Could a red envelope and what’s inside help sell our house?

It’s been quite a month. Between traveling to Spain with Tile of Spain and then immediately heading cross country to LA to attend the Design Bloggers Conference, I have been MIA these past two weeks and I apologize. Add in the huge stress I have been under as we finish up purging and cleaning to get our house ready to list and it’s amazing I am still standing. (Well Last week I wasn’t but I won’t get into that).

Today I have a great story for you. Twelve years ago when we first bought our house (the same one we are now selling) I met a guy who was a Feng Shui master. Since we bought our house from a family with a very sick child I asked him if he would come do a cleansing and give it some good mojo. I knew very little about Feng Shui at the time other than the basics. He did his thing and told me the house actually had great energy and made a few suggestions for what would improve it even more. The biggest change we made was to our walk in master closet.

It turned out that our “wealth center” on the Feng Shui bagua map was our cluttered, and messy master closet.  When he said our closet was stifling us financially, I told him I would do anything required to fix that! I did every thing he told me to do including major organization, painting the inside walls red, putting some jewelry on display and filling a jar with extra pocket change. I also put a large amethyst and some photos on the shelf that represented abundance. At the time I didn’t know what would happen but I figured I had nothing to loose so why not?

Well one week later almost to the day of finishing up with all the master closet changes I won a $1,000 gas card. Up until then, I had never won a single thing in my life! Two weeks after winning the free gas I won a $500 Amex gift card and shortly after that I won both a business raffle and a free dinner for two. It was flipping crazy but the honest to God truth. To this day I continue to be “lucky” and my family jokes that it’s all because the master closet. 

So, this brings me to the red envelope story. While at the Design Bloggers Conference I roomed with my friend Amanda Gates. Amanda specializes in Feng Shui so I asked her if she had any Feng Shui tips to help get the house sold. She told me to take something from the kitchen (a screw from a cabinet) and mail it to her in red envelope. Okay, I’m sure you think this is voodoo crazy but after my master closet experience I didn’t even question it. 

This past weekend we took a small screw out of the back of a cabinet. Amanda said I needed to mail it in a red envelope but I had no idea where I would find a single red envelope. Now this is where is gets freaky. I have an old shoe box filled with one of a kind notes and pretty cards that I pick up here and there. I don’t know why I didn’t put the box it into storage because I rarely write personal notes but for some reason I didn’t. I thought I would at least look inside but I highly doubted there was a red envelope in the box. When I took the lid off  the box this is what I saw.

I KID YOU NOT! I had chills all over my body and couldn’t text Amanda fast enough. I have absolutely no memory of this red envelope and it was even stranger because there was no accompanying card, just a single red envelope sitting right on top of the pile. I know there is absolutely no explaining this or even making sense out of it. Amanda though, took it all in stride and texted back, “On one hand extraordinary on the other hand, welcome to my world of magic”.

So this morning I mailed my red envelope with a kitchen cabinet screw inside. I sent it with love and intention and soon it will be in Amanda’s hands. Our house goes on the market in less than two weeks so we are grateful for whatever help Amanda can give us. I will be sure to keep you updated as to what happens with the sale. If it sells quickly, Amanda might have a side line business to incorporate into her practice!

Speaking of Amanda, she has a book coming out soon called “Detoxing Clutter with Feng Shui”. If you’re interested in getting on the list for copy just click HERE.  Amanda told me she has a chapter on dealing with family heirlooms that need to be honored and not simply tossed or randomly donated. I have a storage locker filled with that kind of stuff so I can’t wait!

How about you? Do you practice Feng Shui or have a story to share?

More 2017 Tile trends that blew me away!

Get ready for some more serious tile eye candy because today is part two of the six tile trends I spotted at the Spanish tile show Cevisama. If you missed my first three trends you can catch up here.

Today’s post is mostly photos so grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy.

4.Textile inspired tiles: Textiles and porcelain have teamed up to create some beautiful new options for tiles. Some of tiles looked so much like fabric that I had to to touch them to believe they were porcelain. Plaids, prints, even herringbone tiles were on display at the show.

textile inspired tiles:Linda Holt Photo

textile inspired tiles:Linda Holt Photo

Shagreen (shark or ray skin) which is so popular right now for case goods is now also an option for a tile. You can’t tell in the photo but they feel exactly like real shagreen.

Shagreen tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Shagreen tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Plaid which is also trending for interiors was spotted on tiles. Wouldn’t this Burberry inspired plaid be fun for a powder room floor?

