6 Secrets to a High Home Appraisal

Anyone who has ever sold a home, whether their personal home or an investment property (such as a flip) knows how much hinges on the appraisal. If the appraisal comes back low, you make less money on the sale than anticipated or go back to the market hoping for another shot with a different buyer and appraiser. Or if you’re trying to refinance your property to get rid of PMI, secure a home equity line of credit (HELOC), your bank will order an appraisal. So what is an appraisal, why does it matter, and is there anything YOU can do to help your property appraise as high as you need (or want) it to? The answer is YES. Check out this video I created sharing what I personally do each time I’m selling or refinancing a property to ensure I get a strong appraisal—it hasn’t failed me yet!

Press: Cincinnati Refined + Local 12 Feature 'Park Place' Design

We love our friends at Cincinnati Refined. They feature all kinds of great arts/cultural happenings in Cincinnati, and always showcase the most amazing homes from local designers. They also recently featured a design project we did for local investor/flipper Kevin Geraci of Flipping Cincy (see more pics of “Park Place” on our Portfolio Place). Here’s the slideshow of our work along with the brief story of how Kevin brought a community together and made his flip into a charitable cause.

Soon after, Local 12 chatted with a Cincinnati Refined editor live about the flip, which you can see below (note that our segment begins at about the 2:00 mark):

Bungalow Before & Afters: Kitchen & Living Room

Looking back at the photos we took the first time we set eyes on this property, it's hard to believe how far we have come. This home was the worst condition of any property we had ever purchased to rehab. You'll notice a mix of photos from the first view (full of discarded belongings) and the home after we had it cleaned out. Over the next few months, we hope to slowly add more before and afters of the home and detailed blog posts about decisions we made throughout the design process. But for now, here are a few of the before and after photos of the main living space you enter and see right when you walk in the front door. It used to be three separate rooms (and one very long hallway) that we opened up for a totally open-concept living space! For details on the finishes in the kitchen, check out our Pinterest board.

Bungalow Renovation Progress


After months of design, planning and construction, we are approaching the final stage of work on this large brick bungalow that sits on a gas-lit street just one block from the Pleasant Ridge business district. The existing second floor was basically unusable when we bought it: with just a 4-foot-wide section of headroom and tapered ceilings from all sides, it simply didn't function as usable square footage. So we worked with an architect to completely remove the second story create a full-size second floor with almost 1,400 square feet of additional space.

Now, the "big brick bungalow" is a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home with 2,750 square feet of living space above grade. Because we fully gutted the home and reworked its floor plan, it's full of features that many old houses in these popular Cincinnati neighborhoods lack: multiple large closets, a massive master suite, a first-floor guest suite, a first-floor office, a second floor laundry/craft room, a bonus/"play" room, fully open-concept living space, a new garage and more. Basically new construction from the inside out, the only thing about the home that is original is the brick exterior of the first floor and the basement/foundation.

We expect to finish work on this property by the end of March 2018. Stay up to date with our progress on our Instagram account for details and progress photos of this home, and check out the design finishes we've selected (tile, vanities and lighting) on our Pinterest board.

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Press: Local 12 Interview 'From Fitness to Flipping'

I am honored to have been invited to the morning show at Local 12 WKRC to talk about how I transitioned from a 10-year career in the fitness industry into flipping homes and doing design work for homeowners. It was a fun experience and I think turned out nicely. Here is a link to the segment that aired live this morning.

I didn't get a chance to specifically talk about how one would go about getting started in the flipping business, but people contact me frequently asking just that. It's not something I can easily answer in a simple email or an Instagram message, but I often refer people to a getting-started e-book from my own mentor Wendy Doris of Flippin Wendy Design. She's been at it 10+ years and was critical to helping me to started. If a career change into flipping homes is something that interests you, definitely check out her book!


Eileen Drive Before & After Photos

The 100-year-old duplex we purchased on Eileen Drive in Oakley was in excellent rental condition, one of the nicest and most well-maintained houses we have ever bought as a renovation--but we had big plans to convert it into a large single family home with the kinds of amenities that families in Oakley have a hard time finding in their beloved neighborhood. The fact that it was formerly two apartments made for some astonishing before and after photos that are almost too difficult to believe: A second floor kitchen that became a master bathroom, a first floor bedroom that was transformed into a dining room, and a new facade that included a brand new front porch and the removal of an extra entrance, to name a few. We also put an addition on the home (a master bedroom), which you'll see in the exterior photo of the back of the house.

