Bonny Doon

I recommend creating an entry tower by painting this façade in the mid tone similar to the overall roof color. This will add some needed definition as well as weight down the entrance.

A deeper color should be used for gutters, rafters, and the soffit (underside of roof). This color should be the deepest color found in the roof.

The first floor and trim should be lightest color. This means the trim around the patio doors would be the same color as the siding.

The colors I’ve selected may need to be tweaked slightly based on the actual roof color. As long as your colors are kept neutral (relate well to your roof) can put just about any color on the front door.

Benjamin Moore Horizon – First floor (body and trim) trim around front door and second story window.

Benjamin Moore Gothic Arch – Front door tower façade, second story (including first and second story sides), and chimney. This should blend in with the overall color of your roof.

Benjamin Moore Windy City – Gutters, rafter tails, soffits

BM Douglas Fir – Front door and sidelights

Swap out scones with oil rubbed bronze (similar to garage sconces but larger) to match door hardware.

Add missing/continue trim piece on left side of front door. These vertical “trim” pieces should be painted the same mid-tone color and NOT accented.

Roof trim, gutters, and soffits.

Garage door surface only.

Body of garage and trim.


6026 Acacia Ave, Oakland, CA

curb appeal oakland

Curb Appeal

Repaint all trim, windows, and painted exterior doors in Benjamin Moore HC-96 Richmond Grey. This will limestone hue will provide for a subtle and elegant look that will warm the grey. This hue also blends in with the weathering on the pigmented stucco.

Replace dead shrub to right of garage door with Butterfly Iris (Dietes) to match planing bed on the other side of the garage. Cluster three 1-gallon plants in this triangular bed to fill up the space.

Replace garage door with a Carriage house styled door. Paint door in Benjamin Moore HC-94 Old Salem Grey. This will brighten the homes façade without being too committal or specific.


Repaint all iron work in Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

Power wash all exterior paved surfaces including driveway. Lightly wash caps on fence piers but leave fig ivy.

Move garden bench to patio area where the flagstone path ends.

Trim up shoots on cherry trees along the sidewalk as well as plum at entry gate.

Remove television antenna from roof.


Dress all planting beds with dark mulch like “Forest Floor” from American soil products. This is cost-effective mulch that should be used around all plantings with emphasis on the front sidewalk, left side of driveway and the courtyard. American Soil Products 510-292-3000 will deliver ½ yard to driveway.

Add grasses and some color spots.


Rubrum, Verbena, and Salvia will blend in nicely $4.99-16.00 Orchard Supply Hardware.


Trim vines back to allow for a clearer/more direct route to the front door.

Add an over sized front door mat to create a runway entrance to front door. Picture Frame Doormat from Pottery Barn in black $79.00.

Refinish front door with light sanding (220 grit), then clean with mineral spirits, and then apply 1-2 coats of MINWAX Tung Oil.

Add a trellis to right side of kitchen window to balance rose on left side. Orchard Supply Hardware $54.99.

Plant a Yellow Lady Banks Rose (Rosa Banksiae Lutea) with trellis to front corner right of kitchen window.

Master Bedroom

Replace closet door knobs in north bedroom and master bedroom. Total of 8 knobs needed and recommend matching to door hardware throughout the home.

Home Depot – Liberty Model PN2001-OB3-C Internet #202023599 Store SKU #526497 1-1/4 in. Dark Oil Ribbed Bronze Builders Hollow Cabinet Knob $1.49.

Master Bathroom

Use a marble restorer kit (Home Depot $69.00) to address master bath shower walls and flooring.


Replace all soffit florescent tubes in kitchen in warm white. Replace damaged refrigerator with another counter depth stainless model.

Add panels to freshen up dishwasher. Clean stove top with oven cleaner then stainless polish.

Replace veneer trim on island.

Clean all cabinetry with Murphy’s Oil Soap. This cleans, conditions, and will leave the kitchen smelling great.

Dining Room

Replace burned out bulbs and remove window covering.


In the interest of saving time and money, I recommend color matching the trim white. This will allow the painters to cover in a single coat only where needed and avoids cutting in to the glass.

Use Benjamin Moore Chamois BM-969 in eggshell on Walls and ceilings throughout the home. This hue will provide a warm neutral background for staging and new home owners.