Plaid Tile: Linda Holt Photo

Plaid Tile: Linda Holt Photo

These new textile inspired tiles are possible because of new advances in both 3-D and ink jet printing technology. It’s amazing what they can do now that even a few years ago was not possible.

textile inspired tiles:Linda Holt Photo

textile inspired tiles:Linda Holt Photo

These white textile inspired tiles are right on trend yet have a longer “shelf life” than some of the bolder statement tiles above.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

One of my favorites was this white lace tile. The tile is on top and the fabric inspiration is shown below it.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

5. Metallic tiles: Some of the metallic tiles I saw were my favorite of the show.

Metallic Tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Metallic Tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Tiles that resemble hammered or oxidized metal were especially popular. I see these being used more in a commercial space but they were absolutely gorgeous. The sizes and shapes varies from planks to large squares. These metallic tiles behind a vintage leather sofa reminded me of vintage gym lockers or the grill on a radiator cover.

Metallic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Metallic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

These 3-D metallic tiles were another one of my show favorites.

3-D metallic tiles:Linda Holt Photo

3-D metallic tiles:Linda Holt Photo

These copper looking wall tiles would make a beautiful statement black splash in a kitchen.

Metallic tiles:Linda Holt Photo

Metallic tiles:Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

6. Geometric tiles: are hot hot hot! Not only for shape but in lay out as well.

Linda Holt Photos

Linda Holt Photos

Hexagon shaped tiles had a large presence at the show as did triangular and rhombus shaped designs.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

So that wraps it up! I hope you enjoyed my tile trend pictorial. I want to give a huge thank you to Tile of Spain for opening my eyes to all the many choices in tiles today from Spain. My head is spinning with ideas and I can’t wait for my next project where I can specify tiles.

I’d love to hear from you. Which tile trend is your favorite?

2017 tile show: Not your mama’s tiles

Last week I had the incredible good fortune of spending a week with Tile of Spain attending the Spanish tile show called Cevisama. It’s almost impossible to put into words just how amazing the show was but I took lot’s of photos so that I could share what is happening in the world of tiles.

The popularity of tiles is growing and according to ASCER (The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufactures Association) the quantity of tiles imported into the USA grew by 22.6% from 2015 to 2016. Due to advances in technology like 3-D printing and new inkjet printers, tiles are taking on innovative new shapes, patterns and colors.

After going through all my hundreds of images I spotted six trends to share with you in photos. Today I will share trends 1-3. Next week I will wrap it up with part two and share trends 4-6.

  1. Wood look tile: Tiles that resemble wood was by far the biggest trend I saw at the show. Even though wood look tiles have been around for awhile they haven’t been all that convincing. New technologies however have made it almost impossible to tell the difference between porcelain and real wood. Even the touch feels just like wood. The vendors I spoke with said wood tiles are currently their number one export.
Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Porcelain wood tiles come in a variety of plank sizes and mostly neutral colors. The grain is clearly visible and the hottest trend is distressed looking wood. Look at the image on the bottom right on my composite photo above. Do you know what that is? It is “water stained wood”. Yes, I had to have that clarified but they actually make tiles that are an exact replica of water damaged wood. This is one trend I personally would steer clear of but in the right space it could be wonderful.

Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Tile planks laid in a chevron or interlocking pattern were also popular at the show. The distressed blue, gray and brown tiles on the bottom right below won a “best of show” award. How about these tiles below? Looks just like aged wood but it’s porcelain. I think it would make a great accent wall.

Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Porcelain wood tiles: Linda Holt Photo

The technology to achieve this look is very new and you can bet you will be seeing even more of this.

2. 3-D tiles. The latest technology with 3-D printers has revolutionized the tile industry and has created some of what I think are the most exciting options today for wall tiles.

3-D tiles: Linda Holt Photo

3-D tiles: Linda Holt Photo

The variety at the show was amazing and for those who want something a little more interesting than plain subway tiles, these 3-D tiles could be the answer.

3-D porcelain tiles: Linda Holt Photo

3-D porcelain tiles: Linda Holt Photo

3. Porcelain Encaustic tiles: Old world encaustic tiles were traditionally made from cement. Today with new inkjet printers porcelain tiles can be an exact replica of the traditional encaustic tiles but the advantage of porcelain is that it weighs less (less shipping costs) and is much more durable than cement.

porcelain encaustic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

porcelain encaustic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

I would love to find a client who would go for these, maybe for a powder room or a sun room floor?

