Tips for Prepping to Sell Your Home as a FSBO (or not)


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This is a topic that I’ve had on the back burner for awhile now. When we were looking for our house, I just kept coming across bad listings for FSBOs (For Sale By Owner).

If you are thinking you want to sell your home yourself because you are in a hot market, please read on.

There are so many things you need to do if you choose to list your house yourself.  There is a lot of great advice online.  But I just wanted to touch on two of them.  The photos and the staging.

You still need to put the effort in to marketing your home, even in a market that is on fire! I’ve seen it over and over.  The homeowner who thinks, “I live in a very desirable location so I don’t need a realtor, and I can even take the photos with my iPhone for the listing”.

STOP right there!

If you truly are house proud, you need to show it by using quality images.

I have seen some crazy photos of houses that are for sale by the owner.  I’ve seen photos that are blurry, upside down, upside down AND blurry.  I’ve seen photos that make no sense and shouldn’t be in a real estate listing. (For the record, I’ve seen terrible photos posted on listings that are NOT FSBOs)

Here are a couple I just found.  I have not cropped these images.  They are exactly as I found them on Trulia.  They are from various listings.  I think the homeowners must have had a reason for taking each shot, but that reason doesn’t translate to a buyer visually.  When you are only putting up a couple of pictures….make them count!  You should try to get the whole room in your photo, the whole front/back of the house, and honestly…nobody wants to see a closeup of Grandma’s rocking chair, unless it’s fantastic and being sold with the house. (for some strange reason).

Pay attention to other listings that catch your eye and see what it is about those photos that make you look at the house.

A great location will only sell if you can get someone to see the property. Consider it an investment and have your home professionally shot by a professional photographer. If you cannot hire someone, here are some simple tips from Tiffany Ringwald, a professional photographer and someone I am happy to call a friend. She has taken countless fantastic real estate photos as well as having her work featured in national and local shelter magazines.

-Great light quality
You want to shoot your rooms at the brightest part of the day, but not direct sunlight. Bright overcast days are be best so take advantage of having mother natures very own soft box light! Shoot with the lights off! Unless your space is extremely dark no matter what part of the day. You can use an LED Panel light or two to light up a dark space easily and inexpensively without having to buy fancy professional camera equipment.

-Get your vertical lines straight!
Always keep your camera as straight and level as possible. It is highly recommended that your vertical lines are straight to make your images as professional as possible. DO NOT point your camera downward or upwards into the space or you skew your lines and have a fun house effect. Exception to the rules are close detail shots that don’t show many lines in the composition.

-Camera height
Higher camera positions from chest to head, roughly between 4ft-5 1/2ft high. This height is best for kitchens so that you don’t seen under the upper cabinets and you see more counter/island surface.
Lower camera positions from lower chest to waist, 3ft-4ft high. Thigh height is best for living spaces and low sitting areas so that you get more floor and a better view of the furniture.

Learn to edit your images using Lightroom or a great photo app. Whether it is a camera or from your phone you almost always need to edit your images. Do not get heavy handed or over do the editing. Subtle adjustments keep the quality high and more realistic for your viewers. Basic editing: Exposure, highlights, shadows, color balance, contrast and sharpen are the main settings to adjust. As you get more comfortable and fine tuned to editing you can dive into more of the advanced adjustments.

Recommended apps for photo editing: Lightroom, Photoshop, ColorStory, SnapSeeed, and Enlight

Check out Tiffany’s website here to see what great Real Estate photos look like!

Before you take those pictures make sure you LOOK at what you are photographing.

  1.  Shut the garage doors
  2.  Clean off the kitchen counters
  3. Put the toilet seats down
  4. Pick up the dirty laundry off the floor
  5. And if you are listing your home anytime outside of December, take down the holiday decorations!  Listing your home in May, with a Christmas wreath hanging outside only translates to “I don’t take care of my house”

A Home Stager is another great suggestion. You may need someone to come in and help edit your space before you even have it photographed. No need to throw it all away, but you may find that taking some things to be donated or put into storage is very cathartic, and you may decide you don’t want it all back.  You want your home to feel spacious, and to paint an image in buyers’ minds that they want to live “this lifestyle”.

