Monday, November 29, 2010

10 Ways to Make a Small Room Look Larger

For Your Clients: 10 Ways to Make a Small Room Look Larger
RISMEDIA, November 27, 2010--Most people have one: that room in the house that they wish was just a little larger. What many don't realize is that with a little work and some TLC, they could have exactly what they're looking for.

Here, Lowe's offers 10 designer tricks to help you make any room look larger:

1. For the illusion of a larger room, use a color scheme that is light rather than bright or dark. Pastels, neutrals and white are all color possibilities.

2. Use a monochromatic color scheme on the furniture, rugs and walls. Select different shades and textures of your single color.

3. Lighting is a key element in opening up a space. Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space. A torchiere light is great for bouncing light off of the ceiling and back down on the room.Skylights and solar tubes are natural alternatives for adding light to a room.

4. Limit the number of accessories to avoid the cluttered feeling.

5. The floor and the ceiling are the fifth and sixth walls of every room. A light-colored flooring such as light oak or a light-colored carpet will make the room appear brighter and more open. The same applies to the ceiling—use a light color or white to "open up" the space above.

6. Increase the appearance of the size of the room by adding wall mirrors. They not only reflect images, they reflect light and color. Be a little daring! Use mirror tiles to mirror an entire wall. Your room will appear to double in size.

7. Don't place too many pieces of furniture in a small space. A love seat may work better than a full-size sofa depending on the size and shape of the room. Add two medium-sized chairs or two small wood chairs. Place the chairs closer to the wall and then pull them into the area when additional seating is needed.

8. Add paintings or prints to the walls. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings.

9. The visual balance of a room is also important. A large, brightly colored element can overwhelm a room and decrease the appearance of space.

10. A glass table, whether it is a dining, coffee or end table, will keep the appearance of an open and free space.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Favorites

What is your favorite purchase? Was it something you planned on buying or something that you bought on the spot?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Curb Appeal - Little Changes Make a Big Difference

Curb Appeal: Little Changes Make a Big Difference
By Jan Kaye and Doug Wells

RISMEDIA, November 24, 2010—(MCT)—We recently consulted on a formerly white Cape Cod-style home in the Kansas City, Mo., suburb of Westwood that had just been painted in a pale gray. The owners already have ordered replacement windows. They wanted to know what else they could do to improve their home's curb appeal. We're sharing how a few simple additions can make a big difference.

Often when we do in-home design consultations, clients ask us to help them with their home's exterior as well. Sometimes it's simply a matter of adding shrubbery and/or trees, or perhaps removing them when there's an overgrowth that detracts from the overall appearance.

Sometimes the scale of the outdoor lighting fixtures needs to be adjusted. Or window treatments need to be replaced to give a coordinated appearance to the front of the house.

We always strive to achieve balance among the different shapes and colors that make up a home. Think of these shapes as the geometrics that form the house: the squares and rectangles of the house itself, such as doors and windows, plus the cones and rounded forms of surrounding shrubbery and trees. All need to work together to create a harmonious and dramatic impression.

In looking at the Westwood house, the first thing we noticed is that it appeared plain. Black shutters and a white pediment to accent the front door and trim made a world of difference. Also, potted plants on either side of the door give a shot of color to the neutral scheme and lend a sense of presence to the entrance.

Other changes to consider include painting the downspouts gray like the body of the house. Leaving them white calls too much attention to them. They can be prepared so that the new paint color will adhere, or new downspouts that are pre-finished in a similar gray could be installed.

Since the front porch step is sunken on the right, replacing it with a different hardscape material, such as brick laid in an interesting herringbone pattern, would add further appeal. The brick pattern could continue down the walkway. The mailbox can be updated if the bottom trim on the storm door and the door knocker are changed (currently they're all brass).

We think the shrubbery is already well thought out and creates a good balance with the home. However, to create a lovely side porch setting during nice weather, think about adding liriope or neatly trimmed boxwood.

Jan Kyle and Doug Wells own Kyle Wells Design (, an interior design business.

(c) 2010, The Kansas City Star.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Favorites

What's your favorite Kansas City attraction? Where do you take your friends & family when they come visit? Why?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Easy Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Great Article from Barbara Corcoran & The Nate Berkus Show Website!

Learn from real estate guru Barbara Corcoran easy ways to increase the value of your home.
Five Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

1. Lighten it. Light is the second reason (after location) most buyers site for choosing a particular home. Repaint in light, neutral colors that reflect light, up the wattage in light bulbs, put fresh white lampshades on your lamps, remove heavy drapes, wash the windows, and trim any plantings and trees that obstruct light. When you take photos of your home for the listing, rent professional lighting equipment (COST: $50).

