Six “What were we thinking?” home design trends

Melamine Cabinetry with wood trim. In the early 90s my mother ripped a cottage in Palo Alto down to the studs. When she put it back together, this was her cabinetry choice, probably sourced from Merillat Cabinetry,  You can learn how to paint over melamine online, but it honestly sounds so labor intensive, that you are better off doing a reface or replace.

Mexican tile floors. Will you think less of me if I tell you I still love these? Probably because they remind me of childhood vacations in Puerto Vallarta. But they also scare me: one good slip and you could crack your head open.

Tuscan kitchens. In the early 2000s I wrote a story about remodeled kitchens for a glossy magazine. More than one of them looked like this. The only thing I ever liked about them was their tendency toward soft lighting.

Vertical blinds. We still see them and we still hate them. The house my husband and I own now had them in the family room. Because I am like the cobbler with no shoes we waited a few years before finally replacing them.

Sponged walls. You could always tell the difference between a do-it-yourself job and a professionally done sponged wall. Yes-people actually made money doing this. I have a friend who paid his way through college with this skill.

Pastel florals. Another favorite of my mother. She had an overstuffed giant sofa and two armchairs upholstered with this stuff in our family room– with the Mexican tile floor.

Happy Faux Fur Friday

Animals rejoice as we celebrate Faux Fur Friday!  Now is your chance to pull out that neon leopard print fur you’ve been waiting to wear. 

More Ways To Improve Your Credit

Yesterday we began a discussion on improving your credit before going to get qualified for home financing. Today we’re going to continue looking at that topic to look at some more tips from MyFicowhich knows of which it speaks.

First off, let’s look at payment history, which contributes the greatest percentage (35 percent) to a FICO score calculation. If you want to improve this category, here are the steps you can take:

· Pay bills in a timely manner.

· If you’ve missed payments, get and stay current.

· Know that you can’t remove a collection account simply by paying it off.

· If you’re struggling, contact your creditors or retain a legitimate credit counselor.

Now let’s look at amounts owed, which contribute 30 percent to a FICO score. A few tips in this category:

· Keep your credit-card and revolving-credit balances low.

· Don’t move debt around – pay it off.

· Don’t try to raise your score by closing unused credit cards.

· Likewise, don’t try to increase your available credit by opening unnecessary credit accounts.

What about the length of your credit history?

· If you haven’t been managing credit for very long, don’t open many new accounts in a short time.

· Know that these new accounts lower your average account age, which in turn has a larger effect on your scores absent much other data.

· In addition, you may look like a credit risk if you’re a new credit user opening many accounts in short order.

So how to handle new credit?

· Limit your rate shopping to a focused time period as FICO scores distinguish between searching for a single loan and a search for many credit lines.

· If you’ve had issues, re-establish a good credit history.

· Know that requesting and checking your own credit report won’t cause any dings.

Finally, a few more general tips:

· Establish new credit only as needed.

· Don’t be afraid to have credit cards – but manage them with care.

· Know that closing an account doesn’t remove it from your credit report.

Have more specific questions? Get in touch!

Call 415-577-0809 or email

How Can I Improve My Credit?

There’s really no getting around the fact that in order to get the best deal on home financing – and often to even qualify in the first place – your credit must be in good shape. Here’s the good news: even if your score needs a little boning up, there are ways to do that. You just need a little bit of patience and focus in addition to time. Start early so that you don’t have to stress out when you actually go to look for that dream home.

According to MyFicorepairing your credit can be likened to losing weight in that it’s time-consuming and there really is no quick fix. You didn’t accumulate your score overnight, and likewise you won’t fix it overnight either. Responsible management of your money over time is seen as the most likely way to rebuild your credit – but MyFico also breaks that down into actionable steps. Let’s check them out.

First, you need to check your credit report to make sure that the data contained there is current and accurate. Remember that you can get a free credit report on a periodic basis from Check it carefully to make sure that there are no wrongly listed late payments, that the amounts owed are correct and that there are no accounts listed falsely under your name.

Payment reminders will help you keep track of on-time bill management. Your bank may offer this through its online portal. You can also enroll in automatic payments, but keep in mind that this will only make the minimum payment and is not a way to better learn about money management.

Debt reduction is a longer-term but very positive goal. Your credit report can be used as a base here to see what you owe – and from that point on, make a vow to stop using your credit cards. You can then come up with a reasonable payment plan to get your debt down and eventually erased.

We’ll look at more credit-improvement tips tomorrow.

Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners.  Call 415-577-0809 or email

San Francisco Mines Gold in Michelin’s 2019 Bib Gourmand List

Michelin’s Guide star rating carries enormous cache in the restaurant world. The precursor to the Michelin Guide stars awarded each year (coming out next week) is the Bib Gourmand List, a lesser firmament, yet still a very heavy award for any restaurant. The List just came out and San Francisco placed 8 restaurants on the roster for 2019. Other towns in the Bay area also garnered the prize. All told, the Bay Area now has 68 restaurants as Bib Gourmands, ranging across 40 different cuisine varieties.

SF is very expensive city to open a restaurant, with the average hit to the pocketbook being $750,000. That’s sans rent or expenses after the opening. It’s becoming more and more challenging for restaurants to survive in the city, as workers can’t afford to live here, and the cost of creativity is rising. However, the 8 SF establishments on Bib do prove that creative cuisine, cost management, and building a rep for affordable quality do contribute to success. Among the SF restaurants honored are: M.Y. China, Cotogna, A16, Anchor Oyster Bar, DOSA.

Happy National Flossing Day!

It’s National Flossing Day. And what perfect timing considering most of us spent all day yesterday chomping on turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Famous SF Restaurants: Ernie’s

If you’re pining for the legendary restaurant Ernie’s, go rent Vertigo and fast forward to the part where Scotty gets his first glimpse of Madeleine. For this scene, Hitchcock recreated the restaurant’s Ambrosia Room right down to the glowing red silk wallpaper. He even hired one of Ernie’s owners, Victor Gotti, to play a maître d. “I was supposed to say good evening to Jimmy Stewart when he came into the restaurant,” said Gotti to the Chronicle years later. “So he walked in and I said, ‘Good evening Mr. Stewart.’ I screwed it all up. They had to shoot it again.”

Check out the famous Ambrosia Room here.