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Home & Real Estate

If Your Home Were a Book, the Front Yard Would Be Its Cover



This home underwent a transformation that resulted in an updated and refreshed looking facade, with the help of EV Remodeling. (Photo courtesy of Eliad Vaknin)

What local experts and real estate agents have to say about curb appeal

We know better, but let’s be honest, covers are judged! As the sunshine draws us out, suddenly our home’s aesthetic takes center stage. Our property’s attractiveness — or lack thereof — commands attention in the spring as we combat the proliferation of both flowers and weeds.

You can almost hear the collective sigh of homeowners everywhere pondering what can be done to improve their curb appeal. However big or small your goals and budget are for the front yard, I hope to enthuse you with some savvy tips and ideas because we all win when our neighborhood is teeming with attractive homes.

Eliad Vaknin

Look at the complete picture

A renovation to the front of the house can be offset if you don’t also address an older, stained roof, for example. Eliad Vaknin, owner of EV Remodeling headquartered in Peachtree Corners, advises homeowners to take everything into consideration when making improvements.

Vaknin has the experience and knowledge to spearhead large-scale residential redesigns. For ambitious façade improvements like adding an awning over the front entrance, changing the exterior envelope of the home, a fresh coat of paint or new windows and doors, Vaknin is well-equipped to orchestrate projects of this magnitude. His company focuses on private home renovations, and they’ve done it all, from the smallest revamps to new construction. The only limits are your imagination and financial plan.

Since multiple trades are involved to complete such a remodel, it’s best if a professional coordinates these endeavors. “Someone needs to see the full picture, oversee the whole project, so the final result is better,” Vaknin said.

Does the outside of your home need some TLC?

The easiest and least expensive way to enhance your home’s curb appeal is to paint the exterior. “You can go from red brick to a white home instantly. Even so, some customers are surprised by the cost of painting,” Vaknin said.

He recommends opting for specialized, more durable — and yes — pricier products obtained at a brick supply company that can last 20 years rather than getting regular exterior paint from a paint store. “It will apply fine; it will work, but it’s not going to last as long,” Vaknin warned.

Using paint gives you many color options. But Vaknin cautions, “There’s no going back, once you paint brick.”

Another option is limewash. Used for centuries, limewash is made of crushed limestone. It gets absorbed into the brick, but you’ll need to reapply it every five to seven years. “It fades the brick color. Imagine a milky wash on top; you still see the brick, but it’s faded. Applying more coats gets it lighter,” Vaknin said.

Rethink those plain envelopes

Make sure any new additions match the overall style of your home. Modern updates will look out of place on a more traditional style home, and vice versa, unless you change everything. Even front porch railings should be selected with this in mind.

To add definition and interest to the front of a home, Vaknin likes combining a few different materials rather than using a single material and color. “Combine stucco or brick with wood or use stone with siding. It’s more interesting,” he said.

The domino effect

Sometimes you peel off stucco and find the wood sheathing underneath has rotted. You’ll need to replace that. Work required behind the walls adds to exterior renovation costs and that number can increase dramatically.

Rotted sheathing usually means new windows are required, as the moulding around them has likely decayed as well. Having experts like EV Remodeling on hand to manage all the unforeseeable developments during exterior renovations is invaluable.

Besides factoring in the cost of an exterior remodel (anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000) and timeframe (a month or so), Vaknin ensures that all necessary information is submitted to the city for approval. It’s an easy enough process in Peachtree Corners if you submit the proper documents.

Make a statement with nature

Sonya Harrison, Landscape Designer and Owner of My Secret Garden designs hardscapes and landscapes to enhance your home’s curb appeal beautifully with blooms, curved beds, plants and trees. (Photo courtesy of Patrizia Winsper.)

Landscape Designer Sonya Harrison of My Secret Garden quite possibly has the greenest thumb in town. Who better to consult for pointers on beautifying our front yards? Harrison can help you take your home’s curb appeal to the next level with her flair for landscape and hardscape design.

Her deep seeded love for plants stems from a childhood of gardening with her grandmother in Rome, Georgia. “I always knew it was spring when her purple bearded irises were in bloom,” Harrison said.

