Beat the Heat: Oil vs Gas

The other week I was doing a walk-through of a home to give the owners suggestions on what they could do to prepare the house to be put on the market. I was disappointed to learn that they had just put in a new oil boiler… right next to a natural gas water heater! The better choice would have been for the owners to replace the old oil boiler with a new natural gas heater, which they could have easily done, as they obviously had a natural gas line. Statistically, gas heat will always sell better than oil heat. Natural gas is more affordable than oil, and prices don’t fluctuate as much. Gas is also cleaner than oil, and is better for cooking! The installation price is the same for either system. If you have the option to convert, you should!

If you currently have an oil boiler, ask a HVAC professional for their analysis and recommendation. If you don’t have a natural gas line, converting to electric heat may be a solution, since most buyers prefer that over oil if natural gas isn’t available. If you are in the Central PA or Philadelphia area, I highly recommend MACC Mechanical for your heating and air conditioning needs!

Quick Changes, Quick Turnaround

“We had such a positive experience working with Michele McCartney! We decided to use Coldwell Banker when selling our house in Lincoln Park, Berks County, Pennsylvania. We had relocated to Florida, and when selling a house 1,100 miles away, you have to trust people you’re working with since you can’t be there most of the time.

We had first started with a different agent. Unfortunately we encountered a lot of unfulfilled promises. We were ripped off by the recommended contractor, and had frustrating back-and-forth communication with our realtor. We even reduced the asking price, but after nine months and not a single offer (and paying two mortgages!), we decided we needed a new direction.

We called in the big guns: Michele McCartney. She gave us recommended changes for the house that were fairly easy for us to achieve. After making the changes and re-listing the home, we immediately received two solid offers and sold the property in THREE days! I am still amazed as I write this testimonial.

Michele McCartney is the realtor you should use when selling or buying a home, trust me. She is easy to deal with, your questions are answered, and she has tremendous experience. I was beyond impressed. I know she will work hard for you, too. Michele, thank you! You are a rockstar!”

-Cali F.

Cali’s story reminds me of why I love doing what I do, and why my motto is: your success is my success. After viewing this property in a desirable neighborhood, I knew I could help Cali’s family finalize their move to Florida by finding the next owner for their Pennsylvanian home.

We started by giving everything a good deep cleaning and getting rid of some clutter and dingy furnishings. Projects included replacing the carpet and painting two rooms and the kitchen cabinets.  I typically stage homes, but we decided in this case it was most efficient for us to not do too much. Since their furniture pieces were already moved to Florida, we used blow-up beds and tasteful bedding to create a better image for potential buyers in the bedrooms. Outside, we completed some landscaping and pressure-washed the fence. Just look at the difference in the photos below:

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We invested just $2,000 in these changes. I was thrilled to get Cali 98% of her original asking price for her property, and to achieve her goals in such a short amount of time! This is another perfect example of how putting in that little extra effort goes a long way. These relatively quick changes gave us the quick turnaround we wanted!

Your friend,

Michele

$7k Kitchen & Bathroom Flip

Wow! This Shillington home is completely transformed. Good bones and a lovely neighborhood made this property the perfect flip. We used cost-effective methods to bring the single family home into the 21st century. Here’s a little taste of some of the project we took on…

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Before: First Floor
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After: First Floor
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Before: Office
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After: Office
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Before: Bedroom
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After: Bedroom
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Before: Kitchen
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Before: Kitchen

The old metal kitchen was outdated and heavily used. The banged-up cabinets and dingy floors had to go! We also wanted to add as much storage as possible to maximize space.

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After: Kitchen
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After: Kitchen

This is what you can do in a kitchen with just $5,000! We used ready-to-assemble cabinets to save money without sacrificing quality. These solid wood cabinets were easy to put together and even feature soft-close drawers and doors. New stainless appliances, marbled linoleum, and mesh-mounted glass tiles in a luxe gray complete this modern and clean kitchen.

