Episode 307

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Happy December! Time is flying, and we are super busy with rebranding here at Affordable Interior Design. I’m kicking off this episode with a little talk about goals, because it’s on my mind with everything going on in the business. I share about the power of writing down your goals, keeping visual reminders close by, and reflecting on your progress.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[15:32] Choosing light fixtures while keeping resale value in mind (Matthew)

Question:

I want to ask about choosing light fixtures when keeping resale value in mind. I have a client for whom I want to recommend a light fixture that’s a little unique and interesting. It consists of a narrow wood beam and five concrete shades and would be hung above a kitchen island. They plan to be in their house for 5-7 years. Would you consider this a long enough period to go more personal with light fixtures, or would it be better to keep it more universally appealing for when it comes time to list the house for sale?

Answer:

I think of light fixtures like window treatments – they’re probably not going to be able to go with you. They’re typically very house-specific, as they either need to coordinate with the architecture in terms of scale.  Say in seven years these people move to a house with a much bigger island.  They’re going to need a bigger pendant.  Or say their dining room is much smaller. They’re going to need a small chandelier.  So when recommending light fixtures and window treatments, I think it’s a wonderful bonus if they can take them with them to the next location.  The more likely scenario is that they won’t.

That being said, I don’t give a lick about resale value for light fixtures and window treatments. They’re so important, and they draw attention to themselves.  Drapes can extend from the ceiling to the floor, and light fixtures light up.  They aren’t going to get stained or broken because they’re on the ceiling, so I do think they’re worth investing in.  They can also show well in pictures, but I would not consider resale value and I would be open to swapping out something that was very edgy when showing the house.  You would just need a handyman or a ladder to switch out light fixtures and drapes.

For example, in my dining room I have very bold paisley drapes that have every color of the rainbow except for teal and purple.  They are very vibrant and colorful, and they are not going to be most people’s tastes. I’ll share a picture of them on YouTube – they came from Pier 1 and I love them – but they are a very shiny paisley.  Then I have this light fixture that is a knockoff of a famous glass design.  The framework is kind of an upside down triangle with the point toward the table, but the actual fixture includes all these glass disks that are an opaque sort of milk glass white.  Authentic versions of this are sold on Cherish and First Dibs for over $5000, and I considered that type of splurge when I was looking at these.  My designer found me a knockoff on Lamps Plus for $179, and at that time I had spent a little bit more than I’d hoped on my house and we were pretty house poor.  The idea of saving $4000-$5000 was pretty exciting, so I went for that one instead.  I’m kind of glad I did, because in my next home it’s probably not going to go.  Even if it did match the style of the home, I’m over it. I want something new.  I’m a designer – I love to switch things out!

So, I am basically recommending that you splurge on the light fixtures and drapes knowing it’s not a long-term investment.  If you’re able to take them with you, and you’re still excited about them in the next home, then just consider it icing on an already delicious cake.  When you’re ready to resell, if your real estate agent says that rainbow paisley drapes are going to be a liability, then take them down and swap them for something neutral from Bed Bath & Beyond.  You got to live for 5-7 years with something that really resonated with you.

[21:58] Two-tone kitchens and different colored cabinetry (Gonie)

Question:

We are renovating a 70s era apartment on a budget. We are looking to install a laminate kitchen but don’t want too contemporary a look. The designer at the kitchen place recommends that we do the lower cabinets a dark color and the upper cabinets a light color. One of the options is a midnight blue with a light khaki or very light blue. She said the kitchen will look too heavy only midnight blue. I think two tone kitchens look like two different kitchens – that someone made a mistake. What is your take? To just go for one light shade? Two tones? Can we do a midnight blue only? I have attached the plans for the kitchen. The kitchen faces south so there is plenty of natural light.

Answer:

I’m looking at the plans for the kitchen, and there’s not a whole lot of cabinetry so I’m not worried about this looking too dark.  I do like two-toned kitchens personally, and I go along with the kitchen designer in recommending that you do the lighter color at the top and the darker color at the bottom. I do think two-tone kitchens are pretty trendy right now.  I feel like in 10 years people are going to see a two-tone kitchen and be like, “Oh my gosh, that was so 2021. Remember during COVID when we did two-tone kitchens?”  I also think blue cabinetry is having a moment right now. That’s potentially not going to be a lasting trend.  A lot of people are doing navy or dark blue cabinetry on the bottom or for the center island and then doing a gray cabinet on bottom and a white cabinet on top.

If it totally floats your boat, go for it. If it’s not just trendy and it’s going to feel awesome to you to do that, then do it with confidence because you get tons of natural light.  If, however, you personally feel that two-tone kitchens are not good looking or if you feel like they aren’t cohesive, then don’t do it.  Making these renovation choices is expensive and it’s not something you want to do again for 10-15 years.  At that point, it’s going to look dated no matter what you’ve done.  So make the choice you want, bearing in mind that it is a big investment.

When I’m designing a kitchen, I don’t just think about the cabinets.  I also want to have the complete design schematic ready for me because each decision impacts the other.  You’re going to want to choose your backsplash or countertop and your flooring, and if there is paint you will want to consider that as well as appliances.  I don’t make any one choice without thinking holistically.

You also want to think about what this kitchen opens up into. If it’s an open living/dining concept, you can see the kitchen from the dining area and from the living room.  If you do choose to use a lot of midnight blue in the kitchen, you should bring that color around to the other rooms.  If you don’t plan on bringing any dark blue to the other areas, then I wouldn’t recommend using it prominently in the kitchen if it’s open to those areas.

So again, you don’t think about renovation choices one by one.  You think about the entire space. In fact, if you want to go off the deep end as I like to do, I even look at the bathrooms.  Now of course the bathrooms do not need to coordinate with the kitchen, but everything architecturally needs to look like it came from the same universe.  It needs to look like it came from the same time period, and like it was considered by the same person who had a singular vision for the entire home but expressed that vision in different ways throughout the space.

When I create a vignette for the kitchen, I may ask my clients if they are happy with their bathrooms or if they want to design the bathrooms at the same time.  That way we can ensure everything is on the same page.  That is particularly important for resale value, as people are looking through your home.  Even if everything looks a little bit dated, at least it will look homogenous.  If you do everything from a different time and a different point of view, things will not only look dated but they will also look mismatched and problematic.

Making renovation choices has a ripple effect.  As Matthew pointed out, you need to think about resale.  If you’re going to be selling before that 10-year mark, ask yourself some tough questions and make your own dreams come true because so much time, energy, money, and discombobulation is on the line that you want to make it worth it for yourself.  You want to go home and be like, “Wow, I love this.”  Some things are worth the investment of time, energy, and money, even if they’re not for the long hal.  Bear that in mind, and have a wonderful winter week.

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