Apr 24 2014

The living room of my dreams… was given to me in just ONE day!!

This all started very innocently with my husband seeing great value in a silent auction item at a Brookside Mothers’ Association fundraiser. As we viewed the items, he caught my arm and said, “We should really try for this one. Coffee and bagels, cheese and wine fore five friends, that makes it worth it right there!” Fortunately, I had not had too many adult beverages at this point and knew to just play along. I really wanted to win it because I could use the help of a professional designer in our home but whatever he needed to believe was fine with me. So sure enough, my wise husband stayed close to the auction table and won it for me. What a sweet guy! ;)

The package was for a Room Redesign by AJ Miller of Ready, Set, Gorgeous and included:

  • Consultation with AJ Miller to select the room
  • Coffee and Bagels for 5 friends of the room BEFORE
  • AJ Miller’s time to redesign the room
  • Wine and Cheese at an AFTER reveal party

We met with AJ and selected our living room for the redesign. As many friends know we completely remodeled our house last year. I am willing to say that I think I am good at designing the hard spaces of a home. Things like where to remove a wall or how to layout a bathroom, etc. But I freak out when it comes time to pick out the soft elements like a lamp or picture or a rug. I often just buy something neutral or NOTHING at all. We have lived here a year and in my entire house, I had hung up 9 pictures total. Three of which are over the toilet in the master bath and are a black square that matches the black squares in the tile work on the floor.

Sorry, I digress… to sum it up, I have:

  • Confidence issues in my abilities to pick out nice things that go together
  • Commitment issues due to my husband’s need to keep everything we ever buy for the rest of our lives
  • Clutter phobia which likely stems from spending my workdays in the mindset of staging your home to sell fast!! The less is more concept to show off square footage, keep your home neutral to appeal to the largest number of buyers, etc.

As I tell my real estate clients, LIVING in your home is very different from SELLING your home. Well, it was time to embrace LIVING in this home!! Here are the before photos of our living room.

2013-11-12 21.08.09

2013-11-12 21.08.25

2013-11-12 21.08.46

As you might guess, we have a baby. He is 10 months old and spends a good amount of his day in this room learning and playing with his nanny. It may be less obvious but we also spend many dinners in this room trying to keep caught up on the Kardashians and the most recent Shark Tank episode. Those dinners have been painful, since I typically spend them sitting on the floor next to the coffee table trying to balance eating with keeping the baby from cracking his head open on something.

A final thing we struggled with in this room was feeling like we had room for more than ourselves and two guest to sit and feel comfortable. It always felt a bit awkward.

Now the AFTER photos…



It has been over two weeks and the room still looks like this. Seriously, there are not kids toys everywhere again. She found a new home for them as well! We have not changed a thing! I cannot tell you how much I love this room now. For the first few days, the only thing we wanted to do was go be in this room. It is incredibly relaxing and fits our family life so well. I now have a place to sit and eat dinner or work while Maxwell plays on the floor. I also love that the table is right by the fireplace. We often light up a fire for dinner which is always a nice touch and will be great for the next romantic dinner. :)

So some people may be like, wait you went and bought all new stuff!! This is not true. We had the majority of these items in our house. She basically took the couch, table and brown chairs that I had crammed into our sunroom and moved them to the living room. She was amazing at finding things in other rooms and closets to use. She also insisted on going to the basement and garage to look at other things we may have that could be used. Here is a list of the only NEW items, that I picked out and purchased:

  • Two lamps (on end tables)
  • Black table lamp
  • 2 silk ruffle pillows
  • 2 small rectangular pillows
  • clock

AJ was very generous and helped with a few more spaces. Here is our sunroom now. It is home to the baby toys and the couch that use to be in the living room.


This room has also been used so much more than before. We often come out here to play with Maxwell. The doorway is wide enough that you can still watch the massive TV and feel as though you are in the same room.

Another one of my favorite changes was that she re-purposed our china cabinet that I was struggling to find a use for in this house. She removed one of the shelves and it now sits in the entryway, housing more pictures and some keepsakes. :)


One thing I appreciated about AJ was that she did a great job of communicating that we would not hurt her feelings if we did not like something AND she asked great questions. One of those great questions was if there was anything that was really important to us that we wanted to make sure there was a place for at the end of the day. This picture has a big back story for me and Tim. She found a great place for it that allows us to walk by daily and remember how this whole love affair started… ;)


AJ was great to work with and used so many things in ways I would never had thought of. We were able to chat throughout the day and I learned that she is great about being thrifty in designing spaces so you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to make something look great.

