Zillow Porchlight

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Remote Meditation Retreat With Rocky Mountain Views – House of the Week 20 Nov 2017, 4:26 pm

Sometimes when searching for a place to live, you don't find the spot - the spot finds you.

Such was the case for David Tresemer. The year was 1986, and Tresemer was looking to escape the hustle and bustle of burgeoning Boulder, CO. He drove 90 minutes in every direction and was eventually drawn to an expansive spot a short drive from the city.

"It's so pure. It looks down on Boulder," he said. "The land really just spoke to me."

With snowcapped-mountain views and creekside trails to explore, the 105-acre setting was so inspiring that Tresemer not only built his home here but also created a spiritual retreat for the community.

The centerpiece is a 12-sided structure he calls the StarHouse, which serves as a nondenominational gathering space for everything from yoga to weddings to solstice celebrations.

"We all tend to feel a little overwhelmed by what's going on in the world, and it's important to have a place to reconnect - for silence and a deeper connection," said Tresemer's wife, Lila.

Lila and David married in the StarHouse in 1995, and they've since officiated a number of weddings there. They now live in a custom-built 6,500-square-foot home on the property named MorningStar.

With 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, the house is bathed in warm, natural wood elements, from the walls to the ceilings to the doors.

Tresemer described the home as rustic and spiritually accented, with crystals and fountains interspersed throughout.

There's a celestial mural the couple commissioned from a local artist above a fireplace, and an outdoor courtyard serves as a private meditation spot.

But the west-facing deck on the second floor, perfect for dramatic sunsets and more, might just be the couple's favorite.

"You're looking at the snowcapped mountains, and you can see the sunset or the moonset," Tresemer said. "I prefer the moonset because it's so dramatic."

An off-grid, 2-bedroom retreat cabin is just beyond the main house (a woman recently spent an entire week there in silent meditation).

There’s also a historical 1904 homestead cabin on the property, along with organic gardens and other spiritual locales, including two labyrinths.

A perfectly shaped dodecahedron acts as a meditation chamber, and a 20-minute walk on the property leads guests to a physician's tree - a spot for personal healing, Tresemer said.

Despite their deep love for the home, the Tresemers decided to put it up for sale for $2.45 million (they’ve also listed the entire property for $5.2 million)

"[This spot is] already loved by many, but there's room for someone to bring their own vision and their own concept," Lila said. "We would like to see it continued by a community of people who've come to love it."

"It's age-related for us, and we feel there's a lot of vision and enthusiasm among the younger generations," she continued. "We would love to see them take it to the next level."

Roger Walker of RE/MAX Alliance on Walnut carries the listing. Photos courtesy of Rob Larsen.

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Vote Now to Pick the Ultimate Kitchen for Holiday Entertaining 20 Nov 2017, 7:00 am

Get your ovens mitts ready, because the holiday season is upon us. From festive feasts to cookie exchanges, home-cooked food plays a vital role in many families’ holiday traditions.

Most of us don’t get to cook in dream kitchens outfitted with loads of counter space, two or three ovens, an industrial-sized refrigerator, and multiple sinks for piling up the dirty dishes. But let’s escape for a moment into a sugar-scented holiday daydream, where the dishwasher is always empty, the floors are never sticky, and nothing ever burns.

Choose the kitchens below you would most like as the backdrop for your holiday cooking and entertaining.


Which modern farmhouse kitchen lights your fire?

Country warmth

City skylights

 

 

 

 

Photos from Zillow listings: Country warmth; City skylights

Which traditional kitchen do you prefer?

Brick beauty

Stone stunner

 

 

 

 

Photos from Zillow listings: Brick beauty; Stone stunner

Choose the contemporary kitchen that makes you swoon.

Modern minimalist

Neutral and natural

 

 

 

 

Photos from Zillow listings: Modern minimalist; Neutral and natural

Which glam kitchen would make your dreams come true?

French dressing

Vintage charm

 

 

 

 

Photos from Zillow listings: French dressing; Vintage charm

Get more kitchen design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

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Bringing a 1980s Relic Into the Light, Bright Modern Age 17 Nov 2017, 7:00 am

It's never easy to restore an old home, but redesigning a home built in the 1980s - an era not particularly loved for its style - requires imagination.

Debbie Cederlind and Lora Lindberg, Seattle house-flipping pros and owners of Urban Squirrel, recently tackled a Bothell, WA home built in 1989 that didn't have much going for it on the style front.

"With 1980s houses, it's a challenge to put character back in,” says Cederlind. “We started with no character, but it felt good at the end. We made it stand out and gave it some specialness that wasn't there."

The traditional-style home had already been renovated before Cederlind and Lindberg got their hands on it, but the work was less than desirable.

"There were some hideous paint colors on the wall,” Lindberg recalls. “You could see they were trying to inject character with super bright yellows and reds. And there was a bathroom with no windows. It was livable, but pretty ugly inside."

Let it breathe

When Cederlind and Lindberg first walked into the home, their main objective was to let some much-needed light inside.

They removed a wall between the kitchen and dining room and opened up the stairwell leading down to the basement. The stairwell was long and completely closed up with a door at the top, so the designers decided to open both sides of the wall.

"We let it breathe a little bit," Lindberg says.

The kitchen was reimagined - taken from dark and unremarkable to sleek, light and modern, featuring a charcoal-colored island, white open shelving and a shiplap treatment. The designers also covered the appliances with paneling to make them less obvious.

In addition to revamping the kitchen and the main bathroom, which was lightened with a rectangular exterior window and some large-piece tile work in the shower, the designers also altered the awkward layout upstairs.

They decided to close off an outdated half wall that overlooked the living space and front entryway, then create a bedroom to replace the lofted office that previously existed there.

Inject character

The bulk of the work and style added to the home was in the basement. "The space was super creepy and weird and didn't flow well," Lindberg says.

Out of this blank, dark and uninviting slate, the designers created two bedrooms, a library, a kitchenette and an additional bathroom. The kitchenette and bathroom feature sliding barn doors, which open up to the large living space downstairs.

The kitchenette is every bit as stylish as the full kitchen, featuring open shelving, charcoal-colored open cabinets and stone counters.

The biggest quandary the designers faced in the basement was deciding what to do with the three posts in the middle of the room. After much deliberation, they turned the posts into a built-in library, adorning it with vintage-style hanging chairs on each side suspended from beams.

"We went around and around, and that was the trickiest thing to figure out,” Cederlind says. “But if you’re a family with kids, you want the whole basement to be a big playground.”

Get the look at home

  • Make your kitchen flow. "Now that we're doing these open kitchens, people don't want their kitchen to look like a kitchen. They want it to flow," Cederlind says. Add artwork, pottery and other accessories to make the room feel less like a kitchen and more like the rest of your home.
  • Consider conversation. "We think a lot about our seating arrangements. We think about conversation and not about TV placement," Lindberg says. Face couches and chairs toward each other - not the TV - to create a cozy space for chatting with friends and loved ones.
  • Incorporate contrast. "You need the balance of dark and bright," Cederlind says. If you have dark hardwood floors, don't feel like you have to match your cabinetry. Creating contrast will prevent your home from looking too dark or dated.

Take the full home tour:

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This Hobbit House Will Have You Dreaming of Middle-Earth 16 Nov 2017, 4:26 pm

Building tiny meant dreaming big for Kristie Wolfe.

Inspired by the “Lord of the Rings” stories she enjoyed as a child, the Idaho native set out to build a tiny home in a hillside for an unlikely client: a real-life hobbit.

"I grew up watching the 1970s cartoon, and I've read ‘The Hobbit,’" Wolfe said. "I really always loved the house and the type of house that they lived in."

Wolfe found the perfect backdrop for her Shire in the small central Washington community of Orondo. (It's not quite Middle-earth, but smack dab in the middle of the Evergreen State.) She had already built a treehouse in Hawaii; for her next project, she had her heart set on an authentic, buried hobbit hole inspired by characters from the famous "Lord of the Rings" books.

But what the soul wants, the soil can't always deliver: The property offered million-dollar views, but getting construction equipment up to a rural hillside would prove challenging.

"I wanted the house to be buried, to be as authentic as possible. I tried to do a lot of research, but there’s not a lot out there," Wolfe said. "I couldn’t get a concrete truck up here. We could have mixed it by hand, but it would have been really difficult. I talked to the building department, and they just said nobody’s ever done it, but you can give it a shot."

Wolfe relied on the construction know-how she'd picked up from her parents - her mother remodeled houses when Wolfe was a child - and brought in a backhoe to clear the land. Wolfe needed to ensure the hobbit hole could hold the foot of dirt she planned to place on the roof, so she used marine-grade, pressure-treated wood.

"Any time you put dirt on top of a house, when that dirt gets wet, it’s basically having a swimming pool on top of your house," she added. "It’s a lot of weight."

Up next: an entrance fit for a hobbit. Wolfe wanted a signature round entryway, which she created using an industrial-sized cable spool. She enlisted a local designer to craft the hinges and the opening to the 288-square-foot space. He repurposed a trailer hitch to build the door handle.

When guests enter through the circular portal, they immediately stand in the bedroom. To the right is a fireplace, which helps heat the home in the winter, along with a woodworker's bench. To the left is the bathroom, complete with a large wooden tub.

Other touches were sustainably sourced. Wolfe crafted the cordwood floor from roadside logs she gathered, chopped up and glued together. She found some furnishings on Craigslist. The cozy wood Jacuzzi bathtub came from a used furniture shop.

With a location so remote, Wolfe installed solar panels to generate electricity. The dirt-covered roof has the benefit of keeping the home at a cool 55 degrees year-round (the oversized fireplace comes in handy in cooler weather). Wolfe's sister, a landscaper, wove sticks and branches together to create a hobbit-style fence, greeting fans and friends alike.

Speaking of fans, they've made this spot as beloved as the books themselves. The home is available as a vacation rental and is so popular, it's almost fully booked for the next year. Some guests come in full hobbit regalia, Wolfe said; others have used the home as a backdrop to get engaged.

Given the home's popularity, it's no surprise that Wolfe is looking to expand. She's got two more hobbit holes planned for the same property.

"I want to build a communal kitchen … that will look like an English-style pub," she said. "People from all over can meet, or come stay with their friends and family, and break bread together like hobbits would."

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5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Kitchen 15 Nov 2017, 12:09 pm

Your kitchen is likely the most loved room in your home - and the wear and tear proves it. It's the hangout for hungry teenagers, the conversation station during the holidays and the catch-up room after a busy workday.

A functional and appealing kitchen is important not only for your family but for your guests, too. After all, a delicious meal is only so appealing in a messy and cluttered kitchen.

Here are five signs that your kitchen may need an upgrade.

1. Outdated appliances

Perhaps they were there when you moved in, or maybe they came with you decades ago when you bought the home. Either way, outdated appliances are usually less attractive and drain more energy than newer models on the market.

Consider their safety, too. If you have to press a secret combination of buttons and chant a spell to light your range, it's time to upgrade to newer, safer appliances.

When you do upgrade, consult a professional electrician to make sure everything is wired properly and up to code.

2. Damage and wear

Nobody expects your kitchen to stay in like-new condition forever, but damage beyond normal wear and tear needs addressing.

Water damage from a leaking fridge or dishwasher can cause mold on and underneath the flooring or peeling on the countertops, floors and walls, depending on the materials.

Cracked, peeling or chipped countertops and floors are prime spots for dangerous bacteria to reside - and hide from cleaning supplies. Even clean counters and floors with stains can cause your guests to think twice when they're invited over a second time.

Upgrading to newer counters made from a durable material like granite is a good investment that can last practically a lifetime.

3. Not enough counter space

If your counters are covered with appliances, utensils and food, you need an upgrade. Ideally, your counters should always be clutter-free, and everything should have an easily accessible place.

Adding more counter space doesn't have to mean tearing down walls and rehauling the layout. If your floor plan allows, installing an island is a great and relatively simple way to add counter space.

If it’s not the space but the clutter that's the problem, larger cabinets or deeper drawers will increase storage so you can reclaim your counters.

4. You can't find anything

Do you look forward to cooking or dread the time commitment? How much time is actually spent on food prep versus searching for the right utensils, appliances and dishware?

A disorganized kitchen makes it difficult to find anything, which can cause anxiety over cooking and render your kitchen useless. A fresh design and organization strategy is a worthy investment to get you eating in your own home again and enjoying the cooking process.

5. Your house won't sell

Saving for your new home is often the priority when moving. But upgrading your current kitchen before you go is an investment that may very well pay for itself.

Home shoppers often gravitate first toward the kitchen. So, if you've been having trouble selling your home and the kitchen’s outdated - that could be the reason.

Buyers are usually more interested in move-in ready homes that require little or no remodeling. A more appealing, upgraded kitchen can be a motivating factor for buyers, hopefully resulting in less time on the market and a better selling price.

 

Make the necessary upgrades when the time comes, and your kitchen will reclaim its rightful place as the heart of the home.

Photos by Timothy Riley and Luke Caldwell.

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10 Cozy Cabins for $300,000 or Less 14 Nov 2017, 11:32 am

Whether you’re looking for a vacation home or somewhere to leave the city behind and unplug the electronics for good, there are plenty of cabins to fit even a modest budget.

Grab your favorite flavored latte and a flannel blanket before settling in to look at these 10 cozy cabins for $300,000 or less.

Gore, OK

96077 S Redbud Ln
For sale: $294,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

This A-frame cabin has stellar views of crystal-clear Lake Tenkiller from the spacious back porch, and it’s just down the road from direct water access. After a long day out on the lake, you'll enjoy the open-concept living and dining space, which has plenty of natural light from the French doors and the windows that stretch nearly up to the gable. Snuggle up with a book at the end of the day in one of the bedrooms or in the bonus sleeping loft upstairs.

See more homes for sale in Gore.

Lake Geneva, WI

N3211 Highland Dr
For sale: $275,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Located just minutes from downtown Lake Geneva, this log cabin has all the room you need to recover from the blustery, cold Wisconsin fall and winter temperatures. This isn't your run-of-the-mill cabin - it boasts many interesting architectural details, including beautiful A-frame beams across the living room, a stone fireplace, wide-plank hardwood floors and a front door with stained glass. End the day by relaxing in the jetted tub, or enjoy the views from the master suite balcony with a hot cup of cocoa.

Find more homes in Lake Geneva.

Gaylord, MI

1449 Equestrian Ct
For sale: $299,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Surrounded by 40 acres of nature, this cabin is sure to please those wanting to completely unplug and enjoy wildlife and foliage. The cabin is spacious, modern and updated, with vaulted pine ceilings, an open-concept living and dining space, and lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. A large deck extends from the living room, perfect for taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

Search for more Gaylord homes.

Morganton, GA

215 Appalachian Trce
For sale: $195,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Morganton home is the quintessential cabin in the woods. It features floor-to-ceiling wood planks, a stone fireplace in the corner, a deer-horn chandelier and a porch with rocking chairs. Located minutes from the Blue Ridge Mountains, this cabin is perfect for those who love to hike, bike or simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness.

Check out more homes in Morganton.

Sevierville, TN

3201 Stepping Stone Dr
For sale: $300,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This stunning cabin in Sevierville is truly a gem of the forest. With two stories of wraparound porches, floor-to-ceiling windows in the main living area, an updated kitchen with brand new appliances and real wood on the walls, floors and ceilings, you'll be living stylishly in the middle of the woods. Enjoy the sweeping views with a glass of wine on the couch - or from the bubbling hot tub on the porch.

Find another home in Sevierville.

Bridgewater, VT

1031 Chateauguay Rd
For sale: $299,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Is there anything more picturesque than a cabin in the middle of Vermont? This rustic Bridgewater cabin provides the perfect space to warm up by the fire and enjoy all of those fall evenings. Wood planks and beams cover the floors, walls and ceilings, giving the space a snug, den-like feeling. Outside, a covered porch awaits your rocking chair, and a hot tub on the patio gives you a great spot to stargaze.

See more Bridgewater homes for sale.

Turners Station, KY

1429 Zen Forest Rd
For sale: $199,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

This turnkey cabin in Turners Station gives you all the luxuries of the city without any of the noise. An open, updated kitchen with new appliances is just right around the corner from your wall-mounted electric fireplace, ensuring you'll be nice and toasty when you're preparing a meal. Upstairs, the oversized skylit loft would be great for a game room - or for piling up a bunch of blankets to fall asleep under the stars.

Find more Turners Station homes.

Cleburne, TX

8449 Bruntsfield Loop Dr
For sale: $240,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

It may not get cold in Texas very often, but you'll have the urge to cuddle up around a bonfire by this cabin in Cleburne. With cathedral-style ceilings, a covered porch and a modern, spacious kitchen, you'll be set up to host friends and family throughout the year. Best of all, the home is located in a neighborhood known for its golf club, which is one of the best in Texas.

Search for more homes in Cleburne.

Elk, WA

13 Terry Rd
For sale: $300,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Lakefront living sure looks glamorous in this Elk cabin. Nestled on a beautiful property with plentiful opportunities for wildlife sightings, this home really does have it all: a beautifully designed kitchen, spacious bedrooms, a comfy covered porch and a private walkway to the shoreline.

See more Elk homes for sale.

Westcliffe, CO

510 Drunk Horse Ln
For sale: $199,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

With its quirky shape and rustic interior, this A-frame cabin in Westcliffe looks and feels like it popped out of a Wes Anderson film. Although the cabin may be small, the views from the front porch are spectacular - from the Wet Mountain Valley to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You’ll enjoy some serious stargazing here, as Westcliffe is a certified International Dark Sky Community.

Check out more Westcliffe homes.

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The 9-to-5er's Guide to Keeping Your House Clean 13 Nov 2017, 12:21 pm

If cleaning the house seems like one big chore, you're probably doing it wrong. Before you put off cleaning for yet another month, here are some ways to make housework a comfortable and even enjoyable part of your daily routine.

Start small

If you begin and end each day with a little picking up, you'll never get swamped with housework again. Keeping a clean house begins with good habits like making your bed every morning and cleaning the dishes while you cook. Nobody wants to navigate through a minefield of yesterday's mess to make coffee, so never allow yourself to fall asleep with dirty dishes or a disheveled living room.

Before you leave for work in the morning, take one to two minutes to tidy up. That way, you can look forward to returning to a clean and stress-free house.

Enjoy yourself

Even the most reviled of household chores can be enjoyable if you have some headphones or a portable speaker. Truth be told, cleaning the house is a hidden source of me time that you'll eventually learn to love.

