Friday, December 29, 2017

DIY Ideas to Make Your Home Feel Bigger—Without Construction

Breaking down walls and renovating an entire space is not only time-consuming, but it’s also expensive and, in most cases, requires the help of professionals. Luckily, you don’t have to do major construction to make small spaces feel bigger.
If you’re not up for knocking down walls, focus on small DIY projects that can make your home feel bigger, the following of which are perfect for every homeowner, regardless of skill level or budget. From lighting to ceiling paint, consider how you can open up the space in your home without a sledgehammer and construction team.

Paint the Ceiling

The ceiling and trim have just as much an impact on the look and feel of the room as your furniture, yet they’re easy to overlook when painting. To open up your home without construction, consider how you can tie your ceiling and trim into the rest of the room:
“Homeowners typically leave the trim and ceiling white in their living rooms when painting. Since the trim and ceiling both have as much impact as the walls, it’s important to tie them in with the rest of the space, otherwise they’ll stand out too much,” says Brian Patrick Flynn with HGTV. When your ceilings stand out, the size of the space immediately feels smaller.
Flynn’s suggestion for choosing the best paint colors: “A smart way to use one color consistently throughout a common area is to choose a slightly lighter shade than the wall color for the ceiling and a slightly darker shade for the trim.” Talk with your local hardware or paint store to find the lighter shades that match with your current paint, or start over with a whole new color scheme.

Make it Brighter

A dark room always feels smaller, and this is an easy DIY fix: let in the light, as Coral Nafie, blogger for The Spruce, suggests: “Any room will look larger if it’s well-lit, either by natural light or artificial lighting. Get rid of heavy draperies and open up the windows to let the light of the outdoors into the space.” A few more ways to bring more light into the room include:
  • Sheer drapes
  • Ceiling lighting
  • Replace lamp shades with lighter colors or none at all
If the space has no windows at all, consider the costs for installing one or a few, depending on the size of the room. Take the DIY route and follow this tutorial from This Old House.

Convert the Basement

If you already have a finished, insulated basement, the next step is to turn it into a space where people want to spent time. When you do, your home suddenly feels bigger because you have an entirely new room to use. This added area is great for you now and is will be helpful if you’re thinking of selling soon as well:
“All buyers want the maximum amount of living space they can get for their budget. Converting your basement into a living space is a great way to add additional square footage without having to build anything onto the house,” according to Which Home Improvements Add the Most Value to Your Home.
This DIY project doesn’t have to happen in one weekend. Instead, reduce the stress and cost by making upgrades slowly, over the course of 1 to 2 months. Install carpeting or update the flooring, followed by adding furniture and then some artwork on the walls. Final touches can be added as you find fun items or inspiration strikes.

Enjoy More Space

These simple projects will help you create the bigger home you’d always wanted. Instead of knocking down walls, tackle each project one-by-one for a budget-friendly, hassle-free upgrade. As you play with paint colors, lighting and more, you may even be inspired to tackle more fun DIY projects, and you can get some fun ideas here.

Guest post by Jessica Thiefels

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending December 16, 2017

It has been another steady year for buying and selling residential real estate. The
primary trends of inventory decline and price increase continued, and more of the
same is anticipated in 2018 if consumer, employer and builder confidence remain
high. Tweaks in tax law and mortgage rates could create either unwanted or
desirable effects, depending on the market. Trend lines may flatten or turn, but it's
too soon to say exactly what will happen.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending December 16:
 • New Listings increased 9.0% to 641
 • Pending Sales decreased 1.3% to 752
 • Inventory decreased 23.9% to 8,499

For the month of November:
 • Median Sales Price increased 6.5% to $245,000
 • Days on Market decreased 11.1% to 56
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.4%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 21.7% to 1.8

Information Gathered from MAAR
Publish Date: December 26, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

5 Ways to Start 2018 Right in Your Home

2018 is almost here! While you might consider making some New Year’s resolutions, you first need to think about your end of the year list. To get your home in tiptop shape for 2018, here are some important and efficient ways to get it ready.

1. Clean, clean, CLEAN!
If you haven’t taken care of the essential house cleaning chores, now is the time. You’ll want to quickly or deeply clean many areas of your home. These include:

Gutters & downspouts
Air vents
Not only does this give your home a refreshed look, it also keeps you financially savvy going into 2018. Without the proper cleaning, areas like the air vents and gutters can lead to expensive home repair bills.

