Kitchen Design 101

There's much more to designing a kitchen than picking out counter tops, tile, and appliances. Before you get down to those kinds of details, you need to consider the layout of your kitchen. Allow us to introduce you to the kitchen work triangle.

The work triangle is a standard "equation" for the best way to lay out a kitchen. At each point of the triangle sits one of the major kitchen features: the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove/oven. This layout allows for better flow and more efficient usage of space. Once the work triangle is established, you'll find that it's much easier to decide how to organize other kitchen components in an equally efficient way. Let's take a look at three categories for organization within the work triangle.


First, ask yourself what you will need within arm's reach of each area. You'll probably want to keep your silverware and other utensils near the dishwasher and sink. This makes easy work of putting them away after washing. Store pots and pans in a cabinet or drawer near the stove. Keep zip-top bags and other storage items near the refrigerator. Carefully consider what you'll need in each area and plan accordingly. Those items that are used less often should be stored outside of the work triangle (like in a pantry).


The most ideal area for prep work is near the sink. Make the most of this area by allowing 18-36 inches of counterspace on one or each side of the sink. If you don't have much counter room to spare, an island is a great way to extend your preparation area. This is why kitchen islands are so popular! Situated in the middle of the triangle, the island can serve as additional space for whichever area needs it at any given time.


All cooking tools and appliances should be arranged around the stove and oven. Keeping these related items together will also help you keep your prep areas clear of clutter. You should ideally leave 21-36 inches on either side of the cooktop as well. Have plenty of storage nearby to hold things like spices, potholders, and cutting boards.

Now that you have a rudimentary idea of how a kitchen should be laid out, you should be able to customize the work triangle "equation" to suit your needs. Do you have other ideas for setting up an efficient kitchen?

Dress Up the Front Stoop for Summer

Curb appeal doesn't just apply to landscaping. The first impression potential buyers or visitors get of your home is your front entryway. Why not dress it up and make it beautiful? During the fall and winter, it's easy to come up with a way to add interest to the front stoop: folk-inspired scarecrows, pumpkins, miniature christmas trees, beautiful wreaths... But it's not quite as easy to think of a way to decorate the stoop during the warmer months beyond adding a few flower pots or a cute doormat. Here are just a few ideas we've come up with:

* Add a quirky planter. Think outside of the terracotta or ceramic pot! Use "found objects" to create an interesting planter that draws attention to the flora. For example, paint an unused umbrella stand and use it to house your flowers or greenery. Take a stroll through your local vintage shop or Goodwill. You'll be surprised at what you'll find for your purpose!

* If you'd rather go with traditional pots for plants and flowers, paint all of the pots the same color. This is especially interesting if the pots are all different shapes and sizes.

* Paint the front door a bright color. Red? Yes. Yellow? Sure. Turquoise? Even better. Just go for it! If you want, you can even use the same color to paint the aforementioned plant pots.

* Instead of a doormat, use a full-sized outdoor rug on the porch. It's unexpected, and it lends interest and color to the area.

* Buy or build a simple trellis or pergola to frame your front entrance and plant a vine that will crawl up and add beauty.

* Position fragrant flora next to the front door. Jasmine, honeysuckle, and gardenias smell especially delightful!

What do you do to dress up your stoop for the summer?


Flippers Beware: What You DON'T Say Could Cost You!

Allow me to introduce you to a hypothetical character named Joe. Joe is a real estate investor who focuses on buying foreclosures and short sales and flipping them to sell again in a short period of time. This isn't an uncommon practice among real estate investors. There are even multiple television shows about the topic. Joe, however, was recently caught in a sticky situation concerning one of his flipped properties. He purchased a foreclosure. Before the original owner vacated the property after foreclosure, he decided to get his "revenge" by trashing the home. When Joe bought the property, he hired a handyman to help him fix it up. Six weeks later, Joe's house went on the market and was snatched up by the O'Donnell family at a great price. After the O'Donnells had been living in the house for a month, they began to have problems with their plumbing and discovered mold inside the walls. When they spoke with a neighbor, the O'Donnells were surprised to hear that the home had been trashed by the original owner. This fact had not been disclosed when they bought the home. Not only did Joe have some explaining to do, but he and the listing and selling agents also had a lawsuit on their hands! 

