Just Add Chlorine?

As the season for family trips and summer vacations nears its end, many homeowners ask themselves the same question — would it be easier to simply put in a pool? After all, there’s nothing like taking a dip in your very own crystal-clear swimming pool on a hot summer day. Many homeowners and home buyers see a pool as a high-end amenity that will enhance their family’s life and make their home more desirable on the resale market. But the idea of peacefully floating in the privacy of your own backyard may distract you from the reality that comes with pool ownership.

Before making a decision, you need to determine the total value that a swimming pool will bring to you and your family — not only as part of your biggest financial investment, but also to your quality of life. Let’s look at each.

Will an in-ground pool add market value to my home?

To answer that question, your best bet is to speak with your d’aprile properties real estate agent. They will look at comparable homes that have a swimming pool in your neighborhood, and provide you with a fair market estimate based on those findings. If you live in a higher-end neighborhood, and most of your neighbors have pools, it may make sense to add one. Let’s say that your home is currently valued at $250,000, but a similar home in your neighborhood with an in-ground pool is on the market for $285,000. A market value increase of $35,000 sure sounds like a smart investment, right?

But the number crunching doesn’t stop there. Remember that installing a pool comes with significant cost. According to HouseLogic, the average amount in the U.S. to install, equip, and fill a 600-sq.-ft. concrete pool starts at $30,000. That $285,000 estimated price tag for your home may no longer sound as exciting, seeing as how after you spend the money for installation, you are now left with a net increase in value of only $5,000. And let’s not forget, maintaining a pool also costs money — heating, filtration, and cleaning can easily run you thousands of dollars per year. In the end, HouseLogic states that by installing a pool, on average, owners might increase their home’s value 7% when it comes time to sell.

Will an in-ground pool add quality of life?

As with most decisions in life, money is not the only factor involved. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you live in a warm-weather climate, where you could maximize the use you get out of your very own pool?
  • Is your property large enough to accommodate a pool, and still leave room for gathering and entertaining? 
  • Do you have young children who will benefit from the added physical activity that comes from having a pool?
  • Will a pool simply make those hot summer months more bearable?

In the end, no one but you can truly determine the value that a swimming pool will bring to your home. It is best to add up the personal benefits that will come from spending summers in the sun, and then speak with your d’aprile properties agent to make sure that the financial value will benefit your family’s future.


Make Every Hour Count!

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

We can relate. We LOVE sleep. Life for your average go-getter is inherently busy, and the idea of falling into your warm bed to drift off into a heavy sleep will almost certainly always draw a smile.

That’s why many people aren’t looking forward to March 10, the dreaded ‘Spring Forward’ of Daylight Savings Time. How DARE they take away an hour of our beloved z’s?

You could look at it that way. But glass-is-half-full kind of folk instead circle the 10th of March on their calendar with a bright red marker, knowing that they will have one extra hour of sunlight (or at least daylight) in their day.

Spring is inching closer – what will you do with that additional hour? We have a few suggestions:

  • Go for a Run: The average person can make it 2-4 miles in 60 minutes.
  • Watch Two Episodes of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross: ‘Cause if happy little trees don’t make your day, we’re not sure we want to know you.

Photo Courtesy: Biography.com

  • Get/Give an Hour Massage: Treat yourself, or treat your significant other!
  • Listen to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin 15 Times: You might want to sing it note for note…

  • Take a Hot Bubble Bath: For a better experience, add wine.
  • Build a Fort with Your Kids: Because it will make their weekend.

Photo Courtesy of: Healthy Gallatin

  • Try a new recipe: No longer winter, not quite spring…might we recommend some BFD (Breakfast for Dinner)?
  • Learn a Magic Trick: Make people think you’re a wizard. And always have an ice breaker at the bar.
  • Watch the Sunset with Your Spouse: Because it no longer takes place at 4:30 PM.

