Looking ahead to bathroom trends of 2015!

Posted by | Blog | No Comments

In 2014, kitchen designing was completely revamped. Open shelving, cabinets became richer and modern metallic accents aren’t just for hardware. But in 2015, we can expect to see a major overhaul in a different space — the bathroom. Everything from sinks and color schemes to tubs and tiles will be revved up, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s style report as well as the trends we’ve seen in the decor sphere, and this is how we expect interior designers and homeowners everywhere to go about it…

Out With The Old: Cottage Style
In With The New: Clean Contemporary

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s style report, more than 400 designers agreed there is a move toward simplicity in a cleaner, more contemporary way. That’s not to say they are going to completely lose their more cozy, rustic charm for all-out glamour, but they will have cleaner lines and more minimalist modern vibe.

contemporary bathroom

Out With The Old: Rain Showers
In With The New: Soaking Tubs

Forget about glass-encased showers — these days it’s all about the soaking and free-standing tubs.

contemporary bathtub

Out With The Old: Bowl Sinks On Cabinets
In With The New: Under-Mounted Leggy Sinks

Looks like you’re going to have to find somewhere else to stash those toiletries, because the trend is moving away from cabinetry next year. Also not so “in” anymore? Those bowl-shaped sinks we loved a few years back.

contemporary bathroom

Out With The Old: White Paint
In With The New: Shades Of Gray

Say sayonara to all the white. While it’s still an incredibly popular choice for bathroom colors (along with blue and beige), the National Kitchen and Bath Association also found it to be the fastest-growing shade for the bathroom.

gray bathroom home decor

Out With The Old: Granite Vanities
In With The New: Quartz Countertops

Despite what you may think from watching all that HGTV, there are options out there besides granite. Quartz, a huge player for 2015, is one of them.

quartz countertops

Out With The Old: White Subway Tile
In With The New: Sleek, Black Tiles

Why let kitchens have all the fun with the dark, moodier features? Those trends are here to stay so skip the subway tile and opt for something bolder.

10 Great reasons why it’s time to remodel your home

Posted by | Blog | No Comments

10 GREAT REASONS WHY IT’S TIME TO REMODEL YOUR HOME!

1Sales potential

The outer appearance of your home is important for increasing home value and sales potential. Fresh paint, updated shutters, a new roof and clean landscaping are simple ways you can build curb appeal if you’re looking to put your home on the market.

2Preparing for retirement

If you’re planning on staying in your home through the golden years, it’s important to upgrade your home with age-in-place features, including updating your tubs with easy step-in showers with grab bars and installing toilets that could account for limited mobility down the road.

3Go green- We love this one!

Paying too much for your utilities? Replace your single-panel windows, invest in energy-efficient windows and you can literally save hundreds in monthly bills.

4Home is where the heart is

And the kitchen is the heart of the home. Family and friends gather and spend most of their time here. Women think men fall in love with them because of the bedroom, but the reality is it’s the kitchen. So consider installing a new stove, replacing your refrigerator or putting in new cabinets to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing.

5Make it right

Your bathroom might function okay, but it’s always a great time to put in new plumbing, and get rid of that basic, outdated mirror and replace it with a beautiful framed one. Don’t forget the lighting — lighting is everything, and can take a bathroom from boring to brilliant and bold.

6Your kids aren’t going anywhere

Don’t want to leave your neighborhood because your children have friends on the block? Do you dread the idea of having your children change schools? This is a common sentiment and probably means that you and your family won’t be going anywhere until your kids are grown. So why wait 10 or 15 years to remodel? Make your home suitable for the future now.

7Embarrassment no more

Don’t waste another day looking at those avocado countertops! Are you embarrassed to invite your friends over because they might laugh at the hideous, outdated colors in your kitchen and bathroom behind your back? Putting in new countertops is easy and not very costly, so go ahead and change them! Of course your friends don’t really care, but you will feel better the next time they come over for dinner.

8Your home feels stale

Your home is almost perfect but it needs a minor facelift. Paint your walls and baseboards and it will instantly feel fresh and clean. This is a great alternative for anyone on a budget.

9Make your basement usable

Are you tired of using your basement as one big storage unit? Convert it into a living space, such as a media room, or even add a closet and a window for an extra bedroom, which will add square footage and increase the overall value of your home.

10Avoid the stress of buying a new home

Searching for a new home can be stressful and time-consuming. Instead of spending months looking for that perfect home, upgrading your bathrooms and kitchen or removing that wall that’s been bugging you just might be the solution.