For example, if you think vacuuming kind of sucks, listen to an energetic playlist of your favorite songs and sway to the music like nobody's watching. If you haven't had much time to read lately, listen to audiobooks and podcasts while you do the dishes. If you're a parent and miss watching movies and shows without singing princesses, prop up your phone or tablet and use some wireless headphones to do a little binge-watching. Yay for chores!

Simplify your chore list

Rather than making a never-ending list of unattainable projects, break it up into manageable, bite-sized pieces.

Get a blank sheet of paper and make four columns: Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly. Everyday chores like making the bed, picking up the house and doing the dishes can go in the Daily column. Chores like vacuuming and dusting can go in either the Weekly or Monthly column, depending on what's realistic for your lifestyle. Reserve the Yearly column for big projects like cleaning the oven, shampooing the carpet and wiping down the fan blades.

Even if you fall behind on your chore list, seeing it all laid out on one page will reduce your anxiety and make procrastination a thing of the past.

Stock your cleaning caddy

Instead of using one caddy to store all your cleaning supplies, only fill it with what you'll use on a weekly basis: spray bottles of all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner, paper towels, a rag, dusting cloth, scrub brush, heavy-duty sponge and an old toothbrush for hard-to-reach places.

To ensure that you'll actually use the caddy, keep it in your bathroom so it's easily accessible. Store specialty kitchen cleaning products (stainless steel and cooktop cleaners) in the kitchen, and keep big bottles of bleach, vinegar and floor cleaner in the garage. And of course, keep any cleaning products out of the reach of young children.

Multitask

Even though your sink is caked with toothpaste, soap scum and beard stubble, you still haven't found the time to clean your bathroom lately. Well, fellow procrastinators, here's a little secret: You can wipe the sink while you get ready in the morning! Keep a roll of paper towels underneath the sink so you can wipe the countertop and basin whenever you brush your teeth.

To keep the shower clean, fill a hollow dish scrubber with a mixture of half dish soap and half vinegar, keep it in the shower and scrub the tiles a little every time you shower.

To spot clean the kitchen floor and put off mopping another week, save any damp paper towels whenever you clean the kitchen counters. Before throwing them out, use them to clean up messes on the floor.

Aim for finished, not perfect

Nobody's going to go over your cleaning job with a fine-tooth comb, so don't bother sweating the small stuff. The goal is to make cleaning an attainable habit that fits in nicely with your busy lifestyle; worrying about not doing a good enough job will only make you procrastinate more.

Another problem is biting off more than you can chew. If mopping the whole house at once seems too daunting a task for one afternoon, settle for the kitchen floor for now. You can always move on to another room if you feel the urge.

Related:

9 Signs It's Time to Update Your Bathroom 8 Nov 2017, 11:52 am

A bathroom should be a place of comfort - the optimal environment for a relaxing soak or getting ready efficiently during a harried morning.

"You're going to spend time in there every day," says Sarah Hurd, part of the mother-daughter team behind Short Story Renovations, a Baltimore-area design, rehab and staging company. “You should not hate your bathroom.”

If a bad layout, poor lighting and leaky fixtures are getting in the way, it might be time for some changes.

Here are nine signs that your bathroom could use a little work.

1. Not photogenic

"It's weird how you can see in a picture what you can't see anymore with your own eyes," says Angela Hurd of Short Story Renovations.

The fix: She and her daughter, Sarah, recommend that clients take a photograph of their bathroom to get a better sense of what they might not otherwise notice. People can become blind to the discord - from a mismatched color palette to accumulated junk on the vanity counter, she says.

2. Outdated colors

Funky hues can be one of the most noticeable signs that a bathroom is out of date.

The fix: White, gray and black palettes will lend an element of ageless beauty to any space, says Michael Merschat, an architect with high-end residential design-build firm Wentworth Inc. of Chevy Chase, MD.

People are coming back to "that white, timeless look, be it a very modern-style white or something with a little more traditional flare," he says.

Crisp, neutral palettes can lend calm sophistication to any bathroom. Photo from Zillow listing.

3. Smells like a bathroom

"With some bathrooms, you walk in and they just have an old bathroom smell," Sarah Hurd notes. It’s another indication that it's time for a renovation.

The fix: Replacing a toilet's wax seal, fixing a persistent, mold-causing sink leak, or adding better ventilation to a windowless bathroom can all be sure fixes for a fresher-smelling experience.

4. Bad layout

Awkward bathroom layout is another indication that it’s time for an update. Odd arrangements, such as a toilet directly next to the bathtub, are typical in bungalows and houses built in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, when plumbing was a new phenomenon.

The fix: Installing a separate water closet can be a winning move, Merschat says. "It gives a nice bit of refinement to the room when the toilet isn’t sitting out in the middle of the space.”

An outside-the-box arrangement can refine an otherwise predictable space. Photo from Zillow listing.

5. Leaks

When brown water stains appear on the ceiling below the bathroom, it's definitely time to make repairs and update.

The fix: Take the opportunity to put in modern fixtures that conserve water and speak to your style, Merschat advises.

6. Poor lighting

“If you're either blinded by the lights that are overhead, or it's so dim you can barely see yourself in the mirror, that's a problem," says Sarah Hurd.

The fix: Better light fixtures and brighter light bulbs may be the first step on your path to a bathroom redo.

New light fixtures easily brighten and modernize the space. Photo from Zillow listing.

7. Stylistic relics

If you have wallpaper or popcorn ceilings still hanging around from decades past, your bathroom is due for an update.

The fix: Wallpaper is making a comeback, so think about using it in a new way. "We've actually redone powder rooms where we've put wallpaper on the ceiling to give it a different pop," Merschat says.

8. Low on storage

Can’t store all the things you need in the bathroom? This calls for action.

The fix: Install a larger vanity, or add shelves above the toilet. You could even knock out a wall and steal a little space from another room to create a linen closet.

Install a new vanity with broadened storage options, like open shelving. Photo from Zillow listing.

9. Time to sell

If you're not interested in fixing up your bathroom for yourself, do it for your home's next tenants.

The fix: A fancy new washroom can add just the right panache to spur potential buyers to action. "Redoing a bathroom that's just an eyesore within the house might make a huge difference," Merschat says.

If you’re ready to renovate, start thinking about the look you want for your new bathroom. At Short Story Renovations, the Hurds use Pinterest to share ideas with their clients.

"[We] start a board that all of us can put stuff on,” Angela Hurd explains. “That way [our clients aren’t] in the dark about what we're trying to do." This practice helps everyone involved get a feel for one look and stick with it.

Get started with your own bathroom design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Top photo from Zillow listing.

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Mountain Bliss: A Creekside Cabin, Rustic Treehouse & Outdoor Canopy Bed 7 Nov 2017, 11:23 am

John “JT” Tredgold knows a thing or two about love at first sight. 

As vice president of bakery operations at Semifreddi's in Oakland, CA, he needed a way to decompress after long hours of perfecting pastries and chocolate croissants at the handcrafted bread shop.

The London native sought a mountain respite to get away from it all. He embarked on a six-month search, which ended as soon as he set foot inside a rustic creekside cabin about two hours outside the city.

"It's a funky cabin, but I looked at the design and proportions, and I fell in love with it," JT said. "You walk out to the deck, and it overlooks this gorgeous creek. It just goes on and on. It's overlooked by redwoods. It just gets better and better."

The tiny-but-tough cabin that made the baker's heart rise packs quite a punch into just 324 square feet. Built in 1959, it boasts a classic woodsy interior with thick, exposed wooden boards, plus a number of outdoor features - a treehouse! Zip lines! More on those in a bit.

Inside the main house, a clawfoot tub painted fire-engine red adds a burst of color in the bathroom. The copper-colored faucet and handles give off a warm vintage feel.

Upstairs, a lofted bedroom with an expansive skylight offers a view of the redwoods that surround the property. It's JT's favorite.

"Waking up in the morning and seeing the light break through the trees is incredible," he said. "The same goes for nighttime. When it gets dusky, the sky turns deep blue, and I can hear the creek."

"I don't rush in the morning," he continued, "and I don't rush in the night. I just make sure I'm breathing it all in."

And there's certainly space to do that. On the deck, JT built a canopy for snoozing under the stars. A white curtain provides a wispy cover, while 200 hand-strung lights illuminate the space at night.

For more adventurous days, there's a set of zip lines perfect for darting across the property. And the handmade treehouse that JT built, lofted among the trees, offers a spot for him to sleep in the summer or just to sneak away and read. The creek nearby provides nature’s soundtrack.

A roadside fence is also handcrafted - curvy and sinuous to mirror the wavy surface of the creek. Storage sheds are made of salvaged wood, while some of the walls were formed using repurposed shipping pallets from the bakery.

Parting with the property is bittersweet for JT, but important, he said. Wanderlust is calling, and so he must go.

"I've been here for five years, and I've never really been anywhere for more than five years," JT said. "I just decided it's time to go."

"A friend of mine once said the biggest danger to an adventurous spirit is stability and security, and a free spirit needs to look for a new horizon every morning," he continued. "And that's always stuck with me."

Kyla Brooke of Vanguard Properties carried the listingPhotography by Shidume Lozada.

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Do You Really Need to Rake? 6 Nov 2017, 11:35 am

Bad news: It's time to get your act together and clean up your garden before winter makes the task more difficult. But the good news is, fall garden chores don't have to be a pain. You might find you enjoy picking up branches or raking leaves in the brisk autumn air.

Whether you love or hate fall chores, here is a checklist of tasks and ways to make them easier.

Make a compost bin

Composting sounds like a lot of hard work, but it's actually a perfect solution for lazy gardeners. Have a bunch of weeds, grass clippings and branches to get rid of? Don't bother bagging it up and hauling it to the curb - just throw it in a pile and mix it up every month or so. Then surround the pile with landscape timbers or chicken wire to keep everything from blowing all over the place.

While you can make composting as complicated as you want, it doesn't have to be.

 Rake leaves - or don't

That's right, raking the leaves isn't always necessary. But before you proudly share this news with your significant other to try getting out of your chores, here’s the full story.

shutterstock_232950250

Leaves in the front lawn are not desirable, especially when they blow into neighboring lawns. Leaves in the garden, on the other hand, are totally desirable, and act as free mulch to protect roots and conserve moisture.

Another caveat: The soil around rose bushes and other plants that are sensitive to diseases like powdery mildew should be kept clean to prevent infection.

Collect fallen debris

We've all had a so-called 'trash tree' at some point. You know, the Bradford pear that drops branches at the drop of a hat - or the Osage orange that bombs unsuspecting passersby with rock-hard fruits.

If you're one of the unfortunate souls with a messy tree, now is the time to collect all that debris for the year. Collect sticks and twigs, too, but once you’ve gathered them, leave them in the garden to serve as perches and homes for wildlife.

Mow the lawn

Cut the grass one last time, and mow it short to prevent diseases from spreading. Collect the grass clippings and add them to your compost pile.

Now is also a good time to complete your edging and string-trimming chores.

When you're done mowing, winterize your mower and other outdoor power tools by draining the gasoline so it doesn't become stale and gunk up your equipment for next year.shutterstock_203668357

Prune damaged branches

Fall is about using the anvil pruners rather than the hedge trimmers. Prune out any branches that are diseased, damaged or dead so they won’t succumb to winds or the weight of snow and ice.

If any arm-width branches meet those criteria, use a saw. If any large limbs or trees look as if they’ll break when loaded with ice, call a tree surgeon.

Look at it this way: If there's anything that you think might fall to the ground on its own accord over the winter, remove it now.

Pull weeds

The last thing you want is a bunch of weeds spreading their seeds and taking over your garden in spring. Pull weeds on a pleasant day when it’s above freezing and the soil is a little moist so the weeds will come up more easily.

Since weeds have a tendency to shed their progeny all over the place, throw them on the compost pile or put them in trash bags.

Collect dead leaves

When cleaning and picking up indoors, you'd ideally leave things spotless. This is not the case in the garden, however, since seedpods, flowerheads and fruits add winter interest and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Still, any dead leaves or other less-useful debris can be collected and composted.

Mulch beds

Mulching isn't necessarily a cleanup task, but it is necessary nonetheless because it protects the plants' roots over the winter and conserves moisture.

All of those raked leaves you saved will make an excellent mulch for your flowerbeds, or you can purchase the bagged stuff. Use a 1-  to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch, and resist the temptation to use landscaping fabric. Doing so might prevent weeds, but it will also prevent the soil around your plants from accessing rainfall or beneficial organisms.

Top photo from Zillow listing

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Originally published October 15, 2015.

6 Clever Hacks for Landing Your Dream Apartment 6 Nov 2017, 8:59 am

Finding a new apartment is a time-intensive process. It typically takes an average of 2 ½ months and includes plenty of paperwork, research and calling potential landlords. In fact, according to a 2016 study, 82 percent of adults say moving is somewhat stressful or very stressful - more stressful than getting a root canal, being trapped in an elevator or doing your taxes.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. Savvy renters are finding inventive ways to automate the most onerous parts of their apartment search - from outsourcing listing research to setting up automatic new-listing notifications.

Here are 6 easy ways to streamline your next apartment search:

1. Create notifications for new listings that match your criteria

Timing is everything - especially when it comes to landing your next dream apartment. Zillow's listing database is updated daily, so save your search, and choose to receive real-time notifications or daily emails whenever new listings match your criteria.

In addition to timely Zillow notifications, you can configure this IFTTT recipe to receive texts whenever a new Craigslist post matches your search.

2. Organize and track your search with Trello

Apartment hunting involves many moving parts, and Trello is an easy-to-use tool that will help streamline your search and track your progress.

You add information to "cards," which you can move to different columns, share with family or friends and even automate. Here's a house-hunting Trello board, and this one helps you organize moving tasks after you sign your lease.

If you're feeling extra ambitious, this IFTTT recipe automatically adds relevant Craigslist listings to your Trello board.

3. Delegate research and scheduling to a virtual assistant

Every apartment search requires hours of researching, scheduling and calling. But many hands make light work, and Fancy Hands can help you do the heavy lifting. This affordable virtual assistant service works by "request" - essentially, tasks that take up to 20 minutes to complete.

Here are three tasks you can outsource immediately to your new assistant: Find listings that match your criteria, research potential neighborhoods and schedule apartment tours.

Plus, Fancy Hands integrates with Trello, so you can delegate new tasks and share information right from your board.

4. Hire someone to do on-the-ground research

While Fancy Hands has the Googling, typing, calling and emailing handled, it's important not to overlook the value of analog research. If you've got your heart set on a particular neighborhood (or a handful of them), it's worth hitting the pavement to spot the "For Rent" signs that haven't yet made it online. Thanks to TaskRabbit, you can hire someone do this IRL research for you.

5. Draft an email template for contacting landlords

Mixmax is a Gmail add-on that allows you to create customizable email templates for communicating with landlords and property managers. It also lets you track who opens your emails and when so you know when to follow up.

And don't worry - Mixmax will do the follow-up outreach for you, too. You can create sequences of emails that trigger follow-up emails after a set number of days.

Bonus: Mixmax integrates with Dropbox, so you can share your application materials right there in the body of your email.

6. Store application materials in Dropbox

In addition to creating your Zillow renter profile, which helps you share your qualifications with potential landlords with just one click, try storing your application materials in Dropbox.

With all your application materials in one place, you can quickly and easily share your qualifications with a Dropbox link. Include copies of credit reports, pay stubs, your driver's license and at least one reference letter.

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10 Charming Homes in America's Heartland 3 Nov 2017, 3:27 pm

Although the exact borders of America's heartland are a little fuzzy, one thing's for sure: The region boasts picturesque farms, rustic homes and simpler times. Middle America also has another big thing going for it: affordability. The median price of homes in the heartland are generally a fraction of what it would cost to live in a major city (San Francisco, we're looking at you), and the ones we’ve found here are a steal even for the region.

But don't let the low prices fool you; these aren't fixer-uppers or eyesores. From a log cabin in rural Wisconsin to a 4-bedroom in Nebraska's capital, these lovable abodes are move-in ready and Instagram-worthy.

Colorado Springs, CO

2612 Legend Dr, Colorado Springs, CO
For sale: $309,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

Home to both the Rocky Mountains and a US Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs calls to outdoors and sports enthusiasts. With views of Pikes Peak - not to mention four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a fireplace - this spacious, 2,882-square-foot house makes the perfect home base for any lover of the great outdoors.

Find more homes for sale in Colorado Springs, CO.

Evansdale, IA

1766 W Gilbert Dr, Evansdale, IA
For sale: $84,400

Photo from Zillow listing.

This sweet, 2-bedroom ranch home has all new appliances, a stand-alone garage and a spacious backyard with a fire pit. Though technically a city outside Waterloo, Evansdale's population is under 5,000, which gives it a small-town feel.

Find more homes for sale in Evansdale, IA.

Washington, IL

701 N Main St, Washington, IL
For sale: $119,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

With clapboard siding, a showpiece fireplace, finished basement, new appliances and other special touches, this reasonably priced Cape Cod has it all. Another plus: It's walkable to the charming, historic downtown area that’s home to mom-and-pop shops and a picturesque town square.

Find more homes for sale in Washington, IL.

Paola, KS

605 E Miami St, Paola, KS
For sale: $100,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

If a comfy bungalow in a storied small town sounds appealing, then this 3-bedroom in Paola, KS might just be your dream home. Built in 1910 and featuring original hardwood floors, this home is also within short walking distance of the sweet town center, where you can find a farmers market in the summer and carriage rides in the winter.

Find more homes for sale in Paola, KS.

Kansas City, MO

2829 E 8th St, Kansas City, MO
For sale: $75,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Although Kansas City is the most populous place in Missouri, it's still tiny compared to the big urban players like New York and LA. And at less than half the median price of homes listed in the state, this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom shirtwaist - an architectural style unique to the area - with a stone porch is a must see.

Find more homes for sale in Kansas City, MO.

Lincoln, NE

3081 Vine St, Lincoln, NE
For sale $129,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

Located in Nebraska's capital city of Lincoln, this 1910 home has stylish, modern touches and a welcoming, brightly colored interior. From the sleek Brazilian Koa hardwood floors throughout to the on-trend subway tile backsplash in the kitchen, this lovely 4-bedroom house would be great for a family.

Find more homes for sale in Lincoln, NE.

Grand Forks, ND

1502 Cottonwood St, Grand Forks, ND
For sale: $193,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Grand Forks, ND is homey yet spacious. Just blocks from the Red River - which separates North Dakota from Minnesota - this corner lot house is also a stone's throw away from fabulous parks, fishing and golfing.

Find more homes for sale in Grand Forks, ND.

Belle Fourche, SD

719 7th Ave, Belle Fourche, SD
For sale: $98,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Named “beautiful fork” by French explorers, the South Dakota town of Belle Fourche has a unique claim to fame: It's the geographic center of the United States. So if you want to truly live in Middle America, check out this comfortable 4-bedroom house that gives new meaning to being in the middle of it all.

