8 Design Tricks for Defining Your Open-Plan Dining Space

An open-plan living space gives your home a light and airy feel, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be one sprawlingly large room. Check out these ideas to zone off your dining area and create an intimate space in which to share dinner with friends and family.

11 Design Tricks for Defining Your Open-Plan Dining Space

1. Zone the floor. You can separate your dining space by marking out the area on the floor. Here, an unusual hexagonal pattern stands out beneath the table and instantly closes the space. You also could use floor paint to mark out simple lines or create your own more elaborate design.

2. Add a rug. A simple way to zone the floor is to position a rug under the table. It will create a cozy area and feel wonderfully soft underfoot. To counteract food debris, go for something lightweight, so it can be easily picked up and shaken out.

3. Use natural materials. You can add warmth to a space by introducing natural materials such as wood, plants, woven elements and fabrics. This solid wood table and the lovely textures surrounding it have created a snug spot in the center of the white room. The dining space looks comfortable and welcoming.

4. Frame your viewpoint. The modern white table here sits in the middle of a concrete floor and is surrounded by white walls. It’s prevented from feeling lost or clinical by the clever placing of two bright pictures. These colorful artworks root the table to its spot and allow other elements to fall into place around it. It feels cheerful and cozy.

5. Have everything close at hand. Create a comfortable space by bringing in practicality. The wall-to-wall sideboard in this dining area has plenty of room for glasses and tableware, which makes the area an easy place to be. The owners and their guests can quickly get at everything, so if someone needs an extra glass, it’s right there. The functionality of the space should help to create a relaxed atmosphere.

6. Break up spaces. You can make your open-plan space feel cozier by dividing zones with furniture. This large cabinet helps to separate the living room from the dining area to create a more intimate feel. It also has the added benefit of providing vast amounts of storage.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to a custom cabinet, try placing a large sideboard or shelving unit between the two spaces. Any kind of barrier will help to break up the space and make it feel snug.

7. Build in a bench seat. Cushioned benches are comfortable and flexible. Make the most of an open-plan space by building one next to other elements in the room. Here, the bench rests against the kitchen countertop, creating a snug and sociable spot where guests can gather while the cook prepares food in the kitchen.

8. Soften the lines. Isolate your dining space from any sharp edges in the rest of the room by choosing a curvy table. The dark, industrial kitchen here provides a moody backdrop to the soft, white dining table and chairs. The angled light fixture puts a spotlight on the dining area and highlights it as a oasis in the center of the room.

 

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

9 Modest Fixes for the Problem Kitchen

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Kitchen cabinetry, countertops, backsplashes, and appliances can sometimes turn off buyers at the first hello. Yet, a total redo may be too costly.

The average gut rehab on a mid-range kitchen has surpassed $56,000, and an upscale one hovers around $113,000. Many home owners simply can’t undertake a kitchen renovation after scraping together a down payment. It doesn’t fit into their new budget alongside their mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance, maintenance, and new furnishings.

Many potential buyers cross off houses with great locations, floor plans, and prices because of dark, dreary, or dated kitchens. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You should know that a handful of affordable improvements can make a huge difference and possibly result in a better return on investment than big-ticket changes.

1. Go for cabinet 2.0.

Cabinets often represent the biggest cost of a redo, typically 50 percent to 60 percent of the total budget. They also are often the biggest eyesore, particularly if the style of fronts, paint finish, or color appears dated. Many designers and real estate experts say it’s relatively easy to sand down the fronts; paint, stain, or spray cabinetry; and then install new snazzy hardware. Some design experts recommend replacing all fronts if the style doesn’t appeal, but that will cost much more—possibly triple the price. Before you pursue either strategy, remember this maxim: Don’t throw good money after bad. If the arrangement of cabinets and appliances doesn’t work for you, or if the cabinetry’s not in good shape, there’s little point in spending money on even a modest facelift.

2. Change countertops and the sink.

The black countertops in the otherwise all-white Hamptons kitchen in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” proved a stunning—and much imitated—look. But home owners don’t have to go with expensive soapstone or the best granite to achieve it. The latest generation of affordable laminates has come a long way aesthetically and functionally, so they should be considered. In most cases, a sink will have to be replaced when a countertop is switched, but that can be done for as little as $300. Some home owners may want to splurge on newer and pricier sink models that can be accessorized with fitted cutting boards, drain holders, colanders, and prep dishes. If there’s still wiggle room in the budget, change the faucet, too. It can really complete the new look and notes home owners often enjoy the utility of the long gooseneck designs that are popular now.