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Before: Bathroom

There are so many old colored tile bathrooms in Berks County. Renovating a bathroom can be daunting, but there are inexpensive updates that can make a huge difference with a little elbow grease. I couldn’t wait to get that dated pink tile outta there. Sometimes colored tiles can be reworked into a retro feel, but this pink just didn’t fit our vision. The tub was still in good condition, so I decided to reuse it! Save big bucks by keeping existing features when you can.

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In Progress: Bathroom
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In Progress: Bathroom

We knocked down the old pink tile, being careful not to damage the wall when possible. Green wall (a water-resistant drywall) was installed. Don’t worry if you’re not good at spackling and drywalling – use wainscoting instead! It comes in 4’x8′ sheets and is super easy to install. Wainscoting comes primed, so all you have to do is paint it and attach! White wainscoting can give a Nantucket-cottage feel; colored wainscoting can create a boho getaway. The tub also got a good, hard cleaning.

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After: Bathroom

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After: Bathroom
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After: Bathroom

This bathroom remodel was just $2,000. We continued the cool white and gray colors in the bathroom to give a clean, fresh feel. A cute vanity, modern mirror and light fixture, and a new toilet all came from a local surplus store.

Whether you’re flipping a whole house or just a room, you can renovate with quality products on a budget with a little extra elbow grease.

Your friend,

Michele

GoodFellas Granite

GoodFellas Granite & Marble Fabrication is an amazing local resource for granite and marble. Located in Bernville off 183, they have hundreds of slabs to choose from on-site in an expansive warehouse to offer Berks County’s widest selection of styles and colors. With over 30 years in the industry, their team is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Let the experts help you tackle your next project!

In this kitchen, the homeowner wanted a major upgrade without changing the old oak cabinets. The large selection at GoodFellas allowed us to find the perfect complimenting granite countertops to give this townhouse a facelift. During redesign, we made the peninsula larger for more countertop seating. We also added a new glass tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances. The result is a gorgeous, contemporary kitchen!

Prevalent throughout Berks County are the the beautiful, old-fashioned, thick ceramic tile bathrooms with long, built-in vanities. GoodFellas can help design a bathroom makeover without ruining the integrity and style of the tile! In this case, we chose a granite that went with the gray tile. We only had to remove one row of tile to allow for the backsplash. The homeowner also installed new custom shaker doors over the existing cabinets for an absolutely gorgeous finished product.

Check out GoodFellas Granite LLC for more information and project inspiration!

Bayhouse Update: Exterior Paint & Turning the Sun Room into the Sand Room

Now that summer is long gone, remodels of my new bayhouse are well under way!

What a difference paint makes! I spent weeks deciding on the perfect color for the cedar-sided bungalow. One of my favorite curb-appeal tricks is to make sure your roof looks darker than your house.

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Before: Exterior
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After: Exterior
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After: Exterior

Since this home has light gray roofing, I chose a soft, stormy light blue for the siding. Now it looks like it belongs by a beach!

Next we started renovations in the sun room. Since this room has direct access to the beach, it’s also used as an entrance. A traditional mud room is used as a secondary entrance to store muddy boots, coats and jackets, umbrellas, backpacks, dog leashes, keys, and other catch-all items. These spaces help keep outside dirt confined to an easy-to-clean area. At the beach, it’s much more useful to have a sand room! We will use the sun room as an area to trap sand and salt instead of tracking it through the house. It’s the perfect place for towels, flip-flops, beach bags, and wet bathing suits. You can even turn your own mud room into a sand room during the summer to help you be better prepared for pool days and outdoor sports tournaments! Check out this quick helpful guide.

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Before: Sun Room
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Before: Sun Room
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Before: Sun Room Exterior

We kept the old tile floor and chose color tones that matched. Painting the trim white and the walls a soft gray significantly lightened the room to make it more beach-y and airy.

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After: Sand Room Entrance from Living Room
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After: Sand Room Walls & Window Trim
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After: Sand Room Entrance from Beach

We put together the dry bar with granite and ready-to-assemble cabinets from a surplus store for $290 and $800, respectively. The backsplash tile came from Home Depot for $120. I actually tore the glass mosaic tiles in order to get the exact strips and pattern I wanted! The mini fridge will store beverages to cool down from a long day on the bay!

