It's Time To Talk About The New House

Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now. Not because I was dreading it, because I have so much to say and barely know where to begin.

In November, we sold our first house (of 3.5 years) and moved into our forever home. We spent the entire time renovating it, room by room. We started by painting the entire place ourselves then moved onto meatier projects, like renovating our kitchen. We truly enjoyed the process of fixing up our first place, but honestly came to the end of the project. We fixed up everything we possibly could, while not pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood we were in. The changes we made were worth it for us to enjoy while we were still living there, but also made for a sound investment when it came time to sell.

Our hunt for our second house started last spring. We weren't looking to move, rather for a place to fix up and flip. This would mean that we'd have two mortgages until the second property sold. We found a gorgeous (but poorly cared for) 4,500 square foot Victorian that was beaming with potential. As we started crunching our numbers, we realized that we were about two years away from being able to take on a second property of this size. We quickly came to the conclusion that, if we did this NOW, we'd need to live in flip and not just have it as a side project. We decided, however, that if we were to move, we were never going to move again. So, our focus shifted. We were still itching to take on another project; we just needed to find one we'd want to live in forever. For many reasons (bad schools, small yard, expensive sewer issues, etc.), The Victorian wasn't it.

I'll skip passed the part where we saw a bunch of beautiful houses that didn't work out for one reason or another - and tell you that we found the one we bought while searching on Zillow late one night. Alex was actually out of town for work and I sent him a link, claiming that I found our forever home. It checked ALL of the boxes - and was under our budget. Considering that our wish list was insanely long (and somewhat unreasonable), we knew this gem was rare. We scheduled a date to see it with our realtor on the following morning and put in an offer right away. With a bit of back and fourth, the home became ours within a few days. As luck would have it, our home sold on the same day - actually, within the same hour. It was really hard to say goodbye to our first place, but we were overflowing with excitement for this next step. 

I'll be sharing more on the project specifics as we get into the nitty gritty. I have every single space designed (in my head) and I'm eager to get those thoughts into posts. At this point, our projects haven't been the most interesting to document. We got a new roof. We converted our heat from oil to natural gas. We've started by crossing off the "needs" items from our list, before diving into the fun projects we just want to tackle. Alex has made plenty of progress on the master bedroom, which I've shown lots on Instagram. Once the renovations are completed in there, he will move onto refinishing the floors. Then, we will bring painters in to paint and wallpaper (lots, duh) the entire place. Our old home, which was 2000 square feet, was a much more manageable amount of wall space for us to cover ourselves. Our new home is 3500 square feet, so we're calling in the troops!

I'm SO SO excited to document more of this space. Stay tuned to follow along as we rip out walls and pull down ceilings! 

Looking Back at 2017

Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017
Michelle Gage // Looking Back at 2017

Happy New Year!

This year has been one wild ride, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I have learned so much in 2017, it's hard to say what lessons have been the most valuable. Professionally, I've grown leaps and bounds. I feel so blessed to have wonderful clients, who trust me to come into their lives and totally transform their homes. While there are hard days, this is truly a dream job - something I've chased after since I was seven years old. 

We have been lucky enough to travel to Paris, adopt a second pup and move into our forever home. In Paris, we shopped the flea market (!!!). Our second little nugget is just so in love with our first one; it's so heartwarming to witness. She has changed our lives for the better. In the summer, we started looking for our next fixer upper. Luckily, we found our dream home and moved in November. We'll be busy fixing it up for the next two years or so, which I plan to document here and on Instagram.

In early December, I returned back to a favorite project of mine to style and shoot the space. This client (we'll call her Lola), was amazing to work with. Lola was completely trusting of the process and wanted to see her empty shell totally transformed. Wish granted! To see more shots from Lola's space, click here.

JOIN MICHELLE GAGE INTERIORS

Michelle Gage Hiring

I'M HIRING!