3. Replace equipment.

Items that are not working obviously need to be replaced. If upgrades are under consideration, first change out the refrigerator, a noticeable improvement in an appliance that is used daily by everyone in the family. Try to match the replacement to existing equipment—whether black, stainless, or white—rather than have a mishmash of hues. If you are really unhappy with your appliances in general,  it’s often less expensive to replace the three key appliances—refrigerator, range, and dishwasher—in a package from one manufacturer.

4. Update the backsplash.

The area between the counter and cabinets or ceiling is highly visible in most kitchens. It’s even more noticeable if it has a dated tile design, such as diamonds, embedded in a rectangle or a fruit basket motif. A more updated yet classic look includes subway tiles in a row. For a twist, you can install them vertically rather than in the traditional horizontal way.

5. Improve lighting.

A dark kitchen can quickly nix a sale. But adding lighting requires minimal effort and expense. Buyers should consider recessed ceiling cans for good general lighting. The trend is for fewer and smaller cans (5 inches to 6 inches in diameter) to avoid a Swiss-cheese effect. They might also go with one attention-grabbing chandelier over a dining table and two or three large pendants above an island. All should be installed with dimmers to offer the option of different moods and LED bulbs for energy efficiency.

6. Paint the room.

Always the least expensive way to affect change, paint can be selected in a neutral shade for wide appeal. But nowadays, neutrals no longer just mean white or beige; soft greens and blues work well as universal mixers. Most design pros recommend steering clear of wallpaper, which can quickly date a room and attract grime.

7. Change the flooring.

Most kitchen floors don’t generate negative buzz unless they’re very worn or comprised of dated linoleum or vinyl. When that’s the case, an easy fix is to switch to popular real-wood planks that can be sealed well and are easy on the feet. New porcelain designs imitate real wood well and can be less costly to install and easier to maintain.

8. Add one “wow.”

Nothing impresses buyers more than one great splurge—the equivalent of a piece of statement jewelry in the hub of the home. Buyers on a budget can try a less costly solution with great personality.

9. Open up the room.

Open-plan living has been growing in popularity for years now, and many predict that trend will continue. Instead of everyone crowding into the kitchen, more home owners want this room to be part of surrounding spaces such as the living and dining room. Taking down a non-load-bearing wall makes sense. If you want a professional to do it, the cost depends on the size of the wall, but it should be something a contractor could do in a couple hours for minimal cost.

While the final effect may not rival a Hollywood-ready kitchen, these smaller changes are still apt to make the space more appealing for cooking and congregating—and may some day woo buyers in the resale process.

 

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

UPCOMING POCKET LISTING – Welcome to Hawaii in Hope Ranch / Resort Style Living in Paradise!

001 46_en Welcome to Hawaii in Hope Ranch / Resort Style Living in Paradise

Fabulously updated in 2012 with a $600,000 custom renovation, this Hope Ranch Home boasts +/- 3900 square feet with 4 Bedrooms, and 4 bathrooms all surrounded by sweeping views of the Mountains, Lake & Golf Course. This house screams ‘designer’ and reflects the personality and taste of those accustomed to the best in quality finishes and lifestyle.

The Open floor plan boasts high beamed ceilings, Hardwood floors, a beautiful living room with high coved ceilings, Media Room, and 2 fireplaces. The Gourmet kitchen with Custom Cabinetry, is adjacent to both formal and informal dining areas and designed with top of the line finishes.

There are 2 Master Suites, both bright and airy. The Upstairs Master is complete with a fireplace & access to the pristine views & the downstairs master has both His & Her walk in closets.

The layout of the property is perfect for both indoor and outdoor entertaining. The 1.96 acre grounds are fully gated and complimented by a luxurious pool & spa, covered & uncovered patio, beautifully manicured landscaping and picturesque oak & palm trees. The untouched one acre lower parcel is a perfect canvas for your personal touches.

Amenities within Hope Ranch include tennis courts, a private beach, 24 hour security, 26 miles of horse trails and located in a friendly community with an award-winning school system.

