“Behind the Curtin” provides an inside look at local homeowners’ beautifully-crafted houses, giving insight into what it takes to renovate, upgrade, and style the most coveted parts of their dream homes. In this video series, industry expert and business owner Joanne Curtin explores local homes while interviewing their owners along the way to better understand their thought processes when making important decisions. Join Joanne to get a look into the world of thoughtful real estate one wonderful home at a time.
“Behind the Curtin” Episode 2 – A Pool and Pool House in Milton, Georgia
Tripp and Grace Melton live in Milton, Georgia. They have been residents since 2003. In 2020, they began the work of creating an outdoor space for relaxation and entertaining, with a pool and pool house.
Joanne: Why did you pick this area?
Tripp: We were working downtown at the time and couldn’t find anything we liked. And then we drove through this area and liked the idea of a newer construction.
Grace: Even though the house wasn’t initially what I had in mind, I fell in love with the hidden pantry in the kitchen and the fireplace in our keeping room looks like the wall in the church where we go married.
Joanne: What have you done specifically to increase the value of your home?
Grace: We made a lot of use of the outside space and tried to do some thoughtful landscaping with trees and buffers because the way the house is situated, you can see the whole backyard from the street. But the biggest thing was adding the pool in 2020 and the pool house.
Joanne: Did you use a designer to create the outdoor living resort space that you have?
Tripp: No, these are all our ideas, even the landscaping. We worked with our pool builder for the pool house to execute what we wanted.
Joanne: What do love about the outdoor space you’ve created?
Grace: For me, I love being around water. I like seeing it, I like hearing it. I think it’s calming, but it’s also a great entertaining space. And we use it year ‘round, because we’ll have the pool heated. We can go out here for coffee in the morning or have friends over late at night. We use the fireplace and the electric heaters in the middle of winter, and so we spend a lot of time in the pool house. It’s been fun.
Joanne: Where did you find vendors and contractors for such a big job?
Tripp: We went to our original builder. They gave us some ideas and some referrals. We also did a lot of research online about what we wanted.
Joanne: So, what did you splurge on?
Tripp: The sliding doors on three sides of the pool house was almost a third of the cost of the entire pool house. But the space is transformed when they are opened or closed. The pool house stays cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter. Also, our ceiling fan from Big Ass Fans Company, is large enough to create a nice breeze.
Joanne: What else do you really like about the space?
Grace: The vaulted ceiling. It’s not just a flat ceiling, so I think it’s a nice, added dimension.
Joanne: What have you learned from the process?
Tripp: I’ve learned from this process to get everything in writing. In the end, even when you’re dealing with friends or people you like, it’s still a business transaction.
Joanne: Is there anything you would do differently?
Tripp: We weren’t able to put in a bathroom because of the rules regarding septic fields, unless we wanted to install another septic system. However, we finished the basement with an additional bathroom that allows us to have a changing room for the pool.
And some people have asked why didn’t do an outside kitchen. I mean, we just don’t use our inside kitchen that much. So, it wasn’t a big deal for us.
Joanne: What advice would you give someone who wanted to renovate their outdoor space?
Grace: I would say good design that’s really well thought out. And materials, don’t skimp on materials.
Tripp: I would tell someone don’t skimp on the decking. For example, the travertine around the pool is cooler in the summer than pavers or concrete. I would also not skimp on lighting. We changed our ground lighting to soffit lighting and it changes the whole look. We also installed a cool sound system through a Sonos sound system with speakers shaped like rocks around the pool area.
There are endless possibilities of what you can spend money on to improve your home. From simple upgrades to massive renovations, it can be overwhelming deciding where to start. To help, we’ve put together a list of priorities as we see it from a Realtor’s perspective. It’s important to start with what you love and enjoy (especially if you plan to be in your home for at least 4 more years) and prioritize the area of your home that you know you’ll get the most enjoyment out of first. On the other end, if there’s something in your home that causes you stress every time you see it, change it. Renovating can be a challenge, but assessing your wants, needs, and budget is a great first step.
