New Year – New Adventures

New Year – New Adventures

Happy New Year!!  Parker House Designs has officially embarked on our 2015 adventure and are excited to have you along for the ride.  We’ll be sharing our stories and projects (complete with Before & After pictures) with you over the coming months.

My husband and I took the leap into the world of investments a few short months ago.  It’s been a dream for some time but we hadn’t expected it to come along for a couple more years.  You know, when the kids were both in college and we were “ready” to take on the role of landlords and/or maintenance workers.  Ha!  Don’t they say that the best laid plans often go awry.  When a great opportunity showed itself, we took the leap.

So, here is a picture of our 1910 gem…she’s a little rough around the edges but she is undergoing some exterior renovations to become more energy-efficient along with some fresh paint (in the Spring) to show off the unique architectural features on her face:

Building 1 Building 3

The building is located in the center of town and was a commercial building next to the railroad route that ran through the Lakes Region Area years ago.  One of the items on the To Do list is to connect with our local Historical Society to learn more about the property.  We’ve heard through the grapevine that one of the storefronts was the first postal location in town so I look forward to getting the scoop.  I’ll be sure to share what I learn along the way!

As I thought about how this process has been wild, overwhelming and a little scary, I realized that these are the same feelings that many of my clients have.  They are worried about the unknown when they are trying to update their homes or are trying to sell their homes to move onto their next phase of life.  In every case, when they made the decision to move forward, break away from their anxieties and embraced the change, they flourished and met their goals.  I’m so grateful for being a part of this special evolution.  This is where my theme for 2015 comes from:

Embracing Change = Positive Growth

What’s new in your world?  What changes are you going to embrace in 2015?


Home Staging 101:  The Virtual 1st Impression

Home Staging 101: The Virtual 1st Impression

Did you know that 83% of consumers begin searching for items they want to buy online?  That is for all types of items from clothing, to appliances and even new cars.  That number increases to more than 90% for people who are house hunting.  The days of buyers “doing a drive by” to check out a house are fleeting when they can review homes from the comfort of their sofas on their computers and handheld devices.

So, why is this important?  It means that the 1st impression of a home on the market is made online.  Our society is technologically and visually driven so it is important that the visual story of your home is being told clearly through the photos.  If they do not look good in the online listings, the perspective buyers will click away from the listing as quickly as they clicked onto it.

Here is a little test…

Do you think busy home buyers would rather take the time to look at these homes?

Or these?

When you combine well staged rooms that are organized and show their purpose, add loads of great photos, and have a fantastic write up you will create the best and strongest 1st impression possible – one that will pull perspective buyers off the couch and to the home for a showing.

TIP:  Take a look at homes in your area that are your direct competition to see how your photos and listing “stack up” against them.  This will help you determine whether your marketing is on target or may need some changes/updates.

Home & Life Series:  Organizing Your Meals

Home & Life Series: Organizing Your Meals

Happy 2013 to everyone!  I always love the start of the New Year because it holds the promise of great things in the year ahead and a renewed focus on our goals for our homes and lives.  Starting with this entry, am beginning a Home & Life series of posts that will offer suggestions to enhance our lives at home.   I recently had a request to cover organizing and will cover this topic in many ways and offer ideas that you can put right to work to make your life easier at home.  The goal should be to have less chaos and more time to relax and recharge when you are in the warmth and comfort of your home.

For most people, their lives and family are in constant motion.  Between work, school and life commitments, it can be tough to pull together dinners at the end of long days.  What makes it harder is when you do not have the energy to decide what to make and end up ordering take out as a quick fix.  Organizing your meals can alleviate those stressors in your life.

By organizing meals I mean that you create a weekly meal plan and detailed shopping list simultaneously.  I use my computer to create the menu in a document and when I first started this process, I used a 2nd page in the file to create the shopping list.  The list was organized by departments in the store so there was no wasted time during shopping trips.  I would then print them out and post the menu on the refrigerator for the whole family to see and take the list with me to the grocery store.

Here is a sample:

Menu Example

Shopping List Example

This doesn’t have to be fancy and could also be done by hand.  The benefit to computer versions is that you can save several weeks and rotate them.  Scheduling meals a week in advance allows you to plan a good variety as well as evenings out or leftover nights.  I also like to note who is responsible for cooking which evening because my kids are responsible to cook 1 night per week.**

Reasons to incorporate a system like this into your life:

1.  LESS STRESS:  Pre-plan meals for a week or more in advance so there are no confusing nights when you don’t want to “deal” with dinner.  An organized list at the store reduces the time you have to be there.  Remember….more time relaxing and recharging at home.

2.  SAVE MONEY:  A detailed grocery list eliminates excess/impulse purchases.

3.  EAT WELL & WASTE LESS:  By planning leftover nights, you reduce the amount of food that is discarded by scheduling them to be eaten on super-busy nights.

Over time, I have changed the process a bit but the general concept is still going strong.  I still create the meal plan on the computer but have started using an App on my smartphone called GrocerySmart to create the shopping list.

GrocerySmart App

GrocerySmart App

You create an account online at their website: and then upload the app to your phone.  You can then invite family and friends to join on to become a collective group that can add/omit items from the shopping lists that are created on the account.  Now, if the family runs out of something, they simply log on and add it to the list.  The phones and computer sync up and everything stays up-to-date.  It is an amazing tool!!


**Special Note:  I started having my kids cook dinner in an effort to get them to stop complaining about the meals I was making.  They have come to see how much work it takes to create a balanced meal for everyone.  The other great thing that has happened is that they are experimenting with new foods because they are not allowed to repeat a meal for at least 3 weeks.  They must present their meal and grocery list prior to shopping day (Sunday for us).  There was a learning curve at the beginning and I had to be present for many of their first meals but they are really becoming great cooks!

What types of routines do you use to cut down on the chaos in your evenings at home?