How to Plan a Renovation That Matches Your Budget

When working with a contractor, you may feel like you have little influence over whether your remodeling project stays on budget and hits the finish line on time. But you have more control than you might think. Remember, the scope of your project and the specific materials are up to you.

The key to keeping a project on budget and on schedule is nailing down the details before ground breaks. If you’ve never renovated or built a new home, you may not be sure about how the seed of an idea turns into a completed project. Here’s a road map for two early steps: putting together your renovation team and nailing down your project’s cost.

Bookmark Part Two in This Dream to Done Series


Dream To Done 1: Serenity Design, original photo on Houzz


Who Will Help You Build Your Vision?

Before you meet with a professional, you should know what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to tear out your entire kitchen and start fresh? Or are you looking for less costly upgrades, perhaps replacing cabinet fronts and a tired backsplash? Or do you want to remodel your whole house?

Some homeowners know only that the current home isn’t working for them but aren’t sure how to fix it. If you are in this group, you may decide to work with professionals who can help you develop a plan and advise you on cost. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of Houzzers who renovated in 2015 did so with professional help. The survey covered 120,000 registered Houzz users, including 70,000 who renovated.


Dream To Done 2: SALA Architects, original photo on Houzz


What Exactly Do Pros Do?

The most important documents you will need are the construction plans. Your building plans must be approved by an agency to make sure the home is safe and meets local codes. So unless you are familiar with building codes and construction methods, you will want to hire a professional to draft these plans. Rules for which pros can draft plans vary by state (and in some states by county or municipality) and with the size and type of project. Look to the local building department or the professionals you contact to explain the rules in your area.

Each profession has its special emphasis. Architects and interior designers create concepts and draw plans. General contractors build the plans. Landscape architects create designs and plans for outdoor spaces. Design-build firms offer both design and building services, some with in-house architects, others by contracting the design work out.

Houzzers who remodeled in 2015 said the most valuable contributions of general contractors and design-build firms were delivering a quality result, finding the right products and materials, staying on budget and managing the project.

Architects, interior designers, and kitchen and bath designers were appreciated for helping clients integrate their personal style into the design. Houzzers valued architects for understanding and complying with local building codes, and interior designers for finding the right products or materials. But these are only their most-appreciated contributions; each profession has a wide range of skills and resources to offer owners.


Ask About Options

Many pros offer a range of services, from initial design to project management, which may be priced as menu options or charged at per-hour rates. For just one example, architects can provide evaluation and planning services, which can involve site analysis and selection, economic feasibility studies and helping you determine what you want, need and are willing to pay for.

Architecture firms offer design services, including documents that define the space’s shape, and they may work closely with engineers as needed in relationship to the structural elements. They also may offer construction management services, involving consulting and coordinating with the various agencies overseeing your project, or manage the bidding process when you search for the right contractor. These are just a handful of the services your architect may provide, so it is worth asking about pricing and what is involved as you shop around. This AIA guide can be helpful. Also, there could be some overlap in the menus of services provided by the different pros, so be sure that you are clear on what you need and what services each will perform.

Even if you are not planning to hire a professional to design or manage your renovation, you may want to hire a pro on a per-hour basis to help you refine your ideas. “A small percentage of upfront money with a professional can really help clarify the scope of the project and the budget before you get too involved,” says John Firmin, general contractor at Build-A-Home Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who founded the firm 16 years ago.


Dream To Done 3: Tim Clarke Design, original photo on Houzz


Select Your First Team Member

When hiring your first design team member, you can start with a builder, architect, designer, design-build firm or remodeler, depending on your needs and priorities. If you already know a contractor whose work you like, he or she will probably have a list of architects and interior designers to recommend. That is also true if you start with other pros. You also can use Houzz’s directory to find individual professionals, see their past projects and read client reviews.

Narrow your list down to your favorites and then interview a few people. Ask for — and check — references, and drive out to see past projects. Also, see how it might feel to work together — make sure you have a rapport with the professional. You should find out whether they listen and whether they are good communicators, says Jon Dick, an architect with Archaeo Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who has been practicing 30 years and worked on more than 100 homes. “Their design ability is very important,” Dick says. “But it’s also a long-term relationship. They’re going to ask pretty personal questions and know a fair amount about you.”

You should follow this same basic process with an interior designer, landscape architect, general contractor or design-build firm. Keep in mind that the average kitchen remodel takes about five months once construction starts, but three times that long from initial design phase to completion, according to a recent Houzz survey. So the professionals you hire should be people you like and can communicate with.