Up To $5,000 Budget
1. Interior Paint – Fresh paint gives you the best bang for your buck. Depending on the size of your home, you may be able to get most of your main living area painted for under $5,000.
2. New Kitchen Backsplash / Updated Light Fixtures – An eat-in kitchen, dining room, or foyer chandelier provide a fresh, updated look without breaking the bank. If you have the builder-standard fluorescent rectangle in your kitchen: get rid of it! Replace with a new modern handing light or recessed lights.
3. New Bathroom Vanities – If you have any bathrooms that have laminate counters, this signals that the vanity is dated, too. You can purchase a new vanity that also has a built-in stone counter and new sink all together. You’ll just need to purchase a matching upgraded fixture to go with it.
4. New Front Door/ Refinishing Wood Doors – A new front door adds great curb appeal. Front doors make such an important first impression! When you’re selling your home, you always want the entrance way to be in top shape. Picture this: the buyers and their realtor approach your home, the buyers are eagerly looking around to assess the entrance, and the Realtor is trying to open the lockbox. Entry is not immediate — it can take a minute or two to get the lockbox open and enter the home. If you have rotten wood or an old pealing door, this will set the stage for a buyer’s negative impression of your home.
5. Exterior Cleaning – Power washing can be a surprisingly affordable way to make your exterior look new again. Your house, driveway, walkways, and roof can all be power washed for a fresh look. Add professional window cleaning and you’ll be looking great!
Up To $25,000 Budget
1. Flooring – Wood floors in main living areas and new carpet in bedrooms make a big difference. Real hardwood flooring is a timeless style and will never be an outdated choice. Color choices can vary and add personality but try to avoid extremes. And, you can refinish hardwood and change the look if needed.
2. Kitchen Appliance Upgrades / New Kitchen Counters – If your home is in a luxury price point, buyers will expect high-end appliances. The stove or cook top is the center piece, so consider this first.
3. Bathroom Vanities – We covered this in the $5,000 budget section, but if you have multiple bathrooms to upgrade, you’ll easily spend more than that. If your primary bathroom doesn’t have a dual vanity and you can find a way to add one, that will be a great investment. Pro-tip: This may also save you from arguments with your significant other if you’ve been sharing a sink.
4. Retiling – Primary shower and floors can often use new tiling, along with adding a standalone tub. Avoid trendy or colorful tile. Remember, light and bright is timeless.
5. Cabinet Makeover – Painting or refacing cabinets and changing out hardware is a simple but effective project.
Budget up to $100,000
1. Full Kitchen Update – New appliances, quartz or quartzite counters, backsplash, fresh paint; depending on size of kitchen, you may or may not be able to fully replace cabinets with this budget. Style and trends in kitchens change frequently. If you’re worried about making the right design choices, it’s always best to go light and bright, aiming for a timeless look that will last. The average cost of a full kitchen renovation in our area now averages over $150,000, so to stay on budget, consider hiring a professional designer who can help you find cost savings and make the right design choices.
2. Finished Basement – Adding additional finished space is a big bang for your buck. Adding a media room, an exercise room, office space, an additional bathroom, or an additional entertainment area will add huge value to a home.
3. Outdoor Living Space – An exterior gathering area like an outdoor fireplace, a new porch, or an upgraded deck are great additions. Consider high performance composite decking, a common brand is Trex, for great quality and value.
4. Exterior Upgrade – Fresh paint, a new roof, and new landscaping can transform the look of your home completely and even make your neighbors jealous with this project. Maybe they will follow your lead and paint their houses, too!