A perfect blend

As with remodeling, landscaping should complement the home’s architecture. “Plant choices should match the look of the house. If you have a more modern house, you’ll want things like straight grasses. For southern style homes you’ll want more traditional plants like hydrangeas, azaleas, camelias and roses.

Sprucing up your front yard landscape with the help of My Secret Garden begins with a consultation. Harrison provides at home consultations to see what the rest of the yard is like so she can create a cohesive design. Typical installations in Peachtree Corners average around $7,000, including shrubs and plants.

Crimson Prince

Breathe new life into your garden

Any removal of trees and older or dead plants happens first. Per Harrison, some people don’t realize that plants have a lifespan. She’s familiar with our city and knows many plots still include flora that have gotten too big for their spots or have exceeded their life expectancy. It’s time to start fresh and get new varieties.

“When these houses were planted, azaleas were very large. Now people want a two-foot-tall azalea that blooms three times a year that you can plant in full sun. I can give you that now. A lot of things weren’t available when these houses were built,” Harrison said.

Hardscaping is next — walkways, porches, retaining walls, bed lines. “Once planting begins, we work from big to small: trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, mulch — and grass is last. That’s how we approach it for the integrity of the project,” Harrison shared.

Perhaps you weren’t aware that the owner of My Secret Garden also designs and builds boulder walls, dry creek beds, pathways, small border walls and stacked stone borders around beds, porches and patios.

Show off your house, don’t cover it up

Keeping older shrubs trimmed underneath windowsills and not covering up your house greatly benefits curb appeal.

If you have a two-story house, you’ll want to accent the corners on either side to soften the edges. Harrison suggests junipers, camelias and Emerald green arborvitae for this purpose.

Although yards are square or rectangular, curvy flower beds make them more appealing. “I don’t like right angles in yards. They should all be soft edges, 40 or 45-degree angles,” Harrison said.

Leave a green legacy

Trees will likely outlive us, allowing us to leave a legacy that’s great for the environment. Harrison’s top choices are dogwoods, redbuds and Japanese maples. “We have a weeping redbud that grows five feet tall. Japanese maples can be upright or dwarf. People like the Crimson Queen. It grows slowly to about five feet by five feet, and eventually it’ll get to 10 by 10 feet.

“The upright Coral Bark is my favorite Japanese maple. It has coral-colored bark with leaves that go from green to bright yellow in fall. The Ginkgo is another favorite. The dainty leaves remind me of butterflies. The foliage gets bright yellow and then overnight it drops all its leaves at once for easy clean up,” Harrison said. “We stock everything, and we can custom order for you.”

Georgia clay is harsh on hungry, thirsty plants; they need to be fertilized and watered. Harrison suggests fertilizing blooming annuals every 7 to 10 days so they’ll bloom all season. Trees and shrubs should be fertilized in spring. Her fertilizers of choice are Fox Farm and Espoma.

Curb appeal killers

■     Plastic or metal edgings – they inevitably move. “Make an edge a couple of inches into the soil like a small trench. It’s all about the details,” Harrison smiled.

■     Mistakenly planting shade plants in the sun or sun plants in the shade.

■     Edging with monkey grass on both sides of a walkway up to the house. “It’s outdated. It’s fine on a bed edge, but on a path across the front, I like grass all the way up to it, then a bed on the other side so it’s not covered up.”

■     “Too many different perennials — one here, one there — make the yard look polka-dotted. Choose three or five varieties instead and plant each one in large swooshes so it doesn’t look discombobulated,” Harrison advised.

Shut the Front Door!

When it comes to curb appeal, realtors have seen it all — the good, the bad and the downright… I don’t want to spell it out, but you know what I mean. I picked the brains of some trusted local realtors for front yard tips that work whether you’re planning to sell your home or enjoy it yourself.

Amy Fuchs — FamilyHomesGa Team, Keller Williams Chattahoochee North

Amy Fuchs

Amy Fuchs of FamilyHomesGa advises we don’t skimp on perking up our homes’ exteriors. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” she said, and that certainly holds true when staging your property.