The property is a short distance from La Cumbre Country Club, a competitive 18 Hole Golf Course and Tennis Facility. The Club recently underwent the addition of a new state of the art fitness center and has an aquatics area and several dining areas. All of this within just minutes of downtown Santa Barbara.

Come experience turnkey living while taking advantage of the Quintessential Santa Barbara lifestyle! This home is reminiscent of a tropical getaway and ideally positioned in close proximity to beaches, cafes, restaurants, & shopping. Welcome to Hawaii in Hope Ranch!

Offered at $3,595,000

Please Go to www.LuxuryInHopeRanch.com for Full Property Details

 

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

6 Features in Demand Among Luxury Buyers

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Luxury sales have been soaring in recent months, outpacing the rest of the housing market. Deals on existing homes priced above $1 million climbed more than 16 percent in October compared to a year ago, according to National Association of REALTORS® housing data. The increase was bigger than that of any other price segment.

So what home features are these luxury buyers on the hunt for in their million-dollar–plus homes?

Here are some trends in home features and interior designs by looking at what’s in demand among the luxury buyers as well as what’s trending on luxury listings:

1. Luxury showers: Forget the Jacuzzi tub. The luxury buyer wants a luxurious shower. Since most people take more showers than baths, they want to have a stand-alone shower with multiple shower heads.

2. Fire pits by pools: Fire pits and gas fireplaces beside a pool are gaining in popularity. One quick way to warm up after a dip in the pool is to curl up next to a fire, and now that fire is just steps away.

3. Tasting rooms: Wine cellars are no longer a dark place in a basement or a closet. Home owners are placing more in living areas to host tastings with friends.

4. White kitchen cabinets: High-end kitchens with cabinets in white, gray, or black with matching or contrasting countertops are gaining in popularity among the luxury market. Meanwhile, natural-colored wood cabinets are on their way out.

5. Quartz countertops: Luxury properties are showing more quartz or sandstone in countertops and making granite countertops look more outdated. Quartz comes with a few benefits over granite; it is not as porous and therefore requires less maintenance, it is less prone to staining, and it is better able to withstand abuses during its lifetime.

6. Grand powder rooms: The powder room is getting a big makeover. These half-baths are getting more attention and fancier with elaborate mirrors, sinks, and lighting fixtures.

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Looking to buy or sell a luxury estate, home, condominium or investment property?

Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Another Happy Seller!

Annelie Russell

Without a doubt, Jon & Natalya are the best Realtors in town! We interviewed a number of other Realtors and they stood out amongst their peers. Jon & Natalya worked their magic and sold our home in 10 days! Their exceptionally knowledgeable, due diligence and hard work ethic comforted us throughout the entire process. They even interviewed a Realtor in the State we planned to move to and helped us find the home of our dreams. Thanks for all of your help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

 

Best Regards

James and Annelie Russell

Camino Rio Verde Sold1437 Camino Rio Verde – Santa Barbara

WE SOLD FOR $1,365,000 IN 2 DAYS!

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Looking to buy or sell a luxury estate, home, condominium or investment property?

Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!

—————————————————-

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Tips For The Prospective Landlord

Luxury-House-Design-Great-Room-Santa-Barbara-Real-Estate

Investing in rental real estate looks like a great idea on paper. You just buy a place in a nice area, find tenants and let the cash roll in. However, there are some matters you have to consider before buying a property and putting a “for rent” ad in the newspaper. Here is a rundown of the pros and cons of owning rental property and a few tips on how to turn a profit as a landlord.

Advantages of Rental Real Estate
The advantages of rental real estate are quite substantial. One that is not listed below is the fact that when you own rental real estate, you own a tangible asset. You can paint it when you’re happy with it and throw rocks at it when you’re not.

Many people who feel uncomfortable investing in financial instruments have no qualms about investing in real estate. This is a psychological distinction, as a bad stock and a bad rental property are equally capable of losing money, forcing you to sell for a loss. That said, here are the advantages that show up on paper:

Current Income – This refers to the rent money that is left over after the mortgage and related expenses have been paid. Current income is basically monthly cash that you did not have to work for – your property produces it for you.

