherwin-Williams’ Jordan also favors white and light grays in a kitchen. “It’s a sleek and modern combination that works perfectly with the ever-popular stainless steel appliances and subway tile.”

When it comes to a big-ticket item like a kitchen, it makes sense to choose a palette that will endure for the long term, says Johnson. “Those of us who thrive in colorful surroundings will groan at this, but even we need some soft, peaceful environments sometimes.”

Visit for more articles like this.  Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”


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5 Plants That Fight the Winter Blues

It’s not uncommon to feel a little down this time of year. The combination of frigid temperatures in much of the country, nasty winter weather, and a lack of sunlight causes many to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

To combat the winter blues, research suggests that bringing plants into the home can not only reduce stress, they can also improve a home’s air quality, brighten up the living space, and even help with pain management. A recent article in Houselogic also points out that taking care of plants can also improve the overall quality of life.

What is it about plants that makes people happier? The concept of biophilia suggests that people have a subconscious bond with nature, and bringing nature indoors can provide positive feelings and stress relief.

Plants can also improve a space’s overall air quality. “According to research done by NASA back in the late 1980s, certain plants will even filter harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the air,” Houselogic points out.

The best plants to improve a home’s air quality:

  1. Boston Fern
  2. English Ivy
  3. Spider Plant
  4. Bamboo Palm
  5. Weeping Fig
  6. Flamingo Lily
  7. Peace Lily
  8. Cornstalk Dracaena.

The best plants to combat winter sadness:

  1. Anthuriums.
  2. Ferns, particularly the Kimberly Queen (Nephrolepis obliterata) and Boston (Nephrolepis exaltata) varieties.
  3. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum).
  4. Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum).
  5. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Sword Plant, or Snake Plant (Sansevieria).

Source: “Sick of Winter? These Houseplants Will Perk Up Your Mood (Yes, Really),” Houselogic.

Visit for more articles like this.  Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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These Plants Can Improve a Home’s Air Quality

A study 30 years ago by NASA revealed that certain houseplants can help clean the air inside space stations, and studies since then have confirmed they may be able to do that for a home or office too. Further, studies have linked certain houseplants to an increase in productivity, calmness, creativity, and even a better night’s sleep.

NASA recommends placing up to 18 plants in an 1,800 square foot house to help purify the air.

The best plants to purify the air around you? Studies highlight these:

  • Philodendron
  • Aloe
  • Snake plant
  • Peace lily
  • English Ivy
  • Spider plant
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Dragon tree
  • Bamboo

Source: “NASA’s Top Houseplants for Improving Your Wellbeing and Removing Air Pollution,” (Nov. 15, 2016)

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Are Garageless Homes the Future?

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, November 21, 2016

Self-autonomous vehicles are expected to be available commercially within the next five years, and by 2030, driverless cars could make up as much as 60 percent of U.S. auto sales, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs.

But how could these driverless cars impact the look of homes and communities? Homebuilders are already considering the impact.

For example, KB Home and KTGY Architecture unveiled the KB Home ProjeKt this year at the Greenbuild Conference, which featured a home without a garage.

“One of the biggest challenges will be to convince suburban municipalities that not all homes/home buyers will want or need a garage, or at least won’t need two spaces,” Gregg Nelson, co-founder of Trumark Homes, based in Newport Beach, Calif., told BUILDER. “The other challenge will be whether home buyers are willing to accept not having a garage, not only for their own use, but as a resale value question. Who will be those first buyers/early adopters? Who will take the first step of building a home without a garage?”

Another change – and challenge – will be faced with a community’s roads and the transition to more driverless vehicles. How can self-driving cars and traditional cars coexist? Nelson speculates that the carpool lanes of today may become the autonomous vehicle lanes of the future.

Five to 10 years from now, Nelson also foresees less need for internal roadways due to greater reliance on driverless cars. That could spawn greater walkable, open spaces in its place.

“We should see a reduction in land area dedicated to parking,” Nelson says. “Studies show that roughly a third of urban real estate is devoted to parking garages, and that there are eight parking spaces for every car operating in the U.S. As time goes by, this ‘wasted’ space will be re-utilized in a way to enhance the environments of our communities.”

Source: “Autonomous Cars Will Reshape Residential Communities,” BUILDER (Nov. 17, 2016)

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Why Veterans Make Some of the Best Clients

Daily Real Estate News | Friday, November 11, 2016

There are 18.8 million veterans and veteran families in the U.S. That’s a huge pool of potential buyers and sellers.

Traditionally, the home ownership rate for veterans of the U.S. military has outpaced non-veterans. In 2006, the ownership rate for veterans was 79.5 percent, which is 12.3 percentage points higher than that of non-veterans, according to data provided by the National Association of REALTORS®.

