Homeowner Tips

5 Home Improvements that Pay Off

Like many American’s, your biggest investment may be your home, so you want it to perform well when you put it on the market. Some home renovations can be costly, so you want to make sure the upgrades will make your home more attractive to potential buyers and give you the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some home improvements that pay off when it comes time to sell your home!

Energy Efficient UpgradesHome Improvements Kitchen

Improving your home’s energy efficiency may make a bigger difference and give you more bang for your buck than cosmetic upgrades. The number of energy efficient homes is on the rise, and many home buyers favor energy efficient homes because of potential long term savings. Think attic insulation, HVAC, water heaters, windows, and doors. These upgrades are less expensive than solar panels. It’s a great idea to provide potential buyers with copies of your utility bills to show them how much they can save.

Minor Kitchen Renovations

Renovating the kitchen is one of the key things you can do to improve your home’s value. The good news is you don’t need to do an expensive full kitchen renovation to make a big difference. Smaller things like painting your cabinets, getting new cabinet doors, or switching out cabinet hardware can make buyers happy. Upgrade your countertops and install new appliances, if needed. You don’t need to buy the most expensive appliances to make your kitchen fabulous.

Minor Bathroom Renovations

Updating your bathroom can also make a big impact on buyers. Think about regrouting tile, replacing caulk, updating the toilet, mirrors, and fixtures. These smaller projects can give your bathroom a nice facelift without breaking the bank.

Fresh PaintHome Improvements Paint & Flooring

One of the least expensive things you can do also gives you one of the best returns on investment. A nice, fresh coat of interior paint can really brighten up your home and make it shine. Color trends change over time, but it’s usually best to stay away from deep, dark colors and pure white. Always consider the impact the color will have on the buyer. Select colors that will make it easier for buyers to picture themselves living in your home.

Power wash your home’s exterior to decide if you need to freshen up the exterior paint. Sometimes power washing alone works enough magic. If your front door is older and you aren’t going to replace it, it’s a good idea to paint it!

Flooring Upgrades

Upgrading your flooring can make a huge difference and it makes your home look well maintained. Hardwood floors payoff and they are in high demand, but they are expensive to install. Replace tile and carpet if needed. At the very least, refinish your hardwood floors, wax tile areas, and get carpets professionally cleaned. If you’re on a budget, focus on the upgrading the flooring in the kitchen and living areas to get the biggest impact.

Thinking about selling your home in the Greater Boston area? Contact Barrett Sotheby's International Realty today and learn how we can help!

Tips for a Brighter Winter

Settled in New England, we are no strangers to the winter months! As autumn begins and fades, so do the hours of light that we experience. While there are countless things to look forward to in the winter, there are also symptoms of fatigue and dreariness that many Massachusetts natives, and transplants, experience.

We can enjoy the crisp air, apple cider, snow days, added exercise, layered clothing, and holidays, but when the excitement settles, some New England residents are left feeling less than joyous about the season change.

This leaves us to wonder… how do we combat the wintertime blues? With the end of daylight saving, we thought we’d look into some ways to brighten our days.

Along with the recommend daily exercise, time outdoors (even in the snow and cold!), and maintaining your typical routine, there are also things you can do in your home to bring more light and energy in the darker months.

Of course, if you’re experiencing more than just a bit of wintertime dreariness, you may also want to seek a doctor’s professional opinion. But, if you’re just looking to brighten up your home, or try some natural remedies first, look no further! We’ve broken down our tips into three main categories. You will find one main theme: visual and sensory cues.

 

Windows:

  • Clean your windows.
    • This task may even have the added bonus of an upper-body work-out depending on how many windows you have. Once you’ve finished, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something and your home will be full of bright, uplifting light.
  • Remove the mesh screens. This added layer obstructs the view to the outside.
  • Maximize the daylight in your home, especially in the morning, by opening the blinds.
  • Make the windows of a room the focal point during the winter months.
  • While we’re on the topic of blinds, change out your heavy drapes with light colored window treatments.
    • By mounting treatments outside of the window frame, you can also create a visual cue that the windows are larger. As a bonus, when open, this will allow for the maximum amount of sunlight to come through.
  • Trim any shrubbery near the windows that would obstruct your view of the daylight. This is another chore that will add some exercise and an outdoor experience.
  • Open the windows.
    • It may seem counter-intuitive in the colder months, but even twenty minutes of fresh air and sunlight in your home can do wonders for your moods. Not to mention the fresh feeling and renewed scent your space will have once they’re closed.