Find more homes for sale in Belle Fourche, SD.

Conover, WI

3556 N Country Ln, Conover, WI
For sale: $142,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

If escaping to a log cabin in the woods sounds like your idea of bliss, then this 2-bedroom on three acres of land is the place for you. Oozing with rustic, woodsy charm but equipped with modern amenities to make it comfortable year-round, this sweet cabin offers the best of all worlds.

Find more homes for sale in Conover, WI.

Gillette, WY

708 S Emerson Ave, Gillette, WY
For sale: $179,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

Built in 1945, this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house has been updated with modern features while maintaining its classic charm. The home is also close to City Park, which features a playground, volleyball courts, barbecues and a swimming pool for summertime fun.

Find more homes for sale in Gillette, WY.

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Where the Caribbean Meets the City – House of the Week 2 Nov 2017, 1:15 pm

Tracking down Malene Barnett is as simple as searching for the turquoise door. 

It's not hard to spot in the rows of traditional brownstones that line Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Most have a conventional brick exterior in some rust-colored shade of burnt auburn or roasted carrot; Barnett's has a clean coat of white with a pop of aqua smack dab on the first floor.

"They know me as the woman with the turquoise front door," said Barnett. "I always wanted to live in a house identified by the color of the front door. And turquoise is my favorite color."

The streak of bright colors continues inside the 2-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom brownstone, where Barnett, an artist and textile designer, painted rooms in shades ranging from Creamsicle to mint. 

Each room is inspired by her Caribbean roots. Barnett's mother is from Saint Vincent, and her father grew up in Jamaica.

When she bought the home in 2008, Barnett figured she could bring that tropical feeling - quite literally - to her front doorstep.

"A lot of people like to paint white or beige. Teal is my neutral. My floors are teal. Instead of staining the floors, I selected a color," she said. "I wanted the space to feel like I was in the Caribbean, because I can't always get there, and one day I want a house there."

The muted blue-green kitchen is a favorite spot for Barnett, who often unwinds by entertaining friends in the open space. She added a sea-glass tile backsplash to the wall behind the stove, where you might find her cooking up a favorite vegetarian dish, like sweet potato and kale soup.

The nearby living room is a brighter, but complementary shade of aquamarine that serves as a backdrop for the art and artifacts Barnett picked up in her travels worldwide, from ceramics in Ghana to sculptures in Senegal.

The front entryway is a radiant orange color, accented by a dark wood banister. It was the only thing Barnett was able to salvage while doing a complete gut renovation of the 1910 brownstone.

"There were holes in the roof, and water was seeping down, but I said, 'OK, I'll try for a mortgage anyway,’"  Barnett said. "It was run-down."

She eventually found a bank to finance the two-year renovation, which included adding a 12-foot extension onto the back of the home on all three levels. The addition boosted space in the master bedroom, which she painted lavender from floor to ceiling. (No, really, the floors are a soft purple hue.)

The master bath features mosaic tile on the walls and floors. A large soaking tub is a welcome retreat for Barnett, who has been training for marathons.

"I love the space. There's a double sink, there's a double shower - it's a room. Bathrooms can be so tight, but I didn't want that because I am going to use this room every day," she said. "I wanted it to be spacious and functional and pretty."

While the designer has called the space home for nearly a decade, she's constantly adding to it with art from her travels abroad. And, most of all, she's become an advocate for others taking a risk on buying and renovating a home.

"I did this renovation on my own. I'm a single woman. Usually it's couples doing this, or women are too fearful," she said. "I bought this home and started a business at the same time. It was crazy, but I did it. It taught me about survival and my talents."

"I didn't have a lot of money," she continued, "but I still found ways to survive."

Custom photography by Sheena Kim of UNIQUE LAPIN Photography.

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3 Easy, Clever Thanksgiving Decoration DIYs 1 Nov 2017, 3:47 pm

Thanksgiving offers so many things to look forward to: the aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven, gathering with friends and family to share a meal, the excitement of the big game.

Get ready to celebrate with three Thanksgiving decoration projects that will make your home extra festive. Here’s a quick look at all three:

The party starts on the porch

Kick off the Thanksgiving fun with this welcoming turkey who’ll be there to greet your guests for a day of family, friends, and a little too much food.

Craft a tasty centerpiece

Between the turkey, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes, we all could use something fresh before we tackle the pumpkin pie. This festive and fruity pumpkin turkey will be sure to wow your guests - and give them a quick snack between courses.

Tic-tac-turkey

Who says you can’t play with your food? With just a bit of washi tape and a few apples, you can turn the kids’ table into a tic-tac-toe board that’s sure to be a hit with the under-20 crowd (and maybe even make the grownups’ table jealous).

Bonus: quick cooking!

Cut your food prep time with this clever kitchen tip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sneak Peek: 5 Home Design Trends You'll Be Seeing in 2018 31 Oct 2017, 1:34 pm

Twice a year, true interior design magic happens when the industry gathers in North Carolina for High Point Market. This massive trade show gives the design world an opportunity to show off the newest styles in furnishings, lighting and accessories.

We left the event with a wellspring of inspiration after spotting these exciting new trends.

Charcoal and honey

Deep, dark walls painted in rich charcoal and matte black, accented by lush honey tones and cream accents, created a dramatic look.

High Point Market featured plenty of furnishings and decor items that repeated the trend on a smaller scale, with glossy black elements and golden hardware and textiles.

Flouncy florals

Florals are always on point, but the market was flooded with heavily saturated, big-blossomed flourishes with lots of contrast.

Dramatic florals were everywhere, but most notably in large billowing fabrics. From drapery and wallcovering to club chairs and pillows, this look was a show front-runner.

If you're looking to make a bold statement, consider a sofa with a colorful floral print on a dark background, or even a large art piece. For a more modest look, try incorporating smaller items, like a vase or toss pillow.

Velvety vibrants

We always see jewel tones in design, but this season we’re seeing heavily textured pieces with vibrant gemstone coloration. Think fuchsia velvet ottomans and multitoned boucle fabric on accent chairs - even a rich emerald-green tufted couch.

These intense hues can be a lot to take on, so start small with a throw blanket or chair to start.

This is a great color choice for any palette, and it ties into that jewel-tone trend we mentioned earlier.

Continuing the jewel-tone trend, deep teal is a shade you’ll be seeing more of. Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside, its 2018 color of the year, is a perfect representation of this hot hue. Mix metals with this color choice, and watch them sparkle. Consider painting a single statement credenza this enticing shade, and make it pop with hammered brass hardware. Or, paint your entire living room this rich color, and mix in shades of green and fuchsia. If subtle’s more your style, tone it down with cream or charcoal.

Blushing twilight

The high-contrast sophisticated combination of navy blue and a soft blush pink is easy to pull off and surprisingly timeless.

This soft pale-pink rug, paired with the artwork’s rich navy accents, pulls the look together, while mixed metals and cream accents finish off the aesthetic.

Marvelous marbling

One of the most prominent trends from the market was the use of marbling. We found chairs, pillows and art sporting this noteworthy pattern.

Artist Jill Seale handcrafted the art for this gallery wall - paired with a rich organic olive and soft gray blues - and it was quite a showstopper.

The trend was so popular at the market that they offered classes on how to create the striking effect. Try it yourself, and build your own art collection.

 

Whether you’re just refreshing your home for the season or planning a full decor makeover, let these styles from the fall 2017 High Point Market inspire you.

Photos courtesy of Kerrie Kelly.

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8 Places in America That Will Pay You to Move There 31 Oct 2017, 1:08 pm

If you're willing to make a move and fit the qualifications, many rural American towns - and whole states - are offering attractive incentives aimed at attracting new residents and reviving their communities. Ranging from cash grants to free lots of land, these enticing incentives are luring many city dwellers to rural America.

At the beginning of the 20th century, rural America housed more than half the country's entire population. While the total number of Americans living in rural areas has been roughly stable over the past century-as urban and suburban America have boomed-its share of the total population has declined, falling from 54 percent in 1910 to just 19 percent in 2010. This is due in part to outmigration to urban cores, especially by younger generations and the middle class.

This decline in population - and the accompanying social and economic challenges - is forcing rural America to come up with inventive incentives to attract new residents back to rural communities.

Tribune, Kansas is one such town with one such program. "If you move here, we will pay down your student debt," explains Christy Hopkins, community development director for Kansas' least populated county, Greeley (in which Tribune sits). This program, called the Rural Opportunity Zone program, incentivizes post-grads from big cities to move to under-populated towns in one of 77 participating Kansas counties. One of the incentives? They'll help you pay off your student loans - up to $15,000 over the course of five years.

And it seems to be working, for both the town and its new residents. "We knew we needed young people in our community, and so we were looking for opportunities to bring them back," explains Hopkins. “Since beginning the ROZ program, Greeley's population has increased by 55 people-25 of them being direct program participants benefiting from the student loan incentives.”

Here are five towns and three states that offer a robust set of loans, programs, and/or assistance for those seeking to become homeowners:

Curtis, Nebraska

Population: 896
Median home value: $79,000

Dream of building your own home from the ground up? Curtis, Nebraska has a sweet deal for you: Construct a single-family home within a specified time period and receive the lot of land it sits on for free.

Marne, Iowa

Population: 114
Median home value: $75,300

Just 45 minutes east of Omaha, the town of Marne will give you a lot of land for free - all you have to do is build the house (conventional construction or modular) and meet program requirements. Houses must be a minimum of 1200 square feet, and the average lot size is approximately 80 feet x 120 feet.  

Harmony, Minnesota

Population: 1,013
Median home value: $93,900

Dreaming of a peaceful life in a newly-built home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? Good news: Your dream comes with a cash rebate. The Harmony Economic Development Authority offers a cash rebate program to incentivize new home construction in Harmony. Based on the final estimated market value of the new home, rebates range from $5,000 to $12,000 and there are no restrictions on the applicant's age, income level, or current residency.

Baltimore, Maryland

Population: 621,849
Median home value: $123,000

Definitively not a rural town, Baltimore's homeowner incentives were just too appealing and inventive to leave off this list. Baltimore has not one but two programs offering robust incentives towards buying a home in the city. Buying Into Baltimore offers a $5,000 forgivable loan (forgiven by 20 percent each year, so that by the end of five years you no longer have a balance) if you meet certain qualifications. The second solution offered by the city is a brilliant one: the Vacants to Value Booster program offers $10,000 toward downpayment and closing costs of buyers to Vacants to Value (distressed or formerly distressed) properties.

New Haven, Connecticut

Population: 129,964
Median home value: $157,900

Also not a rural area, but offering an incredibly generous package of homeowner incentives: The city of New Haven, CT has a suite of programs totaling up to $80,000 for new homeowners, including a $10,000 forgivable five-year loan to first-time home buyers, $30,000 renovation assistance, and/or up to $40,000 for college tuition.   

Alaska

Population: 741,894
Median home value: $268,800

Chances are, if you're moving to Alaska, the state has a program for you. The state offers an interest rate-reduction program for those financing new or existing energy-efficient homes or improvements. Alaska also offers incentives for veterans and live-in caretakers of physically- or mentally-disabled residents. They even have a manufactured home program and a rural owner-occupied loan program. See the full list of programs here.

Colorado

Population: 5,540,545
Median home value: $337,900

Like most states, Colorado offers traditional programs that assist with down payments and low interest rates, but the state also has a disability program that helps first-time buyers who have a permanent disability finance their home. The state also has a down payment assistance grant that provides recipients with funds up to 4 percent of their first mortgage, which doesn't require repayment.

Wyoming

Population: 585,501
Median Home Value: $195,400

Interested in buying a home with history (and maybe some wear and tear)? Wyoming just might be the place for you. The state offers programs like the Wyoming Rehabilitation & Acquisition Program, which takes homes that have been foreclosed on or abandoned and puts them back on the market for households with low incomes after they've been rehabbed. Wyoming offers another rehab program that allows for older homes to be "spruced up" if they need more than $15,000 worth of repairs.



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8 Favorite Halloween Traditions of the Past and Present 31 Oct 2017, 11:46 am

No matter how many great political or “Stranger Things” costumes we'll see this year, being an adult at Halloween can be a bit of a bummer. Between obligatory "clever" costumes and the egregious lack of candy at most adult-themed Halloween parties, there's not a lot of giddiness left in the holiday for the grownups.

In honor of the bygone days of candy-trading and itchy wigs, we rounded up a few of the fun, quirky, nostalgic spooky traditions of yore - some of which are alive and well today.

Maybe we can't trick or treat anymore, but we can delight in remembering the highlights of our childhood Halloweens.

Trick-or-treating

Ah, door-to-door sweets retrieval from strangers. It’s the day every kid looks forward to all year, but how on earth did this tradition come about?

TorT
Frankenstein and friend, circa 1974-1978. © Larry Racioppo Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library .

Turns out trick-or-treating actually has a couple of sources. One is the early Celt tradition of dressing up like demons at the end of the year - the idea being, if you ran into one, he'd think you were part of his posse.

The other is a later practice from the Middle Ages known as "souling," in which poorer members of the community would go to wealthier homes on All Souls Day and offer prayers for their dearly departed in return for "soul cakes."

Over the centuries, soul cakes gave way to Snickers and prayers gave way to tricks, but the practice of going house-to-house remains.

The classic witch costume

Before TV and movies made vampires and werewolves and witches ridiculously attractive, there was the classic witch, made famous in “The Wizard of Oz” and beloved as everyone's last minute go-to costume.

witch
Hallowe’en postcard, circa 1910. Published by Raphael Tuck & Sons. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library.

All you needed was a broom, which your parents were no doubt super happy to surrender for a night, and maybe a pointy hat - which, as it turns out, wasn't actually associated with witches until the 18th century. Bonus points for green facepaint and nose warts.

Front lawn graveyard

Let's be honest. We've all been secretly terrified by this. Maybe you passed the yard while out on a jog, maybe you were a kid trick or treating, but at some point, those bones sticking out of a well-manicured lawn took you by surprise.

shutterstock_132523844

Yearning to re-create this childhood favorite in your own yard? If you can't get your hands on plastic gravestones, there's always the classic "dead body in the front yard" thing. Just make sure everyone knows it's fake, unless you want the cops to show up. Seriously.

The Monster Mash

Okay, so maybe it's not "cool" to dance to, and you still regret that time you chose it at karaoke, but you gotta hear this song at least once in October, right?

shutterstock_83437855

Inspired by ’60s dance records and the simultaneous horror movie craze, Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash" actually topped the charts when it was released in 1962 - and again in 1973. How about a 2015 revival? Put it on repeat at your Halloween bash and see if it catches on.

The Singing Ghostshutterstock_2276447

Speaking of Halloween music: Once motion activation got going, you couldn't trust any doorway.

Things have gotten a little more sophisticated since, but step under any awning on Halloween night in the ’90s and there was a solid chance you were going to hear this “eerie” tune.

The ‘Scream’ mask

Ah, "Scream." It brought Neve Campbell back to the silver screen, knocked off Drew Barrymore in the first scene (spoiler alert?), and gave teenage dudes everywhere the perfect Halloween costume to terrify and annoy their friends from 1996 to this very day.

The Addams Family

Whether you watched the show in the ’60s or the movies in the ’90s (ideally both), the Addams are the iconic “all together ooky” Halloween family you know and love - and fear. (Unless, of course, you were a fan of “The Munsters,” instead.)

Bonus points to the mysterious and spooky gang for offering a huge variety of fun Halloween costumes, most of which are relatively easy to pull off -except for, say, Cousin It. Nobody wants that much hair in their Halloween candy.

Jack-o’-lanterns

Believe it or not, the reason we all have to struggle with these kits every October is because of an Irish folk legend about "Stingy Jack."

shutterstock_158297801

This Jack dude apparently tricked the Devil - twice! - and wasn't allowed to go to Heaven or Hell upon his death. Instead, he was doomed to roam the earth forever with a coal lantern which, for some reason, he put into a turnip. Fast forward a few centuries and "Jack of the Lantern" becomes jack-o’-lantern, pumpkins take over for turnips, and Stingy Jack, for all we know, is still wandering around, turnip in hand.

What Halloween decorations, costumes, and traditions are you looking forward to this year?

Originally published October 28, 2017.

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The Best Houseplants for Low-Light Spaces 30 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

No houseplant truly prefers to live in the dark, but the bulletproof indoor plants listed below come pretty darn close.

All you need to grow these gorgeous houseplants is natural light - enough to comfortably read without turning on the lights.

ZZ plant

Looking more like the back of a stegosaurus than an actual plant, the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) will survive extinction-level neglect without missing a single beat.

The leathery green “fronds” make it look like a cross between a cycad and a philodendron. And you can rest assured they’ll continue to look like that, even if you miss a month of watering or keep it in an absurdly low amount of natural light.

Make new ZZ plants by dividing the root ball or by planting leaf cuttings.

ZZ plant

Cast iron plant

Understated yet elegant, the cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) has been popular since the Victorian age for its wide straps of deep, emerald-green foliage.

Variegated types have patterns like cream bands and specks, but they may lose their markings if kept in low light for too long. Cast iron plants can survive considerable neglect, but keep the potting mix lightly moist for luxuriant foliage.

Cast iron plant

Snake plant

You can call it snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue or even Sansevieria, just as long as you don't call it boring.

Sansevieria trifasciata “Laurentii” is the variety normally encountered, but there are many other varieties with an assortment of foliage markings and shapes. S. cylindrica, for example, has cylindrical, sage-green leaves that are spread out flat like a fan.

The worst thing you can do to a snake plant is give it too much water, so let the potting mix dry out between waterings.

Snake plant

Lady palm

This is the most luxurious houseplant around, with fans of deep-green, glossy fronds on a compact clump of bamboo-like stems.

They're slow-growing and often expensive, but a lady palm can live an entire lifetime indoors with care and occasional repotting. To get the healthiest plant for your buck, keep the potting mix moist, and feed annually with a palm fertilizer.

If the plant becomes root-bound, divide the root ball with a sharp knife, and pot up the divisions.

Lady palm

Peace lily

Getting a peace lily (Spathiphyllum) to live in low light is easy. Getting one to bloom, on the other hand, is not.

That's OK, though, because its fountain of glossy, blue-green leaves is more than attractive enough in its own right - especially if you clean the leaves and periodically change the potting mix to prevent browned leaf tips.

Peace lily

Pothos

Thanks to its apathetic nature and tolerance to just about anything, that blotchy-looking, golden pothos vine (Epipremnum aureum “Aureum”) has become so common that it's downright boring.