Here are a few other things she taught me:

  • Pillows with down inserts are better for getting them to fluff and look pretty. But you can always just purchase a down insert pillow for $10 to replace what comes with the pillow. We used old down bed pillows that I had upstairs in storage.
  • Curtains are great for hiding diaper pails.
  • When you are trying to figure out where to place a TV in a room you should group it with other main features (example: fireplace) this way you do not have to split the room up to make them both a focal point.
  • At Home Goods you should always purchase now and return rather than return to purchase something. :)

I wanted to thank AJ from the bottom of my heart. I am so very grateful for my new living room. I cannot wait to have her back to help with other rooms in our house. She has an amazing gift!!!

If you are struggling to think of a gift for a loved one… hiring AJ for a few hours may be the biggest and best gift you could give that person. AJ is happy to walk through rooms with clients and make suggestions of things homeowners can do to improve the design of their home. EASY THINGS like move a couch… :)

Here is AJ’s contact info. Happy holidays!

AJ Miller

What to do with Your Pets when Trying to Sell Your Home

When it comes time to get the house ready to sell, homeowners’ pets are often overlooked. Check out this KC Live segment in which I share tips on why you should take your pets into consideration.


Steps to take before Starting a Renovation Project

So you have decided to take the jump and start a renovation project on your home! Elizabeth has a checklist you should go through before starting the big project.

eSADY’s 5 Favorite Little Upgrades

I see all sorts of  home “upgrades” in my line of work. Some are unbelievably cool and others are more like unique updates. In preparing for my last segment, I thought it might be fun to share my Top 5 Favorite upgrades. These were selected based on convenience, likelihood to use on a daily basis and cost. They all seem to be good bang for your buck. If you are handy or can convince a handy person to come help you, all of these can be DIY projects.

Please note: Each of these upgrades would warrant an eSADY feature card pointing them out as upgrades when it comes time to sell your home. Who doesn’t want more of those great little cards hung up around their house? :)


1. Programmable Thermostat

  • Benefits

    • Allows you to setup schedules for your thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature for your home.
    • Many allow you to set multiple temperature changes during the day as well, for example when you wake, go to work, return home, and go to sleep
    • Energy Saver
    • Time Saver, one less thing to remember to do
    • Some have remote access to adjust the thermostat from website or phone app
      • Adjust from work
      • On the go
      • A different state while on vacation!!!
  • Cost Range
    • FREE – in Missouri, KCP&L offers Remote Access Programmable Thermostat/ Energy Optimizer Program
      • Lets you remotely set or program your thermostat on KCPL’s website
      • KCPL can raise your temperature a few degrees or cycle your A/C during peak demand
    • Just Programmable starts at approximately $40
    • Remote Access Programmable starts at approximately $150
  • Features:
    • Wi-Fi enabled thermostat allows for remote access via smartphone or computer
    • Free smartphone app for iPhone, iPad and Android operating systems
    • Precise temperature control – thermostat holds +/-1 degree F accuracy to maximize comfort
    • 7 day programming with 4 program periods per day can be configured to meet almost any scheduling scenario for ultimate flexibility

2. Keyless Doorknob

  • Benefits:
    • Kids, relatives, YOU don’t have to have remember keys
    • Great if you have a detached garage or park outside
      • One less thing to balance while carrying in groceries
    • Remote access and tracking
      • Different people can have different codes
      • Track who is accessing your home and when?
      • Lock/Unlock on the go
  • Cost Range:
    • Approximately $100+
  • Features:
    • Available as a deadbolt or regular locked doorknob
    • Can use key OR pushbutton code
    • Optional SmartKey (lets you re-key without calling a locksmith)
    • Optional HomeConnect (lets you remotely access it, check if you forgot to lock doors, etc)

3. Dimmer Switch (3-way)

  • Benefits:
    • Ability to set the mood of a room
    • Great for dimming lights at night or for an event
    • Simple project that is not terribly messy
    • Not terribly expensive
    • Lots of options
  • Cost Range:
    • Approximately $6 – $30 depending on the style
      • Can get much higher if you add features, like LED indicators, fade on-off, remote access, etc.
  • Features:
    • Features large paddle switch with discreet slide dimmer
    • Use slider on the right to dim your lights to your preferred setting
    • A soft locator light glows in the off position, making the dimmer easy to find in a dark room

4. Curved Shower Curtain Rod

  • Discovered this one in my years of traveling 4 days a week. Lots of nice hotels have these and I was spoiled by them. I can now not imagine using anything else.
  • Benefits:
    • Elbow room in the shower
  • Cost Range:
    • Approximately $40+

5. Shower Faucet with Separate Temperature and Volume Control

  • Benefits:
    • No need to set the temperature each time you get in shower
    • Time saver
    • Separate volume and temperature controls for maximum comfort
    • Handle adjusts volume while dial on handle controls temperature
  • Cost Range:
    • Approximately $150 +

How to Buy a Home When You Need to Sell First

Are you looking to buy a new home but need to sell your current home first? Elizabeth Sady has the best options for buying a new home while selling your current. Watch the video for all of her advice including what to do if the contract on your current home falls through.