Appreciation – This is the increase in value that properties generally experience as time passes. Appreciation is not guaranteed. However, if you own a property in a stable area (cities like Santa Barbara), the property will likely increase in value over the years. Even properties in sparsely populated and less desirable areas may appreciate due to general inflation.

Leverage – Rental properties can be purchased with borrowed funds. This means that you can purchase a rental property by putting down only a percentage of the total value. Essentially, you can control the whole property and the equity it holds while only paying a fraction of its total cost. Also, the property you purchase secures the debt rather than your other assets. You may lose the rental property, but you shouldn’t lose your own home.

Tax Advantages – Your rental income may be tax free if you do not receive net cash flow after expenses are deducted. This means that your mortgage is being paid down and you own more of the total value of the property (rather than just controlling it), but you do not pay taxes on the money that is doing this for you. In addition to this, you can also pull out tax-free money by refinancing your loan if the property appreciates and the interest rates have fallen. Lastly, you may be able to avoid paying taxes on the sale of a rental property if you sell it and reinvest the money in another property (called switching or tax-free exchange).

Disadvantages of Rental Real Estate
For every upside, there is a downside, and rental real estate is no different. Rental real estate may expose you to the following:

Liability – What happens if a stair breaks under your tenant’s feet? With the increase in frivolous lawsuits and the unquantifiable nature of “emotional distress”, liability can be a scary thing. Providing someone with shelter in return for money puts you and the tenant in a relationship where both parties bear responsibility. You have to be certain that the property you are renting out meets all government codes.

Unexpected Expenses – What do you do when you pull up the basement carpet and find a crack that opens onto the abyss? It is impossible to prepare for every expense related to owning rental property, so there are bound to be some unexpected ones. Things such as boilers, plumbing and fixtures often need to be replaced and are not prohibitively expensive. However, faulty wiring, bad foundations, compromised roofing and the like can be very expensive to repair. If you can’t find a way to pay for repairs, you will be left without a tenant and with the grim prospect of selling the property at a significant discount. Also, as building codes evolve over time, lead paint, asbestos, cedar roofing tiles and other materials that passed inspection in the past may be reevaluated to your disadvantage.

Bad Tenants – No one wants to have to use a collection agency to collect overdue rent. Unfortunately, almost every landlord has a story that involves police cars escorting his or her tenant out of the property – erasing all hopes of getting the five months’ worth of overdue rent. Bad tenants can also increase your unexpected expenses and even hit you with a lawsuit.

Vacancy – No money coming in means that you have to make the payments out of your own pocket. If you have an emergency fund for the rental property, you will be able to survive long vacancies with little trouble. If you don’t have one, you may find yourself scrambling to pay the rent to the harshest landlord of all – the bank.

Tips
Minimizing the disadvantages of owning real estate is actually quite simple. While you won’t be able to eliminate the pitfalls completely, following these guidelines will take the teeth out of their bite.

Keep Your Expectations Reasonable – Have the goal of positive cash flow, but don’t expect to be purchasing a new yacht at year’s end. If you keep your expectations in check, you won’t be tempted to jack up the rent and push out good tenants.

Find a Balance between Earnings and Effort – Are you “hands on”, or should you work with a property management firm? Current income doesn’t seem so great if you are putting in another full-time shift working on your rental property. There are property management firms that will run your rental property for a percentage of the rental income.

Know the Rules – Federal and state laws outline your responsibilities and liabilities, so you can’t claim ignorance when something happens. You will have to do some reading; nevertheless, it is better to spend 20 hours in the library than in the courtroom.

Have the Property Inspected – One of the best ways to avoid unexpected expenses is to have the property inspected by a professional before you buy it.

Make Sure Your Leases Are Legal – If you make a mistake on the lease, you will find it more difficult to litigate if a tenant violates the terms.

Take the Time To Call References and Run Credit Checks – Too many landlords rush to fill a vacancy rather than taking the time to make sure the prospective tenant is a better option than an empty property. If you have time, you may want to drive by a prospective tenant’s current living space – that is what your property will probably look like when that tenant lives there.

Join the Landlords’ Association in Your Area – Joining an association will provide you with a wealth of experience as well as sample leases, copies of laws and regulations, and lists of decent lawyers, contractors and inspectors. Some associations may even allow you to join before you buy a rental property.

Make Friends with a Lawyer, a Tax Professional and a Banker – If you find that you like owning rental properties, a network including these three professionals will be essential if you want to increase your holdings.