I also realize that people list their house as a FSBO in order to save money and not have to pay a commission.  Every realtor I know has always said that commission is negotiable.  It doesn’t hurt to have a conversation with an agent.  They will also give you a market analysis on your home.  Maybe it is worth more than you even thought.

We offer staging advice before you list your home for sale.  If you need our help, reach out to us.  We are also happy to recommend photographers if you choose to use a pro.

Special thanks to Tiffany Ringwald for sharing her tips with us to get better shots of our interiors–whether it’s for a Real Estate listing, or not.



After a Long Hiatus


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Well Hello there!  I’m not sure if anybody will still even get this blog in their email.  Leave a comment and let me know you are out there still.  I’m also looking to hear if there are any topics you’d like covered.

Here’s a little update on what’s been happening over the last year!

Phil and I moved to the Lake Norman area (North of Charlotte, NC) about a year ago.  It is a fantastic location, and we are adjusting to our new Southern lifestyle.  I had posted about a different house, but as most of you know, that deal fell apart completely.  Which is a good thing, because we ended up in the quaint little college town of Davidson. Davidson College is the heart of this town (anyone hear of Steph Curry? He’s their claim to fame.)  Lake Norman is a very large lake with large mansions dotting the shoreline.  All sorts of celebs, race car drivers, and corporate executives are amongst the residents.  Last Summer we rented a boat a couple of times, which made for a lot of fun for us and any guests that were here.

Our sweet Millie, who is now well over 15, is still with us.  We joke that she is aging in reverse.

I took about 6 months before tackling any projects in the new house.  I really wanted the house to speak to me and let me know what it wanted.  And let me tell you, when she started talking, she didn’t hold back.  Lots to share later.

As far as my business is concerned, the office in PA is still open and we are still working with existing clients only.  I’ve made the decision that here in North Carolina, I will not do full service projects any longer.  I am going to concentrate strictly on working with clients who need help with picking their finishes for projects.  This is a pretty new decision, but I think it is one that makes the most sense for everybody.

I am looking forward to getting this blog back on its feet, so to speak.  I hope to hear from you, just to let me know you’re there!

I’ve been regularly posting on Instagram, so feel free to check that out.

Here’s a link to my Instagram account.



Time To Vote! Harrisburg Magazine Simply The Best Nominations


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We’ve Received Two Nominations!

Thanks to all those who took time to nominate us!

Harrisburg Magazine’s Simply The Best 2018

Now the Voting Period has been opened!

The good news is you do NOT need to vote for 30 categories this year in order to get your votes to count.  The only rule is you can only vote once from each valid email.

We would greatly appreciate your vote for us in the two categories:

Interior Designer

Kitchen/Bath Remodeling Company

Click Here to Vote and once you are there, just click on the Home and Garden Tab.  I did not pay to have my business “featured” because I know you all are smart enough to just scroll down and find me.


With Many Thanks



Renovating a Charming Home in Charlotte, NC


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Phil & I went on a whirlwind house hunting trip about two weeks ago. We saw a lot of great options, but one house that looks like it is right out of a fairy tale, really pulled at our heart strings. The home is in need of a lot of love, it has been empty for 3 years.

Today we received great news on our first inspection, which was the stucco inspection. When your inspector is thrilled with his findings and declares he would buy the house if it wasn’t so far from where he lives, you know you’ve got a good one.

Of course we still have other inspections lined up before we know for certain that we are going forward, but I’ve got a good feeling.

I’m excited to take you on this adventure with us. It’s going to be a lot of fun bringing this gem back to life.  Can’t you just see red geraniums in that planter under the long window?


The Big News or Why We Didn’t Renovate the Kitchen


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Shortly after moving in to our new house, the whispers began of the possiblity of a job relocation for Phil. His company merged with another, who is located in the Charlotte, NC area.  With that in the back of our heads, we decided not to do any major renovations to this house, except the needed updates. Now you know why so many visions of mine remained just that, visions.

