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Live Local Realty
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Glendale Jazzfest 2015
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Great fall gardening tips from Kirkwood's own Sugar Creek Gardens.  I walk by here almost every day and wish I had more time to create and tend to such a lovely garden in my own home.

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Stopped in for an oatmeal cookie today at Great Harvest Bread Company and it made me smile:)  I love so many of the local businesses in Kirkwood.

I've decided that I need to run for Congress or Senate.  You get paid a good salary, make a few extra million from bribes and kickbacks and nobody puts you in jail, you get a retirement and health package that is better than 99.9% of the country, and you don't even have to work or actually do your job to get paid! Why didn't anyone push me to follow the "public servant" (I say while choking) career path when I was in college?

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I finally compiled the statistics showing how low the current inventory is in Kirkwood, MO this summer.  We are down 21% from last year at this time and I now have the data to prove it!  I have several buyers who have been looking for more than three months and have yet to find a property to fit their needs.  Particularly in the $275-$400K price range.  The market prices are finally edging up and that may be spurred even more by the lowest inventory counts in years!  Take a look at the brown chart in front and compare to to previous years.  The proof is in the pudding!
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How a little staging, a great canvas, a lot of sweat, and dream clients can transform a house in just a few shorts weeks even on a tight budget...    (See the photos below)

Meet Sarah and Justin.  I sold them their very first house in Kirkwood just five years ago.  Since that time their family has expanded to include an absolutely darling three year old son with a second baby on the way!  Unfortunately that means they have now outgrown their two bedroom home and will be looking for a new place to settle before their daughter arrives.

Sarah has amazing energy and Justin has renovation skills that would put most husbands to shame.  So when they called and asked me what they needed to do to prepare their home for market and a quick sale I asked if they were ready to step up their game and do whatever I recommended (within budget of course) and they were all in!  (To view more photos visit this listing live at: http://468Longfellow.WebsterKirkwood.com )

So together, over the past three weeks we have transformed their home into a modern, breezy and light filled cottage style home with perfectly placed retro embellishments.  I'd love to take more credit but they did the "heavy" lifting.  I on the other hand got to fill my favorite role as design director and stager.  

Their home is very quaint but there were a couple of key areas that could have prevented them from getting top dollar including an outdated bath and a somewhat nondescript kitchen.  So the challenge was how to get the most bang for their buck without breaking the bank.

The bath was the biggest project and Justin agreed to take on the job of tearing out a very old and out-dated shower surround and installing sparkling white tile.  Half-way through the process I received a series of progress text/photos from Sarah that included a surprise...namely a photo of a window hidden under layers of tile and plastic.  It was glass block and in perfect condition sans a bit of clean-up.  Justin restored it and now natural light floods the bathroom.  A coat of vibrant chartreuse paint, white wainscoting and new bath fixtures were the final touches to what is now an absolutely darling modern bath.

Next was the kitchen.  They had original metal cabinets and a fantastic porcelain double drain-board sink that did not really stand out among all the white in the room.  Beneath layers of paint there were also original 50's counter tops complete with metal edging.  Unfortunately it was impossible to restore the counters to their former beauty so we decided to complement the white cabinets and sink with black counters that had tiny specks of colors throughout.  (We were hoping for the old "boomerang" pattern from the 50's but alas it was not available in the time-frame needed.)  

A fresh coat of sunny yellow paint and strategically placed red accessories were the final touches that returned their kitchen to it's 50's roots.  We also added a butcher block table and shelf to provide more counter space and to allow for an eat-in area within the kitchen.  The result was a cheery, delightful kitchen that buyers will love.

Next we turned to the living/dining areas.  The existing furniture layout did not make the best use of the space as the dining table filled the majority of the large open room.  We switched the eating and lounging areas, replaced the wood table and chairs with an industrial style dining set and and they repainted the entire room in soft blue/green hues.  Justin also painted all the interior woodwork in a fresh white linen which was perfect against the addition of tiny pops of fuchsia, red and blue accessories.  Now it's an airy open space with designated living areas and a true cottage feel.

In the bedrooms they simply decluttered, and rearranged the furniture for a better flow and layout including moving the master bed to another wall.  This opened up the room and showcased it's size.  Paint and woodwork touch ups added some fresh pops of white.

