Ellen McLaughlin - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 3/29/2020

Image by Cristina Mantovani from Pixabay

Whether you’re moving into a new home or getting yours ready for the market, remodeling your kitchen can help boost your home’s value. You don’t have to invest in major remodeling projects to spruce up your kitchen. The following minor remodeling options are cost-effective ones that can give your kitchen a brand new look.

Refinishing Cupboards & Cabinets

If you have older cabinets and cupboards that look dated or flawed, refinishing them can improve the way they look. If the cabinets are in good repair, a fresh coat of paint or stain can give your kitchen a new appearance without a large price tag. Consider refinishing with a modern neutral tone or select a color that complements the surrounding elements like countertops or floors. 

New Faucet

If you’re looking for a simple way to boost your kitchen’s appearance, consider replacing an older faucet with a shiny new one. Installing a new faucet doesn’t take long, and it can help your kitchen look more up-to-date. Keep in mind that there are many spout styles and shapes to choose from, as well as a wide range of finishes, including brushed chrome and antique brass. For a cohesive look, consider updating cabinet knobs and drawer pulls to match the finish of your new faucet.

New Countertops

Adding new countertops can have a major impact on the overall appearance of your kitchen. Countertops made of affordable materials like vinyl laminate, formica, ceramic tile, or similar material can help keep replacement costs down. However, if you’re able to invest more in your project, natural stone, such as marble or quartz provide more durability and elegance. 

Energy-Efficient Appliances

If your kitchen has older appliances, consider switching to more energy-efficient models. This is an easy way to improve your kitchen’s appearance while also lowering your energy costs. Whether you go with stainless steel models for a sleek look or black or white ones for a more contemporary style, having these new appliances installed can instantly give your kitchen a fresh new look.  

New Lighting 

Adding task lighting or under-counter lights can provide much-needed illumination in prep areas while generating ambiance. You may also consider replacing older light fixtures with more modern or contemporary ones to give your kitchen a more updated look. Seek out vintage or otherwise unique hanging fixtures to add something unexpected your room.





Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 12/1/2019

Image by Breadmaker from Shutterstock

A fireplace is a cozy addition for a home that can add aesthetic value as well as warmth to your space. Whether you’re building new, retrofitting, or shopping for the perfect home there are options for most situations. You’ll find many design options as you start to shop but the initial consideration should be to determine a fuel source.

Wood fireplace

Wood-burning fireplaces offer the crackle of the fire, the fragrance of pitch, and the soft glow of coals. For some, there's nothing better than a perfectly lit wood fire. But along with the cozy flames and the perfect scent come some considerations. 

Potential for smoke: If the flue does not open correctly or if there is a blockage within the chimney, you may find smoke coming into your room instead of out the flue.

Chimney maintenance: The wood you burn and the temperature of your fire determines how clean your chimney stays. At least annually, have your chimney professional swept to remove the buildup of creosote that can cause house fires.

Ashes: You will need a plan for disposing of the ashes once the fire is out.

Natural gas

A fireplace that burns natural gas can either be open or closed. An open hearth appears to be the same as a wood-burning fireplace and requires a chimney. These are called "vented" fireplaces. You can easily convert a wood-burning fireplace to a vented gas fireplace if you have access to a gas line. 

An enclosed gas fireplace is a “ventless” unit. These require more intensive construction but are great to give you the “look” of an open fire without access to the flames. These can either operate on natural gas or propane.

Gel system

A gel fireplace doesn't require specialized installation. Canned gel burns in a special unit that does not need ventilation. Often available in modern, minimalist designs, these fireplaces do not need access to gas lines or electricity. They can be installed anywhere on any wall.

Electric

Outside of the gel unit, the most effortless option to incorporate is an electric fireplace. Rather than flame, they use heated coils to provide warmth and a fan to project the air into the room. They often include flickering lights and simulated flames. Electric fireplaces require no vents and can install anywhere within proximity to an electrical outlet.

No matter which fireplace you select, take care to install it properly and operate it by the manufacturer's instructions. If a fireplace is an important feature to you, make sure your real estate agent knows it's on your "must-have" list.





Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 6/15/2014

If you’re going to be putting your house on the market, you want it to be in the best condition possible for when prospective buyers come and look at it. A little sprucing up can add a lot of curb appeal and increase the chances of selling your home as soon as possible. Make Over Kitchen Cabinets An older, out of date kitchen can be given a face lift with the addition of some paint and new cabinet doors. The doors on the kitchen cabinets can make or break the way a kitchen looks. If you don’t have the funds to buy new cabinet doors, consider painting the cabinets. Avoid any type of wild paint, sticking instead to solid colors or the tried and true basic white. Add interesting touches like removing one cabinet door and paint the inside of the cabinet and shelves a different color. You can keep it open, or add a glass door. Adding some new knobs and handles will improve the look even more. You can go basic, or get really fancy with some high-end hardware, depending on the style of your home. Give the Entrance a Makeover Brighten the entrance to your home by painting the door. Choose an accent color from the rest of the front of the house. Add brand new hardware for a totally new, finished look. Place potted plants on either side of the door, or if you have wide steps, place them on the steps. Paint railings with fresh paint, being sure to scrape off the old paint first. Place solar lights along your walkway to add even more brightness. Replacing your mail box will also add character and instant curb appeal to your home. Be sure your house number can be seen from the road by placing large numbers on both your mail box and the house. Organize Closets People, especially women, always take closet space into consideration when looking for a house to buy. Purchase closet organizers and have them installed, or install them yourself. Then organize those closets and get rid of everything you don’t actually use. This will make your closets seem much larger and add so much more storage space by utilizing empty spaces in the closets. Alternately, if you have two closets in one bedroom, take the doors off one closet and turn that one into an office. There are “office in a closet” kits that come with shelves, and a deeper shelf to use as a desk. Add a desk chair, a computer and place a few books on the shelves and it looks like you have a home office, virtually creating a whole new room within a room.    





Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 6/23/2013

Updating your home can be costly. So any home improvement that you can do yourself will help save money. An easy update that doesn't cost too much and that you can do yourself is replacing your moulding. Whether you have basic trim, or common colonial style, there are a variety of new looks you can give to your home. To start, you'll need these tools:

  • a miter box or miter saw, for those angle cuts
  • a coping saw, for thin cuts so moulding meets flush to each other
  • finishing nails
  • a hammer, or finish nail gun
  • a nail set to sink nails below the wood surface
  • a tape measure
When making cuts, where the pieces of wood join together will determine what type of cut to make. Mitering allows for to pieces to join, like around the window. Splicing is used for long walls where one piece of wood is not enough. The moulding joins together by creating 2 45 degree angle cuts, cut opposite, creating a scarf joint, which is less noticeable. Coping is used on inside corners, where only 1 piece of wood is cut at a 45 degree angle and butts up against the other piece of wood. Your moulding doesn't have to be just the style bought at the store. Layers varies types of trim can add a more elaborate and dramatic touch. Home improvement stores will often have free booklets that give you ideas. Just remember to choose a style that matches your home. Something too dramatic in a home that is modest may look out of place. And don't forget there is more to moulding than your baseboard and window casing. Chair rails and crown moulding can really transform a room. There are a variety of decorative trims to choose from to add your own personal touch. Moulding tends to be around $1.00 a foot so depending on your room size, whether you layer trims, and if you add on elements such as chair rails, you could redo a room for a couple of hundred dollars. And make a big impact at the same time.





Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 1/13/2013

Odds are, you don't give your electrical outlets and switches much thought beyond safety and an occasional surge protector purchase.  However, many new kinds of switches and outlets are now on the market, any one of which could be a major boost to your home's convenience and ambiance, and could even make your home a little more fun to be in. USB Outlets - Many of our cell-phones, laptops, tablets, and other personal electronic devices utilize a USB port for charging purposes.  With the addition of an outlet with a built-in USB port, the days of trying to find room to charge your electronic devices is over.  No more unplugging items in order to charge your phone or laptop.  If you choose to wire this new outlet yourself, you're only looking at spending $20-$40 dollars per outlet. Programmable outlets and light switches - Not only are these outlets and switches a great way to manage your home's power usage, they are also quite affordable.  These types of outlets safely turn off power after a certain amount of time, and most come equipped with a built-in surge protector. Programmable light switches work in the same fashion, which makes them ideal for kid's rooms.  Both of these will run an average of $25-$50, depending on the features. Hands-free light switches - These have been around for a while now, but while the idea isn't new, the technology has improved greatly.  Some come with body-heat detection, motion sensors, AND a time delay, which fixes the earlier issue of the lights shutting off once they didn't detect movement. The infrared light switches are paired best with smaller rooms, but sound-triggered switches (remember The Clapper?) work very well in large rooms.  For versatility, look for a unit that offers multiple lights settings.  Also, be sure that spontaneous noises, such as a loud TV or crying baby, won't accidentally trigger the lights to shut off.  These switches start at $20 dollars for simple sound-trigger options to as much as $200 for the infrared models. LED touch panel lighting - LED touch panels allow you to simply touch a panel to turn on a light, or a stroke of a finger to adjust the amount of light in a room.  Not only do these varieties make your home look sharper, they also save a lot in utility costs.  While these have been enjoyed in Europe for some time now, American manufacturers are starting to take a keen interest in developing these technologies here.  These can be ordered online for about $70-$100 per panel, and are starting to catch on here in the states.  The price will eventually become more affordable once domestic manufacturers start churning them out.