“Even in a seller’s market, presenting your home in the best light will help you get better offers faster,” Fuchs added. In today’s fast-paced market, buyers often drive by the property before making an appointment to see it. An alluring front yard allows homebuyers to be hopeful about the interior.

Keep it fresh and make it pop!

“We all know the lawn should be freshly cut, but don’t forget to put down fresh pine straw or mulch before photos are taken and going live. It will add a well-maintained look and cover up any unwanted weeds,” Fuchs said. “Add bright colors by the front door, along the walkway or at the mailbox with blooming flowers, providing a happy welcome.”

Fuchs forewarns: if house numbers are obscure and your mailbox is covered in cobwebs and falling over, your home is not going to make a favorable impact. Make sure numbers are clearly visible and keep the mailbox and pole in good repair.

Power-wash the doorway and get rid of any pollen, cobwebs or debris. This is the first closeup look buyers get of your home. Avoid tree limbs and bushes blocking walkways or parking areas; keep them trimmed.

Your front yard should say, “Welcome to my well-maintained home!”

Sandy St. John Hippeli — Palmer House Properties

Realtors Anthony Hippeli and Sandy St. John Hippeli – Palmer House Properties

Sandy St. John Hippeli of the dynamic real estate duo — her husband, Anthony Hippeli is also a realtor — shared some pointers for achieving a loved home look. The couple enhanced their own residence by replacing rounded columns with squared posts and a single door with a double door for both functionality and a more upscale look. To install the larger door, transoms above and on either side of the original were removed to accommodate custom iron doors.

From a single front door to a double front door, the Hippeli home in Peachtree Corners.

Hippeli recommends hiring a color specialist like Clarice Sell who specializes in paint color selection for stylish exterior color combinations sure to make your home look stunning. For the lawn, she likes landscaping company Outdoor Solutions.

Other hints by Hippeli include creating a focal point in your yard like stonewall flower beds, a bench, fountain or tree, focusing on symmetry and perusing Pinterest for inspiration. In addition to the driveway, pressure washing should include sidewalks and stone surfaces. Add flowers and a new doormat for a winning combination.

Preferences and pet peeves

Hippeli prefers mulch over white rocks. “Rocks allow weeds to grow causing more maintenance in the long run. They also get hot and lead to stressed, thirsty plants,” she said.

She also likes big boulders and rocks over railroad ties for retaining walls, and little to no lawn art over a busy space with several pieces. “For a sophisticated look, limit the number of yard sculptures, bird baths, or metal pieces,” Hippeli said.

What worries her? Neglected shutters and windows, visible rotten wood soffits or trim, leaves or pine needles in gutters and on the roof, weeds, bald patches in the lawn, unedged walkways and lawn “art.”

Marsha Richards — The Richards Team, Keller Williams Chattahoochee North

Marsha Richards

Marsha Richards would have us stand across the street to look at our house through the eyes of a buyer, “Does it paint a pretty picture?”

The entryway sets the stage for your home according to Richards. She suggests painting your door and changing weathered-looking hardware. Don’t forget to update outdoor lighting. Finally, Richards proposes a designated seating area, especially on a front porch.

The Perfect House on a Hill

Martina and David Watson (Photo courtesy of the Watsons)

Martina and David Watson planned for 10 years before embarking on a total transformation of their front yard that took eight months and about $80,000.

Atlanta Custom Landscapes completed the rock work, landscaping, grading, lighting, sprinklers, grass and plan design. Anthony Faust drew plans that brought the Watsons’ vision to life.

Allgood Construction built piers and limestone steps leading from the sidewalk to their front porch. The stone columns and wall are by Mark Allgood.

“We added a landscape water meter, replaced our water line to the house from the street and rebuilt our retaining wall along the driveway at the same time to alleviate any risk of having to do that after completing the project,” Martina shared.

Improvements include hardscape, softscape, grading, lighting and lawn. Their favorites are the peonies in the spring and the limestone steps.

Martina suggests breaking large projects into phases. Phase one for them was the driveway retaining wall. Phase two was the main staircase and landscaping.