Whether to Hire One Pro — or More

Which pros and how many you hire is up to you. Among Houzzers who hired pros for their renovation projects last year, nearly half hired a general contractor, builder, kitchen or bath remodeler, or design-build firm — the professionals who actually build the project. About 20 percent employed an architect, interior designer or kitchen and bath designer.

A recent Houzz survey found that 2015 home buyers spent $66,600 on renovations, while would-be 2016 home sellers spent $36,300 on renovations.


Dream To Done 4: Original chart on Houzz


Be Up Front About Your Number

It’s helpful to be honest about your budget with the professionals you contact. Pros typically work with clients whose budgets are within a certain range. (Sometimes a pro’s range can be found on his or her Houzz profile.) If you fall in love with a pro whose projects start at $50,000, but you have $5,000 to spend, you’re probably not a match. Some homeowners pay a high-end designer to create the initial plan, only to realize that the products and materials suggested are out of range.

Homeowners without constrained budgets may be afraid to be too forthcoming for fear that pros will push them to spend more than they would like. That’s where checking references and finding people you can communicate with comes in. In the process of vetting the pros you are considering, you will find reputable people who will not push you but use your target number to help guide your plan.


Some Averages to Go On

If you have never renovated or built a home, you may have no idea how much it’s going to cost. To give you a sense of average budgets, here are some recent stats: People renovating kitchens had budgets ranging from less than $5,000 to more than $100,000, according to a survey of nearly 2,500 owners conducted by Houzz. One-quarter of renovators had budgets of $25,001 to $50,000, while 20 percent had budgets of $15,001 to $25,000. Only 10 percent had budgets of $5,000 or less, and only 6 percent had budgets of more than $100,000. The range of figures here is national; it should be noted that renovation costs vary by region and even city.

That said, not everyone stays on budget — and that’s true regardless of geography. Only about one-third of Houzzers who renovated last year stayed on budget, while just 3 percent came in below budget. Another third exceeded their budgets, while the remaining third had no initial budget at all. Among those who exceeded their budgets, the top reason was selecting nicer finishes or materials.

Major kitchen renovations cost an average of $50,700 for spaces 200 square feet or larger, while major renos in smaller kitchens cost about half that, according to Houzz data. A major kitchen renovation includes at least replacing cabinets and appliances. Major master bathroom renovations cost an average $25,600 in rooms at least 100 square feet and about half that for smaller bathrooms. A major bath renovation includes at least replacing the vanity or cabinets and countertops and toilet. Doing it yourself, of course, is less costly.


By Erin Carlyle, Houzz 

Help Us Keep Homeless Youth Warm This Winter


Earlier this year, Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks announced that we were joining together to help #tacklehomelessness. For every home game tackle made by the Seahawks, the Windermere Foundation is donating $100 to YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

As proud as we are of our #tacklehomelessness campaign and the money we’re raising, we know we can do more. That’s why we’re excited to announce Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive benefitting YouthCare. Each night in Seattle, nearly 1,000 young people are homeless. And with the winter months quickly approaching, YouthCare is in dire need of survival supplies to keep homeless youth warm and dry during the long, wet winter.


Here’s what we are collecting:

  • Warm socks
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Gloves/mittens

From October 17 through November 14, you can drop off donations to participating Windermere offices in King and Snohomish Counties*. Our friends at Gentle Giant Moving Company are generously donating their time and trucks to pick up all of the donations from our offices. Donations can also be dropped off directly to YouthCare in South Lake Union at the James W. Ray Orion Center: 1828 Yale Avenue.

We hope you will consider making a donation to our “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. Feel free to contact your Windermere agent or local office for more information, or email


Windermere Winter Drive Drop-Off Locations

Auburn-Lakeland Hills


Bellevue Commons

Bellevue South

Bellevue West





Kirkland Central

Kirkland Yarrow Bay



Mercer Island

Mill Creek




Seattle-Capitol Hill


Seattle-Green Lake



Seattle-Madison Park


Seattle-Mount Baker




Seattle-Queen Anne

Seattle-Sand Point

Seattle-Wall Street


Seattle-West Seattle






Windermere Foundation Dollars at Work: 2016 Summer Report



We are excited to announce that as of third quarter of this year, the Windermere Foundation has collected $1.4 million in donations, which means we are well on our way to reaching our goal of raising $2 million by year’s end! Individual contributions and fundraisers accounted for 58 percent of the donations, while 42 percent came from donations through Windermere agent sales transactions. In total, we have raised over $32 million since the Windermere Foundation was started back in 1989.


