Home Improvements to Consider Before Listing Your Home

Preparing to list your home? What home improvements should you do and what ones have the greatest return on investment? When you are putting your home up for sale, you have two main goals; a timely sale, and receiving the best possible price. In order to achieve these goals, your home needs to present itself in the best possible light. While every home buyer has different ideas about what the “perfect home” is, you as the seller need to ensure that your home appeals to the widest variety of home buyers possible.

So What Does This Mean:

  1. De-cluttering: This is always the first thing because it makes your home look much more organized — even down to how many items you have on your fireplace — and it make your rooms look much larger. Organizing goes hand in hand with de-cluttering as buyers want to see how they can organize their stuff.
  2. Paint and Clean: First, you must make certain that your color palate throughout your home equals or is superior to your competition. No, buyers cannot see beyond that. If you seek professional advice, you will paint the correct colors. Touch up, freshen up and clean everywhere! Wallpaper is a huge negative, so consider taking it down prior to listing.
  3. Updating: If you need granite or new appliances, and you are trying to maximize your profit and your competition has it, you better have it as well! Perhaps you need updated light fixtures or door knobs? If so, then do it! Buyers typically consist of two working spouses or partners and have busy lives. You must be proactive and make sure your home equals or exceeds your competition!
  4. Exterior: The same holds true for the outside. Fresh mulch, flowers, and power washing (if required) are essential! Remember, this is the first thing that a buyer sees.
  5. Staging: Professional staging or, at a minimum, a stager’s advice is essential! It is a proven fact that a staged home sells for more money and in a much quicker amount of time. I utilize the service of Julie Pelly, owner of Creative Staging. I strongly recommend to sellers that she and her team evaluate every home prior to going on the market. Some homes need redecorating, accents, or perhaps updated or missing furniture at every price point. Typically, a stager will use items in a seller’s home and redistribute them.

Preparing your home for sale can seem overwhelming at first. Home Improvements may or may not be necessary, but be receptive to doing them — keeping in mind your return on investment. Utilize a real estate professional and home staging expert to help you develop a customized plan of action. The results will be amazing and the return on investment will be worth it! You must do everything possible to make your home stand out from your competition! Lighting rooms before showings and having your home show in the best possible way will pay back dividends. The real estate market in the Philadelphia suburbs including Bucks , Montgomery, and Chester counties changes almost on a daily basis! Put your best foot forward to stay ahead of the curve. Remember, a home buyer may only visit your home once. Are you totally prepared?

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6 Spring Style Tips for Your Home

The following is a guest blog post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company

The start of spring means its time to celebrate the season with some fresh style for your home, both inside and out! Not sure where to begin? We hope the following tips will inspire your imagination when deciding the best ways to brighten, renew and add curb appeal.

Bring The Outdoors Inside. Place a variety of natural garden-like elements such as potted plants, topiaries and moss-covered balls on mantels, floors and shelves. Accessorize with beautiful botanical prints, fresh cut fern or boxwood clippings in glass vases, dried flower or pussy willow twig wreaths, ceramic bird figurines and plates which will make you feel closer to nature.


Master Bedroom Staged By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint. Go brighter, crisper and cleaner for spring. Start by choosing one new color such as yellow or green for an accent wall and combine with complimentary accessories which will make the room feel cohesively inviting. For your front door or shutters, try a fresh coat of a trending spring color such as Benjamin Moore’s Champion Cobalt to add instant curb appeal.

Update Bedding. Now is the time to consider some new bedding for your master bedroom, guest room, or kids room. Layer your bed starting with white and add some of the freshest colors for spring — coral, turquoise, or butter yellow. And, if your bedding is in great shape, just add accent pillows, new shams, and large European size pillows to transform the look of your room.

Get Bold With Fresh Colored Accents. Add color and texture to your entertaining areas (living rooms and patios) by switching out winter pillows with new spring colors and organic designs. Navy and white, orange and yellow, and linen pillows are great accessories to liven up any space. Don’t forget about your lamps which are also available in many different colors this season from green to orange. Add special string lighting and colorful hanging lanterns for garden ambiance in the evenings.