In 2015, veterans and active-service members comprised 21 percent of all home buyers. Veterans move a median of 75 miles from the home they previously sold to their new home purchased. Active-duty military most often purchase a home due to a job relocation.

They turn to real estate professionals for guidance as they move to new locales.  Veterans and active-service military got their information from real estate professionals more than any other source, according to the 2016 Veterans and Active-Military Home Buyers and Sellers Profile. The report, released by NAR, shows that 85 percent of veterans and 86 percent of active-service military purchased their home through a real estate agent.

Real estate professionals are gaining extra training in how to best reach this expansive buyer and seller segment. NAR offers members the Military Relocation Professional certification, for example. It’s a one-day certification program that shows how real estate professionals can reach out to this niche and how to help vets take advantage of military benefits in their home purchases.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

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Resale Issues Buyers Don’t Think About

 November 2016 | By Mary McIntosh

 In 2002, when I first got my real estate license, I took a class at my brokerage about how to show properties. Seems silly, right? How hard is it to unlock the door? But this class was about practical ways to make sure the buyer focuses on the most important factors of a home. I still follow some of the tips from this class today. One of them was to advocate caution to a buyer considering a house with an “adverse situation.”

What’s that? It’s a condition that will affect the resale of the property. I remember the instructor saying, “When my past clients call me up and ask me to sell the house I helped them buy, I don’t want to then explain to them the fact that they back to a major road will affect their value.” That hit me. No, it’s not the agent’s job to choose the home for the buyer, but they do deserve to know that if they purchase a home with an unchangeable adverse situation, it will always sell for less than similar homes and may stay on the market longer.

Selling is stressful no matter what the market is like, but in a flat or down market, it is 100 times worse. So since we can’t predict the future, I prefer to talk to buyers up front about adverse situations — deal killers, I call them — so they know what they’re getting into. And what might those deal killers be? These are the six I run into most often in my business. If you’ve dealt with others, leave a comment at the bottom of the article.

  1. Power lines: I hadn’t considered this one a deal killer until one of my first buyers backed out of a sale contract because she feared the power lines behind the home would give her cancer. Then I learned just how popular this myth is, as buyer after buyer has brought up a similar concern ever since. Just like fears about cell phone radiation, people have come to worry that the low-level radiation from high-voltage power lines will make them sick — even though governmental studies have not found such a link. But perception is everything in the pursuit of a sale. Many people also find power lines aesthetically displeasing, so you may want to warn your buyers of the trouble they could face at resale.
  2. New subdivisions: Brand-new homes are a big draw for many buyers, but if your clients are looking in a subdivision that will be under construction for years to come, you may want to advise them that resale could be difficult for the foreseeable future. They’ll be competing with brand-new construction for however long developers are building in the area, and that will make their lives difficult for many reasons. Beyond the appeal of new homes, builders also have deep pockets and can offer many incentives to buyers that traditional sellers can’t. Don’t set your clients up to compete with that if they might want to relocate in five years.
  3. Neighboring a business: I once had a neighbor whose home backed up to the rear of a grocery store. Guess when grocery stores get their deliveries? All night long. Those delivery people didn’t care who was sleeping at 4 a.m. or whether they were being too loud for the new mom next door with a baby she was trying to put to sleep. Now, not every business is going to be this disruptive all night long, but just let your buyers know that if their neighbors aren’t home owners just like them, they may have issues to deal with.
  4. Environmental concerns: In my area in Arizona, the west-facing backyard is an immediate deal killer. During summer sunsets — a time of day when many people are home — the back of the house heats up even hotter than it usually is around this neck of the woods. Not an enjoyable experience when you’re trying to relax after a long day. It also makes barbecuing on the back patio unbearable. Your location may have different adverse situations depending on the environment in your state. In Washington, where my brother sells, he tries to avoid homes in forested areas that might be in danger of burning down.
  5. Subtle noises: When buyers tour homes, they’re listening for noise from nearby airports, train tracks, or highways and major roads. They’re probably a little more oblivious to the barking dog next door or the neighbor with parrots and a full aviary in their yard — or a chicken coop. Sometimes these noises are only passing aggravations and aren’t permanent, but you should tell your clients that if they hear it now, they’ll probably hear it in the future. And that can affect the next buyer’s opinion when they’re ready to sell.
  6. Peculiar ideas of privacy: Speaking of noise, highways and major roads are an obvious problem at resale, but some buyers prefer backing to a busy road rather than another home for privacy reasons. If your client is one of these people, you should tell them they’re a rare breed. For most people, the privacy benefit won’t outweigh the disturbance of the noise. Make sure your buyers understand the tradeoff they’re buying into.