 

Interior Design:

  • Remove dark rugs and textiles.
  • Add bright, light, and textured designs to your floor coverings, slips, and pillows.
  • Add reflective surfaces to your home.
    • Even a simple statement mirror can add a tremendous amount of light when placed mindfully.
  • Add full-spectrum or daylight toned bulbs to your home.
  • Light boxes, dawn simulators, and circadian rhythm simulators are all added light elements, as well – but you may want to discuss with a doctor if this is a good choice, first.
  • Add new pieces to your home.
    • Even small changes like one added piece of art, or a few bright photos, can add excitement to a space. This is especially helpful to make your home feel new, and get you excited to spend some quality time there.
  • Plants! Adding natural elements to your home helps to bring the outside in, adding natural air filtration, another indoor task, and a nurturing sensibility during months where self-care is especially important.
  • Aromatherapy is another added piece of interior design that we often overlook.
    • Having a signature scent for your home is something lots of designers recommend, but adding natural essential oils like lavender for calming, or orange for invigorating the senses, to your home can help various ailments. 

Schedule:

  • Maintain your typical routine.
    • See the people you normally would. Participate in a winter activity that you enjoy, or find a new one to try, adding enthusiasm to the time of year.
  • Make your bed daily.
    • This indicates your day is starting and you’re ready for what is ahead. The simple shift, if not already implemented, helps to prepare you for a good day.
  • Exercise.
    • Walking outside helps to get you light, air, and endorphins. If you are able, hiking also brings you into a new atmosphere that is said to help brighten your moods, as well.

 

Real Life Tips for Downsizing

Once again Barrett Sotheby's International Realty will be conducting our increasingly popular seminars for downsizing. Here is an older post with some valuable information, to wet your appetite for the seminar. The sessions are held on four dates in February and you can sign up here.

Barrett Sotheby's International Realty's recent downsizing seminars were informative and inspiring -- and I'm not even planning to move any time soon. Laurie Cadigan, President of Barrett Sotheby's International Realty, offered personal anecdotes about her recent move from Concord to Boston and provided real estate expertise on planning, financing, decluttering, and staging. Marie LeBlanc, President of Transitions Liquidation Services Inc., was on hand to offer strategies for deciding what to keep and what to get rid of to help your move go smoothly.

Cadigan admitted that the whole process of deciding where to move, preparing your house for sale, and then actually making the move was "one of the hardest things I've done aside from childbirth." But she outlined the process, breaking it down into manageable steps:

  1. Where do you want to move? Downsizing means many different things to different people. People move for financial reasons, to pay for college, to simplify their lifestyle. And downsizing isn't just moving to a condo from a single-family home. Many people choose to stay in their community but elect to live in a smaller house. Once you decide on an area or neighborhood, get a feel for the housing stock and what you can get for your money. Barrett & Company offers a daily personalized email service where you can see all the new Massachusetts real estate listings that meet your specific criteria of house size, location, price, number of bedrooms, etc.
  2. Who are you bringing? Downsizing is not only for empty nesters. Cadigan and her husband are sharing their new condo with an adult child who is saving money for her own place. They also brought their Golden Retriever along. Cadigan advised, "Look into condo rules and restrictions about pets or even visitors. Some retirement communities limit the amount of time that visitors under age 55 can stay."
  3. What are your finances? It is critical to understand your finances and talk them over with a financial advisor. This is particularly true for people who may not have bought or sold a property in many years. The mortgage process has changed. For example, people remember bridge loans, which are no longer offered by banks. Some retirement communities also have requirements about the makeup of your financial portfolio.

Finding a place and financing a place are the big decisions. Then downsizers are faced with a million small decisions in order to actually make a move. Cadigan and her family faced a household made up of 30 years of accumulated stuff where every item's fate had to be decided upon. And that went for the kids' stuff too. "I applied tough love for my children," Cadigan said. Each child got to fill two plastic bins worth of possessions that she would store for them at her new condo. If they wanted to keep anything else, including furniture for future apartments or homes, they had to take it with them or pay to store it themselves.

Then she got to work staging her home for sale. "Staging is about making things look airy, clean, and neutral. A potential buyer wants to come in and imagine his or her possessions in the house, not be fixated on your decorating style," says Cadigan. Seminar attendees got to see some great before and after photos of Cadigan's home. Her before slides showed flowered wallpaper and custom draperies in the dining room. Personally, I thought it was charming but I saw her point that I wouldn't know if the person sitting next to me in the audience thought the same thing.