“Give your neighbors a heads up to prepare everyone for the fun,” she said. “A great plan from a professional is the key. Get what you really want. Then the money spent is well worth it.”

Let the spring / summer spruce up begin!

The experts and neighbors have chimed in. What fresh touches will you put on your home to give visitors a first glimpse of its personality? It doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment.

Whatever you do, enjoy the extra kick you’ll get out of pulling up to your house every day. 

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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Home & Real Estate

Elizabeth Kay Pinder Named Top Producer by The Atlanta REALTORS Association



Elizabeth Kay Pinder has been a resident of Peachtree Corners for 27 years and is the president of the Peachtree Station Homeowners Association. 
Elizabeth Kay Pinder

Peachtree Corners resident Elizabeth Kay Pinder was recognized as a Top Producer for 2023 by The Atlanta REALTORS® Association.

The Top Producers program distinguishes the top 15% of the ARA’s members for their achievements in real estate through volume of transactions and sales.

This year, the ARA welcomed over 1,200 Top Producers who qualified with at least $5 million dollars in volume, or a minimum of 15 total units, during 2023.

Pinder is an agent with Harry Norman, REALTORS and works with broker Diane Smith at Harry Norman, REALTORS’ Atlanta Perimeter office in Dunwoody, GA.

Pinder has been a resident of Peachtree Corners for 27 years and is currently the president of the Peachtree Station Homeowners Association

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Home & Real Estate

Upgrades That Will Make You Love Your Home, Not List It



Get the biggest bang for your renovation bucks.

Whether it’s because staying put saves time, money or stress, most Americans are happy to remain in their current homes. It might not be the right time for your family to think of changing commutes and schools or adding mortgage costs.

And how does one let go of the emotional attachment to a home in which so many cherished memories have been made?

I teamed up with Eli Vaknin, experienced General Contractor at EV Remodeling; Jennie Hong, Flooring Expert and Owner of Floor Coverings International Northeast Atlanta; and Interior Designer Leah Kessler of Leah Kristin Designs to look at home upgrades that could turn your existing home into your dream home. 

We’ve gathered exciting options for a range of budgets, from $10,000 to $100,000. I hope these ideas inspire your next projects!

For a $10,000 budget

EV Remodeling 

Eli Vaknin
Eli Vaknin

Vaknin proposed upgrading a fireplace for $10,000. The hearth can be refaced with veneer stone, a thin layer of stone applied directly to drywall with no special preparation.

Other material options for fireplace refacing are marble and large-format tile that comes in huge 4” x 8” sheets. One sheet can cover the entire face of the fireplace.

“People are going for a more modern, clean look — something that doesn’t catch so much dust, that you can wipe clean easily,” he said.

Mantles can also be updated, though for a more contemporary look, Vaknin recommends eliminating the mantle altogether. Traditionalists may shudder and consider a change of mantle material instead. 

The fireplace surround dictates what sort of mantle is suitable. Vaknin favors contrasts. A rustic wood mantle for a farmhouse look plays well against a clean, bright white material; whereas a ‘clean’ mantle pairs well with rustic stone veneer. 

More ideas

Other ways to freshen a home include a new handrail and balusters for a staircase. Balusters can be wooden, iron or horizontal cables for a modern esthetic.

Repainting the exterior of your home also can provide an instant facelift that your neighbors will enjoy, too.

New, man-made quartz or natural stone granite, quartzite or marble countertops and backsplash in an average-sized kitchen can make it stand out. Vaknin said he has witnessed a trend towards darker counters in black or gray.

Floor Coverings International 

Familiar with older homes in Peachtree Corners, Hong is aware that if you’re not moving, you’re looking to do some work.

Jennie Hong
Jennie Hong

Many homes come with solid, 2.25” hardwood floors on the main floor, other than one or two carpeted rooms, maybe. Hong suggests removing any carpet, replacing it with hardwoods, then sanding the whole main floor and updating the stain.

Sanding and refinishing everything to a new color eliminates the orangey old stain, which is outdated.

