By Amanda McAvena
Growing up, I used to walk around the Lake of the Isles near downtown Minneapolis and dream of the day I’d own one of those picturesque homes. I would picture myself planting a vegetable garden in the back while listening to “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. When I moved to Chicago for college, I soon found myself living in a variety of less than ideal and slightly awkward apartments. One was located right next to the red line train and due to the proximity, everyone in the apartment had to pause a conversation as the noise echoed throughout the living room and kitchen.
After moving to New York and spending almost a decade navigating the rental market while working at various advertising agencies, I finally saved enough for a downpayment. It was still a long process – my husband and I spent over a year searching. As we explored various neighborhoods and went to countless open houses, my deep down obsession with architecture and homes was rekindled. I was always interested in how a home could be reimagined and how subtle changes could make a dramatic impact. In the end, I knew we had found our home from the minute we walked in the door. We were immediately drawn to the historic details and loved that the apartment had charm and character. However, it also needed some major updating.
As we acclimated to homeownership, the unexpected outcomes were the creative and design possibilities. New lights! New windows! And with proper planning, we could even move walls! The options were endless. As someone who now works in the real estate industry, I see how these improvements translate into an immediate increase in resale value. After much research and meeting dozens of contractors I’ve also found ways to reimagine and improve spaces without a huge financial cost.
There are also less tangible benefits. As two entrepreneurs, there are days we often spend working from home and have found that owning a property provides us a much better environment than we had while renting. As we enter a new era of employment with a third of the workforce in freelance or flexible roles, the concept of a “home office” is now more important than ever. Having space where you can surround yourself with artwork, books or photos is uplifting, inspiring and enables you to do better work.
Since I find myself in so many people’s homes day-to-day, I draw inspiration from properties I visit. A big part of getting a property ready for sale is staging (designing and placing furniture in the space.) In thinking about what light fixtures or items to add to a sellers’ space, I get ideas for what changes I want to make to my own apartment.
I also work with an incredibly talented staging team, Hovey Design. These sisters are incredible and I love their design and style.
A good friend of mine also has this blog, The Style Line, and I draw inspiration from these stories of other women founders. Their focus on incorporating designs that are longstanding and sustainable make me feel good about the materials and sourcing.
I had never imagined that home ownership would also serve as a creative outlet, and it’s been gratifying to not only see but also experience the life-enhancing benefits of the right design decisions.
Have you been thinking about buying an apartment but don’t know where to start? Get a handle on the financial aspects of a purchase and gain knowledge about the current market. On Feb. 26, join Six Degrees Society & Amanda McAvena, Licensed Real Estate agent from Corcoran (one of New York’s largest real estate firms) for an insider’s look on buying in the city. Reserve your spot here.