Friday, July 22, 2011

More Florida House

OK, what would you do with this nook?  Nooks can be awkward.  Dumping grounds for odd bits.  Most times when I see a nook, it has a bunch of dusty dried flowers, or a bust of David. I once saw a huge nook and it had a real carousel horse in it.  I am thinking because this house has a bit of a Spanish influence, that I may try to find an old Virgin Mary statue to put there.  Keep my Mother in Law happy.  
The dining room is going to house a large futon/bench that will serve at a dining bench and also an extra bed, because I think we're getting company.
One of my favourite parts of the house is the staircase.  I love the arch at the top and the wide tiled window sils.  For sure, my shell collection is going to have some good places to be displayed.  Mr. Raz is already calling for a more sparse, clutter free environment.  HAH!   Not likely.
 Living room into kitchen...real estate photo

 Dining into kitchen.
Dining room.  That door leads to a screened in porch.  We hope to enclose that to create a sunroom/sleeping porch because this house has only 2 bedrooms and I think we may have lots of company.

The Jungle.  It really feels like the rain forest back here.  There are MANY lizards that jump around here, which spook me a little bit............I keep thinking I hear a snake....of which I am told they are Black Snakes but harmless.  I am a little panicky about snakes, poisonous or not.......I have been known to scream at a sighting....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This is it!

Greetings from Florida where the weather is STINKING hot, but tropical is always OK with me. Maybe because I was born in Nairobi, I enjoy a steamy climate.  And I am so Over-the-Moon excited because we just heard that our offer on a house has been accepted.  As JACQUELINE said to me in her comment a week ago...The House Picks You.  And this one certainly did.  Since last August, when we decided to sell the cottage, I have been obsessively perusing for homes in the St. Petersburg area, close to The Raz Man's Clearwater Office.  Since this was to be a second home base, the budget wasn't huge, nor the requirements for square footage. We were also very fortunate that the house prices in Florida are SO good, due to the awful financial crisis. The sq footage of both our Ontario house and this one combined is less than 3000 sq feet, but the fact that many people are losing homes is not lost on me. No one should lose their home, that's just awful. St. Petersburg is full of historic homes, many reflection the Northern Colonial styles and Bungalows.  Beautiful houses.  I liked so many houses, and we even made an offer on one, which fell through.  2 weeks ago, unable to find the right home, I moved the search 3 blocks West.  To an equally nice area, just West of a busy street.  Better value, 1/2 the property taxes.  And I spotted this house.  For the first time since my search, this one REALLY spoke to me.  Instant LOVE.

Since our trip was a few weeks off, I checked the status of this house every day for nearly 3 weeks.  When the agent set up the appointments for yesterday,  I was sure it would be sold.  But it wasn't.  The minute I walked in, I told the agent we didn't need to see anything else.  But we did.  The entire time we viewed the next 4 houses, I crossed my fingers that they would show "like a dog with fleas" and the Raz Man wouldn't love any of them.  And he didn't.  And we made an offer.  And they accepted.

This house was built in 1936 in the Monterey Style.  It is built Adobe style with cement block and stucco with lovely large window sills, but typical of a Monterey Style home, it has a narrow covered porch upstairs and downstairs and on the side, designed to provide shade.  It is 1600 sq feet, so not a huge house, but lots of room.  Also typical of a Monterey house are the white walls, dark floors and door with glass knobs.  It is a bit quirky. For instance, at the rear, it has  parking pad and no back yard.  The side has a small rectangular garden off the side porch and the front yard has a few feet of grass and then a large fenced front yard set back from the street.  So the front door is hidden behind the fence.

