Homes Reimagined

Quick Kitchen Fixes

Salt and Stone Kitchen Updates

Not ready to make the leap into a full kitchen remodel? Don’t let a tight budget stand in the way of a kitchen you can be proud of. We know not everyone is ready for that level of investment, however there are a few tricks we have up our sleeves to make small changes feel like big improvements. So, whether you are looking to fake a kitchen facelift or just add your touch to a kitchen, we have just what you need to get the job done.

A little paint can do a long way

One of the most expensive parts of a kitchen remodel can be new cabinets. Many homes have cabinets in excellent shape that can be restored to new heights with a little touch of paint. A dark and dingy kitchen can look model and fresh with a coat of white paint over your cabinets. Replacing a red accent wall with a calm and subtle yellow pastel can make a kitchen feel bigger. Never underestimate how a can of paint can completely transform a room.

Add accents that feel like art

Open shelving, removing cabinet doors or adding a shiplap wall can be both cost effective and stunning. If you have beautiful dishware and kitchen ware to show off, open shelving or the removal of cabinet doors is a fantastic choice allowing both your kitchen to feel less cluttered and your dishware becomes a centerpiece. Shiplap is a very popular way to create an accent wall with a natural feel. Both options, along with countless others are quick additions with big statements.

Let there be light

Replacing a beat-up fixture is an obvious way to revamp a room. A well-lit chandelier with a pop of color can make a space look inviting and updated. Pendants offer great light for cooking while adding a touch of flare. Don’t forget about your cabinets. Adding under cabinet lights is a small investment with a big impact.

Get creative

Hate your tile but cannot afford to replace it? Grab a paint brush and a complimentary can of paint and stencil on a pattern that gives your tile a fresh look. You can find a variety of stencils online and with a little elbow grease to prep, you can restyle your kitchen with this simple update. In the time it would take you to remove half your tile…you will be done with this gorgeous upgrade.

We could spend all day talking about back splash upgrades, window treatments and tile options, but we don’t want to keep you hear all day. These are just a few upgrades we wanted to share that can be done on a budget. Kitchen updates don’t have to be the price of an IVY league education. Just follow a few of these tips and start enjoying your personalized kitchen this weekend.

Home Renovations that Really Pay

Salt and Stone_Home Renovations

Are you considering the sale of your home? Are you looking to get as much money in that sale? Of course, you are! Who isn’t? We know certain renovations are needed for curb appeal and setting your home apart, but which ones really matter? Which ones are more likely to add to the price of your home? Below are 4 definite improvements to your home that you will see reflected in the sale price.

True Curb Appeal

It is amazing what an update to the landscaping in your front yard can do for a potential buyer. Replacing struggling plants or adding a new layer of fresh florals can lift a home’s curb appeal tremendously. It really is about first impressions and a small investment to upgrading the plants in front of your home can be the different between someone who stops to look and someone who keeps driving.

The Scariest Room – the Kitchen

When someone says kitchen updated, I think most people get nervous. The kitchen can be an expensive place to upgrade. A few minor fixes however can give a buyer the opportunity to move in and worry about big renovations later. Refinishing cabinets or adding lights can make a big impact. For more ideas, see our blog about kitchen updates on a budget. (Link)

Minor Bathroom Updates

With a few minor adjustments you can get a return on your investment averaging 102%. Remove outdated wallpaper and/or fix damaged walls and add a fresh coat of paint for a fresh feel someone can see themselves adding their touch to. Remove old shower doors to create the illusion of a larger space. Replace rusting or old lighting to give the room lighter and an updated look. These small changes can add up to big returns in your sale.

Updating Windows

With everyone attempting to be more conscious of the energy we use, replacing the windows can be a huge selling point to a prospective buyer. Older windows can increase heating and cooling costs a new owner may not want to deal with. New windows not only create a beautiful new accent to the home but this upgrade it more than just aesthetic and can save potential buyers money long term.