Photo Courtesy of: imgur.com

No matter what you do, change your Spring Forward mindset, and make the most of the time you’ve been given!

 

 


And the Oscar Goes to…

Green Book, probably. Or Roma.

Personally, we’re pulling for Black Panther, because WAKANDA FOREVER!

But this post really isn’t about this year’s movies. No, in honor of Oscar Week – cause, you know, we dig homes – we thought we might put together a list of our favorite homes in recent film history. No garish mansions or sweeping castles on this list – simple residential real estate only.

Gone Girl

Sure, Neil Patrick Harris’ sleek lake house was (cough)…killer, but it was Nick and Amy’s suburban Missouri rental that truly caught our eye. Of course, Amy was a deranged sociopath with rather impressive knife skills for a homemaker, but you can’t deny that she had a chic sense of style.

 

Photo Courtesy of: The Movie District

Father of the Bride

Admit it – you watch at least part of this gem of a Steve Martin rom-com every time it comes on TBS. The Colonial Revival House that served as the site of the big wedding sold in 2016 for a cool $2 million. Looks like a steal if you ask us!

 

Photo Courtesy of: CBS News

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Despite the snow and the Chicago-setting of the script, the Griswold house is actually an exterior set on “Blondie Street,” a suburban block created specifically on the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, CA. The house has been featured in several films (including American Beauty and Pleasantville) and if you look closely, you can see the Murtaugh’s house from Lethal Weapon next door. We can certainly imagine having a big family holiday in this charming two-story.

Just don’t light a match anywhere near the storm sewer…

 

Photo Courtesy of: Hooked on Houses

The Money Pit

“THE STAIRS ARE OUT!!” Tom Hanks’ facial expressions alone are enough to recommend this underrated gem of a comedy. But the titular ‘pit’ is actually a stunning, eight-bedroom masterpiece with its own name: Northway. Located in the village of Lattingtown along the famed Gold Coast of Long Island, it went back on the market in 2018.

It can be yours for a cool $5.9 million.

 

Photo Courtesy of: Zillow

The Holiday

Cameron Diaz’s LA mansion was the very definition of modern style (for 2006, anyway), back when automatic shades were the hi-fi! But we’re not interested in Cali-chic: give us Kate Winslet’s fairy tale English cottage any day. From the (extremely) long walk up to the brick wall that lined the property, it seemed like something straight out of a painting. Which, to be honest, is not far off – the filmmakers could not find the perfect cottage for their seasonal flick, so they built one – in just two weeks.

Sadly, the interior was filmed separately, as the cottage itself was just a shell. 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Bustle

Something’s Gotta Give

Maybe our favorite on this list, Diane Keaton’s Hampton’s Beach House is simply striking. Maybe it’s the killer kitchen complete with large island, stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerator, and a Wolf range. Maybe it’s her character Erica’s bedroom alcove, with a desk situated right in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, creating the perfect writing spot. But no, honestly the real selling point here is the amazing beach access, complete with a beautiful twisting staircase leading down to the surf.

No wonder Jack shed tears.

 

Photo Courtesy of: PICTURESMO.COM

Home Alone

We finish off with a local landmark. The Winnetka wonder that plays home to Macaulay Culkin’s mini-mastermind, Kevin McCallister, is a red-brick Georgian-style Colonial. Known at the time for its spacious foyer and fantastic master staircase, the home has since seen a complete overhaul. Now it boasts a beautiful white kitchen and a serene screened-in porch. Considering that the home sold in 2012 for over one and a half million, and the fact that he paid for a Parisian vacation FOR FIFTEEN PEOPLE, we still can’t help but wonder what Kevin’s dad did for a living (COUGH)mafia accountant(COUGH).

 

Photo Courtesy of: AOL

What did we miss? What is your favorite movie home? Sound off in the comments! 