The selling point for me, besides the gorgeous redone house, is the garden.  It has brick terraces and pathways of old brick, and lush tropical plantings. We do plan to add a very linear pool on the one side and create the entrance on the other side. 
Living room
To me, the beauty of this house is the fact that the furnishings will NOT make this house.  We plan only a white sectional sofa, table and some simple dining chairs.  Other than books and art, it needs nothing.  It needs to be simple. We do plan to rent it out also, so a simple fresh decor will be very suitable.
My dream kitchen (although no gas stove)
 This house had a complete hold over me from my first Internet viewing. It defintelt CHOSE ME.
Master bedroom.  Smaller than it looks. Doors to balcony and a fireplace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Flown By

It's been nearly a week since my last post, so this journal of sorts is clearly out of date.! The past week has been Flown By and was crazy full of activity and the weather has been stinking hot.  Low 90's expected today!.  Last weekend we attended a couple of parties, one was the year end gathering of the Raz Man's Hockey Team, which is always interesting because there seems to always be a new round of Hockey Wives and Girlfriends.....younger wives for sure, which make me the Old Goat....not that I care, it's just interesting hearing the stories of blending 6 children and multiple houses and then there was the story of the 5 ex's.........makes me happy for my Simple Life.  Also a Birthday Dinner at my friend Chickie's house.  My brother came from NY, and he carted my Mum all over town for two days, which she loved.  She was so tired she was falling asleep at dinner on Sunday.  This week, I am madly scrambling to get my work done because we are leaving for Florida tomorrow to fight over  buy a house.  I found my dream house and it's not the Raz Man's # 1.  So the power struggle will be interesting.........
I have to leave my house well organized as my sister is moving in here with her dog for a bit.  Her house closes before her new house does, so there's a gap.......So her dog will be living with my Hannah Cat which will be interesting.   
 Will report next week on the House Front....or maybe from Florida if I get my way.............
When you open this the leg made me jump

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No Wussies

See this lovely setting.  The pretty pond that has a family of swans, and fish and red winged blackbirds chirping loudly.  See that patch of grass which is at the bottom of the hill.  You might think it the perfect spot for a picnic on a summers evening.  You would be wrong.  It's a war zone. Home to Summer Boot Camp.  AKA Kick your butt into shape camp. 15 women, 1 man.  No wussies allowed.  I started on Tuesday.  I was forced to run (uphill), climb hills, jumping jack, lift weight bars, sit up (and over) and basically work myself to exhaustion in the heat of summer. You have to do EVERYTHING.  NO EXCUSES.  Even the ducks and geese are afraid to disobey orders.

Yesterday the instructor called to see how I was feeling.  Pretending it was a kindly follow up call, Commander Marcella was merely checking for insurance purposes that I was still alive.

I was pretty smug yesterday.  Hardly hurt at all.  This morning DIFFERENT STORY.  Lifting my arm to put on deodorant felt like wrenching it.  I groan with every movement.  Bending to place paper in the shredder is a task.  I need to move everything to the top of my desk. I feel EVERY muscle in my body has been.

Tonight I have to report for DUTY once again.  If you would like to SAVE me, drop by my house around 7:15, with any excuse you can muster to drag me away.............HELP ME PLEASE..........

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Staged Home

Adding a little interest and sparkle

The living area

The old bench and leaning art and windows give a loft like feel

I've been busy staging a 2 bedroom Live/Work Condo/Townhome for sale.  This home has 400 sq feet of commercial space on the ground level with separate parking and entrance.

The first step in staging a home is knowing your market. The target market for this home is a self employed young professional.  An Accountant, Psychologist, Lawyer, Interior Designer etc. Young, because it is a tall house, lots of stairs and not suitable for young children and pets.  I wanted to create a young, urban vibe, so I staged it in a Loft Style.  A few antique pieces, large art, some old windows leaning against a wall.  We didn't furnish the entire house.  Just added pieces to "suggest" a layout. 

The living room is a living/dining combo, and has a bit of an awkward layout.  I looked at previous listings and they show the space NOT being used to it's advantage. I wanted to show buyers how their furniture could be laid out to make good use of the space.  The TV is usually the first thing buyers are concerned about fitting into a living/family room combo.  By placing the long antique bench along the one wall, this presents the impression that the TV can fit there nicely.  It is easy now to picture the TV on this wall without having to ugly up the room by placing a large TV.  The other issue is the kitchen has plenty of space for a large dining table, and most people would dine in there, however, should a buyer wish to have a more formal dining space, I created a "dining area" at one end of the living room.  Instead of dressing it for dining, I used 2 interesting chairs and a large old table, perfect for creating the "impression" of a dining room, but also a great place to have a work area for a laptop. (remember we are targeting a young business owner who needs a place to throw his/her work in the living room.)

