Garage Smarts: Make Room for your Car AND your Stuff

Many garages are really storage units for all the junk that doesn’t fit in the house. My neighbors can’t even squeeze one car into their three-car garage.


Don’t be them. Sometimes people think they have to move, buy a bigger house to accommodate their “lifestyle” of stuff. Maybe not.

Here are some tips to convert garage space back into car space, culled from a variety of sources including a post.

First: Get Stuff Off the Floor
You can spend a lot, or a little on shelving. Industrial strength is great, but I’ve bought 5-tier shelving for $30. Intrepid, tool-savvy people may built shelving for not much more.

Buy a bunch of plastic bins and start sorting. I bought a set of three today at Costco for 12.99. Sort, fill and label them. Put the bins on the shelves, leaving the lowest level clear.

Recommended: Use CLEAR plastic bins and LABEL them.Clear is important. Dark/solid bins turn into mystery boxes hiding who knows what … even if they’re labeled. Put the most used bins at eye/grabbing height. Bins cost another $5-$20 each.

Use Rolling Storage
Add low two metal carts with wheels –and store them (full) under the shelving units. With your newfound open floor space, you can dedicate durable carts to different endeavors — gardening, camping, tailgating. You’ll save transition time (and your back) by rolling all your supplies to the yard or the car.


Pegboards = Instant Time Saver!
Pegboards are the underrated hero of the garage! If you can see it, you can grab it. Hang tools, garden implements, extension cords and other odds and ends that migrate (ok hide) all over the garage. Put pegboards on any (and every?) empty wall. Rakes no longer cluster (and fall) in one corner. The hammer is in plain sight.

Ceiling units
If your garage has a high ceiling, you can’t beat the shelving that screws into the rafters and hangs above the cars. Instant storage space! Hang the kayaks all winter; put the Christmas lights up there until next year. Move it!

Wall Cabinets
More expensive, pretty and very neat: Installing cabinets all around the garage. Home Depot and Lowes abound with do-it-yourself options, or hire a local installer. Once the cabinets are in … use those plastic bins and label the cabinets so you can quickly find your stuff.7-horiz-organized-garage-example

Added Benefits
Complete this project by donating stuff you don’t use to charity for resale. Yes, you really can get rid of 10 percent to 50 percent of the “stuff” in the garage and not miss it..

Profit Potential
Encouraging homeowners to organize vs. buying a bigger home may sound odd coming from a Realtor® — after all my job is to help clients sell and buy homes. For me, it’s a long-term strategy. The secret: Down the road it could payoff. Buyers see a pristine garage as in indicator of quality in the rest of the home.  An organized garage can help a home sell faster, possibly for more money.

Finally: As a Realtor, I’ve seen some pretty amazing garages, and clean garages do impress buyers. Other home features impress buyers more, so don’t worry about making the garage “perfect” or “pretty.” It is a garage for goodness sakes. The idea is to organize it enough to make your life easier on a daily basis.

Some articles (and OCD writers) encourage pretty/color-coordinated work benches, cabinets and boxes. If that’s your thing — share the photos of your garage. Bonus points for “before” vs “after”. I would love to celebrate your victories!

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor ® at Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. Email her at

Why Reno? Lifestyle, Opportunity, Value

Cityscape taken from TMCC. Photo by Sandy Goff.

By Holly O’Driscoll, Chase International Real Estate 

Surrounded by mountains and blessed with an enviable climate, Reno and Sparks offer a breathtaking beautiful place to live, work and play.

Living in the RenoSparks area with its quick commutes, attractive and affordable housing options and its easy access to outdoor adventures attracts thousands of new residents every year. Those who already live here understand the specialness of being able to escape to the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe or Pyramid Lake; to find adventure kayaking in the Truckee River or exploring the Great Basin; or to just relax in one of the many parks. Few communities in the world allow you to ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon. From Reno, both options are within just a few miles of each other.

Here work-life balance is a reality.

Quality of life and the business-friendly philosophy attract global co2014-05-24-13-56-37rporations to the area and encourage start-up businesses. Tesla’s decision to locate here grabbed the headlines, yet many other high-tech firms, manufacturing plants, distribution facilities and service companies thrive here, plus add balance to our economy’s important tourism and special event sector.