Remind painters to keep box beams in trim white but use the Chamois color on the ceiling panels/just the flat ceiling surface.

Rear Patio

Power wash patio, decking and pergola posts as discussed.

Trim back butterfly bush and add mulch under plantings in this area.

Clear weeds and grass from area around storage shed.

Clear out dead cattails and trim back ivy to expose stone outcropping and water feature.

Keep fountain pump running while property is on the market.


Buyers for this home want clean, done, and ready to move in.

Use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean wood banister and hardwood flooring throughout the home. This is a simple to use product that works wonders on hardwood.

Make sure all burned out light bulbs are replaced with warm hue bulbs. While your home is on the market, lights may be left on for many hours. Keep replacement bulbs in a closet.

Keep blinds open and/or pulled up in every room.

Ensure kitchen and bathroom cabinets are completely cleared out and clean.

Painters must remember to paint inside closets.

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Benvenue Ave, Oakland, CA

This home is on a highly desirable block in a top East Bay neighborhood.

Curb Appeal

Home owner is contracted to have shingle repair work completed on the south and west sides of the main building. As those areas will need to be repainted, the rest of building should be repainted at the same time for general maintenance.

I recommend color matching the existing paint. The scheme is sophisticated, a perfect fit for the architecture, and makes repainting much faster on less weathered parts.

Some of the brackets/trim detail has been painted the house body color. This should be corrected when repainted by reviewing all in advance with the painter.

Steps to lower unit are in need of paint.


Enclosed porch should be painted when the building is repainted.


Remove door hanging bracket from dining room entry header before repainting unit.

Front door is beautiful. Ask cleaners to use Murphy’s Oil Soap cleaner to condition and clean the wood.

Paint and floor screening.

Living Room

Damage/cracked ceiling should be repaired.

Discussed options for adding blown in cellulose insulation for sound proofing and privacy between units. This involves drilling holes and patching the ceiling so it could be incorporated with the repair work.

Paint and floor screening.

Dining Room

Fireplace mantle should be painted trim color to help it look more authentic. That oak color and large wood grain don’t go with the age of the home. If inclined, adding vintage or vintage looking tiles (installed over existing tile) is an easy way to make the mantel look more authentic.

Paint and floor screening.

Master Bedroom

Great space – nothing to do but paint and have floors screened.


A quick redo prior to selling would have a good payoff. A pony wall at the end of the tub needs to be built to provide a finished end for the tub and privacy for the water closet.

There are some local renovation contactors who specialize in baths. Typically they have materials they like to use so these specifics should be discussed ahead of time with emphasis on authentic looking materials.

Hex marble tiled floor and oversized subway tile tub wall will add authenticity without rearranging the fixtures.


This kitchen is large, clean, and functional. I would replace the appliances with a new suite in stainless. Not top of the line, just nice, clean, and new. Purchase counter depth (24″) refrigerator to open up space in that high traffic area.

This will enable buyers to “live with” a dated kitchen if they are not in a position to renovate immediately. Providing plans for a new kitchen (even a simple cabinet layout from Home Depot) can really help buyer’s see potential.

Remove vinyl and refinish fir (presumed) floors underneath.


As discussed, consider options for moving washer/dryer downstairs. I would remove the boxed frame and leave the hook-up’s. Leaving the space open help buyers visualize a large kitchen, or separate office area, or laundry, or ??

Remove vinyl and refinish fir (presumed) floors underneath.

Adding a small deck off the back porch would give this unit some dedicated outdoor space that is currently lacking. Worth every penny invested because this feels like more square feet.

Guest Bedroom

Paint and floor screening.


Exterior repairs are already planned. In the current market, I think this property would receive multiple offers and sell at an attractive price.

In addition to the exterior repairs (already contracted), the following items should be considered. These are listed in priority, in terms of adding most value by eliminating obstacles for potential buyers. In order of priority:

    exterior and interior paint

    insulate between floors/repairs to ceiling plaster

    screen floor hardwood floors/remove vinyl and refinish in kitchen/laundry

    replace appliances

    update bathroom

    add private deck off back

Posted in INTERIOR DESIGN, PAST PROJECTS, SELLING Tagged with: , , , , ,

Warm or Cool with Accessories and Paint



Loloi Carpet c/o, Lantau Faux Shareen Chest of Drawers and pillows c/o OKA, side tables c/o Clayton Gray Home, and paint from Benjamin Moore.