POSITION: Design Assistant

LOCATION: Villanova / Philadelphia

AVAILABILITY: Part Time now, Full Time in the summer

START: ASAP

Who am I looking for?

This is a true design position, not an administrative role. The ideal applicant is hard working, highly organized and eager to learn. You must have a strong eye for detail and design. I am looking for someone with great technical skills and a sense of urgency. This role has the potenital to be full time in the future. 

What would you do?

The design assistant will draft floor plans, source product, create design presentations, facilitate orders and manage a social media strategy. I am looking for my right hand man - or lady!

What are the requirements?

You must have or be pursuing an interior design degree. You must be able to draft floor plans and create aesthetically pleasing design presentations. Bonus points if you have strong photography and/or social media skills. Double bonus points if you love wallpaper and have a dog.

If you are interested in the position, please email your resume and portfolio to [ hello@michellegage.co ]. Applications missing this information will not be considered. Please apply by December 31, 2017.

 

One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir

Well, folks, this is it! The big reveal is finally here. I am SO SO excited to present The Vintage Boudoir to you. This season, Alana, Kyle and I collaborated to transform Alana's bedroom into the vintage retreat of her dreams. Complete with a quaint (and moody) dressing space, Alana's bedroom is one for the books. Alana is an amazing shoe designer with serious style; she needed a space that reflected her personality. As lovers of all things vintage, Alana and I aligned immediately when it came to the overall vision of her space. 

Even though we were pretty well paired in terms of style, this space still saw a few rounds of revision. After the initial consult, we communicated primarily over email (and Instagram). After the groundwork was set, we did a little thrift store shopping together to acquire the right accessories. On the morning of the photo shoot, I showed up early to do the final styling. Those touches really took the space over the top. Those little details are not to be missed - the perfect pillow or decorative prop can add so much interest to a space. Luckily for us, Kyle was right there to capture all of these magical moments. She has an insanely talented eye when it comes to shooting a space. 

Fun little fact, the 3 of us all used to work at Anthropologie's home office. Our paths rarely crossed (if at all), but we were connected by social media a few years later. Small world!

Be sure to read up on how everyone else's space turned out here. Thanks for following along for these last 6 (well, 7) weeks! We hope you love the space as much as we do! 

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Revealing The Vintage Boudoir

One Room Challenge: Behind The Scenes Snaps

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Behind The Scenes Snaps
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Behind The Scenes Snaps
Michelle Gage //  One Room Challenge: Behind The Scenes Snaps

Folks, it's week 6 of The ORC. Normally, you'd get the reveal today. However, the founder chose to add a week to this challenge, due to the unexpected delays the weather has caused. Luckily, Alana, Kyle and I didn't experience any delays with our products - but we could certainly use the extra week. Kyle could use the time to edit photos and I am actually moving TODAY! We did finish the shoot last Friday, so I felt it was only fair to share some behind the scenes snaps. The professional photos are what will really show off the space best - but my iPhone shots will have to do for now. Be sure to come back next week to see the full space in all its glory!

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Behind The Scenes Snaps

One Room Challenge: Whatchu Know About Wallpaper?

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Whatchu Know About Wallpaper?
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Whatchu Know About Wallpaper?

GUYS, the wallpaper is finally up! Can I tell you the struggle we faced here? We had multiple cancellations from the hanger - so many that Alana considered doing the work herself. However, hanging wallpaper is NO JOKE and I highly discouraged her from it. We still have a long way to go on the set up, but we've been waiting for the wallpaper to go up first. This is a going to be a BIG WEEK in terms of progress. Believe it or not, but the shoot is FRIDAY! I'll share some behind the scenes sneak peeks via Insta-stories as we ready up this room.

If you haven't already heard, the reveal got pushed out a week. All of the recent natural disasters have delayed a good bit of product, so Linda (ORC founder) has added a week to the challenge. Since I am in the middle of a major move, we are sticking to our original shoot date and plan. Next week's post will likely just be a sneak peek (one photo) and then you can see the full space on 11/16. 