Job Growth

In 2016, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) reports that 25 companies relocated or expanded operations in the region bringing hundreds of new jobs. More companies — and jobs — are coming, EDAWN says.


Museums along with music and theatrical companies enrich the community and draw nationally known artists perform throughout the year. Generous local and national philanthropists support The Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum, the month-long ARTown Festival in July.

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts hosts the Reno Philharmonic, Reno Opera, the AVA Ballet, as well as national touring productions of Broadway plays. Headline entertainers regularly perform at the spectacular showrooms at the many casino resorts, at events centers and at other local venues.


Sports enthusiasts fill the seats to watch the Reno Aces, the minor league baseball Pacific Coast League team play and they support the Reno Bighorns, a D-League basketball team affiliated with the Sacramento Kings. The latest pro team: Reno 1868 FC, a United Soccer League team will debut at Greater Nevada Field in February 2017.

Residents participate in adult leagues for nearly every sport imaginable from rugby to coed softball. Area youth leagues serve even the youngest soccer, football, basketball and baseball players.

Serious bicyclists train here by peddling up mountain highways while mountain bikers hurl themselves down rocky trails in the Sierra. Hikers can find a trek to suite any ability. With 18 world-class ski resorts within a one-hour’s drive and thousands of square miles of back country skiing nearby, skiers and snowboarders use Reno and Sparks as a base camp. Golfers can tee up at more than a dozen championship ranked courses within Reno-Sparks, with a dozen more in surrounding resorts.

Buying a Home 

One of Reno’s main attractions is affordability.  Urban lofts, historic bungalows, gated golf course developments, luxury custom homes, active adult communities, horse properties and homes in subdivisions give people many choices in living style

In 2016 the median price for a single-family home in Reno/Sparks was $304,999 – which means half sold for less, half for more, according to a report from Chase International Real Estate. Condos are an increasingly popular option. On the lower end, buyers can find condos below $200,000. The luxury condo market is growing as well, with penthouses selling for $1 million or more.


The University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College systems enroll more than 25,000 full-time students, plus numerous private colleges offer continuing education in many fields. Public/private partnerships with area industries are expanding curricula and training people for local high-paying careers. Entrepreneurship plays a significant role in the area economy.

Reno-Sparks has four major hospitals offering state of the artsnowman1 medical care, Carson City has a large hospital, plus the University of Nevada, Reno has a medical school and nursing program.


The high desert climate of Reno and Sparks offers four distinct seasons and basks in
more than 300 days of sunshine each year. Most of the valley sits at about 4,500 feet above sea level and the dryness of the elevation soften the seasons. Summer days can top 90-degrees, yet the lack of humidity makes that tolerable, plus most nights cool down dramatically. In winter, even the coldest, snowiest days lack the bite of dampness.

Reno History

First settled in the 1850s, Reno was originally named Lake’s Crossing. The discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver in the mountains to the east led to one of the greatest mining rushes of all time. The area boomed, the Central Pacific Railroad built a depot here and in the 1860s the town was renamed to honor Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer who was killed in the Civil War.

Though the local mining boom faded, Reno continued to prosper as a commercial and business center. Large scale mining continues in other parts of the state and Nevada ranks as one of the top gold producing regions in the world.

Sparks History

The City of Sparks was built by the Southern Pacific Railroadmichael-train and named after Gov. John Sparks in 1904. Today tourist, commercial and industrial businesses fuel its economy and its residential areas extend far to the north into Spanish Springs.

Visitors from around the globe come to Reno-Sparks for its wide range of special events, from the Reno Rodeo in June through the National Championship Air Races in the fall the area covers the gamut of interests.  Once they discover the beauty, the quality of life and the affordability, most want to come here again.

Quality of Life is more than a hope. It is a way of life in Northern Nevada.

Have a question about Reno/Sparks? Leave a comment or send me an email! Email:

Remodel vs Flip – Details Count


Remodel vs. Flips — understanding the difference matters in a long-term home investment.

Reality: Most home buyers want a home that’s “move in ready.” Investors, listing agents and savvy sellers know homes that show well sell faster and for more money.

Opportunity: No home is perfect. Those in need of updating or sold “as is” may offer buyers the opportunity to save significant money, if they’re willing to invest their time and elbow grease.


