Welcome to another episode of Perspectives! This week, we sit down with the design team behind Eric Seltz – one of our firm’s upstanding agents, whom you may remember from a previous episode.
Laurel Bledsoe of Laurel Bledsoe Designs and Kristen Britt of Creative Kitchen and Bath are the design geniuses behind many of the beautifully renovated homes throughout our community.
The three share their story of how they got started in the real estate renovation industry, when they started working together to beautify our city, how they help homeowners, buyers, and sellers renovate their homes to meet their needs, and what they do to help real estate sellers improve their home to be competitive in the market within their neighborhood.
“Our job is making sure that our clients homes fit their needs.” – Kristen Britt
In This Episode of Perspectives:
- We learn how Laurel and Kristen help Eric bring more value and resources to his business and his clients.
- They share their systematic design process while working with clients.
- They explain how they help homeowners compete with other real estate properties on the market within the same neighborhood.
- Laurel explains how the team helps homeowners identify what renovations their home really need to sell, and what they don’t.
Connect with Eric Seltz:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- (502) 594-4700
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Louisville Design Team Podcast Transcript:
In this week’s episode of Perspectives, brought to you by Louisville’s luxury real estate brokerage, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, I’m speaking with Laurel Bledsoe and Kristen Britt, both of Laurel Bledsoe Designs, along with Eric Seltz, one of our fine upstanding agents in the office. Thank you all for coming in today.
Kristen: Thank you.
Greg: Eric, I’d like to start with you. We’ve spoken many times. You’ve been kind enough to stop in and do a podcast or two. You approach real estate projects a little bit differently than a lot of agents. You often get a lot of people involved in a purchase or a sell, beyond just buyers and sellers.
I’m kind of curious where the two guests that you invited in today, how do they fit into that process? How’d you meet them? What do they do for you? Just that whole … This is part of your team that you spoke about in one of your podcasts before, right?
Eric: Absolutely. It’s truly what I love about my particular business is, I’m able to bring resources to people to truly improve whatever we’re doing. Whether we’re buying or selling a property, whether we’re adding on, just making it their own and making it different.
This all started probably 12 to 15 years ago where I met Laurie on a project. I met her through another agent. We started doing projects together. The thing that has been so great about it is, we’ve had a team formed for almost that entire time. We bring a consistent group of people and resources into our clientele.
They love it because we know, first of all, the quality of what we’re going to be able to produce for them and the quality of the individuals who are in their homes and doing the work. That has continued to grow and it continues to be a strength for my business, but it’s also a wonderful resource and just makes this business a lot of fun as well.
Greg: Laurie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the work that you do for Eric. When he says he has “a team,” what is your part of the team? What are you doing? What are you doing for his clients that you help out with?
Laurie: Well, often when Eric calls us, or when any of our clients call us, it’s because someone has what they perceive to be a problem. We’re really just listening to the clients’ needs on what the problem is. Is their home too small, too big? Are they looking for a new home? Is it outdated and need to be updated to sell? Then, when they’re looking at new homes, do they want to make changes to make that home unique?
Really, the team is, we’re just a part of the support team and the client takes the lead as the team leader on what our job is.
Greg: Kristen, we just heard from Laurie. How do you fit into the process here? The two of you help design a home to buy or sell. Maybe the home that Eric’s clients are buying or selling, where do you fit in here?
Kristen: I will, a lot of times, first I’ll have just an initial consultation with the client to go and see how they’re using their home and what they’re wanting us to help them with. I will take measurements, photos and then work with Laurie on the next steps of what they are wanting to accomplish.
Eric: The wonderful thing about Kristen, and I’m going to let Laurie talk a little bit about how Kristen came into the team, but she’s our front end now. She’s the one who helps us really get things started. She lays the groundwork for the design and has been tremendous at getting that done for us quickly and starting a project off on a great …
Greg: Before we get into the nitty gritty who does what and how it’s done, can you all give me an idea of a project that we’re talking about? Like a real life scenario. Are we talking about changing paint colors? Are we talking about staging? Are we talking about moving walls? Are we talking about total renovations? What actually are we talking about here?
Eric: Pretty much, all of the above.
Kristen: All of the above.
Eric: Jump in and start talking about a few ideas, but all of the above, definitely.
Laurie: Do you want something in particular?
