Subscribe via Email

Ian and Barbara’s Custom Renovation in Fishtown

Come reminisce with me and look at the after photos of my client's custom renovation. Here is the story: I introduced Ian and Barbara to a home in Fishtown before it even hit the market. Ian and Barbara loved the idea of working with the bare bones of a home alongside of the contractor so they could choose all of the finishes. The final product was a home that was made to their specifications. Paint color, flooring, tile, kitchen and baths were all customized for these first time home buyers. What a great opportunity this was for everyone involved!

We'd love to help you be involved in customizing your home. Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming developments and opportunities, and as always, please reach out to us to find out about exciting new projects.


Prep Your Home for Fall at Millesime!

Just in at Millesime in Old City...

Fall is the time when we begin to prepare our homes for the long winter and there is nothing more transformative than a rich luxurious textile. Nanimarquina rugs are some of the most fabulous creative rug designs available and they are just in at Millesime. These amazing works of art will completely change the look and feel of any room in your home. These rugs are beautiful enough to use as wall art and durable for floor use. If you are looking for that something special for your home, office, or apartment, then you must come in to the store to see and feel the colors, textures and designs of the Nanimarquina collection to understand the magnificence of these modern textiles.

Millésimé represents a collection of contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories from American and international designers.
41 S 3rd Street


Meet Your Neighbors: The Amazing Folks of Hancock Street

It all started two years ago when we had feedback from a Realtor based on a showing that occurred  in one of our listings for sale on the 800 Block of Hancock Street in Northern Liberties. When Realtors show a home we always ask them for feedback. The feedback went much like this:

“Buyer did not even want to go into the property. This is the ugliest block in the neighborhood!”

Whaaaat? I gasped at the words as I reread them several times over. I own a condo on that block! My clients’ hearts sunk when they saw such harsh words. That was two years ago.

It was that slap in the face comment that got many members of the 800 block of Hancock Street on a MISSION and thus the “Hancock Street Beautification Committee” was born.

Today, this underdog of a block filled with old warehouses and a mix match up of property styles, is well on its way to being the most charming and creative block in the neighborhood. The 800 block is seriously blessed by the most awesome people I have ever met in the world! I am not exaggerating.

Over the last two years they have hosted block cleanups, random acts of painting, tree planting, seasonal plantings, and a street sculpture was even donated to the block (created by artist Leo Razzi). The new construction homes were  finally completed on the block, and the latest achievement was the mural on the back of Sweat Fitness.

The mural is what I would like to highlight for you today. Many neighbors planned and executed this beautiful mural and I wanted to (in the words of Fatboy Slim) “Praise them like I should”.

One of the neighbors and contributors on the 800 Block of Hancock Street, Anna Lee Wheale said this:  "The world would be a better place if every block had a Lori.  She and her husband Michael did the painting with the help of a few others.  And she is constantly planting flowers around the street and sweeping up to make the block look nice.  We are all very lucky to have her as a neighbor.”

To add to that, I would like to recognize the following folks for their awesomeness:
Lori Coyne
Michael Coyne
Warren Wilson
Chris Wheale
Anne Lee Wheale
Lane and Miguel Santos
The 8oo Block Hancock Street Homeowners/Renters

and if I am missing someone I will add you on to this list!

Thank you so much for your contributions to the block and to the neighborhood. Your hard work has not gone unrecognized.


3 Tips for Buyers: Renovating “This Old House”

Many buyers dream about finding an old house and restoring it. You may be one of those people. If you are then you may enjoy watching the video attached. It is a short tour with us as we show our buyers an amazing fixer-upper they are considering buying. In the video, this old house was built in 1865 and most of the original features remain in very good condition. Yet, though the home has tons of history and many exotic features to ponder, there are many repairs needed both inside and outside.

Perhaps your renovation is smaller or the home you want to buy may not have the magnitude of historic features that this particular home does. The fact is that any DIY home improvement project or renovation requires similar actions and strategies. So, after taking the full tour of this old house, here are the 3 tips we offered our clients for their potential home renovation endeavor.

1) Contractor List

 Make a 3 part list including cost estimate and estimated time to complete
a) Repairs that must be done day 1 -30.
b) Renovations that can be done during the first year.
c) The 5 year repair/renovation schedule.

