kitchen renovation

Buy a Home and Customize it with Specialty Financing

If you’ve been house hunting recently you’ve probably noticed a lack of turn key homes available; unless you’re working with a hefty budget.  

If your budget is under $300,000 the inventory of updated homes leaves much to be desired. Also, everyone has difference tastes, so why pay for upgrades that someone else added that you don’t even like? Well, you don’t have to settle! You can have a house with great bones AND customize it to fit your needs all in one loan. 

We’ve all seen the house that’s the right price, location, you can already picture spending summers in the backyard but it has 20 year old wall to wall carpet that you just can’t live with. In the past you would have two options, pay out of pocket to replace the flooring or live with it until you can upgrade. You no longer need cash on hand to update a home and make repairs. That’s right, you can wrap the cost of new flooring, a kitchen, roof or nearly any other upgrade you can imagine into your mortgage. 

I’m very familiar with these products because I used the 203k to purchase and customize my own home. Our home, built in 1907, was gutted to the studs and sat empty for nearly 20 years. See a before & after photo below. You can also read more about we found our home here. Our home was quite the project and I gained SO much knowledge that will help guide you through the process of specialty financing. It may sound scary and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. If you choose this route, you can be confident that my expertise and experience can help simplify yours.  

I partner with Homebridge, a trusted expert in specialty financing. They have multiple options to pay for repairs and updates on a home. Whether you need $5,000 or over $100,000, my mortgage partner Pete at Homebridge will help match you to a loan program that is the best fit. 

Even new construction limits your material options. With specialty financing, the possibilities are endless! If you’re looking to buy and would like to customize your home, I’d be happy to discuss options (click here for contact info) to help you make a wise investment and build equity.


Kitchen & Bath Trends to Watch in 2018

If you're considering a home improvement project, you'll want to keep a few things in mind that will help you get the biggest bang for your buck. The return on your investment depends on the value of your home and the value of homes in your neighborhood. For example, if your home value and the houses in your neighborhood are in the 200's, it's unwise (if you plan to sell in the near future) to put in a $15k subzero refrigerator. You'll end up losing money on that investment when you sell. 

Adding expensive features like a $50k pool doesn't mean that your home will increase by $50k in value. Look at the comparable homes with pools in your neighborhood to see how much more they sell for. That will give you a true value of the special features your home has to offer.  

If you do spring for home improvements, aside from regular maintenance, kitchen and bath renovations have one of the highest returns on investment. If you plan to sell soon, here are some tips that will help your home stand out.



While white kitchens will remain popular in 2018, expect to see more color this year in everything from cabinets to tile to appliances.


1. Two-toned Cabinets

Two-toned cabinets are quickly overtaking the white-on-white look that has dominated kitchen design for the past few years. While white remains a classic, grey and bleached-wood cabinet variations are surging in popularity, along with darker neutrals like navy and green.



2. Quartz Countertops

Granite reigned as the top countertop choice for many years, but quartz is now king. It’s highly durable, low-maintenance and comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s also heat resistant, scratch resistant and non-porous (unlike granite and marble) so it doesn’t need to be sealed.


3. Bold Backsplashes

After years of dominating backsplash design, white subway while still a classic look, will become less common. Expect to see it replaced with more elaborate shapes, patterns, colors and textures. Tile that mimics the appearance of wood, concrete and wallpaper is also gaining in popularity.


4. Statement Sinks

While stainless steel and white porcelain are always safe bets, the trend is moving toward sinks that make more of a statement. Look for unexpected pops of color and materials like natural stone and copper. Touch-free faucets are expected to gain favor with homeowners this year, too.

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5. Brass is (Still) Back

Brass fixtures came back in a big way over the past couple of years and will continue to be a popular choice in 2018 along with matte black, black nickel, polished chrome and brushed nickel.


6. Multi-purpose Islands

Kitchen islands have evolved from simple prep-stations into the “workhorse” of the kitchen. Many feature sinks, built-in appliances and under-counter storage while also serving as a casual dining area. They have become the focal point of the kitchen, and we expect to see more of them in 2018 and beyond.



7. Black Stainless Steel

Black stainless steel is the hot new finish option for appliances, and it’s hitting the market in a big way. It offers a cutting-edge look and is easier to keep clean than traditional stainless steel. However, it’s harder to match finishes amongst different brands, so it’s probably only feasible as part of a complete appliance package.


8. Appliance Garages

Appliance garages are counter-level compartments designed to house small appliances like blenders, toasters and stand mixers. They make it convenient to have these items readily accessible, without the look of a cluttered counter.

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Expect to see many of the same kitchen design preferences carry over into bathrooms this year, including two-tone cabinets, quartz countertops and brass fixtures.


1. Neutral Tones

Neutral shades will continue to dominate in the master bathroom as homeowners seek a soothing and relaxing retreat atmosphere. But expect to see more options than just white. Shades of brown, grey, blue, green and tan will help to warm things up.


2. Natural Elements

Natural materials are particularly hot right now in bathroom design. This includes the use of wood and stone on walls, cabinets, counters and backsplashes, as well as the incorporation of botanical design elements.

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3. Large Tiles

We expect to see a lot more large and slab-sized tiles in bathrooms, which have less grout so they are easier to clean and maintain. Wood-look porcelain tiles are also a favorite in wet areas, as they offer the warmth and rustic appeal of wood with the durability of tile.


4. Stone Sinks

Sinks will continue to be an area where homeowners like to exhibit creativity, and hand-carved stone sinks are especially fashionable right now. These may be more suited to powder rooms, where functionality isn’t as crucial.

