Are You Overimproving for Your Neighborhood?

We all love a house-flipping reality show - we shout our opinions and weep when we see the final reveal. It’s an innate human instinct to want to make things better. And when it comes to selling your own home, it’s often a good instinct to follow.

But while it may be OK to max out the budget on a reality TV show, pulling out all the stops in your own home renovation might not be the best choice. Depending on the real estate market, your neighborhood and what buyers are looking for, you may need to do less - or more - than you think.

Before you demolish all the walls, take these four considerations into account.

Sellers market vs. buyers market

Does your local market favor buyers or sellers? You can tell the difference by looking at trends on Zillow, talking to a real estate agent or checking out nearby neighborhoods.

If a lot of nice for-sale homes in your area haven’t sold, it’s likely a buyers market. This means that shoppers have many homes to choose from, so the ones with the nicest updates, lowest prices and better neighborhoods will go first, leaving a lot of homes sitting idle on the market.

If homes are selling right and left, then it’s a sellers market. In this case, there aren’t as many homes for buyers to choose from, so sellers can often get above asking price as a result of bidding wars.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, understanding what the market is doing will help you determine how much you need to upgrade your home.

Improving in different markets

If it’s a buyers market, you’ll likely need to do more to your home to stand out. The average garage door replacement costs around $1,600, but if it makes your home stand out and sell faster, it may be a good move.

If it’s a sellers market, you can get away with upgrading less, since homeowners will be competing for your home regardless of how tricked out it is. Spend your money wisely on things like new counters or fixtures, and spruce up the rest with a fresh coat of paint and some elbow grease.

Consider your neighborhood

The next important factor is your neighborhood, because you don’t want to price yourself out of it. Do you live in a new development? Or an older one where the homes are 40, 50 or 60 years old? Do you have a homeowners association that will limit what you can do? Or can you renovate at will?

In older neighborhoods, you don’t want to renovate your house so much that it looks out of place or becomes a target for theft. You want to find a nice balance.

If most homes in your area have dated finishes, focus on a few crucial updates that’ll help your house stand out and stay within your neighborhood’s average pricing. People are less willing to buy a $475,000 house in a neighborhood where homes don’t usually sell for more than $300,000.

A good rule of thumb: Don’t raise your home’s value any higher than 10 percent of the average cost of homes in your neighborhood.

However, if you live in a nicer area and your house is the shabbiest on the block, you’ll want to spend a little more to keep up. Take a look at homes in your neighborhood that have sold in the last 90 days (you can find this right here on Zillow). Emulate the finishes those homes have while remaining within your budget.

Where to invest your money

Give your home the features buyers look for most. Many homeowners look for updated kitchens, master bedrooms and bathrooms. These three spaces alone can sell your home, so consider investing extra money in these areas.

If you have additional funds, consider replacing flooring or upgrading small things like lighting, fixtures and doorknobs.

Use your budget wisely, and consider going the DIY route - some projects can recoup a large part of your investment! If brand-new kitchen cabinets are out of your budget - or if they’d price you out of your current neighborhood - consider painting your current ones.

Of course, watch for sales or deals on things you can use in your renovations. Regardless of how old or new your neighborhood is, choose timeless styles and colors that will appeal to a wide range of home buyers.

If you do your market research and follow the trends, you’ll end up with a beautifully renovated home that will appeal to a large range of buyers.

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Originally published April 25, 2016.

Creating a Home(work) Station That Gets Top Marks

When was the last time your home workspace or study station inspired you? For most people, the answer is, "Not recently."

Whether you’re prepping an area for your work-from-home days or setting up a spot for young scholars to study , you can kick inspiration into high gear with home office solutions that will get your creative juices flowing again.

Window wonder

It's no secret that sunshine does the body good. Fix up a space near the window so you can soak up plenty of vitamin D while pumping out price lists or writing that term paper.

Greenery looks great near a bright area, so a potted plant or two might help naturally bring your space to life.

Arts and crafts

The age of DIY is upon us. Embrace the casual-cool vibes and create your very own home desk area.

Need a semipermanent to-do list? Try using chalkboard paint to make yourself a giant notepad on a nearby cabinet or a framed chalkboard. Tired of the overdone corkboard for your sticky notes? Framed chicken wire with clothespins makes a more shabby-chic memo board.

The possibilities really are endless for this type of style. Just don't let your DIYing get in the way of the tasks you originally sat down to do!

arts
Photo from Zillow listing.

