“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 luxurious real estate one wonderful home at a time.
“Behind the Curtin” Episode 1 – A Wine Room & Kitchen in Milton, Georgia
Katie and Dave Smith live in Milton, Georgia with their two children. Recently, Katie and Dave sold their house in Milton’s Highland Manor that they called home for 14 years to move into a brand-new build in the Sweet Apple neighborhood that they helped design. Prior to moving to Milton in 2008, they lived in Miami, Florida for two years.
Joanne: Why did you pick this area?
Katie: We’re from up north where the seasons change. We didn’t like living somewhere where it was hot all year. My husband Dave’s job, at the time, was such that he could live in Greater Atlanta or South Florida, and we just felt like greater Atlanta was an area that we felt we could relate to more and would be better to raise a family. We didn’t have any kids yet when we moved here and that’s part of why we did.
Joanne: As far as your house that you’re in now, what made you choose your house?
Katie: We were so excited to build and get to start from scratch. We really liked how it’s quiet here, but it’s still close to everything. We’re closer now than we were in Highland Manor to Downtown Crabapple, Downtown Roswell, and GA-400. But we’re tucked back in this quiet little country road type situation. We felt like it was very unique, and when we signed to build this house, they hadn’t even cleared the street yet. We were able to see the other homes and see the big picture of the community with the walking trails and green space built into the development.
Joanne: What do you feel like you did to really improve the value of the house that you built? What do you feel adds value to your house the most?
Katie: We love having the master on Main and it’s kind of in its own little wing. It’s tucked away. I can sleep through noise, and I was never able to do that in the old house. The lot itself, how we’re on a cul-de-sac and it’s at the end of the street. The layout of the house provides nice privacy for the backyard, helping with what we’re trying to achieve with the pool and creating a great little hangout area. The kids have their own space upstairs. They have a lot of space. At their current ages of 10 and 13, they don’t want to be around us all the time. They have their own space which makes them feel like they have independence.
Joanne: Alright, so in this home you did not have a keeping room and in place of that, because you want to use your house wisely, you did a wine room where normally an office or dining room could be. So did you use a designer for that?
Katie: I would say we kind of used a designer overall, that helped us in designing the layout of our home and picking the finishes. She did help us a little bit with the wine room. Dave would tell you that he’s the designer. She worked with another couple a few years ago who did the wine room at a house over on Sibley lane. We had seen these pictures, and knew she had worked on a project like this before. That got it going in Dave’s mind, and then we knew we wanted to have a sitting room like a keeping room. We were going back and forth on whether or not to do the wine wall because it was of course an added expense. Dave, in his mind with the numbers, was like, “Is this too frivolous? Like, can we really do this?” And then, he finally said that if he didn’t do it, he would be mad at himself in a couple of years. It costs more money to do after the fact versus if you do it while you’re building the house, it’s easier.
Joanne: What does that wine room have that you needed?
Katie: It’s a quiet getaway. A quiet space. The wine wall itself is a piece of art. It’s very cozy. We painted it a different color from the color that most of the main living area is painted. We did the wine room and Dave’s office a dark gray that really separates it from the rest of the home. It’s right off the kitchen, but it feels like you’re tucked away and it has a door that goes onto the front porch from one wall. So, you could be sitting in there enjoying a glass of wine or having your morning coffee and then go right outside to the front porch.
Joanne: What was the splurge in your wine room that you said Dave was like, “I don’t know if I want to spend the money. But if I don’t do it, I’ll regret it?”
Katie: It’s a built-in refrigerated unit. It has its own thermostat, it has its own separate unit down in the basement. That’s like the ultimate splurge. In our old home, we had a freestanding wine fridge that you purchase. If we ever move, it stays. It’s part of the house. That was definitely a splurge. I mean, gosh, it’s all splurge. A new house is a splurge. Those sliders, the sliding doors, instead of just a door they go into the wall. Not accordion style – they slide like pockets doors into the wall.