2. Purge & Recycle
Nobody likes looking at a full closet, especially if you have holiday presents to add. So go through every bit of storage in your home – closets, attic, basement, garage, shed, etc. – and remove what you don’t need. You can either throw it away or recycle it by donating to a local secondhand shop. That way, you have tons of space for next year’s discoveries.

3. Increase Efficiency
If you’re going through bills and notice a marked increase in utility costs, now is the time to plan out an efficient home in 2018. This could be as simple as turning off the lights more often and conserving water. On the other hand, if you have some extra dollars, you might consider improvements like:

Double or triple-paned windows
Solar panel(s)
Upgrade your faucets and water outlets

One of the most important – and expensive – parts of your home is the HVAC system. It keeps the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Because it does so much work, it needs some fine-tuning and maintenance at least every six months. To make sure you avoid an expensive bill in 2018, go through the system. Replace the filter, clean out the vents and make sure it’s all working smoothly. If you aren’t an HVAC pro, you can find plenty in the neighborhood to come for a quick checkup.

5. Review the Exterior
Roofing, landscaping, doors, siding – have you given them a thorough look? All of these are important to a beautiful appearance and optimal safety. You need to check for cracks, holes, overhanging branches and the like. You can always get a home inspector for a more in-depth review, but most of it you can do yourself. Doing a quick circle around the house with some spackle or caulk works at least in the short term.

Going into 2018 means letting go of 2017’s hassles. To feel free of any stress, you should take care of the essentials, including your home. Maintenance and some cheap upgrades could make all the difference personally and financially in the New Year. Don’t feel you have to go all out, or else you’ll be too tired for new tasks. Make sure there’s a nice balance of work and play so you get the best start to 2018.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis
Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending December 9, 2017

National economic trends can help inform what the housing market will do over the
next year. Residential real estate should remain active if joblessness continues to
decline and wage growth picks up. However, those increased wages must be in line
with median sales price increases. Unfortunately, that has not always been the
case. Add in factors such as increasing mortgage rates, student loan debt and
lower affordability, and the balance becomes more interesting but not
insurmountable for home purchasers.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending December 9:
• New Listings increased 3.0% to 762
• Pending Sales decreased 7.5% to 747
• Inventory decreased 23.5% to 8,837

For the month of November:
• Median Sales Price increased 6.5% to $245,000
• Days on Market decreased 11.1% to 56
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.4%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 21.7% to 1.8

Information Gathered from MAAR
Publish Date: December 18, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016

Thursday, December 14, 2017

10 Must-Do Winter DIY Craft Projects

10 Must-Do Winter DIY Craft Projects
December marks the month where we all descend into holiday mode — you know, the mode where we spend every weekend letting our creativity shine with cooking, decorating, gifting or keeping the kids busy. DIYing has some obvious benefits, of course. It saves money. It also calms the mind. And, if you’re planning to give something you’ve DIYed as a gift, people will often regard the object as special because you made with your heart (and the investment of your time).
Whether you’re looking to DIY all of your holiday gifts this year or are just looking for a creative crafting project to sink your hands into, we combed Pinterest for some of our favorite DIY winter craft projects. Even if you’re new to crafting, we tried to pick creations that are both beautiful and easy to replicate. In other words, you don’t need to be a DIY expert. You just need to have some extra time on your hands, and some creative vision! Aren’t the holidays fun?!
DIY Snow Globe
Do you remember being mesmerized by the shimmering magic of a snow globe as a child? Bring a little of that magic back by creating your own homemade to hand out to your closest of friends, thanks to this helpful how-to from Martha Stewart.
DIY Indigo Marbled Ornaments 
These DIY Indigo Marbled Ornaments from Alice & Lois will give your Christmas tree instant cool factor.
DIY Advent Calendar 
Get into the countdown to Christmas with this big, eye-catching, vintage-esque advent calendar, thanks to the creative geniuses at The Painted Hive.
DIY Dog Treats 