Collaboration is key

For those less focus-intensive projects, investigate a collaborative workstation with several small spaces or a giant community table. This type of work environment has been popular among small companies and creative agencies for the purpose of bouncing around ideas.

If you still want your own personal space, put a divider between you and the other desks for some extra privacy, and take it down when it's time to meet and discuss. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.

collab sm
Photo from Zillow listing.

A clear mind

While many of us would like to think we have complete control of our habit of logging onto Facebook or checking what else our calendar has in store for us, most of us really don't. And the greatest enabler of this sidetracked behavior is a cluttered workspace.

Set the stage for a clean slate with a bright white desk and matching chair, a simple light fixture and an inspiring element. Keeping your workstation simple and clutter-free ensures you have a productive day - even if your homework is less than exhilarating.

Whether you're up all night cramming for exams or prepping for a work presentation due first thing in the morning, you'll feel more focused and productive by incorporating any of these tips into your workstation.

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Originally published September 7, 2016.

With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-All, Game Day Is No Sweat

This project will help you organize your garage and become the MVP of DIY projects. With all your sporting gear in the same place, you’ll always be prepared when someone yells, "Where’s my basketball?” (Or volleyball, hockey stick, tennis racket, etc.)

See how it’s done, then follow the step-by-step instructions to build one of your own.

1. Find a bookcase

Choose a bookcase with at least three wide shelves so you can store gear in a variety of sizes.

2. Add locking wheels

Attach locking wheels to the bottom of the bookcase so you can easily move it around the mudroom or the garage.

3. Drill holes

Drill evenly spaced holes (about four or five, depending on the width of the bookcase) along the top surface of one of the shelves. Keep the holes fairly close to the edge - about one-half inch away or less.

On the underside of the shelf below, drill holes to match up exactly with the holes on the shelf above.

4. Attach bungee cords

Place the bungee cord hooks in the drilled holes, and arrange the cords vertically so they create a net. You want the cords to be pretty taut, so get the right size for your bookcase.

5. Mount peg boards

Frame the sides of your bookcase with 1-by-2-inch boards to support peg boards that have been cut to size. Secure the peg boards with a few nails on the top and bottom.

6. Customize with hooks and holders

Place hooks and holders on the peg board so you can hang your tennis rackets, baseball gloves, jerseys, helmets and more.

7. Load up your catch-all, MVP!

Grab your gear and organize the bins however you see fit. Now all you have to worry about is scoring the winning goal.

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Originally published September 2017.

Meet the Clutter Scale: One Pro’s Secret to a More Intentional Home

Although I have always been organized, there were two significant moments in my life that taught me how to manage clutter.

The first was when I returned from a backpacking trip around the world. Having visited homes in many developing nations, I no longer wanted to have such excess in my own home. My possessions were organized, but I had too many of them for my taste.

After I unpacked from my journey, I began a thorough review of my stuff. I started upstairs, removing unnecessary items floor by floor. By the time I reached the basement, I had enough stuff to set up a second apartment.

My second decluttering lesson was right after my divorce. Just months after the split, I was facing bankruptcy. I began my climb out of sudden and severe financial debt while simultaneously making a name for myself in the organizing industry. I hired a top-tier PR agent, but I knew I had to come up with some big bucks to cover his fee and all the expenses that go along with creating a brand. I decided to sell my home and everything I owned to make it happen.

As I sorted my belongings for a second time, I created the ranking system below to help me decide what to keep and what to toss. It worked beautifully for me, and I think it can work for you too.

The clutter scale

5 - Important items whose place in your home is non-negotiable. For me, this included my green-stained Depression glass, photos, business files, office equipment and car.

4 - Items that are difficult to replace and items you use every day. This pile included most of my clothes, some furniture, a favorite sheet set, towels and jewelry.

3 - Items you use occasionally but haven’t used within the last six months.

2 - Items you rarely use but feel hesitant to toss.

1 - Items you never use, like seasonal items, specialized tools or kitchen gadgets. I got rid of stationery, extra wrapping paper, old boxes and my printer.

You know what I found as I used the clutter scale? There were rarely items that rated a 2 or 3. And once I established some criteria, I sorted and purged the 2s and 3s like never before. As you sort your less important items, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I love it?
  • What's the special story behind it?
  • Do I have the space for it?
  • Can I replace it?
  • Can I easily borrow it or rent it if I need it again?
  • Does it support my goals and values?
  • Does it compare to the items I ranked as a 5?

