Feb. 17, 2017

Kitchens That'll Never Go Out of Style

Kitchens That'll Never Go Out of Style:

7 Ingredients for a Timeless Look


Kitchen trends will come and go, but some things never go out of style. If you want a kitchen that will stand the test of time and still look as beautiful twenty years from now as it does today, consider incorporating one of these seven elements.

1. Shaker cabinets.
These stile-and-rail cabinet doors instantly impart a classic look.

2. Interesting neutrals.
Sticking to relatively subdued colors will help your kitchen weather the tests of time, but this doesn't mean it has to be boring, or that white is your only option. Try a light grey, or even a light, unsaturated green or navy.


3. A farmhouse sink.
Elegantly recalls kitchens of the past.


4. Marble countertops.
Marble may be a bit on the pricey side, but it never goes out of style.


5. Glass door cabinets.
This is a great way to visually open up your kitchen. If you have some dishes that you'd like to keep hidden, try a mix of glass doored and traditional cabinets.


6. Beadboard detailing.
Or beadboard all over.


7. Vintage appliances.
Or new appliances that look vintage: all the charm of the old ones, with all the convenience of the new.



Jan. 30, 2017

Downsize a Home Sooner, Not Later

For most people, their house is their biggest asset. It's also their biggest expense. But when it comes to retirement planning, a house often falls to the bottom of the list involving changes in later life.

There are plenty of reasons for the inertia. Emotionally, it's hard to let go of a home filled with memories. Moving is a hassle, and downsizing to a smaller home isn't always the cash bonanza some might expect. As a result, many wait until well into retirement before moving to a smaller house or apartment.

But for many retirees, it can pay to downsize sooner rather than later.

The financial benefits may not seem huge at first, but over time they can make a meaningful difference in extending the life of a nest egg. As retirees age, there are lifestyle issues to consider, such as being in a community with other older adults. And finally, making a move before one spouse dies can help ensure that the surviving spouse, or the couple's adult children won't have to contend with selling a big house.

When it comes to downsizing, "if it makes sense, don't wait," says Steven Sass, an associate director at the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.

Some of the reluctance stems from the idea that trading a house with a paid-off mortgage for a rental or a condominium with maintenance or association fees will lead to higher monthly costs.

That can be a mirage, says Lawerence Glazer, a financial planner at Mayflower Advisors in Boston. "In home the expenses are hidden," he says. "It's maintenance, a roof, a boiler, heating and landscaping."

Often there's a desire to hold on to a house where children were raised so that they-and the grandchildren- can come back and visit. Mr. Glazer urges clients to think twice about the decision.

"Rather than clinging onto a three-bedroom and paying for the maintenance and heating, it's cheaper to put relatives up in a hotel room," he says.

Trading for the more visible;e costs of a rental or condo can help with planning, notes David Schwartz, chief executive at advisory firm FCE Group in Great Neck, NY. "You know what your fixed costs are going to be," he says.

It doesn't take a major downsizing to reduce costs, either. For many homeowners, property taxes have become a growing burden in recent years. "All it may take is moving out of a good school district and into a mediocre one, and sometimes taxes will drop," says Mr. Glazer.

Downsizing can have a big impact on a retiree's financial plan. Even with a mortgage that has been paid off, housing often accounts for 30% of retirement expenses, says Mr. Sass at Boston College.

Mr. Sass does the math for a move from a house worth $250,000 to one costing $150,000. Factoring out the expenses of moving- roughly 10% of the selling price- that leaves $75,000 from the purchase of the new residence that can be added to a retiree's savings.

That $75,000, he figures, could enable a retiree to withdraw an extra $3,250 from savings every year. On top of that, the retiree would have the savings from lower expenses on the house, which he says could easily be an additional $3,000 a year.

For those trying to assess the financial benefit of downsizing, the Boston College Retirement Center has a new online tool. It's available at Http://Squaredaway.bc.edu/ and can be found on the site by clicking the "Housing" link at the bottom of the page.

Mr. Schwartz says people often fail to appreciate how the aging process makes it harder to move. As just about anyone knows, the process is physically and mentally exhausting, even at a young age.

As retirees age, illness or death can suddenly thrust a move upon them, creating stress for the whole family. "Once you're over 80, more things happen where you don't have 100% control, and it's harder for those people to move," Mr. Schwartz says.

In those situations, he says, the responsibility for helping take care of a house, and ultimately selling it, often falls to the children.

