Getting Hammered: Debunking the flip

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See those Galbraith and Paul curtains hanging on the Lux Hold Ups Rods custom made in Brooklyn by female artisans – no normal flipper would ever buy those.  The cost a quarter of most flippers total renovation budget.  Don’t you just love them?

As I was preparing for a big real estate summit that’s coming to the city I came across some interesting sessions on social media, streaming, video production and branding for business.  All things that are important to me.  I should say – this is a corporate real estate summit, not a residential one, and it’s for my full time job, not my side hack.  Still, by design, these worlds collide, and I learn so much from my personal ventures that contribute meaningfully to my work, and vice versa, that it seems perfectly simpatico.  This research led to me googling myself, and to the discovery of a blog post for which I was the subject.  Or, as I prefer to think of it… the STAR.

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Farrow and Ball Wallcovering costs a fortune.  It’s really art that I leave behind.  I know not everyone will appreciate it.  I did it for me.

Jon Gorey, the author of House and Hammer, took to debunking my junk in his article and making me look like more of a hasbin than a starlet.  Hum!  Using me as a cautionary tale to all those wannabe flippers out there, he suggested that my efforts (and yours by the way) would have been better spent sitting around on the sofa for the next 10 or 30 years and cashing in at the end, having foregone the hassle, and the hustle associated with my high cost renovations.

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TV may make it seem sexy but it’s hard work.  Even Chip is sweating there.  A lot of sweet goes into it.

I must say that I have an appreciation for his style of writing, his clear understanding of the numbers, the risks associated with real estate ventures, and for his love of homes.  Pay close attention to all that because it’s true!  He says flipping is sexy – not true and that marble and Parisian chandeliers are not what the South End needs, or buyers necessarily want.  That I suppose is simply a matter of opinion.

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I spy a chandelier that still makes me smile.

I like saying “for the record” and “setting the record straight” but the truth is, the truth changes.  My truth at this moment, and as I have recorded it, has always been this…to date that is, I am flipping homes  – for me.  Not for anyone else.  Yes I want to sell them.  Yes I want to make a profit.  Yes I hope to use that profit to get ahead before I retire, but imbedded in those truths is something fundamentally more important that is driving me to renovate these properties.  It’s my love of design and architecture and travel.

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Travel inspiration.

What Jon doesn’t know is that were it not for the sweat, and hives, and the sawdust, I would not have traveled to Paris every other year, a place that is so sublime to me it fills my heart with happiness.  I would not have been to Croatia, Bosnia, Switzerland, Italy, Nantucket, Mexico, and on and on to so many amazing places where people of different cultures open ones mind to both how big, and small, our world is, and art and beauty sit side by side the dirt and grit of our realities.

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Croatia.  Look at that limestone.

Jon doesn’t know that I carefully plan each property based on a design vision that is like none I have done before.  While I certainly learn things along the way, a trick here or there to make the process a bit more easy, or visually more appealing, this is not PS101.  That Parisian chandelier was purchased for me, and boy does it have a good story.  If I were only in this for the money, I would use granite, not marble.  I would paint everything beige, not one of the dozens of refined and/or wild hues that my boyfriend Benjamin Moore has to offer.  I would use Home Depot fixtures, make only cosmetic changes not improvements to the infrastructure (many flippers – though not all – like to keep there money right where they can see it – and that’s not behind the walls).  There are so many things I would do differently if the only thing I was in this for was the bottom line.  Bottom lines are boring.  I never wanted to be a suit.

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Thanks to No. 3 Venice is now part of me.

I’m as pleased as punch that someone wrote about me.  As I said, I think Jon offers some very sound advice.  Being covered in sawdust isn’t for everyone.  You have to love it.  If you are considering making a foray into the adventures of flipping, it’s important to go in with eyes wide open.  Me, I grew up thinking everyone lived like this – you have a choice. Choose wisely.

Authentically Venetian

Having just visited Venice and fallen under its spell, I am not quite ready to move on from this new love.  It’s a magical place, and like any new love it feels steeped in possibility.  As I embark on my next project, I want to incorporate a little of that magic into my new space.  Because as I have said before, magic makes the world go round, or is it love?  I better throw in a little of both for good measure.

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I am fascinated by the quality of Venetian Plaster, and not at all fascinated by brick walls.  To be clear, I don’t dislike them altogether.  It’s just that they don’t feel right for a city apartment, inhabited by a gal, with a style that leans toward modern glamour.  Now if we are talking about brick in the home of a ruggedly handsome man or in the Tuscan hills – I”m totally in support of it.

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I think you know where I am going with this.  That brick “accent” wall in the living room of No.4 will be politely asked to fade into the background.  At Milford Street I was assaulted by three floors of brick wall.  It was too expensive for me to board it, so I had to settle for painting it.  If I was the Imelda Marcos of one bedroom condos as my boss so sweetly suggested – I totally am not – I would have hired a master craftsman and had every square meter of that brick lavishly covered in Venetian Plaster.

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This age old technique, which can be traced back nearly 9500 years, and long before Venice was founded, is achieved by combining slaked lime putty, marble dust and/or quartz.  There are variations on this of course, but this particular recipe is special in that over time the plaster finish will return to its authentic state, which is lime and marble.  Those are both stone in case you were wondering.  It’s incredibly durable, holds its color, performs wonderfully in wet climates, and won’t allow mold to settle on it.  No wonder the Venetian’s like it so much.

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Well I like it too.  It can be brought up to a high shine through increased compression as the material dries.  This is the particular finish I am attracted to, though it can be finished in a matte or a rustic style.  I have even seen it finished to look like clouds of meringue in a little clothing boutique in my neighborhood called Viola Lovely.  Lisa Cancelli Picard’s eye for fashion extends to interior design.  When you visit her shop at 1409 Washington Street . Boston . South End, be sure to make note of the amazing Mid-Century Modern Chandelier she curated for the build-out, and go ahead and touch the walls.  They are delicious.

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While I love the idea of a pigmented finish, I am planning on using white with hints of cream, and gilt like the finish seen above.  Absolutely neutral, no?