Monday, July 21, 2014

My Top 5 Used Furniture Stores (East End Pittsburgh)

I still get a lot of calls for my furniture business, which is both awesome and sad for me at the same time. Sad because, well, that's a season of my life that I've seriously cut back on (especially now that I'm prego). There really isn't a huge selection of used furniture stores in Pittsburgh to choose from so I'm going to share my top 5 go to's in the east end of Pittsburgh (sorry it's not a broader region, I live here, so I shop here):

5. Miller's Antique Mall: located in Verona, this place has 4 floors of different vendors. It has its ebbs and flows (like everywhere), but since it's so big, I usually walk away with finding something.

4. Thriftique: Located in Swissvale in conjunction with the National Jewish Women's Council's store Home Consignments. I find the consignment store to be a little too pricey for my taste, but the thrift store works off donations and tends to be a lot more affordable. My biggest score there was a mid century desk made by Hooker furniture.

3. Goodwill Monroeville: They have a pretty big furniture section (believe it or not). Sometimes it gets a little junky, and they don't seem to move out the old to allow for the new, but when something's hot, it's usually cheap and sells fast. I found a mid century modern daybed there not too long ago and it was MINT.

2. Saint Vincent de Paul's: I really like this thrift store, especially the one in Monroeville.

1. Second Fiddle: While this is quite a far drive out to Delmont, it always proves to be my favorite destination shop. This place has fantastic finds at amazing prices. The owner is great, and all the employees are extremely helpful (most of them contribute to the furniture finds themselves).

So there you have my favorites. I'd be curious to know yours, especially ones that are sort of hidden gems.
Also, while not a physical store, has become another favorite way of both obtaining furniture and unloading furniture. They run local auctions almost weekly now, and often times you can catch a huge steal. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Oakland

Today we're going mountain lodge style in the middle of the city. Sounds fun, huh? This is such an interesting looking property I dug up when looking at comps for someone selling their home in Oakland. I think it could be spectacular with a little leg work.
3816 Wolf Way, Pittsburgh Pa 15213 4 bed/3 bath for $199k
Doesn't it look straight out of the wild west? So atypical for Pittsburgh. I love the wrap around porch on the second story. Can you imagine filling those window boxes with some gorgeous flowers and just kicking back out there?
 This is a really dark kitchen, but I'm sure you could do a lot to keep in the style of the house, yet brighten it a bit with some new countertops and appliances. Maybe some beautiful, Tuscon-patterned granite? Some modern art piece on the brick wall. I love mixes of rustic and modern.

That fireplace is awesome. I want to see a huge driftwood chandelier cascading down over it. 

 I kind of like the paneling on the ceilings, but I think I'd go with a fresh white coat of paint on the walls...brighten it up a bit, but still give it that cottage charm.
How about some inspiration photos of what it could look like, so you don't think I'm crazy?!

I realize it'd take a lot of work to get it to this point, but I think it's totally doable without breaking the bank...just lots of painting skills. :)

* I am not the listing agent for any of the homes I share on Real Estate Mondays, unless otherwise stated. I do not receive any compensation for these posts. If you'd like more information on any of the homes, please contact me via email or cell and I can always schedule a showing for you :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Plum Boro

I found the cutest stand-alone condos on the outskirts of Oakmont. I'm so drawn to smaller homes for some reason- I swear I'm like a 70 yr. old retiree trapped in a 30 yr. old's body. I just want the minimum to take care of, and to have my home be streamlined down to the essentials seems so appealing. Anyways, enough about me and my quirky desires. Here are two condos (or patio homes?) located on Ridgemead Fields Drive.
The first is the smaller of the two with 2 bed/1.5 baths. It's listed for $159,900. The outside is charming and extremely well-kept. The inside, while clean and appearing to be fairly spacious, is a little dated. I'd be whipping out some chalk paint for those kitchen cabinets in a heart beat. 

3 Ridgemead Fields DrUNIT 3, Verona, PA 15147

Isn't is so cute? The stucco reminds me of Florida.  

 What a lovely backyard and patio to spend your free time.

 I wish I could see more of that ginormous window in the entry way. I'm sure it provides an amazing amount of light. 

The kitchen, oh the kitchen, how 1980's of you. That's okay...nothing a little sweat equity can't fix. 

A nice open living room/dining room combo. I'm a little weary of all that carpet, but I think even layering some area rugs would not only define the separate spaces, but also break up and preserve that sea of beige.

The master has a nice big bathroom and walk-in closet. 

The second condo is a little bigger, with 3 bed/3.5 baths. It also has a heavier price tag at $250k.
 Again, such excellent curb appeal. 
I love how this one has a Spanish-Mediterranean flare to it. 

The fireplace is so warm and cozy. 

The kitchen, while not completely updated, still has a fresh look to it, and goes well with the rest of the house. 
There are two bedrooms on the main floor, and one on the lower level. Feel free to click on the address links for more pictures. 

What do you think? Could you live like this? There is a condo fee that covers the outside maintenance, water, sewage, snow removal (!) and an option to belong to the wellness center at Longwood. 