So essentially what I have done is.
  • Added a few interesting furnishings to add PERSONALITY
  • "SUGGESTED" where the TV can go
  • Created the "IMPRESSION" of a dining room, where there really isn't one.
  • Gave it a bit of a LOFT feeling with some old worn pieces.
  • Emphasized the NEW with perfectly painted walls, polished floors, windows and bathrooms.
  • Created a sitting and dining space OUTDOORS.
  • Added good ART to make it look more upscale 
  • Created SPACE by NOT adding too much (no sofa but is clear where it can go)
What I have done goes against most "STAGING" rules.  When I stage a home, I like to add a personality to the place. I like to give it a LOOK. I dress it for the buyer I believe (and the agent) is going to want to live there. This house is in a niche and limited market, it needs and EDGE.

Main entrance.  Antique bench with large vibrant art in the small entry

I added a large desk and two armchairs to create a desk area, but also to suggest that this area could be used for dining.
A tray with wine suggests "entertaining"

A simple scheme using white, grey/taupe and art and a few accessories

This is my Felt Art piece "White on White" It worked well on this wall

And a few accessories to create a little "wow factor"

The deck was dressed with a pair of old shutters to give it personality and bright pillows.  We want to create a welcoming area to entertain and dine.  This terrace is off the 2nd floor living room.  Since there is no yard, it was key to make this outdoor space really work.  The railing is lined with flower pots.
A couple of Muskoka chairs and a Dash and Albert Outdoor rug

The entire house has a bit of a masculine feel.  In the bedrooms I used pretty linens from Pine Cone Hill and Ralph Lauren to balance the grey walls.  And I always use white down Blankets on the beds.
You only need the bare minimum.  Bed, nightstand., lamp

2nd bedroom.  It was stark until I added the blue pillow

All the art and Bits are leaning.  Not one hole in the walls to repair.

The large deck is right outside these patio doors.  I used the red outside and in to link the 2 spaces.

And if you think the furnishings look familiar, you are correct.  Some is from the Razmataz shop, and the rest is from my cottage (waiting for it's new home).  Rather than put it in storage, I backed the truck up and unloaded it here to stage this house.  I always tell homeowners to scrounge staging pieces from wherever they can.  For instance if you have miserable dining chairs, ask a relative to switch their better ones for a little while.  BORROW, don't BUY?

So, I was most excited for the agent to see it today after the carpets were cleaned, and the painter left and all my work was completed.  And to plant the FOR SALE sign. You can imagine my HORROR as I pulled into the complex this afternoon to see that the same house 5 houses down was having a FOR SALE SIGN installed on their lawn.  I haven't seen inside it.  My staged house is priced 5K higher.  We shall see if our STAGING works.


Is there anything more delightful than finding a birds nest?.  Reaching up to have a peek and spotting a flash of blue or white or brown speckles.
I was trimming the roses on the arbor on Sunday and discovered a mama robin had made her nest right beside the gate. Hidden in the clematis.
 I peeked inside and there was one egg.
 Monday there were two..................................
 And this morning I stood on a chair in my pajamas and saw there were three.
 The sheer beauty of nature................delighted me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Staging

My sofa
Hello.  I hope you are all doing well and nicely relaxed from your Canada Day and Independence Day Celebrations.  These photos are of my living room.  I love my Bits as I call them.  Collections, gifts, travel souvenirs, layers of Stuff.  My home is kinda packed with things.  
It represents the exact opposite of Home Staging.  When staging a home, you remove all the personal items, the clutter, the visual distractions and favourite Bits in order to create a clean slate.  Blank Canvas.
I've been busy staging a home for sale.  Giving it just enough personality to capture someone's attention,  but not enough to overwhelm.  The painting will be finished today, and carpets and windows cleaned tomorrow.  I am going to post pictures on Thursday.  Do you think Home Staging works?

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Lazy Song

Do you know that Bruno Mars song Lazy? goes "Today I don't feel like doing anything".  That was me yesterday.  I tried to see what I could accomplish laying in the hammock.  With my camera.
I must say I love close ups, so I got as close to my subjects as possible without having to move.  Behold..a tour of my garden from the hammock.