Porcelain encaustic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

Porcelain encaustic tiles: Linda Holt Photo

As far as colors, I was told that grays continue to be the most popular colors for North America with whites, creams, and other light neutrals not far behind. One manufacture told me he sees the color taupe on the rise so it will be interesting to see if taupe overtakes the popularity of grays in the coming year.

I hope you enjoyed my tile pictorial and be sure to check out next Tuesday’s post with the final three trends.

Which of these first three trends is your favorite?

The one thing that all great photos have in common

When I was in photography school, the entire first year was spent on learning the technical skills involved in taking a good photograph. We learned how to use a light meter for proper exposure (this was before in-camera light meters and auto exposure). We learned about composition such as balance, leading lines and the rule of thirds. We learned how aperture (F-stop) affects depth of field and how shutter speed affects focus.

The second year of school was spent on developing our unique “eye” and vision of the world. Our goal was to create artistic photos and to steer clear of cliche photos like sunsets and flowers. Our instructors stressed that we needed to think of ourselves as artists and to create imagery using the camera as our paintbrush. Thinking back, I created some pretty bad photos in an attempt to create an artistic photo.

Today, almost anyone can take a good photo because current cameras and cell phones take care of the technical stuff for us, resulting in nearly perfectly exposed and focused images. What then makes a good photo great?

What I have learned over these many years of both taking photos and looking at photos is that all great photos have one thing in common . A great photo evokes an emotion in the viewer.

I am not simply referring to a sad photo of a child caught in a war zone or a basket full of cute puppies. Yes, both those images evoke an emotion but there are many other ways to evoke an emotion in the viewer. Here are a few to think about next time you are taking a photo.

Compelling subject mater. Images of unusual or beautiful subjects evokes an emotion. Travel photos often fall into this category because it is subject matter we don’t see in our day to day lives. My designer friend Kathleen Dipaolo has moved to India for a couple years with her family. Almost daily she posts compelling photos and every day I look forward to seeing what’s new. If you want to be inspired you absolutely need to follow her on Instagram.

India: Photo by Kathleen Dipaolo

India: Photo by Kathleen Dipaolo

You don’t need to travel to exotic lands or live in India to find compelling subject matter. Even the most mundane subject can evoke an emotion like this chair did for me.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

It’s just a simple chair but the well worn wood and the sculptural shape evoked a feeling in me of curiosity. The chair itself is beautiful but I would have loved to meet the person who sat it in.

Think about the lighting. The “golden hour” (dawn or dusk) is always a preferred time to shoot because the quality of light is so beautiful and sunrises and sunsets evoke an emotion in the viewer. You can also use light to enhance the feeling of the photo. For example hard lighting evokes an emotion of drama due to dark shadows and high contrast whereas soft lighting has the opposite effect.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Tell a story. When I was working as a head shot photographer, I would always ask my subject, “what is your goal for this photo and what do you want to convey to the viewer?”. A good portrait is more than just a mug shot of what someone looks like. Everything from the subject’s clothes to the expression on their face as well as their eyes tell a story of who they are.

If you are a designer, photos of your completed rooms should do the same thing. Ask yourself before shooting, what is the story I want to convey to the viewer? Is it the architecture? or the creative use of colors and products? Is the story the location or the outside view? or is the story about the family who lives there? If the image has no story then it is little more than a room mug shot.

What evokes emotion in a photo is different for each of us. I might be wowed by a photo that you might not give a second thought to and visa versa. The point is, think about what you are shooting, think about why you are shooting it and think about the best way to shoot it. Simply by taking the time to give each photo some thought will increase your chance of making a good photo a great photo.

Next week I will not be posting on my usual Tuesday because I will be in Spain traveling as a guest for Tile of Spain. I am so excited for this trip and just as I did in London, I will only have my iphone camera. My intention is to post lot’s of great photos so be sure you are following me on Instagram.

See you in two weeks!

 

The only two granite choices for your kitchen that are not dated

Before I get to the two granite choices that won’t date your kitchen I want to thank everyone for all the supportive comments that were left on last weeks blog regarding our mission to downsize. It has been more work and more stress than I could have imagined but we are slowly inching our way to getting our house purged of stuff and ready to put on the market. I’ll be sure to update within the next couple of weeks.

