Old on the outside, newer on the inside

brick turret
Historic brick and stone

I know my St. Paul condo buildings because I have seen the inside of many of them. What is historic on the outside may look like it was built in the 1980’s on the inside.

The original woodwork was replaced with blond oak and the floors are carpeted. The “old world” charm can not be found on the inside. In fact sometimes there isn’t anything charming about the interior.

There are several buildings in downtown St. Paul that were factories or warehouses that were converted into condos. The kitchens are all new but the buildings still have exposed brick and timber.

They don’t look like they did when they were factories but they look historic and authentic. The developers restored unique historic features rather than just gutting the building and starting over.

There are a few great old buildings that are disappointing on the inside because they were chopped up and made into small apartments that don’t make sense. Who wants a north facing condo with one window?

Historic preservation districts have rules about how the outside of a building has to look but no rules about the inside.

Nice house poor photography

Why do home sellers go to the trouble of patching and painting, staging and fixing everything up and then have it all photographed by someone who doesn’t know how to photograph a house and who isn’t using a DSLR camera with a wide angle lens?

It is hard to look at some of the beautiful historic St. Paul homes on the MLS and find dark rooms with antique light fixtures turned off.  The camera lens used to take the photos isn’t wide enough to capture the whole room. I can’t even tell which room is which.

The details in a historic home really need to show up in the photographs and they need to be taken with an eye for what is important. I remember several years ago following a photographer through a historic home and taking pictures of what he missed.

You would think it would be hard to make a beautiful home look average but it isn’t. Making an average looking home look outstanding is a bit more of a challenge but always the goal.

Back before the internet photography didn’t matter nearly as much. Even in today’s seller’s market photography matters. Professionally photographed homes sell for more. Thousands of dollars more.

Laurel Avenue
Victorian houses

Also see:

Staging AND Photography

Snow is rare in June

paint is like magic

paint
Paint

My own home is looking a little rough these days. It all happens so gradually I hardly noticed. I spend so much time looking at other peoples houses I don’t really see my own. This spring I have been doing a little painting.

I gave the metal plant stand on the front port a couple of coats of black paint, and then put a fresh coat of white on the rocker that sits next to it. I put a fresh coat on the porch railings too. So many things can be improved with a coat of paint.

Last summer I painted the front door and this summer I’ll be painting some porch ceilings and some trim. Paint makes what is old look new again and it is cheaper than moving or buying new stuff. 🙂

Painting inside is a great way to freshen things up before selling a home.

Got Paint?

Bad remodels

Bungalo
Bungalow

There are renovations that are beautiful but they can also be what I like to call home wreckers. For example take a small historic home, rip out a few walls and put in a gourmet kitchen with granite counter tops and of course those ubiquitous stainless steel appliances. The kitchen now takes up 1/3 of the first floor and is done in one style while the rest of the house is another style.

The kitchen looks nice and so does the rest of the home but they don’t go together at all and I have seen a few remodels where the rest of the living space was reduced or moved to a lower level to make room for a larger kitchen. Yes it is true that the kitchen often sells the home but having fewer bedrooms and baths will hurt the salability of the large kitchen.

I think it is alright to do most anything to our homes to accommodate our lifestyles and our tastes but expecting to make money or even recoup the cost of a some of the strange renovations I see isn’t realistic and sometimes what one owner thinks of as an improvement keeps a potential buyer from making an offer.

There are two homes in my area that have been strangely and expensively upgraded. One took almost a year to sell and sold for 40K less than comparable homes and the other has been on and off the market for the last 18 months. They will need to drop the price another 20K if they want to sell it. The owners are trying to get the money they put into the upgrade back.

 

Types of porches

I love homes with porches. I have two of them and neither is enclosed. It is like having a couple of extra rooms during the warmer months.

What is a porch? I like to say it is just like the decks in suburbia but with a roof over it. There are a few flavors of porch and sometimes they can even be included as part of the total square footage of a home.

4-Season Porch/Sunroom
A 4-season porch is a room that functions as an interior room, but allows you to take in the views of the outdoors year-round. It has permanent heat and is included in the finished square footage of the home.

3-Season Porch
A 3-season porch has windows with integrated screen systems and can be used for long periods throughout the year. They can shield you from outdoor elements such as rain, wind, sun and insects, but 3-season porches are not heated. Therefore, it is not a part of finished square footage, but is considered an enclosed space.

3 season proch
3 season porch

Screen Porch
Screened porches are a covered porch that has screened openings instead of windows. A screened porch may be less sheltered from the outdoor elements, but still offers protection from the sun and bothersome insects in the summer. Screen porches should not be included in the finished square footage.

Open Porch

Just a deck with railings and a roof over it. A great place for plants and chairs or a porch swing. Not really even a one season porch here in Minnesota. More like a two month porch. These porches are very common in the oldest parts of St. Paul and no they can not be included in the finished square footage.