 


How to Shovel Snow Without Breaking the Bank (Or Your Back)

 

It’s the Midwest – snow is a fact of life. Sure, it has its perks. It’s fun to sled on. You can form it into a ball and fling at someone who can take a joke (and a shot to the arm). And boy does it look beautiful while falling slowly on Christmas morning.

But unless you are under the age of 10, dear Reader (and if so, go out and play!), snow can also be a major antagonist when it comes in a flash instead of a flurry. After all, at some point, you’ll need to get out of your driveway. Your pup will need a place to pee. And if you live in the city, there is little doubt you’ve dealt with the prospect of having to clear out a parking space on the street before someone tries to swipe it (DIBS!).

Shoveling snow is not only an inconvenient chore, it’s also a serious health hazard if done without proper care. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, more than 11,500 adults and children are sent to the hospital across the country each year for snow shoveling-related injuries. These range from bad backs and broken bones, to more serious situations such as fatal heart attacks. Your best bet is to invest in a quality snow blower that will bear the burden for you. But for those battling blizzards on a budget, a little planning will go a long way.

 

So before you slip on your boots and head outside to start scooping, consider the following safety tips:

Choose Your Weapon: To battle the snow effectively, you need the right shovel. Yes, shovels can vary drastically in both quality and style, so be sure to pick the one that best suits your situation. Length can be key, depending on your height. If in doubt, go long to prevent excessive crouching or bending, and choose a shovel with a natural curve. A sharp metal edge at the end will also help you break through layers of ice without too much force. You can get your hands on a quality shovel for $25-50, depending on your needs.

Assume the Position: The best way to avoid painful back issues is to try and keep your head, neck, and tailbone lined up. Avoid arching your lower back, which naturally puts undo strain on your upper back and shoulders. Just like your personal trainer is always yelling – work that core! Take a deep breath, and do your best to tighten up your midsection with every scoop; this motion will keep your spine more stable and protect your vertebrae from getting in a twist.

Show a Little Patience: It’s easy to jump hastily into the shoveling process. Most people start right out of bed in order to make that morning meeting or get the kids to school on time. But attacking heavy snowfalls head first without prep or process can lead directly to injury. Do your best to shovel at least an hour after eating, and hold off on your morning coffee/caffeine until after you’ve finished. Instead, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Make sure to stretch, and warm up a bit by walking in place. Wear multiple layers of clothing, including a warm hat, gloves, scarf, and boots (preferably with non-slip soles).

You’ve got this! With the right tools and approach, ridding your property of the season’s snowfall won’t put pressure on your spine, or your pocketbook. Before you know it, you’ll be back in the warmth and safety of your home, able to admire the winter season properly…through the window!

 


d’aprile locales – Chicago’s Most Haunted Hotel!

Photo Credit: Odyssey
Welcome to ‘Locales’, a series that highlights vendors, businesses, and organizations who stand out in their respective communities through their passion and purpose.
HALLOWEEN EDITION!
May we introduce you to: The Congress Hotel
THEIR STORY: The hotel first opened its doors way back in 1893, with guests arriving by horse drawn carriage via the cobblestone streets leading up to the front entrance. Over the last 125 years, the Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center has evolved gracefully, consistently offering every modern amenity a guest could ask for, while never losing its sense of history and grandeur. Its reputation as the “Landmark of Chicago Hospitality” comes well earned, as The Congress has played host to countless celebrities, U.S. Presidents, and dignitaries from across the globe.
Photo Credit: Erik Allix Rogers
THEIR VIBE: Impeccable customer service from a world-class staff will define your stay at The Congress! The 871 guest rooms and suites feature all sorts of fashionable accommodations – not to mention some of the most breathtaking views the city has to offer. These 14 stories of excellence are located right in the heart of the city, just minutes from Chicago staples such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.
But The Congress has earned another reputation altogether; the title of Most Haunted Hotel in the city of Chicago!
WHAT’S HOT: With Halloween almost upon us, we’d be remiss not to mention some of The Congress’ more colorful history! As it turns out, some of the hotel’s earliest and most famous (infamous?) guests included Dr. H.H. Holmes (America’s first official serial killer), Al Capone (whose ghost is said to still haunt the north tower), and an unnamed former employee who is only known as ‘The Hand of Mystery’. Why, you ask? Oh it’s not big deal. He was simply trapped behind a wall when it was plastered and ended up suffocating. And apparently, his hand can be seen sticking out of the wall!
Photo Credit: Dan DeBaun, WJON AM 1240
Despite this harrowing history, we wholeheartedly recommend The Congress for wedding ceremonies, company events, or simply for an amazing hotel stay.
Just don’t book room number 441; it receives more security calls than any other room!