The clutter scale is a great way to get back in touch with your priorities. My priority at the time was starting my business, so I kept the bigger goal in sight and let go of anything that didn’t support it.

What I didn't know then was that I was already practicing what I was going to preach in my business. I learned to organize my life and stuff based on my values. I chose to collect experiences - not things.

As you declutter and rank your possessions, don’t forget to take a few minutes to think about your goals and values. You’ll find your home to be much more intentional and peaceful if you do!

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Originally published January 2017.

Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?

Most homeowners have that one thing about their home that they wish were different.

For some, the home’s fatal flaw exists outside the four walls. Maybe the house backs up to a creek that floods whenever it rains, resulting in a squishy backyard and mosquitoes. Or perhaps the home is located on a busy street that generates too much traffic noise. It could just be that the house is too far from the homeowner’s job, and the long commute has gotten old.

If you’re feeling discontent with your home, you may be thinking about renovating … or getting out entirely. But before you knock down walls or put your home on the market, check out our quiz - it could help you think differently about your situation.


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Originally published March 2018.

8 Curb Appeal Boosters You Can Do in a Weekend

A polished home exterior creates an inviting experience for visitors or passersby, which is especially important if your home is on the market.

Check out our tips to get the most curb appeal for the lowest cost - while turning your neighbors' heads and getting prospective buyers to your door.

Clean up

The easiest way to enhance curb appeal is dedicating a weekend to deep cleaning your home’s exterior.

Sure, you'll want to trim bushes, sweep and mow your lawn, but there's more to curb appeal than keeping a tidy front yard. Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to the strongest setting and clean off your driveway, sidewalk, windows and fence.

If dirt and grime are caked on your home's exterior, you can rent a powerwasher for around $50 to $75 a day. Just avoid areas with caulking, like windows and doors, because you can strip some of the sealing. And as tempting as it may be to powerwash your roof, don’t do it -  you may damage the shingles’ coating.

When it comes to your windows, spraying them with a garden hose isn't enough. For maximum sparkle, clean your windows outside and inside. Instead of relying on a glass cleaner, try a mix of detergent diluted in warm water.

Add shutters

Shutters are an easy way to accentuate the size of your windows. They make your windows look larger and add visual interest by disrupting a bland exterior wall. For maximum curb appeal, choose a shutter color that contrasts with your home’s color to make it pop.

Paint accent areas

Paint is a quick and easy curb appeal booster. Instead of painting the entire exterior of your home, focus on the trim, door and shutters.

You can typically find a gallon of exterior paint for $20 to $30. But before you decide on a color, consider home exterior color trends, along with your home's natural style.

Give your door a face lift

If you don’t love your front door, you don't need to dish out loads of money to replace it. Think beyond paint - consider adding molding, which offers a decorative frame for your door that welcomes visitors.

You can also add metal house numbers, which you can find for as low as $5 a number. And if seasonally appropriate, consider adding a wreath to your door as a bonus.

Replace your house numbers

If you'd rather not add house numbers to your freshly painted door, here are some alternative DIY ideas:

  • Paint a terra-cotta planter with your house number and place it by your doorstep.
  • Add house numbers to a post planter near your front porch.
  • Use your front porch stair riser’s real estate by hanging or painting numbers there.

Update your light fixtures

Replacing your exterior light fixtures is another curb appeal must. You can usually find outdoor sconces for around $20 at home centers. Just make sure your new light fixtures have the same mounting system. And if you want to save on lighting, a fresh finish can do wonders. Try spray-painting them - a can of spray paint costs around $10.

Keep porch furniture neutral

Just as you would aim to simplify the interior of your home so shoppers can envision themselves living there, the exterior of your home should be neutral and welcoming too.

Put your pink flamingo and wind chime collection into storage, and focus on porch decor that offers pops of color and character. You can find brightly colored outdoor chairs or throw pillows for $20 to $30 each.

Don’t forget the small things

These low-budget fixes make a big impact, so don’t forget the little details!

  • Upgrade your mailbox: Install a new mailbox for under $100, or spray paint your existing mailbox.
  • Plant a tree: A charming tree can up your curb appeal for as low as $20.
  • Build a tree bench: If you already have a tree you love, build a bench around it! Great for napping, picnicking or just hiding exposed roots, a wraparound tree bench costs only what you spend on boards and screws.
  • Install flower boxes: For around $20 each, flower boxes are a quick way to add some life and color to your windows. If flower boxes sound like too much work, try a container garden in pots by your front porch.
  • Hide eyesores: Place a small lattice fence or a side of paneling around your air conditioner, and hide your trash bins behind a small fence. You can also hide your hose in a pot or storage bench.