Be sure to follow along to see how everyone else is handling their projects. You can also get some insight into what we've been sourcing by checking out our project's pinboard. 

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Whatchu Know About Wallpaper?

One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown

Alright, folks, are you ready for week four? I'm just going to come right out and say it - this post is a quickie! We have made so much progress on The One Room Challenge to date - but have a looooooong way to go. The painting and wallpaper was done earlier this week, but I'm saving those photos for next week.

This week, we're talking about the almighty dolla dolla bill, ya'll. Let's break down the budget. Where did we spend? Well, truth be told, we didn't get too spendy here. We planned to keep the budget low, but didn't anticipate that we could pull both rooms together for less than $2k. So how did we do it? Well, we did our best to work with the existing items in the room. The bed, for example, was begging for a little "umphf." To highlight this piece, we wallpapered the wall behind it and added sconces beside it. Next to the bed, we scored the steal of the century - a set of Anthropologie nightstands for $300! How? SUPER SALE! They were a little damaged and discounted to reflect that. After coming up short in that category, we pounced!

Alana and I also put our thrifting skills to #werk. We spent an afternoon hitting up all of our favorite thrift stores. We scored some pretty fantastic artwork, mirrors and decor. They will all come together in a gallery wall above the little blue bench and will make the space POP - but also help to keep the budget in check. You can check out all of the other items we considered for the space here.

All in all, we're super excited to be on budget. We're jazzed about how the space is turning out, but are honestly getting a little bit burned out. Pulling two rooms together in six weeks is NO JOKE! On top of that, Alana (client) is currently on a work trip in India and I am in the middle of a major move. Buying and selling homes at the same time is one of the more stressful things I've ever done. I can't wait to be on the other side of things. 

Wish us luck as we crawl towards the finish line.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: What We're Styling With + Budget Breakdown

One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions

My clients always ask me, "What is the first piece we need to pick out?" Truthfully, any item can act as a starting point. In this case, Alana and I were all about this rug. We knew we wanted to keep it, but it featured a pretty tricky pattern. We started by choosing a wallpaper with a print that worked with the rug's pattern. Then we selected a paint shade that was also in the rug and the wallpaper. These common threads helped us keep the rug, while introducing a fun wallpapered accent wall.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions

This wallpaper will line one wall in each space - behind the headboard in the bedroom and on the window wall of the dressing room. All of the other walls will be Moonlit Orchid

To backtrack a bit, these are the wallpaper samples we looked at before landing on the Anthropologie style.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions

Some of our exciting pieces have started to pour in. The bench arrived - and not in the color we expected. It was supposed to be a blush tone, but arrived a bit too close to the wall color. In design, this stuff happens. You have to be flexible. We're working with it! Our sconces also arrived; they were chosen to match to the brass bed. 

One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions

Remember, you can follow along as we source and select by checking out this project's pinboard. You can also see what everyone else is up to by checking out their progress.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: How We Made The Big Design Decisions

One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

Well, folks, can you believe it? We survived week one. This week, I wanted to share a little peek into our design plan. We went through a few rounds of tweaks (as every design does), to ultimately land on the third design board. I'm going to get a bit more into how these decisions were made in next week's post. For now, I'll walk you through the basics. 

OPTION 1

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

OPTION 2

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

OPTION 3

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

These are what I call "fast and dirty design boards." We've made so many changes along the way - and shared many text convos, emails, pinterest messages - to ultimately land here. We've talked out every single aspect of this design; the boards merely represent those chats.

Like I mentioned in the last post, Alana had some items worth keeping. Her vintage brass bed is a real winner; there's no way we were getting rid of that. Alana also had a great vintage rug that we pulled colors from for the wall tones. We both agreed that her space needed wallpaper. To keep the budget in check, we chose to wallpaper just one accent wall, behind the headboard. In the sleep space, we knew we needed to replace the current nightstands in favor of something more substantial. Sconces were also a MUST, as the lamps HAD TO GO!