Recently it became clear, we are going to move. Luckily there is no rush, so we decided to wait until the Spring Market when the yard is looking its best. Phil has done some house hunting while he is down there on business (which seems to be about every other week).  We are concentrating our search in the Lake Norman area.

The current status of our house is that we are not on the market, but as of last week, we do have our listing price ready to go. We can list it any time. If you know of anyone who is looking for a 4 BR, 3BA home with 5 garages, in a great neighborhood , with a very private backyard and a wonderful pool, send them our way!

While we are looking at the positive side of this– moving to a beautiful location and great weather, we also recognize how many wonderful friends we have made here and how much we are going to miss them.  We are hoping that many of them will come visit us in North Carolina and without a doubt, we will be back to visit.

Lake Norman; Photo from Lake Norman NC Homes for Sale

And then there is the next question…what will I do with the business?  At this point, I just don’t know.  Building this business, and getting my A-Team assembled didn’t happen overnight.  It took a lot of time.  I may continue the business in some capacity.  I will need to get settled, and then see what happens.  I know there a few clients here who have already asked if I will return to the area to help them out in the future, and of course the answer is yes.


Selecting a Flattering Color for Every Exposure


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We are finally winding down on the Before & After Series.

We moved into this house a little more than a year ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Just by using paint on these upstairs bedrooms’ walls, we’ve made a drastic change.  Here are these transformations. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we purchased the house.



Any chance I get to show off this dresser that I painted years ago I take it






These rooms were all painted with a warm gray/taupe color, Sherwin Williams Alpaca.   It is a very warm color that I just love.  As with all paint colors, it will read differently in each room, especially since each space has different sun exposure.  This color works in each of these rooms with their different lighting situations. We didn’t want to paint the trim at this point, but some rooms had a shell white, and some had a bright white, so the paint color needed to work with both trim colors without making the shell white look yellow. This color was the winner.

We removed all curtains that were left by the previous owner, but kept the blinds, as they were all Hunter Douglas, and just needed to be cleaned. The rooms all look fresh, updated, and inviting.

This concludes the Before & After Series of this house.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it. It’s amazing what can be done to update a house without getting into a big remodel just by using paint, wallpaper, and artwork.  Updating the hardware on all of the doors, and adding window treatments in some areas helped give the house a fresh look.





Decorating Tips to Use While Waiting to Renovate


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Time for another installment of my Before & After Series. Now, it’s on to the back of the house where the kitchen and family room are located.

We moved into this house sixteen months ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Lots of paint, wallpaper, artwork, and window treatments make a huge difference. I’d like to share these transformations with you. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we first saw this house.

When I saw this space the first time, I thought we would be doing a major renovation to this space.  The housing market would allow it, the home was begging for it, and so were we! My first thought involved relocating the powder room, which is essentially a huge block in the middle of the kitchen/family room. I’ve circled it in red below.

Here’s the view of it from the kitchen side.  Removing this would make this so open!
I imagined a huge island running across the kitchen, with seating on one side. Of course, cabinets to the ceiling, in a painted finish to add more storage.  I wanted to swap out the electric stove for a gas one and add proper ventilation.  Well, I could go on an on with the “plan”.  But, I wanted to show you what I have done with the space while we were patiently waiting to renovate.

We weren’t ready to do those plans right away, so I needed to make this space “ours” while we waited for this project to get started.  Here are the before and afters, with explanations on what small changes we made to make the space work for us.

Kitchen Before:

The kitchen had a refrigerator that jutted into the aisle, making it feel cramped.  (The realtor’s photographer used a wide angle lens in the photos, therefore everything looks bigger and wider–trust me–that aisle in front of the fridge was not very wide).

Kitchen After:

What we did…

We swapped the oversized refrigerator for the one we brought with us from our last house, and also added our beverage refrigerator in that empty spot at the end of the cabinets. This really helped me with the flow of the kitchen.

Kitchen Eating Area Before:

Notice the geranium tiles scattered randomly in the backsplash?  Hey, it was “the thing to do” back in the mid-90’s. They were scattered throughout the entire kitchen.