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Originally published March 2018.

3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale

Planning to sell your house this year? Now’s the perfect time to prep it for listing!

Set aside a couple of weekends to do the work, and follow these three steps. Then, get ready to make a great impression on potential buyers and cinch the deal.

Step 1: Clean and declutter

It may sound obvious, but the importance of cleaning and decluttering cannot be overstated. Here are some ideas to make this process nearly painless.

  • Eliminate clutter before cleaning: This is the time to purge your house of unwanted and unnecessary items. In addition to donating items to charity, consider giving them away through Craigslist or neighborhood sharing groups. Recyclers are often willing to pick up and haul away large metal items for free.
  • Deep clean your house: This step will probably involve the biggest time investment. Get the whole family involved if you can! Think of this as a pumped-up spring cleaning. Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, and clean the inside and outside of your windows - this makes a striking improvement in the overall appearance of your house.
  • Organize closets, cabinets and drawers: In this case, out of sight is not out of mind. Many potential buyers will open cabinets and closets, because they are thinking about storage space. Clean and organized storage areas signal to buyers that you take care of the house.

Step 2: Make small repairs

Take care of these problems before you show the house for the first time. These are all fixes that you can do yourself.

  • Fix any leaking faucets and running toilets.
  • Replace caulking around tubs, showers and sinks.
  • Freshen up or repair grout as needed.
  • Repair walls and repaint them in a neutral, generally pleasing color that complements your home.
  • Fix cracked or broken windows.
  • Replace or repair damaged window screens.
  • Replace burned-out lightbulbs.

Step 3: Go for curb appeal

You want potential buyers to be charmed by the outside of your house so they look forward to coming inside. Extend your pumped-up spring cleaning to the outside of your house too.

  • Trim bushes, shrubs and trees. Make sure vegetation isn’t touching your roof or siding.
  • Repair broken downspouts and gutters.
  • If it's appropriate for your yard, apply new mulch, river rock and/or pea gravel. This can do wonders for your landscaping and provide immediate curb appeal.
  • Clean and repair concrete areas, such as driveways and walkways. Eliminate any oil or grease stains, and clean out any weeds coming up through the cracks.
  • If it's seasonally appropriate, put out some pots of annuals, which will maintain their color for the season. Freshen up your doorstep with a new welcome mat and make sure the house numbers are easy to see.

With just a moderate amount of effort, you can make your house beautiful and welcoming, both inside and out.

Ready to put your home on the market? Check out our Home Sellers Guide for more tips and resources.

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Originally published March 2017.

From Haylofts to Hardwoods: How One Family Salvaged a Historic Barn

There's a century of history woven into the floors of a contemporary home east of Seattle: golden planks, shiny blondes and the occasional knotted gray.

It's just how Amanda Gatlin wanted it - even if she didn’t expect it would involve recycling an entire Mississippi barn, with pieces dating back to when Woodrow Wilson was president.

"It was my great-grandfather and grandfather and a bunch of people in the community who helped build it," said Gatlin, referring to the barn 2,300 miles away. "Some of the pieces of wood are 100-plus years old."

What started out as a small undertaking - Gatlin and her husband, Jeff Layton, peeling away a couple wood slabs for a picture frame or accent wall in their Northwest new construction - quickly grew into something more.

"I don't know how it transitioned from taking a few pieces to taking down the whole barn," said Jeff. "Amanda's dad talked to the landowner, and they said, 'You can come and take the whole thing.' That evolved into, ‘Gosh, let's salvage this thing.’"

‘I called it my clubhouse’

In 1912, Amanda’s great-grandparents started a farm in rural Choctaw County, Mississippi, about two hours south of Memphis. They ran a small dairy operation while growing corn and cotton. In 1949, the family built a large wooden barn on the same piece of land.

"The lumber was primarily white oak," said Boyd Gatlin, Amanda's father. "I think we kept three jersey cows and a bull. We would hand-milk in the morning, and then we sold it."

"I grew up drinking raw milk. That's why I have such a great immune system," he joked.