The after picture showed the dining room sans china cabinet, with walls painted a neutral off-white, and the windows bare but clean, with sunlight streaming in. "Believe me it broke my heart to strip down my home," said Cadigan. "No one lives like this. But that is not the point of staging. It's about stepping aside and letting the buyer imagine living there."

LeBlanc said the first thing that people who are downsizing should do is draw a floor plan of their new space. Then draw in the furniture that you think you want to bring. "People either think none of their furniture will fit or they think everything will fit,the floor plan doesn't lie," said LeBlanc. Having a real sense of what you will bring will also help when you get an estimate from the moving company.

Then it is time to sell, donate, or dispose of what you don't want to bring. LeBlanc offered great advice about disposing of trash. If you disciplined yourself to throw out two bags of trash each week for a year, you would have gotten rid of the equivalent of a 30-yard dumpster. She warned that dumpsters cost $1,800 to rent, fill and dispose of the contents. Most houses require two!

She also brought realistic expectations to people's ideas of selling their furniture. The bad news is that most furniture brings 10% of its original purchase price. For those who want to sell, she recommends consignment shops, which take 40-50% of the sale. She does not recommend Craigslist for older people because of the security risk of inviting the general public to where you live.

Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts (HGRM) in Acton was recommended as a great place to donate furniture, including mattresses and box springs in good condition. Charities that offer pickup services also are good but may not take everything. "The lesson is to plan ahead on your donations," LeBlanc said, "you don't want to have a driveway full of stuff that the charity refused to take the day before your closing."

Auction houses have become more accepting in the last few years as to what they will take into an auction. Don't put too high of a reserve on a piece. If it doesn't sell because the bidding did not make the reserve, you will be charged 10% of the reserve price and get the piece back -- and that is not the goal.

Antiques dealers want to get things for as little as they can so they can make a profit. On the other hand, by buying your piece outright, they are taking on all the costs associated with moving it, and storing it and the risk that it may never sell. If you want to sell to a dealer, invite three to bid and compare their offers.

My personal takeaway lessons from this seminar, even though I plan to stay in my home for many more years:

  • Declutter now or you will pay the piper later.
  • Furniture is not the investment that I thought it was. So I guess I won't feel so bad that my cat scratched my couch.
  • When it does come time to move, there are experts to help you. From experienced real-estate agents, to professional organizers, to financial advisors, no one has to handle this all alone.

Cadigan summed it up: "Downsizing is a massive undertaking that can feel uphill at times. But the result for many people is worth it. We love our new lifestyle. I love having only the things that really matter around me. I love having a closet with only the clothes that I really wear. Downsizing has made us feel freer and younger."

Which Kitchen Are You?

 

Upgrading your kitchen is a lot like buying a new car . . . we're not always in the market, but we're always looking.

A good kitchen can not only serve as a great tool to bring together a delicious meal, but perhaps more importantly it can bring your guests and parties to the whole next level!

Here are a few different layouts to explore for whatever type of home or lifestyle you're looking to build (or reimagine).

1) The One Wall Kitchen Motto: I like my kitchens how I like my chocolate -- hidden.

one-wall-kitchen-design

Commonly found in narrow houses, lofts and studio apartments, the one-wall kitchen is great for those of us not looking to make the kitchen the focal-point of the home. While counter-space can be a hot commodity in these layouts, the one wall kitchen can be useful for anyone looking to maintain an open floor plan and entertain as many as possible for a night in.

2) The Galley Kitchen Motto: Get the ****** out of my kitchen.

Galley-kitchen-design

This is a great layout for those of us who consider ourselves "efficient cookers." If you find yourself bouncing between oven, range, microwave etc. without missing a beat, the Galley Kitchen is perfect for you. With the two parallel walls, you can easily use both counter and appliance seemingly at the same time. One of the large downfalls however, is limited standing room and a closed off appearance. While they're great for efficiency they're not ideal for your social butterflies. The Galley is great for lone-wolf cooks who need their space.

3) The U Shape Kitchen
Motto: Feel free to look, but please keep your arms and legs outside the exhibit at all times.