Luckily, interesting cultivars abound, such as the chartreuse-green “Neon” and the appropriately named “Silver Satin,” with its velvety, sage-green leaves.

Pothos isn't picky, but if your plant gets a little leggy, prune it back and root the cuttings in new flowerpots.

Pothos

Chamaedorea palm

When it comes to palms, the Chamaedorea genus is chock-full of shade-tolerant species that can thrive indoors.

Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is the most popular of them all for its bamboo-like fronds on narrow trunks, and the bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) is practically the same thing, only larger.

For a true conversation piece, however, grow metallic palm (Chamaedorea metallica). It has nearly iridescent, metallic, blue-green leaves, each bearing the shape of a mermaid's tail. What could be cooler?

Chamaedorea palm

Mistletoe cactus

Mistletoe is probably the very last thing you'd think of upon hearing the word “cactus.” Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis) grows in the shady rainforest, perched upon tree branches with other epiphytes, like orchids and bromeliads. Best of all, most members of the genus have long, leafless stems that drape down like wet spaghetti.

One thing they do have in common with other cacti is their drought tolerance. Still, they do best with potting mix that isn't allowed to dry out for long.

Mistletoe cactus

Philodendron

The common heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) that we all know and love is only the tip of the iceberg.

For an even more exotic look, grow self-heading varieties like “Moonlight,” with its crown of lime-green foliage, or the huge divided leaves of the split leaf philodendron (P. selloum). Better yet, grow the three of them together in a single pot.

To keep your philodendron healthy, keep the potting mix moist, and remove any yellowed leaves. Periodically check between the leaves and stems for pests.

Philodendron

Related:

How to Brighten a Dark Home 30 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

Whether you live in a large home with a dark interior or a small apartment with only one window, follow these tips to bring in more sunshine - or at least make it look that way.

Paint it light and bright

Colors and values are nothing more than the light that reaches our eyes after bouncing off objects.

The amazing thing about white is that it reflects most of the light that hits its surface, creating the illusion of light. Case in point: that glowing ball in the sky we call the moon.

Paint colors that are saturated yet light in value create a similar effect, while lending their own distinctive personalities to a space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Keep the contrast

A kitchen with white cabinets, countertops, walls and backsplashes is about as bright as it gets, yet the lack of variety can leave the overall effect a bit dull.

To keep things interesting, introduce contrast. Choose accessories, cookware and decorations in your favorite color, or even decide on an entire palette.

Sneak in some style and personality with a colorful mosaic backsplash, or add drama to the scene with dark furniture, picture frames or patterns.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Strategically place mirrors

Mirrors cannot make a room look brighter on their own, though there is some truth to the mirror myth, since they're excellent at reflecting natural light in rooms that already receive it.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Don't expect to get the same effect in dim hallways and bathrooms, though, since it does no good to duplicate a dim view. So, go ahead - replace those huge panels of mirrored glass in your bathroom with more attractive framed mirrors. You won't miss out after all.

Install new windows

Yes, installing an entire window or two is the nuclear option, but if your home is so dim that you're forced to keep the lights on all day, then it could be taking a toll on your utility bills - or even your mental well-being!

This isn't a decision to take lightly (no pun intended), so talk to a contractor to discuss options and pricing before you break out that sledgehammer. You might be better off installing a skylight or light tubes.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Eliminate glare

Sometimes the problem isn't the amount of light, but rather the quality. Overhead lights can brighten up a room, but the effect is harsh as high-noon sunlight.

Instead, you want the diffuse, indirect light of early morning. Place lights near the walls, and place LED strips under cabinets to cover the wall in a soft glow. Be sure to include task lighting wherever it's needed most, such as the home office or wherever you need to read and work.

Rethink window treatments

If your curtains cover up too much of the window, replace them with something less obstructive. Sheer and semisheer window treatments let in plenty of light, without sacrificing privacy during the day.

Photo from Zillow listing.

If you're tired of pulling up the Venetian blinds or plantation shutters every day, replace them with blackout window treatments you can open all the way during the day and close at night.

Brighten the view outside

Maybe you're too busy focusing on the indoors to see the forest for the trees. But all those trees and overgrown foundation shrubs can block natural light from reaching the house, so cut those bushes and trim those tree limbs. If necessary, call an arborist.

Also, use plants with variegated or silver leaves in your landscape to reflect light indoors, and consider renovating your patio and paving it with something brighter.

 

Replace doors

Doors present a great opportunity to let in more light, improve the view from inside and make the entry more welcoming.

Since your front door is a reflection of your home's personality, as well as your own, pick a style that's appropriate to the architecture. If you're concerned about privacy, choose one with stained glass or small windows at the top. Even a small amount of natural light will make a huge difference.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Clean windows

It ought to be obvious, but when was the last time you cleaned all your home’s windows, both inside and out?

To avoid streaks on outdoor surfaces, don't bother with the window cleaner and paper towels. Wash the windows with a sponge and mildly soapy water (dish soap will do), wipe dry with a squeegee, and finish them off with a soft chamois.

Top photo from Zillow listing.

Related:

9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years 27 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

No matter how much you love and care for your home, things are bound to wear out and need fixing - especially when you hit the 10-year mark.

To keep your house in tiptop condition, consider making these updates every 10 years or so.

Get new carpet

The average medium-grade carpet has a life expectancy of approximately 10 years. Of course, that depends on several factors, including the number of people and pets.

Signs that you need to replace your carpet: rips, tears or stains, and odors that remain even after a good cleaning. And even without any of those, you carpet might just look old and worn out. An update wouldn’t hurt.

Replace hot water tank

A water heater may not show many symptoms before it leaks or fails, so it’s important to know its age. If the manufacture date isn't shown, then it may be embedded in the serial number on the tank.

A good rule of thumb: Any tank that’s been around for 10 years or more is a candidate for replacement.

Update ceiling fans

A midrange ceiling fan should last about 10 years, if it’s running frequently. A common sign that it might be time for a new one: the lightbulbs seem to burn out more quickly than usual.

And since a ceiling fan is about style as well as function, you may just want a more modern model.

Buy a new dishwasher

Like your water heater, consider replacing your dishwasher if it’s 10 years old. You’ll likely get a more energy-efficient model that’ll pay for itself over time.

Signs that you should replace your dishwasher sooner rather than later are an unresponsive control board, poorly cleaned dishes and cracks in the tub.

Replace garbage disposal

You’ll know you need a new garbage disposal when it doesn't work as well as it used to. This is because the blades dull over time.

The average garbage disposal should last about 10-12 years with regular use, so if yours is around that age, consider replacing it.

Replace washer and dryer

The average lifespan of both appliances is about eight years. So, if your set is 10+ years old and running without any issues, consider yourself fortunate! That said, think about replacing them before you have any real problems or leaks.

Repaint inside and outside

There’s no hard and fast rule about when to repaint your home. It depends on where you live, humidity and many other factors.

People often repaint certain areas, such as a heavily used living room, every three to five years. But if some areas of the home haven’t been repainted in 10 years or more, now’s definitely the time to do it.

Re-caulk showers, bathtubs and sinks

Few jobs offer as much bang for your buck as re-caulking. Whether you just haven’t gotten around to it yet or you’re moving into a 10-year-old home, go ahead and re-caulk the tub, shower and sinks. You can easily do this yourself, and it makes everything look so much brighter.

Re-glaze windows

Re-glazing old windows is easier and more cost-effective than replacing them. And generally speaking, re-glazing should be done about every 10 years or so.

But check your windows every year before the cold weather arrives to make sure you don't have any leaks or cracks.

Related:

What You Need to Know Before Buying Your Dream Cabin 25 Oct 2017, 7:06 pm

When the leaves turn colors and the mornings glitter with frost, a cabin in the woods can be a fairy-tale retreat - a place to curl up with a good book or quickly access hiking or skiing hot spots.

While there are plenty of cabins you can rent for a weekend, owning one provides the flexibility to escape when the weather or mood is right. Let's break down the four big questions to ask yourself before making an offer on your cozy hideaway.

What kind of cabin do you want?

The word "cabin" can refer to a variety of structures. Most people think of a small wooden house in a remote location, but that's not always the case - you have options, and they're worth exploring.

Log cabins
This traditional type is just begging to be enjoyed with hot cocoa and a crackling fire. When you're considering a cabin made of logs, the wood type, log shape and corner styles are the three main ingredients of style.

Spruce logs are popular for their resistance to decay, and Scandinavian pine is often chosen for its density and tight grain.

A-frame cabins
With a simple, iconic design, these triangular charmers can accommodate a lofted sleeping area or vaulted ceilings, and the roof's steep slant prevents snow or leaf buildup.

Thanks to the obsession with minimalism and tiny living, A-frames are experiencing a comeback. They're hip and affordable - this tiny A-frame cost only $700 to construct, using mostly found materials. Even Urban Outfitters offers instructions on how to build your own.

Mobile cabins
If you're looking for mobility, a tiny cabin can be built on wheels for towing capability.

Gastineau Log Homes has a Log Cabins 2 Go line, featuring 400-square-foot structures that are factory-made and ready to roll on trailers. An even tinier option - the Stanley model from Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, built on an 8-foot-by-2-foot trailer with a foldable front porch.

Prefabricated and modular cabins
Many companies offer catalogs of cost-effective cabin designs to choose from. The designs are typically customizable but simple enough to be factory-made and then transported to your site.

Where do you want to vacation?

Do you want to be on a lake or a river? Far from the summer crowds or near a bustling mountain town? To find your ideal spot, keep these three things in mind.

Travel time, family time
Consider how often you'd like to use your cabin and how far you're willing to travel to do so. Factor in holiday traffic - will you make it there for a three-day weekend without wasting most of your time on the road?

And since vacation homes are often the place for families to gather, pick a location that's convenient for everyone - and one that offers activities all family members can enjoy.

Scenery
Cabins afford an opportunity to embrace the outdoors, so the setting is important. The window and porch views are going to play a prominent role in watching leaves or snow fall outside, so make sure you like what you see.

If you're building your cabin, you'll want to plan your design and placement in harmony with the surrounding landscape. Log cabins are meant to look like they're a part of nature - not disrupt it.

Maintenance
Remember that you won't always be present to shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. If offseason maintenance is a concern, make sure there's someone you can hire to look after your property when you're not there.

How much cabin can you afford?

Cabins might seem like a luxury, but with careful budgeting and lifestyle adjustments, you'll find they can be an affordable way to acquire property and vacation time.

Budgeting for a cabin is just like budgeting for a home. The price tags vary widely, based on location, design, amenities and quality.

Consider how much value you'll get for your buck. If you're going to use it frequently, you won't need to rent vacation homes, which could save you money in the long run. And if you're going to rent it out, it could even make you money.

But if your cabin could potentially sit there unused, collecting maintenance to-do's that you aren't around to complete, it can be a major financial drain.

Speak with a financial advisor, and take plenty of time to assess pricing and location options before deciding if a second home is indeed within your budget.

How do you narrow your search?

It's a little more of an art than a science, but there are a few tricks you can try to yield more relevant search results.

Start with location
Once you land on a location, search for it on the Zillow website or mobile app. If you're looking in a remote area outside city limits, try searching in the county or ZIP code.

You can also draw your own search boundaries on the map. If you're getting fewer results than you'd like, try drawing a circle that's bigger than the area you're looking in. That way, you'll see nearby listings, too.

Narrow with filters
From here, it's all about filters. Set your filters to show for-sale homes within your price range.

If your range is up to $300,000, try entering $350,000 to see homes where you might be able to negotiate the price. Consider Make Me Move listings, too, as these homeowners are motivated to sell even though they haven't yet pulled the trigger.

You can also set the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but keep your options open when you're getting started. Under Home Type, consider checking Lots/Land. Some properties are categorized this way even though they have small structures on the property. And if you're considering building your own cabin, this will be an especially good option for you.

Explore keywords
If you're not seeing what you're after, or if you're getting pages upon pages of results, try playing around with Keywords under More. Try one keyword or phrase per search so you don't narrow your search results too much.

Keep in mind that Zillow scans the entire listing for your keywords, so if you search "schools," you'll see tons of listings because they all include nearby schools.

Most often, the keywords are pulled from the listing descriptions that real estate agents wrote to upsell the house. Think like they would - if you were selling a cabin in your locale, what features would you highlight?

Here are a few keywords to get you started: cabin, A-frame, getaway, cozy, woods, lakefront, river and rustic.

Happy cabin hunting!

Related:

Why Cities Must Become Affordable For the Middle Class 24 Oct 2017, 8:07 pm

This article was originally published on attn.com.

Cities need the middle class. They need nurses and teachers. Yet if people have a well-paying job like those, they're finding it increasingly hopeless to afford to pay for a house in the city in which they work. Cities tend to have the most job opportunities, but they also have the highest cost of living. In recent years, the housing costs in urban areas have grown more than anywhere else.

"This isn't just a coastal problem," explains Zillow economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "We're seeing rapidly appreciating home values in places like Nashville, Provo, Charlotte, Orlando. These people that have good jobs are running into the problem that they simply cannot afford to live in cities anymore."

Not Enough to Go Around

So, what happened that is causing housing costs to rise so much? A classic problem of supply and demand. "We're in a really strong part of the recovery," says Gudell, "and it comes down to not enough homes available to sell right now, but a lot of people demanding housing."

Even though cities are becoming unaffordable, there is still an intense desire for people-especially millennials-to move there. "For a lot of people, their jobs are actually located in cities, so the appeal of a short commute is right there," says Gudell. "Millennials are starting to think about renting, leaving their parents' basements and perhaps even buying their first homes. They have a preference to be in cities, oftentimes. The acute inventory shortage that is being experienced all across the country right now is because cities don't have as many single-family homes. They have more condos available."

Smaller and Smaller

Brooklyn. New York; Shutterstock ID 684623227Unfortunately for potential buyers, there are not many choices that you can make in this situation of high demand/short supply. "You can choose to simply rent," says Gudell, "but you end up missing out on wealth building because you don't actually invest in equity by paying off a mortgage. Or you have to choose to move further out, where housing gets a bit cheaper, but then you face very long commutes."

If you're in an average, middle class-paying job, buying a home in a city with your current employment isn't realistic at all. Unless that home is under 500 square feet-about the size of a toolshed. For the biggest cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Washington, D.C., your average affordability falls to under 300 square feet.

So, why shouldn't we have cities be just for wealthy people, and suburbs and rural areas for people who are not? "In every city, you'll find a coffee shop," says Gudell. "You'll need garbage pickup, you'll need all these things and it simply doesn't work to say, 'If you're a janitor, you're going to have to commute in for an hour and a half, but if you're ultra-rich, you can live in the city.'"

Fill In the Cities

The middle class should be able to afford the cities they serve without incurring the burden and long-term physical and mental stressors of a multi-hour commute. With America's supply and demand problem not getting any better, there are certain steps that both governments and the private sector could do to try to help impact cost in a positive way.

"Cities have to evolve with the times and that means adding more units," says Gudell. "People oftentimes are afraid that higher-density living will ruin their cities, but in the end, higher density will just change the character of a city. It won't ruin it. But pushing people out and having only a city for the rich will probably ruin cities."

This article was originally published on attn.com.

The Ideal Home for You, Based on Your Zodiac Sign 23 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

Each zodiac sign gravitates to different home features, and consulting the stars can give you a fun perspective on your style.

Read on to find your ideal home, based on your horoscope. And tell us in the comments if it sounds like you!

Aquarius (January 20 to February 18)

A dreamer and connector, you like a home that reflects your idealistic side. This means that, yes, you may have a far-out bungalow with mystical murals and bead curtains.

But you may also want a home with a barn and a few acres of land to house your growing family of rescued animals - or even a group house or apartment to match your communal Aquarian vision.

Pisces (February 19 to March 20)

Deep and sensitive, you like to recharge at home so you’re fresh for heart-to-heart conversations out in the world. You love being near water, and you don't mind if anyone thinks you take being a water sign too seriously.

You may choose to live near a river or anywhere that involves a ferry commute. Of course, if you can swing it, your ideal house has a pool and an ocean view - or it might even float.

Aries (March 21 to April 19)

You're enthusiastic and energetic, and you live for fun. When looking for a home, you think about all the ways you can thoroughly enjoy it.

As a naturally impulsive risk-taker, you need a place to blow off steam so you can be more balanced out in the world. Your ideal home has a karaoke den, a climbing wall, or a trampoline.

Taurus (April 20 to May 20)

You have a reputation for being structured and steady, but you're anything but boring - you have great taste and love the finer things in life.

Since you're an earth sign, you like being stable and comfortable, and you don't feel pressured to go out. So it makes sense that you'd want all your favorite luxuries at home, like a custom wine cellar (or bar!) complete with comfy chairs.

Gemini (May 21 to June 20)

You're the sign of the twins: friendly, talkative, and a little distracted. You're a great communicator, so you need Wi-Fi everywhere in your home - you don’t want to miss an important tweet or Skype call. For in-person chats, you might opt for an old-school conversation pit in the living room.

The important thing for a social butterfly like you is to keep your finger on the pulse, even at home.

Cancer (June 21 to July 22)

Empathetic and nurturing, you're a natural caretaker. You may spend hours making jams and cookies for friends or lending a sympathetic ear whenever someone is stressed.

For you, a well-equipped kitchen is a must, especially if it has an island where visitors can sit while you bake. As a caring Cancer, you're also protective of your own space and family, so you'll feel more secure when you invest in a solid deadbolt and alarm service.

Leo (July 23 to August 22)

You love attention, whether you're giving it or receiving it. As the natural leader of your group, you love nothing more than hosting a big dinner party that brings all your friends together.

You prefer a home with plenty of entertaining space, including a good-sized dining room, and guest bedrooms. Of course, you’ll also want superb bathroom lighting so you can style that mane.

Virgo (August 23 to September 22)

You're naturally detail oriented, conscientious, and responsible. You love planning, organizing, and keeping your home neat as a pin. You live for a well-organized closet and pantry, where you can put everything in its place.

Another Virgo dream home feature - a central vacuum, because the only thing better than organizing is cleaning.

Libra (September 23 to October 22)

Patient, balanced, and inquisitive, you love having a beautiful home, but you don't need to live in a mansion to be happy.

You’ll always put a home office to good use - not necessarily for working, but for designing a garden, creating a household budget, or planning vacations. As a Libra with wide-ranging interests, you tend to collect hobbies, so a craft room is a must.

Scorpio (October 23 to November 21)

As a secretive Scorpio, you don't mind a home that's a little dark - as long as you have some privacy from the neighbors. You may even lean into your dark side and choose an old home, especially one with a secret passageway, an intriguing history, or a nearby graveyard.

