How to Get the Most Money from the Sale of Your House

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize the financial reward when selling their home. But, how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to insuring you get the highest price possible.






1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house. (see chart)


Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

In a recent article on, they gave this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”


2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. Yet, studies have shown that typically homes sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Recent research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”


Bottom Line

Price it at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house.

10 Great Painting Tips

By  – November 15th, 2015 11:23 am

Most of us dread room painting. It’s monotonous, messy, and time-consuming. If there ever was an activity that could benefit from thoughtful tips and techniques that make it easier, neater, and more all-around pleasant, it would be room painting. Here is a small collection of painting tips that we like. They mostly apply to house painting, but many of them can be applied to all sorts of domestic and hobby painting.

We’d love to hear what some of your favorite painting tips are. Please leave them in the comments below.



Instead of using painter’s tape to mask off above baseboards and other areas you don’t want painted when painting trim, use a so-called paint shield. They are inexpensive and come in various styles and sizes. You can also use a wide putty knife, a dust pan, even a piece of cardboard with a straight edge. The shield is especially useful when painting baseboard on a carpeted floor.
Link: How to Paint Trim



To raise up chairs and other pieces of relatively light furniture for painting, drill some temporary screws into the bottom. Just be careful not to split the wood. Raising the piece up will keep it from sticking to whatever you are painting it on and will raise it up a little higher for easier access. Link: Paint a Room Without Making a Mess!



To give you a better, neater way of wiping paint off of your brush (so you don’t get it in the gutter of the lid and down the sides), create a drip stopper/squeegee in the middle of the can. You can use a bent coat hanger for this or even just put a taut rubber band around the can and across the center of the top. Link: Paint a Room Without Making a Mess!



To prevent paint from pooling in the gutters of your cans (and spattering everywhere when you tap the lid shut), sink a few drain holes in the gutter with a nail or ice pick. Link: Jimmy DiResta’s Jimmy Tips: Paint Brushes & Cans



Trim the crusty, splayed edges of your rollers at a tapered angle to prevent the edge of the brush from creating tracks as you paint. Link: Secrets to Using and Preserving Paint Brushes and Rollers



For a quick and clean masking material for door knobs and fixtures, use aluminum foil to cover them. Link: Aluminum Foil Paint Protector



Aluminum foil can also be used to cover the inside pan (extending over the edges) of a paint tray so that clean-up is little more than balling up the foil. Cover will several layers in case the foil tears.
Link: Lowes Fix in Six



You can make a quick and handy paint receptacle and brush holder out of a plastic milk jug. Link: My Home Look Book



You can take your favorite acrylic paint, in any color, and turn it into fabric paint simple by adding Textile Medium to it that you can get in any craft store. Link: 10 Painting Tips Tricks You Never Knew



When cleaning brushes, you never want to let the brush rest on the bottom of the solvent container. An easy way to create a brush holder that suspends the brush to the desired height in the solvent is simply by using a splayed-out binder clip in the manner seen here. Link: Secrets to Using and Preserving Paint Brushes and Rollers

Blank Walls No More: Quick Wall Decor Ideas To Try this Weekend


Theo’s Small, Streamlined Apartment in Hell’s Kitchen

Do you have a blank wall in your home you’re still struggling to fill thanks to budget or time constraints? Are you entertaining in your home this holiday season and are looking for fresh decor ideas to update your walls? These eight ideas are cute and clever — but most of all won’t take up a lot of time or money to complete.

1. Try your hand at DIY

You might think you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, but there are actually any number of lovely art pieces you can hand-craft – just check out our (big!) list below. Depending on the materials and surface you paint on, you could have a colorful wall decor element in a pretty quick time.


Charles’ Cozy, Family-Inspired Chicago Condo

2. Affordably frame found memories

Have you collected anything from your travels that could be elevated to another level when framed and grouped together on the wall? Charles (shown above) bought IKEA frames for matchbook covers for a cute wall arrangement.


Emma & Cody’s Light, Bright Renovated Australian Home

3. Use fashion

Who says you have to use art to decorate your walls when you’ve got good-looking stuff hiding away in closets and drawers? From colorful robes to stately groupings of hats or boot collections, there are a lot of ways to incorporate fashion into your wall decor; find a way that works with your home’s style.


Laura & Bob’s Mix-n-Match Open House

4. Use patterned fabric

Forget framing big art or trying to hang a big heavy canvas on to your walls, lightweight fabric and wall hangings you buy or DIY can be an easy way to get a lot of color or pattern to your wall easily.