U-shape-kitchen-design

The U-Shape kitchen is another single-cooker kitchen. Much like the One Wall and the Galley, it's design is suited for a cook who needs his/her own space rather than welcoming all the guests into their lair.

One downside to this layout is that depending on where you like your sink, it can be difficult to get it next to your dishwasher with the limited wall space. The nice benefit to The U-Shape, is the approachability it presents while allowing foot traffic to flow outside of the cooking area. You can move around and do your thing with a clear line in the sand. I like to call this layout The Lion's Den…hence the motto.

4) The U Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Why don't I cook, clean and entertain . . . and you can take care of the dog.

U-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

For the social cookers who are also likely to freshen up the hors d'oeuvres selection every few minutes. This layout allows you to either put your stove on the island and use the perimeter as pure counter space, or to use the island as a seating area. Great for those chatty cooks who like to entertain while they cook and toss their guests some snacks.

5) The G Shape Kitchen Motto: I can rest when I'm dead . . . or when this party is over. I'll likely do both.

The U-Shape kitchen with a small dose of steroids, a lot like installing a turbo system on an award winning race-horse.

This layout is for those cooks who need to maximize every inch of kitchen space and entertain. Rather than having a gap in between your island and counter, this layout adjoins the two for that little bit more surface space. Very efficient and still allowing you to throw some food to the seals every once in a while.

G-shape-kitchen design
5) The L Shape Kitchen Motto: Keep going, I'm listening!

As traditional as it gets. The L-shape is good for multi-cook homes or for cooks willing to welcome guests into their domain for chatter or wine (likely the latter). The only downside to the L-shape is without the island, you will be facing away from the action while you cook/cut/drink begrudgingly by the sink.  You also lose a bit of counter space, for standing room. The L-shape is a versatile layout which will look best in your loft homes, but can easily be rocked in any style of home. But be prepared to be hovered over.

L-shape-kitchen-design.jpg
5) The L Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Face to island: "Of course, please tell me about your son's gold medal!" Back to island: *restrained angry mumbling*

Take the L-Shape and give it a bit more accessibility, and you've got your L-Shape with Island. With the island, you're able to use a bit more counter space, and have some quicker access to the rest of the home. This layout is great for those of us cooks who want to engage with guests a bit more, while maintaining a safe-zone for any emotional escape you may need. You've got a decent amount of counter space and the ability to cook/entertain on the island. This is a good layout again for those of us who are in a multi-cook home.

L-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

Use this as a guide when choosing your next kitchen, and drop us a line for any hidden gems/tips/secrets you've found useful in your kitchen layout!

All kitchen layout images courtesy of kitchens.com, a great resource for design and product information. Check them out here:

The Danger of Reverse Mortgages

Understanding Reverse Mortgages

Die Gangschaltung

These days it's more and more difficult to secure your future, specifically in regards to your retirement and the funds that go along with it. So many companies offer an out with tempting advertising, one of the most appealing being the "Reverse Mortgage." While we're not here to brand them as the poison apple, it's important that you understand the fine print before you sign up for one. A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) study found that a number of Americans failed to fully grasp the consequences of the Reverse Mortgage, one of the largest of which can be the loss of their home.

According to their June 2015 study: "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks" many borrowers are swayed into a number of misconceptions with taking out a Reverse Mortgage. We're here to outline just a few of them.

The first misunderstanding is that a Reverse Mortgage is not a loan. It is!! Like many loans, they come with a stack of requirements. A few of which are that you maintain your home (otherwise it's value could be depleted which in turn depletes the value of the equity you've just given up).

"Reverse mortgage borrowers are responsible for several requirements, including paying property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and property maintenance. Failing to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that results in foreclosure. "

Another misconception is that these lenders are associated with the government and misunderstand the involvement of the US Government in this program. A number of advertisements use 'American' symbols such as the eagle, scroll etc. to gain trust and convince borrowers that these solutions are government mandated such as Medicare. Make no mistake, these are lenders who require that borrowers uphold the loan agreement, and require that proceeds are repaid with interest.

The false imagery to closely associate lenders with the government can lead borrowers to think they are not meant to repay the loans since they are mandated rather than offered.

"The marketing of reverse mortgage proceeds as "tax free" unquestionably contributed to some consumers' confusion that reverse mortgages are not loans. "

Since you are required to repay these loans, it should go with out saying that they carry interest rates, but many Americans are lead to believe otherwise. Many of these lenders conveniently use fine print to state that they come with compound interest rates on the proceeds of that very loan, in exchange for the equity you hold in your home. Some of these ads even omit the interest rates which leads to an even larger misconception.