Windermere/Seahawks #Tacklehomelessness Campaign

We recently made the announcement that Windermere is now the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks. And at the center of this partnership is a new #tacklehomelessness campaign in which the Windermere Foundation will donate $100 for every Seahawks home-game tackle during the 2016 season. On the receiving end of these donations is YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been providing services and support to homeless youth for more than 40 years.

So far, the first two Seahawks home games have generated $5,700 in donations, but it’s still early, and we expect to raise upwards of $35,000 by the end of the season. These funds will help YouthCare provide services that help get youth off the streets and prepared for life—youth like Dana and Leslie.


Dana’s Story

Dana is 20 years old and has been living on the streets since she was 14 or 15. Dana was wary of accessing drop-in and other services due to family and personal trauma, and the failure of various systems to support her in her past. Once she learned that she was able to enroll in case management through YouthCare’s outreach services, she agreed to work with YouthCare’s Street Outreach Case Manager, Sam. Through Sam’s coaching and support, Dana has completed a housing assessment to get on the waitlist for available housing. Dana has a vision of herself beyond the streets, and she has Sam and YouthCare’s Outreach Team to walk that road beside her and offer the support she needs along the way.


Leslie’s Story

Leslie walked in the front door of YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center, wet and cold from an early spring rainstorm, and asked for help. She had lived in Seattle her entire life, moving between her mother’s apartment and foster care, hoping always to be able to stay in one place for longer than a month. She had recently turned 18, and the friend’s couch she had been sleeping on was no longer available. Her education had been patched together over the years as she’d shuffled between schools, not connecting with any specific teacher—and she wanted to achieve her GED. She told the Orion Community Resource Specialist that she had met a YouthCare Outreach team member on the streets and came in to see how YouthCare could help.


The Community Resource Specialist sat down with her, completed an intake form and offered her food, water, dry clothes, and invited her to eat a hot lunch. Every day, YouthCare's Orion Center offers a hot breakfast at 8:30 am, lunch at 12:30 pm, and dinner at 6:00 pm. Leslie stayed for lunch and then the cooking class in the afternoon, where she learned to cook falafel, pita bread, and tomato-cucumber salad. She stayed overnight at YouthCare’s Young Adult Shelter and was referred to YouthCare’s Barista Training Program, where she started an eight-week apprenticeship. Soon she was running the Orion Center Mock Café—an event hosted by graduating Barista program apprentices—and serving up complicated coffee orders with ease.


Thank you to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation. Because of you, homeless youth like Dana and Leslie receive the services and support they need to get back on track with school, work, and life. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click on the Donate button.

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit



Childproofing: Protect Your Family and Your Home from Potential Hazards

When you think of your home, it likely conjures up feelings of safety, shelter, and comfort. However, accidental injuries in the home are one of the leading causes of harm to children 14 and younger. By taking certain precautions, many of these accidents can be prevented.

While supervision is the best way to keep your children safe at home, you can’t watch them every second. Childproofing, to whatever degree you are comfortable, will go a long way toward keeping your littlest loved ones safe and healthy at home.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Many accidents happen with or around water.

If you have children at home, it’s advisable to adjust your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding. Furthermore, you should never leave a small child unattended in a bath tub, even for a few seconds. And be sure to safely secure doors that lead to swimming pools and hot tubs, including pet doors. When cooking or boiling water, turn pot handles in, or better yet use the back burners, to prevent little hands from pulling them off the stove.

Household chemicals can be very harmful to children.

It’s important not to keep poisonous materials under the sink, even if you have a cabinet guard in place. Keep dangerous chemicals up high and in a room that isn’t accessible to your little ones. Seemingly innocuous medicines can also be dangerous. Make sure your medicine cabinet is out of sight, mind, and reach.

Use safety latches and gates.

It’s advisable that you use safety latches on drawers, cabinets, toilets, and windows, as well as place covers on all electrical outlets. Gate off stairways and entrances to rooms, such as garages, that contain dangerous or fragile objects.

Secure furniture and other objects.