Mr. Schwartz, however, warns clients against downsizing to a smaller house and then buying a second home elsewhere. "With a second house, everything is doubled," he says. "And at a certain age... it becomes mentally costly to maintain multiple residences."

Jan. 26, 2017

Silent but Deadly

Image result for co detectors


With cold temperatures affecting much of North America this winter, it's worthwhile to address a potential hazard that could arise with increased use of fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces and water heaters: carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil and propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from an incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems. Very high levels of CO can lead in incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.

Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:

-Never use gas stoves or ovens to heat the home, even temporarily.

-Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start if the cold weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.

*These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters    and gas clothes dryers.

*All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.

*If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technician.

*Always use the proper fuel specified for the device.

-Have flues and chimneys for fuel-burning fireplaces or wood stoves inspected regularly for cracks, leaks and blockages that could allow a buildup of CO to occur.

-Do not start a vehicle in a closed garage, or idle the engine in the garage even when the garage door is open.

-Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.

-Purchase a CO detector (either battery operated or plug in) and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper location and installation. Installation of working CO detectors in residential properties is now required by law in many states.

-Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open the doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.



Jan. 25, 2017

Radon, Fact or Fiction?

Radon awareness and education should be at the top of every homeowner's safety list. Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Fortunately, there are ways to test for mitigate its effect in the home. If you're buying a home, the US EPA recommends you have a radon inspection along with your home inspection. Homeowners who are planning to sell their home can also show potential buyers proof of a radon inspection to ensure their home is protected.


Myth: You don't have to test a home that already has a mitigation system.

Truth: Every home should be tested every two years- even those with a previously installed mitigation system. The conditions in the soil are influenced by numerous variables and they can change over time.


Myth: A new home does not need to be tested.

Truth: A home that has been tested for radon in the last two years is the only type of home that does not need to be tested.


Myth: You don't have to test a home that does not have a basement.

Truth: Occupants of a home that is built on a slab or crawl space actually spend more time in closer proximity to the soil from which the gas originates than homes with a basement. The lowest livable area of such homes if the first floor, which is used far more frequently than basements.


Myth: Condominiums or homes with an unfinished basement do not need to be tested.

Truth: The specification and recommendations regarding testing say nothing about the type of home or how you plan to utilize different areas of the home. The recommendation is to test in the lowest livable area of the home. In fact, many inspections have been done on high-rise condos that had elevated radon levels. 


For more information on radon, please visit these links:




Sept. 30, 2016

7 Features Home Buyers Want the Most

7 Features Home Buyers Want the Most

Interested in buying a new home? It’s a good idea to be aware of what new home buyers are looking for. I interviewed Markus Brown, a Realtor in Orange County, California, about what he sees buyers looking for in potential new homes. The following features are currently generating a lot of demand, which may potentially translate to higher home values.

Image result for open floor plan

1. An Open Floor Plan

The days of compartmentalized rooms all separated by walls and doors are gone, and the era of connected living continues to be one of top new home trends. Specifically, buyers “want the kitchen to be open to the family room, which creates the “great room” as it’s most typically defined,” says Brown. Home buyers are also looking for an open floor plan kitchen, as it allows people to flow to and from the heart of the home during gatherings.

Image result for hardwood floor

2. Hardwood Floors

Forget the wall-to-wall carpet, today’s home buyers are looking for hardwood floors on the main floor of the home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Hardwood flooring looks especially beautiful when flowing throughout an open floor plan.

Image result for modern kitchen

3. A Modern Kitchen

New home buyers are looking not just for an updated kitchen, but a modern kitchen design that hits the latest trends. Granite continues to trend, but the pattern in the granite tends to be characterized by more “movement and flow,” according to Brown, as opposed to a busy, speckled look. Quartz aggregates are a popular alternative for countertops. Floor tile has been growing in size, with large rectangular tiles (and fewer grout lines) leading the trends. Keeping hardwood flooring flowing throughout the kitchen and living spaces is also very popular.

The trendiest kitchens have a large island that doubles as an eating space, combining cooking and eating/entertaining in one feature. Open shelving has seen a resurgence in interest, but it can be a polarizing feature that some love and some don’t.

Brown points out that modern backsplash finishes are important, and he has seen a trend toward the “subway tile patterns that were popular in the 20s and 30s.” Pullout shelves and self-closing doors in the kitchen are also a plus.