"Many consumers we spoke with did not understand that reverse mortgages are loans with fees, compounding interest, and repayment terms unless they saw an interest rate explicitly stated in the ad."

The Reverse Mortgage can be a useful tool for those of us over the age of 62, but it's important that you understand all the details and read the fine print to avoid dealing with the unwanted consequences. For a more complete list, take a look at the report in more depth "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks"

Sotheby's Inaugural Designer Showhouse in New York

Sotheby's auction house in New York recently presented an inaugural Designer Showhouse exhibition. The event, which is sponsored by Sotheby's International Realty, Inc., is an innovative approach to highlighting the treasure trove of fine art, furniture and decorative arts offered each season at Sotheby's.

A select group of talented interior designers were given exclusive access to the auction house's inventory and shopped the "stacks" to select a group of objects from which six distinctive interior spaces were devised. These objects include paintings, sculptures, prints, furniture and decorative arts which range in date from the 1st century A.D. through the end of the 20th century and encompass a range of artistic and architectural styles from around the world. Here is a peek at their masterful spaces the designers created.

ryan-korban-crop

RYAN KORBAN, known for his retail design including Alexander Wang's flagship store, Balenciaga's men's and women's flagship stores and Fivestory New York; ann-pyne-crop

ANN PYNE from McMillen Inc., the oldest full service interior design and decorating firm in America;daun-curry-1-crop

DAUN CURRY from Modern Declaration, named one of Vogue's hottest new designers; os-1-crop

New York design duo CATHERINE CASTEEL OLASKY and MAXIMILIAN P. SINSTEDEN from Olasky & Sinsteden whose collective background includes time working for renowned names including Bunny Williams, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, David Easton Inc., Charlotte Moss;

shaler-ladd-2-crop

SHALER LADD of Shaler Ladd Design Corporation who has built his business by providing exceptional service and quality to a loyal client base for which he curates interiors tailored to the distinct lifestyle and tastes of each individual; and, rush-jenkins-1-crop

RUSH JENKINS and KLAUS BAER from WRJ Design Associates, who are renowned for curating and designing exhibits for such luminaries as Mrs. Nancy Reagan and Bill Blass.

These designers were given the freedom to create any type of space and impose any type of aesthetic that he or she desired. The hope is that these spaces will demonstrate how good pieces of fine and decorative art can transcend time and space and that the dialogue between these pieces within a contemporary context not only allows the viewer an opportunity to reflect upon the pieces' historical and artistic importance, but also gives the pieces new meaning and significance in the world of today.

Making a Splash on Pinterest

The meteorologists describe a "heat wave" as "a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity". Here in New England we are in the midst of our third heat wave of the summer.

HOT HOT HOT

And whether you love the heat or hate it, nothing sounds better than a cool, refreshing dip in a soothing aquamarine-colored swimming pool. Since we can't actually give you a pool to dive into to cool off, how about taking a look at some of the stunning images we have collected on one of our favorite Pinterest boards "Making a Splash" for a little imaginative plunge.

Porches Patios and Decks on Pinterest

"'A picture is worth a thousand words.' refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly," according to Wikipedia. The phrase, in various forms, first appeared in print beginning around 1911. Over 100 years later, Pinterest has become one of the most popular social media sites and it revolves around pictures, pinned every minute by the thousands. Pinterest.com's About Us page says it is "a tool for collecting and organizing things you love." The format of "pinning" pictures to a "board" allows you to gather images online that speak to you, however you'd like to categorize them and then share those pictures and boards with your friends, both real life and online ones.

Barrett Sotheby's International Realty has a collection of Pinterest boards with a variety of titles such as "Architecture", "Kitchen Inspirations", "A Room with a View" and many more. From time to time, we will share those boards here with you and invite you to follow along with us on Pinterest to see what's been catching our eye and perhaps find some inspiration for your own home and garden. As we head into summer here in New England, there is no better place to start than with Porches, Patios and Decks. Whether screened in or wraparound, flagstone or cedar, we hope you find these outdoor spaces to be inviting, lovely to look at and worthy of a second glance.