“Everybody loves California white oak. Natural wood is in now,” Hong said. “You can get the entire main floor, solid hardwood, sanded and refinished. You can also sand and refinish your stairs. That’s right around $10,000 …for an entirely new look.”

The removal of any carpet on the main floor and replacing it with hardwoods is included. “That’s the best bang for your buck,” Hong said. “You don’t have to spend a fortune; you already have the hardwoods.”

If tackling a carpeted upper level is more pressing, you can remove the carpet and replace the hallway floor with solid hardwoods finished to match the main level. Depending on your budget, you may consider extending hardwoods into the primary bedroom and getting fresh carpet in the secondary bedrooms.

“There are a lot of ways you can slice and dice it. That’s what we’re good at,” Hong said.

Another option within the $10,000 range is redoing basement floors with luxury vinyl. From 800 to 1,000 square feet can be refinished this way. The price includes everything: product, trim, moving furniture, subfloor preparation and installation.

Luxury vinyl

Popular because it’s scratch resistant and waterproof, luxury vinyl is easier to maintain than hardwoods — and it’s great for people with pets.

“Even in million-dollar homes, the sale of hardwood is going down, but luxury vinyl is skyrocketing,” Hong shared. She attributes this, in part, to the rise in pet adoptions during the COVID outbreak. 

“People are gravitating towards luxury vinyl because their lifestyle has changed. They have kids and pets that scratch the hardwood floor. Luxury vinyl looks and feels like hardwood, but it’s a fraction of the price,” Hong said.

Barring being totally submerged in water in the event of a flood, luxury vinyl is indestructible and can last a lifetime.

“It’s not the vinyl sheets you knew from back in the day. They’re gorgeous, long planks that look like wood,” Hong continued. “Depending on the type of luxury vinyl you choose, we can do a basement or several rooms on the main level for $10,000.”

Leah Kristin Designs  

Heading-up a full-scale design firm specializing in country club and high-end residential projects nationwide, Kessler provides space planning, procurement and FF&A (fabrics, furniture and accessories) selection for renovations and new construction. 

According to Kessler, for $10,000 one could consider changing up the furniture and accessories of a space or adding a fresh coat of paint or wall covering. 

“Sometimes a small refresh can give a space a completely new look,” Kessler said. New pillows for example, or the addition of a decorative window treatment, can soften a room.

She advises clients to keep large-ticket items like upholstered pieces more neutral while adding pops of color or bolder patterns in less expensive items like pillows and accessories.

This allows for the easy transformation of a space’s look.

Ever-evolving design trends allow for paint and wall coverings to quickly make a huge impact.

“We’ve all been in homes that have a color change from one room to the next going from gold to hunter green to burgundy. Or every room has an accent wall painted in a very loud color,” Kessler said. “Current design trends are much lighter and more neutral.”

Today, swaths of cream, white, taupe and gray fill homes, achieving an overall more cohesive, airy look.

A reno second to none

Renovating a smaller secondary bathroom can enhance a home without being a huge undertaking. 

It can be more cost-effective to purchase a vanity with a pre-installed sink and countertop.

“Older homes in our area have lower vanity heights. Ready-made vanities provide a higher sink height for a more updated and custom feel,” Kessler said.

One can achieve the high-end look of natural stone, minus the high dollar price, by redoing floors and showers with porcelain tile. Another trend Kessler mentioned is the elimination of a bathtub in favor of a walk-in shower. 

A small wet bar or butler’s pantry update are other popular post-COVID projects, as homeowners make improvements to facilitate entertaining. Adding cabinets, installing a new countertop and backsplash, incorporating a beverage fridge or wine cooler can enhance a small kitchen, dining room or living room wall for between $10,000 to $15,000 and make it more functional. 

For a $30,000 budget

EV Remodeling 

For $30,000, Vaknin proposes a new guest, hallway or three-fixture bathroom remodel — down to the studs. It would include new cabinets, a counter, tiles, planning and permitting.

“Anytime you remove more than three sheets of drywall exposing walls, you need to pull a permit. You’d be replacing the light fixture and adding an exhaust fan. An electrician and an HVAC company will vent it out of the house. The faucets require a licensed plumber. All those things must be inspected by a city inspector,” Vaknin affirmed.

