designing for real estate

Autumn Blues | A Chat with Chad Zinda of Metropolist

Autumn Blues got you down? Here’s what to do:

Layout for Sales Success Postcard, Autumn 2019

Layout for Sales Success Postcard, Autumn 2019

Chad Zinda is one of the owners of Metroplist Group in the Seattle area, and he was kind enough to chat with me about what his real estate brokers lean towards during what the rest of real estate considers “downtime.” “The last 90 days of the year we take as a personal challenge - and it works.” With nearly $6.5 million in sales since October 1st, he’s not wrong! His team is rocking this last quarter.

I asked Chad if I could share our conversation and what he would suggest for design work during this downtime. “Remind your potential clients that buyers are looking during the holiday season. So many people would love to be in their new home before the holidays. Take advantage of it!” says Chad.

Ready to show off your sales this year?

NEW TO MARKET | Westwind at Woodmont Beach

Finailized Email Campaign | Westwind at Woodmont Beach. Des Moines Washington

Finailized Email Campaign | Westwind at Woodmont Beach. Des Moines Washington

Summertime and the livin’ is easy…and getting easier!

Had a last minute client who needed a website build and an email campaign to showcase her new listing! Waterfront is my personal favorite because the sunsets are just stunning! The Westwind at Woodmont Beach is curated to take in every single sunset.

Stunning vistas, gorgeous finishes and sand between your toes anytime you want. This was a last minute listing and we rushed to get it on the market, but we made it with grace and a sense of style. Big shout out to Lori DeVore, the real estate broker and listing agent, who put all the pieces together for me and gave me the space to design something gorgeous!

UNIQUE PROPERTIES | Farmhouse Gardens, Mount Vernon

Finished Brochure for Farmhouse Gardens in Mount Vernon, Washington |  Sold at $1,550,000

Finished Brochure for Farmhouse Gardens in Mount Vernon, Washington | Sold at $1,550,000

This property is easily one of my favorites, mostly because I have a gardeners’ heart and you can find me in my garden more often than not and this property totally tugs on my heartstrings.

As with so many things, it all starts with a picture.

To begin, my client sent me a myriad of pictures to review and choose from. I settled in with pen-and-ink (just kidding, I type - what year is it?) to write about this stunning property, leading clients down the garden path and into their new home. I took the stunning photography and created beautiful writing, styled a logomark and created a unique look and feel for the property.

Inside, the brochure tells the story of the home in words and photos and then invites the potential buyer to imagine themselves in the home. Farmhouse Gardens was an absolute treat to be involved with.

As a graphic designer, it’s my job to make your property look good; to find the story, the heartbeat of the property and then to showcase that heart to potential buyers.
— Jesse Gibbs
Custom Email Campaign

Custom Email Campaign


The Ampersand Logomark | Why "&" Matters

Why the Ampersand?

Photo courtesy of Max Anderson

Photo courtesy of Max Anderson

According to Wikipedia (and why would the internet lie to a person?)

"The ampersand can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature. During the following development of the Latin script that led up to the Carolingian minuscule (9th century) the use of ligatures in general diminished. The et-ligature, however, continued to be used and gradually became more stylized and less revealing of its origin..."

...yeah, this is kind of where I stopped reading. Sorry, but I was tired. Essentially what it says is that the ampersand was created because of the inability to take the time to write out the E and the T as their own letters, so they were smooshed together and no one ever thought to change it back. So, laziness, in its own way, created an exceptionally beautiful graphic that I am madly in love with.

I also chose it as my logo mark because in the real estate industry there's always one more thing we can do to rock someone's entire we start with branding. AND then we build a website featuring the home, with interior and exterior highlights...AND then we create a marketing campaign through emails, blogs and event....& it goes on. So many wonderfully creative ways to get heard in a media heavy world. AND we've only just begun.