Move That Furniture...By Hook or By Crook

I recently saw a TV commercial for EZ Moves® that hit home. EZ Moves® are little plastic cups that fit under furniture legs so a woman can single-handedly move an entire room of furniture on her own. A fast-action scene showed the woman gazing thoughtfully at a couch. She uses EZ Moves® to swiftly slide the couch across the room and once again places her hand under her chin for that thoughtful look. You have the sense that she is just beginning her furniture rearranging project.

"That's you!" my husband laughed.

It made sense to me, but actually buying the product would mean admitting that I spend entirely too much time pushing furniture around. Besides, it would also be admitting that I have no able-bodied person in my family willing to help me. And that is just wrong.

I've developed a few of my own maneuvers over the years to single-handedly move furniture. Some have been passed down through the female line in my family. My mother swears by blankets. You simply lift the corner of, say, a bookcase onto an old blanket and then pull the blanket so that the bookcase surfs across the room without scratching the floor.

Wall-to-wall carpeting can be your friend or foe. Sometimes the smooth, soft surface makes for easy dragging of pieces. It becomes the devil when moving anything with legs.

My personal favorite technique for shoving really heavy furniture is to sit down on the floor and push against the piece with both legs. As an added bonus, no need to go to the gym.

Often I do meet my match and wonder why I don't just draw out the new arrangement first. I become quite professional and whip out my tape measure and graph paper. I sharpen my pencil and perch in the corner of the room ready to act like a true interior designer.

I measure the couch and line up the ruler along the graph paper lines. Invariably, my rectangle representing the sofa goes crooked no matter how hard I try. I erase the pencil mark, discovering that the eraser only leaves black smudges. I throw the paper aside and go back to the fanny-and-leg push method once again. I just have to see the arrangement in real life.

There was one time I did successfully "visualize." That was when I decided that the living room needed a baby grand piano to be stylistically complete (even though no one in my family played the piano). I knew I couldn't have a piano delivered, push it around the room and then decide it looked bad. So I made a mock piano. I took a round table and piled miscellaneous chairs around it to create the approximate diameter of a big, hulking piano. I covered the whole pile with a brown tablecloth and then squinted at it for a long time. I lived with the "piano pile" for a few days and periodically stopped to stare and squint. Thankfully, my husband simply refused to acknowledge what was going on. I finally decided that a piano would look nice in that corner. When the real piano arrived, it looked great!

Now my son is old enough and kind enough to help me move stuff. Recently I got him to rearrange the entire family room. A perfect case for using graph paper since my goal was to make the ping-pong table, air hockey table, fish aquarium, huge leather sectional sofa, and a prehistoric rear-projection TV all become a harmonious arrangement worthy of being featured in Architectural Digest. After three hours of moving, shifting, and sweeping up weird stuff found under the furniture, the resulting new arrangement was hideous and I moved everything back. My skilled mother gave wise counsel: "You are trying to make this room into a cozy den. You have a cozy den already. Let the kids' room be a kids' room." I admitted defeat and forced my son to help me put everything back. At least the floors got cleaned.

Furniture Arranging Waits for No Man

Why does the "weaker" sex have the primordial urge to move heavy furniture? I know that I love it. It is the thrill of getting instant results. It is the thrill of getting something "new" for nothing. When I am in a shopping mood, the best way to overcome the buying bug is to go home and move my existing furniture. Home stagers know there is a lot of potential in shopping your own house.

Men hate moving furniture. My husband takes it one step further, he hates to see furniture moved. So I drag stuff around on my own, and he comes home from work and has a nervous breakdown. It is as if his retreat has been invaded by a warring clan. "Did you have Betty over?" he asks suspiciously. He knows two women moving furniture get really big results.

Often the furniture-moving urge comes on when I make a small home decorating purchase. Mike groans at the sight of a Home Goods bag at the door because he knows the pillow or lamp is an accurate predictor of a coming seismic shift in the living room or den. A new table lamp doesn't just fit into a room. It becomes the room's "inspiration." The room has to live up to the new lamp so everything must be rethought and reshuffled.

Did women have time to rearrange things in the old days? Maybe they were too tired after boiling lard into soap all day. But I think they did make the time. I can imagine my great-grandmother saying in a wheedling tone, "Stosh, can you just move the potbelly stove a little to the right? It will really open up the flow of the room."

My mother tells a story of being eight months pregnant and working on her hands and knees to unroll a huge new living room rug because she was tired of waiting for my father to do it. I see that this moving proclivity runs in the family.

Coming soon: Clever ways to single-handedly move an entire room of furniture