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 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.

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?