Those of us in the design world have seen dark granite falling out of favor for the past several years. I would even go so far as to say most granite counter tops are now perceived as dated. In my part of the country (New England) many homeowners have grown tired of being bossed around by the busy, dark, speckled stone and are incurring the expense of ripping it out and replacing it.

dark speckled granites

dark speckled granites

So what’s trending now? When I attended KBIS (kitchen and bath industry show) a couple weeks ago it is clear that quartz is the new top choice for counter tops. Quartz is an engineered stone that is a composite of natural quartz and a man made resin.The advantage of quartz is that it can mimic natural stone such as marble or soapstone but doesn’t have the same issues with staining and maintenance as those softer stones. Quartz wears like iron and never needs to be sealed. It’s also quieter than granite and the chosen pattern is consistent throughout the slab.

Quartz counter tops

Popular Quartz counter tops

Vendors I spoke with at KBIS told me their most popular sellers today are white, cream, soft gray and charcoal colored quartz.

Silestone suede finish

Silestone suede finish

Silestone introduced a new finish at KBIS called Suede which was so soft and luxurious. Much more natural feeling than the high gloss and shiny granite counter tops of the past.

There is one big drawback to quartz and that is the price. It is a luxury product and although I have several clients desire it, they had to change plans once they received a price quote. Unfortunately, quartz can be double or even triple the price of granite. So what should you choose if you want stone but your budget only allows for granite? There are only two choices I recommend and that is white or black/charcoal granites.

White and black granite is as timeless as you will find and unlike the bossy speckled granite, you won’t be limited in picking a wall color that works with your pink, peach, gold or brown granite. Just as with quartz, you can also choose a leather or honed finish for a softer look and feel.

black and white granite

Arctic white and absolute black granite

Jet mist is a dark charcoal colored granite that I think is a beautiful choice. In fact, it looks very similar to the Silestone quartz that I showed above.

Jet Mist honed granite

Jet Mist honed granite

Different vendors have their own names for their white and black granites but these are the only colors I recommend if you are choosing granite.

So, whether you are renovating or building new, take my advise and steer clear of the speckled dark granite. I guarantee you will tire of it and if you decide to sell, buyers don’t want it.

 

We might be crazy but we’re really doing this!

My husband and I, like almost every other baby boomer I know have been talking about downsizing. For the past three or four years we have wanted to unload our big house in the country/burbs and the responsibilities of cleaning, gardening and the maintenance that goes along with it. Let’s be real here, two people and a dog do not need this much house.

our home

our home

The reason why we have only been talking about moving and not taking action is simple. We could not decide where we wanted to move even though I have spent more time on realtor.com than I care to admit. Here’s the problem, the towns we would like to buy a smaller home in are either too expensive (real estate has surged 50% or more in the past five years in towns close to Boston) or the towns are too far from my husband’s job.

So on new years day, after a weekend of discussing the feasibility of moving (for the umpteen time) we made a radical decision to sell our home without knowing where we will buy next. What’s that saying? ” jump and the net will appear”? We called the realtor and set a list date. Then we came up with an even more radical idea. Donate 60-70% of our belongings to charity, put another 20% in storage and move into a small apartment that is within walking or bike riding distance to my husband’s job. Crazy or brilliant?

On the plus side we unburden ourselves from the big house and the responsibilities that go along with it. Just as important, we take a huge amount of stress off my husband who currently has an hour plus commute each day, each way, in bumper to bumper traffic. Being close to work is going to be life changing for him.

On the other hand, can we really be happy living in a small apartment? Can we deal with getting in an elevator each time the dog wants/needs to go out? Will I be okay not being able to make any changes in the design or even paint the walls?

Now that we have committed to this plan I fluctuate between excitement of the future and anxiety that we are making a huge mistake. We are forging ahead though and tackling the hardest part….purging for the downsize. I have had so many friends tell me how great I will feel after it is done but I will tell you right now I don’t feel great at all. I feel overwhelmed and even somewhat depressed. Sorting through a life time of memories, family heirlooms, books, art work, photos and several china and glassware collections and deciding what stays and what goes is daunting. We have A LOT OF STUFF!!!