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Curb Appeal

Buyers buy neighborhoods and they start assessing value based on what they see as they approach your property. Nice looking homes that are situated on blighted blocks are a hard sell while rough houses on great blocks attract buyers.

In general, your neighborhood is what it is. That said it is often worth the money to pay for some gardening/general cleanup of adjacent properties when selling your home if those properties will distract or turn off potential buyers. Often poorly maintained properties are rentals with landlords who are all too happy for free gardening. If you don’t have a good relationship with those neighbors, ask your real estate agent to break the ice or coordinate a cleanup.

Look at your own property from the perspective of a buyer. Stand across the street and take photos that include the neighboring homes. It’s natural to become oblivious to dead or overgrown plants, a cracked window, or missing shutter you were going to replace last year.

Start at the top by having old television antennas removed, repairing vents and dormers, and having gutters and downspouts repaired.

If needed, have the home gently power washed to remove dust and grime without striping the paint. Should the home need repainting (see Exterior Paint), power washing will likely be included as part of the painters prep work.

Repair broken or cracked windows. Unless you really need them, remove and store window screens and make sure windows are sparkling clean inside and out.

Porch lights, sconces, and post lights should be thoroughly cleaned. Touch up old weathered fixture with heat resistant paint and replace light bulbs with matching warm bulbs.

Landscaping should be addressed as soon as you are planning to sell. Avoid heavy pruning and trimming if this will expose branchy under growth that will take a season or more to green up.

Avoid planting flowers that won’t get watered and plant colorful grasses instead. Grasses are more likely to hold up with sporadic watering and give you more coverage for the expense.

Power wash all patios, sidewalks, walkways, driveways, and decks. Take precautions if you are doing this yourself. The pressure on even the wimpiest power washer can cause damage. Standing back and using a broad sweeping washer head will give you best results. Work top to bottom and from the house out away from the house.

Remove excess clutter from patios and decks. These areas should be furnished with outdoor seating and planters with colorful grasses where appropriate. Well staged outdoor seating areas add visual square footage to your home.

Planting beds should have a fresh thick layer of mulch. Avoid red bark, hairy gorilla bark, or anything else that doesn’t look like it came from nature. I prefer forest floor mulch which is dark dirt brown.

Approaching the front door should be a welcoming experience along a well-defined path. I advise erring on the side of formality when creating your entry approach. All buyers want to feel like they are buying up so formal is the safe bet. When possible, modify entry paths that are in a straight line from the front door to the street.

If an entry redesign is not in the budget, use planters filled with drought-tolerant plants to infringe on to the walkway.

The front door should be refinished or painted if worn or dull. Inexpensive or broken door hardware should be replaced and graphite used on squeaky hinges.

Replace the doormat with something new. Depending the shape and scale of the entrance, I use oversized mats (use carpet tape to combine two or more mats) or outdoor rugs and runners.


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Mottled Color Powder Room

Updating or adding a powder room is an ideal way to add value and function to most homes. Typically small, powder rooms are ideal spaces for homeowners to personalize and use high-end materials. I like using images and objects from travel as a design jumping off point. This image was taken on the road to Vinales, Cuba.



Hand Forged Metal Mirror c/o // Backsplash mossaic c/o // Tempered glass basin by Y-Décor c/o // Petrified Wood Sink by Luca from Natural Stone Sinks

Bronze leaf paper ceiling

Kohler Persuade in Dune c/o

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Collecting Art Abroad

Artist – Eduardo Santana Navarro


Bring art home is great way to keep your important travel experiences alive. Look for original works of art and know how you are going to get the piece home… with you or shipped.

I asked the artist of this piece to remove the canvas from the stretcher and roll it. This made it much easier for me to transport home and left a valuable art supply with the artist.

When shopping in a gallery and dealing with a broker it not uncommon for a little price or terms haggling. I do not haggle over price when dealing directly with the artist in their studio. If you don’t want to pay the price, ask them to show you something within your budget. Your boss doesn’t come into your office and challenge your worth or expect you to take a pay cut. A little respect and courtesy goes far with most artists.

When selecting a piece of art, think about the size and options for where placement once home. I have more art than walls so I swap out some pieces every six months. When you stop noticing your art, it’s time to move things around.