5. New Cement Siding / Windows – Many homes in our area built between the 1980s-90s were built using a siding referred to as OSB, or Orient Strand Board. One of the common brands that was used is called “LP” siding. This siding is a wood fiber glued together that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to moisture and other weather damage. New cement board siding, one of the popular brands is “Hardie Plank,” is made from a cement fiber that can withstand moisture and weather damage. If your home was built using OSB siding, it is also likely to have wooden single-pane windows. A major upgrade that will pay off when selling your home is replacing all of the siding and windows. Upgrading your windows to new dual-pane windows will enhance the curb appeal of your home and you’ll realize energy savings + noise reduction.
Renovating in today’s market requires patience and flexibility. The pandemic has caused price increases due to supply shortages and rising labor costs. Labor is hard to find, and you’ll need to plan ahead carefully with materials. We suggest that you make a plan and order supplies before you begin. Some appliances and fixtures can take weeks or months to come in, certain paints are hard to find, and the list goes on. In the end, it will be worth it! We hear it all the time: “I should have done this years ago!” Don’t delay and wait until you’re about to sell your home. Do it now and enjoy it without breaking the bank!
You’ve signed the listing agreement and now you’re getting ready to have your home photographed. As a Curtin Team client, you have the benefit of our Home Stylists who provide exceptional home staging services. But there is plenty that you can do to prepare your home before it hits the market.
We all know that staged homes sell for more money. But very few of us have the time or energy to clean and declutter every square inch of our homes. So, let’s focus on the rooms that will make the most impact and get those potential buyers excited to make a great offer on your home. Take a tour of your home as if you were a potential buyer. What stands out to you? It will probably get their attention as well.
Front Porches – staging means cleaning, decluttering, and depersonalizing. Does your front porch feel inviting? Does the front door need to be repaired or repainted? If you have enough room for a seating area, make sure it is clean with fresh cushions and some potted plants. Buyers will feel welcome before they even enter the home.
Living rooms – or whatever is the very first room you see when you walk in the front door. Get the carpets cleaned, dust and declutter shelves and tables, and paint it a neutral color, if necessary. Also, be sure to clean the windows (or have them professionally cleaned).
Kitchens – the number 1 staging rule is to clear those countertops! Time spent cleaning and organizing the kitchen will definitely pay off. Updates to lighting and paint color are worth it too. Something as simple as fresh hand towels can brighten up the space.
Bedrooms – specifically the owner’s bedroom. Minimizing the amount of furniture can help buyers imagine their own items in the space.
The best staging tip we’ve found is to clean, clean, clean. If you do nothing else, that will make your home feel fresh and welcoming.
Kanani Briggs, Realtor, and Cheri Bartlett, Space Strategist, discuss the ways you can start organizing your home in preparation of a Spring sale. Cheri offers tips on tackling difficult areas to organize as well as the services she offers homeowners to help them move items out of their homes.
For more information, contact Kanani Briggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-287-4848.
If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market in 2022, now is the time to start cleaning, purging, and prepping. The holidays may be the ideal time to get started while kids are home from school and family is visiting. It’s the perfect time to open up SPACE for what this new year will bring. While it might be easy to let go of those clothes that are out of style or the gadgets you were so excited about, but are now sitting at the back of your closet…never used, many people struggle with what to do with sentimental items. Pictures, cards and artwork from kids, items you’ve kept from loved ones now passed, even your own childhood memorabilia can bring up so many emotions! That’s ok! We have some tips for taking that emotional ride, making it fun, and in the end loving the result!
The Curtin Team has been in business for over 20 years and in that time, we have helped hundreds of clients prepare their homes for sale. Here’s our favorite method for sorting sentimental items before a move. Create an EVENT focused on going through these precious items in your home. Whether it’s all the items from your children, or from passed loved ones or a combination, now is the time to get people on board to help you.
These are our top tips for making this event fun and productive!
1. Schedule a time
2. Invite family
3. Make a SPACE
4. Make it FUN!
5. Gather supplies
6. Explain process
7. Do it!
Schedule a time: If you have 5 small to medium sized boxes you will probably be able to get through them in about 4-5 hours. Larger or more boxes are going to take longer. Just keep in mind, that most people underestimate how long it’s going to take.
