Archive for February 2013

Kitchen remodels. The value of your home – and adding value to it.   Leave a comment


(This week: Guest writer Michelle Portesi of Much Ado with Nothing)

During the holidays I stumbled upon this very informative article on kitchen remodeling:

As a designer that specializes in remodeling, and specifically kitchen and bath design, it is by far one of the better written pieces aimed towards your average homeowner that I’ve read – with some caveats. It also got me thinking about the information as it pertains to the Tahoe real estate market…both as a seller and a buyer. From the article:

“consider what’s best for your finances, family, and future…classify improvements into two categories: One being projects that add monetary value to the house, the others make the house more appealing,” … “For example, a larger kitchen will increase the actual value of the house, whereas granite countertops are going to make the house more appealing to buyers.”


Obviously the first question that needs to be asked is whether you are a seller or a buyer, as your intentions, and the spending budget and scope of any remodeling you will be doing is vastly different for the same property.  Today I am going to focus on the seller.

As the seller of an average home, your intention, if the kitchen is old and dated, is to make it appear less so.  This preferably involves cosmetic changes that gives the place a bit of an updated ‘facelift’ without spending a lot of money on it.  Certainly as a seller, the materials selection are different as well as the budget for such a project – as opposed to a home YOU personally intend to live in for awhile.

Before photo. Old cabinets with worn out finish, chipped and dated laminate countertop.

Inexpensive kitchen facelift. Cabinets painted white, new hardware, stock white tile, 4 glass doors, wallpaper, clearance faucet and stock home center sink.


As the phrase goes “Men buy a house. Women buy a home”.  I’ve heard tales time and again from house hunters describing properties for sale that were spectacular in every way…until the wife hits the kitchen, took one look and quickly turned on her heal and sprinted out the door with not so much as a backwards glance.  As a seller, the last impression you want to leave on a potential homebuyer is that the first order of business should they purchase your property will be a complete and total, expensive and tedious gut of the entire kitchen just to make it tolerable.  But nor do you want to be the one to do the expensive gut just to sell the house. In today’s real estate market, it’s a given that if you spend a lot of money updating property you intend to sell in the near future, that you probably won’t be getting your investment back out of it. It may sell the home quicker, but you will run the real risk of taking a monetary loss. So the amount of money spent on an update to a house going on the market should always be cautious at best. (Unless it’s an old lakefront for which spending $100,000 would bring a return on investment of a cool million…in which case, all bets are off…)

The article lays out 6 different kitchen projects that can ratchet up the appeal and/or value factor to a kitchen.  The following are suggestions as to how a home seller can adapt the article’s design principles to appeal to a home buyer without breaking the bank.


 Project #1: Cabinet Replacement or Refacing

If you’re a home seller, this option comes more under the category of ‘fuhgeddaboudit’.  Both new cabinetry and refacing will require a healthy chunk of change that would be more appropriate for the home buyer to be investing in. That being said, there are inexpensive things you can do to spruce up tired and outdated cabinetry to be more appealing.

  1.  Start with a good cleaning. Most kitchens build up a phenomenal amount of grease and grime over the years, and tackling the inevitable buildup will at the very least give a home buyer the impression of cleanliness if nothing else. After you’ve cut down on the crud factor, you now have a clean canvas to start with to consider some other options.
  2. Stain.  I’m a big fan of the Zar family of products. With a ‘two-fer’ of stain and sealer combined, it’s just the ticket to add a nice sheen and freshen up the finish on old, scratched cabinetry.  You can also use the same product to ‘glaze’ your cabinets, which is applying more stain to the creases and crevasses of the cabinet doors and drawers, wiping it off gently, allowing the excess to linger in the depressions. A basic cabinet door will have more visual interest and definition by doing this –  or you can also use this technique to create an old world look.  Realize this IS a temporary, cosmetic fix. You will be staining the existing finish, not the wood itself. It is not intended to hold up for long term use, although a coat of varnish over it would make it longer lasting. Remember, you’re not aiming for new cabinet perfection here. You’re just trying to make the kitchen seem freshened up to a potential buyer, not remodeling it for them.
  3. Paint. It’s a wonderful and inexpensive way to salvage run down cabinets that have been abused beyond all redemption. At least any redemption that can be fixed with stain. Consider sage greens, antiqued black or brick red for an updated mountain feel. Glazed and painted cabinetry are popular (and more expensive) options in most manufactured cabinetry lines. If you have any DIY abilities whatsoever, you can mimic the look on your old cabinets for pennies on the dollar compared to new cabinets. And never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint and color on your walls. Sand beiges are still appealing neutral colors while adding a touch of  elegance. Boring (and often dirty) white walls just makes the  house you would like to sell for a pretty penny look like a low rent apartment.
  4. Add decorative cabinet door and drawer hardware. Those of us in the trade call this ‘Jewelry for your cabinets’. Not only does it add some zip to an otherwise boring cabinet, it also protects the cabinetry finish from the oil on your fingers, which builds up over time. (Remember all the scrubbing you had to do on #1 above? That’s why.)


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The Great Ski Race   Leave a comment


One of the things that makes Tahoe and Truckee the wonderful places they are is The Great Ski Race. After having to cancel last year due to a lack of snow, the race is back for it’s 37th rendition this year.

At 9:00 am on March 3rd, the first of a number of waves of skiers will set off from Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area near Tahoe City. The fastest racer will fly over Starratt Pass and make the 30 kilometer jaunt to Cottonwood Lodge just above downtown Truckee in about one hour and ten minutes. Lots of top skate skiers will race to the finish in under two hours, determined to show themselves that they still got it. On the other hand, there are a large group of skiers who are just out to enjoy the day, they stop at the two soup stations along the route to enjoy a snack, and then saunter on down to the finish line. The last of the nearly 1000 racers may take five hours or more to reach the final steep hill before the finish.

Sure, The Great Ski Race is a big cross-country ski race, the biggest in the Western United States in fact, but more importantly it is a great community event. Many skiers do it every year, trying to best their previous times, or those of their friends. For others, they’ve been hearing about it for years, and have finally determined that this will be the year. The party at the end is a raucous celebration of winter, and for many the highlight of the day.

And it’s all for a good cause. The Great Ski Race is the major fundraiser for the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. Those are the guys and gals that head out into blizzards to rescue lost skiers or whomever else made a wrong turn or found some bad luck at the wrong time. They have saved a lot of lives and the race helps give them the equipment and resources they need to keep their operation running smoothly and effectively. For more information go to


Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee

Lifestyles of the Kitchen Famous

Kitchens . Baths . Interiors . Design . By Michelle Portesi

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Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee

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Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee

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Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee

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Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee


Lynn Richardson . Coldwell Banker Real Estate . Lake Tahoe & Truckee

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