6 Simple Tips for Selling Your House…That No One Does.

Take the time to prepare your house for a quicker (and more lucrative) sale.  Homes that are well maintained, decluttered, clean (and priced appropriately) at the start sell FASTER and often for more money.

Follow these steps and you’ll be WAY ahead of the competition around here. Trust me, we have shown a LOT of houses in McHenry and Lake Counties.

Most buyers cannot imagine a room any other way than it currently is. So re-arrange or move your furniture around to show off the home’s features.

It will be well worth your time to move any extra items into storage while the home is being viewed (you are going to be packing anyway, you might as well get started early).

If you have any brightly colored walls or wall paper, you should consider re-painting to a light, neutral color that makes your room look larger and appeals to a broader audience.  Buyers love a house that looks “Move In Ready.”

The front of your home will attract drive-by attention especially when that FOR SALE sign goes up in the yard. So make it look good! Tidy up the bushes. Or tear out those overgrown bushes completely if they obstruct the view of the home. I see this issue ALL the time. People want to SEE what they are buying.

And consider that the buyer’s real estate agent will be standing at the front door getting the key out of the lock box while the potential home buyers are standing around so you might consider painting the front door a fresh color and adding some flower pots near the doorway for a great first impression.

Walk through each room of your house and think about what little things you’ve been living with that could be improved:

Fill nail holes, finish trim work, replace cracked tile, replace old caulk, leaky faucets…
basically anything that the buyers would want to or need to do when they moved in would be worth doing now.

And clean EVERYTHING. Get rid of limescale build up, clean baseboards, walls, cabinets dust, and it’s especially important to get rid of ODORS (pet, food and smoke odors are huge turn offs), and make that place sparkle (or hire someone that can…it will be worth every penny!)

This will depend on the situation but we help our clients decide if it’s in their best interest to consider updating the roof, the kitchen, bathrooms etc.

Sometimes it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s not. That’s what a good agent can help you decide.

A Real Estate Professional can be a HUGE asset if you use the right one. Choose someone that is knowledgeable about your specific market, regularly monitors new listings and sales in your area. Someone that will tell you the truth…even if you don’t want to hear it. Someone that is tech-savy and can reach a broader audience than your yard sign. Someone that you trust to negotiate on your behalf.

If you are local (Chicago area) and would like to set up a consult to discuss your home, please visit our FULL SERVICE SELLING PROCESS page and get in touch. We can also refer you to a trusted real estate agent anywhere in the US through our network, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Dave and Kelly

whitewash fireplace

How to Whitewash a Dated Brick Fireplace

Last week I posted some fireplace makeovers that may inspire you to throw (or rather brush) some paint over your fireplace bricks to give the room a nice CLEAN look.

And some of you are probably SCARED to do that. I know, I know, it’s a SIN to paint brick, right?!

Well, I love to break the rules! You should buy/do/have whatever makes YOU happy. But for those of you that aren’t ready to take that plunge, I offer up this more natural option:

WHITEWASH those bricks!

whitewash before and after

It’s not complicated. You just mix water and white paint (or I suppose you could do gray or tan, but would that still be called WHITEwash?! hmm…). Use whatever ratio you want depending on how transparent you want it to be. 3-4 parts water to 1 part paint would be a good place to start.

Then apply to your fireplace. Try rollers, brushes, rags…whatever works for you!

Here’s a great example of what I forced inspired my mom to do at her house: Continue reading

Plasti Dip: Round 2

I have some left over red Plasti Dip from that cutting board project 2 weeks ago.

I have a boring old wooden spoon and this pizza cutter (that I’m guilty of putting in the dishwasher and ruining the handle).

A match waiting to happen!? I think so! :)

I quickly opened up the Plasti Dip (which was as good as new!)

Dipped the handle in.


Wiped a little off the end so it didn’t have a big rubber tail.

Then stood there holding this thing. Whoops, probably shouldn’t have acted so quickly without thinking about where I was going to set this thing down while it dried. You cant just set it down.

So I used my best MacGyver skills, tied some twine around it and hung it up (with a paper towel under it just in case it dripped).

And here’s that finished spoon! Love. It.

Finished Products:

Plasti Dip Handles IMAG2616


What’s next?!? Any other ideas out there?

If it’s not covered in concrete here, it’s probably covered in Plasti Dip :)


DIY Modern Christmas Tree

After seeing these plans for a modern wooden Christmas tree on The Design Confidential, I couldn’t help myself…

I don’t even care if it’s before Thanksgiving…

I’m usually the one that gets angry at this time of year that people aren’t following the rules about waiting to decorate, listen to holiday music, and all that other general holiday joyfulness…sounds like a silly thing to be angry about in retrospect.

This year I choose Christmas JOY…even before Thanksgiving **gasp**

And having two little boys who’s eyes light up with every mention of lights, Christmas trees, Santa, cookies, etc is pretty great!

Okay, okay, back to the tree :)

We cut some random scrap pieces to different lengths (ranging from 3″ to 18″) to make our mini version of this tree (it’s about 2 ft tall).

I lined them all up to make sure we had enough to cover the entire dowel:

Then drill holes in the center of each piece: (We used a 1/2″ dowel so had to make sure the hole was at least that size):

Start threading them on the dowel. You’ll see that I decided to make the second piece up a little bigger so I could add little feet to it and still allow it to fold flat for easy storage).

Glued little fee onto the second piece…any excuse to use my favorite little clamps :)

Keep stacking them up:

After some white spray paint, lights and ornaments:

Complete! :)

And here’s that link again to the full plans over at The Design Confidential.