Container Gardening is an Easy Way to Add Value

Kansas City Real Estate Expert, Elizabeth Sady, shares her tips on creating a green space and maintaining the value of your home. Watch the video for all of her advice and the benefits of container gardening.

Reader and Viewer Q&A

Kansas City Real Estate Expert, Elizabeth Sady, answers our viewers’ questions. Watch the video for all of her advice, including what she has to say to first time landlords and if you should paint the kids room when trying to sell.

Mortgage Interest Rates are Going Up

The housing market is rebounding, and that means mortgage interest rates are going up. Every percent that interest rates increase has a direct effect on how much home buyers can buy for the same amount of money. Watch the video to learn more from the KC Live home and real estate expert, Elizabeth Sady.

HOW TO: Hanging and hanging on to your curtains

Curtains are one way to really dress up a window and room in your home. Here is a tip on how to hang them. I’ve also included a few tips on what to do when you sell your house to help make sure you can hang on to them. ;)

BLOG 5 - Hanging your Curtains and then Hanging on to Your Curtains...

I feel as though my brain is full of millions of little tips for making your home look its absolute best. It would be a shame not to share a few. I thought of this little window magic tip because I recently shared it with Brooke and Brian who are preparing to sell their house in Lenexa.

When you hang curtains in your home, you should attach your curtain rod to the wall so that a curtain can be pushed all the way to the side in a way that the window is not covered at all.This will make the window appear larger. Poof!!! Bigger windows in your house. It’s magic!

When you go to sell your home Kansas and Missouri real estate contracts state that all window treatments and hardware (curtain rods) are to stay with the home. This would mean your blinds, curtains, sheers, etc. If you love your curtains because they match your bedding perfectly or you splurged on a really nice curtain rod there are ways to make sure you take them with you.

A) Replace them with something less expensive. Removing them is likely your best bet to make sure you can take them with you. Sometimes, when you tell a buyer they cannot have something it makes them want it that much more. You can often find inexpensive curtains that will help dress the room up in place of ones you hold dear.


B) Exclude them on the Seller’s Disclosure and Sales Contract. There are sections on each of these documents that allow you to exclude items from the sale of the home. When it is time to list, I would be happy to show you how to define things as not staying with the home.

I would encourage homeowners to consider leaving their blinds and window treatments as much as possible. It is a huge selling feature to your home. Plus the chances of having the exact same number of windows in the living room at your new home is highly unlikely. Often, if buyers like your taste (or have used all their cash for a down payment), they will find great value in not having to purchase any window treatments.

Basement Laundry Room Makeover

You can make a big impact on your basement laundry room without breaking the bank.

I told the producer at KC Live about how much I loved painted basements. Well, to be completely honest,  I should say “well lit” painted basements are what really make me SOOOO happy! I think she got a kick out of my excitement. We decided to do a quick makeover to demonstrate how much of a difference a few easy projects can make.

Quick summary of the improvements:

  1. Replaced the 1 pull chain light with 3 can lights and a light switch
  2. Replaced extension cords with wired outlets and added additional outlets
  3. Painted ceilings, doors, trim, walls and floor
  4. Painted electrical box, electrical conduit, plumbing pipes, etc. to match wall
  5. Hung curtains (2@$13.97) to hide the water heater and furnace
  6. Added a inexpensive rug ($19.96) in front of the washer and dryer

Additional photos are below for the space. It is hard to pick a favorite part of the project. The added lighting made the biggest impact!

Buyers get all worked up when a beautiful home (main floor living spaces) ALSO HAS a bright, clean and cheerful basement. It is a pretty inexpensive way to make additional ENJOYABLE living space. This is a project I encourage you to do now, rather than in the weeks before you sell. Even just a few improvements can make a huge difference in a space you use often!

More before and after pictures.

Very special thanks to Zach and Kimberly Barnes for allowing me to come makeover their laundry room!!