Why shouldn’t your favorite furry friend get a holiday treat? If you have a dog lover in your life, why not bake them these pumpkin peanut butter dog treats from Creek Line House. (Simply swap out the cookie cutters for more holiday-appropriate shapes like Santas and Christmas trees.)
DIY Christmas Stocking Hangers 
Do you need a use for that dusty old Charles Dickens collection?  Turn your classics on the bookshelf into Christmas Stocking Hangers with this simple project from Simply Shellie. The best part? You don’t even need a mantle!
DIY Wine Elf 
If you’re looking for a neat way to dress up a bottle of wine as a holiday hostess gift, this Wine Elf idea from HGTV is for you.  These little elfs are too cute to resist, right?
DIY Infused Olive Oils
From lemon-infused oil to rosemary-infused oil, the creatives over at Just Putzing offer a perfect and fairly fail-proof project for anyone who loves to cook — or eat bread.
DIY Sugar Scrub 
If you’re looking to make your holiday gift girlfriend-aways this year, look no further than this festive Cranberry Sugar Scrub from Imperial Sugar. Load them up in cute little glass jars with lids, which you can find at your local dollar store or even Ikea, and wrap them up in a sweet red bow, and voila! They’ll be wowed by your DIY skills.
DIY Miniature Christmas Trees
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids (and keep their minds occupied at the same time), try creating these miniature trees using cardboard tree forms from a craft store, plastic spoons, hot glue and spray paint — courtesy of Jocie of One Project Closer. 
DIY Christmas List Ornament 
Here’s one more for the little ones, via Craft Snob: they can give Santa a heads about their holiday wish list with some simple wooden spools and red paint.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending December 2, 2017

As the year works its way to a closing crescendo, it is evident that the year's
predominant storyline is beyond a clever weekly jab. It has been an interesting and
remarkably positive year for residential real estate. Even as some desirable housing
tax breaks are on the verge of sunsetting, real estate, as a whole, remains in great

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending December 2:
 • New Listings increased 6.7% to 817
 • Pending Sales decreased 1.3% to 947
 • Inventory decreased 22.7% to 9,429

For the month of October:
 • Median Sales Price increased 6.1% to $244,000
 • Days on Market decreased 14.8% to 52
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.7%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 14.8% to 2.3

Publish Date: December 11, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016
Information Gathered from MAAR

Friday, December 8, 2017

Happy Friday!

Are you looking for some fun activities to do this weekend? Check these out:

It’s the European Christmas Market at Union Depot in St. Paul. The market is based on the traditional, charming, and festive open air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in Germany, Austria and other countries during the Advent season. Shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations from local vendors, drink Gl├╝hwein (spiced mulled wine), and taste European-inspired food and delicacies. Here is the schedule of events this weekend:
Saturday, December 9
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Krampus
12:30 – 2 p.m.: Elizabethan Syngers
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.: Mark Stillman – Accordionist
3:30 – 4 p.m.: Krampus
6:30 – 7 p.m.: Krampus
7 – 9 p.m.: Santa Claus

Sunday, December 10
12 – 2 p.m.: Tiny Christmas Elves
1 – 2 p.m.: Marlowe – Eukelele
2 – 4 p.m.: Santa Claus

For more information click here: 

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is celebrating the holiday cheer with residents of Golden Valley and surrounding communities on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec 10.
Attendees are asked to bring a bag of healthy, non-perishable food donations for PRISM, which serves 6,000 residents of Golden Valley, New Hope, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Plymouth each year!

This event is free and will begin at 4:15 pm, with complimentary warm beverages, treats, a photo booth, and carolers. At 4:50 pm, Canadian Pacific’s festively-decorated 14-car train will pull in at Golden Hills Dr (by Allianz) in Golden Valley. You’ll enjoy performances by local and guest musicians, hear brief addresses from PRISM and Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris, and take in the wonder of the lights on the train!

Further details can be found on the Golden Valley City website:

A little closer to home is the Minnesota Arboretum which is hosting their Making Spirits Bright After Hours Holiday Lights. It’s free to members and only $15 for non-members. Take in 6 displays of outdoor lights installed in the gardens. Indoors you can see thousands of lights and beautiful trees. For more information click here:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

8 Stunning Black Kitchens to Admire

We’ve got an amazing array of new black kitchen photos from around the world to peruse. I think it’s high time to take a look at the dark kitchens that the pros have added to their portfolios — here are 8 fabulous standouts.

1. The Fashionista

It figures that this chic kitchen is in the fashion capital of Milan. The black cabinets let the stylish brass toe kick, magnetic racks and ceiling detail shine, while the floor nods to classic Roman marble statues.