Hannah and Dave’s Happy Vintage Home

5. Use temporary wall patterns

Even if you rent, there are ways you can create decor right on your wall — like say with temporary wall decals or wallpaper — and you can do so in a way that is quick, doesn’t take up a lot of space but still makes a big visual impact. The triangle decals from Hannah and Dave’s home above were found at Urban Walls.


Ruth & Phil’s Smartly Designed, Eco-Friendly Family Home

6. Let the kids’ artwork shine

Find easy ways to display artwork from kids — like hanging clipboards in a grid on a wall — so you can update the look of your walls and show off their colorful and imaginative compositions.


Jillian’s Snug and Serene Studio

7. Use groups of maps

While just about anything can be hung casually on a wall and look alright if it was hung with intention, there’s something so pin up-able about maps. You can find them in thrift stores, in books — from just about anywhere — and when hung up together they make a delightful collection.


Amy’s Vintage Jewel Tone Apartment

8. Craft color

Though fiber art has more than had its day in the spotlight, the materials to make string and fiber art are still very affordable, the projects relatively easy and the results textural, colorful and impressive. In Amy’s home above, the colorful string art above the couch “was quick to make, budget friendly (under $10), and makes a big impact.”

15 Simple Ways To Deal With An Annoyingly Small Bathroom

You can do this!

You’ve got to get creative to make a small bathroom sparkle. It’s a matter of doing more with less, and finding ways to sneak in extra storage without adding clutter.

While this sounds like a challenge too great for even the space-saving pros among us, it can be done. All you have to do is get organized down to the very detail and put your imagination to the test.

To get you started, check out some of our small space solutions below.

1. Eliminate clutter on your shelves with baskets and bins.



2. Mount mason jars to manage the small stuff.



3. Add hanging storage to the side of your sink.


4. Install a sneaky shelf above the doorway.



5. Add magnets to the inside of your medicine cabinet to keep mini items in check.



6. Don’t forget about the space over your toilet.



7. Hang hooks on your shower curtain rod to keep the little things within reach.



8. Keep your counters clear by maximizing drawer space.



9. No wall space for a toilet paper holder? Using a hanging rack instead.



10. Add small shelving over your sink.



11. Use a mini bar cart for tiered, moveable storage.



12. Make the most of your medicine cabinet by adding additional shelves and using organizing containers.



13. Oversized jars keep beauty products organized in style.



14. Hang shoe racks on your door to arrange the bulkier things.



15. No cabinets under your sink? Build small standing shelves.






10 Ways to Add Personality to Your Kitchen

By Joanna Simmons, Houzz Contributor

One of our favorite spaces in the house, the kitchen can also be one of the most predictable. After all, it typically contains some countertop space, a few appliances and lots of storage. But a little imagination and some inventive styling can softly steer this room toward a look filled with personality. These smart details — some of them integral to the design, some added later — bring a fresh, original feel to a much-loved room.


Eclectic Kitchen by London Cabinets & Cabinetry British Standard by Plain English

1. Add a copper sink. Copper is a hugely popular material, with a long history of use in the kitchen. Often it shows up in pots and pans, but here it’s been fashioned into a sink. More humble than marble and nicely artisanal in feel, a copper sink is an unusual, stylish choice.


Traditional Spaces by London Cabinets & Cabinetry British Standard by Plain English

2. Seek out alternative handles. Metal, wood and ceramic are familiar choices for handles and knobs, so going with something a little more unusual will help give your kitchen its own style. Here, leather strap handles blend beautifully with the wooden counter, but it’s the element of surprise they carry that really catches the eye.

Find Trendy New Cabinet and Drawer Pulls on Houzz


Contemporary Kitchen by London Interior Designers & Decorators Blakes London

3. Light it up. Kitchens often feature integrated spotlights and task lighting, but adding a more decorative table lamp to a work surface or sideboard can instantly give a very different feel to the room.


Scandinavian Spaces by South West Kitchen Designers & Remodelers Sustainable Kitchens

4. Soften stainless steel. Stainless steel is a great material for a countertop and much-used in professional kitchens. This kitchen shows how it can be made to look soft and neat rather than seriously industrial when framed by the plywood trim of the cabinets.


Midcentury Kitchen by Other Metro Interior Designers & Decorators Designed Space Interior Exterior

5. Hang some art. In the quest to make a kitchen practical, we sometimes forget to style it like any other room. Hanging art in the kitchen, close to units and equipment, extends the style found in other areas of the house into this very practical space. The framed painting seen here beautifully matches the cabinets and backsplash.

Need New Artwork? Find Something on Houzz

Transitional Kitchen by East Anglia Kitchen Designers & Remodelers Humphrey Munson

6. Make it mirrored. Antiqued mirrored glass brings a softly reflective element to a room and makes a wonderful material for a backsplash. It’s practical and easy to wipe down, but it also boosts the feeling of space and creates depth.