If you really want to up the wow factor you can consider bigger projects like building a back patio, major renovations to the bathroom or kitchen and flooring upgrades. These are all guaranteed to help real estate agents set your home at a premier price. For those looking to make a few minor upgrades to set there home slightly above the competition, we hope you find these tips useful.

Paint Like a Pro

Paint Like A Pro

Liven up those walls

We all have projects we need to get done and with cold weather upon us, we are now stuck inside staring our unfinished projects in the face. One easy to tackle project is painting. A big difference can be made with a few paint brushes and a gallon (or two) of paint. When considering a painting project, the first question that comes to mind is, do I do it myself, or do I hire a pro? This comes down to the scope of the job and your time/convenience. Depending on the size of the project, a pro can easily cost you between $600 - $3,000+. Making this a do it yourself job can not only save you money, but it is a pretty sweet workout to help with your upcoming New Years’ Resolutions.

Tips and Tricks to doing it yourself

  1. Let the weather be your guide. Being stuck indoors is a great excuse to tackle some projects in your home but be sure you are mindful of your need for fresh air. Choose a day to paint where you can open doors and/or windows so you can ventilate your home naturally without worrying about water getting in.
  2. Clean up. Be sure to clean walls, base boards, doors, etc wherever painting will be done. This will eliminate dirt, dust or hair being stuck in your newly painted project. All potential projects need to be dusted and cleaned with a towel or vacuum cleaner to remove any small particles or cobwebs. For kitchen painting, all greasy surfaces should be cleaned with the proper products (like Goo Gone) to ensure paint will spreads evenly.
  3. Smooth it out. Be sure to patch or repair any issues in the walls or doors. This will remove the possibility for any flaws in your finished project.
  4. Get the best of the best. Great work is completed with great tools. This goes for your brushes, rollers, tape and paint. A $3 plastic brush is going make it look like you smeared paint on the wall with a rake, and the bristles will fall out. Be sure to choose a paint that offers the best coverage – and will last a long time. It will not always be the cheapest, but it will apply easier, saving you time and you will be able to wash fingerprints off the wall without taking the paint with it.
  5. Ask for help if you need it. If new to painting, consult with your local paint supplier to determine which supplies and materials will work best for your project, especially if you are taking it on yourself. Be sure to ask about the correct type of paint for your project. For example, Matte color is the most common of interior wall paints and satin is most used for bathrooms and kitchen.

Mistakes to avoid

  1. Skipping prep time. We all know this won’t work. Prep is key…do we need to say more?
  2. Using masking tape instead of real painter’s tape. This will cause headaches for you once the paint is removed. Bleed is bound to happen and that means more work with touch-ups.
  3. Going without primer. Primer sets the tone for the entire job. No primer means more coats of paint and more work for you without the promise of a great finished product.
  4. Plunging your brush too far into the paint. This will equal splatters on the floor, drips down the wall and almost definitely frustration.
  5. Painting over wallpaper with water-based paint. Be sure to use an oil-based primer to avoid a reaction with the wallpaper glue.

Does all of this just seem like too much for you? Well, hiring a pro is always an option. Whenever hiring someone to do work on your home, be sure to do your research and gather estimates from several contractors. Once you have narrowed down your options, follow the guide below when selecting the final contractor for your home project.

  1. Does your contractor have insurance?
  2. Is your contractor licensed?
  3. Does your contractor have reference you can call?
  4. Is there a warranty on the services performed?
  5. Ask about additional costs that you could incur.

Once you select a contractor, be sure to share all your expectations clearly so there is no misunderstanding about the job at hand. The job will go much smoother if everyone is on the same page.

Whether you choose to make this a DIY project or a professional job, painting the interior of your home can add new life to your daily routine. Not to mention a new coat of paint can protect your walls from damage and offer repellent from dust and allergens. No matter your reason, we think it’s time to paint.

Holiday Table Decorating Tips

thanksgiving-table Blog_Salt and Stone

Spice up your holiday table with some decorating tips from the experts.