Certified contractors know current building codes, but a permit ensures everything will be up to code.

“I like the homeowner to have peace of mind. If a mistake is made and the city inspector fails him, that’s good for the client. The inspector makes sure we’re all on the same page,” Vaknin explained.

A kitchen renovation at this price point would include replacing the countertop and backsplash, painting the cabinets — and there may be enough to upgrade a few appliances. If cabinets date from the 80s, it might be wise to consider getting new ones so tracks and doors function properly. 

“You want to upgrade the hardware and the inside too. It can be $5000 just to paint cabinets in a small kitchen. I don’t think that’s a good choice in an older kitchen,” Vaknin said. Especially since new soft close cabinets and new hardware would cost $10,000.

Vaknin also recommends an accent wall behind the bed. It can be adorned with wood paneling or shiplap, for example. Replace furniture, light fixtures, a ceiling fan, carpet or — depending what’s going on in the rest of the house — install wood floors. 

The garage is the new front entrance

We all enter and exit our homes through the garage. It practically serves as the front door.

For $20,000 to $30,000, you can make your garage a welcoming place to enter your house, provided you’re starting with a solid concrete floor free of cracks or any sinking issues. 

Vaknin recommends refacing the floor in an epoxy finish with an array of colors to choose from. “Darker colors like gray and black are best to hide oil spills and tire marks,” he suggested. 

A garage makeover would include new cabinetry to hide any disorder and prevent the dust and pollen buildup that occurs on open shelves.

For additional storage, Vaknin envisions shelves hanging from the ceiling where “same-size boxes” can be stored neatly. 

Floor Coverings International 

For a “Wow!” factor, the floors and stairs in about 1,900 square feet of space can be sanded and refinished and old carpets replaced with new, nylon carpet for $30,000, according to Hong. That could cover practically the entire house. 

In addition, Hong recommends redoing all the handrails.

“People are updating old white wooden spindles to metal. Back in the day, they had the spiral, rounded handrails. Nowadays, square posts and handrails — a sleek, boxy look — is popular,” Hong explained. 

Engineered hardwoods

Another option for about $30,000 is a designer brand of engineered hardwoods covering about 2,000 square feet of space. “It’s a beautiful, wide plank, gorgeous caramel color. This is very upscale and sexy for people who like design,” Hong said. 

Engineered hardwoods are for homeowners who prefer natural materials. “People think engineered hardwoods sound fake,” Hong said. “But they’re made of layers of real wood built up to make pieces of wood, whereas solid hardwood is one piece of wood,” Hong explained.

Typically less expensive than solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is popular for homes on concrete slabs. It’s installed with a glue-down application.

This product is not to be mistaken with what you find in home improvement stores where they sell 90s versions of engineered hardwoods for $3.50 per square foot.

“The designer brand retails for about $8 a square foot. You can go anywhere from cheap engineered hardwood to nicer brands,” Hong said.

A more rustic, wire brush matte texture hides scratches. If you have pets, Hong advises avoiding smooth finishes. As with solid hardwoods, a glossy finish makes scuffs more prominent. 

Leah Kristin Designs

New architectural details like beams, wainscoting and trim that add drama and elegance are what Kessler envisions for $30,000. She advises converting open bookcases to more decorative cabinets, keeping storage behind cabinet doors to hide cluttered shelves.

For a $50,000 budget

EV Remodeling

Putting $50,000 into your primary bathroom allows for the relocation of plumbing and the removal or repositioning of walls that won’t affect the home’s structural integrity. Tile materials can range from porcelain to Carrera marble, though Vaknin recommends porcelain for ease of care. 

Or it may be time to bring that old deck up to code. In most cases, a deck will have to be torn down and rebuilt. “You don’t want to build a new structure on top of an old one,” Vaknin cautioned. 

For $50,000 you can have the deck of your dreams, minus the fireplace. I tried to squeak one in — Vaknin advised it would add considerably to the cost.