Greg: Yeah. I’d like to hear a couple of examples of a project or two that you’ve worked on.
Laurie: Well, for example, this week, which I do come into Louisville, as needed, but it’s been as often as once a month, sometimes it’s every six weeks. Sometimes, it’s every six months because the team’s in place, I don’t have to be here in Louisville to be part of the team and to do the design work.
For example, this week we’ll probably see three to five people a day over the week. One of the projects is someone is considering whether to stay in their home and update it or to purchase another home. Some of the homes they’ve looked at need some updates as well. Will their furnishings work in the new space? How will they use the new space?
If we get down to paint colors, it’s a breeze. Usually, it’s just making sure that whatever they’re thinking about, their homes fit their needs.
Greg: Anything that falls under design is what you’re helping with. If someone’s not sure, you just mentioned if they want to stay in their home or if they want to move, you’re actually meeting with the clients and trying to figure out what’s best for them?
Laurie: We do that with Eric, yes.
Eric: That’s been a great resource for me because sometimes people don’t realize that what they’re looking at is a great fit for them or may not be a good fit for them. Laurie, a lot of times, will come with us to look at, when we get down to our final picks for housing, we’ll run them by her and involve them with the client because she also helps make that decision sometimes and certainly makes it easier because sometimes people can’t see what a space can be or how it can change and how easily things can be done as well.
Greg: Kristen, you work for … Well, I forgot the name. A kitchen cabinet …
Kristen: I work for Creative Kitchen and Bath.
Kristen: We’re a plumbing showroom. We sell anything from faucets to toilets to tubs. Also, that’s a great resource for us that we can offer our clients and give them a discount that we get.
Greg: How does that work with you and Laurie? If she’s out-of-town frequently and you’re working with the Kitchen and Bath company, what is the connection? What actually happens on a day-to-day or inside a job? What are we looking at?
Kristen: A day-to-day basis, I’m working in the showroom for Creative Kitchen and Bath. Sometimes, clients from Laurie, they will use our resources, but then if it’s something for just under Laurie, I’ll do that after hours, after work at Creative Kitchen and Bath.
Greg: Are you taking pictures of the home or trying to figure out … Not trying to figure, you’re looking at it, but seeing what a home looks like now and then sending things along to Laurie. Then, Laurie says, “This is what could be. This is what should be.” Then, how do you get from here to there? Nodding your head doesn’t work on a podcast…
Kristen: Sorry. Nodding back-and-forth.
Laurie: Let me jump in.
Laurie: Let me just tell you quickly. Kristen came onboard with our team about a year and a half ago. We just reconnected. I’m going to let her tell you the history of that later, but when she goes with an initial client, she’ll take massive photos, more than anybody would ever think to take. Takes measurements of the area that we’re looking at and then we do almost exclusively, back-and-forth, email, text.
She’s got a fantastic CAD program that we’re able to manipulate just through iPads and phones and things like that. She’s really, again, as Eric said, she’s a lot of times the first person that the clients see. Then, we truly all really work together after that.
Eric: What is incredible about this process is even though a lot of it’s done remotely, the visuals that are produced through the programs they use and the way they communicate simply as email, is really helpful because the documentation of whatever work we do for a client is right in front of them. We end up giving clients a pretty detailed program of what’s going to happen.
For example, that makes it easy if we have to go out and bid for additional work or additional subs. The way they produce and document the projects is wonderful.
Greg: Eric, I’m curious how you use this team within your business. Have you ever talked yourself out of work because if someone loves the suggestions from these ladies next to us and they decide to stay put, you’re not selling a home, right? You don’t …
Eric: That’s okay because this has been a relationship that produces the kind of business I want to build. I mean, we have clients now that have done multiple houses with us. I’m a firm believer in good design is always a good basis to build my business on.
I always bring them in as a resource. Whether people hire us completely all the time, is up to them. I certainly leave that for their decision, but when it works, it is the best thing that can happen. It’s just been a great additional resource for me to bring into a client relationship.
Greg: I’d like to ask all three of you the same scenario and how each of you would play into it. If Eric is going to sell a house and the house has not been updated in a long time. We all see these kinds of homes great neighborhood, great bones, but really needs to be updated but the house down the street has been renovated and looks really showy in pictures.
Eric, how do you compete against that showy house? How do you use Kristen and Laurie to help you, from a marketing point of view, compete against that house that has been redone or updated? That situation?