THE CONGRESS PLAZA HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTER

520 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, Illinois

(312) 427-3800

Photo Credit: PBS.com

Happy to Rock the Boat!

On Tuesday, July 24th, d’aprile properties hosted our third annual Lake Geneva Boat Tour!

 

Thanks to our good friends over at Gage Marine, over 100 of our agents from all across Chicagoland boarded the beautiful and historic Lady of the Lake for a tour of all the amazing lakefront properties that this southern Wisconsin haven has to offer!

 

Our Fontana, Wisconsin office team played host, educating all of our visiting agents on the Lake Geneva market. After all, a majority of vacation home buyers in the Midwest market reside in the Chicagoland communities we serve daily. City and suburban agents can partner with our Fontana team to ensure that all of our clients find the home, investment property, or vacation getaway they’ve always dreamed of!

 

A great time was had by all! We can’t wait for next year!

 

 


Staging to Sell: Tips from Interior Stylist Kelly Hurliman

Kelly Hurliman, former fashion stylist to Oprah Winfrey, now a professional interior stylist located in Chicago.  

The spring market is about to hit full speed, and getting listings to look their best is on the minds of realtors and sellers alike.  Between Pinterest and Instagram, beautiful interior images are all around, and home staging has become even more important to prepare for sale.  There are different levels of staging and whether you go for it on your own, use a realtor’s help, or hire a professional, it’s well worth the effort!  

WHY STAGE?

1. Your Home Will Sell Faster – The Association of Property Scene Designers states that staged homes sell 43% more quickly than unstaged homes.  The cost is usually minimal in comparison to the increase in sale price and reduced time on the market.  Sure it costs some money up front, but not as much as your first price reduction!

2. Get the Highest Price for Your Home – A well-staged home makes the interior look inviting, comfortable, and clean.  One recent NAR survey revealed that a 1 – 3% investment on home staging yields an 8 – 10% return.  

3. Better Photos – Another recently conducted NAR poll found that 90% of potential home buyers start their property search on the internet. Staging your home increases on-line visibility, and can make it stand out in a saturated market.

Photo by Studio D Home 

4. City Folk – For suburban markets many new buyers are coming from the city.  Their age and demographic can be an insight into what they’re looking for, and it’s usually not decor stuck in the 90’s.  Staging and styling can modernize a home to appeal to this growing consumer base.

 

5. You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression – I say, “Do it right the first time.”  Buying a home is an emotional decision, and how a perspective buyer feels in the home is important.  Over 81% of buyers find it easier to visualize the property as their future home when it’s staged.* 

WAYS TO STAGE 

  • Editing:  

You’ll be moving and packing anyway, so time to declutter!  Any personal items, knick-knacks, family photos, or accessories should go.  You’ll be amazed at how much better a space looks just by organizing and editing. 

Photo by Staging to Sell 
  • Re-styling
A stager, stylist, or realtor can rework a space with the existing furniture, add accessories, suggest repainting, light remodeling, and bring in new decor to help freshen the home.  This is what I like to do best, and a little styling can go a long way.  The results below were accomplished with a fresh coat of paint, new art that I custom painted to replace family photos, and a few accessories. 
 