With all that said, you’ll have buyers who won’t mind any of these adverse situations. My home, for example, is in the flight path of a small nearby airport. It occasionally sounds like these planes are landing on my house. Why would I buy such a home knowing how it will affect my resale? It was an awesome deal — and I mean awesome. I was lucky enough to find it right at the bottom of Arizona’s market in 2011. I knew what I was buying, and I know what I will face when I sell. For me, the value was there. So while you should keep your buyers informed of the challenges homes might pose at resale, at the end of the day, you always follow their lead.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Home Owners Should Feel Twice as Rich

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thanks to rising home prices, home owners are getting richer, a new study says. The amount of homeowner equity has doubled in the last five years, according to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index and HPI Forecast for September 2016.

“Home equity wealth has doubled during the last five years to $13 trillion, largely because of the recovery in home prices,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Nationwide during the past year, the average gain in housing wealth was about $11,000 per home owner, but with wide geographic variation.”

Home owners in several markets across California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Utah are seeing some of the most growth, with double-digit home price gains.

Home owners nationwide likely are to see even more equity in the coming months, too.

“Home-price growth creates wealth for owners with home equity,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “A 5 percent rise in home values over the next year would create another $1 trillion in home equity wealth for home owners.”

Source: CoreLogic and “Home Owners Twice as House Rich as Five Years Ago,” CNBC (Nov. 1, 2016)

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Parents With Kids Really Need Your Help

Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Families moving with children can face a lot of complications and time pressures during a real estate transaction.

Fifty-three percent of families with children under the age of 18 report that the most difficult task in the home search process is finding the right property in the right location, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Home Buyers and Sellers survey. Many families need to factor in the quality of schools and activity offerings for their children as well as finding a home with suitable space and in proximity to their job too.

Families with children under the age of 18 often times have a great urgency to sell. Twenty-four percent of sellers had to sell their home quickly while 46 percent had to sell their home in a somewhat urgent or reasonable timeframe. Many families want to get settled in before the new school season begins, notes Tim Beary, Arlington Board of REALTORS® president, in a recent column for the Dallas-Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram.

What’s more, many families are searching for more space. Twenty-nine percent of families with children under the age of 18 say their main reason for moving is to find a larger home. Finding a good neighborhood is another important factor. Fifty percent of families cited the quality of the school district as a reason for buying their home, and 43 percent decided upon their home because of its convenience to schools.

The typical home of families with children under the age of 18 is a 2,100-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-full bathroom single-family home.

Learn some ways you can help parents with kids in the process: 16 Ways to Get Kids on Your Side

Source: “Moving With Kids: Families Rely on REALTORS®,” Star-Telegram (Oct. 30, 2016)

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When Home Additions Hurt and Help Resale

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Your clients shouldn’t automatically assume that adding extra square footage to their home will raise its value at resale. In the case of a 1917 Cotswold-style Craftsman in Pasadena, Calif., the owner actually hurt her chances of a sale with an 800-square-foot addition. The addition didn’t take into account the historical details of the home, and its protruding window didn’t match the home’s thatch-like roofline, brick chimney, and “whimsical wood details,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

“It was just all wrong,” listing agent Matt Berkley of Crosby Doe Associates in Pasadena told the newspaper. Home owner Annie Yan paid $30,000 to demolish the addition and sought to restore the home back to its original state. She is now selling the home for $4.78 million — more than $600,000 than what she purchased it for in 2014.

Aside from considering the downside of additions, your clients should also know that restoring a home to its original size can bring some tax breaks. In Yan’s case, the city granted a tax break on the property through a preservation program known as the Mills Act. The home’s property tax was reduced from $50,000 a year to $13,000, and that tax break will remain in place for at least 10 years.

Bret Hirsh, who owns a four-story, 3,900-square-foot townhouse in New York’s West Village, is trimming about 200 square feet from the building. He is reducing the size of an upstairs dining room to create a double-height area in the downstairs kitchen and great room. In markets where every square foot counts, his project could add $800,000 in resale value, considering prices in his neighborhood are about $4,000 a square foot.

Many buyers complain that brownstones in Hirsh’s neighborhood don’t get enough natural light. In these cases, remodeling projects that sacrifice floor space for more light can attract more buyers, says Jim St. Andre of CORE Real Estate. He notes that one of the priciest sales in the West Village was an $18.96 million townhouse in 2012 that had undergone a similar remodel to Hirsh’s.

“We don’t live and die by square footage,” says real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller. However, removing too much square footage may hamper resale value, but Miller notes most projects are replacing square footage with something more appealing, such as the addition of outdoor space.

Source: “When to Subtract a Home Addition,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 20, 2016)

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