Eric: We’re working a project right now where we can either … The client has to decide whether they want to discount their house to be competitive so that if somebody comes in to do the work, they’re priced appropriately or do they want to bring the house more up-to-date so that they can maximize the dollar for their sale?
I generally bring Laurie and Kristen in to help guide through, “Well, what does that look like? Do we have to spend … What do we have to spend in order to bring it up to the market?” The thing that I’ve always appreciated and the skill that they bring to my team that I use all the time is, they can help us decide, “Well, this really is a great way to improve the property without a full gut.”
They can make tweaks to something that make us competitive if I am going to sell it. We’re always trying to be mindful of the dollars going into a project. What is the best way to use a design dollar for resale? Clients will generally decide, “I’m just going to discount it and go to market.” If they don’t want to do that, we then have to come in and do something.
The thing that is also important is, we can also do it very quickly. A lot of these turnarounds blow me away at how quickly we can get work done.
Greg: Why don’t we start there? The turn around? Does that mean that Kristen’s going to come through and take pictures really quickly. Laurie’s going to take a look at those and get you an idea of what needs to be done. Or, are you talking about doing all the work that might need to be done to completely redesign the interior?
Eric: We’ve done quick fixes in as short as a week to two weeks. Then, we’ve done big projects that should have taken six months that we’ve gotten done in three. A lot of that depends on how quickly a client works with us too, and makes decisions quickly and effectively. Because we have a team of people that we depend on, we can turn things around pretty quickly.
Greg: Laurie, let me throw that down to you. If Eric’s working with someone in that situation, where they probably need to either discount their house a significant amount or do some work to get it to where it should be to compete, do you approach that differently? Or, is it basically just a blank canvas and someone says, “What would you do with this house?”
Laurie: First of all, once Eric gives us a call. I will contact that person. We usually have a phone conversation because you can learn a lot about what they’re wanting to accomplish, what they’re afraid of, what they’re excited about, and that time often leads to a best way to approach something. It’s at that point that Kristen would go over and take physical photos and measurements, if needed, but usually we just start with photos at that point.
Then, we have another conversation with the client. Many, many, many times, they think they need to do so much work where they really don’t have to do quite as much if their goal is to sell, but I would like to say that we like to do any kind of updating, any renovating, any money you put into your home, what if you don’t sell, that it’s still something that you can enjoy until you’re ready to buy a new home.
Greg: Then, Kristen, how did this become a team? I’ve heard you all mention a couple of times that there’s some kind of story here, how the two of you got connected, but what is the story?
Kristen: I remember meeting Laurie when I was 7-years-old. My parents had hired her as a designer because they’d just bought their nice dream home. She was just helping me, pretty much, design my little girl’s dream room. That was the first day that I met Laurie and then, I’ve kind of stayed in touch my whole life. Then, I guess about a year and a half ago, I graduated from Indiana University …
Greg: Go Hoosiers!
Kristen: … with a design … Yes, go Hoosiers! … with a design degree. I started working at Creative Kitchen and Bath, but I was still wanting more. I just was wanting to grow and learn more. I was looking for a mentor. At that time, my parents again were wanting to update their house because it had been a while, so they reached out to Laurie. That’s how we reconnected. Through Laurie, I met Eric. Now, we’re a good team.
Eric: It’s been great. We truly can’t do what we are doing, without Kristen. She’s such a tremendous resource in addition to the projects we can bring to our clients.
Greg: If someone’s listening and they want to reach any of the three of you, we’ll start to my left and go around the table, that leaves Eric to be last. If someone wants to reach you, Laurie, what’s the best way to find you.
Laurie: Well, you can look at our website, which is laurelbledsoedesign.com. That has just a general overview of the services that we do offer and contact information, our phone numbers and our emails, or you can call Eric and get our phone number.
Greg: All right. Kristen.
Kristen: Again, it would be through our website or you can shoot us an email.
Eric: Thank you so much.
Laurie: You’re welcome.
Thank you for joining Perspectives this week. Presented by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. If you have an idea for a future episode or think you might like to participate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Please, if you like this series, make sure to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, then leave us a review, and share and like on all your favorite social media channels. You can find more episodes like this one as well as all available homes for sale in the Louisville market at our website, lsir.com.