Traditional Kitchen by London Cabinets & Cabinetry British Standard by Plain English

7. Work with paint. A kitchen with paneled walls is the perfect canvas for a creative paint job. Use paint to create the illusion of a backsplash running around the entire room. You can even include the lower cabinets, as shown here.


Modern Kitchen by London Photographers David Churchill – Architectural Photographer

8. Create a cool toe kick. Toe kicks can be something of an afterthought and generally match the cabinets above, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here, a stainless steel toe kick creates a reflective, almost glowing strip at the base of these wooden units. It’s a nice, subtle contrast of materials.

transitional-kitchen (1)

Transitional Kitchen by London Interior Designers & Decorators Sigmar

9. Add a vintage piece. Teaming up contemporary and vintage pieces is a mix-and-match approach that works brilliantly in other rooms but isn’t often used in the kitchen. Hanging a vintage display case to supplement built-in contemporary cabinets adds loads of personality, not to mention lovely visual variety.

transitional-kitchen (2)

Transitional Kitchen by London Interior Designers & Decorators Blakes London

10. Integrate herb storage. Pots of fresh herbs cluttering up your windowsill? Who says they always have to be kept there? A clever alternative is to design an integrated trough into a counter where the herbs can neatly sit. A simple open rack, hung on the wall, is another good alternative.

15 Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials
Revamp Your Kitchen With New Kitchen Lighting
60 Kitchens With Stunning Views
Find New Kitchen Tile for Your Renovation

14 Houseplants For People With No Green Thumb

1. Spider Plant

spiderLofilolo / Getty Images

The name may plant horrible images in your head, but spider plants are actually known to be one of the most adaptable and easy to care for houseplants! Medium light, moist soil, and comfortable room temperatures will keep them alive in your dwelling.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says yes. catsdogs


2. Philodendron

philoRobertcicchetti / Getty Images

This tropical-looking houseplant comes in many different sizes, shapes, and coloring, including the popular split-leaf version (pictured). Although there are many kinds, one thing they have in common is their ability to survive neglect…you mean, mean plant parent.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


3. Boston Fern

boston-fernSdbower / Getty Images

This low-maintenance plant is a good choice for people who want a no-fuss, lush look in their home. Boston ferns mainly need a cool place, with high humidity and indirect light. If you can manage those three basic needs, you’ll have a green friend for years.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says yes. catsdogs


4. Jade Plant

jadeIgor Vesninov / Getty Images

Sometimes called the money plant, this cute succulent doesn’t ask for much. It’s pretty low maintenance, just make sure not to drown it. A good method to use is to water your jade when the top of the soil feels dry.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


5. Snake Plant



Jodi Samsel / Getty Images

This plant is perfect for the forgetful type because it can survive neglect for weeks at a time. Not only is it pretty, but it can benefit your health too since it improves indoor air quality. If the snake plant had a motto it might be “you’re welcome.”

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


6. Bromeliad


Taseffski / Getty Images

This cousin of the pineapple may look like a diva, but it’s actually pretty easy to handle. It can thrive in a wide temperature range (between 55 degrees and 80 degrees) and is tolerant of drought, so if you only remember to water it once a week, you’ll still be good.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASCPA says no. catsdogs-no


7. Sweetheart Hoya


photos777 / Thinkstock

This houseplant is popular because of the pretty blooms and nice fragrance it can produce. It doesn’t require much sun and because of the large, succulent leaves you don’t need to water it that often. The blooms aren’t guaranteed, but can be coaxed with the right amount of sunlight. But don’t worry, if you can’t get the blooms to come, you’ll still fall in love with the heart-shaped leaves.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says yes. catsdogs


8. Dracaena


motorolka / Getty Images

If you’re looking to spruce up your floorspace, look to this easy-to-handle plant. All you have to do is keep it dry and somewhere on the warm side, as they do best in temperatures between 65 degrees and 80 degrees. Dracaena also like plenty of light, so a sunny window spot will be handy too.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


9. Kalanchoe


Hawk111 / Getty Images

Pretty on the outside, tough on the inside, the kalanchoe is a great choice if you want a little more color in your home. Because they are succulents, they are OK to go a little dry between watering. It also works well with dry climates and temperature changes, so it should be able to adapt to the ficklest of homeowners.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


10. Pothos


Pekka Nikonen / Getty Images


An undemanding plant, the pothos is considered a good beginner plant. They’re also ideal plants for bathrooms or offices because they can tolerate low light. How they’ll feel about living in a bathroom is up for debate.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