Heavy furniture, electronics, and lamps must be secured to prevent a child from pulling them over. Bookshelves and entertainment centers often come with devices that attach them to walls so that a climbing child won’t topple the furniture. The end-caps on door stoppers can be a choking hazard, so it’s advisable to remove them. Place plastic bumpers on sharp corners or edges of coffee tables, entertainment centers, and other furniture to prevent cuts and bruises.

Install a carbon monoxide detector.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke alarms. Be sure to test both devices regularly and replace batteries as needed. The American Red Cross advises families to learn first aid and CPR, and to devise an emergency evacuation plan for fires and earthquakes.

Emergency contact info.

Last, but not least, in case an emergency does happen, always keep numbers for your child’s doctor, your work and cell, and other emergency contact info in an easily found place, preferably near the phone.

Accidents can and will happen, but by following a few small steps you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your family from harm in your home.

Should I Move or Remodel?

There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.


Five reasons to move:

1. Your current location just isn’t working.

Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.

2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.

Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.

3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.

If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.

4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.

This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.

5. You don’t like remodeling.

Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.


Five reasons to remodel:

1. You love your neighborhood.

You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.

2. You like your current home’s floor plan.

The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.

3. You’ve got a great yard.

Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.

4. You can get exactly the home you want.

Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.

5. It may make better financial sense.

In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.


Remodel or move checklist:

Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.

1.      How much money can you afford to spend?

2.      How long do you plan to live in your current home?

3.      How do you feel about your current location?

4.      Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?

5.      Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?

6.      Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?

7.      Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?

8.      If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?


If you have questions about whether remodeling or selling is a wise investment, or are looking for an agent in your area, we have professionals that can help you. Contact us here.

How to Reduce Noise in an Open-Plan Design

Open-plan living spaces have many advantages for family life and entertaining, and they increase the opportunity to bring lots of natural light into your home. But they can end up being quite noisy. You may be surprised, however, at how easy it is to reduce sound travel with a few key additions to your furnishings. There are also structural changes you can make if you’re after a more robust fix.


Related: 8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space


1. Dress your windows.

Large areas of glass, such as big windows and glass doors, act as bouncing-off points for sound to travel in an open-plan room. Introducing curtains will help deaden the noise. A sheer fabric works especially well, as it won’t totally block the light or views.

For maximum muffling, curtains work better than blinds, simply because there’s so much more fabric involved.

Reduce Noise 1: Environ Communities Ltd, original photo on Houzz


2. Introduce rugs.

Another way to deaden sound is to cover hard floors with rugs. Here, the use of a rug in the living space both minimizes noise and helps define the seating area, making the room feel more intimate.

When it comes to rugs, the thicker the pile, the better the soundproofing, so a cut-pile rug will tend to work better than a flat-weave design.

Reduce Noise 2: HelsingHouse Fastighetsmaklare, original photo on Houzz


3. Break it up.  If you can, try to break up your open-plan space to create zones. This will also help contain the noise. Here, the fireplace in a freestanding wall maintains a visual connection with the space beyond while breaking up the room to create a more defined living area.

If you want to incorporate a feature like this, bear in mind that you’ll need to position the fireplace so you can create a flue, which will need to go through the ceiling or an external wall.

Reduce Noise 3: Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz


4. Add a storage wall. The wood-paneled wall in the middle of this large room works beautifully to separate the kitchen from the living area. This kind of feature can be a freestanding structure or a custom piece of furniture, making it a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to break up the space, since you won’t require any structural elements.

Reduce Noise 4: DTDA pty ltd, original photo on Houzz


5. Fit a feature screen. If you can’t bring yourself to divide the space with something permanent, a nice alternative is to introduce a screen as a buffer between zones. It won’t be as effective as a solid structure, but it will help diffuse the noise slightly. The louvered screen seen here allows a glimpse of the living space beyond.


Reduce Noise 5: Studio Revolution, original photo on Houzz


6. Panel your walls. Large, flat, hard surfaces can amplify sound, so adding texture will help reduce this effect. Lining one of your walls with wood not only creates an interesting feature, it does the sound-dampening job. It’s as simple as using flooring material on the walls instead. For a more traditional look, painted wood paneling works equally well.

Often, walls aren’t completely flat, so you’ll first need to add wood battens to the surface onto which you’ll attach your paneling. A good flooring contractor or woodworker can do this, or if you’re pretty confident at DIY, you could tackle it yourself.

