Monthly Archives: June 2015

Wine Storage for the Rest of Us

“We love our wine, but we are not going to dedicate the entire basement to being a Cellar.  Here are some storage ideas that can be incorporated into many homes.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Before the wine police throttle me, let me concede that wine cannot really be successfully stored in less-than-perfectly-controlled conditions. Of course, that assumes you are a connoisseur buying high-end wine for either investment or long-term maturing.

But what about the rest of us poor folks who buy our wine at the 5-cent sales at BevMo! and drink it before its feelings are hurt? What do we have to consider when we want our wine both accessible anddecorative?

By  – Houzz Contributor

Making the Most of Your Hallway

“Hallways comprise the most under utilized square footage in many homes.  Here are some interesting ideas of how to get more use out of this space.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
How hard does your hallway work? If it does little more than provide a way to get from point A to point B, consider if you could use your hall for something more. From simple DIY wall-mounted storage to custom bookshelves and built-in workstations, here’s how to get the hardworking hallway your home deserves.

Hardworking space: The hallway
The challenge: Hallways connect rooms but often lack a dedicated function of their own. In a hardworking home, every inch of space counts. Make sure your hall does its part by incorporating smart storage features that fit your home and your budget.
Good to know: When weighing options for modifying your hallway, keep in mind that it’s important not to shrink your hallway to less than 36 inches wide, for accessibility and comfort.

Bathroom Designs that are Trending in 2015

“Beautiful Bathrooms are hot right now.  Seems that everyone wants something more than just the builder grade basics.  Here are some interesting ideas that are trending for 2015.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
If you’ve been thinking about giving your bathroom an overhaul but aren’t sure how, one way to start is to look to the latest design trends for inspiration. We’ve made it our mission to find out what design ideas are expected to make a splash in 2015 to help make planning your bathroom makeover project a little bit easier. To compile our list, we enlisted the help of four award-winning designers, who share here their predictions for the looks, finishes and features they think will be on everyone’s radar next year. They also reveal how they would work these ideas into their own projects.

10 Ways to Avoid Home Improvement Scams

“We’ve all heard that knock on the door in the early evening.  And ‘Today Only’ they are offering a great deal for their Home Improvement services.  Never buy under pressure!  Read on for other potential scams to avoid.”

Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – DC Metro Realty Team

A Southern California contractor recently pled guilty to victimizing almost 12 people with home improvement projects. The company used telemarketers to get jobs, then did poor work, overbilled and in some cases did no work at all. One homeowner gave a Baton Rouge, Louisiana man $3,000 to make home repairs. Then he quit showing up to do the work and couldn’t be reached by phone. In Scott County, Indiana, four men approached several homeowners saying they’d fix their driveways. The price was set, but when the fraudsters completed the work, they demanded more money.

(Credit: thieury/Shutterstock)

(Credit: thieury/Shutterstock)

Although most contractors are ethical and above board, a significant minority just want your money. The illegitimate ones come to your home in person or call on the phone.

Warning Signs

Here’s a list of some of the scams they perpetuate.

1. They Offer Left-Over Product

Roving contractors may knock on your door and state a very low price for sealing your driveway because they have leftover sealant from a nearby job. What they use doesn’t seal at all and washes away with the first rain. An honest, reliable contractor will never come to your door offering you a discount for unused materials.

(Credit: Le Do/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Le Do/Shutterstock)

2. They Need a Substantial Down Payment

You hand over the money and the fraudulent workers flee with it. Reputable contractors may ask for a small amount of money upfront, but the large percentage of the payment usually comes upon completion of the work.

(Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

3. They Do Shoddy Work and Use Inferior Materials

Watch out for someone offering to paint your home. The scam artists won’t do hardly any prep work, sometimes water down the paint or put cheap paint in premium-brand cans. Workers who do quality work take more time preparing the home than actually painting it and also come to your house with properly-sealed paint cans.

(Credit: SJ Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock)

(Credit: SJ Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock)

4. They Say, “I’m Doing Some Work in Your Neighborhood”

Then these fly-by-nights tell you they noticed problems with your roof, chimney, windows, siding, etc. and they offer to fix it for you. Usually no repairs are needed. When you research a contractor, make sure he has the required permits to do the work so you won’t be held responsible if something goes wrong.

(Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)

5. They Propose a Special Deal for Today Only

You have to sign on right now or the offer goes away. Nobody should make sudden decisions about home repairs or remodeling projects. They should be thought out carefully. Legitimate contractors don’t have one-day-only sales.