* I am not the listing agent for any of the homes I share on Real Estate Mondays, unless otherwise stated. I do not receive any compensation for these posts. If you'd like more information on any of the homes, please contact me via email or cell and I can email you the MLS report or schedule a showing for you. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pictures That Sell Your House

Back when our house was on the market, I was mortified when I saw the pictures our Realtor used when listing our house. It wasn't her fault. I wasn't around to navigate her and move my junk out of the way, and she was just doing her job. There is a way to take pictures like the pros and subsequently get more people in the door.
1. De-clutter. This seems obvious, but even if it's just for the one day when the pictures are being taken, move all the appliances off the kitchen counter, bathroom sink/tub, and all the toys out of the living room. Pictures tend to make things look more cluttered than they are in real life. So even if it's just for one day, make it count.
Before & After Bookshelf de-clutter

2. Make sure the lighting is good. Sometimes there can be too much light coming through a window, and sometimes not enough at all and it makes the photo look dingy, thus making your house look dingy.
Old photo of my dining room- cluttered and too much light discoloring part of the picture. 

3. A picture doesn't have to have EVERYTHING in it. Take a shot from the best angle and go with it. Magazines never show you a room in it's entirety. They can't or else you'd see the mad house they call a photo shoot. It's all an illusion, and that's what you want to create. The idea of a beautiful, elegant space.
The living room redecorating process: couch, chandelier, wall color
This is one side of the room, and here's the other where the TV and all the toys are stashed. Which side would you rather see? 

Remember, people look at hundreds of homes online now before ever setting foot in it in person. Don't eliminate yourself from the race by showing bad pictures. And don't feel bad asking your Realtor to remove pictures, or redo pictures you don't feel like represent the overall feel of your home.
Feel free to contact me for any other questions or if you're looking to list your home at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Less is More

It might be the pregnancy, but I've had this huge need to de-clutter lately. Maybe this is my version of nesting- except instead of focusing on the baby's room, I've been doing things around the house. One thing that's been bugging me was my cluttered bookshelf. Observe the bookshelf in my dining room:

 I'm telling you, if you're looking for a way to spruce up your house (or stage your house to sell) and change things a bit without spending very much, then de-cluttering's the way to go. It's like instant gratification. So here's what I did:
All the books got taken out. I put some of them below in the cabinet doors and some upstairs. Others are going to be donated.
Next I decided on what to keep. The milk glass is special to me. Most pieces were given to me and I like the little collection I've formed. Emphasis on "little"- I've never been big on going overboard with things. I went into my driftwood collection and found two pieces that I thought might look nice displayed. My mom brought me some starfish from Florida on her visit this time, and the driftwood made a perfect backdrop for it. I left the few frames I had because they were in the beachy-white theme, and added some greenery, a candle, a teapot and a coke bottle filled with sand that I brought back from the Sahara desert.

 Next I attacked the buffet and dining table. Trimming down what I had displayed, and adding some fresh flowers, placemats, and more driftwood to the equation.

 Not much change, but overall it just has a fresher, less crowded feel in here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Creating Floor Plans Online

I wanted to share something I find very entertaining and super fun- you can design your own floor plans with I've been dreaming up ways to reconfigure our downstairs bathroom and bedroom combination. The previous owners added this tiny, little bathroom to our downstairs bedroom, which is cool, but it literally left the room with no wall big enough for a bed. We've used this room for many things in the four years we've lived here- guest room, office, and currently a play room. It's also tiled, which is super cold, but I'm not willing to do anything major (like rip up tile) till I figure out what I want to do with the space. When we put our house on the market last year, one couple was super interested, but their hang up was that they couldn't use this room as their master, which clearly was a make or break. Homestyler really helped me visualize a configuration that I like. My measurements aren't exact, but you can use exact measurements and size everything to's awesome, like graph paper online. You can even add furniture and fixtures like I did. Warning: I've literally spent hours doing this. It is addicting.  
Here's our room right now: 
I couldn't figure out how to add a door on an angle like our current bathroom door is, so the bathroom's not really wide open like this. Also the white, rectangular things are radiators. Between radiators and doors swinging into the room, we literally can't place things any differently. So awkward. 

To the left of the room are the stairs and a narrow hallway to get to a back door and the basement door. 
So here are three options I've come up with.
Option #1: Eliminate hallway and use it to make a bigger bathroom. 
Pros: Bedroom is much bigger and now has a functional wall for a bed.
Cons: Bathroom will have a back, exterior door (think pool bath), and will no longer be accessible through the bedroom. Also, you'll have to walk through bathroom to get to basement.

Here's a 3D view of the room 

Option #2: Smaller shower, add a stack-able washer/dryer combo
Pros: same as option 1, plus moving the laundry up from basement.
Cons: same, and a smaller shower. 

Option #3: Making the bathroom accessible through the bedroom, and closing off the bathroom to the back door. I added sliding doors to the bathroom to prevent the loss of space from opening doors. The washer and dryer now sit outside the bathroom in a separate hallway by the back door. I also added a closet in the bedroom. 
Pros: the bathroom is accessible from the bedroom and you don't walk right into it from the back door. The bedroom is still large enough to accommodate a bed and a closet.
Cons: the bathroom is small still and you have to walk through the bedroom, then through the bathroom to get to the basement, or washer/dryer.

Back side view looking into laundry room/hallway.

Sorry if this was confusing (or boring). This reno may not even happen. I'm clearly on a kick with this whole floor plan thing, but isn't it fun? Which one's your favorite? 


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