2. Improve your home’s curb appeal, in real life and online. Give your home the 15 second test: drive up to your house, park, get out and look at your home from the buyer’s perspective. What do you see? Most buyers decide if they WON’T buy your home within the first 15 seconds, so fix everything you see in that time! Trim bushes, paint the front door and mailbox, steam clean the driveway and walkways, edge the lawn and mulch the flower beds.

3. De-clutter. Potential buyers can’t see past clutter. Pack or store two-thirds of your things, including your furniture. Be sure to remove personal objects like family photos and children’s artwork, put half your clothes in storage, hide all electrical cords and wiring and get rid of unhealthy plants.

4. Update your kitchen. A minor kitchen remodel can make your whole house feel modern. Replace cabinet doors and update drawer pulls and knobs. Countertops and backsplashes can be the least expensive improvements to make, and they’ll make your kitchen look up to the minute.

5. Improve your bathroom. Let’s face it, nobody wants to move into your bathroom! Re-grout the tile and tub, buy new bath towels and shower liner and replace the toilet seat.

Four Ways to Make Your Home Look More Valuable

1. Make your home look bigger.You can do that by de-cluttering, getting rid of about a third of your furniture, adding light, taking home photos with a wide angle lens and from a low position looking up, and adding “up lights” in the corners of rooms.

2. Buy one shiny new appliance for the kitchen.You can get a fancy looking stainless steel Maytag refrigerator for only about $800, or buy floor or close our models for an even bigger discount. (COST: $800 to $3,000)

3. Adding crown or decorative wall molding to your living and dining room walls raises the ceiling and gives a finished, sophisticated look.

4. Get your home professionally staged before putting it on the market. A savvy professional stager knows just how to make the most of the home you have.

Biggest Improvement for the Least Amount of Money

Paint your front door. Spending $30 an a gallon of paint will make your home look fresh, well kept and welcoming. Or even replace it – Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-2010 “Cost vs. Value Report” found that a new steel front door, which costs about $1,170, will recoup 128% of the cost when it’s time to sell!

Barbara Corcoran is the real estate contributor to NBC’s "Today Show " where she comments weekly on trends in the real estate market. Barbara is also an investor/shark on ABC’s reality hit "Shark Tank." To learn more about Barbara, visit her website,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Market Facts for Uncertain Times

10 Market Facts for Uncertain Times (from
September 2010

Although the economy is soft and consumer confidence remains low, new data from the National Association of REALTORS® shows positive signs for the future. To help REALTORS® interpret current economic data and address clients’ concerns, here are 10 key facts to understand about today’s market.

1. The economy is growing, though slowly.

2. The private sector is finally creating some jobs.

3. Consumer confidence remains low, though clearly off bottom.

4. The 30-year mortgage rate is at generational lows.

5. The national median-home price is stabilizing.

6. Other home-price measurements also are showing price stabilization.

7. Home price-to-income ratios have returned to fundamentally justifiable levels.

8. Economists expect price increases in upcoming years

9. Delinquencies are high but recent loan originations are performing well.

10. The long-term path to self reliance may be helped from long-term housing-wealth gains.

To see the statistics behind these facts, download the full NAR research report, Market Facts in Uncertain Times > (PPT: 1.39MB)

To share this report, download the PDF > (1.46MB)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Favorites

I am going to start a new tradition, Friday Favorites! Each week will post a different question asking about your Favorites things. This is a great way to learn new things from other people!

This week....Your Favorite Kansas City Restaurant!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Ways to Say Thank You this Veteran's Day

10 Ways to Say Thank You this Veterans Day
RISMEDIA, November 9, 2010--More than 20 million veterans currently live in the United States. Although their military experiences cross decades and continents, one thing remains constant: Their service deserves our honor, recognition and gratitude.

In an effort to encourage acts of recognition this Veterans Day, philanthropic business Products for Good has compiled 10 simple tips to honor those who have served.

1. Acknowledge active members of the military by sending a thank-you to troops overseas via a tweet! Tweets using the #wearegrateful hashtag are screened and printed onto postcards distributed to troops worldwide.

2. Spend time volunteering at a local VA Medical Center. A small amount of time can make a big difference. Sign up here: .

3. Take a five-minute break from your daily routine to personally thank a co-worker, neighbor or loved one who is a veteran. A heartfelt thank you accompanied by a smile may just make their day.

