Kitchen Countertops & Costs

While researching counter tops for a clients’ outdoor kitchen I thought it would be a great time to summarize the types of counters that are readily available for today’s kitchens. A variety of textures,  costs and appearances can change the look and feel of the heart of your home.
Soapstone. The first photo of the contemporary kitchen features the sleekness of soapstone. It’s durability has made this material a top choice for hundreds of years.  It’s density makes it stain and bacteria resistant and is not discolored by heat. Cleans simply with soap and water. Develops a dark patina and can scratch or chip over over time.  While many people love the charm the counter top assumes over time, others prefer to sand the soapstone to keep it looking new. Average cost $75 -$95 a foot.

 Concrete is one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly materials on Earth. They are available in a variety of colors and can be textured as well.  Average cost $65 – $135 a foot.

No foyer…No problem!

Could not have written this article better!  In this time of exorbitant housing prices rendering  small square footage a proper foyer is really a luxury. Here is an article by designer Leslie that I thought was terrific.
There is something about coming into a home that has a foyer, an entryway, a vestibule.
It says, “Come on in! Welcome. Stay awhile.”
It’s the welcoming committee for the rest of our home.
But not everyone’s home or apartment is blessed with such a space.
Many front doors open directly into the living room.

However, it’s not hopeless! You can create the feeling of a foyer.

House to Home Elements to Consider:

  • Lighting: table lamps, hanging swag lamps, floor lamps, uplights (can lighting), candles
  • Softness: rugs, rug runners
  • Seating: benches, chairs, ottomans, stools
  • Storage: dressers, credenzas, armoires, large covered baskets, stacked luggage, night stands, umbrella stands, hooks
  • Personality: family photos, travel prints, souvenirs
  • Reflection: mirrors, glass, mercury glass
  • Life: plants, flowers, clocks with pendulums
The primary thing to remember is that you’ll either need a physical barrier or a visual one.
A physical barrier literally blocks the view of the rest of the room.
A visual barrier gives the viewer decor to instantly view in the front door area;
it separates and sets the entryway apart from the rest of the house.
Even if it’s only a few square feet, give your home a place
in which to pause before entering the rest of the house.
Make it Organized & Pretty

If you only have one wall near the front door and no coat closet or console,
compact helpers work perfectly here.


If It’s Compact, Make an Impact
A slim and sleek shelf  topped with a gallery wall of precious photos
makes a spectacular statement.
The drawers below the shelf hold keys, gloves,
the dog’s leash, gadgets, whatever.

Source Unknown
Define with Molding
Give the spot its own personality.
Frame the wall you’ll be using to draw attention to it.

Define with Wallpaper

Accent wallpaper makes a dramatic statement
that can be fun for a transition space.

Source Unknown

Define with Wainscoting

Easy-to-apply wallpaper or the traditional wood panels
create instant cottage appeal.


Paint It Happy
A dresser or console painted in a fun, vibrant color is a sweet way
to say “Hello” to your family and friends.

Display It Happy

Your collection of heirloom and thrift plates needs to be displayed somewhere.
Why not the entryway?

Use a Hall TreeIf you only have three to five feet of space
(and perhaps you’re renting and can’t alter the wall in any way),
the classic hall tree may be just what your entryway needs.


More Sources

Focus on the Front Door

Painting the inside of the door is probably
the easiest fix and the most eye-catching.


Illuminate with Swag

You can create a small square of foyer space simply by
flanking the front door with sconces,
spreading a rug upon the floor,
and hanging a lamp from a hook over the spot.

(If there’s no nearby outlet, use an extension cord;
secure it as close to the floor molding as possible.)


IKEA to the Rescue

A tall or low Expedit shelving unit can be used
between the space near your door and the rest of the room.

(We have the black/brown 5 cube by 5 cube unit and love it!)


A House (Er, Room) Divided

In a larger or longer room, a screen or hanging divider
is an excellent solution for a lack of defined landing area
once you’ve entered the home.

Source Unknown

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Tile Transitioning

My friend Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage
tiled a tiny space by her front door.
She says:
“Making a grand entrance isn’t all that easy
when you have a 2 ft. by 4 ft. square to do it in.
No room for big furniture. No big open space to decorate.
That’s okay, I like to keep things simple…”


Family Friendly

Children love their own personalized space!
Give them one (or two, or three, or more…).

Source Unknown

Lean a Mirror

Even a chunky wardrobe mirror works well to define a visual vestibule.
I like Old Time Pottery and Hobby Lobby’s selections.

Source Unknown

Nook Necessities

Maybe you have a bitty spot that is more like a crevice than anything else.
Shelving, hooks, and baskets can help to organize your homecomings.



Not only is it great (hidden) storage, but it looks great, too!
A mirrored one is perfect for last-minute primping.


Recycle That Pallet 

Yet another pallet creation, and it’s fantastic!

Source Unknown

In My Home

My basement cafe has no foyer to speak of.
Here’s how I used the wall behind the door
so guests can park their purses or primp.

I hope that this encourages those of you who have lost hope of having a foyer!
Try creating one; you will feel proud to enter and to invite others into your home!Have a beautiful, blessed day making your home!