According to Realtor Magazine, "This case is an example of a growing number of lawsuits in California and elsewhere involving short sales and foreclosures that are quickly fixed up and then flipped." When dealing with a flipped property, all parties involved in the transaction should take care to do their part to ensure that no unforeseen problems crop up due to undisclosed material facts. What can you as a seller, buyer, or real estate agent do to protect yourself from these issues?

"First, parties who flip foreclosed or short-sale properties are not exempt from making disclosures just because they haven't lived there, especially if repair or remodeling work has been done on the properties," states Realtor Magazine. No matter if a seller has or has not lived in a property, that seller must fill out completely whatever disclosure forms his or her state requires. This disclosure must include any and all known material facts about the property, even if the issues have been repaired. Sellers who flip should also know that any work that requires a permit must be performed by a licensed contractor. Don't try to cut corners and costs by hiring a non-licensed handyman to repair problems that could be more serious than they appear.

As a buyer, you are responsible for making your wants and needs known. If you prefer not to buy a property that was previously a foreclosure or short sale, make sure your Realtor researches to make sure the property you're looking at was not flipped from either one of those. It won't take much work for him or her to find that information. In addition, be sure to ask about any disclosures that have been made regarding the property. 

If you are the buyer's agent, ask the listing agent of seller about the property's previous condition, what repairs have been done, what defects might not have been repaired, and whether the work was done by a licensed contractor. It's also important to make sure the seller can back up claims that repairs were done the correct way (through receipts, permits, etc.). The seller's agent should be sure that he or she can answer these questions efficiently by asking the seller firsthand before any contact is made with other agents or potential buyers. Ensure that the seller fills out disclosure forms fully and accurately.

Do you have experienced with flipping properties, or with buying flipped properties? Are you an agent who has represented a buyer or seller in this type of transaction? Have these types of transactions always gone smoothly, or have you hit snags along the way? What are some of the problems you've had concerning flipped homes? Let us know in the comments section below!

*Information Source: Realtor Magazine, May/June2014

How-To Tuesday: Create a Healthy Home Environment

Setting yourself up for success is the best way to ensure a healthy lifestyle. As many things in life do, wellness starts in the home. So this week, we thought we'd discuss some ways to create a healthy home environment for yourself and your family. After a little research, we put together a list of 10 things you can do to inspire health and wellness at home. 

1. Promote healthy eating. This might seem like an obvious tip, but there are a couple of things you might not necessarily think of to inspire your family to eat well. First, think about planting an edible garden. You don't have to have a lot of land or yard space to do this. A few simple plants in pots (like tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries) can provide a jumpstart to healthy eating. An indoor herb garden is also a good idea. There's something very rewarding about eating something you've planted, grown, and "harvested" yourself.

2. Keep those healthy foods and the tools needed to eat and cook them within easy reach. All those "sometimes foods" should be put away in cabinets or pantries to discourage impulse snacking.

3. Shrink your storage. Refrigerators these days can be downright huge, but do we really need all that space? Having all of that storage space could encourage you to buy a lot of heavily processed foods that keep for a long time. Instead of tempting yourself to stock up on less-than-nourishing items, shop more frequently and stock a more modest fridge with fresher foods that might not keep as well. 

4. Create a comfortable area for family dining. Our society has become such an on-the-go culture that it's not all that common for many families to sit down and have a meal together. The dining room, however, is a great place to regroup and talk about the events of the day or express what's on your mind. Eating together at the table also promotes those healthy eating habits you're trying to instill. Make sure the dining room table is clear of anything that doesn't belong and set it with linens and real dishes.