Challenge: Some “flipped” homes consist of little more than “slapping lipstick on a pig” and jacking the price. Examples include cleaning, painting and re-carpeting. If that’s all a home needs, then great … it’s a win-win. Some homes need much more and cosmetic fixes merely put a veneer on a sub-par property.

In older neighborhoods, buyers may want to search for a home that’s been “renovated” which, for today’s article means, its had extensive work done to professional standards. Quality counts. Google home renovations to read expert advice and data regarding projects that payoff, and those that don’t.lwk_3554

Location matters. The seller of one of my listings in Reno decided to buy and renovate a 1970s-era five-bedroom property zoned for some of the city’s most established schools. She intended to live there for years, then sell. She did a huge renovation. Professionals replaced the roof, furnace, a/c, water heater and updated the electrical. Inside, professionals installed new hardwood floors, gutted and remodeled kitchen, remodeled all the bathrooms, painted, updated light fixtures and more. Overall, more than $200,000 in updates brought this old home into the 21st century. The home shines.


2985 Rustic Manor Circle, Reno, NV 89509: Five bedrooms, 3 baths, 3,070 total square feet. Price: $600,000

The cost: At $600,000, this home’s features and amenities now compare favorably to many newer homes in the same zip code — plus it has RV parking and the advantage of not being in an HOA.

Whomever buys this home will have the best of both worlds — a quality-renovation of a home with character set in an older neighborhood near popular schools. The list of upgrades completed by licensed professionals makes it it so much more than a flip. If this appeals to you, contact me for a private showing!

Interested in learning more about this home or about real estate in Reno? I can help. Contact me! Email: Office phone: 775-850-5900.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor at Chase International Real Estate in Reno, NV.

A Buick? Really? What a Surprise …

Buick Lacrosse for blog

Alamo at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans was out of the mid-sized car we reserved, so the company bumped us up. The only cars available were “premium” models. They gave us a 2016 Buick LaCrosse.

I groaned to myself. My grandparents drove Buicks. They had two or three Buick Le Sabers that I remember. Each was nice – much nicer than my parents’ station wagons that hauled six kids around. Buicks of the 1970s and 1980s were not sleek or cool. My grandparents’ Buicks were always nice, even luxurious, with wide bench seats perfect for a kid under 10 to stretch out on to sleep during those seemingly endless drives from Maine to Mount Vernon, New York.

The 2016 Buick Le Crosse we just returned was different. Felt more like a Lexus inside: Heated leather seats, push-button start, back up camera, sun roof, hands free phone connection. It handled like a Lexus too: easy, tight radius turns, smooth ride, extremely quiet. Buick interior

The one Alamo assigned to us was pretty darn new – only 230 miles. We put more than 600 on over four days.  It accelerates nicely – 50 to 80 in a matter of seconds when passing a pokey car on a two-lane road in Mississippi. It brakes great too – as evidenced by the fact that I did NOT hit the nut case driver who pulled out in front of me in Alabama.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The low head clearance. I raised the seat up so I could over the dash, which put my head just a couple of inches from the roof. I got used to it, but it was a little tight. My 6-2 son lowered his seat.
  • The windows are small. The back-up camera helped, but since I don’t have one on my car at home, it took some getting used to.

Good points:

  • The car felt solid.
  • It cruised smoothly and quietly along the highway. Much quieter than my 2004 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited!
  • Trunk space was decent, though the wheel wells cut into this pace.

Biggest surprises:

  • It was fun to drive.
  • It had a great turn radius! We were shocked … the old Buicks were boats.
  • In the parking lot I had a hard time finding it … because it looked so much sleeker than “a Buick” … I actually said the line from the TV commercial: That’s a Buick? It doesn’t look like a Buick. (and yes we all laughed!!)

Bottom line: Would I buy one? Probably not. I live in snow country. My next car will have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Would I rent one again on purpose: Yes!  Would I encourage others to test drive/consider buying one: yes.  The price is around $40,000.

Have you driven a  car you love?  Would you buy a Buick?

Never Pass Up a Hug



‘Tis the time of year to sort things out. To take stock and evaluate.  That could mean something deep and philosophical. Or not.

Today, it is about Christmas gifts. The tangible and the intangible.