Year End Market Report ~ 2014 – 2015


San Mateo & Santa Clara Counties comparison sales from 2014 to 2015 were down in units and up in dollar volume in every city I observed with the exception of Redwood City & Los Altos which marked a 10% & 5% increase in units sold respectively. This reflects a lack of inventory and a high appreciation we have continued to see since we started rebounding after the 2008 crash. Predictions for 2016 seem to be more of the same, with possible appreciation leveling out in the high single digits. Housing market fundamentals are strong, job and income growth are positive, mortgage rates are low and should remain low in 2016, lending standards are more reasonable then they have been a year ago, and household formation is rebounding. Overall 2016 should prove to be a year similar to 2015.  Fingers crossed! It is an election year though and historically the housing market waits to see the outcome.

Here are the Stats:

2014 -2015 Year End Totals

City                         YTD 2014       YTD2015     %Change


# of Sales                      105                    76                     -27%

Median Price            $4.4M               $5.9M               +34%

Menlo Park

#of Sales                       438                   384                  -12%

Median Price            $1.6M               $1.9M               +15%

Los Altos 

# of Sales                      331                   349                  +  5%

Median Price            $2.3M               $2.6M               +14%

Los Altos Hills

# of Sales                      96                      94                    –  2%

Median Price            $3.3M               $3.6M               +10%

Palo Alto

# of Sales                     471                    412                    -13%

Median Price            $2.1M               $2.5M               +15%

Portola Valley

# of Sales                       85                        62                  -27%

Median Price            $2.5M               $2.6M               + 7%

Redwood City

# of Sales                    627                    690                   +10%

Median Price            $975K                $1.2M               +25%

San Carlos

# of Sales                   383                     307                    -10%

Median Price            $1.3M               $1.5M               +16%


# of Sales                   105                     94                      -10%

Median Price            $2.4M               $2.7M               +13%

Creative Landscapes ~ Sloped Yards

Landscaping a sloping hillside yard can be challenging…

In this article by Laura Gaskill, one of my favorite go to research writers at Houzz, she has put together a terrific collection of ideas on how to landscape difficult hillsides. Pictured in the first selection are retaining walls made of stacked Arizona sandstone, slate and bluestone. Contemporary Landscape by Berkeley Landscape Contractors Mariposa Gardening & Design.


Alain Pinel Realtors ~ Luxury Portfolio International


As part of the never ending quest to pay attention to all the details involving our clients real estate needs we have moved our business operations to Alain Pinel Realtors. With the influx of international investors we felt it important to work with a company that strongly supports that marketplace. Alain Pinel Realtors affiliation with Luxury Portfolio and Properties International provides our clients properties unparalleled exposure in over 50 countries globally.

Luxury Portfolio International® is the luxury face of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® the largest global network of premier locally branded companies dominated by many of the world’s most powerful independent luxury brokerages. Our award-winning website was launched in 2005 and in its first year featured more $1 million-plus residences than other luxury real estate organizations. The network continues to grow and now markets over 25,000 of the world’s most remarkable homes annually and attracts over 1.2 million high-net worth visitors a year. By presenting a gallery of the finest luxury properties and brokerage worldwide, our brand is recognized throughout the world as the luxury standard of excellence. In addition, we are unmatched in the global arena, with properties in over 45 states and 27 countries, website visitors from over 200 countries/territories every month, site translation in nine languages, conversion to multiple currencies and a total inventory of available properties totaling almost $40 billion. The 200 luxury affiliates represent the luxury component of an organization which encompasses nearly 500 companies, 4,600 office and 140,000 associates producing $225 billion in annual home sales in 30 countries. Based in the United States, Luxury Portfolio International® is backed by the experience of the most well respected and well known experts in markets worldwide. This group collectively has decades of experience in the high end luxury real estate market.

Whether you are selling here and want to reach a global market or buying internationally and want in-depth knowledge we know that our extensive services will provide you with up to date and exclusive representation, anywhere.


Bathroom Remodel Costs ~


I’m frequently asked by clients when previewing properties that definitely need updating or complete remodeling  …..  off the top of your head Susan, how much would it cost to remodel this bathroom? It’s not very large, do you have any idea.  Answering that question as honestly and accurately as possible is not that easy because of all the variables that are included in a remodel. However when you only have a short time to make a decision whether to buy and remodel or purchase a finished home in todays real estate market answers need to be quick!

I thought this was a terrific short and accurate cost analysis of a small bathroom remodel. Thank you Mitchell Parker.

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New Years Home Cleanse ~

Eclectic Living Room by ÁBATON arquitectura & promoción


After the overconsumption of the holidays comes the quiet reflection of January. A new year prompts many of us to adopt a healthier regime to wipe the slate clean and set us on the road to a fitter life. But how about extending the health kick to your home too?

From a deep cleanse to a weight-loss plan (decluttering), here’s how you can help your pad lose the Christmas bloat and get ready for spring. A healthy home environment will give back too, supporting you so you can achieve your January goals more easily.

Reprinted from one of my favorite sites: Houzz
Written by Joanna Simmons

U.S. Home Sales to See Modest Growth in 2016,…

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projects modest growth for U.S. home sales in 2016, notes Pacific Union. (Photo: Flickr/woodleywonderworks,

U.S. Home Sales to See Modest Growth in 2016,…

A strong job market helped propel the U.S. housing market to its best year since the recession, and activity is expected to further increase in 2016, although rising mortgage rates and tight supply conditions could affect the pace of sales. #crisderitis #federalreserve #freddiemac

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