The holidays are now in full swing and we all starting to plan what we will be serving to our friends and family. As important as what we serve is what we serve our meals on. How will you decorate your edible masterpiece? Whether you want to include traditional Thanksgiving colors or opt for something unexpected, there is always something new to discover.

The ideas are endless. Just one quick search in Pinterest can easily overwhelm anyone looking for a little direction. So instead of giving you another list of possible options, we will be giving you tips to incorporate the holidays with your favorite year-round decor.

Add a cozy touch

The holidays are meant to be playful and relaxing, so add to the cheerful theme with whimsical accents like with holiday themed candlestick holders mixed in with traditional fall decor like pine cones and wooden accents.

Make your table green

Adding a nod to the great outdoors to your holiday table with rustic accents like branches, mismatched chairs and a craft paper as a table runner, so your guests can write what they’re thankful for at their seat. You can also incorporate pops of color with bunches of poppies and mums in your centerpiece, which will make your holiday table setting look fresh and organic, whether it’s inside or outside.  For an inexpensive accent, instead of pumpkins, add some apples into the mix.

Personalize dinner for your guests

Give your guests a memory to begin their meal by adding a Polaroid style photo to each place setting that’s unique to each guest. Not only does this create a fun opportunity for your guests to go down memory lane, but it also gives them a fun memento to take home.

Take your meal outdoors

Weather permitting, for a truly unique holiday meal, take things back a few notches with a picnic-style table—no chairs required. Grab your coziest blankets and pillows for your family and friends to relax on for a more intimate and casual meal. Pair some plaid napkins with plates matching your main decor colors to create a cohesive, rustic and holiday feel.

Play up simple elegance

Playing with bold napkin patterns or elegant napkin rings can make a simple place setting stand out. Try a red and white striped napkin, and an elegant white plate topped with a festive pomegranate.

Mix and Match

The best part of shopping is finding a real gem in the clearance section. Finding beautiful plates in clearance section can easily be matched with a bowls you had handed down from your grandmother. The key to a mix and match table is playing with color. A magnolia leaf garland laid down through the center and highlighted with persimmons makes for a festive seasonal arrangement.

Hopefully this sparks your creativity for your upcoming holiday party. Playing with small details can make a big impact on your holiday party. Just the right amount of sparkle or rustic accent can make a table go from an everyday dinner to holiday perfection.

Is a hard money loan right for you?

Live Salt and Stone_Hard Money Loan

What is a hard money loan? That may be your first question. In short, a hard money load is secured by real property and backed by individuals/investors, not banks. These are generally used for short-term real estate loans since they are based on the value of real property being used as collateral. The costs for these loans can vary and are negotiated between the lender and the borrower directly. But enough of the technical stuff. What you really want to know is could this be your key to your future in real estate investing.

Let’s begin with the pros of utilizing a hard money loan over a conventional bank loan.

Convenience – With a hard money loan, since you are working with lenders directly, you can expedite the loan terms in a matter of weeks as opposed to the months it can take to secure a conventional loan. Once there is an established relationship with the lender/investor, you can avoid the pain staking process of contracts being reviewed with a fine tooth comb. This allows lenders to move into these deals quicker and avoid missing great property opportunities.

Flexibility – Since these loans are not conventional loans, the underwriting process is not standardized. This leaves the ability to negotiate your agreement based on your specific circumstances. These lenders are far more likely to speak with you directly to come up with terms that work for you than a large corporate bank.

Approval – Since collateral is at the top of the importance list for lenders, these loans tend to have a higher approval rate. Lenders look at what the property is worth as opposed to your credit report. Negative factors on your credit are of far less importance that the value of the property. This increases the chances of securing the loan for the home.

Now you knew the disadvantages were coming. Here are some things to consider before taking the steps to secure a hard money loan.

Shorter Repayment Time – The nature of these loans is to assist sellers into getting properties on the market as soon as possible. That is why speed plays a huge part in the popularity of these loans. Created as short-term loans to raise funds quickly, to increase the profitability of the property.