Source: HGTV

Refresh Kitchen and Patio Dining Accessories.Switch out dinnerware for ones with bright, garden-inspired patterns which pair well with lighter weight tablecloths and place mats in natural woven textures. Replace umbrellas that are stained and damaged with the latest trending patterns and colors. Add complimentary accent pillows along with a cozy rug for under the table. Finish off with some beachy scented candles and you’ll be reminded that summer is just around the corner!

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal. Repair cracks in driveway, walkway, front porch steps and patios. Add personal touches to entryway with a beautiful floral swag or wreath, a new welcome mat, clusters of potted spring flowers on the porch and a hanging swing if space allows. Refresh with new accessories such as house numbers, lighting fixtures, door handles and knocker to create added appeal. Remove dead shrubs, prune bushes, and add pops of color with new annuals. Assess the condition of your lawn and decide whether to reseed or add sod if uneven and patchy. Add a generous layer of natural mulch to beds to complete the whole look.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.


patti-sternPatti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor tothe National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.

 Header image courtesy of Ballard Designs

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8 DIY Projects To Beautify Your Backyard

As the weather warms up, you can’t help but daydream about spring evenings relaxing outdoors and summer nights filled with star gazing and bon fires. Since we couldn’t help it either, we rounded up some of the most exquisite outdoor living features to inspire your warm-weather upgrades. The best part? All of these are completely DIY!

How to build your own firepit (A fan favorite for homeowners who love to entertain!)

Image: Kathleen/Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home}

Believe it or not, this DIY is not as tough as it sounds. As long as you’ve got the flat, dry outdoor space, concrete blocks or pavers, and about 3 hours to spend, you can add an outdoor feature that will ensure warm happy nights and lovely afternoon BBQ’s this season. (Directions here)

How to create a vertical porch planter

Image: Jill/Sew a Fine Seam

Whether you’re looking to add some additional privacy, or just to upgrade your pretty factor, this vertical planter turns fresh greenery into a faux wall for your porch. Upcycle an old fence, or buy some inexpensive sturdy wire, to easily hang tiny buckets of flowers, succulents, herbs, or whatever your green-thumb desires. (Here’s how to do it)

How to screen in your outdoor space

Image: Lani/Simply Fresh Vintage

Lounge in the fresh air or dine al fresco, without the worry of creepy crawly critters. Though this outdoor upgrade could cost a fortune if you hired a professional, doing it yourself with this 3-step tutorial will save you money, and greatly increase your outdoor enjoyment this season. (Find the How-to Here)

How to upcycle a garden walkway

Image: Donna/Funky Junk Interiors

Turn a stack of shipping pallets into a beautiful and simple garden walkway, perfect for taking a stroll through your vibrant flower beds. No matter the path’s length, a garden walkway will add instant charm to your yard. (Get directions here)

How to make a teapot fountain

Image: Julee

Bubbling fountains and streaming water features are an excellent way to give your outdoor areas some rich ambiance and a pleasant soundtrack. You can turn vintage containers and pots into adorable water features with a fountain pump and some tubes, like this sweet pouring tea pot. (Here’s how to make it)

How to update a boring link fence

Image: Barb/Our Fairfield Home and Garden

If you’ve already got a property fence in place, but you’re not such a huge fan of how it looks, try this easy DIY to upgrade your exterior style. With this genius fix, you can go from boring chain link to beautiful and soothing bamboo in just one afternoon! (Directions here)

How to make and hang mason jar solar lights

Image: Dee/ThirftDee

Here’s one to put at the top of your “What to Do with Mason Jars” list — homemade solar lights to turn any outdoor space into a nighttime-friendly retreat. Simply attach the solar lamp mechanism to the jar lids and voila! Easy and energy-efficient garden lighting. (Tutorial here)

How to build your own wood sandbox 

Image: Carrie/Kenarry: Ideas for the Home

Everything else will help to turn your backyard or other outdoor spaces into a grown-up’s paradise, but what about your youngsters? When it comes to childhood play, nothing is quite as fun as digging, piling, and building in the sandbox. Follow this clever how-to to DIY your own perfect children’s play place. (Here’s how it’s done)

For more amazing outdoor ideas, inspirations, and how-to’s, take a look at our Outdoor Living page on Hometalk!