The structural material of the deck should be pressure-treated pine. Vaknin recommends composite material for the decking boards and railings to provide 30 years of worry-free upkeep.

Metal railings with horizontal cables are the up-to-date, preferred choice for unobstructed backyard views. 

To stay within an existing footprint without moving any walls, Vaknin highly suggests a full kitchen remodel as the best bet for a $50,000 budget. It could include new countertops, cabinets, backsplash, appliances, an architect’s plans and permits. 

Leah Kristin Designs

Kessler also champions a kitchen redesign for $50,000. It’s her most popular client request. 

“The kitchen is where people gather, whether they’re entertaining large groups for a special occasion or just winding down at the end of the day with family. A well-designed kitchen that is both functional and comfortable is hugely important,” Kessler said.

Floor Coverings International

If you want your home to look like a million-dollars, Hong suggests updating about 2,900 square feet of flooring for $50,000. That price gets you three stories of luxury vinyl, except for bathrooms, where you may prefer tiles.

Included are an attractive stair runner on the main staircase and a back staircase in luxury vinyl treads and white risers that look like hardwoods. 

Stair runners help prevent both pets and humans from slipping on the steps. They’re decorative and popular here in the South.

A new stair runner on your hardwood stairs can range from $1,600 to $5,000 depending on your carpet choice. “Stairs are big. They’re often the first thing you see when you walk into a house,” Hong said.

If your home came with a stair runner, the wood underneath is likely lower grade. Hence, removing a stair runner could mean replacing all the stair treads, a $3,200 job.

Careful what you crave

Another flooring trend is special order, 7” wide plank, white oak floors. “The wider planks are in, but it’s not so good for solid hardwood, which expands and contracts with temperature and humidity fluctuations,” Hong warns. 

If you want the coveted look of natural European white oak, get 7” engineered hardwood instead. Along with new matching stair treads and a runner, $50,000 will cover about 1,500 to 1,700 square feet of space, if laid in a straight pattern. 

“We make sure to educate our customers. We share the pros and cons of each option. It’s ultimately up to them, but we let them know the implications,” Hong shared.

For a $100,000 budget

EV Remodeling

Set your sights on maximizing the use of your backyard with a blow-out budget of $100,000. Vaknin recently transformed his own backyard into a private resort. The renovation included an outdoor kitchen, an al fresco patio that runs along the backside of the main floor and a section of patio with overhead coverage.

Clear plastic panels atop wooden beams provide protection from the elements but still allow sun to shine through. This price also includes grading, concrete, massive pavers and new, horizontal, modern fencing.

Floor Coverings International

This budget commands splendiferous floors! It’s easy to spend $50,000 in a bathroom on high grade porcelain tiles or marble on floors, walls and shower stalls. Incorporating a chevron pattern, decorative shower pieces, or mosaic tile drives the price up.

Renew two bathrooms and voilà — $100,000.

When working with $100,000, Hong feels the utmost attention must be given to an overall design element. Laying floors in a herringbone pattern in strategic areas, for example, would fall within this budget. It’s a great way to accent a hallway, a primary bedroom or the front entrance.

Material options for herringbone installations are tile, solid hardwoods, engineered hardwoods and luxury vinyl.

Border designs could be incorporated too. Picture a porcelain or marble tile foyer surrounded by wooden, herringbone floors.

Hong suggests choosing porcelain instead of marble because it’s durable, it’ll stretch your decorating dollars and you still get the beautiful, veined look of marble. 

Leah Kristin Designs

A finished basement is what Kessler suggested for a $100,000 home improvement project. The designer believes it’s best to focus on completing one room or area at a time instead of doing a little here and there.

“Your home should be a reflection of your personality and style. Pictures, accessories and furnishings that speak to you tend to speak to each other, creating harmonious spaces,” Kessler offered. “Buy things you love. They’ll be emotionally satisfying even 20 years down the road.”

No need to pack!

Which of these renovations would turn the home you already love into the home you’d never want to leave?

Hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting required to beautify, renew and improve your dwelling’s functionality is key. Consider a one-stop-shop general contractor like EV Remodeling.