Joanne: Would you say that the wine room is your favorite room? What’s your favorite room in your new house? Dave’s?
Katie: Dave would say it’s the wine room. I love the kitchen.
Joanne: Why would you say that?
Katie: It has a lot of storage and it’s bright. I’m looking at my kitchen right now, and I think it just flows easily. We designed it to flow easily.
Joanne: Anything that you feel like someone should not skimp on?
Katie: I would not skimp on lighting. At least, in the main areas,
Joanne: Lighting meaning expensive fixtures or just more lights?
Katie: The fixtures themselves. If you put a cheap light over the table in your kitchen or something that you don’t like, it is no good. We got to the point where the lighting budget was getting out of control. We did cans in other areas. We’d rather fix the main fixtures in a year than get something cheap and not like it, you know? What else… Appliances! We didn’t skimp on our fridge. We got the nicer fridge. How many times do you use your fridge a day? A lot, right? So I think that for us, it was like let’s not skimp on things in our main living area. I’m fine skimping on my 10-year-old son’s bathroom tile, or the guest room lighting. Those are rooms that get used a small handful of times a year. But when it came to our main living space, I didn’t want to cheap out and then regret it. We didn’t go crazy, but like we made it nice.
Joanne: So what kind of fridge Do you have?
Katie: Oh, it’s a Thermador fridge. But it’s not so much the brand. It’s just this size. It’s the bigger side by side fridge.
Joanne: Are there any materials that you used that you felt like were not trendy, but just worth it, and were non-negotiables?
Katie: We used quartz for all of our tops, even in the bathrooms, which I’m really happy with. Even in the laundry room – it just makes a difference. One other splurge that I forgot to mention from earlier was in our master bath, we have the doors that come all the way down to the floor without the step with the special drain on the sides. So it’s very clean looking and beautiful. We have the engineered hardwood, the wider planks, which I really love throughout the home. And it’s a lighter-color wood. We had darker wood at the old house, which I thought looked pretty. But on these floors, you can’t see the dirt as much and the paw prints from the dog. So when you have an active family, it’s nice to be able to hide dirt and dog hair better. I’m just keeping it real because I don’t feel like cleaning floors every day!
Katie and Dave’s experience in deciding to move, finding the right location to build, and hand-crafting their forever home is something that countless families do every year. That doesn’t mean it’s not special – building a new home is one of the most special things a family can do together. Their openness and great insight into their thought process during the whole experience helps us learn what to look for and what to avoid when it’s our time to upgrade our own living spaces. These helpful homeowners, along with Joanne, help give you a peek Behind the Curtin into the world of luxury real estate. If this insight interests you, subscribe for more video and interview content at www.youtube.com/@curtinteam.
The Curtin Team’s CEO, Tom Curtin and Director of Sales, Christy Smith explain the benefits of mortgage rate buy downs for buyers and sellers. Like many practices in the world of Real Estate, mortgage hacks depend on Buyer/Seller goals, timelines, and preferences. Buy-downs are unique, though, because they offer direct benefits to both Buyers and Sellers in the short term and long term. They allow houses to be sold more efficiently, less stress with high monthly payments for Buyers, and less interest payment over time. If you are in the market to either buy or sell a home, don’t forget that there are ways for you to save money during the process.
What was the last book you read? More importantly – what was the last book you read that helped you and your team succeed at work? Being well read doesn’t just help you in your day-to-day activities. Choosing to learn from established experts and authors helps shorten your learning curve so you can bring practical information and methods to your co-workers, colleagues, and clients. While there’s no substitute for learning by doing, there’s a wide gap in knowledge that favors those who take time to read effective business books over those who don’t. Over the years, I’ve read more than a fair share of business books, and some have stood out more than others. That’s why today I am sharing my top five favorite business books that you will wish you had read sooner.
1. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
Written as a narrative story, this is an easy read. I find this book foundational for any new or recently-started investor to understand what it means to have an investor mindset. It helps distinguish what is truly an asset and liability and how to use money as a tool to create wealth. You don’t have to be born rich to become rich. Instead, there’s a path that just about anyone who is willing to take can follow. In 1999, my wife Joanne read this book and I read it shortly after her. It was one of the reasons Joanne decided to leave her teaching career to become a real estate professional just a year later. It’s the reason we bought our first investment property and created goals around real estate investing. I have a lot of gratitude for this book.
2. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
This book is about breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps with small, incremental, everyday routines that compound into massive, positive changes over time. You can truly change your behavior by following these steps. There are some great hacks here on breaking cravings and creating new habits. These include steps about making new routines easy to start, making them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. 1. Make it obvious – Don’t hide your fruits in the fridge, but instead put them on display front and center. 2. Make it attractive – start with the fruit you like the most so you’ll actually want to eat one when you see it. 3. Make it easy – don’t create needless friction by focusing on fruits that are hard to peel. Bananas and apples are super easy to eat, for example. 4. Make it satisfying – if you like the fruit you picked, you’ll love eating it and feel healthier as a result! The book goes into a lot more detail. I highly recommend it as you can apply these little hacks to make your life better and more efficient.
3. “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins
This book is a self-help classic that breaks down how Tony Robbins has helped top performers perform at their highest level and how you can use the same mental and physical tactics to accomplish your biggest life goals. “Unlimited Power” connotes your ability to revamp your life and produce every outcome you’ve ever wanted while generating value for the people around you. There is so much packed into this book that I can’t get into everything. It’s a long read, but it’s worth every page. One key idea is to use modeling – how you can model yourself after others who are more successful to get what they have. We’ve used this tactic in our real estate business as well as real estate investing. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that successful people see “failure” as an opportunity to grow and learn. We model, try new things, fail and learn. Also simple hacks to change your mood with body posture and breathing techniques, it works! And lastly emotional intelligence, how you respond to situations and your emotions, your attitude determines a lot of what you can accomplish.
4. “First Break All The Rules” by Don Clifton
This book walks you through how to be a better manager and debunks a lot of traditional management methods. I enjoy this book because it resonates with my management style, especially being a part of a small team. We are truly a family. Happy and satisfied employees make the company better and treat clients better. Managers can help employees be happier and more satisfied, it starts with caring about how happy and satisfied they are at work and personally. Intentionally design the atmosphere to encourage self-expression, trust, enjoyment, and productivity. A leader sets the goals, and helps guide but ultimately employees will be happier when they can control and have input in how they reach those goals. If you want to help your team grow, you’ve got to get to know them on a personal level. And if you want to know what standard you should hold everybody to, you need to look at your top performers and spend a lot of time with them. I’d recommend this book to someone who just became a manager and feels overwhelmed, or a seasoned executive that wants to learn and play to their employee’s strengths, or anyone that would like to become a great leader at work.
5. “Five Dysfunctions Of A Team” by Patrick Lencioni
This book will teach you how to have a functional team to be more productive and how to avoid back-channel politics. It’s written in an easy-to-read fable and then breaks it down into practical guidelines on how to overcome each of the five dysfunctions. In hindsight, if I had read this book at the start of my team building career, I could have avoided some drama and probably gotten out of business faster with some people we ultimately ended up parting ways with, but not before they caused damage to the team. it could have possibly helped to fix some bad behavior, but I suspect it would have just highlighted it and caused them to opt out sooner, and maybe I’d have a few less gray hairs.
The next time you are asked what the last book you read was, I hope you think back to one of my five suggestions and are able to apply what you’ve learned in the workplace. True leaders and intelligent thinkers know that they don’t know everything, and they know when to look for outside wisdom and advice to pass along to those who rely on them in the business world. These five reads cover everything from financial responsibility and habit building to team chemistry and unlocking your true potential, and I highly suggest that you check them out.
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