Ask Kate

Decorating Around a Leather Sofa

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Hey everyone, it’s the start of a new week! Let’s kick it off with a recent reader submission, an email from Kristin who posed a design dilemma many people (*ahem* ladies) face when decorating their living or family rooms, and today’s focus is on that piece that so many dudes love, the leather sofa or sectional. I received this recent email from Kristin:

“Hello! I have been following your blog for years and I share a lot of the same styles but have a dilemma. My husband and I have a decent size house but one living room with a leather furniture set. I love the airy and clean looks of your decorating style, but the leather furniture purchased by my husband is big, dark, and manly.  We don’t have many windows and the walls are a light beige (Latte by SW) and I decorate with a lot of whites, blacks and beiges but I just feel STUCK! Any suggestions for making the room feel more light and feminine?”

Hi Kristin! This is a common dilemma, since many people own leather sofas and sectionals, and pieces upholstered in a traditional dark hide can feel visually heavy in a space. But I think it’s less about making a room feel more feminine and more about creating a room that is balanced with clever layering and accessorizing since (done right) leather sofas can be both attractive and comfortable. Here are five ideas I came up with to decorate around leather sofas.

1.)  Lighten Up.  A traditional leather sofa is dark by nature so the easiest way to balance that out is to accent and/or surround it with plenty of light for desirable contrast. A paler hue on the walls, soft cream or white accent pillows, and/or a light or white coffee table will accomplish just that!

leather sofa painted hive

The Painted Hive

essex leather west elm

West Elm via Apartment Therapy

leather chesterfield white walls

source unknown

leather sofa colorful rugs sfgirlbybay

SF Girl by Bay

   

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Solutions for Renters: Bathrooms

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Hello hello, how are you? I thought I’d continue the Solutions for Renters series today and chat about the bathroom – a space that poses challenges equal to kitchens in rentals since most everything is fixed. The cabinets, the fixtures, the tile. Yep, you’re stuck with it. So how do you make the space feel more like you? I thought about all the ways to tackle the job and came up with ten solutions.

1. Curtains with Style.  Add a happy shower curtain in a bold floral or a mod geometric and suddenly the space has more color and personality.

bathroom shower curtain bhg[2]

Better Homes & Gardens

botanical shower curtain tenjune

Ten June

floral shower curtain bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

 

2. Hide the floor. A stylish floor mat helps to disguise flooring and also brings comfort underfoot. There are plenty of retail options or you can get creative with a DIY project. As an alternative, ask if the landlord will allow you to adhere peel and stick linoleum tiles.

bath mats

west elm / garnet hill / east coast creative

 

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Ten Tips for Buying a Home

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Greetings everyone, this article is long overdue! I promised Matt would return after the Ten Tips for Selling Your Home post from last year to discuss the opposite side of a real estate transaction, purchasing a home. Matt is an experienced real estate broker and appraiser and as a bonus, I’ve also included tips from Dino, a long time real estate agent in the Bay Area. Together these guys have almost four decades of experience in representing buyers and sellers in the real estate market so they’re smart, savvy, and full of helpful information. Today they’re sharing ten tips for buying a home:

“In the home purchasing market, being a buyer is different than being a seller. A buyer wants to find the best home for the best price, the seller on the other hand wants the most money for it. Buyers should be prepared for many twists and turns in their quest to purchase a home. Know that there are many different real estate markets and laws across the country, so these tips are meant to be helpful guidelines.

1) Find the Right Agent.  Look for someone with experience in the area, someone who is easy to reach and responds to phone calls or emails, and one you have an easy time talking to about your wants and needs. Ask them how many times they have represented a buyer since it’s a good idea to find an agent who has worked with many buyers. Learn how much experience they have and ask them if they have the time to find you a home. You’d be surprised how some agents are stretched too thin and as a result won’t go the extra mile.

If an agent has ten or more active escrows, that person may not necessarily be right for you. It’s possible they’re more concerned about closing deals and getting commissions and may not have the time to be your best advocate. Most importantly, find an agent who has the time to serve your needs.

buying a home 2

You might also look at agents that work on a team. These days, clients are often better served by having more than one person do it all. Ask whether the agent works with a team of assistants – it doesn’t cost extra, and you may get better attention to your needs. As a buyer, you want to be treated as though you are important, so the one of the most important things to know is how many clients they have at that time and whether they may have colleagues to assist in your search for a home.

2) Learn the Market.  When you getting ready to buy a home, take the time to learn the market on your own. This research can take six months, but if you are in a hurry, it can be done in a few weeks. Ask your agent for every listing in your price range in your neighborhood. Be specific, learn as much as you can about where you want to live and figure out how much you can afford.

buying a home 1

You can also search many of the listings online for free without burdening your agent. Redfin is an excellent site and give its readers access to all the current listings on the market. There are also other sites to review, Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, to name a few. Some of these sites work with agents who will rebate part of their fee if you work directly with them, but expect that you may get what you pay for. An agent hired for a full fee may give greater attention and work harder for their client.

Part of learning the market is seeing many homes and judging their quality, condition, location, size, and amenities. Many factors can play a role in you decision: schools districts, crime rates, appreciation rates, and proximity to services. Learning the market includes viewing as many homes as you can to educate yourself on what styles you prefer, and also to learn about value.

If you trust that your agent knows what you’re looking for, have them preview homes for you, that’s their job. After they see the property, they can contact you right away and schedule a time for you to see the home.

Technology is a huge part of the arsenal of today’s tech-savvy agents. You often see them driving around searching homes using iPads and mobile phones. Now you can easily and efficiently research the home’s facts online and without the paper flyers from the past. Agents who use this technology have access to real-time data and can provide you with the quickest service to help get you the home you want.

buying a home 3

 

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