Tangible: For me, it means finding all the gifts I’ve bought and stashed around the house (and the garage) over the year.  Under the bed, in the closet, in the present drawer in the garage … in bags, boxes and just sitting there.  Some are obviously for one person or another. Others surface and I can’t remember why the heck I bought them.  This leads to evaluating and balancing it out so my family is covered.

And to remembering what is really important.

Intangible: There’s an element of letting go — and deciding to hold on tight. Who and what really matters.

Yesterday, I learned that woman I greatly admired died of cancer. I hadn’t seen her in close to a year, and had thought she was off on a new adventure.  She was, but sadly, not the one I imagined.

My sad lesson (again): Don’t wait to connect. Count your blessings, fortunes or good luck, whatever belief system that works for you. Don’t imagine/count on everything being “fine.”

Give those you care about that hug. It says so much without saying a word. Letting people know you care matters.

Have a story to share?  I’d love to hear it … 



Reno Cheesecake Factory — hmmm — OK Food, but So-So Experience

cheesecakeSoooo the Cheesecake Factory opened at Meadowood Mall in Reno. My son and I went there for lunch last week. We waited about 15 minutes for a table. Not too bad, but I won’t go back soon. The staff was attentive and well trained, but wow, the overall experience didn’t come close to the hype.

We ordered a light lunch, so we’d have room for desert. That’s why you go to the Cheesecake Factory after all!

He had the fried macaroni and I had the chicken tortilla soup. Both were decent. Fried mac n’cheese? Interesting concept, and he enjoyed it. I tried it … creamy inside and crunchy outside.

I’ve ordered tortellini soup at several chains — BJ’s Restaurant and Chili’s come to mind. This was OK. Different, but not remarkable. It was creamy with lots of rice.

Both dishes were filling … to the point that we ordered a slice of cheesecake to go. He picked the flavor — Tiramisu. Unspectacular.

The Big Bang Theory portrays the Cheesecake Factory as a spacious, quiet place. The new Reno location is a modern, artistically designed space.

Our gripe: Tightly packed tables, high ceilings make it loud, crowded. Clattering plates, heavy background music force people to raise their voices to converse — the result: a cacophony to the senses. If you go, request patio seating — it won’t change the food, but you won’t leave with a headache.

Lunch Bunch Food Fight

Kids like simple. If I can do this, schools can do it, and for a good price

Kids like simple. If I can do this, schools can do it, and for a good price

Finally — and long overdue — school lunches are morphing into meals I might actually let my children eat.  Too bad it didn’t happen while they were actually in public schools.  The absolute junk served during those years meant my kids brought their lunches.

What kids eat matters — today and in the long term. That’s why I don’t get the fight about improving school lunches. Oh, I get that conglomerates care more about profits than health. That’s obvious. I get that lunch administrators have tight budgets. I also get that many, many “nutrition” spokespeople and lobbyists care more about money than about the serious weight issues and accompanying health problems facing our nation.

I also get that many families rely on school food plans to feed their children. Which is why I don’t think the new food standards go far enough.

We had food battles in our household.  One picky eater in particular. It was a power struggle. That’s what’s happening with all the anti-nutrition lobbying going on now.

I finally bought a book called “How to Get your Kid to Eat — But Not Too Much”  — a practical approach that could and would benefit those involved in this current food fight.

The basic premise: Flexibility — with limited, controlled choices. At dinner the questions become:

  • Do you want peas or carrots?
  • Do you want them here or there on your plate?

For lunch it would be:

  • Apple slices — with or without peanut butter?
  • Turkey, ham or PB&J sandwiches (on whole wheat bread)
  • Yogurt, cheese stick
  • Milk box (freeze overnight), V8 or water

If children in New Mexico want salsa on their green beans — go for it. If kids in New Hampshire want peas and carrots mixed together — do it.  That’s regional differences. The default option shouldn’t be refried beans cooked with lard or greasy french fries.

I’m not a food fanatic.  My kids ate  cookies, cake, candy — as treats — not as a main meal. They ate, and still eat, fast food sometimes.  At one point, they came back and said they’d bought Spaghetti O’s  — then thanked me for refusing to buy that crap for them when they were little.

So hang in there parents, nutritionists, dedicated food workers! Kids will adapt … the obesity rate is already slowing. Food is fuel — it should taste good and be good for you.