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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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: , , , , ,

Winters Victorian Farmhouse Inspirations


This home has Victorian farmhouse roots. Adding a touch of gingerbread and color are key elements to restoring this home into the jewel of the block.

The existing front door is not appropriate for the style of this home. I found this perfect replacement door at my local salvage shop. With a quick strip, patch and paint this “new” door will add instant curb appeal.


The kitchen cleaned up beautifully.



Ann Carrington Inspired

Art: UK artist Anne Carrigton, Wallpaper: and, and Swedish pewter chandelier c/o

Posted in INSPIRATIONS Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scott Alley, San Francisco, CA

Spa bathroom update for this SOMA vacation home.

Centra 30″ Single Bathroom Vanity for Undermount Sinks by Wyndham Collection – Gray Oak. www.modernbathroom .com

List Price $1,050.00

Your Price $824.00 + 175.00 manmade white stone top (no faucet)

Grohe 32216 Essence One Hole Bathroom Faucet


$349.00 49% Off


Honed hex marble tile


Polished limestone floor to ceiling behind vanity and behind medicine cabinet mirror.

Shower Surround

Matte Finished oyster white subway tile

Grohe 35010 Concetto Pressure Balanced Valve Shower Trim Set


$219.00 49% Off

Pillar 12″ x 36″ Recessed Medicine Cabinet by Jensen


Posted in COLOR, INSPIRATIONS, INTERIOR DESIGN, PAST PROJECTS Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fireplace – Contemporary Farmhouse Winters

The existing fireplace was drab and uninteresting. Adding an oversized mantle created a much needed anchor in this open concept home. The glass subway tile is an updated classic that reflects light from the adjacent French doors.

Posted in INSPIRATIONS Tagged with: , , , , ,

Fountain – Contemporary Farmhouse Project

I picked up this piece of architectural salvage for around $50. It was the base of a column from a demolished building and is made of gazed terracotta. I inverted the piece to create an infinity edge and the tranquil flow of water.

The existing walkway needed to be replaced so I took the opportunity to change the flow of traffic. The circular path slows guests down and encourages them to appreciate the garden.



There seems to be a new variety of iris in bloom every time I visit the property during spring and summer.


Posted in COLOR, CURRENT PROJECTS, INSPIRATIONS Tagged with: , , , ,

Nature Inspired

Console by Ralph Pucci, Leather Swivel in Peacock from Horchow, color Benjamin Moore.


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Wine Country Manufactured Home Transformation

Turn boring “Before” into Country Chic.


Replace windows and provide access to patio living area.


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Victorian Farmhouse Inspired

My third project home in Winters, CA is located just steps off Main Street.

It appears that the original structure predates the 1936 public record. Over the years this home has undergone “upgrades” that I plan to remove. My intention is to restore this old farmhouse while ensuring it functions well for modern living.

What is underneath all that vinyl siding? Stay tuned for updates… this home needs everything!


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