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After: Sand Room Dry Bar
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Before and After: Sand Room Dry Bar

I can’t wait to hit the water this spring!

We will also be temporarily using this finished space as our kitchen while we gut and remodel the actual kitchen one room over. That’s the next project! Check back soon for more renovation updates- things are moving along quickly!

Your friend,

Michele

P.S. I can’t say “thank you” enough to my great team!

Down by the Bay

I’m excited to share that I have recently achieved one of my dreams. I purchased a home on the water in Maryland, at the northernmost part of the Chesapeake Bay! I have always wanted a vacation home that my whole family could enjoy that would become a home away from home. The location of this home made it perfect for me!

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I love my new brick bayhouse!
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The perfect view

I plan on doing some major renovations over the upcoming winter with my helpful team and family. I didn’t want to start demolition during these late summer and fall months when we could still enjoy the bayhouse and autumnal weather by the water. However, some improvements needed to be made so we could relax and feel at home.

With just $1,000 and in just 4 hours, we gave the home a makeover! I focused on the living room, 2 of the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the kitchen. With some simple updating and redesigning, the home looks bright, friendly, and fresh, and much more “me.”

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Before: Living Room
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Before: Living Room
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Before: Living Room

This house came with the furniture, as it was leftover of the previous owner’s second home. I plan on replacing it eventually, but with many messy months of renovations yet to come, I kept what came with the house and used new slipcovers for a furniture facelift! I replaced the heavy drapery with light, sheer curtains and changed the art on the walls to give a more beachy feel. Switching out the lamps and adding new throw pillows gave this room a whole new life!

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After: Living Room
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After: Living Room
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After: Living Room

Updating the bedrooms followed similar ideas as the living room. It was all about the bedding and the window treatments!

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Before: Bedroom
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Before: Bedroom

After giving the rooms a good cleaning, I shopped for pillows, bedding, art, lampshades, curtains, and small end tables that were on sale or reduced at places like Kohl’s, T.J.Maxx, and Marshalls. Adding houseplants gave the final touch!

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After: Bedroom
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After: Bedroom

In the bathroom, we followed suit and exchanged the heavy drapery and dark colors for a cheery, beachy palette. I also removed the glass door and put up an easy tension rod shower curtain instead. It looks like a completely different space!

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Before: Bathroom
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After: Bathroom

The room I am most proud of is the kitchen! The yellow counter-top could surely turn a lot of people off. Instead of trying to hide it, I decided to embrace it!

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Before: Kitchen
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Before: Kitchen

By playing off of the yellow, we gave the room a sunny personality – perfect for a family bayhouse! We used the color to accent the rug, towels, and even decorative lemons on the table. With a complimenting sky blue, these hues make it a happy home.

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After: Kitchen

In just one afternoon and with a few pairs of hands, we were able to transform this bayhouse into our cute family getaway! We are absolutely loving our weekends by the bay!

As winter sets in and renovations begin, I will be updating you on this project. Until then, check out my other projects and keep in touch!

Your friend,

Michele

Cottage Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels can be intimidating. They can often get very messy, very costly, and very time-consuming. But sometimes, with the right tricks, tools, and ingenuity, a kitchen can be easily transformed.

Check out this inexpensive kitchen remodel I did with a client. She wanted to list her cute brick row home which was in a lovely neighborhood, but the needed some improvements, including renovating an outdated kitchen. With a budget of $3,100 for the kitchen, we turned it into a clean and contemporary cottage space. In addition to some other improvements throughout the home, including the updating the bathroom and installing new carpets, we increased the value of the home by $47,000! The before-renovation value of the home was $65,000, but after the remodel, we sold it in less than a week for $112,000.