Reduce Noise 6: Honka UK Ltd, original photo on Houzz


7. Bring texture to your ceiling. Just like walls, a large expanse of ceiling will encourage the spread of sound, so try adding a textured surface there too. In this example, the ceiling and walls have been paneled with wood boards painted white.


8. Fashion fabric panels. If wood isn't your style, consider covering one of your walls with some form of acoustic material. These padded fabric panels are highly effective at deadening sound. You can also buy off-the-shelf acoustic panel systems, which can be fixed to your walls and are easy to install.


9. Go soft underfoot. Hard floor surfaces, such as tile, are less than ideal when it comes to controlling noise, so consider something like linoleum instead, which is a durable and practical finish in a kitchen. It’s also soft underfoot, meaning it will absorb the clunk and clatter of cooking.


By Denise O’Connor, Houzz

Keeping Up with the Joneses: The Great Paint Debate

A few weeks back, Jenn and I decided to finally pull the trigger on painting our home. The vinyl siding of the 1942 Seattle Cape Cod fixer we purchased nine months ago had been sun bleached to the point of resembling a kind of soft lemon chiffon yellow you’d see on a cake your grandmother baked. Great for dessert, bad for today’s exterior home color.  We wanted a charming, warm and inviting new exterior home color but were fearful about what it would cost to have a professional do it. We had saved between 10-15k by renovating our bathroom ourselves.  Couldn’t we just pick up some paint and make a Saturday of it?


Pro tip: In Seattle, painting outside competes with the weather. Make sure you have a runway of at least a week of good weather to ensure you can paint the house in its entirety while leaving time for it to dry.

Seeing as the summer season was pretty much over (say it ain’t so!) and the wet Seattle fall was nearly upon us, we figured we had only a week or two left to get the job done. I’m the kind of person who jumps on a new project… and maybe sometimes I put the horse before the cart. *Cue Jenn’s pursed-lips smirk* So once Jenn and I agreed we were going through with the project, I had three different painters bid out the job and booked the least expensive (but experienced) professional within two days. I scheduled him to arrive the following day.


Good Husband Tip: Don’t give your wife 12 hours to decide what color to paint your house.


Pro TipDon’t feel bad about shopping for the best price with home professionals. They bid homes out every day and won’t be offended. Most of the time, they present a bid with room for negotiation. It never hurts to get a second bid or ask for a cheaper price.

With the pressure of our painter showing up the next day, we scarfed down dinner and took a trip to the paint store.  (I tried to convince my wife this was an opportunity for us to bond as a family unit.  “We could make it educational! Teach Addie about hues and shades!  C’mon, honey… it’ll be fun!” *Cue Jenn’s pursed-lips smirk*) We knew we had to get special paint for our vinyl siding so that narrowed it down to about 20 options.  And we wanted a sort of dark blue so we picked out two colors that looked promising and headed home to test them out.

Pro TipWhen testing paint, make sure you let it dry before you decide which color to go with.  Paint a few different swatches on various sides of the house and watch how it looks during different times of the day.

One test swatch (on the right, called “Prime Time”) was a little purplely/blue grey and the other was a slightly lighter blue (on the left, called “Stone Cold).  Those are two seriously stellar wrestler names, amiright?


With our painter arriving that evening, the pressure was on for us to choose. We’re Millennials so we did the only logical thing you can do when making a big decision. We asked our friends on Facebook. 76 comments later, there was still no clear answer.

Mid-debate, our dear friend Kim Gorsline of Kimberlee Marie Interior Design called us up with some highly insightful information.  First of all, a paint store has pre-mixed vinyl siding paint but they can actually make ANY color into vinyl siding paint.  Which means we had a lot more choices (which left me feeling excited and gave Jenn heartburn).  More importantly, Kim pointed out that the two options we had might not be exactly what we hoped for.  She suggested a few colors that had more grey tones and in much deeper shades.  She promised us that we’d still get the blue house of our dreams even if the colors looked dark grey on the swatches.



Pro tip: You can get small paper swatches for free or pay a few bucks for a large paper square but nothing will compare to a sample of real paint on your surface.  We spent $59.34 on paint samples and it was worth every penny.

Back to the paint store we went, grabbing three more options to test.  Our painter began taping off the trim as we took a few steps back to assess the swatches… BOOM! We had our answer… Britannia Blue by Benjamin Moore. Not the best wrestler name but a nice blue nonetheless.