BEFORE
 
AFTER
 
                             
 
  • Full Staging:
There are many companies now that offer full staging services that can furnish and accessorize full rooms. This is a great option for listings where the owners have already moved out, or where the furniture and decor are very outdated. 
  
Photo by Elite Home Staging
  • New Construction:

Even a beautiful new home can be difficult for a buyer to visualize how they might furnish or utilize the space. Bringing in key pieces of furniture and a bit of styling can help neutralize buyer concerns and bring the design of the house to life. 

Remember, don’t take the suggestions of a  realtor or stager personally.  Everyone has their own style, but hiring a professional or realtor’s expertise helps achieve the end goal -which is to sell your home! 

Kelly Hurliman is an interior stylist who also does home staging.  She was recently listed by Chicago’s Splash Magazine as ‘Who to Watch’.
Follow her on Instagram @khurliman1


Styling the Exterior of Your Home: Small Changes, Big Impact!

Kelly Hurliman, former fashion stylist to Oprah Winfrey, now a professional interior stylist located in Chicago.  

It’s easy to come home everyday and not see the outside of your home for what it could be. You don’t need to invest big to change the look of a house, and these are some of my favorite tips to help a facade look it’s best.

1. REMOVE THE OUTER SCREEN DOOR

They may serve a small purpose, but making the front door pretty is not one of them! Your house will simply look better without it. It’s usually an easy removal, a bit of sanding and hopefully you have a nice, solid door behind it. If not, onto #2!

320sycamoreblog.com

2. REPLACE OR PAINT THE FRONT DOOR

Your front door is one of the bigger aesthetic pieces of the house, and luckily often the easiest to change. If it has a 90’s scroll window, change the window glass to something more classic for an instant update. Boring house? Paint the door a bright color to give it character. I love seeing a bold colored door on an otherwise plain house. Another design trick is to plant the same color flowers in front or in planters to give it an extra dose of style.

3. ADD SHUTTERS/WINDOW BOX

I love real wood shutters but the cost and care vs. vinyl is hard to beat. They come now in so many styles and sizes that it’s quite painless. You can also hire a handyman to do a custom flower box for less than you may think. I’m awful with plants but I do my own twice a year and it’s a worthy investment to have fresh flowers and plants (boxwoods for me) as part of the design of your home.

4. SYMMETRY

Almost all of the homes I gravitate to have some sort of symmetry. My house had none so I added two garden urns with said boxwoods to flank my porch. Gardening tip: Boxwoods can last all year in planters and look great in winter too!

Elementsofstyleblog.com

5. CHANGE YOUR HOUSE NUMBERS

When you move in, notice the numbers and if you don’t like them, make it a priority to change them. More modern house numbers can visually make the house seem more up to date. There are lots of on-line resources too, so don’t just think Home Depot. www.houseproudsigns.com is a personal favorite.

6. SWAP OUT THE DOOR HARDWARE OR RE-PLATE

If you have a generic or dated door handle, switch it out for something more modern or substantial. You can also re-plate most metals if you have something vintage and want to change it (think 80’s brass to more modern chrome). Al Bar Platers in Wilmette are experts at this (www.albarwilmette.com)

7. PAINT THE EXTERIOR

Yes this is big ticket, but the payoff of pulling into your house everyday and loving what you see is worth it. Plus it’s often an advantage in resale. I can personally say that I’ve done ALL these things to my house, and it’s finally my version of the best it can be. Originally creamy yellow with brown trim, we painted the house white, the trim charcoal, removed the screen door, re-plated the door hardware to polished nickel, added a modern door knocker and kick plate, new house numbers, shutters and a custom flower box.

(Sorry, I never got a ‘before’ shot so couldn’t use my own but here’s an example!)

Cushing Custom Homes, Inc.

So whether you’re house hunting or have simply been thinking about a change for years, know that you can re-style your exterior to completely change the look of your house!