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How To Host a Beautiful Backyard Bridal Shower

Everyone knows weddings are expensive, but until you plan one yourself,  you may not realize just how costly it really can be. In order to alleviate some of the sticker shock of the whole experience, hosting the bridal shower at your home can be easier on the wallet rather than renting out a restaurant or banquet hall. It also gives you the ability to really personalize the event since there are no rules when it comes to throwing parties at your own home! Here are some beautiful decor ideas for a backyard bridal shower:


Festive table linens & big white umbrellas to shield guests from the sun are essentials for an outdoor tablescape. Photo via Hostess With the Mostess Blog


Hang vases from the fence & fill them with beautiful flowers for a simple yet elegant decor idea. Photo via PaperBlog.com


If you were thinking about ditching that old desk in your basement, why not refresh it with a coat of paint & use it as a mimosa bar instead? Photo via WeddingChicks.com

Romantic Idea: Decorate neighborhood sidewalks with chalk then go for a walk with your sweetie to reveal your love notes/art.

Decorate the front walkway leading to the backyard bridal shower with hearts drawn in sidewalk chalk for a fun & whimsical entryway! Photo via Pinterest

Family "tree" at an outdoor wedding/shower. So cute. Could be heavy on wedding photos but doesn't have to be...

Create a “family tree” (literally) that includes photos of the bride & groom’s family members on their wedding day. Photo via CatchMyParty.com

Header images via KenLauher.com & AustinWeddingBlog.com 

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Creating a Zenful Yoga and Meditation Space in Your Home

September is national yoga month, and I haven’t been to my local yoga studio once this month. However, I did make sure to designate a place for my yoga and meditation practice when I moved into my new house a few months ago. I love taking classes at my yoga studio, but sometimes it can be difficult to fit in a class during the work week. Creating your own personal zen spot at home can be the perfect remedy to releasing the day’s pressures while also having another reason to love home. Here are 9 things to keep in mind when creating your yoga and meditation space at home.

1. Choosing the location: I used fung shui to help guide me to the area of my home that I set up as my yoga and meditation spot. The front left corner of your home is called the knowledge and wisdom bagua (area), which I thought was the perfect location for my personal zen corner.

2. Flooring: If you already have hardwood floors, you don’t need to incorporate a different surface into your space. However, if you have carpet you’ll need to consider bringing in a board to place under your mat.

3. Mirror mirror on the wall: There’s no need to bring mirrors into your yoga space. If you already have them in this room, consider relocating them to another spot in your home. Why bring potential judgment of your practice (and yourself) into the space that you’re setting up for well-being?

4. Alter of thanks: Why not find a small piece of furniture to place in your yoga and meditation spot that you can place items that remind you of gratitude? Consider filling it with intentions of the commitment you are making to yourself.

5. Flora friends: Maybe you already have some house plants that might want to join you in your new zen spot, or perhaps the next time you’re in the garden center you might want to pick up a few new friends to green up your new yoga and meditation space. Either way, bringing in plant life helps improve the indoor air quality.

6. Soothing sounds: Don’t forget to find a spot for a speaker so that you can bring in those zenful sounds of nature.

7. Lighting: If your yoga spot is located in an area of the home that doesn’t get much natural light, think about adding a dimmer so you can adjust the lighting during your practice.

8. No pet zone: I learned the hard way during my first meditation at home that my cat didn’t understand why I was sitting on the floor and had to come sniff me out. Talk about jolting me right out of my skin.

9. Clearing the room: Now that you have your new home yoga and meditation space set up, be sure to clear it energetically by burning some sage in the room.

Looking for some visual inspiration, check out this Coldwell Banker Pinterest board.

