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How to Plan Upgrades and Furniture Placement in Your New Home with Leah Hendrix

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House Talk Episode 35 – How to Plan Upgrades and Furniture Placement when Buying a New Home with Leah Hendrix of Cascade Design Center.

Karen Malanga: Hi, this is Karen Malanga with another episode of House Talk. I’m very happy to welcome back Leah Hendrix, our in-house interior designer, as what I like to call her.

What I’ve so enjoyed about Leah is when I’m out showing buyer’s homes and the homes need some updating. Sometimes, they can’t get their arms around it. And she has been terrific in going to the home with the buyers making a plan and helping them feel comfortable that their possessions will fit in the home.

Leah, can you dig into this a little deeper and explain how you do this?

Leah Hendrix: Absolutely, Karen! As you know, there are so many homes in Central Oregon that really are in need of an update, particularly the older resort areas. And so spending some time walking through with buyers that are thinking about remodeling in the future or thinking that they’re going to get into a situation where they want to update something and make it their own, it can help them to outline a budget (to kind of know what they’re going to spend going in) and what some of the areas that they should address maybe first and what that process is going to look like.

Karen: I know a lot of times, my buyers will get a little bit worried. Most of the women want to update the kitchen countertops. And that’s where it’s so valuable to have you come in because you can explain, “Well, maybe we can just start with the island.” And you’re so good with the hard surfaces I think, changing those.

Leah: Absolutely! And the other piece of it too, I think not everyone has the same process for looking at a home and what the value of the home is ever going to be. So there’s always that return on investment piece that you really have to stay clear on.

It’s easy to get into a home and go, “Ah, we’re going to put in a whole new kitchen.” Well, that could be $50,000 or $60,000.

So, you really have to think about what are you ever going to get out of a house in terms of that investment or if they’re getting a great deal on it, then obviously, they can afford to spend a little bit more.

Karen: Yeah, or if they plan on living there for 20 years.

Leah: Right! If it’s their forever home, then the budget can get a little bit more broad for sure.

Karen: So, Leah, when you walk into a home—and we have a lot of the 20 or 30 years old. And they’re beautiful! The spaces are beautiful. The floor plans are perfect. But they do feel older and dated. So, where do you like to start with a buyer?

Leah: We spoke a little bit ago about the oak problem from the ‘80s.

Karen: Yes.

Leah: And there are a lot of different ways to address that.

As I’ve mentioned before, doing a whole new kitchen (say you want walnut or something) is $60,000 to $70,000. But a lot of times, I have some fantastic people that can refinish the cabinets. There are a lot of different options for changing color tones, but just bringing in some more tones that aren’t those golden oak or red oak.

We tend to try to get rid of red. I don’t know why that’s my goal in life. But that’s one of the things that I feel really dates the house, when you get that red oak that’s just kind of aged and not feeling too current.

Karen: Yeah, yeah. That’s a great point.

Leah: So Leah, aside from the kitchen which I know is super important when you enter a home, and maybe to the buyer like where is their furniture going to fit (grandma’s dresser or the giant master bedroom suite), and so we get into the master bedroom, and they’re either really impressed or they’re underwhelmed. Do you find that as well?

Leah: Absolutely, I do. Especially going back to the more dated homes that we’re talking about, a lot of times, it’s just about updating a few finishes, maybe reconfiguring a little bit if that’s an option. Again, it all depends on what they’re getting into the home for.

But creating that spotlight environment in the master bedroom is super important to creating that space. And sometimes, that’s as simple as changing a paint color, sometimes it requires a little bit more work than that.

Karen: Changing a paint color would be awesome if that’s all it took!

Leah: Right! That’s the more affordable version.

Karen: Well, Leah, thank you so much for being with us here today. And how can people reach you?

Leah: They can reach me either via my email which is or on my cellphone, 541-419-1774.