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Home Kitchen

Decorate to increase comfort and equity without overspending

We are now seeing a rebound in home sales prices. That has incentivized many American homeowners to go ahead and reinvest in their homes.

Today we’re going to look at inexpensive sources and methods to spruce up your home to make it more enjoyable for you and also add curb appeal and value for a future resale. If your sweat equity increases, you might as well borrow it eventually and invest in a second home or whatever.

Many years ago, when I started seeing TV commercials urging people to get home equity loans for vacations, boats and the like, I knew there was going to be trouble. Never take equity out of your home for such things. Never. Never take money from an appreciating asset to buy a depreciating asset. Don’t spend gun money on butter, as Robert G Allen would say (“How to Buy Real Estate with Nothing Underneath”).

Rich people buy antique furniture because it is collectible and holds its value and appreciation. The same goes for the art on the walls and the Rolls in the garage. They didn’t buy their living room set at Rooms To Go. In retail, the highest margins are found in furniture and jewelry. Four times the wholesale cost. They buy furniture wholesale for a quarter of the retail price they’ll charge, so when they have a “Half Off” sale, geez, then they’re just doubling their money. You roll a new car off the dealer’s lot and its value immediately drops 25%. These items are “butter”. “Guns” are assets that appreciate, such as real estate, stocks, gold and silver, antiques, art, etc. Nothing sadder than driving through a low-income housing complex and seeing Lexus and Cadillacs parked there. They live in a HUD Section 8 apartment, don’t own the real estate they sleep in, but buy a new Lexus. Showing off, yes, but they’re showing off to the other idiots who think that outward displays of wealth ARE wealth. Can you say “new rich”? Most lottery winners are broke in 5 years.

So keep that in mind when you redecorate, you want to balance between “buttered up” things that are just comfortable (and that’s okay!) and “gunned up” things that will increase value. I pay about $150 a month for cable and Netflix. It sounds loud. But I used to screw that up in a nightclub in a couple of hours. I never go to bars or clubs again or even restaurants because I am a vegetarian and often can’t find any menu item to eat. I’m home all the time, so I think it’s cheap to have a good variety of cable and movies to watch from the safety and comfort of my own home. It looks like butter but to me it’s not, it’s a huge savings over the expense and risk of going out.

Big discount department stores like Wal-Mart and Target offer a wide variety of cheap furniture, small dressers, shelving, ottomans, etc. Sears has some great stuff, too, and they’re on Amazon and eBay, too.

I know that Wal-Mart has increased its collection of home furnishings such as rugs, lamps, patio furniture, bathroom accessories, decorative accents such as pillows and cushions. Check out their Better Homes & Gardens product line. Good name, nice things. Target has its own new line of home accessories, the line is called Threshold. Crockery, glassware, table linen, etc. JCPenney has new lines from designers like Jonathan Adler and others. I remember when Martha Stewart was all the rage, and I’ll tell you something about Martha Stewart. I bought pillows for the bed and they deflated so I emailed her website and they asked for a few details like the SKU number of the pillow. Several days later a large box with new pillows and also a complete bedding set arrives at my door: comforter, pillowcases, sheets and all. Truly exceptional customer service and I have never forgotten it. I also like Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley.

For wall art, you can get incredible museum-quality canvas reproductions of Old World masters like Da Vinci and Raphael and newer works by Salvadore Dali and others. It really adds a pop of color! Try old master reproductions online.

How about the following ideas/suggestions:

Budgeting: Research and get ideas by attending model homes being staged and decorated, open houses, etc. Definitely check out places like Home Depot, Lowes, and HGTV and sign up for their newsletters. Now Home Depot and Lowes even offer free classes for various DIY projects around the house. I send my own workers and handymen to classes all the time; They’re professionals in their own minds, but they can always handle picking up new tips! eBay even has a new mode that you can configure in your Preferences by specifying a type of decoration that you like like Art Deco or Victorian or Vintage 60’s, etc. You then automatically receive notification emails about new items listed for sale that match the criteria you’ve set, maybe you just want Turkish rugs. (I always want Turkish rugs!) I collect antique brass bowls, for example, so I get notifications about brass bowls, wine jugs, etc. I fill cabinets with curiosities that I buy at garage sales or even get free from Craigslist and fill them with collectibles like that. I also like miniature pewter and bone china. The collection is not only growing in value, but it really enhances my home. I go for the classics—book-lined shelves, gilt frames for my oil reproductions, backlit curio cabinets—and contrast this with ultra-modern technology like computers and flat-screen TVs and a black and stainless-steel kitchen. With cherry cabinets if you can imagine it.

You will have to pick and choose carefully for your amount of living space. Frankly, I’m overwhelming my space here. But I’m in the foreclosure maintenance business that the bank owns now and is trying to sell through a real estate agent, so we go in and clean out the junk first and I always find things to keep, sell or take to the metal recycling center for cash. My stock rotates! I change coffee tables like others change their underwear. Try to spend where you live. I am rarely in my bedroom, but always in my living room, it is my nerve center, desk, computer, television, huge leather chairs and sofas. I put my money there.

Learn to compromise, you don’t have to have “the real thing”, especially an original oil painting masterpiece. The reproductions are good. Maybe instead of new carpet, lay down tile or hardwood and get a nice Turkish or other rug.

Reuse: convert one thing into another. This goes a lot with lamps and table bases, he likes something original and puts a piece of beveled glass on it and he has a unique table. Lamp kits are a couple of dollars at any hardware store. Buy a glass drill bit and turn old pottery and vases into lamps. Start an online business! Similarly, refinished secondhand, beneath the scarred paint, I’ve found cherry and mahogany dressers and tables that turned out stunning for a few dollars of stripper and varnish and a bit of effort. Another online business!

A fresh coat of paint inside and out does wonders. Use a good, high-quality paint. We always use, from Home Depot, their Behr’s Ultra Premium Plus with the primer on the paint, it covers well in one coat.

I hope these suggestions help! From the box below you can contact me, send me questions, comments and photos of your work!


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