Scorpios are very loyal, so once you've picked a home, you may not want to move for a while. Settle in, and outfit your den with sensuous fabrics and mysterious curios.

Sagittarius (November 22 to December 21)

You're the zodiac’s explorer and traveler, so you need a home that can accommodate your wanderlust. That might mean motorcycle parking, an Airbnb-ready suite to fund your next journey, or a portable home - like a yurt.

Sags are also spiritual seekers, so you may choose a home in a serene location, such as the desert or the forest. At the very least, you need clean, white walls to display your souvenirs.

Capricorn (December 22 to January 19)

You're hardworking and earnest, with a not-so-secret weird side. Adaptable and unshakeable like your emblematic goat, you’re comfortable just about anywhere. This means you can make the most of a studio apartment, but you're also willing to restore an old house back to mint condition.

You may also embrace your weirdness and go with a totally offbeat home, like a converted school bus.

 

Related:

Pending Sale: Sting and Trudie Styler's $56M NYC Penthouse 19 Oct 2017, 1:46 pm

Rockstar Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, have been living large in their New York City pad at 15 Central Park West. Measuring 396 square feet, the terrace off their living room is bigger than some New Yorkers’ entire apartments. The penthouse interior spans an additional 5,417 square feet.

The famous couple seems ready to move on after nearly a decade of ownership. Given the home’s iconic address and spacious quarters, it’s not surprising to see a pending sale after just 8 months on the market - even with an original ask of $56 million.

The 4-bed, 5.5-bath residence is spread over two floors and connected by a spiral staircase. Views of the city and Central Park can be found from almost every room.

Photos by Andrew Kiracofe

Even for a luxury home, the penthouse offers some spectacular touches. Instead of a standard set of appliances in the kitchen, the buyer will receive two full-size refrigerators, an oversized Wolf range, four ovens and three Miele dishwashers. In the master suite, two dressing rooms and a lavish, spa-like bathroom are accompanied by a separate steam room with a rain shower.

If the posh residence and its high-end touches aren’t enough, residents of the white-glove condo building are privy a host of amenities. Between the 14,000-square-foot gym, sky-lit lap pool, wine cellars and game room, there’s something for everyone.

Deborah Kern of Corcoran holds the listing.

Photos by Andrew Kiracofe.

Related:

10 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger 18 Oct 2017, 8:30 am

Small bathroom spaces aren't found just in apartments and condos - they're in our guest bathrooms and powder rooms, too. Since no one likes feeling crowded, here are a few tips for making any small bathroom seem bigger - no wall demolition required.

Brighten the room

Bring in as much light as possible. Light, bright rooms always feel more spacious than dark and drab ones.

  • Wall color. Paint the walls and ceiling the same light color to make the bathroom feel double its size. Anytime an area of the room is a different color, it chops the room into different compartments, making it seem smaller.
  • Windows. If you have a window, use sheer window coverings to maximize the natural light.
  • Lighting. Install additional flush-mount wall or ceiling light fixtures to increase the light in the room.

Add mirrors

Install larger - and more - mirrors than you typically would in a bathroom. The reflected light will open your small space into one that feels more spacious.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Streamline storage

Keep all storage as flush with the walls as possible, because anything that sticks out will chop up the space and close it in. Install recessed shelving and medicine cabinets instead.

Eliminate clutter

Nothing crowds a space faster than clutter. A good rule of thumb: If you don't need it there, store it elsewhere. Pare what you keep in the bathroom down to the bare necessities.

Raise the shower curtain bar

Raising your shower curtain bar all the way to the ceiling draws your eyes up and makes the ceiling seem taller, creating the illusion of a larger space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

The same goes for any window treatments. Raising sheer curtain panels to the ceiling also creates the illusion of a larger window, making the small bathroom seem larger.

Hide the bathmat

Having a bathmat on the floor all the time can make your bathroom feel smaller. Put your bathmats away when you’re not using them to expose the flooring and make the space appear larger.

Install a sliding door

Swinging doors can take up almost half the room, depending on how small the space is. A sliding barn door or a wall-pocket door won’t encroach on your bathroom’s already limited real estate.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Think pedestal sink

The added bulk of a full vanity takes up valuable space, so try a pedestal sink instead. You may not have a place for soaps or towels on the vanity, but there are plenty of wall-mounted solutions perfect for bathroom accessories.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Choose light-colored flooring

Even if your walls and ceiling are light and bright, a dark floor will negate their effect and close the space in. Keep the flooring light to create a space with a bright and open flow.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Eliminate clutter

Nothing crowds a space faster than clutter. A good rule of thumb: If you don't need it there, store it elsewhere. Pare what you keep in the bathroom down to the bare necessities.

Hide the bathmat

Having a bathmat on the floor all the time can make your bathroom feel smaller. Put your bathmats away when you’re not using them to expose the flooring and make the space appear larger.

Raise the shower curtain bar

Raising your shower curtain bar all the way to the ceiling draws your eyes up and makes the ceiling seem taller, creating the illusion of a larger space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

The same goes for any window treatments. Raising sheer curtain panels to the ceiling also creates the illusion of a larger window, making the small bathroom seem larger.

Go frameless, clear, and cohesive in the shower

Clear glass shower doors make the room appear larger, while frosted glass breaks up the space and makes it seem smaller than it already is. The same goes for a frame around the glass. A frame can make the area seem choppy rather than smooth and open.

Additionally, install the same shower tile from floor to ceiling. The seamless look from top to bottom adds cohesion and openness.

Just a few changes to your small bathroom can make dramatic differences in how open it feels. Once you’ve tried these tips and tricks in the bathroom, apply them throughout your home! It’s all about creating the illusion of space.

Top photo from Zillow listing.

Related:

How Historic Racial Injustices Still Impact Housing Today 16 Oct 2017, 6:31 pm

For the majority of Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, owning a home is a major goal. According to the first Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, 63 percent of whites, 63 percent of blacks and 73 percent of Hispanics believe owning a home is necessary to live the American Dream. But although they share the same dreams as whites, for blacks and Hispanics getting into a home remains as challenging as ever-in part due to financial challenges and decades of discrimination.

Historically Denied

Historically, the homeownership rate among people of color has lagged behind the homeownership rate among white Americans, in part because of institutional barriers to entry. Until the late 1960s, federal government-backed subsidies-many of them funded through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-were off limits to people of color. The FHA, which was established to help people remain in their homes during the Great Depression, began to promote homeownership during the years after World War II.

And the lagging homeownership rate wasn't just the result of one program. There were others created to boost homeownership that resulted in similar outcomes for people of color. Black military veterans, for example, weren't able to borrow money through the GI Bill to purchase homes.

Middle- and lower-income whites benefited most from federal government programs, including low-cost mortgages and subsidies for home builders to construct affordable homes in racially-segregated communities.

Even today, minorities still face more hurdles, similar to the ones they experienced in the past. When blacks and Hispanics try to secure FHA loans, they’re denied about twice as often than their white peers-denials which can sometimes be linked to injustices endured outside of housing. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that fewer blacks and Hispanics apply for these programs.

But for those who do, "far fewer actually get accepted, and the groups that are highly at a loss are black potential homeowners and Hispanic potential homeowners," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

The Consequences

"Housing segregation has not been something that has been quickly changed due to personal prejudice," said Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now.

Yesterday's outright discriminatory policies helped keep minority homeownership low and largely limited to less-advantaged areas. And today, those disparities persist. The Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trend Report 2017 revealed that although they each account for 13 percent of all U.S. households, blacks and Hispanics only account for 8 percent and 9 percent of U.S. homeowners.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now, said low homeownership rates is connected to other disparities.

"African-Americans, in particular, still faced the income wealth disparity, legal segregation, legal job discrimination," he said. "That continued on through the creation of the American middle class, which limited African-American participation as it pertains to homeownership."

"Housing segregation has not been something that has been quickly changed due to personal prejudice," he said. That's especially true when it comes to those same FHA loans-it's not just a problem of the past.

Discrimination Still Exists

While Asante-Muhammad says outright legal discrimination has since been outlawed, we're still seeing the repercussions of the country's historic discriminatory practices.

"In the 21st century, I think we're looking more at the issue of the results of housing discrimination and discrimination as a whole," he said. That discrimination, he added, leads to strong racial economic inequality, which, in turn, makes it harder for people of color to move into more expensive neighborhoods.

Part of the problem, he said, is there's still market discrimination against homes in black communities.

"A home in a predominantly black neighborhood and the exact same home in a predominantly white neighborhood will have less value because it has less market appeal because people don't want to live in neighborhoods with black populations somewhere above 20 percent," he said.

Asante-Muhammad argues some of the discrepancies can be attributed to racial and personal animosity keeping people of color out of higher-valued neighborhoods. But the gap could also be due in part to high negative equity rates-the share of homeowners who owe more on their home than it’s worth-in largely minority communities. When a homeowner is in negative equity, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to sell their home at all, let alone for a profit they can then use to help buy a different home in another neighborhood.

In black and Hispanic communities, home values fell farther than in white communities, and haven’t been able to fully bounce back from the recession.

Less Money, More Problems

"In terms of closing the gap of white and black homeownership, we're not moving," Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell said.

While minority buyers are trying to enter the housing market, it's made increasingly difficult due to their lack of wealth.

Gudell said wealth-building in predominantly black communities is hard because of yesterday's inequalities. It's actually impossible to point to one single event that led to gaps in wealth for minorities since there have been decades of inequality. Gudell says it's a compounding effect and something that we "haven't been able to figure out how to fix it yet."

"In terms of closing the gap of white and black homeownership, we're not moving," Gudell said. "If you look at white homeownership, it's increasing, while black homeownership is falling."

Asante-Muhammad echoed those concerns.

"Wealth inequality … reinforces what had been maintained by law and by personal prejudice in the past," he said. And that lack of wealth is only exacerbated when it comes to home buying.

"So, let's say you're getting a $200,000 house and want to put a 10 percent down payment, that's $20,000. That's much higher than the median wealth of blacks and Latinos," he said. A 10 percent down payment is already outside the traditional norm. Typically, a down payment is 20 percent of the home's value, so $40,000 for that same $200,000 home.

But even if these would-be buyers took advantage of some of the systems in place to help address some of these issues-including utilizing an FHA-backed loan which allows borrowers to make a down payment as low as 3.5 percent-it's often still not enough.

Asante-Muhammad said even if these buyers got an FHA loan on a $200,000 home-the median-valued home nationwide-the down payment would still be beyond the wealth of most blacks and Latinos. For that $200,000 home, a 3.5 percent down payment would equate to $7,000-or roughly 68.5 times the wealth of African-Americans and 58.5 times Hispanic wealth.

And their wealth today is much less than it was even 10 years ago, when black and Hispanic wealth was $10,400 and $10,200, respectively.

"If things keep going the way they've been going, in 2053, the African-American median wealth will be zero," Asante-Muhammad said.

And that lack of wealth has big repercussions for the future.

"I hope things will get better, but I don't think the gap will close anytime soon," Gudell said. "These are such big problems that you can't just have a quick fix for them but my hope is that we would have equality and balance in the future."

Related:

Is Your Bathroom a Total Snooze Fest? (It Doesn't Have to Be) 16 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

The current trend of turning household bathrooms into spa-like retreats isn't a bad one, per se.

Whether waking up with a hot shower or relaxing before bed in a soothing bath, everyone appreciates a crisp, clean palette and great lighting for getting prepped. And neutrals make sense for installed features like bathtubs and sinks - things that are difficult and expensive to change.

But a bathroom has the potential to be so much more than just a white box. The bathrooms we've designed, both for clients and in our own homes, have been spaces for color, personality, and a little bit of that sometimes dirty word: whimsy.

Giving the bathrooms in your home more character makes for a quick, inexpensive, and exciting transformation. Here are a few of our favorite decorating tricks. Perhaps they can work in your home, too.

Paint it black. Or blue. Or how about pink?

While your bathroom's tile and fixtures may be neutral, there's no reason the walls should be. In fact, you can get away with bold, high-contrast colors in bathrooms precisely because there’s so much white to balance it out.

Concerned that dark walls will make the room gloomy? Worry not - you'll be safe thanks to the gleaming white tile and countertop.

You can go particularly bold with color in powder rooms. These small spaces generally have little in the way of architectural details, so high-impact paint will go a long way, making them memorable at minimal expense.

One thing to remember: Exercise caution when selecting hues, as the paint color will bounce around the room and onto your skin.

Acidic green can make you look sickly, orange will give you an artificial tan, and a bright blue will drain color from your face. Besides making that first glance in the mirror a bit jarring, the wrong color can cause makeup application challenges.

Get that paper

What if you're totally over paint? It's time to graduate to wallpaper.

The wide range of styles and patterns gives you remarkable freedom to redefine your bathroom. Wallpaper works particularly well in small spaces, where the color palette is tightly controlled, and the walls may be at least partially covered with built-ins, mirrors, or tile.

The right pattern can make the room feel more cohesive and, in some cases, help raise the ceiling height to reduce claustrophobia.

Use linear patterns - stripes, plaids, checks - to establish structure in rooms that lack architecture or have low ceilings. Organic patterns, like overscale florals or abstracts, can soften a room that has a busier floor plan or feels unwelcoming.

 

While you have quite a bit of flexibility in wallpaper composition for powder rooms, bathrooms with showers are a good fit for vinyl papers and their moisture-resistant properties. As always, installation matters, and working with a professional paper hanger will give you the longest-lasting results.

Furniture for function and fun

In larger bathrooms or combined bathroom and dressing rooms, you may have a chance to introduce free-standing furniture.

Built-in vanities and storage pieces can overwhelm a bathroom and make it a bit monotonous. To combat this with a little style, we've used  small dressers to add enclosed storage space, and bookshelves or smaller tables create a space for towels and toiletries.

While bathrooms are frequently where we get dressed, many of them lack a place to sit down when doing so. Adding a small chair or stool - even a funky old armchair - improves function and style.

When bringing furniture into the bathroom, keep scale in mind. Even in relatively large rooms, open wall space may be in short supply, and there's the real risk of creating unnecessary obstacles. For best results, prioritize a tidy footprint.

Make bold statements with artwork

Sticking with neutral colors? Wallpaper not for you? No room for a funky armchair?

OK, last chance: Give your bathroom some punch with great art.

We've found that most people play it safe in bathrooms with small, framed prints or skip the art entirely. Nonsense! Go for impact with larger pieces - integrate something sculptural or even cover a wall with paint-by-numbers.

Also, it goes without saying, but yes, your most precious pieces should stay in drier spots.

Get more bathroom design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Related:

1920s Japanese Tea House Turned Zen Retreat – House of the Week 13 Oct 2017, 4:32 pm

When Larry Genovesi set out to build a home on Massachusetts’ Little Harbor, he didn’t realize he would end up saving a piece of history in the process.

It started as a typical day in 2000. He was strolling through Cohasset, a small seaside town of about 8,000, when a tiny, 1920s Japanese tea house caught his eye. The view of the harbor - and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance - was a huge selling point; the ability to fish just beyond the doorstep was another.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Genovesi bought the place on a whim, becoming the third known owner of the property. Next on his list: convincing his wife to live in 550 square feet.

"We ended up living there for eight years. I think it's a testimony to a great marriage if you can live with your wife in 550 square feet," Genovesi joked. "But it was interesting and it helped us understand the property - the seasons and all that. I've always been a fan of Japanese architecture."

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The couple used that inspiration when they set out to design a larger, earth-friendly house in the same spot. Genovesi wanted to save as much of the existing structure as possible while immersing something modern in the lush landscape. 

The result is a nearly 4,000-square-foot home, surrounded by the harbor on three sides. Each window in the 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom home offers a view of trees or water.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Of note, a soaking tub in the master bathroom is positioned to take in views stretching to the Atlantic Ocean.

"It's a great feature - probably my wife's favorite," Genovesi said. "It's a calm place to soak and meditate."

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The home has other zen features, too, including a koi pond and waterfall. A rooftop deck allows for unobstructed views of the stars. On cooler nights, the owners will cozy up near a firepit at what they’ve nicknamed “sunset point.”

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Added bonuses: the ability to kayak and canoe from the house, regular visits from deer, and blue herons and fruit trees on your front doorstep.

Glass panels in the floor of the dining room honor the surrounding landscape, too, allowing natural light to flood the lower level. There is a kitchenette, a bathroom and a game room there.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The details are decidedly modern for a home steeped in history. Builders saved nearly 70 percent of the original house, which served as social gathering spot for a well-known New England family.

Workers salvaged three of the four original stone walls, each about two feet thick. They added a steel structure for support and salvaged some of the old-growth Douglas Fir, which Genovesi transformed into the dining table.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The family has put the home on the market as they search for another adventure - potentially starting an agricultural school to inspire the next generation of farmers.

"It's very much a place where if you live there, you live in the land. I think the person who buys this needs to appreciate that fact," he said. "It isn't one of those big massive houses that you live inside. You really live outside all year-round."

The home is listed for $4.995 million by Gail Petersen Bell of Home Center Sotheby's International.

Related:

20 Best Cities for Trick or Treating in 2017 13 Oct 2017, 12:20 pm

Pumpkins, haunted houses and costumed kiddos can only mean one thing – it's time for Halloween!

Every year, Zillow's team of economists crunches the numbers to find the best cities for little ghosts and ghouls to score the best candy. These cities are based on places where home values are high, there are plenty of kids under 10, and where homes are close together, meaning less walking while you're going door-to-door. After sliding to third place last year, San Francisco reclaimed its title as the #1 city for trick-or-treating, followed by San Jose and Philadelphia, which was last year's top city. This year's newcomers to the list are Long Beach, Calif., El Paso, Texas, and Mesa, Ariz.

Check out the complete Trick-or-Treat Index, and the top neighborhoods in each city, below.

Happy Halloween!

Top Cities

Neighborhood Rankings

Methodology

To calculate the Trick-or-Treat Index, Zillow uses the Zillow Home Value Index, single-family home density, and the share of the population under 10 years old in cities with a population of at least 500,000.  This data is combined to reveal the cities where trick-or-treaters can get the best candy in the least amount of time.

5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall 12 Oct 2017, 12:55 pm

Real estate markets ebb and flow just like the seasons. The spring market starts hopping when the sun comes out, flowers bloom and winter is over. Conversely, fall signals the beginning of a slower market, which could be good for buyers.

If you’re in the market for a home, here are some reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.

Leftover spring inventory may result in deals

Home sellers tend to go on the market for the first time in the spring. They often list their homes too high out of the gate, which could mean that a series of price reductions follow during the spring and the summer months.

These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, buyers are likely to find desperate sellers and prices that may, in fact, be below a home’s true market value.