11. Echeveria


Kittimages / Getty Images

This is one of the prettiest succulent plants because of the bloom-like shape it grows in. There are many varieties and colors, so you can easily find the right one to go with a specific color scheme in your own home if you have one. Be sure to give these guys plenty of constant light and keep the soil moist (not flooded) to keep ‘em healthy.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says yes. catsdogs


12. Aloe


Pandpstock001 / Getty Images

Sure, you’re probably familiar with its medicinal properties, but aloe plants make wonderful home décor too. It’s another succulent, so it does well in dry conditions. The key to making your aloe thrive is making sure it gets plenty of indirect sunlight.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


13. English Ivy

english ivy

Jill Chen / Getty Images

This romantic plant is a wonderful climber, so they’re great for hanging indoors. If you wanna get really fancy, pot it with a stake to watch climbing commence…over time anyway. Moist soil and cool temperatures will make your ivy thrive.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no

14. Shamrock Plant


Tanuki Photography / Getty Images

This plant will not only bring luck into your home, but also some bright green coloring and even pops of white with its little flowers. These guys are easy to care for, but they have a few specific requirements like cool temperatures and lots of fresh air.

Is it safe for cats and dogs? The ASPCA says no. catsdogs-no


Tabletop Ideas For October Entertaining

October 19, 2015

It’s Monday, a new week and new inspiration to be found! This is Anke and I’m back with a new theme for you this month, today with an autumnal table for you. Let’s celebrate the golden month of October with warm colors, oak wood, soul food and beautiful flowers. Before I develop my ideas for table decor I usually begin with my current color crush. Lately I’m falling for ochre yellow, which is a bit brownish, like curry powder. I enjoy viewing the autumn forest so much and have noticed lots of ochre this year. Do you have a favorite color at the moment? What is it?


When it comes to eating, my go-to food at this time of the year is a hot and creamy soup. In my photos you’ll see a pureed pumpkin potato soup garnished with roasted seeds, fresh parsley and coarsely grounded black pepper. If desired my guests can help themselves with french farmhouse bread, homemade herb butter and fleur de sel (which you’ll always find on my table as I am a little addicted to it). I also like the idea of serving soup in small espresso cups for an amuse-bouche. I found a non-alcoholic apple quince apéritif in our local shop the other day. A perfect fit for autumn cuisine.


My table decoration combines rustic elements such as cutting boards, small butter knives with a wooden grip, and clear simple design such as my plain white tableware and thick tea candle glasses. I added the little oak houses because I like playful details and autumn reminds me of how cozy it is at home.


The four cotton napkins were formerly two aprons. I purchased them at a gorgeous store in Amsterdam when I was out shopping for napkins. I’m not the most talented sewer but I can manage on small projects such as for napkins, pillowcases and anything else that only requires me to sew in a straight line!


I hand cut some petite branches with leaves using paper with the “Autumn” banner as an template. Paper will always be my favorite craft material, you too? The vases on my table are filled with loosely arranged huge mums (Japanese Chrysanthemum), protea, dahlias and two different kind of eucalyptus.


I hope that you have enjoyed this autumn-themed setting. I also want to thank you so much for your kind comments on the first article of my column here on decor8. If you have any questions about a recipe, please you contact me through email which you can find on my blog. Have a comfy autumn everyone and see you again in November! – Anke

(text, styling, photography: Anke Illner /Text edits: Holly Becker)


Decorating Your Home’s Exterior for Halloween

It’s that time of the year again—time for hot cider, pumpkin picking, and welcoming little ghosts and goblins to your doorstep for treats. Why not make your house the coolest on the block with some truly spectacular—or spooktacular—Halloween decorations? You can choose to present a haunting display or simply stick to a seasonal theme as a tribute to autumn in general. If you’re still looking for inspiration, here are some great ideas from The House Designers that will help you dress your home up for the month of October.


The Harvest Approach

A classic presentation of natural materials is a great option for anybody who wants to celebrate October for all that it is. With the growing season coming to an end, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get your hands on things like dried corn stalks, straw bales, and fresh pumpkins. You can ask around at local farms, livestock feed and supply stores, home improvement stores, and craft stores to get the materials you need.

Try stacking bales of straw or hay around on the edges of your entryway and in your yard, where they can help create a cute photo opportunity for trick-or-treaters. Lean dried bundles of wheat and corn stalks on either side of your door as well as around the bales, and punctuate the design with pumpkins in a variety of sizes. What you’ll have is a beautiful tribute to the season that isn’t too scary for younger visitors, but one that will still look spooky in the dark.