Onto the dressing space...so excited for this one! We're keeping Alana's great old dresser. Vintage cabinetry is being installed on the adjoining wall. In the center of there space, there will be a great vintage rug, bench and some additional oddities We've also secured a wonderful vintage dress form to really drive the look home.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

As I mentioned, I'll dive deeper into how we got to where we are next week - how we chose the wallpaper, paint, etc. For now, be sure to follow along on our project's Pinterest board. I'd love to hear from YOU! What are your favorite elements of this design? 

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: The Design Plan

The Importance of Vintage Portraits with Chairish

I have been selling vintage goodies on Chairish for about two years now. A few months back, they reached out to me about my love of painted vintage portraits. I jumped at the opportunity to write a post for their blog about my obsession. This story is up on their site now and I'd love it if you would check it out. Head over to their blog to see the rest of the places where I've put portraits.

Michelle Gage // The Importance of Vintage Portraits with Chairish

One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir

Let the games begin!

This is my second season participating in the One Room Challenge. Last spring, I completed this Palm Springs Inspired Living Room. That project was such a blast, so I decided to take on another. This fall, I am working with Alana Oates, a bad ass shoe designer living in New Jersey, on her Vintage Boudoir. I'll be posting about our progress weekly - and sharing some insight into product inspirations and selections on this Pinterest board. 

Coincidentally, Alana and I both used to work at Anthropologie's Home Office. However, we only met once, as our departments (shoe vs. home) didn't overlap. Now, years later, we're collaborating on her bedroom makeover. 

Alana lives in a charming bungalow, right outside of Philadelphia. She has been working on the styling of her home, but has been struggling to create the ultimate bedroom retreat. After talking with her about her wildest dreams, a plan was devised. The inspiration will come from our mutual love of vintage. In true fashionista style, Alana loves rich prints and textiles, which you will see come through in the room's wallpaper (yes!!) and accessories. 

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir

Her bedroom features a few items worth keeping - for example, that vintage brass bed. Don't you just LOVE IT?! Off of the bedroom, there is an attached dressing space. I've been DYING to design this sort of space (especially one that belongs to a fashion forward friend) so we're tackling this room too. 

Let's look at the BEFORE PHOTOS:

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir

So, folks, it's time to take on another six week transformation. I'll share more about the design ideas next week. Be sure to follow along and watch how this space unfolds. 

One Room Challenge: Introducing #VintageBoudoir

Before + After: Bright / Bold Master Bedroom

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Bright + Bold Master Bedroom

This bedroom belongs to the client of this living room and it's one of my favorite spaces. As a designer, there's nothing better than starting with a blank slate. The only existing item this space had was a mattress. The clients, "Annie" and "Jeff" dreamed of a tranquil space with an eclectic twist. We painted the walls a fresh white shade, the perfect backdrop. A four poster bed is the room's star. These gorgeous nightstands were a MUST HAVE. Turquoise accessories pull everything together without feeling too overwhelming. These well-placed touches add a POP of color to an otherwise neutral setting. This space proves that just a few well-crafted pieces can come together to create a beautiful and comfortable bedroom. 

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Bright + Bold Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Bright + Bold Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Bright + Bold Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Bright + Bold Master Bedroom

Before + After: Feminine / Masculine Living Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room

Clients ask me all the time, "What is the first piece we need to pick out?" I always tell them that any item can kickoff a room's design. If you have a great vintage rug, colors can be pulled out for wall paint. If you want to include a worn leather chair, the other upholstery items can be linen or velvet to balance the materials out. 

In this case, my client fell in love with an inspirational image I sent her. The image was of a living room featuring a blue velvet Anthropologie sofa. Once that piece was locked in, everything else fell into place. The clients wanted recliners. Yes, believe it or not, these chairs recline. They had to either be a durable linen or leather, to balance out the velvet sofa. To add in yet another material, we selected this round leather ottoman which works well for families with young, energetic kids. 