Cost – Naturally with convenience and speed comes a cost. Those looking to take advantage of these types of loans can end up paying between 7.5%-15% which can be over 10 percentage points above a conventional loan. Along with a high interest rate, you may also find that your closing costs and other fees are likely to cost more as well.

What is the right situation to use a hard money loan? If you are looking for a short-term loan to facilitate a home flip or emergency home repairs to allow you to sell before a foreclosure. If keeping the home, this would allow for urgent repairs with a refinance shortly there after with a conventional institution.  The key take away, do your research and pay close attention to selling trends in your area and learn the strategies needed to make the right moves for your investment.



Welcome in 2020 with a New Look for Your Home

With 2019 coming to end, your reflection in the mirror shouldn’t be your only 2020 New Years Resolutions. As you look around your home, what changes would you like to see for the coming year. Is there some room for redesign in your budget? Are there small changes you can make to turn a boring room to a brand-new space? Before you make those renovations, check out coming trends we are looking to see in 2020.

New Color for the New Year

Grey has been king with so many the last few years thanks to the universal embrace of the industrial style craze. In 2020, green is forecasted to be the new craze. From a deep, hunter green to a sweet mint, with Neo Mint to lead the way.

Live Salt and Stone_Neo Mint

Bold Patterns

More and more, fashion is changing how we feel about bold patterns and geometric designs. Many times, these trends blur over into home décor. In 2020, patterns are going to be big on the runway which means they will also make a splash in home textiles. Don’t be afraid of introducing these beautiful patterns in both small accent pieces as well as in architectural elements.

Live Salt and Stone_Bold Prints

Home Office Space

With companies embracing the telecommute trend, many people are choosing to make their homes their new office space. As this trend continues, furniture companies are expanding their designs to match the different needs of home offices. You can expect to see a variety of furniture designs to match the hottest trends in home décor.

Live Salt and Stone_Home Office

Textured Walls

No, we don’t mean stucco. Let’s get that part straight right now. We are talking about fun 3-d elements to your wall to keep things fun and interesting. Think of an accent wall, but elevated.   No only will this be an amazing piece of art, but it will add depth to any room.

Live Salt and Stone_Textured Walls

Handmade Pieces

Not only do handmade pieces come with a uniqueness that is unmatched, it also creates a deeper connection between you and the pieces in your home. As we run through our day, our home needs to be our sanctuary. Many will achieve this in 2020 by adding furniture and design elements that speak to them.

Live Salt and Stone_Handmade

Sometimes a small change can make all the different. So, as we unwind 2019, when you find yourself wandering through the stores and shops you frequent, think about your home and ask yourself, will any of these new styles compliment not only my home, but my lifestyle. Make your home your sanctuary in 2020, one element at a time.

Is that project a DIY-er or do you need to hire a professional?

I am sure we have all seen something on Pinterest and said to yourself, “I could TOTALLY do that myself”. It all looks so easy. However, many projects should come with the “do not try this at home” warning label. However, when is it safe to continue? When is it time to hire a professional? That question can be answered in a few ways. One place to start is the size and scope of the project. If your project includes complicated jobs, such as plumbing, electrical work, and tile setting, unless you have a skillset in these areas, these should be left to skilled professionals. On the other hand, there are some jobs, such as painting and front yard updates, that you can almost certainly handle yourself – even with zero to little experience at all.

We would like to break down these down even further using just a few questions. Is it safe for me to do myself? Will the project be too difficult for me to accomplish on my own? Do I have the time to do the job right? The answers to these questions are what experts say are most important to consider when deciding whether to DIY.

Our main reservation about hiring is professional usually boils down to two concerns…will I hire the right person? How can I keep costs down? Below, please find some tips when hiring and paying for a contractor for your project.