2. The Curve Embracer

In this Vancouver townhouse, designer Lori Steeves embraced the existing ebony wood veneer on the cabinets, making the most of them by placing a few key curves in front of them: the graphic white molded plastic counter stools and the stainless steel light fixtures that are two graceful squiggles. “I love the way these elements play against the dark cabinets,” she says.

3. A Little Bit Country

Red berries and amber bottles in the window add just the right amount of fall color to this charming kitchen in New York. White ceilings and a white shiplap backsplash add just enough contrast to all of the black on the cabinets, while gray speckled granite and charcoal slate floors mediate between the two. The wood countertop on the island adds a just-right rustic touch for the bucolic setting.

4. A Little Bit Rock ’n’ Roll

Conversely, this kitchen in Austin, Texas, stuck with super-sleek finishes, sharp lines and edgy accents like the artful chandelier. Like the previous example, carefully edited dollops of white and wood add contrast and warmth.

5. Graphic and Fantastic

A lot of the latest black kitchen designs come from Houzz Russia and they have got the look down. In this Moscow apartment, the cylindrical vent, geometric tile’s diagonal lines and yellow conical pendants add graphic elements.

6. The Modern Victorian

An addition off the back of this traditional Victorian home in England has a boxy, modern look but respects the original architecture. Black walls, cabinets and open shelves lend a contemporary look while the range mantel and backsplash nod to the original style of the home. The large island adds contrast and traditional style.

Another thing to note about making black work in the kitchen is lighting. A glass wall and skylight bring plenty of natural light into this room.

7. The Sleek Backdrop

These homeowners love to watch the stunning changes of the four seasons out these windows that overlook a lake in The Laurentians, north of Montreal. So together with their designer, they decided black was the only way to go in the kitchen. The finishes are matte so as not to be too reflective and distracting. (The cabinets have a black-stained oak with a matte finish, and the countertops are an Indian slate called Black Wave.) Pine ceilings with a gray wash stain add warmth overhead.

8. The Color Block

This Australian kitchen is a clever composition of subtle and not-so-subtle changes in tone and texture. Blocks of charcoal gray, black, barely off-white and wood are assembled like a modern work of art. The overall look is dark, yet there’s plenty of warmth and light.

Guest Post by Becky Harris, Houzz

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending November 25, 2017

From week to week, the tallies may vary slightly from the week prior in year-overyear
comparisons, whether with a strong positive surge or a lingering negative
streak. Tracking weekly figures is important for active real estate professionals, but
the cooldown period of a meaningful real estate trend often takes weeks, if not
months, to draw determined conclusions.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending November 25:
 • New Listings decreased 11.9% to 450
 • Pending Sales increased 12.7% to 702
 • Inventory decreased 21.7% to 9,878

For the month of October:
 • Median Sales Price increased 6.1% to $244,000
 • Days on Market decreased 14.8% to 52
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.7%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 14.8% to 2.3

Information Gathered from MAAR
Publish Date: December 4, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Happy December!

It’s Holiday Time!

Have you been to the Holidazzle Festival? You can skate, meet Santa, enjoy the light up art installations and play some fun games. Tonight (Dec. 2nd) there will be fireworks at 7:00pm and tomorrow (Dec. 3rd) they will be showing Beauty and the Beast at the Holidazzle Movie Night at 5:00pm. If you want to see the whole schedule of events click here:

It’s also Christmas in Excelsior!
There are events starting at 9:30am today (Dec. 2nd) with the free movie SING. There will be wagon rides, a chili dinner, tree lighting, santa, carolers and an after party. For the full details check out their Facebook event:

Happy start to the holiday season!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winter Home Health Check-Up: Three Areas to Examine Now

The holidays are just around the corner and thus winter weather is at our doorstep. Now is the ideal time to do a home health check-up to ensure your home is prepared for the ice and snow winter will bring.
So, what are the three key areas of your home to examine and what do you look for? We have you covered from roof to deck. Follow this step-by-step home check-up guide to find warning signs and advice on how to repair them.