2) Personal List

Make a personal 3 part list just like the above contractor list
a) Repairs you must do to make the home liveable the first month.
b) Renovations you can do on your own at your leisure throughout the year.
c) Repair and renovation projects that can be peppered over the longer term.

3) General suggestions

Things to do while in the midst of planning, renovating, and repairing
a) Get 3 fixed estimates on everything and get it in writing.
b) Never pay for entire projects in advance. Pay upon completion.
c) Kitchens and baths are still the best dollar for dollar return value followed by master bedroom and main living area.
d) Make a backup list of renovations you are willing to sacrifice should a few of your repair costs exceed your projected numbers.

Chime in with your home renovation tips!


Score Free Tickets to the Philadelphia Home Show!

Don't miss out on the 2012 Philadelphia Home Show, which runs until January 22nd. The first 15 people to email [email protected] will get two free tickets each! Just email your first and last name and pick up your tickets at Remax Access at 1033 N 2nd Street here in Northern Liberties. Enjoy!


Tip Jar: Clean Out That Closet!

For this week's tip jar, we transformed some tiny closets! From a closet mess (check out the before video!) to a closet success. Our condo closets were a HUGE problem for being so small. The incredibly Cool Condo Lifestyle is really "all that" and we would not trade it in for anything but admittedly most condos will lack closet space. Where other homeowners who live in traditional urban rowhomes can compensate for smaller closets by using their basement, attic, or spare room, Condo and Apartment Dwellers have to make the most of their small space.

Here is our personal solution for our closet challenges. Our 4 closets including our hall coat closet, our laundry room, and our 2 bedroom closets were filled to the gill and a mess. So, we hired a company to organize these spaces. The cost was only $1,300. The estimate was complementary, the installation was only a couple of hours, and the results are amazing.

We now have more space and we can easily find items, some of which we forgot we owned ! Now we can actually close the coat closet, things are not falling on our heads when we open the doors, and they look so fantastic.

Custom fitted closets add practical value and also increase the net value for homes whether they are a Condo like ours or any other style.

Next on my list is new paint throughout. Hmmm...what color to choose?


Operation Closet Makeover!

Condo Dwellers know that closet space is sacred space and though we love the cool lifestyle and vibe that a condo has to offer, there are often small sacrifices we need to make. Closet space is often one of those small sacrifices when it comes to condo living.

For me and Chris, well, we like to live relatively modestly and we are minimalists in general. (You'd never know that by looking at our office at work). We only keep the clothing we wear, we do not do Costco shopping and buy a year's worth of toilet paper or visit Sam's Club for a flat of cereal. Our closets host only what we use and maybe a few extravagant items here and there.

Over the last couple of years, I have noticed our closets looking like a crazy mess. The last straw was when I opened up our coat closet and a mound of pillows and old computer boxes fell on top of me. I am okay, thanks for asking, but that was the moment I knew we needed a change. We have always lived together in small spaces and with two cats (who take up more space than I would like to admit) we've learned how to make a smaller space work just fine for us. Remember, most condos and apartments have no basements or attics or spare rooms for stuff.

So, long story short, I arranged for closet makeovers for all of our closets. The video slide presentation is what our closets looked like a few hours before the transformation began. Stay tuned for the AFTER video!


Tip Jar: Defeat Dust Mites!

It was a beautifully appointed Philadelphia Home For Sale that I was showing. As we entered the dining room, I dragged my finger gingerly across the smooth surface of the wooden dining table and without thought wrote my name in cursive through a thin layer of dust. “ Whoa! This place is really dusty.” I thought. How could this be? The home was seemingly immaculate in every way? This is a sign that the home’s air filter was due for a change.

Did you know that most people spend about 90% of their day inside? The quality of inside air then becomes a topic of importance. Changing your home’s air filter regularly can reduce your heating and cooling costs plus save your HVAC system from unnecessary damage due to dirt and improper maintenance. Clogged air filters are the #1 reason why home air systems fail.

If a failing HVAC system is not enough to get you to Home Depot to buy a new air filter for a few bucks then maybe this is:

Dust can be made of the following delightful things:

In Average Homes
Dead skin cells
Dried dust mite feces and the remains of their dead corpses
Pollens, dander, and other allergens
Clothing fibers

In New Construction Homes
Drywall dust
Cement dust
Paint particles
Chemicals from flooring and appliances

Homes with Pets
Do we really even need to go there?