Make Sure You Have the Right Kind of Insurance – After learning the rules, you will need to buy insurance to cover your liability. You will need the help of an insurance professional to select the proper package for your type of rental property.

Create an Emergency Fund – This is essentially money earmarked for unexpected expenses that are not covered by insurance. There is no set amount for an emergency fund, some say 20% of the value of the property, but anything is better than nothing. If you are getting current income from a property, you can pool that money into an emergency fund.

Conclusion
Investing in a rental property can be an excellent decision if you go into it informed. Consider these words from Donald Trump: “It’s tangible. It’s solid. It’s beautiful. It’s artistic … I just love real estate.”

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Statistics – July 2014

Market Stats Cover

Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Market Statistics – July 2014

51 page PDF Report | 3.2 mb

DOWNLOAD:

July 2014 – Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Market Statistics.pdf

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

Creative ways to win a bidding war

Santa-Barbara-Real-Estate-For-Sale

If you’re a home shopper in a market like Santa Barbara where bidding wars are common, it helps to have a strategy to ensure that your bid stands out from the competition.

You’ll want to do the basics: Make sure you have your financing in place, turning in all your loan paperwork before placing an offer. Better yet, if you have the means, you’ll really catch a buyer’s attention if you make an all-cash offer.

Also, write a financially competitive offer with as few contingencies as you’re comfortable with. Some buyers are waiving financing contingencies or even home-inspection contingencies, if they’re the handy type—though many buyers would be smart to keep that home-inspection clause.

And be flexible with your move-in date. Working with a seller who needs to move right away? Be prepared to close quickly so they can be on their way sooner. Does the seller need a month or two—or six—to move out? If you can be flexible and allow them to stay in their home for a while after closing (paying you rent, of course), they may choose your offer over all the rest.

But in some markets, you may have to be more creative than that to win the home you covet. If possible, find out the seller’s needs and wants, so you can customize your offer.

Below are some of the more unusual ways buyers can get the upper hand.

Write a love letter

It’s not all about the money. In situations where you are selling your home, there’s an emotional component. Sellers often like to feel good about the people who will eventually live in their home.

That’s why it’s often an effective strategy to attach a letter along with your offer, and maybe even a photo of your family, explaining why you want to live there.

Increase the earnest money

Another way to show the seller you’re serious: Up the amount of earnest money you’re willing to deposit.

Earnest money is a good-faith deposit made by the buyers after the offer is accepted. (You get it back in time for closing, and it usually makes up a chunk of a buyer’s down payment.) And while it’s often between 1% and 3% of the purchase price, boosting it even higher—maybe even up to 20%—will make an impression.

That will really make your offer different than someone else’s, especially if you have a seller with a past of prospective buyers who had been wishy-washy.

Cover seller costs

Sellers often cover transfer taxes associated with the sale, and many times will pay for a home warranty. To sweeten a deal, some buyers offer to pay these costs for them.

They don’t stop there, either. Many sellers will hire professional stagers to help them spruce up the home so it’s appealing to buyers—and some buyers are reimbursing them for that expense. Others are offering to pay for the seller’s moving costs.

Take the furniture

Sometimes, sellers have furnishings that they don’t want to take with them to their next home. As a buyer, you can help by agreeing to deal with the items they no longer want.

Make your offer as is

Some people offer to buy the home “as is” in their offer. They still do a home inspection—and have a contingency that allows them to get out of the deal if there is something drastically wrong with the property—but agree that they’re not going to be asking for repairs found during the inspection. By taking this route, the sellers know they won’t have additional costs to fix up the home before closing.

It allows you to walk away if something major comes up. But unless it is something crazy, you won’t be able to renegotiate.

Make multiple offers

Buyers who find more than one home they’re interested in may consider submitting offers on more than one home. Check local rules and customs on this, but, in general the deal is not consummated until the contract is signed and earnest money delivered. So you’ll likely be free to bid on as many places as you want.

In areas like Santa Barbara where inventory is limited, some buyers will put in two or three contracts on homes that they like because they’re not sure which one will work out.

But that strategy can just serve to complicate the process. It’s best to concentrate on one. If there’s another home that’s in the running, have an offer ready to submit in case the first one doesn’t get accepted.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com