Outside there were a few minor challenges.  Namely the fact that St. Louis has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave and half the lawns and landscaping in the area are either brown or dead.  They trimmed all the trees and plantings, watered daily and did a thorough clean up of the exterior and now the house looks revived despite the 100 degree temperatures.  

The backyard is surrounded by a darling picket fence, a large curving patio and beautiful perennials and gardens.  Again it was a matter of cleaning up the patio, removing unnecessary items and trimming up the vegetation.  Now you really notice it's potential for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors.  And the wonderful screened porch has a commanding view of the entire space.

Overall the transformation is pretty amazing and I have to say that Justin and Sarah are incredible.  There were some minor trade-offs along the way so we could stay within budget but they were always open to examining options and adjusting accordingly.  They also really worked their tails off!

The home went on the market tonight at 11 pm and I am anticipating  welcoming feedback from potential buyers.  I anticipate that the home will sell very quickly and for top dollar as they did exactly what a seller should when preparing for market.  Congratulations Justin and Sarah, I wish every seller was as excited and open to changes.  I know you questioned a few of my recommendations throughout the process but I'm hoping the end result was as amazing for you to see as it was for me.
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Staging Transformation in Kirkwood
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I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ron Sigler at his book signing for "Tyrone Dust" at the Kirkwood Farmer's market today.  He was true old fashioned gentleman whose personality made you want to pull up and listen to his stories.  Had there not been so many items on my agenda this morning I would have lingered longer surrounded by the food/people enjoying the fresh local produce and the pleasant sounds of the Maple Jam Band playing in the background.  I can't wait to read the book after reading the other reviews.  http://www.amazon.com/Tyrone-Dust-Saga-Plains-Rolla/dp/1462705715
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Featured Kitchen of the Week - Love this one for so many reasons and for the fact that rarely would someone think that "avocado" would work in their kitchen but it's fabulous.  Their use of unique storage solutions utilizes every square inch.  But what really stands out is the custom millwork.  The trim makes this kitchen from the bead board ceilings to the arched trim openings.  Every details is simply perfect.  Lesson...think outside the box and really make a statement as this is a kitchen buyers would adore!
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Articles like this truly irritate me.  National organizations touting they know what's going on in my market.  The numbers here in metro St. Louis get totally skewed as most of America doesn't even realize that the majority of St. Louisans live in St. Louis County, not St. Louis City, and they are two entirely different entities, economic areas and governments.  So when you hear all the national stats on crime and housing values they are typically based on city figures.  But even those figures are unfair to city residents as many parts of the city are great, whereas other parts have been so neglected they are practically abandoned.  So when you "average" the stats you are likely looking at two extremes of the same coin and it just doesn't do justice to the many vibrant neighborhoods in the city that are rockin!  You also fail to recognize that the county is basically a city of it's own.  This article states you can pick up a 3-4 bedroom home for $5000.  Well not where anyone would actually live!  In the county the average four bedroom home is probably $225,000.  So to all you national "journalists" get your stories straight.  St. Louis is a larger metro area, not just a city.  And I'm tired of you bashing us as you simply got it wrong! 

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Last month Kirkwood had a sad reminder of the potential dangers of living in a community where trains are a part of our daily lives when a 14 year old was struck and killed while listening to music through his earphones.   Sadly on Sunday this story was repeated in nearby Wentzville.  

Much attention has been given to the dangers of distracted driving, but what about distracted walking? According to the online journal of “Injury Prevention,” the injury or death rate of pedestrians distracted by technology- headphones, cell phones, and iPads who are hit by moving vehicles – cars, trucks, buses, and trains has tripled in the United States since 2004.

Preoccupied pedestrians, especially those listening to music at a high volume, often times become so absorbed that they lose awareness of their surroundings much like a distracted driver. When distracted, pedestrian are apt to walk slower, look for traffic before crossing the road, and are more likely to walk in front of an approaching vehicle. 

As more and more kids are being let out of school for the summer, it is important to raise awareness of how dangerous it is to not only drive, but to also walk or ride a bike while distracted. Especially during the summer season, pedestrians use the roads as if they were extensions of the sidewalks and may not devote full attention vehicles.

 (Excerpts taken from the article: http://farmingtonhills.legalexaminer.com/automobile-accidents/distracted-pedestrians-as-dangerous-as-distracted-drivers.aspx?googleid=301536 ).
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