1. Roof

  • Shingles that are warped, blistered, missing or torn
  • Shingles covered in moss or algae, which hold moisture and encourage rot
  • Loose material or wear around chimneys, pipes and other penetrations
  • Overhanging tree branches that could gouge the roof in a strong wind
  • Excessive debris (leaves, dirt, ice, roofing granules) in the gutters or downspouts, which block drainage
  • Ceiling spots or leaks
  • Cracked paint
  • Discolored plasterboard
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Mold, mildew or rot in the walls, ceilings, insulation and electrical systems
  • In the attic, look for signs of water infiltration such as staining, dampness, or mold growing on insulation, sheathing and rafters. A poorly ventilated attic that shows signs of moisture promotes the roof's decay. Sufficient attic ventilation can be achieved by installing larger or additional vents.
  • Leaks or breaks in seams around window trim and sills
  • Uneven doorframes
  • Discolored plasterboard
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Chipped or cracked stucco finishes
  • Mold, mildew, or rot in the walls, insulation, and electrical systems
  • Missing, cracked, or blistered paint inside the home
  • Warped boards
  • Cracked or split boards
  • Debris that is "clogging up" space between deck boards
  • Look under the deck for corroded joist hangers and other connectors
  • Soft wood
  • Mold and mildew

2. Windows & Doors
3. Deck

How do you know when your roof is in trouble? Look for these warning signs. Outside
You've probably never thought about it, but your roof has to battle a lot of Mother Nature's enemies: ultraviolet rays, rain, wind, snow and ice. But the good news is most new shingle roofs are designed to last about 20 years. Slate roofs and some types of tile and metal roofs can last even longer. The actual life span of your roof is determined by several factors, including environmental conditions, material quality, proper application and regular roof maintenance.

Repairs Needed?
If repairs are needed, don't skimp on quality to save a few cents. Much of the damage associated with serious storms results from water entering the home when roof coverings or siding is blown off. This is why it is imperative that you have a secondary layer of waterproofing protection underneath the shingles and siding. If proper protection measures are not taken, the resulting leaks are the main cause of interior damage, as well as potential causes of rot and mold. Rot and mold can lead to major structural damage and even potential health problems for homeowners.
Use Underlyaments: FEMA has published recommendations for the use of fully-adhered roofing underlayments as an enhanced secondary water barrier for homes in both coastal and inland hurricane-prone areas. To ensure quality roof protection, contractors have relied on GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® fully-adhered roofing underlayment from GCP Applied Technologies for almost 40 years. It provides premium performance as it seals to itself at overlaps, seals to the roof deck and, most importantly, seals around the fasteners used to attach the shingles. All these features help prevent water from leaking into your home. In the event roof coverings are blown off or water manages to get underneath your shingles, these underlayments are the key to preventing water infiltration.

How do you know when your doors and windows are in trouble? The following are some signs of water damage. Inside & Outside
Beyond the roof, a home's doors and windows can also become major leak zones. Even if the windows and doors are well shuttered in a storm, wind-driven rain can be blown into the house at these points, especially if they have not been properly flashed and weatherproofed.

Repairs Needed?
Use Flashing: Flashing is a critical part of your home's weather barrier system. If not properly selected and installed, wind-driven rain, ice and snow, can leak and quickly cause damage to your home. Flexible flashings such as GCP Applied Technologies' VYCOR® PLUS and self-adhered flashing tapes can be used to seal the most vulnerable spots, including windows, doors, corner boards, and other non-roof detail areas. It is designed to work in severe winter climates, milder climates, and in coastal areas where wind driven rain is common.

How do you know when your deck is in trouble? Look for these warning signs.
Last but not least, check the deck.If your deck is not protected against the extreme weather, it can deteriorate and become unsafe. Decks, fences and other wood products should be routinely weatherproofed and cleaned to maximize their useful life. Weather combined with the treatment chemicals used for today's pressure treated lumber means that the modern deck must be proper constructed to hold up.

Repairs Needed?
Use a Protective Barrier: Even with today's treated and high-tech decking products-which look great and last and last-preventing joist rot and decay, as a result of water accumulation under the decking boards, remains a major problem. GCP Applied Technologies' VYCOR® DECK PROTECTOR® self-adhered flashing is a unique solution to significantly extend the useful life of decks. VYCOR® DECK PROTECTOR® self-adhered flashing helps prevent joist rot and decay and decrease the corrosion rate of connectors and fasteners.

Guest post by David Baur on Coldwell Banker - Blue Matter BLog