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5. Freestanding Tubs

There’s been a tub resurgence in bathroom design after years of preference for stand-alone showers. Modern tastes are gravitating toward freestanding tubs that serve as a showpiece for the bathroom. Read about our massive freestanding tub here. I loooooove it!



6. Smart Features

Smart technology has entered the bathroom with the addition of features like wireless shower speakers and high-tech toilets, as well as digital shower controls that automatically adjust to your preferences in temperature and spray intensity.



Style trends come and go, so don’t invest in the latest look unless you love it. That said, highly- personalized or outdated style choices can limit the appeal of your property for resale.

For major renovation projects, it’s always a good idea to stick to neutral colors and classic styles. It will give your remodel longevity and appeal to the greatest number of buyers when it comes time to sell. It will also give you flexibility to update your look in a few years without a total overhaul. Use non-permanent fixtures – like paint, furniture and accent pieces – to personalize the space and incorporate trendier choices.

If you’d like advice on a specific remodeling or design project, give me a call! I'd be happy to offer my insights and suggestions on how to maximize your return on investment and recommend local shops and service providers who may be able to assist you.


  1. Country Living –

  2. Elle Decor –

  3. Gates Interior Design –

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  5. House Beautiful –

  6. Realty Times –                        

  7. Sebring Design Build –                                                

Top 5 Tips for a High-End Kitchen Look on a Budget

Any good gathering is bound to have food, maybe this is why the kitchen has become "the heart of the home". A kitchen can make or break a buyer's impression of a house. However, if you're considering a kitchen renovation, not just any updates will garner the equity you're hoping for. 

With any renovation, you want to make sure not to use materials that out price your neighborhood. If houses in your neighborhood are selling in the 200's, putting marble countertops in your kitchen probably isn't a wise investment. After looking at HUNDREDS of kitchens I noticed a few design trends that will help give your kitchen a high-end look without a high-end price tag. 

1. Appliances: High-end kitchens minimize the appearance of appliances with low profile, clean, built-in design. I know how convenient that ice and water dispenser is on the door of your refrigerator, but high-end kitchens don't have them. A refrigerator without the external dispensers creates a much cleaner look. Besides, those things are always breaking. Speaking of refrigerators, if you don't have thousands to splurge on a subzero, go for a counter depth which will give you the same build-in look. A slide-in range with controls on the front also adds to the built-in look.

This is by far my best appliance tip....which I know is going to offend a LOT of kitchens....please, PLEASE do not put the microwave over the stove! Nothing screams "builder grade" more than a microwave/stove combo. Try placing it out of sight and use a trim kit for a built-in look. Oh and you can skip the microwave drawer unless you're prepared to drop over $1,000 on a microwave; no thanks! Our "built-in" microwave with trim kit was about $300.

2. Lighting: Don't ignore lighting. Statement pendants over an island or breakfast bar can make a big impact for not a lot of money. Recessed and task under-cabinet lighting are great too. LED bulbs not only save energy, they emit great natural light and you don't have to change them as often. Yay for not climbing up a ladder every couple months to change bulbs!

3. Countertops: There are SO many options for countertops now. If you go for a stone, check the remnants section at your location stone yard and you can save 50% or more. Our whole 10-foot island was a remnant--woot woot! Lumber Liquidators and IKEA also have some nice butcher block countertop options. You can also save by mixing materials. Here are some butcher block countertop designs I love...


4. Backsplash: A backsplash can change the whole look of a kitchen. It's also an inexpensive detail you can add to give your kitchen a finished look. We went with a white subway tile because our house was built in 1907 and we wanted to stay true to the classic design you would have seen in a turn of the century home. If you're looking to cut costs, a backsplash is always something you can do later while still maintaining a functioning kitchen. 

5. Accessories: Sinks, faucets, cabinet organization, trim, hardware, garbage bins....accessories are where you can really save or splurge. Decide what's important to you (or if you're trying to sell what appeals to buyers) and pick a few items. For me, a coffee bar and pull out trash bin were priority. As much as I love apron front (farmhouse) sinks, they are expensive and you couldn't really see it anyway with our kitchen layout. So, pick your priorities when you can't have it all. 

We had to work with the existing footprint of our kitchen, which was quite narrow. I was concerned it would be too small but I'm really happy with how it turned out. A few other details I like about our kitchen: outlets on the end of the islands, button (air switch) on the countertop for garbage disposal, cabinet crown moulding makes the cabinets seem taller, black iron cabinet hardware that ties in with the lanterns, wood flooring flows throughout without chopping up the space, a large single rectangular sink, and coffee bar that doubles as pantry space. I no longer lose things in the back of a deep pantry closet!


NO microwave here! A slide-in range gives a built-in look.

NO microwave here! A slide-in range gives a built-in look.

Clean front. The counter-depth gives a built-in look.

Clean front. The counter-depth gives a built-in look.

Our "built in" hidden microwave. I don't recommend Frigidaire, this is the only microwave available that fit our space. It broke a month after we moved in and it took Frigidaire almost 2 months to replace it. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of theirs.

Our "built in" hidden microwave. I don't recommend Frigidaire, this is the only microwave available that fit our space. It broke a month after we moved in and it took Frigidaire almost 2 months to replace it. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of theirs.

We used an awkward space next to the kitchen to create a functional pantry/coffee bar.

We used an awkward space next to the kitchen to create a functional pantry/coffee bar.

Opposite view...forgive the "extra" junk.

Opposite view...forgive the "extra" junk.

This WHOLE island countertop was a remnant piece of granite.

This WHOLE island countertop was a remnant piece of granite.

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