Yellow – the hardest interior color to photograph

It isn’t unusual to find an entire house where every room has been painted yellow. It isn’t for everyone but it is a popular color especially in older homes. Bright yellow brings joy and energy into a room. Mutes yellows can make a room feel cozier and gold can make a room look elegant. Mustard yellow is a current decorating trend.

Over the years I have learned how to photograph yellow so that it always looks right. I am not going to give away my secrets but it has to do with white balance. The wrong white balance makes the photo look yellowish. The right white balance makes the walls look yellow. Trust me there is a huge difference.

Walls that are yellowish-green or umber or some shades of red can also be hard to photograph. I like to use the RAW camera format so that I can go back and change the white balance if needed.  I guess I just gave away a trade secret. 🙂  Using auto white balance rarely works out with yellow walls.

Yellow exteriors are easy and even fun to photograph especially with a blue sky or fall leaves in the background. These days I see a lot of yellow paired with shades of gray which is less of a challenge for interior lighting.

There is more to photography than pointing an iPhone at something but sometimes iPhone photography works.

queen anne
Mustard yellow on a Queen Anne in the fall

Winter projects

I live in an old house. This time of year I create a “to do” list for the winter.  I have more free time in the winter, business is a little slower and there are a few days when I won’t leave the house unless I have to.

Last winter I spent some time getting rid of stuff and reorganizing what we have and I did some work on the woodwork in the dining room. The winter before that I repainted the kitchen and replaced the hardware on the cupboards.

My plans for this winter include cleaning out and painting and upstairs closet. I want to kind of redesign it and make it more efficient. Right now I am rounding up my materials and supplies so they are ready. I’ll also be painting and patching a wall that was damaged during the great ice dam melt of early 2019. Lucky for us the damage was minimal. I’ll need some paint to match what is already on the walls and I’ll use the leftovers for the closet project.

For me, the secret to actually getting the projects done is having everything I need ready so that when I am snowed in or when I have some extra time I can get to work right away. Each trip to the hardware store can mean a serious delay especially.

If you have winter projects to do around the house start planning now.

Winter Wonderland St. Paul, MN 2019


Reality TV has made my job more challenging

I can tell when I am working with a home buyer who watches those reality TV shows about flipping, fixing, remodeling, buying or selling real estate.

The shows do not match up to the reality of the average Minnesota home buyer or seller. The good news is there usually isn’t a lot of drama in real estate, the bad news is buying and selling real estate isn’t as fun as it looks on TV.

Remodeling and renovating a home is actually more expensive and complicated than it looks on reality television. Things go wrong and sometimes by the time the project is complete the owner of the property owes more on the home than it can be sold for.

The number of houses a home buyer has to look at before they find the right one varies a lot. There is no magic number but most home buyers know it when they see it.

It would be nice if life worked like those real estate shows but it doesn’t. Be prepared to have an open mind and expect the unexpected.

The wacky world of windows

windowsI have had home buyers have an inspection and ask to have all the windows replaced or ask for a significant amount off the asking price of one of my listings because they didn’t like the windows.

Most St. Paul homes are old and many have old windows. My house has windows from the 1800s. They go up and down and work just fine.  It is true that just about any problem with a window can be fixed by replacing the window, but there are also less expensive options that maybe even better.

Sometimes new storm windows are all that is needed and sometimes windows can be repaired at a fraction of the cost of having new windows installed. Other times it is a matter of caulking and making other repairs.

Installing new windows in an old house rarely pay for themselves in resale value and may pay for themselves in energy savings but it will take decades.

Some old houses have deteriorating window frames and trim that need repair or replacement that isn’t usually a standard part of window replacement.

Replacing a large old wooden window with an inexpensive vinyl window isn’t always an improvement but more of a short term solution. The window may fail and need to be replaced because it can not be repaired.

Home improvement companies will sometimes talk homeowners out of window repairs probably because they don’t make repairs.

TV and misleading ads

There is no truth to the rumor that a Realtor will require that you get home ready to sell. You can sell your house without making any repairs. Some companies specialize in buying homes that need work. Most if not all real estate agents can sell your home just like it is. I write this same article at least twice a year because they myth persists.

living room

Often sellers agree to some repairs because they can get more money for their home. First time home buyers will want to pay $1000 less for a home if it needs $200 dollars in repairs.

For some selling a home “as is” means not replacing the old carpeting or worrying about the cost of replacing those ancient kitchen appliances. As long as the home is priced accordingly nothing has to be replaced or upgraded. If the house is in poor shape there are people who will buy it and fix it up, just don’t expect top dollar for it.

Homeowners who would like to make improvements or repairs for a better resale value should consider less expensive repairs and upgrades like cleaning, painting and putting in a backsplash in the kitchen and maybe some new light fixtures and window treatments. Go ahead and paint, repair or replace that front door and add a doorbell. Put a nice big pot of flowers by the front door, weather permitting.

Sometimes it costs so much money to get a house in good shape that it is more cost-effective to sell it the way it is. Just understand that there are no requirements for the condition of a house. The city of St. Paul and many other local municipalities have some requirements but they can be assumed by the buyer rather.

. . and don’t get too excited about those programs that promise to buy your house, at least not if you live in St. Paul. Most if not all of the companies require that the house be built in the 1970’s or later.

How I had fun last week

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. It has been an unusually stressful week. I have a theory about how people get a little crazy this time of year because they are in a hurry to buy or sell real estate or move before . . . well you know what comes next. Real estate emergencies are far more common in the Fall than they are during the seasons before and after.

I decided to spend part of the last full day of summer on my bike. I went to one of my favorite places. Lilydale Regional Park. Some of the trails through the park were closed or partly closed most of the summer because of high water. The road through the park is partially closed which makes biking even more enjoyable.

Here is are a couple of pictures I took near Pickerel Lake. I had to get extra close to photograph the bee.

Bee on purple aster
Bike trail
Bike trail – Pickerel lake

I recommend walking or biking through the park before . . . . well, you know.  Try walking, riding or running without music or podcasts.