Be certain to keep a bio of the artist and details about the transaction attached to the back of the piece. Records for especially valuable works should be kept separate from the piece should it be stolen, damaged, or destroyed. Homeowner insurance policies typically cover a small amount for art as these policies are designed for structures and basic contents.


Artist – Eduardo Santana Navarro

Born on October 24, 1966 in the municipality of San Miguel del Padron, Havana, Cuba. He began studying Fine Arts in 1980, in the workshop of Plastic Arts of San Miguel del Padron municipality, located at that time in the Ernest Hemingway House Museum in San Francisco de Paula and directed by the painter and sculptor Orestes Vergel. From that experience and context Watcher group which participates in several group exhibitions was born. Part of their training is self-taught. He is a member of the ACAA and Muraleando Community Art Project in Havana, Cuba.

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Orange Inspired

I’m glad I got a shot of this fence before another repaint. Adding complimentary hues when using a saturated/strong solid color helps to emphasize that color.




Designer Emily Severinsen. Image c/o



Design by Barry Dixon // Vintage Cigar Ribbon Quilt



Design by Christian Leone c/o Lonny

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Cuban Tobacco Farm – Function Over Form?

Post and beam tobacco drying barns are dotted throughout the agricultural region of Vinales in Cuba. The tobacco market is quite lucrative but building materials are scare. Decades of Cuban resourcefulness has resulted in a landscape filled with these simple beauties.




Vintage Ribbed Metal Pendant c/o // Papa Bear Lounge Chair by Hans J. Wegner, Produced by AP Stolen c/o // Tilia CL Ebony Reversible Upholstery Fabric by P Kaufmann c/o Overstock Fabrics // Malila Grey Stool and Horizon Bookcase 1 Drawer c/o

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Are You Fixed On A Fixer?

Even though I’ve bought and sold numerous fixer-uppers I still do not claim to be an expert. This is because the cost and time factors vary dramatically from one property to the next. The property owner needs to ask themselves critical questions such as: Do you plan to stay in the home for several years? Will your marriage survive a renovation? Are you sure about that?

Big red flags for me with any home renovation which includes partially completed previous attempts at renovation, as depicted in the photo above. Investors frequently walk away from properties with half done projects. Most often when a buyer sees a half done project they will assume that it will often need to be done all over again. However, investors are not as likely to walk away from a property if the work to done may be completed quickly and inexpensively.

In my experience, it costs more and takes more time to renovate older homes. This is especially true when you are trying to maintain period character and details in the home. Updating older homes with new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) adds true value but the older home may remain uncomfortable and expensive to heat and ventilate without the additional costs of including properly installed insulation as part of your project.

Fixers often come ” as-is ” but that doesn’t mean you should ever buy a home without first bringing your own personal home inspector through the entire property. Local home inspectors who are available for hire will be familiar with homes in that area and will usually be equipped to identify hidden or less-obvious problems. Always know the exact status of what you are buying and be financially prepared to take on any major costs before making any offer.

You must obtain proper permits from your local governing agencies and subsequently make their Building Inspector your partner in the renovation process. City and/or County Building Inspectors can be a pain, but their job is to protect you by ensuring that your contractor’s work meets all local rules, regulations and codes. You don’t want to pay for a contractor’s work which may eventually be rejected by the Inspectors. If you are performing any major work on your home you may expect an Official Inspector to knock on the door sometime during that process. Be prepared.


An overgrown backyard and overall lack of garden upkeep can be a back-breaker to correct. For me, the work required to clear and create a fresh landscape is extremely rewarding and all of that sweat equity really helps keep costs down when that is a factor. If you do not experience this same sense of reward in gardening I recommend that you hire a local landscaping expert to create a professional design for your garden space. Utilizing those professional skill sets should provide you with a beautiful garden planted with lovely specimens, appropriate for your local area, and which complement the space. Great landscaping will add immediate value and provide years of enjoyment to your property.

It’s easy to fall in love with a property that may be begging you bring it back to a good state of life, but remember that not all love affairs end well. I’ve made some property project mistakes (some big ones) But, I always obtain such joy with them that the headaches, heartaches, and inevitable surprises are manageable and are soon forgotten once the project is successfully completed.

So is a fixer a good fit for you?


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