I’m kind of a real estate junkie. I get it from my parents who used to load me into the car for long Sunday drives when I was a kid. We’d drive out different rural roads or into little subdivisions, pointing out this or that feature in a house we really liked—an especially nice bay window, or Curb Appeal-worthy front garden. It was sad, though, too, because my mom was always looking for something else, something better (my dad just liked driving around aimlessly with the windows rolled down).
And this is where I break from my mom in terms of a love of real estate. I enjoy snooping around other homes out of curiosity, but I love my own. I love my neighborhood. I’m not going anywhere. And this is where we get to the concept of “resale value.” If you’re someone who’s planning to pick up stakes pretty soon, then the “experts” will tell you not to do anything drastic to your house. Only spend money on renovations that will dramatically increase your resale value (for example, kitchen remodels are worth it; bedrooms, not so much). And for God’s sake, keep your walls beige!
Now, this advice makes sense if you know you’re not going to live in a place very long. But what gets me is when people buy a house and live in it, for decades, and don’t make any of the changes they'd really like to make because they’re envisioning some potential buyer turning up their nose at those changes in some future time that may never exist. It's this conversation:
Me: It's nice that you put that huge basement into your new house. You could really use the space when people come to visit.
Other Person: Oh yeah, it would be really handy. It's all set to put a bathroom in down there and everything.
Me: So when are you finishing it?
Other Person: Oh, I don't think we will. Maybe someone who buys the house someday might want it to be something else.
Me: You just built this house. Are you planning to leave?
Other Person: Oh, no, we're never leaving this house.
|Lime Green in the living room is not good for resale.|
Also, check out the style mixing--the Art Deco mantle
(original to the house), plus the Craftsman sconces
I had installed, and the Victorian mirror? Big no-nos.
The first room I re-did in our house was the living room. Knowing I’d be spending a lot of time in there with the kids, I painted it my favorite color, lime green. Shortly afterwards, I hosted a book club and one of my friends exclaimed, “Boy, I’ll bet you can’t wait to paint over that horrible color!!!”
Yes, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It would probably discourage a potential buyer, but I’m not selling! I want to enjoy every minute of this house and that means making every room as wacky as I want to. I won’t get into the whole dance like nobody’s watching mantra, since you can buy that on a T-shirt, but honestly, if a bright purple front door (I did that, too) makes you smile when you pull up your driveway, do it.
Also, here it comes, the obligatory writing reference—it certainly makes sense to write whatever you want, too, markets be damned. Writing is too hard and the rewards so infrequent, it just doesn’t make any sense to pen something you’re not passionate about. While you're at it, paint your office, your closet, wherever you write, in a color that absolutely inspires you, even if everyone else hates it. They can close their eyes when they visit.