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How to Create Great Floral Arrangements at Home

One of the easiest way to make your home feel happier is by adding fresh flowers. For me, the local farmer’s market is the best place to find gorgeous flowers at an affordable price. Once I get home I pull out my vases and get to work. This is where things get a little tricky sticky! Yes, sticky! 

The secret to creating a great floral arrangement? It’s all about the scotch tape! By creating a grid of tape you can control the position of the flowers and keep them from falling all over the place. This is EXTRA helpful for large vases that have an odd shaped or wider opening (like a bowl).

Step One

Fill the vase with water. (Sometimes I forget this and it gets a little tricky to get the water in after the tape has been placed)

Step Two

Dry the top of the vase off with a paper towel.

Step Three

Create a tape grid across the top of the vase. If the opening isn’t large you may need to cut the tape strips in half to make them thinner.

Step Four

Start arranging the flowers into each box starting from the center and then working your way out. If the stems are thin you may be able to fit multiple flowers in a box.

Step Five

Enjoy as your flowers stand up tall and look beautiful!



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Hot Colors for Your Home in Spring 2015

One of the greatest joys of making a house a home is personalizing it. A simple, and affordable, way of doing is by adding colors. But have you ever really thought about the impact and role colors play in your home? The importance of choosing the right palettes goes far beyond aesthetics which was elegantly articulated in Elsie de Wolfe’s book, The House in Good Taste, where she wrote “we must consider the effect of color on our nerves, our eyes, our moods, everything.” When I look for home decor inspiration I often find myself wandering into the world of fashion as I believe home and fashion trends are very much aligned. This is why  I turned to the titan of the color trends, Pantone Color Institute®  to answer the question, “what are the hot colors of Spring 2015?”

This season, cooler and softer color choices with subtle warm tones follow a minimalistic en plein air theme, taking a cue from nature. -Pantone Color Institute®

Colors like yummy and cool Tangerine Orange and Custard Yellow to gorgeous pastels like Lavender Herb Purple and Strawberry Ice Pink make it hard to choose just a few. The hot neutral color that continues to hold them all together? Gray…glacier and titanium to be specific. Wondering how to make these colors work in your own home? Here are some examples from homes currently listed for sale from coldwellbankerpreviews.com

Tangerine + Custard

This beautiful Bahamian villa is pure paradise! We love how the tangerine and custard pool accessories add to the casual island elegance of this serene getaway.

See more of this Ocean Club Estate listed with Coldwell Banker Lighbourn Realty.

Glacier Gray + Aquamarine + Lavender Herb + Tangerine

Sometimes a view can set the stage for a room’s color palette. In this case, the gorgeous aquamarine water of Miami Beach is a perfect compliment to this bedroom’s bold, yet sophisticated multicolored theme. from the soft tone of the lavender herb bedspread to the pops of tangerine in the curtains and couch, every element of this room screams fun in the sun. Finally, the neutral glacier gray bedside lamps tie everything together.

See more of this Miami Beach penthouse listed with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.

 Scuba Blue + Treetop + Strawberry Ice + Marsala 

This magnificent country French estate certainly takes a cue from nature from the strawberry ice and marsala colored roses to the forest green appliances and sea colored backsplash.

See more of this Pacific Palisades, CA home listed with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. 

Custard 13-0720 + Sandstone 16-1328

This room, which happens to be part of Villa Sorriso (the crown jewel of Napa Valley), does a wonderful job of marrying shades of custard and sandstone all the way from the ceiling right, down to the tint of the wood and finally to the hue of the light from the lamp. What really ties in the color scheme though, is the pop of color from the throw pillows.

See more of this Napa, California mansion listed with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley.

Aquamarine 14-4313 + Scuba Blue 16-4725

Two beautiful blues with nautical names couldn’t have been a better fit for how this Martha’s Vineyard homeowner spruced up their luxurious wrap around porch which has both park and water views.

See more of this Oak Bluffs, MA home listed with Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate.

Looking for more interior design inspiration? Check these homes out.