Boyd played in the barn as a child, jumping out of the hayloft or getting stung by wasps in the summer. His family eventually moved away, but they later learned the new owner added to the barn using wood from Boyd's grandparents' home nearby.

"So there are some unusual materials," Boyd said, "some of which had square nails, indicating they were more than 100 years old."

The Gatlins repurchased the land when Amanda was 7, using it as a country home to spend weekends or vacations. The sale allowed her to play in the same barn her father played in as a kid.

"I remember sitting up in that loft. I called it my clubhouse," she recalled. "You could dangle your legs over the side and look out onto the other house on the property - into the tall grass."

‘We were swinging sledgehammers’

When Amanda and Jeff set out to salvage the barn in 2016, it no longer belonged to her family, but they struck an agreement with the landowner to take it apart. They booked a flight from Seattle to Mississippi for September, hoping Mother Nature would give them a break from the unrelenting summers of the South.

As with many aspects of the project, it was a lot more complicated than one might expect.

"It was 95 degrees, super high humidity - it was just scorching hot," Jeff recalled. "We were swinging sledgehammers, and it was by hand. Everything was by hand."

The couple had done their research. A lot of people, it turns out, take apart barns for a living.

"[Other people are] using cherry pickers and forklifts. We didn't have access to that," Jeff said. "But as it turns out, it all came apart pretty easily. No electricity. It was all done by hand."

The duo used sledgehammers to take the barn down, piece by piece. Relatives and neighbors joined in for days at a time. A tornado that hit the area a few years back had loosened up some of the planks, making it a little easier.

They got lucky, they say, that there were no menacing bugs or wasps. They found some ants - and the occasional relic.

"Sometimes we found bullets inside [the wood]," Jeff recalled. "Apparently it's really common in the South to go shooting at old barns."

It took the pair a full two weeks to take the building apart and remove the nails by hand. In the process, they discovered the barn was more than 90 percent hardwoods, forming a solid base for their Seattle home’s new floors.

They also discovered something else: the importance of family.

"One huge benefit of doing all this labor is that we've bonded with family," Amanda recalled. "You sweat together, you have lunch together. It's an amazing bonding experience."

Long hours toiling in the hot Mississippi sun sparked great stories of the family's deep roots. Amanda's father shared tales of living on the farm as a child. A cousin talked about flying helicopters in the Vietnam War. Another cousin drove up from Florida and helped for three days, along with her husband.

"It created opportunities that we would not have had otherwise," Jeff added.

‘He was telling me stories from the Navy’

Once the wood was taken apart, it had to be milled and transported across the country. A local Mississippi mill, dating back to 1875, sanded down the boards and created tongue-and-groove joints, costing the family about $6,000.

"A lot of the pieces we were pulling down had that gray patina on it. The mill guys said that 20 years ago you couldn't give it away," Jeff said. "But now it has that aged look people are really looking for."

Jeff planned to drive the wood across the country. His father, who also lives near Seattle, was planning to meet him in Arkansas.

"It was quite an adventure. The day I left Mississippi, there were all these tornado warnings. There were tornadoes touching down around me, and it was really dark," he recalls. "I was thinking, 'What am I doing? What have I done?'"

Jeff and his father drove through the South to escape the cold winter weather. The duo ended up having their own family experience getting the hardwoods back to the West Coast.

"He was telling me stories from the Navy. We talked politics and religion," Jeff added. "I got to spend all this great time with my dad."

Amanda working on the hardwoods in her new home in Plain, Washington.

‘Putting a puzzle together’

With the wood safely back in Washington, the couple stored it for the winter, enduring subzero temperatures. They placed it in the garage of their rental home, covering the pieces with plastic and putting a heater in the room to keep the moisture down.

Before installing the wood, they sprayed it with an insecticide. The duo worked 12-hour days, laying out the floors in the main rooms, along the stairs and in a couple of small loft spaces.

They were working with five different board widths, along with different wood species. The couple loved the look - even at the risk of having the boards expand and contract at different rates.

"You basically start putting a puzzle together," Jeff says.

That patchwork meant hiding some Easter eggs throughout the house - the couple found a smiley face in one plank of wood, placing it outside their son's room.

"We would find different knots that look like things, [such as] an Eiffel Tower. We have a room that has two bears in it. We have one that looks like a wine spill," Jeff says.

The installation, from bare floor to stained, finished wood, took the family about 2 1/2 weeks.

‘A good substitute’

The couple is now fully moved into their 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom home and ready to welcome guests over the summer, when sunshine brings warm weather and ideal conditions for hiking, rafting and barbecues.