Fewer buyers are competing

Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the school season are no longer shopping at this point. These families have exited the market, which means less competition. That translates into more opportunities for buyers.

Taking out an entire segment of the housing market provides millennial, single, and baby boomer buyers some breathing room. You’ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.

Motivated sellers want to close by the end of the year

While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment - and one with tax consequences. A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year.

Buyers might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31st and get that tax benefit. Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.

Homes for sale near the holidays signal a motivated seller

As the holidays approach, the last thing a homeowner wants is for their sale to be dragging on and interrupting their parties and events.

If a home has not sold by November, and it’s still sitting on the market, that homeowner is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by their home being listed for sale.

Many homes don't show as well once the landscaping fades

The best time to do a property inspection is in the rain and snow, because the home will be truly exposed for buyers. The same holds true for fall, when flowers die, trees start to shed their leaves, and beautiful landscapes are no longer so lovely.

Scratching the surface of the pretty spring home season and fall reveals home flaws, making it a great time to see each home’s true colors. It’s better to see the home's flaws before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close.

Related:

Originally published October 19, 2015.

This Mid-Century Home Originally Designed for a WWII Pilot Just Hit the Market 11 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

Available for the first time on the open market, and with only two owners since its construction in 1964, the DeLeeuw Residence is a beautiful mid-century example of Leroy Young and John Remington’s architectural work.

The duo designed commercial and residential buildings in and around Los Angeles in the late-1950s and 1960s, and were commissioned by Carl M. DeLeeuw, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, to design his family's residence in Palos Verdes Estates.

The 2,696-square-foot, post-and-beam structure features a dramatic pitched roof and floor-to-ceiling windows that highlight sweeping views from the Hollywood sign to the ocean.

Photos by Peter McMenamin

Highlights of the property include four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and expansive living areas that are framed by walls of glass. Many of the original features of the home remain intact, including a double-sided fireplace, living room built-ins, original bathrooms and closet doors, and exterior windows and glass sliders.

Courtesy of Lewy Kallas

Celebrating and preserving the original architectural elements, the current owners made very few changes, all of which were tasteful and strategic. They updated the kitchen with warm walnut cabinetry, modern Fisher & Paykel appliances, and Caesarstone quartz countertops. They also integrated functional upgrades, including a newer heating system and energy-efficient window glazing.

Courtesy of Lewy Kallas

The lower-living level, which includes a second fireplace, opens to the tastefully-landscaped backyard for indoor/outdoor livability. Drought-tolerant landscaping accents the backyard. The rear elevation features impressive spans of glass, original to the home.

Courtesy of Lewy Kallas

This article was written by Sarah Akkoush and originally appeared on Dwell.  Check out more of their content on Dwell.com.

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Poll: Which of These Improvements Would Look Best in Your Home? 10 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

Ceiling fan or chandelier? New front door or smart alarm system? New kitchen appliances or new cabinets? Home improvements mean flexing your decision-making skills.

And those decisions add up. The typical U.S. homeowner can spend up to $3,021 per year on home improvement projects, such as landscaping, cleaning and maintenance, according to a Zillow analysis of the costs associated with homeownership.

Take this helpful quiz to sort out your top improvement priorities for every room in your home. Then make this your to-do list and budget starting point.

Note: The costs below are estimated, and prices vary by region.


Which quick $25 exterior pick-me-up would you choose?

A new welcome mat

Colorful annuals to plant by your front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How would you refresh your living room for $50?

Updated wall art

New throw pillows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Which $75 kitchen update would you pick?

Replace kitchen cabinet hardware

Install a hanging pot rack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging pot rack photo from Zillow listing.

For $100, which improvement would make your bedroom dreamier?

Light-blocking curtains

A new bedside lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Which $150 bathroom makeover would you choose?

Replace the sink

Install new vanity lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pick the $200 bedroom update that would make you most excited for bedtime.

New bed linens

A new nightstand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


If you had $250 to spend, would you get fancy or play it cool?

Fancy! Add a bedroom chandelier

Cool! Install a ceiling fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Which $500 improvement would you pick for your home?

Replace the entry door

Install a home security system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Which update would have the biggest impact in your home for $1,500?

Refinish the hardwood floor

Retile the bathroom floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


With a $5,000 budget, how would you choose to treat yourself?

Build a shady pergola

Buy a hot tub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot tub photo from Zillow listing

Which $10,000 kitchen upgrade would pay off most for you?

Buy all new appliances

Replace the cabinets and countertops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New appliances photo from Zillow listing.

Get more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Related:

How Hard Is It to Add a Bathroom? 10 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

If your home was built before 1970, you likely have one bathroom for your entire household. This probably means that everyone scrounges for counter space and fights over shower time, leaving you wishing for another bathroom.

But how hard is it to add one? What kind of design do you need? Where would you even find room for it in your home?

We posed all these questions and more to Lora Lindberg and Debbie Cederlind, house flipping pros and owners of Seattle-based Urban Squirrel. Here’s their expert advice on adding a bathroom to your home.

Location, location, location

According to Lindberg and Cederlind, finding a good location for your extra bathroom is half the battle - and completely depends on your home’s layout.

When the designers were restoring a 1920s craftsman in Seattle, they added a powder room to the main floor to increase accessibility for guests who may not be able to use the stairs to get to the main bath.

"First, we called our plumber. He had to figure out how to get water lines and waste lines [to the powder room]. We had to make sure it worked before we framed it in," Lindberg recalls.

To find a good spot in your own home, look at where the existing water and waste lines are, and make sure you have an existing wall that's at least 2 feet by 4 feet.

"The best scenario is keeping all your water in one area of the home," advises Cederlind. "If you're totally moving it to another side of the home, proximity to the waste lines is always important."

Another thing to keep in mind, the designers say, is that you have to run water and waste lines between floors, which can make adding a bathroom upstairs rather tricky, but not impossible.

"Look at existing plumbing, then see if you can put another bathroom above or below and still tie into the existing waste lines. That's key," says Cederlind.

Homeowners with single-story layouts will have the easiest time adding in a bathroom because they can simply run the water and waste lines through a crawl space below.

But the duo says that no matter how many stories your home has, you still have to factor in an exhaust fan, which must vent to the home’s exterior, and the proper slope for the waste line, which must run downhill.

Additionally, Cederlind and Lindberg always make sure they include a tub somewhere in the home, which can boost resale value. Master showers with double heads or seating are nice, but it's important to have a tub somewhere in case you - or a future buyer - have kids.

You also need to think about what kind of natural light, if any, you can bring into the bathroom.

"I'm a big fan of ventilation, like an open window,” says Cederlind. “We always try to incorporate that. Everything has to be ducted with fans now, but there's something about cracking open a window in a bathroom. If you have an outside wall in your new bathroom space, adding a window for natural light is well worth it."

Build to code  

Your city or state might have different building codes than what Lindberg or Cederlind adhere to in Seattle, but you should always ensure that your bathroom configuration is legal and that you have the correct amount of space around the fixtures.

To really make sure your bathroom is up to code, it's best to get a permit for the work.

"Having a permit for your work usually makes buyers feel better, because they know the work was inspected. We've had to rip out a lot of poorly done DIY projects in the homes we remodel and start from scratch," Cederlind says.

Although getting a permit and working to code might take more time, it's worth it in the end. Plus, it can guarantee that whoever is doing the work does it the right way.

"We know our contractors, and they always do things to code, whether we get a permit or not. But if I were a homeowner hiring contractors for the first time, I’d want to know they’re being checked," Lindberg says.

Cederlind and Lindberg also advise working with licensed, bonded, and insured contractors so you’re protected in case anything goes awry.

When it comes to design, make it luxe

When Cederlind and Lindberg designed their powder room, their ultimate goal was to make it fun and luxurious.

Because the space was so small, they hung a wall-mounted toilet and sink, which they rescued from the basement bathroom, and installed a pocket door to maximize space.

They made the small space feel large and luxe with jewel-box paneling, a glamorous chandelier, and a bold paint color.

"Designers like to go bold in powder rooms because they’re small, so it doesn't take a lot of effort. Guests are mostly going to use it, so it's a fun place to experiment and make them feel special," Cederlind says.

When it comes to design, Cederlind and Lindberg suggest neutral, classic tones for tiles and fixtures, mixed with bold rugs, candles, and paint colors.

But no matter how you design your extra bathroom, it's going to add value. "When you sell your home, you’ll get whatever money out of it that you put in,” Lindberg says.

Related:

5 Reasons We Love This Airstream 9 Oct 2017, 5:41 pm

This Malibu, CA home combines luxury and solitude in one stunning package: a remodeled Airstream atop a hillside. Here are five reasons we’re booking our ticket ASAP.

Sunsets and starry nights - in seclusion

Perched on a bluff near the Pacific Coast Highway, this retreat is close to the city while feeling like a remote getaway. It's so private that the owners won't publicly reveal the address. Wherever it is, it’s high above the ocean, offering expansive views of the Pacific. 

Aluminum out, view in

The owner converted one side of the Airstream into a giant ocean vista using three frameless glass panels. A large, private deck is right outside the panels, acting as an outdoor living room. It's the perfect spot to curl up with a cup of coffee as you take in the sunrise, or sip a glass of wine as the sun sets.

Photo courtesy of Tastemade.

Off-the-grid euphoria

This sanctuary might be located just outside the second largest city in the United States, but don't let that fool you - it's an off-the-grid escape. There's no cell service or WiFi, making it possible to truly disconnect. 

Photo courtesy of Tastemade.

Nestled in nature

Killer hikes? Check. Brushing your teeth with an ocean breeze? Double check. There's an open-air bathroom with two sinks and a shower - you know, so you can freshen up while breathing in that salty ocean air. 

Photo courtesy of Tastemade.

Superstar sighting

Don't be afraid to make this "Blank Space" yours; Taylor Swift certainly wasn't. The megastar used the Airstream as the setting for a Vogue cover shoot. Feel free to write your own "Love Story" high atop the California coastline knowing T-Swizzle rocked out in that very same spot.

Related:

 

Fireplace Makeover: Get a New Look in a Weekend 9 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

When the days get shorter and cooler, the sight of a cheery fire crackling away in a hearth instantly chases away the chill. Even a non-functional fireplace can give a room a cozy feel and create a charming focal point.

If your fireplace lacks visual appeal, consider this low-cost makeover. With just a few pieces of trim and a gallon of paint, you can give your bland fireplace a dramatic cosmetic upgrade in just a weekend.

Before and after

Image 1Fireplaces like this are common in old houses. It’s painted brick and in need of an upgrade. Fireplaces should be the focal point of the room, and this one obviously wasn’t getting the job done. Here’s how it went from drab to fab.

1. Install trim

To make the fireplace instantly look grander than it is, use some basic pieces of trim to create the illusion that it extends all the way to the ceiling.

Image 3Using 1″ x 4″ pieces of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), create a frame connecting the fireplace and ceiling. MDF is smoother than wood and will have a better finished look when painted. This trim is in no way weight bearing, so MDF will be plenty durable.

Image 4

Next, cut and install interior trim pieces within the frame. Attach trim pieces with Liquid Nails. The hold will be strong enough since, again, these pieces are not weight bearing. Plus, there won’t be any holes to patch before painting.
Image 5

2. Caulk and sand

Caulk any gaps between trim pieces, and sand once dried.

3. Paint

Paint the frame and wall the color of your choice.

Image 6

To really make a statement, choose a color that contrasts greatly from your wall color. This glossy black stands out dramatically against the white walls, making the fireplace the focal point of the room.

4. Style your new fireplace

Once the paint dries completely, you can add accessories and decorative elements to enhance the fireplace’s visual appeal.

Sconces hung in the openings between the frames, a contrasting fire screen and carefully chosen artwork finish off the fireplace. Add a comfortable chair and small end table to make the whole space come together.

Image 9
Now settle in and enjoy your home’s beautiful new centerpiece.

Photos by The White Buffalo Styling Company

Related:

Originally published January 15, 2015.

Airstream Dream Team: These Women Travel the Country, Turning Retro RVs into Homes 6 Oct 2017, 12:32 am

Kate Oliver sands wood for an Airstream she’s renovating in Indianapolis, IN.

It's 90 degrees outside, and there's someone with Aviators and a power tool standing in front of me.

She is undaunted by the thick Midwestern summer humidity, the mosquitoes and the deadline. It’s unclear which poses the biggest threat.

She puts on a mask and goes to work, the tiny specks of dust spraying up in a shower of little wooden pieces like confetti in Times Square on New Year's Eve. The block of wood she sands is one tiny part of a massive jigsaw puzzle that will become a young couple's very first home.

And Kate Oliver, the woman wielding the sander, wouldn't have it any other way.

‘Hey, how about let’s travel’

It's a long road from where this 32-year-old was just a few years ago: living with her now ex-husband and their daughter; working as a photographer in Indianapolis, IN. But, as Oliver puts it, life has a crazy way of rerouting you toward your passion.

Fast forward to Oliver getting a divorce and falling in love with her best friend from college, Ellen Prasse (thanks, Facebook). Prasse lived in nearby Lexington, KY, but the couple didn’t want to put down roots. The were fascinated with the idea of life and home - on the road.

"I was teaching art at my old high school. We were ready to move on and get out. So, she texted me one day, 'Hey, how about let’s travel,'" recalls Prasse. "You know, like, 'Let’s just hit the road.'"

“We'd been looking for something that would take us beyond this life that had seemingly been prescribed,” Oliver chimes in. "We didn’t want the commute, and we didn’t want to just work to pay our bills. We wanted to spend more time together as a family. We both deeply wanted to create and make art and we weren’t sure what that was."

‘This would be fun to do for other people’

They ended up buying a vintage Airstream and fixing it up to make it livable. And they fell deeper in love - with each other, with life on the road, and with this idea that home isn't an address. They traveled for six months to faraway places like Alaska and the Yukon Territory, and they found meaning in the miles journeyed together.

"We were so broke and we poured every last penny we had into that first Airstream," Oliver says. "It was very simple in construction, but it was well built. We thought, 'Hey, we've got something here.'"

"Toward the end of it we started saying, 'Hey, maybe this would be fun to do for other people,'" says Prasse.

"We saw how we worked together," adds Kate, "and how it made us both come alive and brought us joy."

Ellen Prasse, Kate Oliver, and their daughter, Adelaide, in the doorway of a renovated Airstream.

The duo went on to sell that first Airstream to a friend (it's now a rental lodge in Olympia, WA). They remodeled a second one and made plans to move into it. In the middle of all of this, they took what they learned and decided to translate their passion into a profession: renovating Airstreams full time as The Modern Caravan.

‘We’ve got this’

Oliver and Prasse pride themselves on carefully considering the design - as well as the functionality - of any Airstream they plan to renovate.

"We always say form and function. It has to have both," says Oliver.

This principle predates the couple’s new business. Both women had fathers who taught them basic construction skills. Prasse’s mother was an electrical engineer, and passed along the technical knowledge to rip out old lines and turn them into modern electrical marvels.

Ellen Prasse works with a table saw outside the Airstream she and Oliver are renovating.

"We're two women in a predominantly male industry. We notice this when we go to Lowe’s," Oliver explains. "We always get asked if we need help. We’re like, 'Actually no, we’ve got it. But thanks.' You could say, 'Oh, yeah, they’re just being nice,' but the assumption there is that we can’t handle it because we’re women."

The duo quickly compiled a two-year waitlist of clients. Each is willing to pay up to $90,000 in parts and labor for a Modern Caravan renovation (the exact cost depends on the year of the Airstream, the length of the project, design features and more).

Their first client project? Remodeling a 1976 Airstream Sovereign for full-time travelers and social influencers Hopscotch the Globe.

The home stretch

The duo is up against a tight deadline for the complete remodel of the 31-foot-long Sovereign. Most of their renovations take about six months. For this one, they only have three. Their clients, Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi, helped gut the interior, but the rest is up to them.

Among the items on the docket: repairing a leaky, five-inch gap in the chassis, installing all new electrical wiring as well as designing and handcrafting the interior. Oliver and Prasse are making custom countertops from a piece of wood Sarah and Zarrabi hauled out of a family barn. They’re fashioning a retractable dining table using local elm (bonus: it converts into a bed!). Every corner, every couch cushion, is custom-made.

With half their normal time frame to pull the renovation off, Oliver and Prasse are up most days until 2 a.m., battling heat and exhaustion. But they don’t cut corners. They have a vision - a vision that includes rustic mink flooring (it looks just like hardwoods but is waterproof) and a blue, penny-tile shower.

Kate Oliver and Ellen Prasse enjoy a cup of coffee inside their first client project: a 1976 Airstream Sovereign.

The reveal

Two weeks later, the moment of truth arrives. The clients, who have spent almost every night of the past few years in hotel rooms, are about to see their transformed Airstream for the first time. 

"I think that [Siya and Kristen] will feel the passion and the love that went into this. …It’s their first home," says Oliver. "It’s pretty incredible when we think about it like that."

"It’s going to be where they live and they cry and where they’re human," she continues. "That is a really, really special thing to be part of."

As the clients board their new home-on-wheels, the tears come. And the hugs.

"Every room is like a masterpiece, every little detail," says Zarrabi. "You nailed it. You nailed it. All of our visions, all of our dreams, everything we wanted. This is a luxury home. It’s a mobile home. It’s -"

"- It's us," adds Kristen.

"It's absolutely perfect," Siya says.

Custom photography provided by Stephen Hill of Hill Photography.

Airstream did not endorse, sponsor or authorize, nor is it otherwise associated with, this story and video.

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Bright and Bold Inside a Classic Craftsman - House of the Week 4 Oct 2017, 10:29 pm

For someone who grew up in a city dominated by gray skies, Hayley Francis sure knows how to live in color.

From the blue exterior of her historic Craftsman to the emerald green palm frond wallpaper of her bedroom, the professional designer consciously chose vivid colors to brighten up the often monochrome days of the Pacific Northwest.

“The goal with the whole house was to make me feel happy, especially in Seattle. Anyone who says they don't get down in the winter season is lying,” Francis said. “I wanted to keep the house colorful but feeling like it still belonged in Seattle.”

The result is a modern, elevated twist on a classic home using curated colors and hand-selected furniture. After purchasing the 92-year-old house a few years ago, Francis didn't have a massive budget to make major renovations. She went about transforming the 3-bedroom, 1.75-bath home using paint and decor instead.

For a kitchen with classic black-and-white checkered floors, the Seattle native looked thousands of miles away for inspiration, choosing a color she dubbed “Caribbean green.” She wanted to complement the signature, vintage floors with a bright shade that didn’t stand out too much.

“My favorite color is green. Everyone has a favorite color, right?” she said.