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Home Tip of the Day: Refresh Your Backyard Chairs

Those old grey chairs in your backyard may look worn and uninteresting, but that doesn’t mean you have to replace them entirely.  See how easy it is to add a pop of color and a fresh look to the seating in your yard.

For other helpful home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

*Header Image Courtesy of: Pretty Lovely Living

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Homes that Could Have Been in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

While movie pundits expect ‘Boyhood‘ will sweep the Oscars this Sunday, many “in the know” seem to think ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ (with its 9 Oscar nominations) will play spoiler and grab a few of the coveted golden statues. As is the case with all Wes Anderson films, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is absolutely spectacular to look at. From the striking color palettes and charming Eastern European scenery, to the meticulously crafted Art Noveau decor that exudes old world luxury – the world of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is a world most of us wouldn’t mind living in.

While the fictional city of Lutz in the imagined country of Zubrovka means living in that world would be impossible, there are plenty of current Coldwell Banker listings that would be a more than fine substitute. One look at these homes and you just might say they could have played a role in the movie I’m predicting will win Best Picture at the Oscars in a few short days (if Boyhood doesn’t win).

Take a look below!

Art Deco 

According to LittleMissArchitect.com, the film’s design aesthetic is mostly Art Noveau, but there are clear Art Deco influences that can be noticed in the Hotel’s decor. Art Deco uses rich colors and bold geometric shapes, as exemplified by these arches that can be found in the Hotel.

If you want the real thing, this French home is right up Wes Anderson’s alley.

Art Deco Geometry 1

Art Deco Geometry 2

Large Drawing Rooms

The large rooms in The Grand Budapest Hotel are highlighted by ornate custom beams on the ceilings, fine hand carved wood floors, beautiful rugs, french doors that let in wonderful views and paneled walls with some of the more intricate but subtle detailing you’ll see anywhere.

The two listings below, one from Chatillon En Bazois and another from Paris, both capture the look in the film almost to perfection. You can almost imagine the main character M. Gustave pacing or ordering Hotel employees to get things in proper shape for special guests.

Paneled Wall Listing 1

Paneled Wall Listing 2

Soaking Spa Tub

This may be a potential spoiler alert, but the inciting incident of the film is when Jude Law’s character meets and begins chatting with F. Murray Abraham’s character in the very large room with various different spa-like tubs.

This scene depicted takes place in the present day when the Hotel isn’t in its best shape. The listing below has a very similar spa-like tub, except it is in pristine condition in a beautiful Villa in the Italian countryside.

Indoor Tub 1

Indoor Pool

Being located somewhere in the cold mountains of Eastern Europe, the owners of The Grand Budapest Hotel were smart when they opted to put a pool inside of the premises as opposed to outside. Pardon the 21st century lingo that would not apply to this movie, but indoor pools are also very baller. Note the Art Deco arches and use of geometric shapes in this room as well.

This $54 million dollar home in Greenwich, Connecticut is more modern than the Hotel, but the pool coupled with its novel use of shapes makes it a space that Wes Anderson could have used.

Indoor Pool

 The Entrance

Any truly luxurious home or property needs to make a grand first impression, and The Grand Budapest Hotel does just that. As soon as you walk through those doors you’re greeted by an enormous space with a beautiful chandelier, stairs, balconies and some seriously fine trimmings just to name a few. When you walk in those doors you know you are in for a special experience.

An entryway as large and beautiful as the one from the movie is hard to replicate, but if any home can do it, the $195 million Palazzo di’ Amore is more than up to the task. Having had the good fortune to tour this property while we filmed World’s Most Expensive Homes, I can personally attest to just how world class it is. I’m sure M. Gustave would approve of these “quarters”.

Entryway 1


The Setting

The Grand Budapest Hotel is located in a fictional town in a fictional country, but inspiration for the area surrounding the hotel comes from Eastern European classic countries like the Czech Republic. The Hotel’s beauty is only rivaled by the land that surrounds it. One would think that the exterior shots were all CGI, but Wes Anderson shot most of the exteriors in Gorlitz, Eastern Germany, close to the border of Poland.