The clients had a great, soft grey rug that we wanted to use in the space. It was a few sizes too small for the room, so we layered an affordable jute option underneath. This one fit the room well and is less expensive than if we were to purchase the same grey rug in the appropriate size. 

A few more key items (side tables, shelving, etc.) helped to fill out the space. These (truly wonderful) clients had been passed down a vintage icebox, which made for the perfect home bar. The gallery wall over the sofa features prints of cities that the couple has traveled to together. Lastly, we layered in some lighting, pillows and decor - the finishing touches.

It was important to make sure the room didn't lean either too feminine or too masculine. My client, we'll call her "Annie", has 3 young boys. She wanted a living room that she could relax in, as well as one that her husband ("Jeff") and children could enjoy. She got her dreamy Anthropologie sofa. He got his recliners. With one quick push of the ottoman, the boys have enough floor space to play with their Legos. Is it possible to make everyone in the family happy? Not always, but in this case, YESSS!

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Feminine Meets Masculine Living Room

Before + After: My Dining Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room

Our dining room tends to become our home's dumping ground. It's sort of like our temporary holding place. Too many bags of groceries? Dining room. Massive flea market haul? Dining room. I think this is mainly because it houses a large clean surface - our table. It is far too clean to not clutter up with other things.

This was one of the last rooms we tackled in our house. Three years ago, we moved in with a hand-me-down table and chair set. We even had an old (and really dirty) rug. I LOVED the existing wallpaper, so we chose to keep it. We wound up painting below the chair rail, but it truthfully wasn't too different that what the previous owner had.

We wanted to spruce the space up before our Apartment Therapy tour. That's where Wayfair came in. Our budget was bled dry from our last round of renovations. We needed some affordable and stylish options. 

Dark Wood Dining Table - sold out, similar / Wishbone Dining Chairs / Arteriors Zanadoo Chandelier / Blue Overdyed Rug - Be sure to get the right size!

Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms

Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

It's no secret - I'm all about wallpaper! Let's skip the story where I attempt to woo you into the idea and get right to it. If you're going to wallpaper, I want to help. 

Shop my favorite wallpaper sites:

Anthropologie

Calico Wallpaper

Chasing Paper

Hygge & West

Juju Papers

Rebecca Atwood

Wallshoppe

Before + After: My Powder Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room

Alright, I will admit it, not every client wants a flamingo powder room. Heck, I have yet to have one make such a request. While it's not for everyone, it is for me. This is the wild wallpaper of my dreams and I am still so obsessed with it. 

To be transparent, wallpaper costs about 7x times as much as paint. There are a few places where your wallpaper really goes the extra mile. Your powder room is one of those places. Since it is such a small space, you don't have to make a huge investment/commitment. This space also allows the wallpaper to be the star of the show.

I've written a lot of articles on wallpaper and bathroom updates. Be sure to check each out. 

28 Simple and Budget Friendly Toilets

9 Powder Room Splurges You Won't Regret

20 Bathroom Wallpapers That Bring The Wow

My 63 Favorite Temporary Wallpaper Patterns

13 Bold Wallpaper Ideas For Your Powder Room

How To Choose The Right Sconces For Your Bathroom

20 Reasons To Be Entirely Obsessed With Pink Bathrooms

Closing Costs + What Happens After Closing

Michelle Gage // Closing Costs + What Happens After Closing

Closing Costs

Home Inspection

As an informed home buyer, you will certainly want to have a professional home inspection as a contingency with any offer you place. This way you can walk away if there are any unexpected repairs. When these things come up, either the seller fixes the issues, comes down on the sale price or they hold their ground and expect you to pay. You can expect them to hold their ground if they have already come down on their asking price or are covering closing costs. As a part of your home inspection, you should also have a termite, radon, and chimney inspection.  These are not included within a typical home inspection, but are small adders that give you a better picture of the condition of the whole home. The home inspection, radon, termite and chimney inspection will run you ~$750.