Image result for laundry room

4. Plenty of Storage

Along with an open floor plan comes a need for ample storage to keep those open spaces clutter free. New home buyers are looking for pantries, linen closets, and storage areas such as a separate laundry room, mudroom, and cabinetry in the garage to help them stay organized and to keep the clutter out of sight. In fact, the most recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that 92% of buyers want a laundry room, making it the most desired feature of a new home.

Image result for guest room with bath

5. Multi-Generational Living

Many new home buyers appreciate the possibility to house an older parent or family member, if not full-time, at least part-time with comfortable guest quarters. A guest room on the ground floor with a full bathroom is one of the features that makes multi-generational living more comfortable for everyone.


Beautiful modern multipurpose laundry 25 Multipurpose Laundry Rooms that Save Up Space!:

6. Multi-Functional Space

Something many new home buyers are looking for is a “homework loft,” “gaming loft,” or some kind of multi-functional space within the home. This could be a desk located on a second floor loft outside the bedrooms, or an area off the living room or kitchen which can be used for various needs. “The loft and great room are mutually dependent in many ways,” says Brown, because along with greater open space comes a need for a place for kids to hang out separately from adults.

Image result for sunroom

7. Indoor-Outdoor Living

Today’s home buyers are looking for ways to incorporate the outdoors into their daily lives. Millennials and younger buyers, in particular, are increasingly demanding a patio and multiple outdoor areas. Outdoor living space also increases the functional square footage of a home. Having an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space can be very attractive to new home buyers. Sliding doors or French doors leading to a large patio that encourages flow between indoors and outdoors are often coveted features.

The “California room” or “outdoor living room” is an increasingly popular concept, according to Brown. A California room is a space that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor living, usually comprised of a covered patio or sunroom, comfortable furnishings, and easy access to both inside and outside.


Article originally posted- http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-features-home-buyers-want-183549726.html

Sept. 8, 2016

6 home renovations you can do yourself

6 home renovations you can do yourself

Americans spent a combined total of more than $326 billion on remodeling and home improvements in 2015 as of October, according to the National Association of Realtors' 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article100561192.html#storylink=cpy
Aug. 26, 2016

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets (Budget-Friendly Renovation at Its Best!)


Kitchen renovations can cost a bundle, except this budget-friendly face-lift: painting your cabinets. Hire a professional to paint the cabinets in a midsize kitchen for about $750 -- or spend as little as $200 on materials and a weekend tackling this job yourself. When it's done, it'll look like you installed a brand-new set.

Here's how to paint kitchen cabinets.

Prep the kitchen cabinets for painting

When you paint anything, preparing the surface so it can receive a fresh coat of paint is the most critical step -- and this is doubly true for cabinets, which demand a smooth, glossy finish.

Start your prep by removing the cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware (trust us, it's faster than taping around it all). Next, scrub cabinet doors and frames clean of any built-up grease and grime. Let them dry before filling in divots with wood putty.

Sand before you prime

Now you're ready to sand. Use 120-grit sandpaper to rough up every surface. Sand back and forth in the direction of the grain, and never in a circle, which could damage the wood. Then apply a primer that bonds well.

Tim Bosveld, vice president of marketing for Dunn-Edwards Paints, suggests testing the primer in an inconspicuous spot to see how well it holds up. Let the primer dry thoroughly for at least a few hours (or for however long is recommended on the label).

Eliminate dust

Before you paint, vacuum every cabinet surface, then wipe them all down with a damp sponge or tack cloth to get up every last bit of dust. After that, try to maintain a relatively dust-free area. It doesn't have to be antiseptic (you're painting cabinets, not performing a stem-cell transplant), but fewer particles flying around mean fewer can land on your wet paint.

Lay the doors on a dropcloth, and put another one under the cabinet frames to catch any drips.

The best way to paint cabinets

Professionals spray-paint kitchen cabinets, which produces a glossy finish. But spray painting not only needs a skilled hand, it also requires expensive equipment costing up to $3,000.

Instead, beginners should use a small roller to apply 100% latex paint made specifically for cabinets, like Aristoshield, for a smooth look. After you roll on the paint, use a brush to feather the surface smooth with a light touch.

Don't forget to paint the insides and frames of your cabinets, too. And if you want to make your cabinets pop, consider painting the inside or door trim a different color in a vibrant hue. Give the first coat of paint about four hours to dry before applying a second coat. When everything is dry, simply reattach the doors and whatever hardware you removed.



