Where are all the shelter blogs written by men?

It is so hard finding good, current shelter or DIY blogs to read.

It’s even harder to find some written from the guy’s perspective.

Two of my favorites are Kim & Scott of Yellow Brick Home and Sherry & John from Young House Love – one is actively still blogging, the other has stopped blogging on their website, but launched a Podcast (which isn’t exactly the same thing, but something I love listening to every week).

Yellow Brick Home Kitchen
Kim & Scott beautiful Yellow Brick Home’s Kitchen
Young House Love
Such a comfortable Living room from John and Sherry of Young House Love

I love good photography, and beautifully styled rooms.  I don’t always need all the step by step DIY how-tos, or material lists.  Mostly I just want inspiration, and a little bit of “what were they thinking” when they started this project.  For me that’s the fun part.  Especially when they are written as a good story.

Why are blogging guys so rare in this space?  Is it that they don’t have the same sense of style?  Are they computer illiterate?  Impossible!  Is there no audience for them?

I don’t think so – there are some great male designers like Colin Cowie and Jeff Lewis, but they don’t really blog that much.  There are of course lots more but I don’t have the ability to add them all here.

A Jeff Lewis Styled House
A Jeff Lewis Styled House

A few others I want to shout out specifically are:  Daniel Kanter who authors Manhattan-Nest is one of the rare guy home bloggers, and Chris from Chris Loves Julia is another one where I have read every post.  Every single one.

Manhattan Nest
Warm and Masculine – the living room on Manhattan Nest
Chris and Julia
I could cook all day in Chris and Julia’s Kicthen

Finding the perfect blog to stalk is hard.  I think Emily Henderson says it best:

To find blogs that have great ideas, information and pretty styling and photography is super rare.

And when you start to look for one written by a dude, the list gets real short real quick.

The combination of all those things, as well as the ability to tell and write a great story keeps me coming back again and again.

Are you like me?  Do you prefer a blog that stays on topic – one that is almost from the perspective of the house?

Who are your favorite male / guy shelter bloggers?  Let us know in the comments below. – Thanks!

Original House Photos

Today I discovered a little treasure.

My 5 year old loves looking at pictures.  He prefers to look at pictures of himself as a baby, or of photos of me and his mom together when we were younger.  A few days ago he asked about our house.

For some reason, today, he wanted to see pictures of our house when we moved in.  2009 was the year, and although I had a big professional Nikon D200, and took tons of shots when we closed, I have no idea where those photos are stored.

I think they are on one of my old servers that is currently stored under the guest bed in my office.

I also had my old iPhone which is in my office at work – that probably has some photos on it as well.

I could be better at organizing them.  I SHOULD be more together at organizing them.  My main excuse is that I need a new laptop.  It’s a good reason, but if I wait too much longer, I fear I won’t be able to access the old storage systems I used to use as new technology stops for nobody.

Remember those old 5 1/4 floppy drives?  I do.  Most of my college papers were saved on those.  I’ve got a box of them in the garage attic – not even close to archival storage.

Anyway, when he asked about seeing what our house looked like before he was born, I scratched my head for a minute, trying to figure out the easiest way to solve the problem.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could look at the old MLS photos from when our house was listed.

In fact, it’s a great archive of what this place looked like when we started, before our first series of renovations.

The place looked like 1988, complete with tacky wallpaper, wall to wall carpet (including in the bathroom), and popcorn on every ceiling.

For me, it was easy to access these pictures – Since I’m a Realtor, I simply logged on to the MLS, and searched for my house.  There is a record of all the sales, as well as photos from the last time it was on the market.

So I just downloaded them.

You probably aren’t a Real Estate agent, but I’ll bet Zillow may have a record, and I know your agent would be happy to dig them up for you using their credentials.  Maybe give it a try.

This is the fireplace in the living room.  I really like the herringbone brick pattern, but can’t stand the fake brushed bronze fireplace doors.  We still haven’t changed this, but I have some ideas to make it more updated, and add a mantle as well.