Upfront Escrow Fees

An escrow account is a legally binding agreement where an institution (in this case your mortgage lender) takes money from you on a monthly basis to pay other agencies or companies. In real estate, the escrow accounts are used to pay for you home owner’s insurance and property taxes. When you close on the house the lender typically collects 3-12 months of home owner’s insurance and property taxes to help cover the portion of the year that you need to pay back to the seller. They may have already paid for the whole year of property taxes and since you are moving in mid-year, you owe them for the time you will be the owner.

Mortgage Fees

Lenders charge fees in the range of $1000 to run your credit, prepare paperwork, process the mortgage, etc. This fee is a part of what is called “closing costs”. These are certainly negotiable. Banks will compete with each other using these fees. We got quotes from 3 different lenders - call them Lender A, Lender B, and Lender C. We decided to go with Lender A. When we emailed Lender B and Lender C to let them know we chose someone else, Lender B came back and offered to waive all lender fees to try to win our business. It did not affect our decision, but can be used if two lenders have very similar offers.

Michelle Gage // Closing Costs + What Happens After Closing

After Closing

Home Warranty

A home warranty is not homeowner’s insurance. It is a policy that covers the core functionality of the house, hot water heater, furnace, kitchen appliances, roof, etc. It usually covers the first year you are living in the home and can help you with repairs for major items. It is a good idea to ask for the seller to buy this for you as a part of your offer. Even if they don’t, you have around 30-90 days after moving in to decide if you want to purchase a policy. This lets you get in the house and encounter any major issues and decide if a policy will pay off.

Investing for Resale Value

As you begin your renovation plans and envision your dream kitchen or sun room, make sure you are keeping your investment in mind. There are some renovations that pay off much more than others. You are not guaranteed to get 100% of the renovation cost back in value in your home. Make sure you are doing the right projects first, if you know that you will not be in this house forever. That way, you can enjoy them now and later reap the benefits of increasing your home's value. 

Alright, that's all folks! You are officially equipped with enough information to go about buying your own house. Now begins the fun part - house hunting!

How To Work With An Interior Designer

Michelle Gage // How To Work With An Interior Designer
Michelle Gage // How To Work With An Interior Designer
Michelle Gage // How To Work With An Interior Designer

Alright folks, I'm going to let you in on a few designer secrets. While there is no real secret sauce, there are a few things that you can do to make your designer/client working relationship serve you best. I'm going to break down some tips on how to be an ideal client. I'm not providing these tips to imply that I need to school people on how to act. I just get a lot of questions from clients on how they can get the most out of their experience. Well, here's how...

1. Have a vision. Many clients will hire a designer for their creativity and ability to see a room's potential. Yes, designers are skilled at that - but keep in mind that you are the one who is most familiar with the space. If you're redoing your tired living room, you probably already have a long list of dreams for the space. If you have a Pinterest board, share it! Ultimately, a designer's goal is to have the space reflect the homeowner. Sharing your ideas sets the project off on the right track.

2. Have a budget. This can be a hard one. If you are working with a designer for the first time, you may not be familiar with what things can cost. However, I encourage you to try your hardest to come up with a budget. If your designer doesn't know where you stand on certain items, you are just making her job harder. You're also setting yourself up for disappointment. Your designer needs to know if she is sourcing you a $2,000 sofa or a $10,000 one. Remember, you've hired someone to design a complete space for you. In order to do so, they need the complete picture. 

3. Trust your designer. Yes, you should have a vision. You should also trust that you have hired a capable professional to execute that vision. You have to believe that your designer has the space's best interest in mind. What keeps me honest? Well, I always tell clients that my goal is to have the completed space be one that I wish to shoot professionally. In order to put the money behind that extra fee, the space needs to be amazing. That goal is a win win for everyone. 