Five Sustainable Building Materials that Could Transform Construction

Posted by | Blog | No Comments

As global populations increase, so too will the need for accommodation. However, current mainstream building methods are unsustainable, producing large amounts of CO2 both during construction and throughout a building’s life. Thankfully, sustainability is becoming a priority for developers, and with many exciting innovations happening in the construction industry, sustainably addressing global accommodation needs seems possible. Here’s five materials that could help:

1. Wool Bricks
Developed by Spanish and Scottish researchers with an aim to ‘obtain a composite that was more sustainable, non-toxic, using abundant local materials that would mechanically improve the bricks’ strength’, these wool bricks are exactly what the name suggests. Simply by adding wool and a natural polymer found in seaweed to the clay of the brick, the brick is 37% stronger than other bricks, and more resistant to the cold wet climate often found in Britain. They also dry hard, reducing the embodied energy as they don’t need to be fired like traditional bricks.

2. Solar Tiles
Traditional roof tiles are either mined from the ground or set from concrete or clay – all energy intensive methods. Once installed, they exist to simply protect a building from the elements despite the fact that they spend a large portion of the day absorbing energy from the sun. With this in mind, many companies are now developing solar tiles. Unlike most solar units which are fixed on top of existing roofing, solar tiles are fully integrated into the building, protecting it from the weather and generating power for its inhabitants.

3. Sustainable Concrete
Whilst 95% of a building’s CO2 emissions are a result of the energy consumed during its life, there is much that can be done to reduce that 5% associated with construction. Concrete is an ideal place to start, partly because almost every building uses it, but mostly due to the fact that concrete is responsible for a staggering 7-10% of global CO2 emissions. More sustainable forms of concrete exist that use recycled materials in the mix. Crushed glass can be added, as can wood chips or slag – a byproduct of steel manufacturing. Whilst these changes aren’t radically transforming concrete, by simply using a material that would have otherwise gone to waste, the CO2 emissions associated with concrete are reduced.

4. Paper Insulation
Image courtesy of curley house on flickr
Made from recycled newspapers and cardboard, paper-based insulation is a superior alternative to chemical foams. Both insect resistant and fire-retardant thanks to the inclusion of borax, boric acid, and calcium carbonate (all completely natural materials that have no associations with health problems), paper insulation can be blown into cavity walls, filling every crack and creating an almost draft-free space.

5. Triple-Glazed Windows
In fact, super-efficient windows would better describe this particular building material. The three layers of glass do a better job of stopping heat from leaving the building, with fully insulated window frames further contributing. In most double-glazed windows, the gas argon is injected between each layer of glass to aid insulation, but in these super-efficient windows, krypton – a better, but more expensive insulator – is used. In addition to this, low-emissivity coatings are applied to the glass, further preventing heat from escaping.
A building that combined all five of these methods would be an admirably sustainable option for housing. Whilst the construction industry tends to progress at a slow pace, the importance of sustainability is a high profile issue, and one which is only likely to increase. With sustainable building materials already fully developed, it is now up to consumers to actively demand their use and building developers to respond promptly.

9 tips to help you save on home staging

Posted by | Blog | No Comments

You may assume that you’ll save if you stage your home yourself. That’s not always the case, Green says. “Almost everybody who stages on their own comes to me at the end of the process exhausted, saying they completely underestimated the time it took to stage,” he says. “You’re literally furnishing an entire house, and that takes time.”

What’s your home worth?
He says it can take 40 hours just to stage a one-bedroom apartment: gathering ideas, finding furnishings, putting it all together and then taking it all back out. “Depending on what your salary is, is that full workweek dedicated to staging worth it?” he says.

That brings us to our first tips to save on staging:

1. Consider hiring a professional. Do a little math and make a few calls to see what it would cost to hire someone to handle the staging for you. Professional stagers have an arsenal of furnishings at the ready and can hammer out a neutral, professional design much quicker than you can. If you’re determined to do the work yourself, see about getting a consultation from a professional stager.

“Even if the homeowner chooses to do the work themselves, they’ll get an objective opinion about what needs to be done,” says Jill M. Banks, who runs Happily Better After Room Design & Home Staging in southern New Jersey and says most consultations cost about $200.

2. You don’t need to stage the whole house. Whether you hire a pro or decide to go the DIY route, you don’t need to stage every single room, Green says. Stage the main living areas — living room, dining room, kitchen — and at least one bedroom, preferably the master, he says. You should also stage any room that has a confusing purpose to show how it can be used. So if there’s an awkwardly sized bedroom, stage it to show that it will fit a bed and dresser comfortably, for instance.

If you decide to go it alone
Homeowners can do many things to stage their home at little or no cost. The most important thing to keep in mind is that buyers must be able to envision themselves living in your home.

“No one will buy your home until they can mentally move into it,” Schwarz says.

3. Clean, get rid of clutter and depersonalize. Staging is about making your home look nice, but remember that buyers have other senses and that a bad smell can be a deal-breaker. Nothing smells better than clean.

“Check that all rooms are spotlessly clean, have washed windows, smell good and have been aired before showings,” says Lauri Ward, president of Use What You Have Interiors, which focuses on using a client’s belongings to redecorate or stage the home.