(Credit: Paul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Paul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock)

Avoid Being a Victim

To avoid being a victim of a fraudulent contractor, take the following steps to protect you and your bank account:

1. Hire professionals who are licensed, bonded and insured.

2. Search for contractors on websites like to get quality work.

3. Check for complaints about who you plan to hire on the Better Business Bureau site.

4. Get recommendations from friends, family members and neighbors.

5. Obtain multiple estimates on any home repair needed.

6. Get references from the company’s last three jobs and call them.

7. Choose someone you’ve researched yourself, not anybody who calls or rings your doorbell.

8. Ask to see identification.

9. Pay by check or credit card and never in full upfront.

10. Get a written contract stating what will be done, the costs, a start and completion date and any warranty information.


10 Tips to Help Your Bathroom Sell Your House

“Bathrooms are second only to Kitchens in catching a Buyers eye, but for some buyers, it’s #1. Last week, for example, we had people showing up for an Open House, just because the Bathrooms looked so nice online.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Buyers love the allure of a fresh, beautiful bathroom that reminds them of luxury hotels or soothing spas they have enjoyed. And, most important, buyers want to envision themselves enjoying this luxury every day in their new home.

However, the reality is that most of us do not have the perfect bathroom. And we know that, in most instances, it is not a wise investment to do a full, costly renovation just for a home sale. It simply doesn’t translate into profit.

A better strategy is to maximize what you already have, on a budget. You want to transform your real-life, everyday bathroom into a five-star hotel experience that prospective buyers will love, without overcapitalizing. Here are simple ways to create havens with a wow factor.

By Deb Lindner, HOUZZ Contributer

9 Questions to Ask When Planning a Pantry

“It seems we are always looking for more storage these days.  Here are some great ideas that can help in just about any pantry design that you may have.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – Dc Metro Realty Team
Some pantry design dilemmas don’t seem obvious at the time of planning but become apparent later. Doors that open inward onto shelving, badly arranged racks and compartments, small cubbies with no room for appliances, a lack of hooks for towels and aprons, and poorly positioned lighting are all mistakes that can be circumvented. Use this quick guide to address the most obvious blunders before they happen. The suggestions may also inspire you with some fresh design ideas.

12 Dining Room/Library Combinations

“We’re not sure if ‘we’ would want all these books in our Dining Room, but it is an interesting concept.  We do like the look and feel of the one with the antique green paint and exposed beams”

Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – DC Metro Realty Team

The dining room is a prime location for scholarly pursuits, as it often contains the largest table in a home. Dining tables are perfect for perusing oversized atlases and art books, and can easily host culinary and literary masterpieces alike. Here’s a collection of 11 bibliophile-worthy dining rooms that are (leather) bound to impress — along with one that lightheartedly nods to the reading life.
By Bryan Anthony, HOUZZ Editorial Staff

Fun Features for Family Rooms

“Family rooms are so important these days.  They serve as the center of the home (after the kitchen) and need to be able to handle all the various needs that each family has.”
Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – DC Metro Realty Team
The Family Room is where you go to relax, watch movies, play games and hang out with friends — which makes it a great place in which to loosen up, decorating-wise. Create a fun, welcoming atmosphere in your family room by incorporating one or more of these 15 playful features, from photo murals to game tables.

6 Wildflowers that Aren’t Weeds at All

“As much as we love annuals for color impact, wildflowers can give you color in an easy casual way that is very relaxing.  It’s a different look and feel altogether.  Here are some suggestions that you might want to try.”
Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – DC Metro Realty Team
I don’t have many weeds in my garden anymore — there’s too much competition from mature and dense perennials. When I do see something out of place, its fate depends on my mood. Sometimes I yank it out immediately; sometimes I let it go to see what will happen. But “out of place” is a funny term, since many thriving plants are growing right where they want to be. Too often we walk by weeds in the wild with a bit of disdain, just like we maybe drive by wildflowers on the side of the road and assume they’re weeds — if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be growing in such an inhospitable, nonmanicured place, right?

What really is a weed, anyway? In our home gardens, weeds are plants we didn’t put there, things blown in on the wind or carried by wildlife. But sometimes a weed is a doorway into knowing what plants are local, what will thrive and what the insects seem to prefer. It’s unfortunate that many beneficial native plants have “weed” in their common name. Can we reprogram ourselves to see that moniker as an attribute and not a liability? As the winter garden catalogs start arriving and you make plans for next year, don’t let a weedy common name scare you off; here are six plants you can consider adding to your landscape.

By Benjamin Vogt, originally published on HOUZZ

What Color Should You Paint Your Trim?

“Guess what?  Trim does not have to be white.  Many times we get caught up in the normal and forget to experiment or do something different for a change.  Here are some great ideas of how to decide what to do with your trim.”
Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – Dc Metro Realty Team
Whether simple or ornate, interior trim is a finishing touch that often doesn’t get much thought, frequently being left the color it’s always been without consideration of the multitude of beautiful alternatives. Whether you’re thinking fresh white, a bold hue or somewhere in between, here are ways to treat your trim to get the look you want.