Special Release | For Homes on the Market 40+ Days

Property Branding | Tied with a Bow

Life happens. Listings lag. Clients fall out and change their minds. Finances can get in the way of a clients' big dreams. Luckily, your listing can always get a fresh start.

coffee cup wood table dark for Olga.jpg

Believe it or not we might - might - be easing into a buyers market during the busy season in real estate. According to Redfin, Seattle's overall housing inventory has doubled since May 2018. Meanwhile, home values have dropped by 4.5% since last year, according to Zillow, and they're projecting the fall to continue into the next year. This is creating a slow moving perfect storm for home buyers who’ve been considering a move.

All this means that real estate brokers are seeing more days on the market, and a slower home selling season. A quick review of the NWMLS shows more than a hundred homes in the area that have been on the market for more than a month.

Enter the Designer.

Special Release | 7.9.19

For Homes on the Market 40+ Days

So, here’s our special Sunshine Plan for homes that have been on the market for more than the 40+ days since spring began, homes that are ready for a little bit of love and a fresh perspective, all wrapped up…

escala 2005 collateral ribbon.jpg

…& tied with a bow.

Happy Solstice: Listing Presentations

Esperluette Creative Listing Presentations 2019.jpg

The summer solstice always makes me pause and reorient myself, my life and my business.

Today I’ve been organizing some of my files and oogling my listing presentations over the last few years, and I’m enjoying how different they each are and how unique to each client. So many cool designs, so much good content and good heavens, my clients have the prettiest properties!

If you’ve been working in real estate for more than two minutes, you know that a listing presentation is one of the most influential pieces that you can showcase to your clients. It’s your resume, an example of your marketing prowess and a first impression all in one.

A listing presentation should be smart, savvy and expertly designed. You want to make a great first impression and then leave a little something behind for them to remember you by. It should be something that your potential seller can pick up later, something that they’ll want to read through again, something that intrigues them.

Most importantly, you want to show your potential seller that not only do you come with the backing of your brokerage, but with years of experience, excellent reviews, and a marketing plan that’s second to none! There’s no better way to rock that first impression!

Ready for a listing presentation that reflects all that you are as a realtor?

My Hobby, My Job, My Passion

Generally, by the time you are Real most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes don’t see as well and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all because once you are Real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.
— The Velveteen Rabbit

“So, you like houses?” my friends ask me.

Well, that’s just the beginning. I mean, YES, I love houses. I love to design for houses. But mostly, love all the steps that go in to creating a brand for a home. I love the staging, the home auditing (Home Auditing is when the stager/designer walks through the home and removes the extraneous “stuff”). I love when a broker can see beyond the life that’s been lived in a home, and strives to create the story that the next owner will bring.

Basically, I love restoring old and broken things. I love finding the “diamond in the rough” and bringing it to life. Capturing the aged, the unlovely, the challenging property, then showcasing it in such a way that it finds a new home. It feels kind of like taking the Velvateen Rabbit and showcasing that the love it was given for so many years is actually a benefit. New doesn’t always mean better.

My Hobby: Finished Bookshelf, complete with wheels on the bottom for easy access.

My Hobby: Finished Bookshelf, complete with wheels on the bottom for easy access.

My hobby - when I have free time - is restoring furniture. Well, more like re-imagining furniture. This is an old radio from the 1930’s that was completely trashed. I purchased it at a thrift store for $25. I cleaned it up, added some shelves, wheels, color and style and resold it on Craig’s List. I know I’ll never be able to make a living doing this, but it brings me so much joy!

FLYERS: Design for Seattle Condo, Matt Martel, RE/MAX Northwest

FLYERS: Design for Seattle Condo, Matt Martel, RE/MAX Northwest

There is just something magical about finding the beauty within a space or an object, and the look of surprise when others see what you see. This is one of many, many reasons why I choose to do the kind of work that I do. And it’s one of the things that helps me help my brokers be the best that they can be.