“By packing up your clutter, you create more space for the buyers to mentally move into,” Schwarz says. And, she adds, “If you keep out all your collections and family photos, the buyers will spend their time looking at them and not your house.”

Don’t forget that buyers will be looking in your closets, too.

“You want the buyer to have the perception that, ‘Oh, there’s so much storage in here,'” Green says. “If it’s chock-full of stuff, it automatically gives the perception that there’s not enough storage.”

You don’t have to empty the closets and other storage areas, but Green advises paring them down to about 20% of what you normally store there.

“Most people have a design aesthetic that matches them as a person,” he says. “Usually, the stuff you have isn’t fantastic for staging. Staging is going to need a fairly neutral design.” He advises DIY stagers to be selective when finding furniture. “Take the time to hunt for pieces that really are effective with the concept,” he says.

But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot. “I had a client once who staged off of Craigslist,” Green says. “It took her forever, but she pieced together a fantastic staging concept by buying used furniture.”

4. Be resourceful when hunting for furnishings. If you have friends and family with updated or neutral furniture, see if you can borrow a few pieces to stage your home. If you need to stage a room as a bedroom but you don’t have a bed, get an inflatable air mattress that rises off the floor to regular bed height. Once you get the linens on, it will look just like a regular bed, and you can use it for guests in your new home.

5. Show off hardwood floors. “If you have hardwood floors in good shape that are covered by wall-to-wall carpeting, remove the carpet and clean the floor,” Banks says. “Hardwood floors are a big selling point these days.”

6. Remove heavy window treatments. Banks say buyers are looking for homes with lots of natural light and that lighter, less formal window panels give any room a lighter, airier feel.

7. Freshen the walls. “Paint is always the least expensive way to make a major change to a home,” says Jessica Dolan, a home organizer and stager. Green says cleaning the wall may be enough to make it look freshly painted.

8. Remember the rule of three. Green says the golden rule is three items per surface, whether it’s a wall, tabletop or mantel. “Quantity is usually when people get a little too crazy,” he says.

9. Do your research. If you’re not sure what a staged home should look like, spend a half-day going to open houses to see what works and what doesn’t. Take notes.

7 Reasons Why It’s Still a Prime Time To Buy a Home

Posted by | Blog | No Comments

If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and buying a home, the last quarter of 2013 might just be the time to do it. Rates on fixed-rate loans are still appealing, and experts say it’s still cheaper to buy than rent. Some financial institutions are also a little more lax with their loan qualification requirements this year.

Here are seven reasons to buy a home by the end of 2014:

1. Mortgage rates are still dropping. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan is 4.50 percent at the time of publication. While this is a 1.15 percent increase from the historic low of 3.35 percent at the end of 2012, it’s still an attractive rate for prospective homebuyers. The housing sector is getting stronger and inflation rates are low, which promotes low mortgage rates.

2. It’s still cheaper to buy than rent. If you live in a metropolitan area, it may make more financial sense to buy a home than rent a house, condo or apartment. According to a 2012 Trulia Trends study, buying a home is 44 percent cheaper than renting in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. While this data was calculated based on last year’s lower mortgage rates, there is still a significant price difference in total monthly costs with today’s rates.

3. Home prices are relatively low. Housing price trends vary significantly by location and even by neighborhood, but the average housing price trends across the country look promising for prospective homebuyers. The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas increased only 1 percent this past season, so 2013 could still be a great time to buy.

4. It may be easier to get a mortgage. Credit unions and banks may be making it easier for some prospective buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Less stringent requirements and qualifying criteria may help some people finally get that home loan. If you have good credit and some savings available for a down payment, you might just be able to get a loan for your dream home this year.

5. Less competition from home flippers. Investors looking to buy and flip houses can’t move as quickly as they did in recent years. Housing prices in some markets are increasing, making house flipping less attractive. This gives prospective homebuyers more inventory to choose from and the benefit of having less pressure to close a deal because of another pending offer. This could be the time to enjoy the freedom of shopping around for that perfect home and making an offer.

6. Avoid the cost of rising rent. A buyer’s market means it might be time to say goodbye to renting for good. If you’re tired of rent increases at your current location or want to move but will experience a spike in rent, consider the benefits of buying a home instead. You may be able to secure a great rate with your credit history and end up paying the equivalent or less in monthly payments as you build equity in a home. Renting can be a more affordable option for the short term, but renters still have to face rising rental costs year after year.

7. Invest in your future. Buying a home gives you a chance to start building equity, and you are investing in your future. Even if you end up selling your home in five or 10 years, you could profit from the sale and invest that money elsewhere. If you’ve been dealing with rising rent or the hassles of costly moves for the past few years, settling in to a home can stabilize your housing expenses -– especially if you get a fixed-rate loan at a great rate. You won’t have to worry about your monthly housing expenses changing significantly for a few years, and you will pay for something that has more value than a rental property. Consider the benefits of making this type of contribution to your future month after month.