The kitchen had 40-year-old Formica countertops and backsplash that had stains and burn marks. Formica countertops can be difficult to remove, and the process usually causes extensive damage to the wall. You really have to take your time to repair the wall before you can replace the backsplash and paint the wall. Even then, it’s difficult to get a fresh, smooth drywall surface. So instead of trying to repair the wall, we just put wainscoting right over top! This inexpensive material cost us $100 and we just had to paint it then apply it to the wall. We chose a white semigloss to match the freshly-painted trim then finished off the top with a chair rail. The countertops and backsplash were replaced with a new, modern Formica for $200 to complete the look.

 

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After: New Formica Countertops & Backsplash
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After: White Semigloss Wainscoting with Chair Rail

The old appliances were replaced with new stainless steel ones for $1,200. This drastically improved the look and design of the kitchen, as well as providing a fresh and clean feel. Totally worth it! We also chose a cost-effective vinyl flooring that was easy to install.

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After: New Appliances, Flooring, & Cabinets

The final major upgrade was brand new cabinets. We had to get rid of the old dark wooden ones that were beyond salvaging. To greatly increase storage space in this small kitchen, we added three stacked cabinets next to the stove range. A problem that small kitchens often run into is a door or a window that prevents a traditional 24″ lower cabinet. Instead, we stacked three 12″ upper cabinets to create additional storage while leaving clearance for the door. To finish the bottom of the cabinets, we added a white toe kick over a 2″x4″ to create the look of a traditional cabinet. In total, the cabinet project only cost $1,500 to create a brand new functional cottage kitchen.

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After: New Stacked Cabinets
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After: White Toe Kick

The remodel of the kitchen dramatically increased the value and the quick sale of this home, and it only took $3,100, a little creativity, and some DIY. I hope this inspires you to find inexpensive ways to improve and renovate your own home!

Keep following me for more design ideas on how to efficiently remodel your home prior to sale!

Your friend,

Michele

My Personal Bathroom Upgrade

I don’t always start from scratch! Sometimes, a bathroom just needs a little DIY updating…

This is my personal bathroom at home. I love the layout and the fixtures, I was just getting tired of the tile and color scheme. I started by picking out a new vanity top made of beautiful dark granite to replace the white fiberglass. I then chose new Listello tiles. I carefully removed the previous decorative pieces and found new glass mosaic tiles to fit in their place. I didn’t have to go through the work of replacing all of the tiles in order to get a new look. This immediately gave my bathroom a more cool and opulent feel – definitely my style!

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I took it few steps further and also painted the vanity a clean white to contrast the darker counter. The finishing touch was painting the walls a fresh coat of a warm neutral. These are two other easy and cost-effective changes you can do yourself!

Now I feel like I have a brand new bathroom! I enjoy getting ready in the mornings and admiring my creative work. Don’t be afraid of a little DIY!

Your friend,

Michele

Flippin’ Out

I’m off and running on a new project! I have purchased a small semi-detached home in Shillington, PA that hasn’t been touched in decades. After being inherited by the previous owner, this mid-century classic Berks County home sat vacant for 27 years! Practically everything in the home needs to be replaced.

110 Reading Before (1)A neat foyer.110 Reading Before (3)An original hardwood floor that just needs a little love.

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An awesome fireplace for those winter nights.

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110 Reading Before B (4)A beautiful sunny bay window.

110 Reading Before B (1)Check out that tub!

We just stripped wallpaper and started tearing down old tile. My plan is to keep the character of the architecture of the home, but give it clean, modern, upgrades! I want to do a cute, white cottage-style kitchen and also add a new half bathroom on the first floor. The upstairs bathroom has a cool green tub in excellent condition with good, strong enamel. These colors for bathrooms are trending again, so I’d like to salvage this piece and find a complimenting tile selection. Metal roofs are another up-and-coming recycled trend, so my idea is to patch and paint the existing metal roof a dark red-brown color to compliment the classic brick exterior. I am excited to keep working and see my vision come to life! I know there will be some challenges along the way, but that’s all part of the journey. There are obstacles before every reward.

I look forward to showing you some pictures and progress along the way! Keep in touch.

Your friend,

Michele