Aug. 22, 2016

Move-up homes evolve to fit changing tastes

Move-up homes, traditionally purchased by families who have outgrown their first house, are as in demand as ever. But builders say today's buyers have different preferences than their predecessors.

Rather than providing more space, move-up homes have evolved to offer features designed to fit the hectic lifestyles of today's buyers, usually families with young children. Those families can also include adult children who have returned home or aging grandparents.

The formal dining room, once a mainstay of move-up homes, has been replaced by such amenities as low-voltage connections for recharging mobile devices, drop zones for school books and backpacks at the back door and open, efficiently planned interior spaces.

“Homes are not as compartmentalized anymore. Formal dining is out the door. People don’t sit down and eat dinner so much anymore. But they still check in and come together,” said Todd Reynolds, vice president of Goodall Homes.

Layout is crucial

As they seek to eliminate spaces they don't use, homeowners are demanding more space in the rooms where they do spend most of their time.

“The focus is on how the home is laid out. We don’t necessarily see people looking for 3,500 square feet; 2,800 square feet is better if it has the pieces of the puzzle,” Reynolds said.

That includes drop zones to organize clutter, open floor plans with kitchens open to the great room and smaller secondary bedrooms.

“People want the space where they live,” said Reynolds.

Some move-up buyers simply aren’t looking for a larger home. A modern, open floor plan, elegant finishes, nearby schools or the ease of commuting are more important, said David McGowan, president of Regent homes.

“The bottom line is lifestyle,” he said.

Smaller but more functional

When Donna and Justin Hastings bought their move-up home, they moved from a three-story house in Mt. Juliet to a two-level home in Nolensville.

“We had more space than we actually needed. The (new) house has a lot of bonuses we didn’t have,” said Donna Hastings.

Their house in Nolensville was built by Regent during last year’s Parade of Homes to showcase the latest ideas in homebuilding. An example is a wall that folds away like an accordion to open the great room to the back porch. The upstairs bonus area includes a wet bar.

“It’s actually smaller than our house in Mt. Juliet, but it has so many upgrades. It is so elegant, so geared toward for entertaining, the perfect home to have a Super Bowl party,” she said.

The outdoor living space is perfect for family time together.

“There’s a fireplace where (their daughter) can do s’mores,” said Donna Hastings.

Livability counts

The livability of a home counts more than the amount of space under the roof, said Christina James, director of sales for Lennar.

“Move-up does not always mean more space. You might think of moving up as upgrading,” she said. “Some homebuyers are looking for more space, but others are searching for a better location, more successful schools, amazing community amenities, luxurious features and open floor plans.”

Most homebuyers today want high ceilings that give the feeling of extra room, energy-saving features such as LED lighting, the latest appliances and two- or three-car garages, said James.

For many homeowners, some of the more important upgrades aren’t inside the house; they are in the surrounding neighborhood.

Planning ahead

In neighborhoods like Tollgate and Bridgemore in Thompson’s Station or Carellton and Durham Farms in Sumner County, they are seeking opportunities for an outdoor lifestyle — without having to leave the subdivision.

The want “a community designed to provide them with opportunities for outdoor leisure activities like hiking trails, sport courts, swimming pools, splash pads and lakes or ponds,” said James.

Goodall Homes, which builds in Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties, has floor plans for multigenerational families. The room that once was the dining room can become a separate suite for an aging parent.

“They may use it as an office today, but later it becomes a bedroom,” said Reynolds. “People are thinking further down the road when they buy a home.”


This article was written by , For The Tennessean

Original article: www.tennessean.com/story/money/homes/2016/08/21/move-up-homes-evolve-fit-changing-tastes/88799132/

Aug. 17, 2016

Making Extra Mortgage Payments Can Pay off, but Should You?


On the Money-Accelerated Mortgage PaymentsIt's a strategy that crosses the mind of many borrowers when they take on a home loan: Make an extra mortgage payment or two every year and save tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

The move can shave off costs for a home loan and ensure it's paid off faster. Even one additional payment a year can translate into big savings.

On a $250,000, 30-year mortgage with a fixed rate of 4 percent, making an extra payment every year would save the homeowner roughly $27,724 over the life of the loan. It would also cut the amount of time needed to pay back the loan by four years and one month.

Even so, there are potential financial drawbacks to consider. Borrowers who can afford to make extra mortgage payments tie up cash that could be put toward retirement or used for emergencies.