Here is the kiddos bedroom.  Absolutely nothing to write home about.  For a while this was my office, and I had bookcases against the wall you see next to the window.

One of the features we really loved about this place was the backyard.  Especially this deck.  Of course all the ferns and house plants are long gone, but we still have the french doors.  We spend a ton of time out here.
The complete backyard.  The big Elm in the middle of the photo had to be cut down, and I’ve done a lot of landscaping, but we still really love our yard.

This is the 3rd bedroom.  We also call it the ball room,  It gets the best natural light in the morning.

This is the master bath.  Notice the wall to wall carpet, old vanity, and amazing wall paper.  We have pretty much gutted this room, and totally redone it.

Here is the living room.  It is a huge space with amazing light in the afternoon.  Behind the camera is a wall of windows that look into the yard.  Also, it’s hard to tell, but ceiling slopes up to a final height of 18-feet, creating a majestic space.  My goal is to build some built-ins against the long wall and put in my vintage stereo, and record collection.

Anyway, I hope you liked this starting tour of our house.  It’s come a long way, but there is a lot more to show and do!

Worth it

The other day, I met a fellow stay at home dad.

This guy was visiting Austin from NYC for the weekend, and we struck up a conversation.  I asked why he came to town, and he told me that he was just visiting a friend.  As we got to talking, and I learned he had a law degree, but was now the main caregiver at home for his 1 and 5 year old boys.

It is so rare for me to find someone who is in the same situation as I.

For the last 5 years, ever since our son was born, I have been the primary care giver at home.  My wife has a good paying job, with even better benefits, and we decided that she would be the breadwinner, and I would begin raising our kid.

Do you know how it feels to be the only dad pushing a stroller down the street in the middle of the morning?

What about sitting alone on a bench at the playground as all the kids run around and the other moms sit together chatting with their Yeti cups filled with who knows what.

Speaking of that, what do moms put in those tumblers?  I’d like to think it is some kind of secret elixir that provides endless amounts of energy while simultaneously removing weight.

In reality it is probably a wine spritzer spiked with Tito’s Vodka.

Sadly, I’m not part of the club that will ever know what they drink. (my Cup has ice water.)

One time, while taking my kid to to the neighborhood pool, I was able to catch a glimpse of a mommy re-filling her stainless steel cup.  Her mommy bag was tucked behind one of the pool lounge chairs, and I was able to see her screw the top off a bottle of white wine, despite her best efforts to hide her actions with a towel. – Gotcha!

But I’m not one to judge.  Whatever gets you through the day, I’ve always said.

New York City, is a much faster paced, intense town, and I can only imagine the pressure this guy felt because he would have been the only dad with 2 kids, among not just rich stay at home moms, but also the nannies that populate the Big Apple.  I’ve read the Nanny Diaries.  I know what it’s like.

His wife is like mine.  Dedicated. Hard working.  Driven.  Great qualities that were what first attracted me to my wife.  Plus she is a great mom.  Always there for our Son when he needs her, taking time off to attend school events and so on.  And when she comes home from work, she is available to give me a break after 10 hours of playing talking Legos with a pre-schooler.

I learned that what gets me through the day, is the same thing that gets my new friend from NYC through the day.  Being the best Dad I can be.  Working hard to be a parent.  Giving endless love to our kids.  Turning adversity into teaching moments.  Kissing scrapped elbows and knees to make them better.  Wiping up pee-pee from the side of the toilet.  Picking up toys 24 hours a day that are strewn EVERYWHERE.  The list goes on and on.

But it is all worth it.