In addition to the paint, Francis was drawn toward mint-colored, vintage pieces including refrigerators, toasters and mixers.

“Some would say that painting your kitchen that color is loud, but it's really not that loud,” she added.

The master bedroom got a splash of the tropics, too, with palm wallpaper. Francis saw the print years ago and knew she'd incorporate it into her home someday.

"It's actually in the Beverly Hills Hotel, or was. I saw that and fell in love with it," she said. "Then I saw it online, and then in a restaurant in Seattle. Then I knew."

"The thing with wallpaper is you have to stare at it for a long time," she continued. "I wanted to make sure it was something I could stare at for at least 10 years. I feel good about it. I love it."

Francis transformed an adjacent bedroom into what she dubs her "office closet" - a space for her to work from home while having clothing and accessories on display, instead of hidden behind closed doors.

"It had been a dream of mine to have my own changing room and I tend to be a little bit messy, so it contains my mess," she joked. "It serves a dual function. With this room, I did an e-design first, which is what I do at [home furnishings website] The Mine. That was fun. It brought what I do at work into my home."

The copper-pipe clothing racks were custom made in Europe. Francis found the vintage rug on Etsy.

Other rooms are designed around carefully chosen furniture and accent pieces. Francis painted her living room off-white and arranged it around a Louis-style couch, which she fell in love with. (Bonus: it was well within her budget and offers a cozy spot to work on her blog.)

The dining room is a mix of old and new. It features a chair handed down from Francis’ grandmother and a large wooden bar that belonged to her mother before she passed away.

Francis also pulled fabric from one of her mom's chairs to use as wall art.

"It's been very cool to see people's reactions [to the home], to be honest," she said. "People feel happy when they enter the space, especially because we live in Seattle. It's warm and welcoming and bright, without being tropical. I love it."

Custom photography by Yuriy Manchik.

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Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House 3 Oct 2017, 10:54 am

With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.

Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.

Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he’s carefully curated every detail – from the grandfather clocks to the silver.

“I don’t know where it comes from,” he explains. “I just like that time and that era.”

His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn’t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.

Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.

But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won’t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie’s friends refuse to spend the night.

“A spirit really is within the house,” Goyette says without blinking an eye. “It’s quite serious.”

From mysterious footsteps to children’s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.

Some believe he’s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.

The home at 13800 W Country House Rd is on the market, waiting for a buyer to set the record straight once and for all. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Originally published October 22, 2015.

Video and photos by Awen Films.

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Designer Lookbook: Taking a Century-Old Home From Boxed Off to Bright and Open 2 Oct 2017, 8:17 am

Living in the past is almost never a good thing. For the owners of a historic craftsman bungalow in Seattle, WA, their home’s small segmented rooms, typical of the last century, were crying out for a more modern and open floor plan.

"Now some 100 years later, when we get a hold of these houses, they don’t mesh with the way we live today," says Kim Clements, owner and creative director of JAS Design Build. "What we want is more space and relationship to our family. Those patterns of living are different now, and have to do with more modern use of space. And, we want openness."

Before the renovation, the kitchen, dining room, and living room were divided by walls, creating poor flow from one space to the next.

With that in mind, the cozy bungalow from the early 1900s was opened up, creating more unified and flowing spaces from room to room.

First, a facelift

At the front of the bungalow, a gabled entryway was removed to make way for a large covered porch that echoes the front porches of the neighboring homes that line the street.

These modest yet charming bungalows from the early 1900s weren't built by architects, Clements says; homeowners purchased the house plans themselves and then customized the homes to their personal tastes.

The bungalows were constructed by craftsman, not general contractors, so these houses are "craftsman" bungalows in the sense that they are describing the skill of the person who built them, not the style of the house.

Goodbye, walls

At the home’s entry, the foyer was opened up, allowing it to flow into the neighboring living room. A bench with storage drawers and wall hooks provides plenty of space for guests to place bags and hang coats. Wainscoting, built-ins, and decorative stair railing add authentic character, paying homage to the bungalow's heyday.

When taking down walls and blending the living room, dining room, and kitchen into a flowing space, Clements wanted to ensure the separate spaces didn't lose their "room-ness." Therefore, built-ins topped with columns were constructed between the spaces to create boundaries without closing off each room.

"There is still enough definition that you can call it a living room, dining room and kitchen," says Clements, "yet they aren't completely separate. Creating openness while not losing the quality of the heritage of old houses is really what we have worked to accomplish."

The built-ins are a nod to the bungalow's period, and also provide thoughtful storage for the narrow home. Custom cabinetry was incorporated in the family room to tuck away the homeowners' flat-screen television.

A working kitchen

The kitchen was enlarged by 30 feet merely by adding a cantilevered bump out into the side yard, making room for a double galley with an oversized island. The bump out, which is the depth of a counter, is now lined with a row of windows, and houses a farm sink and plenty of storage underneath. "That 30 square feet changes the entire game," says Clements. "It was a sneaky trick to make a little more space without going whole hog."

"Simplify and consolidate" was Clements' guiding philosophy when planning out the kitchen layout, since she was working with a narrow space. Clements eschewed unnecessary items like an island sink, double ovens, and a built-in microwave, instead opting for more counter space and cabinet storage. "It's a working kitchen, and it's old-fashioned in a away, but it's completely modern in its sensibilities."

Past the kitchen, a contemporary mudroom boasts an oversized cupboard for food storage and cleaning supplies. "I think people need to think about how much they actually need within arms reach, and how many things don’t need to be there," she says of the kitchen and mudroom layout. "You don’t need all of your dry goods in the kitchen. Then you have more room for windows without upper cabinets covering the walls."

Take the full home tour:

Get the look at home

  • Evaluate what you keep in your kitchen. "Really assess what you have, what you use, and and how often you use it," says Clements. She advises keeping the items that you use daily within reach, and storing items you use a few times a year out of sight in the basement.
  • Get rid of your upper cabinets. Unscrewing your upper cabinets and removing them from the walls, reduces visual clutter in the kitchen. "If you can reduce the number of upper cabinets you have, your kitchen feels roomier and better," says Clements. If you’re a renter, she suggests removing cabinet doors to open up a small kitchen. Store them somewhere out of the way, and then when you move out you can easily screw them back on.
  • Artfully arrange your objects. Without cabinets concealing your items, arranging your dishes and kitchenware artfully has a big impact. "It makes it feel more familiar and comfortable and pretty," says Clements, "and that can change the feeling of a space dramatically."

Photos by Jesse Young.

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Fall Decorating Tips You Can Pull Off in an Hour 2 Oct 2017, 8:00 am

It’s time to put down your pumpkin-scented beverage of choice, and gather some actual pumpkins. That’s how easy it can be to find fall decorations that set a festive tone for the season.

Focus on adding simple decor to three key areas to make apple-pie days and chilly (or is it chili?) nights even cozier.

The dining table

Livening up your dining table with some fall flair is an obvious starting point, since you’ll likely be using it to serve a game day buffet or family feast.

You don't have to overdo it here to make a statement. A few pumpkins, candles, and flowers can make a beautiful table, and don't require much effort.

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Just a few elements can create a simple yet elegant tablescape.

For the flower arrangement, grab some greenery and flowers from the grocery store. Choose a vase with a narrow opening to help corral the flowers and make them easier to arrange. Put the greenery in first, then add the flowers stem by stem.

For table linens and place settings, keep the colors neutral so your centerpiece can be the focus.

The living room

Many living rooms have a fireplace as the centerpiece. Dressing up your mantel for the season is the perfect way to make this gathering spot feel special.

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A bit of garland goes a long way on the mantle.

Some fall-colored blooms, pinecones, and candles are great mantel decor. Drape some natural and seasonal garlands, like cotton branches, along the mantel to really make your space feel festive.

Give the room a warm and welcoming feeling with a few cozy throws and pillows. Textures like fur and wool add a seasonally appropriate touch.

The kitchen

The kitchen is another great place to add a touch of fall. Find a few spots to place your accents, making sure they’re visible, but not in your way. Natural elements like a large pumpkin and pinecones piled in a bowl are all you need.

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From family dinners to more formal gatherings, every meal will be more fun with these understated accents.

To keep hot beverages and other libations at the ready, set up a drink station on the counter or on a bar cart. Copper mugs and vintage glassware look particularly celebratory.

Focusing on a few key areas where your family and friends tend to gather will make your home feel welcoming and warm in the cooler days ahead.

Photos courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co

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12 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Home For Fall 29 Sep 2017, 5:10 pm

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks and light jackets, and leaves are starting to fall from the trees.

Yep, it's official: Fall is here. Now is the time to finish up any last-minute late-summer maintenance projects, and get your home and yard ready for fall.

Just follow our easy checklist, and your home will soon be clean, warm, and ready for the cool days to come.

Exterior prep

  • Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt. Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.
  • Clean out the gutters. No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on. And while you're up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing, or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar, and consider tuck-pointing if needed.
  • Turn off outdoor plumbing. Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from freezing weather to come.
  • Start composting. If you don't already have compost bins, now is the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!
  • Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools. It may not be quite time yet to put them away, but go ahead and make sure your outdoor furniture and gardening tools are cleaned up and ready for storage over the winter.
  • Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers. A joyous and beautiful sign of spring is when tulips and daffodils start popping up everywhere. Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.

shutterstock_155900531

Interior prep

  • Prepare your furnace for winter duty. If you didn't already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At the minimum, though, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before turning it on for the first time.
  • Clean the fireplace and chimney. Clean out the fireplace, make sure the flue is operating properly, and that doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now is the time to stock up on firewood!
  • Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside. Inspect your windows and doors. Check weather stripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway, and closing the door. The paper should not be able to slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weather stripping isn't doing its job. Also, now is the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings if needed.
  • Light the way. Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight. Add lighting to darker spaces easily with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
  • Create a mudroom. Even if you don't have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now is a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a "mudroom" area for cold and wet weather. Put down an indoor/outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack, or a storage bench for your entryway.
  • Home safety check. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for "fall back." Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so that you are ready for winter power outages.

Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you will be ready to relax in your warm, comfortable home, and enjoy the season.

Related:

Originally published September 20, 2016.

4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall 29 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

The leaves changing color indicates the season has changed, and so follows your home decor. Decorating for the chillier fall months means incorporating warm and inviting colors and textures into your home's interior design, specifically in the kitchen.

Try these four tips to create a cozier kitchen for fall.

Weave in dark textiles

Fall means decorating with gorgeously textured throws, pillows, and table linens. Introduce your kitchen to an autumnal palette using dark, natural window coverings and similar table linens for a cozy effect. This look juxtaposes raw texture with soft details like fresh fruit, warm placemats, and smooth surfaces.

Bank on butcher block

Found most often in farmhouse-style or rustic homes, butcher block is great for countertops and tables because it’s durable and looks better the longer you have it.

If you're thinking about switching out your countertop, consider butcher block for a warm, inviting feel. If you don't want to commit to a full countertop, try a large cutting board or table to add earthiness to your kitchen.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Add pops of color

If your kitchen has a blank space or accent wall, consider painting it for an inviting scene. For the fall season, you can choose to use warmer, darker colors like a deep red, warm orange, or olive or brown tone.

Don’t want to paint an entire wall? Select a piece of art or two featuring deep and rich colors to create a cozy ambiance. You could even paint your cabinets or counters.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Nurture indoor plants

Houseplants are always good go-to decorations because they require little upkeep, and add a touch of freshness to any space. They are particularly useful in the fall because they can double as herb gardens or unique decor.

Install a small indoor garden on your window sill or on a shelf near a window to have easy access to fresh rosemary, sage, and basil, even when the weather might not call for gardening.

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While these suggestions may seem small, they are great touch-ups to boost your festive theme this fall season. Add one or two, or mix all of the design tips for a home-sweet-home feel.

See more kitchen design inspiration.

Related:

Originally published October 7, 2015.

Katy Perry Lists Her Post-Divorce Mulholland Drive Compound 29 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

In 2013, Katy Perry scooped up not one, but two new neighboring homes shortly after her divorce from Russell Brand. Now, just four years later, the pop princess is ready to divorce herself from one of the homes. Listed by, Ernie Carswell, her long-term partner in all things real estate Perry is hoping to unload the Mediterranean-inspired estate for a cool $9.45 million.

Consisting of four separate residential structures, the Hollywood Heights home is actually more like a compound than a single house. In addition to a main residence, the 2.33-acre lot is also home to a two-story guest house, a fitness center, a security guardhouse, and a garage that can comfortably fit a limousine (a must-have for every California Girl).

The estate is atop Runyon Canyon Park, and any lucky visitors are treated to an opulent gated entrance, followed by a hand-hewn stone driveway leading up to the 4-bed, 6-bath home. Framed by lush greenery, the white facade of the 7,418-square-foot residence provides a cheerful contrast with the red tones of the Spanish tile roof.

Photos from Zillow listing

Inside the home, there’s no shortage of luxury (and comfort). Light-colored wood beams run across the ceilings throughout, and oversized windows shower the entire main floor with natural light. The kitchen features a stunning patterned white, red, and grey tile with a matching backsplash behind a professional kitchen-grade Wolf range and state-of-the-art oven. Upstairs, the sprawling master suite occupies the entire floor. A Roman bath sits underneath the skylight in an oversized bathroom, which-luxuriously-also boasts a fireplace of its own.

A large pool is tucked in behind the house, bordered by Italian quarried stone, and with a breathtaking hilltop view of Los Angeles. The outdoor opulence doesn’t end there; among the 2+ acre grounds are an amphitheater, multiple terraces, an orchard of fruit trees, fountains, a Buddha statue, a wood-fired oven, and more.

Ernie Carswell of Carswell & Partners holds the listing.

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How to Actually Afford to Buy A Home in America 27 Sep 2017, 10:43 am

Home buyers today face tough challenges-housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn't go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past. How are people today making such a large purchase in spite of these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of creativity when it comes to financing, today's buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.

Know Your Options (And Your Credit Score)

To even begin the home buying process, it’s important to know what resources are available. Turns out, according to a 2017 Fannie Mae working paper, “How Much Do U.S. Households Know About Qualifying for a Mortgage?”, many Americans don’t have a strong, or even basic, understanding of what it takes-financially-to buy a home, nor if they meet the criteria.

The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including and especially what mortgages you’re eligible for and, subsequently, how much you need/can afford to put down upfront. Not only did Fannie Mae discover that most consumers don't know the minimum FICO score required by lenders, the survey also found that only 49 percent of consumers don’t even know what their credit score is.

Consumers also aren't sure how much they even have to put down on a home. About 40 percent are unsure of the lender required minimum down payment. Plus, three-quarters of consumers don't know about programs set in place to help with down payment troubles like FHA loans. Before consumers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should know what their financial resources are and, as a baseline, if they're currently eligible to buy.

Make Enough Money to Be Able to Save

With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to be buyers face tough financial headwinds. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is $50,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $87,500 annually). While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $87,500 in household income, it’s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. “If you're making $37,500 per year, it's probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market," says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

Only 29 percent of Americans do make $87,500 or more, per U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2016 data. For perspective, only one of the top 10 most common jobs in the United States carries a salary above $37,500, meaning the jobs that the majority of Americans hold-fast food workers, cashiers, retail salespersons, customer service representatives, secretaries, housekeepers among others-bring in less money than the median renter household. While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.

Save Up Enough Cash (But Not As Much As You Think)

One of the most daunting parts of homebuying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report. Per findings from the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, almost one-third (29 percent) of buyers active in the market express difficulty saving for the down payment.

For people buying the national median home valued at $201,900, with the traditional 20 percent down payment, that’s $40,380 up front-just to move in.

“The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,” says Gudell. “Although, they should know they don’t have to put 20 percent down.” Although putting down less than 20 percent means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, only one-quarter of buyers (24 percent) put 20 percent down, and just over half of buyers (55 percent) put less than the traditional 20 percent down.

Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, nearly 1 in 4 buyers (24 percent) build a down payment from two or more sources, including saving, gifts, loans, the sale of a previous home, stocks, retirement funds and other resources.

Know Your Deal Breakers, But Be Flexible

In order to get into a home-even if it's not the home of their dreams-some of today's buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list, and are having to get increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition, and even type of home.

Although single-family homes remain a dream for most home seekers, buyers today consider and buy condos and townhouses-in order to secure a home in their ideal location. Buyers with household incomes under $50,000 are more likely to consider homes outside of the traditional single-family residence (40 percent), compared to those with incomes of $50,000 or above (24 percent). “I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they’re looking for a $110,000 home,” Gudell says.

Affordably-priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it’s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says. "If you’re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple tradeoffs, you might be able to find a home that is further out that might be cheaper," Gudell explains. “You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices."

Rising Rents, Stagnant Wages, And the Burden of Unstable Housing 27 Sep 2017, 9:42 am

While homelessness may not be viewed as a looming issue on the horizon for those who are financially stable, or otherwise have secure and stable housing-it’s not as distant as some might think. With rents rising faster than wages, the burden of affording rent is looming larger and larger for many Americans, and in some cases becoming insurmountable.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, 79 percent of renters who moved in the last 12 months experienced an increase in their monthly rent before moving to a new place. And over half (57 percent) said that hike was a factor in pushing them out the door and into another rental. Only 21 percent of renter households didn't report experiencing an increase in rent.

Nearly a third (30 percent) of households nationwide, representing roughly 73 million adults, report they're struggling or just getting by financially. And it's no wonder; Americans spend on average a median of 29.1 percent of their income on rent, including many who spend a higher percentage but have lower incomes. Increasingly, major metro areas are becoming out of reach for those who aren't earning more than minimum wage, and this is becoming increasingly true even in markets that have historically been more affordable.

Take Houston, for instance, where the median low-income earner spends 65.1 percent of her income on the median bottom-tier rent. Then there's notoriously expensive New York, where-along with San Francisco and Los Angeles markets-the median low-income wage will not even cover a low-end apartment. In New York alone, to afford apartments with median bottom-tier rents, renters need to shill out 111.8 percent of the median low-income wage.

With such large percentages of household incomes going towards rent, saving for the future is less of a priority-and possibility. More than half (51 percent) of Americans say they don't have enough money saved to support themselves for 3 months, according to a Zillow analysis of the Federal Reserve Board's 2016 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking.

Millions Struggle Just to Afford Stable Housing

According to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends 2017, today's median household income for renters is $37,500, which equates to about $18 per hour-or 2.5 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Nationwide, in 2016, 2.2 million people lived off wages at or below the federal minimum wage, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When it comes to renting, there is no state where a 40-hour minimum wage is enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

While renting is becoming increasingly more difficult, buying a home becomes a distant dream."Honestly, if you're making $37,500 per year and have no savings, it's probably not feasible for you to buy in most markets," Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell says.