Kitchen Eating Area After:

What we Did:

I’ve turned the eating area into a cozy seating area by using my vintage furniture pieces and layering a couple of rugs.  I love the idea of a sofa in the dining room or in the kitchen.  We also replaced the hanging light with this fabulous vintage lantern light.

The way I chose to handle the geranium tile situation was to block them with cutting boards and silver trays.  Not quite my style, but it worked.  Then one day I asked Phil to go to the basement and do a search for extra white tiles.  He found them!!  There were 21 tiles, and we needed 20.  The pressure was on. He was able to remove every red geranium tile, and replace with a plain white one.  We found a grout that matched. Voila.  No more geraniums!  And more importantly, no more clutter of cutting boards and silver trays.  If you don’t have the ability to replace tiles, go ahead and lean some interesting cutting boards on the backsplash.  It works!


The family room has “suede” walls in a taupe color. The color actually works with our furniture and the colors I tend to use, so the plan is to leave it until the entire space is demolished for the renovation.  My painter was able to remove this texture in another location where the previous owner had the same treatment done.  He only needed to give it a good sanding.



All the windows in the family room and the kitchen are dressed in the same window treatments.  I’ve mounted the bamboo shades up at the ceiling to give the rooms more height, and added curtain panels in a  “Granny Chic” pattern (large florals pattern on a taupe background).

I hope I’ve shown you how making a few inexpensive changes to a space that you plan on renovating later will give you the patience to wait until the time is right to do your project, rather than rushing in right away.  Sometimes you need to listen to what your house wants you to do before you tackle the big projects.

Only a couple of spaces left to show you!


How To Transform Your Powder Room Into A Must-See Space


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This is technically part of the Before & After Series, however, there are no “before” pictures.

I think powder rooms may be one of my favorite spaces to transform.  This is a space that most likely every guest in your home will eventually see, and they will experience it alone. They will take their time in there and check out the space as they see fit.

 This is why if you are having a party, make sure your powder room is the cleanest room in the house! They are looking…

If guests love it, they will let you know. How many times have you returned to the table at a restaurant and told your friends, “You must go see the restroom”? I know this phrase is overused, but it is so true– The Powder Room is a jewel box and you can do designs in there you wouldn’t do in any other room.  A small space where you can take a design risk.


Sorry, no photos available, but here’s a little imagery for you…

Our powder room was painted by the previous owner a dark brown, including the ceiling. The previous owner had changed the light fixture and mirror, to “update” the space, but the sink and toilet remained as they were originally in 1994.

I decided we needed to use the sink and toilet in this room as a jumping-off point, even with their shiny brass hardware.  Remember, we are updating this house on a tight budget.  I am really embracing the “Granny Chic” movement lately, so  I chose to wrap the room in a metallic floral wallpaper from York Wallcoverings.  The metallic sheen updates what some might consider to be an old-fashioned pattern.  We pulled a peach color from the flowers and painted the ceiling, trim and door in Benjamin Moore’s Perky Peach, in their Advanced line with a high gloss finish.

 We swapped out the light fixture for something more appropriate. The one that was in there was something you would find at a big box store.  This is the light we chose:

After adding a mirror, with a shiny gold frame, but with an updated shape the room really was looking elegant and updated. We used this mirror, but not with the double frame–we did not have the room for that since we were working around the existing faucet.

 When I complete a project, I know I am happy with it, but sometimes I wonder–“what will others think”…”is it too old fashioned”…will future buyers think “this room needs to updated”, etc.


When you have a patterned wallpaper, such as this, finding the right artwork can be challenging.  I love how this 3-D shadow box with gold butterflies works in this space.

As many of you know, we have a 14 year old cockapoo, who has discovered the magic of tissue paper on a roll.  We cannot put a roll of paper on any of the holders in our bathrooms because she is obsessed with it and will pull it off.  After we wallpapered this room, I decided to not put up the tissue paper holder because we would never use it, and then guests just think we are lazy by not putting it on, so they do it for us, and the dog notices, and well, you get it.  In this bathroom, I’ve hidden the roll, but of course for parties, I try to help the guests out with a little note so they aren’t stranded…

After having friends here at the house during the holidays, I am convinced the design does not scream “dated”.  Not only were guests gushing about it, but they were in there taking pictures.  Of my powder room.  I think this room has passed “The Test”.