Brand New // New Brand

Tracy Vaughn and I have worked together for so long that we’re actually rebranding on my own design! This is a great place to be - watching my clients grow both themselves and their businesses! Tracy is an exceptionally hardworking broker; she’s passionate, fiercely feminine, artistic and funny and we wanted to create something that felt more like who she is. The new branding had to feel like a “step up” in terms of style, while not losing the aspects of her previous logo that she loved for so long.

Don’t Dull My Sparkle

After a fun-filled trip to visit my extended family in North Carolina and Virginia, I came down with the plague and lost all energy for almost ten days, and the bulk of my creativity as well. Being creative on demand is a skill that takes time to develop, but when you’re out, you’re out.

I reached into my wonderful toolbag for my favorite logo designer, Sarah Alston, who just happened to be available for a two day Design Jam with me. The homes that Tracy is hoping to focus on listing are in Sarah’s old backyard; it was a match made in heaven. “Just design something that makes you want to list a house with this amazing agent. Go.”

The Drawing Board

Okay, I can almost hear my favorite prof telling me that “you have to do the process” and all the other brilliant things she would say anytime I tried to take a shortcut. You have to do a thousand sketches, throw them away and start fresh. Since Sarah’s been helping me with logo design, she’s been reminding me of a lot of my basics and we’ve been revamping the way I offer deliverables to my clients.

For Tracy, it was important for me to create a mood board with her because 1) I wanted her to see herself in this new light, and 2) it helped me hone in on her goals and needs for her the direction of her business.

On a side note: I may have sparkled all over myself with monogram this design. *swoon

Making a Match

I know that I say this often, but this really is one of my favorite things about my job; The Refresh. Watching the look and feel begin with an idea, a touch of color and few magic sprinkles and spreading into new high-end brochures, an updated website style, email designs - each piece adding to the value of her brand. Special thanks to Sarah Alston for the awesome logo design and to Tracy for being the kind of creative person that is a joy to play with.

There’s always an “&”

And. we’re already sold and on to showcase this incredible sale in only three days to the rest of the neighborhood! Congratulations to my client and her clients, too!

Tracy Vaughn Branding Postcard Pending.jpg

LOOK BOOK: Spring has Sprung

A Collection of Stunning Backyards & Outdoor Living Spaces

As the busy season starts to wind up there’s a rush to showcase gorgeous new listings, and since it’s my favorite time of year, and my favorite projects are always the ones that highlight pretty new properties. And if I get to showcase beautiful backyards while I dream of getting my own hammock out of storage, so much the better!

SOLD | Interlaken Drive Manor

It shows the exquisite beauty of the space and the land to perfection!
— Ann Wilson, Heart

The Interlaken Drive Manor has six fireplaces, a ballroom, wine storage, china storage, a laundry room and hot water boiler heating system with vintage radiators. The home includes four bedrooms, three full-baths, two half-baths plus the pool house, exterior shower, wet bar and half bath. The home includes an incredible, custom in-ground pool and hot tub along with a smashing pool house.

Vertical brochure and email campaign for Interlaken Drive Manor, Seattle

Vertical brochure and email campaign for Interlaken Drive Manor, Seattle

Owned by the first female architect in the state of Washington for many years and spent nearly 40 years under the ownership of Ann Wilson, lead singer of the award-winning 1980’s band, Heart, this gated property is nestled in the hub of Queen Anne. I designed a website, brochure and email campaign that was adopted by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty and disseminated it to their extensive mailing lists.

NEW LISTING: Escala #2005


Remodeled. Redesigned. Reimagined.

Recently remodeled with wide plank rift oak floors, a wall on the southside removed to reveal more extended views of the Puget Sound. An exposed concrete ceiling adds height and custom style to the space, automatic Lutron shades make for easy privacy and walls of windows invite the sunshine in to fill the space. The elegant gourmet kitchen offers a custom-built dining bar with refrigerator drawers, granite countertops, custom backsplash and stunning Italian Pedini cabinetry. Stainless steel appliances and plenty of counterspace are ready for the budding chef. Modern custom lighting and a built-in, mirrored bar in the dining area creates a luxurious space ready for entertaining.