It wasn't the least expensive way to put floors down, added Boyd Gatlin, Amanda's father, but it is certainly special.

"In a nutshell, their flooring was quite expensive, but it is like no other in that it carries family memories," he said. "We had a house fire in 1960 that destroyed all family heirlooms, so Amanda and her cousin both felt the barn wood would be a good substitute."

Not all the wood was solid enough for the floors. Some of it became the lining of the master bath; the couple is also talking about doing some accent walls in wood.

The family’s nearly complete home, about two hours east of Seattle.

Boyd commissioned two paintings of the barn from a relative. The family plans to build a picture frame out of the leftover wood and some of the square nails. Even the rusty old barn roof will be put to good use as siding on Jeff and Amanda's home.

Most importantly, the family loves to share stories about how their hardwood floors were more than 100 years in the making.

"We've been blown away by the results," he said.

Photos by Jeff Layton, Amanda Gatlin and Boyd Gatlin.

You can follow Jeff and Amanda’s progress on their blog, Married to Adventure.

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Originally published June 2017.

Is Buying a Historic Home Right for You?

Some home buyers want new, modern and move-in ready. Others prefer older homes, with character and charm they can't find in new construction. If you’re interested in historic homes, take these factors into consideration as you shop.

Historic neighborhoods often impose restrictions

Many towns throughout the U.S. have zoning and planning commissions that, among other things, set out to preserve and protect historic homes and neighborhoods.

As a result, renovating and altering a historic home - particularly the building’s facade - will require a separate layer of approval and sometimes bureaucracy. If you buy a 100-year-old home, you may not be able to renovate it the way you want, and that is a serious consideration.

Some landmark or historic districts retain an immense amount of control. As a result, renovations and planning can take longer and cost more. If you’re purchasing a historic home with intentions to renovate, you should consult both an architect and town officials.

Recreating architecture from the past can be challenging - and expensive

Let’s consider the example of Victorian-era homes. Contractors and home builders constructed Victorian homes through the mid to late 19th century, often with materials that are no longer in use today.

If you buy a home in less-than-perfect condition, finding the wainscoting, picture rails, crown moldings, and richly decorative and ornate features common in Victorian architecture can be tricky. Architectural salvage companies can track down these materials, but there’s often a steep cost attached.

Repair and maintenance needs could be extensive

Most buyers want move-in ready homes because they don't have the time, money or energy to embark on a renovation project. These buyers also don't want to be burdened with systems going out or having to live with older or outdated technology. For them, it's a quality of life issue.

If you want a historic home, you need to have a maintenance strategy in mind. Unless you plan to do major renovations or updates (subject to any landmark or historic area regulations), you have to be ready to address issues that arise. Broken systems, leaks or flaws mean time and money.

For history buffs, no amount of time commitment or money will stand between them and a one-of-a-kind home. That person appreciates the architecture and knows that intensive maintenance is par for the course. If you don't share that appreciation, a historic home is not right for you.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published February 2015.

This Philadelphia Farmhouse Is a Historic Stunner

Take a stone farmhouse from 1810, mix it with the best furnishings you can find at flea markets in Paris, and the result is this exquisitely renovated Colonial home outside Philadelphia.

A walk-in fireplace graces the living room, while the formal dining room boasts French doors that open onto a screened porch. For a cozier ambiance, the library of this 4-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot home features a fireplace and picture-window views.

A beautifully upholstered floating wall was installed in one bedroom to allow a lake view while lounging in bed. A chandelier hangs above the bed, and behind it is a sitting room.

 

Owners Michele and Michael Friezo also remade the nearly 8-acre grounds, adding formal and informal gardens. They planted more than 300 types of flowers in a meadow with a fire pit that overlooks a private lake.

The pleasure of watching the sun on autumn evenings is rivaled only by watching the snow fall while sitting by a roaring fire in the barn, Michele Friezo said.

The couple also renovated the estate’s crumbling horse barn, which is a rustic version of the main home. Concerned that adding insulation would take away the barn-like appearance of the structure’s interior, they bought a second barn and installed it inside the first one.

The barn’s massive French windows face the meadow and the lake, offering front-row seats to the nesting of two bald eagles who live in a nearby grove of pine trees.

The estate sold for $2.575 million with Caryn Black of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty.

Photos by Juan Vidal Photography.

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Originally published December 2016.
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