We are now three weeks into the process and this is what I have learned so far

  1. Purging takes time. We actually started the decluttering process over a year ago after reading Marie Condor’s book about decluttering, “The life-changing magic of tidying up”. We got rid of what seemed like half of our stuff. We were only fooling ourselves though because we realize now we only scratched the surface. When there is more than one person involved in the decision making purging can take longer and be even more stressful. For example, I donated 53 boxes of old books to the library and I didn’t give it a second thought. A box of my son’s artwork though from second grade and my shell collection is impossible to let go of. My husband on the other hand has no trouble donating any of our furniture, china or glassware yet refuses to part with old tools and some (fugly) art work that belonged to his parents.
  2. Just GET OVER how much the value is (was) of what you are selling, tossing or donating. We made a decision at the start of our process that we would not try to sell, consign, auction or have a yard sale.Each situation is different and you might decide to sell your stuff and that’s great but in our experience (and we have done everyone of those things) the amount of work and time involved is not worth the pennies on the dollar we would ultimately receive. Instead, we picked three local charities that we are donating everything to. (I did end up listing two things on Craigslist but only because they were too big and heavy to donate, and yes, I received a fraction of what they were worth).
  3. Have a safe place to store things that you can’t make a decision on for a predetermined length of time. One thing that has kept me from completely going bonkers is that we rented a storage locker for one year. Small living may or may not work for us so if after a year we decide to buy another house we will not have to repurchase everything. Plus some of the family heirlooms along with our bikes, skies and most of our artwork we plan to keep but there will be no room in a small apartment.
  4. Allow yourself time to mourn. The purging process can feel freeing but also very sad. Some of the things we are letting go of have great emotional attachment. Marie Kondo says to touch everything and see if it brings you joy. In my case, most things we own bring me joy so I have to be even more selective. The two questions I ask myself are #1. Why am I holding on to this? and #2. When I am gone will my children want this? If I don’t have a really good answer for #1 and the answer to #2 is NO, then it goes. BTW, fooling myself into thinking that maybe some day I will have a grandchild and maybe that grandchild will want…X… is NOT an acceptable reason to hold on to something. Bye bye Beanie Babies!
  5. Your kids don’t want your stuff. I have talked to many friends and acquaintances who have already gone through this process and in almost all cases, the kids don’t want your stuff. Mine don’t and even if they did, they are both living in small Boston apartments so have no space for it. So if it’s truly something they may want some day when they have a home of their own, put it into storage and decide how long you want to pay rent to hold on to it.

Finally, I believe you owe it to your kids to declutter before it’s too late. My mom passed away after living in the same house for 55 years and seemingly never threw a single thing out. To this day I am still traumatized remembering the amount of work and the toll it took on me to go through her house, large attic and a full basement and sort through generations of stuff. It was a nightmare I vowed I would never do to my kids.

I know small living isn’t for everyone and it may not work out for us. We are giving it a try though because to simplify our lives by living with less is the best way I can think of to up level our lives going forward.

I’d love to hear your opinions. Would you consider doing this or do you think we are crazy?

Do you know about this hidden iPhone camera feature?

Hi Friends, today I have another super helpful yet mostly unknown iphone camera tip to share with you.

More often than not, the difference between a good photo and a great photo is timing. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see photographers walking around with their DSLR cameras around their neck. They are always ready to capture the perfect moment in time if a great photo opportunity presents itself.

What happens though when you only have your iphone and you see the perfect image yet only have a second to grab it before it’s gone? This happens often if you think about it, especially when photographing kids, pets, or any kind of action. It happened to me on Saturday when I was driving home and saw the most amazing light hitting a church steeple. It was dusk and for about 10 seconds the setting sun lit up the steeple and bathed it in the most surreal light I have ever seen. I stopped the car (right in the middle of a rotary), jumped out, grabbed a single shot and it was over. Had I not known about this iphone trick I would have missed the shot. I already shared this photo on IG and FB so if you are seeing this image for the third time I do apologize.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Side note: Had I had more time I would have re-positioned myself so the scraggly bushes weren’t in the foreground but believe me when I tell you I only had a couple seconds to take this single shot before the light was gone and the magic was over. 

So when seconds make a difference do you know how to access the iphone camera instantly? If you are like me you probably have your phone locked. Entering the pass code, then scrolling to the camera app can take 10-15 seconds or more. It’s a tiny amount of time but it can cause you to miss the moment.

There is a hidden feature on the iphone that very few seem to know about. To bypass entering the lock code and then locating the camera app, all you need to do is open the home screen and swipe your finger left. You will then have instant assess to the camera. Watch below to see how fast I was able to take a photo without entering my 6 digit pass code and then scrolling though two screens to open the camera app.

So the next time you want immediate access to your camera, or like me, see a once in a blue moon photo you will now know how to access the camera before the moment has passed.

I don’t know if other phones have this same ability as the iphone but I would love to know so please share if your phone has a similar feature.

 

Page 1 of 5412345...102030...Last »

Subscribe to my blog

Browse by Category