For your flooring needs, a five-star company like Floor Coverings International “brings the floors to your doors” with mobile showroom-outfitted vans.

Finally, an interior design firm like Leah Kristin Designs will devise a cohesive plan for your treasured abode.

So, stay and enjoy your home in a whole new way!

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Ribbon Cutting Held at New Gwinnett Homeowner Resource Center 



Left to right, Tom Bowers of Lennar, Lelja Prljaca of GHC, Adam Paterson of Lennar, Mandy Crater of Homeaid Atlanta and Karen Ramsey of GHC
Photos by Gwinnett Housing Corporation

Gwinnett Housing Corporation (GHC) has opened Gwinnett County’s first Homeowner Resource Center. To aid in its development, GHC was proud to partner with Norcross’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to facilitate the building acquisition at 128 Lawrenceville Street in Norcross. The nonprofit also partnered with HomeAid Atlanta and Lennar to renovate the building. 

With its sights set on officially opening the center’s doors to the public in July 2023, GHC hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site on June 5. 

Left to right, Tom Bowers of Lennar, Lelja Prljaca of GHC, Adam Paterson of Lennar, Mandy Crater of Homeaid Atlanta and Karen Ramsey of GHC
Left to right, Tom Bowers of Lennar, Lelja Prljaca of GHC, Adam Paterson of Lennar, Mandy Crater of Homeaid Atlanta and Karen Ramsey of GHC
HomeAid Atlanta Executive Director Mandy Crater presents Adam Paterson with a plaque to thank Lennar for the homebuilder's role as Builder Captain.
HomeAid Atlanta Executive Director Mandy Crater presents Adam Paterson with a plaque to thank Lennar for the homebuilder’s role as Builder Captain.

“The Norcross City Council and Staff, Downtown Development Authority and I are all honored that our city is the birthplace of this first-of-its-kind offering for families in need in Gwinnett,” said Mayor Craig Newton. “As a Place to Imagine, Norcross offers the ideal setting for aspiring homebuyers not only to imagine but realize their dreams of homeownership.”

Other local leaders in attendance included Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson; Gwinnett County Commissioner Kirkland Carden; City of Lawrenceville Mayor David Still and Council Members Marlene Crawford Taylor, Victoria Jones and Austin Thompson; City of Norcross Council Members Matt Myers and Josh Bare; and City of Norcross DDA Members Lauren Summers, Will Shipley and Jim Eyre. Martha Revello of Senator Raphael Warnock’s office and Kyra Reed of Congresswoman Lucy McBath’s office were also present.

Representatives from GHC, Lennar, HomeAid Atlanta, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Habitat Gwinnett, Catholic Charities of Atlanta and Money Management International.
Representatives from GHC, Lennar, HomeAid Atlanta, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Habitat Gwinnett, Catholic Charities of Atlanta and Money Management International.

The event opened with an address from GHC CEO Lejla Prljaca about the growing housing crisis. During her speech, Prljaca highlighted partners that will collaboratively work to ensure that more low-to-moderate-income residents in Gwinnett will have the opportunity to become homeowners. The Center and its partners will also provide resources to low-to-moderate-income homeowners in Gwinnett to help them retain ownership of their current homes. 

Through the Gwinnett Homeowner Resource Center, the GHC will provide programming in cooperation with other partner organizations, which include Habitat Gwinnett, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (ANDP), Money Management International, Catholic Charities, Community Sustainability Enterprise, the Gwinnett County Housing Department and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). Programs will include housing counseling, referrals for down payment assistance, access to non-profit developers, lenders, owner-occupied rehabilitation and home modification activities.

Photo Courtesy of Gwinnett Housing Corporation
Photo Courtesy of Gwinnett Housing Corporation

“We are very excited to offer this important resource to support Gwinnett families and preserve homeownership rates in Gwinnett County,” said Prljaca. “First-time home buyers are facing tremendous challenges today. …We are truly thankful to Norcross DDA and all of our partners for working with us to make this center a reality.”  

GHC also provides access to affordable rental housing, transitional housing and shelter assistance. Learn more about the Gwinnett Housing Corporation at GwinnettHousing.org

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