You like?! How many trees do you put up at your house?

DIY Concrete Wall Art

Concrete Art. 

Sounds crazy (like almost every project we do LOL), but I promise these are super cool!  YES, you do have to be brave enough to mix up concrete or mortar mix or concrete resurfacer. But it really is as easy as mixing powder with water. And when making art you can’t even mess it up! You could even just use your hands and no trowel at all.

We typically do these with extra concrete mix left over from other projects.

In fact, most of my art projects are ‘UPCYCLED’ from left over scraps of wood or concrete. You’re welcome, Landfill :)

We just trowel the left overs onto a 1/4″ sheet of plywood/backer board or whatever scraps we have lying around in the garage.

Trowel concrete onto a board

It adheres really well to the board so we didn’t even bother with any kind of bonding agent.

Then just spray on a little concrete stain (this one below was made with two different shades of brown Rustoleum concrete stain). It’ goes on just like spray paint would. Then is soaks in nicely. Obviously I added some stick on letters from the craft store so it would spell “ART.”

DIY Concrete Art:

Concrete Wall Art: Raw Edge

I’m the crazy artist type so I liked it with the raw edge, but Dave wanted it to be more civilized so he added a frame. Just mitered 1x2s and routed out a groove (by running them through the table saw to take out 1/4″ or so)…and obviously we spray painted those.

Framed Concrete Art

Here are a few others I’ve made:

Abstract Concrete Art

Family Name Plaque:

Family Name Plaque

Pictures Coming soon of these versions as well:

A spray painted series in bright colors rather than stain.

And a Key Holder…

YOUR THOUGHTS?! Do you LIKE or DISLIKE the idea of textured concrete in the home as art?

I know this was DIY for the brave so you could always just BUY at our ETSY shop:

Ugly additions

Do you have an addition on your house that a previous owner built (and NOT the way you would have done it)?!

We certainly do.

Starting with the exterior…This thick white siding in NO way belongs next to our stone home. It stands out and not in a good way:

Sorry, bad pic and bad sample paint color…but you can see how the white siding really breaks up the house.

An addition should be an extension and improvement to a home. We could re-side the addition with thin, tan siding to match the home’s original time, or even fiber cement board siding painted to match. But for a quick fix (we are on the market to sell, you know!) we opted for a nice coat of paint.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Why didn’t we do this when we moved in over 2 years ago?

Oh, well I guess we were a little busy updating the interior of this addition.

After a little help from Rory (who’s 3 now):

Rory painting

And Daddy (we admit that he did the entire project on his own):

Painting exterior…in a better color

While Ian and I watched:


Here’s how it looks now:

Painted Exterior (on a super sunny day)

Then Dave decided to speed up the process (any excuse for a new toy!):

Spray painting the other side of the house

And he’s done:

An hour later…complete!

Looks better right?! Have you ever put on an addition? Or had to improve an old existing addition?

Did you make sure it matched the style of the home or go with whatever you like best? Hard not to do that sometimes.

The right tool for the job

It has been a slow learning curve for us when it comes to buying tools. 

Here’s the most recent example of NEEDING the right tool for the job:

Our front yard requires a LOT of mulch! We could easily spent $500-1000 on mulch just for the front yard.
So, when we discovered the free mulch pile in town it was a magical moment!

We packed up the family and took the truck and a shovel to load up and then load up again. We were pretty exhausted by the time the mulch made it into the garden. (ok, it was just Dave was doing the manual labor) but I was pretty tired corralling the kids and watching :)

Rory was VERY excited to climb around on the ‘Mulch Mountains’ which looked very much like these:

Mulch Mountains

On our third trip to Mulch Land, a big-bellied, old farmer showed up in his Suburban with two garbage cans to fill. I was 100% sure that Dave was going to need to help him fill AND load it back into his vehicle.


That old man SMOKED us. In 5 minutes he effortlessly filled his bins and was on his way.

Dave and I looked at each other with a simultaneous understanding that we were leaving IMMEDIATELY to go pick up a new tool.

Here was that man’s secret:

Your new best friend for mulching

A mulch fork. I didn’t even know this tool existed. Tell me I’m not the only one that didn’t know this??

I promise it will be worth every penny if you do any mulching or composting at all! We scooped and spread 2 more loads in triple time!

It’s all about having the right tool for the job.

We like to figure out how to do projects without buying too many tools. Probably because we are usually building things because it will cost less than buying the same piece of furniture, art etc…

But if you have to invest in a new table saw, jigsaw, miter saw, MULCH FORK…this list goes on…it will be SO worth it.

Anyone else out there have regrets about not using the right tool for the job?? Like maybe renting one of those little jackhammers to remove old floor tiles? or maybe a simple kitchen tool is in need…like a KitchenAid mixer (that one is still on my list!)

We’re Back!

Oh how I’ve missed DIY blogging!

I think you deserve an update before we get started on new projects!

I believe we left off just after baby boy #2 arrived,

Rory and Ian

and I had just picked up my Illinois Real Estate License. (Yay!)

Helped a few others and learned a TON about the market
(The learning never ends when you join a creative, make-things-happen real estate team!)

Got our house ready to sell…we’ll share some of those secrets too!

The Original DIY House

Took the plunge and put our house on the market!

It's official, the sign's in the yard!

And 30 days later we accepted an offer!

(As of this post we are about to close in just a few weeks)…and no, I have no idea where we’ll live next.

Time to get house shopping!

Anyone else out there buying or selling right now?? 

P.S.-If you happen to be buying or selling in McHenry County, IL (especially if you love DIY projects!) I might even help you buy or sell your house and share ideas.