We trust Kim’s vision and design talent wholeheartedly and as the days went on and the paint went up, we couldn’t have been more pleased.  I installed some new lights fixtures and house numbers that Jenn picked out.  Only this time, I gave her three days of lead time *Cue Jenn’s pursed-lips smirk*



Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

Selling Your Home? Go Through This Safety Checklist With Your Real Estate Agent

Selling your home can be stressful for many reasons. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers.  One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions.


  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting displaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.  
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions: 

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lock boxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.

Your safety, as well as that of your agent and your home, is of paramount importance when selling a property. For more information, visit:

#YourStoryIsOurStory: Kicking off the School Year Right


Starting the school year can be nerve wracking; new friends, new classroom, and for some, a new school all together. Imagine starting the new year already behind, with shoes that don’t fit, clothes that are stained or too small, and inadequate school supplies. Many Windermere offices work very hard at the start of the school year to ensure this doesn’t happen for kids in our communities, and our office in Mercer Island, WA took the challenge to a new level by ensuring that more than 300 homeless youth were ready to kick off the school year right.


For the last three years, Windermere Mercer Island has partnered with Mary’s Place for their annual #KicksforKids back-to-school drive. Mary’s Place provides emergency and transitional housing for homeless families in the greater Seattle area. While most homeless shelters cater to adults, Mary’s Place helps ensure families can stay together, providing the support and stability kids really need while waiting for permanent housing solutions.

Three years ago, Windermere partnered with Mary’s Place, calling on multiple area offices to help provide shoes, and our Mercer Island office really took this shoe-raiser to heart. Each year their office has upped the ante, gathering more shoes, and supporting more kids! This year, new shoes were donated by agents, staff, clients, and the Mercer Island community, with the office matching donations, collecting a grand total of 432 pairs for kids of all ages and sizes.


On Wednesday, August 31, 11 Windermere agents and staff spent the day at Mary’s Place North Seattle Emergency Shelter, delivering and organizing shoes, and acting as personal shoppers for more than 300 kids. After a giant pizza party, a personal shopper helped each child find a new pair of fitting shoes. From pre-school to high school, the joy of a new pair a of kicks was palatable, reminding us all that something as small as a pair of shoes can make a big difference for a kid’s confidence at the start of the school year.

Thank you to Mary’s Place for all the incredible work you do within our community to help families who need shelter, services, and hope. And thank you to the Windermere Real Estate Mercer Island office for taking the #Kicks4Kids drive to a whole new level. Together we can make a difference!



First Day of Autumn


Even though it happens year after year, the arrival of autumn is always a little surprising. Almost as if on a switch, one day late in the summer you feel it – a subtle crispness in the air. And before you know it, it’s pumpkin-spice-everything everywhere. We are suddenly swathed in sweaters, wearing boots, and bombarded by shades of orange, often even before the thermometer warrants it. After slogging through a long hot August, it can feel exciting.

Making the transition to autumn is also a great way to reorganize after a hectic summer and be better prepared going into the winter months. To make the transition a little smoother, we have created a to-do-list of ideas to help.

Start with your bedroom

Gauzy cotton feels decidedly summer, while soft cashmere has a distinctly autumnal vibe. This time of year, feel free to use both luxe textures at once, but incorporate them in colors that are appropriate for the changing seasons: cream for cashmere, gray or stone for linen.

Pay attention to plants

As the season changes, so should your indoor greenery. Switch out those palm fronds or orchids for eucalyptus branches or hydrangeas in deep purple hues.

Winterize your car

Due for an inspection? Been meaning to get those tires changed? It’s tedious, but dealing with maintenance issues now instead of three months from now (when you’re stuck in a freak snowstorm) is definitely a smart move.

Perform a pantry audit

First, remove all the cans and boxes from the shelves and vacuum any lingering dust or crumbs. Then inspect each item before putting it back in its place, tossing anything that is expired or past its prime. If you are overloaded with canned goods, make a bag for the local food bank.

Sync your family calendars

Now that you’re not in the land of weeklong vacations, keeping track of everyone’s schedule can be tricky. Go old-school by using a chalkboard calendar and placing it in a high-traffic area, like your mudroom. Or go high-tech and download the app Cozi. This tool combines everyone’s calendar and even lets you set up a shared grocery list (so you’ll never forget to pick up milk from the store).

Don’t neglect the Fireplace

You may not be ready to think about it yet, but on the first chilly night you’ll be glad you did. Hire a professional to inspect the fireplace and chimney to make sure it’s clear and ready for use.