Wednesday, January 25, 2012


When we lived in LA one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon was to drive around the Hollywood Hills searching for Open Houses.  I'd usually talk a friend or two into joining me, with the promise of a happy hour margarita after viewing million dollar listings.  Tuesdays in LA were my favorite as far as real estate snooping is concerned (if you didn't have to work, that is) because Tuesdays are "corral" days where Realtors profile their new listings to other Realtors, but leave the doors open to the public.  In order to showcase the properties, 99.9% of Realtors offer cheese and crackers and ALWAYS champagne and/or wine.  One year I had a friend visiting from Sydney on a Tuesday, so instead of a boring brunch in Beverly Hills, I took her on a home tour in the Hollywood Hills, complete with free champagne and caviar!  It's kinda like eating your way through the samples in Costco or Sam's Club, only with views and rich people!  The motivation behind my real estate hunts wasn't only the free booze, I  loved seeing how people designed their homes, what renovations were happening, and getting the inside scoop on the market from hungry Realtors (while I ate their cheese!).  I digress.  Here in the Hudson Valley I have yet to attend ONE Open House because, quite honestly, they just don't happen here.  Sad.  Oh well.  So, my fantasy house browsing happens on the web, where I land at least once a day just to see what's out there.  The photos above are from a house in a neighborhood about three miles from where I'm sitting.  Take a look.  Any guess on the list price?  Get ready....$15,000,000.00!!  Yep, that's FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS.  Any idea why I'd blog about this today?  Two things shock me about this house..well, far more than that, but I'd be writing for days if I went through my entire list. These two photos represent two incredibly important elements about design and real estate, in my opinion.  Let's address the top photo first.  This is an excellent example of where staging the space would have been a good idea.  I don't care if you live in 1,500 square feet, NEVER, EVER place a fake plant anywhere!  A little space planning here would go a long way.  Instead of placing the chairs in front of the window, I'd put the table in the corner where the plant is and flank it with the chairs, so as potential buyers walk through and sit, they stare at the view and not the sad bedding.  If you can't afford to hire a designer,  invite friends over after you've "fluffed" things, give them a glass of wine and ask for their HONEST opinions.  Remember, you're selling so what you like doesn't matter, it's about what the potential buyer wants!  Now, the kitchen...this, by the way, was the best shot of this space.  As I design a tiny, tiny kitchen in a cottage this month, I'm constantly aware of space saving ideas, creative ways of organizing, etc.  Can you spot the one thing that jumped out at me like a hooker in the Red Light District?  A $15 million dollar house, and nowhere to hide the trash can in the kitchen??  Smart design, my friends, doesn't have to be expensive!  The homeowner here was clearly more interested in displaying his cock (upper left) and gigantic hood, and less about form and function.  The lesson from this: little details can make a huge impact!
QUICK TIP: If you are listing your home, no matter what the price, make sure you take GOOD pictures of your space.  In the techie world of today, many potential buyers come and go on the Internet and if you don't grab them in a few shots, you never will!  Also, staging doesn't mean spending a fortune.  The bedroom here could be spruced up for well under $50 with fresh linens, good space planning and some artwork hung on the walls!!