4. Be decisive. This is especially important when you are using a designer that operates on an hourly rate. Being certain in what you want (and even in what you don't) keeps the project moving along. If you're getting hung up on every little decision, the space will stall. You just need to land on one item to get the ball rolling. That one item can be anything - sofa, rug or even a piece of art. That one decision informs the rest of the room's needs.

5. Be patient. Things take time - especially in the design world. On average, a sofa can take 6-12 weeks to be made and sent to your front door. It could take some time to get a painter out to your space. These are outside of your designers control and unfortunately just a fact of life. Your designer will help you navigate these unknowns.

6. Play a part. If you aren't really concerned with each and every item selected, hand the reigns over to the designer. If you tend to be picky, try to collaborate. I always encourage my clients to participate in the design process. More often than not, the homeowner has been the one to suggest at least one piece we wind up purchasing for their space. Know that your input is valuable. At the end of the day, you will be the one living in the room. 

7. Understand your contract. Be sure to read your contracts terms and conditions. As with any form, don't just sign on the dotted line. You really need to be familiar with how your designer operates. Her contract may have rules on late payments, photography and placing orders. If you have concerns about anything you read, be sure to ask for further clarification. My point - know who you are hiring!

Now, these aren't deal-breaking issues. They can be worked through as needed. However, if you can come to the table prepared, you'll be set up for success. The process takes a lot of focus and determination. I wouldn't say that it's a hard process, but it can be emotionally taxing. You pour so much into a project - as the designer and as the client - and care so much about the results. Even if you pass the project off to your designer completely, you'll need to review designs along the way. Make sure you have the time to dedicate to such a project and be ready to be active in the process! 

Your House, Your Taxes + Monthly Payments

Michelle Gage // Your House, Your Taxes + Monthly Payments

Taxes

Assessment

The tax value of your home is not necessarily the price that you bought it for. Most tax assessments are done every few decades so you may be lucky that you have an old assessment bringing your taxes down for the time being. However, know that sometime in the future the county could reassess your property and the taxes could go up.

County, Town, and School District Tax

Your property taxes are usually paid to the county, township, and school district. Most places have the highest taxes due to the school district.  This is due to the fact that almost all of school funding comes from property taxes. However the county and township also get taxes from retail sales and other revenue streams.

These property taxes vary widely from region to region. It may make a huge difference by just being across town. This should be a very important consideration when deciding on a home.

Monthly Payment (PITI)

Your monthly payment is not all paid to the bank. Below is a breakdown of the portions of your payment.

Principal and Interest (P&I)

The principle and interest is the part of your payment that ­­actually pays off your loan. At an interest rate of 4.5%, just less than half of your monthly P&I is interest and the rest of it is repaying the principle. As a portion of your total monthly payment P&I could be only 40% of your whole payment. It is surprising to most people that your mortgage is such a small amount of your monthly payment. Keep this in mind when you are evaluating what you can afford.

Property Taxes (T) – Escrow

The property taxes that I mentioned before are paid incrementally over the year into an Escrow account. This Escrow account is an account that the bank has for you and is required to pay off certain debts or taxes. All year you pay into the account and at the end of the year the bank pays all of your property taxes for the year.

Homeowner’s Insurance (I) – Escrow

Just like the Escrow for property taxes, there is another Escrow account for your homeowner’s insurance. You are required by the bank to purchase a policy that will refund you the money to rebuild the house just as it is if there happens to be a major or minor accident that damages your home. Typical homeowner’s insurance policies run about $1000 a year and come out to ~$80 a month.

Mortgage Insurance

If you don’t put at least 20% down on your loan the mortgage company will require you to have mortgage insurance, which protects the bank if you end up defaulting. Once you have repaid the principle up to 20% the mortgage insurance goes away. Consider this potential added cost. 

Just one more session of Buying Facts 101! In the next post, I'll talk about closing costs. Stay tuned!