"It's really important to look at your financial health in the broader sense," said Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney at Consumer Union. "The most important thing is to maintain in good standing all of your debts."

Here are some tips to consider before taking steps to make extra payments on your home loan:


It may be tempting to double down on your mortgage payments, but doing so before you've taken care to shore up your finances overall isn't a good idea.

Financial advisers recommend ensuring that you are saving for retirement and have set aside three to six months' salary to cover emergencies. If you have children, you'll also want to put saving for their college tuition ahead of making extra mortgage payments.

"At today's low mortgage rates, if you are cutting into your retirement savings to pay off a mortgage, you are likely making a mistake," said David Mullins, an independent financial adviser in Richlands, Virginia. "You don't want to have your nest egg tied up in a property where you can't easily convert it to cash."


Paying off high-interest debt such as credit cards is another priority that should be put before focusing on paying down your home loan faster. Consider paying off car loans, too.

That's because home loans are likely the least costly debt a borrower will have, especially if they took advantage of low mortgage interest rates. In addition, homeowners are allowed to take a deduction on their income taxes for the interest paid on their home loan.


You've decided to accelerate payments on your mortgage, so what is the best approach?

There are many ways to get there, including paying a little bit extra every month, or making a lump-sum payment at the end of the year. Another approach involves paying half of your monthly mortgage bill every two weeks. Over the course of a year, you end up making 26 transfers, which works out to an additional monthly payment.

Contact your lender to make sure they allow extra payments and will apply the funds toward the principal on your loan, not the interest.

Try this extra payments calculator from Bankrate to compare how much money the different approaches to making extra mortgage payments can save you.


Regardless of the payment plan, steer clear of businesses that offer to handle your extra payments for a fee, said Martindale.

"Consumers need to be very wary from sales pitches from third-party companies," she said. "If they're charging a fee for their service, it can undercut any potential benefits they might be offering."

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sued several companies that offer to handle borrowers' twice-monthly mortgage payments. The agency claims the companies misled consumers about how much they could save in interest on their home loan.

One company, Paymap Inc., agreed last year to pay a $5 million civil penalty and return $33.4 million in fees to consumers. Another firm in the biweekly mortgage payment collection business, LoanCare LLC, agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty.


Original Article by Alexa Veiga: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/making-extra-mortgage-payments-pay-off-41452102

Aug. 8, 2016

What Guests Really Notice in Your Home

What Guests Really Notice in Your Home

If the idea of getting your home company-ready is keeping you from hosting a dinner party or even your out-of-town in-laws, we can help. Sure, you could spend all day cleaning and decorating in anticipation, but who has the time? Here are the only things you really need to do before your guests arrive. Don't worry — they are nothing but easy.

— Additional reporting by Miranda Jones

The Scent of Your Home

POPSUGAR Photography / Brinton Parker

Decor isn't the first thing guests notice when they walk through your door — it's the smell. Whether you're concerned about the fish you cooked the night before or your dog skipping a bath — or worse, the scents you've become noseblind to — put your mind at ease by lighting a candle or simmering a small pot of citrus peels and cinnamon sticks a half hour before guests arrive. We can't get enough of these yummy-smelling candles — all under $50.

A Well-Stocked Bar

Photo by Janae Hardy via A Beautiful Mess

After greeting guests, the first thing that you will want to do is offer them a drink. You don't need to be full service, but make sure you have the home bar basics covered.

Fresh Flowers

Flowers are the only decoration a house really ever needs, no matter the occasion (although we feel pretty strongly about candles too!). To get the most bang out of your buck, buy potted flowers like these orchids. They may look delicate, but with proper care, they will last for a month or longer.

The Lack of Clutter

Even if you don't have time to do a deep cleaning, you can still organize your clutter. Get a tray or a set of lidded boxes for each room and corral all the odds and ends — remotes, keys, mail — in one place. Guests will feel relaxed in a space that appears organized, even if it is just for show!

A Tidy Bathroom

Before guests arrive, make sure your bathroom has clean hand towels and enough toilet paper. Extra points for wiping down surfaces and lighting a candle!

An Organized Entryway

Photo by Dana Miller via House*Tweaking

Not only is it the first place and last place that your guests will see, your entryway is also where they will be dropping their coats and bags. Depending on how much room you have, add a coat rack, umbrella stand, and a place to sit while taking shoes on or off.