House styles in Austin TX

Tudor Revival
Medieval Style
Spanish Colonial
Stucco Dutch Colonial
Spanish Colonial
Colonial Revival
Brick Colonial Revival
Classical Revival
Craftsman Style
Monterey Style
Brick Multi-family
Colonial Revival
French Eclectic
Tudor Revival Duplex
Colonial Revival
Brick Bungalow
Brick Rectangular
Tudor Revival Duplex
Tudor Revival
Colonial Revival
Georgian Colonial Rev
Tudor Revival
Brick Tudor Revival
Moderne/Bohn House
Colonial Revival style
Wood Asymmetrical
Wood Colonial Revival
International Style
Wood Asymmetrical
Brick Colonial Revival
International Style
Ranch Style
Stone Bungalow
Brick Asymmetrical
Wood Asymmetrical
Ranch Style
Mid Century Modern

Using Foursquare to open a real estate lockbox

OK I know there is already something like this for real estate boxes using IR technology, but check this out:

You can read more on their blog post, but they aren’t giving away any big secrets.  They don’t really need to.  Anyone with a soldering iron, a bit of Python programming and a cell phone could make this happen in an afternoon.  Be sure to  follow @istrategylabs on Twitter (I do).

So what is this exactly?  How do I check-in with my cell phone?  What is that.  It’s Foursquare.

If you haven’t heard of FourSquare it”s a location based game that you play using your mobile phone (iPhone, Android, or other smartphone).  Businesses and locations have check-ins, and users can only check in when they are actually, physcially at the location.  There is also the ability to add tips to each location – stuff like “this restaurant has the best Cobb salad”, or “mention the secret word for a 10% discount”.  Plus there are a few game-like aspects to Foursquare.  The person who has the most check-ins at a particular location becomes the Mayor, and some places offer special deals to the Mayor (like free ice-cream).  Users can also collect badges.  Stuff like – visit 3 Apple stores and get the Steve Jobs badge.

Imagine the possibilities of integrating Foursquare with Real Estate.  Let’s start from the perspective of an agent.  Imagine if every property was a check-in:

  • Use foursquare to unlock the front door (or open the lockbox)
  • track which agents showed your property
  • see nearby similar properties, or cool places to eat, or get gas, or …?
  • get tips on special locations (Realtors and visitors can add tips to properties when they check in)
  • Mayorship of a neighborhood – discover who truly is an expert on a certain neighborhood, they will have the most check-ins.
  • Track open house attendance

And from the buyer’s perspective

  • See all the listings in the area
  • Find open houses nearby
  • Earn badges for visiting open houses
  • Earn badges by visiting X listings by a certain agency
  • Find nearby services like gas stations, and supermarkets
  • learn who the Mayor of a neighborhood is (great person to talk to about the area)
  • Get Tips on special features on specific properties (Check out the garden in the back, or this house has a built in instant hot water heater).

Foursquare has been huge among lots of businesses, like Starbucks, and even niche groups like Food Trucks.  I predict that in 2012, Foursquare will hit Real Estate, and only help our industry.

Real Estate Photography

While visiting an open house last Sunday, an idea came to me, that quite frankly I’m surprised I didn’t think of before.

Modern Living room iphone

I was visiting a very modern house on Jeff Davis St. in Austin, and while I was walking around my iPhone came out, and I just naturally began to snap photos of the place.  I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to technology, and am still using the original iPhone. The 2G model. I stood in line, outside in front of an Apple store for 4 hours to get it, and for years have lovingly taken care of it. I have it with me ALWAYS, and it is my link to YOU!

That’s when it hit me. Photos for real estate.  There are really only two things people want when they are looking for a house  Price and Pictures.  I can’t do anything about the price until I’m licensed, but I can take some incredible photos.  You don’t need to just believe me on this, you can actually check out my 6+ years of wedding photos on my portfolio site Photo-Forward.com.

I’ve got experience with Real Estate Photography in Austin, and can provide Realtors with pricing.

Just so you know, all the photos on this post were taken with just my first generation iPhone.  No editing, no fancy lighting, no fancy camera.  If you are a Realtor in the Austin area, I’d love to chat with you and learn your requirements for pictures.  I love to do interiors, and really REALLY love sunset shots of exteriors.

My style is clean, fresh, and natural.  I don’t like to over-process images (no HDR here), and have enough equipment for any size condo or house.

If you are interested, send me a note and I’ll get right back to you.

Bathroom iPhone Pic


Kitchen iPhone Open House