5. Develop good flow for natural light and air throughout the home. Lots of windows, French doors, sliding glass doors, and even breezeways are all great ways to promote indoor-outdoor flow.

6. Get outdoors. Add areas for fun activities in the back yard. Add a pool, a basketball court, a cornhole set, a jungle gym or swing set, a sandbox...the list is endless!

7. If you don't have much outdoor space, create a workout area inside that inspires activity. Stock it with all the equipment you need for your favorite workouts. Add a stereo or television (for those long treadmill walks or runs). Paint it a soothing color and let in lots of light.

8. Inspire peace in the bedroom. The body is healthiest when it sleeps and wakes according to circadian rhythm. Light is one of the biggest influences on circadian rhythms. Make sure bedrooms are dark, quiet, and cool at night and bright and sunny in the mornings. As tempting as it is to buy blackout curtains and ignore the morning sun, you'll feel much better if you wake up to natural light. In addition, keep bedrooms free of clutter and distractions like televisions.

9. Speaking of televisions, you can discourage idle TV watching by placing them in specified areas. If you must have more than one TV, put them somewhere you'll have to go with the specific purpose of watching your favorite show or movie.

10. If you work from home, consider investing in a higher desk, where you can stand instead of sitting all day. In an office, it's likely that you'd be up and down all day, darting from office to office, chatting with coworkers, going to the printer or watercooler... When you're at home, you tend to sit more. Not only does this make for an inactive day, but it can also cause problems with things like bloodflow. Standing at your desk can help with that. Get a higher chair to sit at when you need a rest. 

What other tips do you have for creating a healthy, feel-good home environment? Leave us a note in the comments below!

Friday Five // May 23, 2014

It's time for another installment of the Friday Five! This week, we've got a couple of festivals and some sporty fun, among other neat events.

1. The Spoleto Festival has begun! This is such an exciting time in Charleston, and every year brings new opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy music, theater, and art. Take a look at this year's schedule and get excited about this year's offerings, which include performances in categories like theater, opera, dance, physical theater, artist talks, jazz, and other forms of music. There truly is something for everyone at Spoleto. Opening ceremonies take place today at 12pm at Charleston City Hall.

2. If you're in the mood for a different kind of festival, we highly recommend the 8th annual First Flush Festival at the Charleston Tea Plantation. The festival celebrates "the first harvest of the best tea from the only tea plantation in America." Take a tour of the factory and see how tea is made, and then enjoy all the free iced American First Flush Tea you can handle! There will be food trucks, vendors, and musical acts, including popular Grammy-nominated band The Avett Brothers on two stages.

3. Though this event happens after the weekend is over, it's definitely worth a mention! The Charleston RiverDogs will have a "Re-Opening Night", as the official opening game on April 7th was rained out and moved to May 27th. So next Tuesday, gather your family and friends and head out to The Joe for a doublheader game, preceded by a spectacle of festivities! fans will enjoy a pregame parade (including marching bands, cheerleaders, mascots, and others), the introduction of the RiverDogs as they enter the stadium on horse-drawn carriages, and the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by national recording artist/local star Elise Testone.

4. The Music Farm will host the 5th annual Southeastern Beard & Mustache Championships Saturday night, beginning at 7pm. So all of you bearded and mustachioed individuals out there, get ready to strut your stuff! The event benefits Lowcountry Women with Wings, a charity that supports women with ovarian cancer.

5. The Lowcountry Splash takes place this Saturday, benefitting the Logan Rutledge Children's Foundation, a charity that promotes the health and welfare of children in the Lowcountry. The event is an open-water swim with two options that take place in the Wando River and Charleston Harbor. The 2.4-mile event begins at Hobcaw Yacht Club, and the 5-mile event begins at the Daniel Island Pier. Both swim events end at the Charleston Harbor Marina in front of the USS Yorktown.

Whatever your plans for this Memorial Day Weekend, we at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy time! 



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