Flowery Decorations

October definitely isn’t spring, but there are still plenty of gorgeous floral options. Chrysanthemums are a great choice because they bloom in the fall and are generally low-maintenance, hardy plants that will overwinter year after year to keep adorning your home. Keep some mums in planters so you can move them around as you see fit, and try to stick to the natural colors—white, yellow, orange, red—that look great in autumn with the changing foliage.

If live flowers aren’t your thing, take a trip to your nearest craft and hobby store. You’ll find plenty of artificial blooms that you can pack up and reuse. Chances are you’ll be able to get synthetic mums, but even if you can’t, there are sure to be dried flower arrangements that will still get you excited. Even though you don’t have to take care of them like you would live plants, fall floral accents in boxes and garlands are just as beautiful, if not more so, because they have been carefully designed by decorating experts.


Get Carving

It’s a great crafty activity to do with friends and family and can help you dress up your front entry, so making jack-o-lanterns should be on your to-do list. Kids love to draw faces on their pumpkins even if an adult has to do the actual carving. Use safe carving tools to make sure there are no injuries that would take away from all the fun!

Get creative with your project. A variety of scary and silly faces on the stairs is a great way to invite trick-or-treaters to your door. You can also get a bunch of smaller pumpkins and carve individual letters into them to spell out a greeting. Use a drill to poke out little dots in the shape of letters to let light through and the process will be much faster.


It is Halloween, after all! If you love this holiday, let it show! You can set up a skeleton on a porch swing or sitting on a straw bale, or cover the façade of your home in giant spiders in artificial webs. For the arachnophobes among us, an empty web woven from thin cotton rope or even yarn will be plenty—just hang it across the front door or stretch it from the peak of your porch’s gable down one supporting column to create a cobweb look.

Skeletons, webs, spiders, witches, bats, ghosts, black cats—pick some of your favorites and go wild. Utilize every part of your property if you’re a devout celebrant of Halloween. You can hang bat cutouts and little fabric ghosts from your trees, and placing some decorations that are partially hidden in bushes or around corners will make people stop to look and admire your design scheme.


Enjoy the Season

Once the summer wanes, it seems like it’s only a short time before winter swoops in. That’s why we love to celebrate autumn. Whether you enjoy the natural beauty of the season or prefer the holidays by themselves, you can decorate your home to reflect your fondness.

As you decorate, keep safety in mind. Keep jack-o-lanterns with candles away from flammable materials, or just use flameless tealights in them instead. The walkway should be clear of anything that could be tripped over or somebody might get tangled up in, and make sure there aren’t any big surprises—like motion-activated sound effects or movements from decorations—near stairs, where somebody might jump back and fall. If you try to keep Halloween fun for everybody, your house will be a neighborhood favorite!

Protect Your Home from Radon

If you have recently bought or sold a house, you have probably heard of radon. This invisible, odorless and tasteless gas comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, and it rises through the ground and into the air. The air dissipates it enough that it is not harmful. But it also can seep into your home through cracks or holes in the foundation, where it becomes trapped and can become concentrated to unhealthy levels. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for more than 20,000 deaths a year.

Luckily, testing for excessive amounts of radon and alleviating the problem in your home is a simple process. You can purchase low-cost “do it yourself” tests or hire a qualified tester. If levels in your home are found to be high, a radon mitigation system can be installed, which is simply a vent pipe system and fan that pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it outside.

Radon levels can vary tremendously from home to home, and even in the same home from season to season. The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes have undetected high levels of radon. So if your home hasn’t been tested, it is probably a good idea to do so and make sure you are protected from this dangerous gas. Visit the EPA’s website at for a variety of publications and resources about radon.

Fact: Radon is heavy and collects in low areas. If you spend a lot of time in your basement, the EPA recommends you test your home for radon.

What Does Your Front Door Say About You?

We know that different colors evoke different emotions in people, but color experts say color can also be an indicator of your personality, even (or especially) on your front door.

“The front door is the focal point of the home,” says Debbie Zimmer of the Paint Quality Institute. “The color there sends a strong message – in the case of the front door, providing insight into how we view our home.”

Here is the message, according to the Institute, that you might be sending with your door of a different color:

Red – passion, vibrant and “full of life, energy and excitement”
Blue – sanctuary, calm, serenity, and relaxation
Green – health, safety, tranquility, and harmony
Black – power, sophistication, strength, and authority
Brown – warmth, stability and reliability (dark brown could signify desire for privacy or isolation)

If none of those colors work for you, also consider yellow (happiness, high energy), purple (dreamer, free spirit) or white (clean, organized). The best part is that if you try something and it just doesn’t work, changing the color is as easy as just painting over it.