Invite family: As with any event you want to invite people so they can carve out the time in their schedule. You can send an evite, paper invitation or just call people. Do what feels best to you! Explain in the invitation that you are planning to put your house on the market and it’s time to make decisions about items you’ve been holding onto. Let them know that you wanted to include them in the decision making and why. For example: I have items from when mom/dad passed that you may want to keep. Or for your children: I have items from your childhood that you may want to keep. Keep it light and fun, more of a party atmosphere.
Make a SPACE: You may want to sit at the dining room table, or just sprawl on the floor. Again, do what feels best to you but plan ahead of time and get extra chairs for the table or pillows to sit on the floor. Whatever will make it comfortable.
Make it FUN: This is our favorite tip because this process does not have to be miserable! Depending on the time of day have some yummy food for everyone …coffee and donuts if it’s morning, sandwiches at lunch, etc. Definitely have beverages too! Maybe some hot chocolate or wine ;). Turn on some fun upbeat music, light some candles. You know what we’re going to say next…whatever feels good to you!
Gather supplies: First on the list is garbage bags. Have scissors for opening boxes if needed, and bins/bags for each person so they can take away whatever items they decide to keep.
Explain the process: Let your family know you’re going to open the boxes one by one so everyone can see everything. This can be the most fun way because as you are looking through the items invariably you will have memories of fun moments from the past. Occasionally, it could also bring up sad memories…that’s ok. Let it out and then let it go. These are not items you want in your SPACE and there will be plenty of items that feel good to you. Focus on the good because you want to create a new SPACE that is uplifting and feels good when you walk in the door!! It’s great to keep items that are useful and sentimental so that you feel connected to your loved ones. If you have recently lost a loved one you might find it more difficult to part with their items right now. It’s ok to keep them until you feel better about letting go. Be gentle with yourself keeping in mind you are never going to forget this person or the experiences you shared with them regardless of which items you decide to keep!
Do it: Go through all the items and let it unfold however it unfolds. Keep only the items that REALLY resonate with you and feel good to you. A special note about photos – only keep pictures that really capture the event and feel good! Even if they are blurry or off center but are fun and uplifting…those are the ones you want to keep! If you have multiples of the same picture …like school photos, just keep one. When your event is finished throw the garbage away and make sure everyone takes the items they chose with them.
Now you can look forward to making wonderful memories in your new home!
A special thanks to our contributor and friend, Cheri Bartlett, owner of CEO Space, Inc. She specializes in helping clients organize and renew their space.
Here’s her contact info
CEO SPACE, Inc
Facebook: SPACE Simplify Purge And Create Ease
Home Styling | How to “Undecorate”
As I was packing away decorations after the holidays it occurred to me how similar the task is to home styling. It’s what I like to call “undecorating”. Undecorating is the process of removing personal and specific decorations, leaving behind a more neutral palette. Having a clean palette is important to attract potential buyers. When the slate is clean, buyers can imagine themselves living in the space.
As new year resolutions are made and we vow to get more organized, this is a wonderful time to start preparing your home to beat the spring selling rush. When you’re packing away holiday decorations go ahead and pack up family photos, decor and personal items. Not only will you be de-cluttering, but you’ll also get a jump start on packing items that you’ll have to pack later anyway!
Where Do I Start?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so start off easy. Begin with your junk drawers, closets and pantry. Make three separate piles: one that you keep, one for donation, and one that goes straight to the trash.
Closets should be about one third full so that prospective buyers can see the amount storage is available. Pack away clothing that’s not in season. Use storage baskets and containers in drawers, cabinets and the pantry for a simple and tidy look. Once you have tackled the de-cluttering you can focus on larger projects. Keep in mind that as the spring market approaches, the busier contractors get and the longer it takes to get on their schedule.
Use these easy tips and you’ll be able to stick to your New Year’s resolution and be ahead of the spring market!