Our tip is to change your home's air filter 2-3 times per year, not only to keep your home's air system functioning optimally but to keep you from breathing in the dead corpses of dust mites. May they rest in peace but not up our noses! Ew...


Tip Jar: Don’t Go in the Basement!

"Don't go in the basement!" I shouted. So loud that even the cats hid behind the couch. I can scream that at the top of my lungs on the comfort of my own couch watching my favorite horror flick but I can't say that to a client when I am showing them a home they may potentially buy.

Dark, scary underground lairs can give even the the strongest constitution a chill. Admittedly, we've seen some terrifying basement situations in real life, and the most hair-raising part? A lot of it can be easily prevented or fixed...

1) Get lit. Obviously the number one problem with most basements is that they are below ground, often without any windows, and usually that one blinking lightbulb with a string dangling from it. Or eerie lighting that makes your skin look ghastly, which may be even worse! So please, try for some natural-looking lighting and remember that the basement should be lit more heavily than the rest of the house. We like recessed lighting for basements the best.

2) Get a life. Add some life to the not-so-fresh-smelling basement by adding plants to circulate and clean the air. The only thing living in your basement should be a potted plant that can survive with little sun and needs to be watered only once a month. Stop by City Planter in Northern Liberties to find the perfect potted fit.

3) Get a grip. Why do people always hide their crap in the basement? Go through your treasures, decide what's junk, and get rid of the evidence! If you must keep items, then organize them with shelves or stackable and labeled bins.  Ditch your antique doll collection with disembodied limbs.

4) Get on the floor. We've seen enough shaggy, damp carpet in old basements and cheap carpeting in newer basements to know that carpets are bad news! Carpet in the basement can be a breeding ground for weird smells and potential mold issues. Go with polished cement or nice tile.

5) Get some spidey sense. Cobwebs should be reserved for Halloween only. Here is an easy solution on how to rid your basement of those tangled webs.

How do you make a basement seem bright and welcoming? Let us know in the comments!


Tip Jar: How to Banish the 4 Letter Curse Word “MOLD”

What do the Mad Hatter and the Salem Witch Trials Have in Common?

Answer: All were created by toxins/molds.

Today's Tip Jar is about an all-too-familiar 4 Letter Curse Word: MOLD.

With Hurricane Irene behind us, coupled with the record high rainfall this year, I though it would be a good time to discuss the dreaded 4 letter curse word MOLD. Many homeowners have it. And if they didn't have it before, they could have it now. Mold counts are higher than ever post-Irene.

I am talking about that stinky, musty, nasty matter that plagues so many basements, bathrooms, and anywhere that water sits. There is growing knowledge about mold, such as its dangerous variety, toxic black mold, and more and more people are finding they have an allergy to mold spores.

So how can you stop mold in its tracks?

1) Trusty Bleach. I occasionally get some reddish color mold in my bathroom shower that I can clean with a bleach type chemical remover and voila, it is gone. That is not the best approach for larger areas that have mold and it is certainly not an environmentally friendly remedy.

2) Go Natural. In my research to destroy mold I have found three natural approaches to bleach. Tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, and good old vinegar. These natural remedies do a great job killing the spores.

3) Anti-bacterial Primer. If you have some residual mold on a somewhat porous area I have read that encapsulating the area by painting over it with an anti-bacterial primer such as Kilz helps a lot.

4) Call in the pros.  Try a Mold Remediation Specialist for mold that is extra pesky and dangerous. In the Philadelphia area, we like Jason Morris (610-842-0338).

Why it's important. It's not just the potential health risks and general grossness of mold that matters. Buyers and sellers will want to tackle their mold problem quickly! Mold pops up on home inspections all of the time. We have had some appraisers call for the remediation of a moldy baesmement as a condition of the loan. A Mold Certification (when called for by a lender) is what we typically provide and that shows that the mold was permanently dealt with. A professional will come to the property and take samples of the air back to the laboratory for a series of tests to confirm that the area is safe.

For home sellers, I have a special tip for you: In preparing your home for showings, double check your shower curtains and the grout around your bath and shower. Mold on these surfaces make your bathroom smell less than fresh and the ugly appearance really turns prospective buyers off. And if you have a funky basement that has a water leak or has recently been flooded, it behooves you to look into professionally waterproofing the basement. A wet basement is a "deal killer" for many buyers out there!


Phone: 215.253.6818