Who wouldn’t want to vacation or even live somewhere as magical and pleasant as that? Anderson’s movies are usually made up “worlds”, but the fact is there are actual places as beautiful as Lutz. Case in point, take a look at what surrounds this one-of-a-kind property nestled between snow-capped mountains in Aspen, Colorado.

Mountains 1


The suites at The Grand Budapest Hotel are outfitted with all the amenities you could ask for, but one of the highlights of the suites would be the large french doors that open up to small balconies. You can either keep the doors open to let in light, fresh air and stunning views; or you can stand out and get a first-hand look at the gorgeous landscape.

The colors might not completely match, but the balcony in this Roman Palazzo listed for $5.5 million seems like it could have been plucked right off the set.

Balcony 1


The Grand Budapest Hotel Exterior

The exterior of the Hotel that you see in the Oscar nominated film is actual footage of a real life model that Wes Anderson’s art department built from scratch. In any event, the exterior is striking nonetheless! The Hotel appears to be a wonderfully kept up castle with two different but complimentary shades of pink. Highlights of the exterior are the towers on the left and right sides, the windows, balconies and classic European architecture.

Grand Budapest Hotel Exterior

We have castles, villas, palazzos and basically every “style” of home you could think of coldwellbanker.com. Here are three real homes that resemble the exterior of The Grand Budapest Hotel in some way or another.

This pink home in the heart of the Italian countryside seems like it could be the little brother or sister to the Hotel.

Exterior listing 1

The large towers and ornate facade of this Roman castle certainly do appear to be every bit as Grand as the Hotel.

Exterior listing 2

Last but certainly not least, this castle on 16 acres of French countryside may not be as colorful as the Hotel, but there is a definite resemblance!

Exterior listing 3


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At Coldwell Banker Real Estate, we’re always excited for the Academy Awards, but even more so this year. We’re excited to see who will take home statues, but we’re even more pumped for the TV debut of our “Home’s Best Friend” commercial that we released online a week ago. If you’d like to learn more about how we’re looking to find 20,000 adoptable dogs homes this year, click here!




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Why Realtors Say You Should Rethink Your Floor

Guest Post via Colby Walker, Director of Marketing & E-Commerce at Lumber Liquidators

At Lumber Liquidators, we’ll admit an obvious bias toward hardwood and laminate. Simply put, we think our products will outshine carpet anywhere, anytime. So we decided to check ourselves against the opinions of those in the business of assessing homeowner preferences. We asked more than 100 real estate agents a simple question: Would you rather sell a home with hardwood or carpet?

In the eyes of those who sell homes for a living, wood is the unanimous choice. Why exactly? For one thing, most real estate agents feel that hardwood makes selling a given home a lot more likely. For real estate agents and the sellers they serve, that’s a no-brainer:  Whatever your local market looks like, everyone appreciates a leg up on the competition.

But homes with hardwood aren’t just more likely to sell period; they also sell for more. According to the National Association of Realtors, buyers pay $2,080 more on average for a home with hardwood over comparable properties. Consider our rock-bottom prices to find out just how much your profit margin could be on a hardwood upgrade.

After consulting the real estate agents, we also wondered how much hardwood could spruce up a room in the eyes of the average person. We polled more than 1,000 individuals from across the U.S., presenting them with photos of 10 homes before and after real LL customers installed hardwood. (For thousands of transformation photos like these submitted by actual customers, check out our remodelling page.) Here’s the effect of hardwood on the crowd’s perception of these homeowners:

That’s right: Having hardwood in your home might make a more powerful impression than you think. The crowd perceived hardwood homeowners to be almost one-third more stylish, and 20.5% wealthier. How about 14% happier, and 13.9% more welcoming? For good measure, try 17% smarter on for size: If hardwood provides all these benefits, maybe those with wood floors really are that much smarter (check out a full graphic with more results here). They say there’s no accounting for taste, but in these surveys, we’ve tried to do just that. When it comes to being crazy about hardwood, looks like we’re not alone.

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