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 Staging 101:  The 90%

Home Staging 101: The 90%

Did you know that only 10% of people, including your perspective buyers, are able to visualize how an empty room would look when furnished?  The same applies to rooms that have an overwhelming amount of furniture or distractions (clutter, personal items).

This means that 90% need to be “shown” how rooms would function for them in order for your listings to seen at an optimal level – both online and in person.

Master Bedroom

In this example the “before” photo was the first impression, seen in the online listing.  It was benign with no sense of space.  If buyers had moved beyond the online view, to do a physical walk through, they may have wondered:  “Will our furniture fit in here?” or better yet…”How?”.

With the addition of a bed it made it obvious to the buyers the a queen or king bed would fit in the room comfortably with plenty of room for dressers and more.  It softened the space and created a more inviting feel.  These are the emotions that you want to capitalize on when you are selling.  You want them to feel like they just walked into their new home.

Conversely, here is an example of a room with an abundance of furniture and busy patterns:

Before_After Craft Room

It was hard to “see” how spacious the room was because it had been filled with furnishings that were not in use.  It was recommended that the seller pack away their personal items and move the excess furniture pieces to storage to open up the room.  One end of the room is a great craft area, complete with an island and plenty of storage while this end of the room now shows a study space as well as a bedroom with the use of a futon.  It is very clear to buyers that this room is very versatile.

If you want your home to stand out among the competition, keep this statistic in mind as you prepare for your listing photo session and subsequent showings.  If you have 10 potential buyers come through your home, make sure that you are visually reaching all 10, not just 1 of them.  Your chances of receiving an offer will increase significantly if you are reaching everyone!

Home Staging 101: Staging with Kids

When selling your home, it can be a bit of a balancing act when you have children and a busy life whirling around you.  It can sometimes be a challenge to keep your home in “show ready” condition when you are trying to live your life there.  This post includes a few tips for getting prepared initially and streamlining the process of preparing your rooms for showings when you have kids “stuff” to contend with.

Outside Clean Up – With small kids, there will be an abundance of toys around your home…both inside and out.  Create a storage location with a covered container and be sure to take a look around the yard to make sure that toys are stowed away prior to showings/Realtor Tours.

Inside Organization – Try to pre-pack as many excess toys/games that you can.  Kids will have their “favorites” so keep those toys available but in storage bins, baskets or boxes so they can be tucked away neatly when perspective buyers come through.

Take Out Large Scale Items – Remove the larger scale toys (i.e. plastic kitchens, ride on toys).  They take up valuable floor space in the same way that excess furniture pieces do.  You want to allow the rooms to be seen in their entirety without the distraction of brightly colored toys.

Bedroom Updates – Kids often have fun, theme-inspired decor in their rooms which include brightly colored walls and tend to be gender specific.  It is recommended that rooms be neutralized to allow buyers to have a “blank slate” to personalize the room to their child’s preferences or for another purpose upon moving in.

TIP 1:  Repaint brightly colored walls with warm neutrals and add removable transfers to have some fun elements in place until your move.

Warm Neutral Background with Fun Decals

TIP 2:  Start dreaming with your child about their “new” room.  Pull together a scrapbook of ideas to help them focus on the new home.  This may help with the shift from one home to another.

TIP 3:  In rooms with older kids, try to minimize the amount of items on walls and remove all items that might offend your potential buyers.  Carefully pack these items so the kids can recreate their rooms in your new home.

Clothes/Laundry – Pre-pack the next season’s worth of clothing to pare down closets in kid’s rooms.  Buyers want to see “ample” storage and tidy spaces.  Keep laundry up to date and neatly organized in baskets to eliminate the piles in rooms and bathrooms.  Be sure to remove any/all used towels from bathrooms prior to showings as well.

Bath with Laundry Messes

Buyers do not want to feel like they are intruding in someone else’s home…they want to be able to visualize it as their own. If you have ever rented a home or hotel room, you know the value of a neat, clean space that allows you to feel welcomed and comfortable.

This is the first of the Home Staging 101 Series of blog posts to come throughout the year.  I love your feedback and interaction so if you are interested in a specific topic, please note it here and I’ll be happy to address it in a future post.


For this Blog post, I am super excited to introduce Al Koehler who is a local, professional painter that I have worked with for the last few years.  Each time we have done a project together, I  have learned something new so I thought would see if he would be willing to share some of this extensive knowledge with all of us.

Graciously, he agreed to an interview so that is the format that will follow.  The first half are questions from me and the 2nd round of questions came direct from my Facebook Fan page followers.  Sending out many thanks to all who participated online!

NOW…the answers to our burning painting questions…

Q:  What are the different types of paint that can be used on interior walls, ceilings & woodwork?  What are the benefits of each one?

A: There are many different types of paints for the interior of your home.  Popular options today are water-based paints that come in a variety of sheens and can be tinted to any color that you want.  The standards are flat, matte, eg-shel, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.  Each option is a special blend that create specific finishes on walls, trim, cabinetry and more.

For example, flat paint is great for ceilings and walls. Flat paint is not washable but hides imperfections best.  Matte and Satin paint are typically used on walls and  Satin, Semi-gloss and Gloss are mainly used for woodwork. These paints can stand a little more abuse and are washable.  Choosing the right paint is key.

There are many variables to consider when choosing your paint, including what the surface condition is, what your overall goal/design is, what type of primer will be needed etc.  If you are not sure about some of the specifics, it is always good to consult with a knowledgeable painter (like Al) and/or a reputable paint supplier ~ it could save you hours of time, money & frustration!

Q: What is primer paint? Are there different types? Do you have to use it on every project? Do you need a special type for dark colored paint?