Are you brave enough to follow your heart and do something a little different? Push your boundaries? Or do you need someone to push you outside your comfort zone? If so, give us a call and we will make your powder room swoon-worthy!


Designer Showhouse Reveal!


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I was looking back at old blog posts and I realized that I never shared photos on the blog of the showhouse I designed in 2014! I am not sure how I managed to miss doing this.  The Ware Mansion Designer Showhouse was located in Chester County, PA and we had just moved to the Harrisburg, PA area, so it was not a local project, but it was very enjoyable.  At that time, I did not want to reveal photos of the space while the show was running.  Click here to see the original post about the space when it was finished, and how pictures were revealed at that time. Click here a another link to a post that was written during the process, when we were moving furniture and accessories in to the space. And another post regarding the painting can be found here and here.

I thought it would be fun to finally share these with you.  This is still a space that I love to revisit through photos.  The room was filled with such wonderful light that it just made me happy.  The design was the Master Suite, which included a bedroom with a sitting area and fireplace, a dressing room and a small full bathroom.

Please Enjoy these photos that were taken by Donovan Witmer.

The Master Bedroom was painted a gorgeous color by Benjamin Moore, Pigeon Gray.  I fondly call this Gravender, because depending on who was looking at the room it was either Gray or Lavender.  The dresser was a vintage faux bamboo piece that was painted in a high gloss finish. The mirror is vintage, as are some of the accessories in the room.  The wallpaper in all three spaces is from York Wallcoverings.


The dressing room was painted in Slip, another Benjamin Moore color that I love. The chandelier is vintage.  The island was custom made for the space.  I loved the wallpaper pattern that you see in the frames.  This was a great way to incorporate that pattern in this space.

The wallpaper is an oversized damask pattern with a metallic finish by York Wallcoverings, from a Ronald Redding collection.  This space was being paid for by the client, so costs were a strong consideration on all the selections for the tile, shower, hardware, etc.  Everyone was pleased with how this turned out and it came in well within a target budget.  Although I will admit, I was never given the target budget–I was just asked to keep costs down, and give my pricing to the client for approval.

There is Big News for 2018, stay tuned for the big announcement!


Before & After: Master Bedroom; Clever Ideas How to Add Instant Luxe


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Time for another installment of the Before & After Series.

Here’s the background….We moved into this house a little more than a year ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Lots of paint, wallpaper, artwork, and window treatments make a huge difference. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we purchased the house.


I’m not a practitioner of Feng-Shui but I do believe in doing “what feels right”.  The layout of this room bothered me from the first time I saw it when we toured the house. Typically I am not bothered by the way someone else chooses how to arrange their own rooms, but I know how influenced buyers can be by seeing how the former homeowner has chosen to live.  Remember, just because the person before you made one choice, you do not need to arrange your room the same way.

When it comes to bedrooms, I feel that it is important to have the bed be the featured piece in a bedroom.  The way this room was laid out before, when you entered the room you walked in to the side of the bed.   I like the bed to be facing the door when you enter the room, if possible.  Or at least be able to see as much of the headboard as possible from the door.


What we did:

I feel that bedrooms need to be a calming space where you go to retreat each night.  I knew this room needed to be wallpapered in a soft pattern.  I ordered a few samples of different papers, taped them up, and made a decision. The colors are taupes with a little metallic gold in it.  Can you see the gold in the pictures below?

We ordered an upholstered bed.  I made the decision to not purchase anything too expensive, so this bed was found online from Home Decorators, and it was such a deal! I was able to add some accents in blush, nothing too overwhelming, just enough to give the room a slight tilt towards the feminine side.  The ceiling and tray area are painted Edgecomb Gray, by Benjamin Moore.  We swapped out the dark ceiling fan for a white updated model.  We did not hang any artwork on the walls, just a mirror above the bed.  I feel that the wallpaper alone is the artwork. I love this room, it is the perfect place to end each day.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Healthy New Year!

Here’s to a great 2018.