  • Make sure your project offers the most value to your home. Regular repairs are a necessary part of home ownership, however taking on a large remodeling jobs is optional. Get the most out of your expense by adding the most value to your home.
  • When it comes to hiring a contractor, be very selective. When starting the search, begin by looking for referrals from your friends and neighbors. Once you have a short list, do your homework. Call and request proposals and referrals from your prospects directly. This professional will have your home in their hands, choose wisely. Some quick dismisses should be contractors that do not arrive on time for their appointment. Contractors who seem disorganized or unsure of the work that’s involved. Any company or contractor that refuses to provide references or a contractor’s license. Be cautious if a contractor provides very low or high estimates for the job. Lastly, does he have his license, website and business information on his vehicle? If they are good and conscientious at what they do, their vehicle should be slathered with marketing and contact information.  Also, they should check with their State Contractor Licensing Board to check and see if the contractor has any complaints or claims against their bond.
  • As with everything, communication is key. According to Consumer Reports, the majority of issues with contractors starts with miss communication. The moment you see a potential issue or concern, let your contractor know as soon as possible. Ignored issues can become very expensive problems to fix later.
  • Get dirty and do your own demo and cleanup. You may not have the expertise to do the entire job, but you can certainly make a mess and clean up the mess and save yourself some money. Don’t be afraid to get in there (relieve some stress) and knock out those cabinets, it will save you money on the backend.

When it comes to DIY projects, our concern is doing the job right and staying safe while doing it. Below, please find some tips when you decide to take on your own design project.

Brush up on your skillset. Watch some videos or take a lesson at your local hardware store. Resources are now available to everyone with a smart phone by simply logging into YouTube. Start small and work your way into bigger projects as your skills progress.

Work on projects that matter most. If that dripping sink has been driving you crazy, start there, even if painting the cabinets seems like more fun. That less fun project will always be there, so do the important ones first and save the fun ones for last.

Comparison shop! There are so many options when buying things like cabinets, fixtures, windows and doors. Spend some time to do some research and save money whenever you can.

Rent or borrow your tools. Not every job requires the purchase of new equipment. Talk to your friends, family or neighbors and borrow what you can. Always be sure to return those tools in the condition you borrowed them.

Knowledge is power. Do your research. Know your skillset. Everything beyond that is easy. Educating yourself will help you feel confident about your DIY project and give you a comfort level with your contractor to make the rest of the project go much smoother.

Curb Appeal

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When I used to hear the turn curb appeal, I thought of large oak trees, brick pathways and immaculate flower beds…so basically…I saw a HUGE expense. Might explain why for years I avoided the topic and dealing with the necessary changes to my less than stellar front yard. Now, years into my home renovation experience I have learned that so much can be done with small improvements in your front yard. It is all in the small details.
Adding curb appeal to your house not only makes it easier to sell (someday), but it also gives your home a nice and finished look, like the home around the corner you secretly envy. When deciding on which upgrades to make to your house, consider what your house currently looks like and what will look best with it.
A few inexpensive updates you can make are:

  • Give your front door a new coat of paint with a pop of color. Don’t be afraid to go bold and bright, however don’t rely on a color swatch taped to your door to make the final decision. Use apps like Front Door Paint to get a visual of your color choice ahead of time.
  • Refresh a few of your plants out front with some fresh greenery and flowers. se plants to accentuate and frame key visual points, like windows and entryways, and if you don’t have room for a standing planter, hook up a hanging one. Even just one pretty plant arrangement can significantly add to your home’s exterior appearance.
  • Upgrade your house numbers with a new modern look. Choose a font that aligns with the architecture of your home but that is also fun and creative enough to really catch your eye. Even the least skilled among us with find this a simple update anyone can do.
    Add new door hardware with something that makes you excited to walk thru the door. This super quick and noticeable upgrade can really transform your entrance. Choose a color that pops against your door’s paint color, such as black hardware on a white door or brass hardware on a black door.

These are just a few examples of how small attention to details can give your home a curb appeal boost in just a day or weekend. I am sure your home already has plenty of beautiful elements, why not accentuate them with a few finishing touches to help elevate your home. A little time, elbow grease and effort goes a long way and I think you’ll be amazed by the results.