4. Not every veteran is lucky enough to have someone at home to honor and thank them for their service. Products for Good launched the Honor One in a Million Project to change that. When you buy a coin from the Honor One in a Million Project, the coin is hand-delivered to a veteran under VA care. Each coin comes with the opportunity for you to personalize a note to the recipient thanking them for their service. In turn, you will receive a letter confirming the receipt of your gift. Learn more here

5. Take advantage of the Veterans Day holiday to teach kids about our nation's history and sacrifices of those who have served. For a listing of fun, kid-friendly activities, visit

6. Plan a trip to Washington, D.C. to partake in national Veterans Day events or check out your local news and chamber of commerce community calendars to learn about parades and events in your area.

7. Bring patriotic-themed baked good or cards to a local retirement home and help staff distribute to veteran residents.

8. Change your Facebook status to honor a veteran in your life: Today I Honor and Thank (Rank, First Name, Last Name, Branch of Service). Don't know a veteran? Check out the Veterans History Project to find an individual to honor,

9. There are 1.8 million female veterans in the U.S. Honor the women in your life who serve and the women who face their own battles at home as their loved ones serve.

10. Veterans Day is a great opportunity to give a loved one who has served an unexpected call. Have your kids call and thank a grandparent or cousin who has served, and you'll feel the appreciation through the phone.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Credit Scores

Our office went to a Credit Scores class at Career Education Systems today. We learned a lot of great information! It's a bit long, but the information is very useful!

A few things you should know about your credit score:• You shouldn’t pay off your credit card in full – you should use 30% of your available credit (NOT the full amount) to maintain and increase your credit score
• Shopping for credit in a concentrated period of time (4-6) weeks WILL NOT hurt your credit score. (just make sure they are similar inquiries) You WANT to shop around for a loan!
• Your car insurance is based on your credit score
• The average American has 13 credit accounts on report. Typically 9 credit cards & 4 installment loans! (too many!!)
• DON’T get new store credit cards! If you have them, hang on to them & don’t use them often. Don’t close them b/c you are reducing your available credit which hurts your credit score.
• You don’t need more than 3-4 cards – rotate them. Bankcards (Mastercard, VISA, etc) are better for your score than department store cards.
• A bankruptcy filing is the single worst thing you can do to hurt your CREDIT SCORE. (Foreclosure is worse for getting a loan in the future).
o Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years (Foreclosure for 7 years)
o Bankruptcy affects ALL of your credit (vs foreclosure which is only your home)
• Lenders many times DO NOT have different ways of reporting foreclosures & short-sales to credit bureaus. ASK YOUR LENDER how they report BEFORE you do a short-sale or foreclosure! (Short-sales are better in the long run for debt forgiveness)
• Transferring credit card balances to another card w/ a lower interest rate WILL affect your credit score b/c you are opening a NEW credit card.
• Debt consolidation DOES NOT always help your credit score!
• Closing credit cards CAN hurt your credit score b/c you are reducing your available credit. Just don’t use them.
• Old credit is better than new credit
• It is easier to apply for & receive credit while in college than after graduation.
• Your credit SCORE is based on your credit REPORT. You can get your credit report FREE once a year. Get it and check to make sure it’s correct!! – you can get a FREE credit report & pay for your credit score (google to find a coupon for 25% off!) You can also find free educational articles. is another service to get a free annual report

How to improve your credit score:• Review inquires (on credit report)
• Examine collections & public record
• Dispute errors
• Pay bills on time
• Pay down credit cards below 30% (down to 10% helps your credit score increase)
• Avoid debt consolidation
• To pay off debt, moonlight, sell stuff, trim your spending
• Don’t close credit cards
• Resist the urge to open store credit cards

Other useful tips:• Know what’s in your wallet. Make copies (front & back) of all credit cards & driver’s license
• Opt –out of credit card solicitation – 888.5OPT.OUT
• Don’t take money out of retirement or home equity to pay off credit cards

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Save on Winterizing Your Home.

Here are a few helpful suggestions thanks to Real Simple's November 2010 issue on how to save on winterizing your home:

- Hunt of air leaks. You can get a hone energy audit, but it's pricey (around $350). Instead, try the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector ($50,, which identifies drafty areas in a home. Once you seal the problem spots, You could save up to 20% on energy costs!

-Don't Overinsulate. To find out how much energy you need, go to

- Change your filter only when it's dirty. Install a whistle on your furnace ($1.70, that alerts you when your filter is partially clogged and will soon need to be replaced.

- Opt for a weatherproofing kit. If you buy plastic shrink wrap, weather stripping, and electrical-outlet sealers individually, you'll pay about 30% more than if you buy them in a set. Use all components and you'll reduce your energy costs by up to 20%.

(article in Real Simple by Amy Chen)