2 Bedrooms + Den
2 Bathrooms
1,988 Square Feet
2 Balconies
Semi-Private Vestibule
2 Parking Spaces
1 Storage Space

Offered at $2,395,000

Collateral included a custom property website [  ], a brochure, an email campaign & a Just Listed postcard

Collateral included a custom property website [ ], a brochure, an email campaign & a Just Listed postcard

PHOTOGRAPHY | New From My Toolbox

It takes more than a fancy camera to make a photographer; there’s an artistry, a sense of light and shadow and a passion for capturing a moment in time. I’m super excited to introduce you to a new photog in my toolbox: Mary Dee Mateo :

Mary Dee Mateo  |

Mary Dee Mateo |

“I’m obsessed with light and I believe that it is a critical tool that is extremely powerful when used well in any form of photography and that is why I strive to create elegant, timeless portraits with carefully, planned lighting.”


I highly recommend Mary, not just for her absolutely incredible photography, but her consistency and her ability to make her clients feel comfortable and honored.



Ah, photography. It’s the ability to capture a moment that will hold time at bay for a brief moment. I’ve been a second shooter for Sarah Alston Photography for nearly ten years, but I still consider myself a beginner. Last year I finally got my very own Cannon 4D - it’s not the newest, fanciest camera, but it’s all mine.

Now that I have my very own Kodachrome I’ve been learning how to shoot real estate brokers. (yuk, yuk yuk.) Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Seattle RE/MAX agent, Matt Martel. He’s kind of quiet, but honestly one of the most genuinely kind humans that I’ve had the pleasure to meet. We’re working on his new website (coming soon!) and he was in need of some new headshots, so off we went to Alki Beach. And now I get to add his adorableness to my portfolio! My life is truly amazing.

PHOTOGRAPHY | Sheri Putzke

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day…”

-Paul Simon


There’s something magical that happens when you take someone’s photo, when that person sees - for just a moment - the way that you see them. Not only is Sheri Putzke of Windermere a complete treat to work with in real life, she’s amazing to take photos of. Stunning in her own right, with a sense of style that shows across everything she touches, Sheri’s smile starts in her eyes and she played to the camera flawlessly. And we can talk about pearls and pink? I was swooning before I even turned on my camera.

Logo Design

There’s something magical about logo design. I don’t do it as often as I’d like, and it’s easily one of the most challenging projects that I take on. It’s like creating a version of someone’s heart while driving clients to grow their business and oh, yeah - it should look cool. Piece of cake.

My job is to make you look good. But it’s also my job to understand your business and your clientele well enough to fill in the blanks where the heart of your idea bumps up against the needs of your business.

All of that being said, it’s quite rare that my favorite logos make the cut, and I wanted to share some of my personal favorites with you. Please remember, these are just my drafts, but they were too much fun to leave behind.

Final Logo, Approved

Final Logo, Approved

Marilisa Vergottini of Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty needed a logo that was glamorous and classy and she wanted something with a Mediterranean flair. Luckily, my toolbox includes the lovely and talented Sarah Alston who is an incredible designer; she worked tirelessly to create a series of drafts for her to review and we were able to create a balanced and classic logo for her new brand.

Final Logo, Approved

Nancy Klinck is a Seattle broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, and I had the privilege of designing her logo, branding and website along with multiple properties websites as well. She needed a logo that was elegant and classy, without being pretentious. The end result feels wonderfully “My Girl Friday” but with a certain Cary Grant-esque stability about it.

Final Logo, Approved.

Final Logo, Approved.

Okay, don’t judge me…I love the door in the logomark. I just love it so much I squeed outloud when I designed it. But, just because I think it’s fabulous doesn’t mean that my client will love it. Nine times out of ten, the one that I absolutely love gets set aside for a better connection to a logo that speaks to the clients’ heart.