A: Primer is the base coat of paint which is needed  for the paint to adhere to the surface. Its primarily used on non-primed surfaces but is also used over existing paint that could be hard to cover. There are many primers,  your basic latex all around primer that can be used on most surfaces and another popular primer is Bonding Primer,  which  can be used for glossy surfaces such as glass, countertops, metal and glossy surfaces.  Most primers can be tinted.

When you are using a dark paint, you should use a tinted primer.  They usually are mixed in a variation of gray based on the depth of color chosen for your wall paint – this is determined by the paint experts in your local storefronts.  Another option is to have the primers tinted to the color of the paint chosen.

Q: What is the best way to paint a front door that is metal?

A:  Use a primer that includes the word “bonding” in the label .   These primers bond to glossy surfaces such as glass, Formica, metal, kitchen cabinetry and plastic to create the perfect base for your latex paints to glide on and cure properly.  Most primers can be top coated within a few hours.

Q: I’ve noticed that paint rollers come with different sized “naps”. Why is that?  Which size is appropriate for what type of job?  How do I avoid getting fibers from the rollers on the walls?

A:  There are a few different sizes in nap for rollers,  the smother the surface the less of a nap you would need.  3/8 nap is regularly used for most surfaces.  If your dealing with textured walls or ceilings use a roller with a 1/2 inch nap.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “Don’t cheese on the roller,  a high quality roller will save you undue frustration and give you the professional look that you want on your walls.  Cheap rollers leave hairs/fibers on your walls.  I recommend rollers from Wooster, Purdy or the Contractor Series from Sherwin Williams.”

AND…the answers to the burning painting questions from our Facebook Fans…

Q:  What is the best paint to use in a bathroom?

A: The best paints to use in bathrooms is Ben Moore Aura or Sherwin Williams.  These paints do not need a primer,  which is a plus because it leaves out the primer coat.  Two coats of these paints and you have a beautiful finish so there is no need for extra work. When using higher quality paints, the key is to prep the surface properly before painting on your new color.

A primer is not needed if you are painting over an existing color but I recommend a light sanding using a 220 gauge sandpaper to rough up the surface (creating the same adhering quality that a primer would provide) and to remove any fibers/imperfections.

The newest advancement in the paint industry is the introduction of paints that include the primer and top coat in one can.  Aura by Ben Moore and Duration by Sherwin Williams are great options with built in primers.  You can expect to pay more for these options but they significantly reduce time/coats needed to complete your job.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “Make sure your exhaust fan is working properly.  Keeping the room free of extra moisture will extend the life of the paint in a bath.”

Q:  What should you use to paint textured ceilings to limit drip messes?

A:  A  1/2 inch roll nap is good for a textured ceiling.  A quality roller is important as it lays the paint on evenly and does not lose hairs/fibers in the process.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “If you need to wipe dust or debris from a wall or trim, use a tack cloth.  A tack cloth is like a sticky cheese cloth that will “grab” anything from the surface rather than just move it around.  Avoid using wet cloths to clean surfaces.  The moisture could create problems under the paint if it the area is not given enough time to dry out completely before application of paint.”

Q:  Why is the paint on my walls peeling off in sheets?

A: Paint peeling is usually caused by moisture under the paint which lifts the paint off in sheets.

Other reasons that may cause peeling paint are:

~No primer was used as a base coat.

~The primer coat or 2nd coat of finish coat were applied too soon.  Paint (primer or top coat) need time to dry/cure properly.

~Painting over a glossy surface without prep.

Q:  Why does anything that touches my walls leave marks?

A: Paint is a delicate, very thin coat of colored wall finish.  Anytime you touch a wall with your hands that has a flat finish, you’ll see the oil imprint of your hands.   That is why flat paints are recommended for rooms that have less traffic and people inhabiting them.

In all my years painting for a living, I’ve learned that paint is not mark proof.  There are better paints than others that can take the abuse.  This goes back to the very first question and how important it is to use the correct paint finish for the appropriate areas in your home.

Keep the following in mind:

Flat Paint – Best for ceilings and low traffic areas – not washable

Matte – Is a step up from Flat paint because it includes a very light sheen.  Achieve the same “look” as Flat provides with the bonus that it is washable.

Eg-shell/Satin – Best for walls in high traffic areas – washable

Semi-gloss/Gloss – Good for woodwork/trim – creates a sheen on all surfaces – washable

IMPORTANT TIP:  “The best way to guarantee that your walls will stay perfectly clean is to install hockey glass over all painted surfaces.  The only maintenance tools needed are Windex and paper towels.”

You can tell from Al’s answers that he is a fountain of knowledge and has a great sense of humor.  If you have more questions for him, please feel free to post them here and we will get the answers of to you right away.

I would to thank him for being my special guest this month on the Blog and for offering such great information about painting in our homes.

Here is a little more about Al:

~He’s been painting for 25+ years with additional background in home building Project Management

~During his career he has worked all over New England mainly working in Amherst, around Lake Winnipesaukee and on Governor’s Island.  For the last 14 yrs. Al has been  primarily painting interiors creating beautiful finishes with nice color combinations for many different types of rooms.  Some of his other skills include drywall repairs,  water damage repair, skim coating, textured ceilings and wallpaper.

~His specialty is with Venetian Plaster,  Marmarino Finish which is a glass feel finish with a stone look.  If you are looking for a classic finish in your home be sure to ask him about this beautiful option.

If you would like to connect with him, his contact information is below:


PHONE:  603.738.8578

He also has a Fan Page on Facebook – CLICK HERE to check it out and sign on as one of his newest “likers”.