The board and batten wall features you see in the foyer and master bedroom, as well as the shiplap wall in the kitchen are all painted with Benjamin Moore "Smokestack Grey." The other blue walls (half bath, hall bath) are Benjamin Moore "Nimbus Grey." On the exterior, the light grey siding is a stock color, but the blue details are Sherwin Williams "Anchors Aweigh" and the front and back door are both painted Sherwin Williams "Alexandrite."

Press: Cincinnati Refined & Local 12 Feature Our 'HGTV Worthy' Design


We were thrilled to have our latest renovation on Eileen Drive in Oakley featured on the Cincinnati Refined website in November 2017. Their glowing praise of the design work as "HGTV worthy" was a surprise that we are especially thankful for.

A few days later, their partner Local 12 (WKRC) also plugged the home as worthy of "Architectural Digest" live on the news! Watch the video clip here. The station asked us to appear on the news a couple of weeks later, so watch for that video clip soon.

Woodford Ave. Before & After Photos

I post a lot of before, during and after photos of our projects on Instagram, but if you don't follow us there, you could have missed the amazing transformations of our renovated homes. Here's a collection of before and afters of our "modern farmhouse" renovation completed in the fall of 2016. Hover over the slideshow to see sources for paint colors and finishes. Enjoy!

All interior walls are Sherwin Williams "Nebulous White" unless otherwise noted. Trim is off-the-shelf base white.



White Kitchen Cabinets, 4 Ways

Considering a white kitchen but afraid it'll look too plain? Think again! I'm a fan of simple white cabinetry because it's classic. It never goes out of style, it goes with any appliances (white, black, stainless, teal!), it reflects light (and therefore adds brightness), and it really acts like a blank slate that allows you to accessorize and dress up your kitchen in countless ways without necessitating a full blown renovation a couple years later. I'm all for color or experimenting with design trends, but considering your appliances, countertops, and cabinets are the highest-priced items in the kitchen, you don't want to waste money on trends here when they could look dated in a few years and need yet another renovation. 

Take a look at how I used the same exact white cabinets (this door style is called shaker, and it works great in both classic/traditional homes as well as modern ones) to create four unique kitchens that are anything but boring. Notice how we add interest and personality in each kitchen by mixing up hardware, flooring, appliance finishes, countertops, wall color and backsplash options.

Classic White + Subway Tile

You can't go wrong with subway tile laid in a classic brick pattern. I chose a beveled edge subway tile here to add a little dimension and interest since the cabinets were also white. We added color to the walls (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt) and warmed up the room by choosing a wood-look porcelain tile floor. Marble countertops complete the classic look and the simple floating shelves are an inexpensive way to experiment with the kitchen trend of fewer upper cabinets and more open shelving. Cabinet knobs and pulls are brushed nickel, matching the faucet. Simple accessories and colorful dishes add just enough interest to this kitchen.

Painted Backsplash + Patterned Flooring

These are the same cabinets and they look completely different in this kitchen. We used painter's tape to mark off a simple painted backsplash in an accent color (Sherwin Williams Liveable Green), which is a budget-friendly way to add color and still looks sophisticated. These countertops are granite and we mixed metals: a brushed nickel faucet and industrial light paired with black knobs and pulls. We kept the colors light everywhere else since the room was small. A white-washed wood-look tile floor laid in a herringbone pattern is eye catching but not overwhelming for the small space.

Simple Black + White

A black and white kitchen fits a variety of design styles. It's classic, traditional, but also very modern depending on how you accessorize. The matte black range hood and faucet gives this kitchen some modern flair. Thanks to the warm wood floors and just a few accessories to bring in some color and warmth (wood crates, cutting boards, plants), what would otherwise feel boring or "cold" looks warm and inviting. Simple subway tile with light grey grout blends with the bright white walls. We chose retro-style black appliances by GE, black granite countertops, and matte black knobs and pulls in classic shapes, another modern trend that also fits this classic styling.

Fun Tile + Brass + Grey

In this kitchen we went bold and graphic with a patterned backsplash tile. Notice how everything else in the kitchen is simple: Appliances are white to blend with the white cabinetry, walls are light grey (Sherwin Williams Nebulous White), tile is medium grey and countertops are marble (grey/white) so your eye isn't bothered by too many different colors or distractions.  The backsplash really is the star of the show, but there are plenty of other surprises, from the retro-cool appliances to the mod white range hood. We added trendy brass accents for the knobs, pulls, faucet and pendant light. If brass falls out of fashion, this kitchen could get a simple facelift just by changing out those few details! Industrial wood shelves add some interest and warmth to the space and give the kitchen a custom look that stands out from the competition.

There you have it: four completely unique and different ways to use simple white cabinetry that are fun, interesting and will stand the test of time. Check out our Portfolio page to see more angles and details of all of the kitchens pictured here.