Across all states, the median renter can expect to pay $1,430 per month on rent. It's no wonder many Americans are struggling financially- particularly in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Seattle, where there's also a stronger relationship between rising rents and an increase in the homeless population.

Homelessness by the Numbers

Coast to coast, there are an estimated 550,000 homeless people, according to the U.S. Department of Urban and Housing Development. But Zillow Research used statistical modeling to estimate the uncounted homeless population, unsheltered homeless people often missed during the One Night Counts, to estimate the true number of homeless people, a number much higher than the official estimates. And as rents climb, the numbers will only grow, especially in large, tight metros, where the rent burden can become life-altering.

Take New York City, for example. The metro has the largest population of homeless people than anywhere else in the nation. Last year, there were an estimated 76,411 people experiencing homelessness, according to Zillow’s estimates. If rents were to rise 5 percent, an additional 2,982 people would be forced to the streets.

And Los Angeles doesn’t fare much better. Given the same rent hike, an additional 1,993 people would fall into homelessness. And a rent hike of 5 percent isn’t implausible, especially given that in L.A., rents rose 4.4 percent over the past year.

The Geography of Social Mobility

Right now, in L.A., renters dish out $2,707 per month for the median rent, which is almost twice the national median rent and amounts to nearly half of the median household income in the metro. With such a substantial chunk of money spent every month on rent, it’s no surprise the metro has an estimated 59,508 people without a home.

But rents haven't always been so unaffordable. Just 17 years ago, three of the top 20 metros were rent-burdened, meaning renters paid more than 30 percent of their income on living expenses. Today, however, the number of cities that have become unaffordable have grown exponentially.

Currently, renters in 9 of the same top 20 metros can expect to spend 30 percent or more of their income on rent. The biggest share spent on rent comes from Los Angeles, where renters dish out nearly half (49 percent) of income on rent.

"The places where social mobility-the ability to climb the income ladder-is the greatest are now in places that are unaffordable for most people," said Gudell. "San Jose or the Bay Area in general, parts of Boston, for example-these places have gotten to be so expensive that a lot of people who have an income of $37,500 a year will not be able to buy a home or even afford a family-sized rental."

The Costs of Housing Instability Go Beyond Financial

Unfortunately, for too many, lack of affordable housing can complicate other critical aspects of life, including health and future livelihoods.

Individuals living in shelters are more than twice as likely to have a disability compared to the general population. This includes serious mental illnesses, conditions related to chronic substance abuse, diabetes, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Gudell says people have better outcomes when they aren’t constantly moving from place to place. “It's been shown that you have better outcomes if you live in a stable environment with less frequent moves, which is easier to attain when you own versus renting," Gudell said. "So, if you take stable environments away from people, their outcomes will most likely be worse than they are today, and that has an impact on education, on health and on income growth in the future."

27 Stats That Sum Up the American Housing Market 25 Sep 2017, 3:39 pm

Today’s housing market is fast-paced and often pricier than it’s been in decades. Both renters and buyers are facing challenges in finding a place to call home. Both sellers and homeowners also face their own set of challenges — tied to the line they walk between seeing their home as a personal extension of themselves as well as one of their biggest financial investments. The Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017 is a deep dive into understanding all these challenges as well as the deep desires people have around home.

Zillow surveyed over 13,000 people to determine how Americans rent, buy, sell and even think about real estate as part of the report research. Some of our discoveries could be surprising, or perhaps to today’s renters, buyers, sellers and homeowners, the findings ring very true.

Renters

More Americans are renting today than in recent decades — some by choice and some simply due market conditions. Thirty-seven percent of American households are renters — about 43.7 million homes — which is an increase of 6.9 million homes since 2005. While part of the rise in renters is due to the 8 million homes lost to foreclosure during the recession, renters today also prize the maintenance-free and flexible lifestyle renting offers.

  • Renters skew younger: The typical renter has a median age of 32 years old.
  • Renters represent a more diverse population. Fifty-five percent are Caucasian/white, an additional 19 percent are African-American/black. Hispanics count for 17 percent of renters, Asian/Pacific Islander renters make up 7 percent of the renter population and another 3 percent identify as another ethnicity.
  • Nearly half of renters are single, including a third who have never married.
  • Although the majority of renters are single, 78 percent live with others, most often this is another family member.
  • The median rent across the U.S. is $1,010 with highest rents in the West and lowest rents in the Midwest.
  • Renting can be expensive: 79% of renters who moved in the past year had a rent increase.
  • More than half of renters (57%) had a rent increase impact their decision to move and 37% of renters who aren't moving say it's because they can't afford to.

Buyers

Buying is tough in all markets. For most Americans, it’s the biggest purchase they’ll ever make as well as a significant financial investment they’ll tap into as part of retirement. In particular cities, purchasing a home has become a competitive game, complete with bidding wars and offer negotiations. It makes sense that most buyers rely on agents to help them through the process.

  • Today’s buyers have a median age of 40, although the majority (71%) of first-time buyers are Millennials.
  • The median household income of the typical buyer is $87,500 and most buyers are married or partnered, relying on two incomes to purchase a home.
  • The typical home in the U.S. purchased has 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, measures 1,800 square feet and costs $200,000.
  • More than anything, buyers want their home to be in a safe neighborhood (71 percent of buyers) and in their price range (67 percent of buyers).
  • Other than safety, buyers also want to stay cool. Sixty-two percent of buyers require their homes to have air conditioning.
  • Buyers take an average of 4.3 months to search for their new homes — although Millennials take just under four months (3.9 months) and those in the Silent Generation who take the longest at 5.6 months.
  • The suburbs rule: 49% of buyers buy there, followed by 31% of buyers buying in urban locations and just 19% of American buyers purchasing in rural regions.

Sellers

Although some hot markets have favorable conditions for sellers, selling is still rarely an easy process. Sellers have two main goals when they list their homes: one- to sell their home in their preferred time frame, and two, sell for their desired price. Balancing the two, timing and price, create a delicate dance and throw in the fact that most sellers are also buyers and searching for their new home, creates a often stressful experience.

  • Sellers have a median age of 45 although Millennials make up nearly one-third of todays’ sellers.
  • Sellers have a higher median income than homeowners at $87,500.
  • The typical seller has lived in their home for 12 years.
  • Most sellers are selling for the first time (61%) and looking to buy at the same time (71%).
  • Seventy-six of sellers have to make at least one concession to sell their home — most often being a price reduction.
  • One in two sellers sell their home for less than their original listing price.

Homeowners

As anyone will tell you, owning a home is a lot of work. It’s also a great investment, especially in many of today’s markets were annual appreciation rates are higher than they have been in decades. Beyond the work and the financial piece, home ownership often has an emotional component as well.

  • Homeowners are the oldest, with a median age of 57 years and just 14%  are Millennials.
  • Homeowners have a median household income of $62,500 and 71% live with a spouse or partner.
  • Forty percent of homeowners have a pet (with dogs ranking in top at 30%).
  • Almost half of homeowners (46 percent) live in the first home they purchased, although this percentage decreases with age.
  • Eighty-six percent of homeowners have no plan to sell in the next three years.
  • Less than a quarter of homeowners say their home is in “like-new” condition and more than 60% say their home could use a little updating.
  • The top of homeowners’ to-do list for the next year include: painting the interior (25%), improving the bathroom (22 percent) and landscaping (21 percent).

Learn more about today’s renters, buyers, sellers and homeowners in the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017.

 

Designer Lookbook: Wendy Berry's Beach-Chic Condo 25 Sep 2017, 8:00 am

In the Naples, FL Kalea Bay high-rise, interior designer Wendy Berry of W Design Interiors outfitted a 3,600-square-foot condo in sandy and white hues, creating a sophisticated beach-chic vibe.

"We kept it clean, fresh, and not overly decorated," says Berry. "We wanted it to feel expensive, but we also wanted it to be a home you could comfortably sit down in."

Rich oak floors from Vincenzo by Legno Bastone warm up the light and airy 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom condo. Playing off the floor’s color, Berry used a monochromatic palette throughout.

"I always load things up with texture - using different shades of creams with different textiles and patterns," she says of the colors used throughout the home. Berry furnished the home with her custom furniture line, W Home Collection.

The home features an open floor plan, so Berry used various architectural elements to delineate spaces. In the great room, for instance, a wooden herringbone ceiling defines the space, which is bordered by the bar, dinette, and kitchen.

A custom built-in wooden entertainment unit was centered under the ceiling treatment to further define the space, and a mirrored backsplash bounces light around, since there’s only one wall of windows.

When you get off the elevator and enter the condo, a large floor-to-ceiling mirror is framed in a stack of bleached walnut. "I took the mirror from the ceiling to the floor with no molding so it has the appearance of a doorway," says Berry.

Berry had a beautiful custom wood wine cabinet constructed, which also sits in the entryway. Wine is displayed on pegs and encased in glass.

In the bright and cheery kitchen, Shaker-style cabinets are painted a crisp white and paired with Victoria quartz countertops that have a marble appearance. The backsplash features hand-glazed Erin Adams Designs tile that has a pearly sea glass look to it.

Contemporary pendant lights over the bar complement the chandelier hanging above the dining room table.

In one of the guest rooms, Berry created a nautical vibe by covering the walls in a cost-effective faux shiplap. She applied 1-by-1-inch strips horizontally across the walls and painted them in White Dove OC-17 from Benjamin Moore.

In another guest room, Berry saved money by painting two-toned panels on the walls in lieu of using actual wood molding. Benjamin Moore's White Dove OC-17 was used to create a 4-inch perimeter on the wall, with the center painted in Sherwin Williams 7029 Agreeable Gray.

Bathrooms throughout the condo were covered in bold printed wall coverings - nautical Bold Chains by Wallquest, black-and-white Treasure Collection in Feather from Zimmer + Rohde, and dragon fly-printed Demoiselle in Graphite/Almond from Harlequin. And in the laundry room, a subtle gray boat-printed wallpaper - Yacht Blueprint from Wallquest - adds character to the walls.

One of the bedrooms was transformed into a den, with two oversized chaise lounges that double as twin beds. Berry infused the room with Native American-inspired decor, like feather fabric, tribal artwork, and an Aztec-patterned rug. The ceiling was covered in a wood grain wallpaper - Chene from Nobilis.

"We always give our master [bedrooms] a very calm, soft feeling so people feel ready to sleep and relax," says Berry of the tranquil space that’s decorated in blue and white.

To complement the relaxing master bedroom, Berry created a bathroom that resembles a spa-like sanctuary, with white cabinetry, quartz countertops, polished floors, an oversized shower, and a freestanding tub.

Take the full home tour:

Get the look at home

  • To achieve the shiplap look for less, apply 1-by-1-inch strips to walls horizontally, approximately 8 inches apart around the room, and then paint the wall white.
  • For the appearance of two-tone wall paneling, tape off a pattern of panel molding on the walls, then paint the inside panels in a darker shade and the perimeter area white.
  • "Brighten small bathrooms with daring and fun wallpaper for a big look in a small space," Berry says.
  • "Accessories make the room design come to life," says Berry. With shelving, she advises layering decorative pieces, like book stacks, decorative glass bowls, artifacts, and picture frames. "Then balance the the next shelf with something simple, like one larger bowl or sculpture."

See more design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Doug Thompson.

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4 Homes With Jaw-Dropping Floor-to-Ceiling Windows 20 Sep 2017, 3:28 pm

When it comes to creating an indoor/outdoor feeling in your home, a set of floor-to-ceiling windows is the key ingredient to success. Along with being a visual connector to your surroundings, they bring in boatloads of natural light while providing a streamlined backdrop for your interiors. Take a look at our favorite homes of this week that feature expansive floor-to-ceiling windows.

Seclusion

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

From Caroline Wallis: “The challenge, predictably, was preserving the unique facade while both increasing the amount of natural light and adding modern amenities. After collaborating with the client to understand and meet their long-term needs, the remodel successfully bridges the old and the new. Details like reused doors, original skirting boards, and bricks maintain the visual integrity of the original home, while a sleek new kitchen and concrete backyard unfold behind the original facade.”

Photo by Shannon McGrath. Architect: Robson Rak Architects. Landscape Designer: Weller Landscapes. Interior Designer: Made by Cohen.

Brooklyn Brownstone

Location: Brooklyn, New York

From the architect: “Located on a tree-lined street in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, this late-1800s, three-story brownstone had been held within a family for decades-and fell into disrepair and in desperate need of renovation. Windows had decayed, leaving large gaping holes to the elements beyond. The previous ad-hoc renovations in the 1980s and ’90s carved up the kitchen and bathrooms, creating awkward circulation and dated finishes. This gut renovation aimed to sensitively restore historical details, while introducing contemporary architectural elements and finishes.”

Photo courtesy of Sonya Lee Architect llc.

1st Avenue Residence

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From Leibal:1st Avenue Residence is a minimalist house located in Montreal, Canada, and was designed by Microclimat. As you step through the door, your eye is drawn to the back of the home, where the kitchen and living spaces extend outside, thanks to impressive windows that frame the backyard. A kitchen counter naturally flows onto the terrace, visually and concretely uniting the two spaces. Cantilevered overhangs in white parging shelter the counter from the elements throughout the seasons and offer a signature look to the back of the building.”

Photo courtesy of Microclimat and Leibal. Architect: Microclimat.

Rudolph House

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

From the architect: “Our work included the redesign of the exterior walls and glazing to include a new wall of 10-foot-high, triple-paneled sliding doors and windows on the main facade. These doors open the home to the adjacent courtyard and provide excellent natural ventilation. The roof and the other three exterior walls, which are largely below grade, received insulation in excess of what code requires. All new energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, including heat-recovery ventilation, was installed to bring the home up to modern standards. The result was a much greater energy efficiency and thermal comfort for the family.”

Photo: Tony Luong. Architect: Ruhl Walker Architects.

This article was written by Katie Jacobs-Romero and originally appeared on Dwell. Check out more of their content on Dwell.com.

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Our New, Old Kitchen: How We Rose to the Remodeling Challenge 19 Sep 2017, 8:56 pm

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then ours was in need of a triple bypass.

When we bought a house halfway across the country - without having set foot in it - we knew there would be projects. Walls to paint, old carpet to pull up, a dingy bathroom to tackle.

And while the kitchen was certainly on the to-do list, we assumed we could live with the old appliances and chipped tile countertop for a time.

We were sorely mistaken.

With my husband Roger staying behind in New York to finalize the sale of our previous house, our dog Buck and I had already arrived in Omaha to handle the closing on the new home. (Well, Buck wasn't involved in the closing. He's not great with paperwork.)

After signing on the dotted line, I began exploring the house and discovered the many broken appliances that had been curiously omitted from the seller's property disclosure form.

"The dishwasher doesn't work," I told Roger over the phone.

"We knew that, right?" he replied.

"Yes, but now I know why it doesn't work - the garbage disposal also doesn't work," I explained. "And the garbage disposal doesn't work because the drain doesn't work."

"Well, that can all be fixed," he assured me.

"Maybe. But I don't know if the smell can."

Before: With broken appliances and dingy cupboards, this dated kitchen was screaming for a facelift.

The home's last thorough cleaning had been sometime during the Bush administration (the first one). Aggressive dusting, vacuuming, and mopping improved the situation, but the suspect plumbing and appliances put up a fight.

Consequently, we soon reprioritized the kitchen from a six-months-from-now project to an ASAP project.

Out with (some of) the old

Roger and I have renovated dozens of kitchens for clients. We've reconfigured, rearranged, and repurposed kitchens in homes around the country. We even designed a line of cabinetry.

So, our biggest challenge in devising a plan for our charming Tudor wasn't how to renovate, but how much to renovate.

The relatively small space could only be configured so many ways, so pulling out the original cabinets would likely mean replacing them with new cabinets of similar configuration and capacity. While they needed a good cleaning, they were all structurally sound, and the finish on the upper cabinets was still good, so we opted to keep them.

Other distinctive elements, like the convenient laundry chute and the breakfast nook’s original storage benches and bookshelves, were must-keeps.

So, what was on the chopping block? We ditched all the appliances - clogged disposal, broken dishwasher, rattling fridge, and a stove with what seemed to be a small gas leak - right away. The chipped tile countertops and backsplash had to go, too.

Finally, we removed the dinky cabinets around the stove that had been added in the ’80s. We had better ideas for that area.

Before: An old, leaky stove ready to be replaced with brighter, better things.

Renovation discoveries

Roger got to work meticulously painting the cabinets and drawers. We used black to create contrast with the white walls, bead board, and quartz countertops.

Open the drawers, however, and you're greeted with a happy shade of robin's-egg blue - a bright surprise and a practical choice that makes locating the proper utensil easier.

After: With new appliances, freshly painted cabinets, and sparkling countertops.

My dad (the true MVP of this project) and I pulled out the grease-splattered vent hood and upper cabinets above the stove. We had a hunch that the low soffit above these was hollow, so we cut into it for a peek.

The home's original plaster hood had been boxed in, so we opened it up and incorporated it into the design. Roger painted black-and-white stripes (a recurring theme for this home) on the inside of the hood, and I designed laser-cut scalloped trim to finish it off.

After: Personalized touches like the special-order Italian stove completed the transformation.

The frustrating realities of product availability

Kitchen appliances are a longtime grievance of mine. I wish manufacturers would give us a broader range of colors and sizes that are scaled appropriately for older homes.

So, it is with some sadness that I - the guy who has been bored with stainless steel for a decade - ended up with a bunch of stainless steel appliances.

But you try finding a French door refrigerator with a pullout freezer that fits into an opening 4 inches narrower and 3 inches shorter than the current standard. That's right - there's literally one such fridge on the market. Guess what? It's stainless.

We did manage to include one appliance that definitely stands out: our bright orange range. We special ordered it from Italy, and it took forever to arrive.

It lacks modern conveniences like a preheat function, a baking timer, or even a clock. But it’s stunning and fun, and painted in the same factory that paints Ferraris, and hey, I never told you we were rational people anyway.

Current but not characterless

The finished room incorporates everything Roger and I need in a modern kitchen - plenty of storage, LED under-cabinet lighting that makes the countertops glow, a functional ice maker, and even a garbage disposal that doesn't smell like the La Brea Tar Pits.

But at the same time, it retains all the character we love about the home - charming cabinetry, adorable breakfast nook, and hardwood floors.

Do we occasionally long for features you'd find in new cabinetry, like a pullout spice rack or soft-close drawers? Sure. But we'll take these squeaky old drawers and continue enjoying our one-of-a-kind new, old kitchen.

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Vote for Your Favorite Homes of 2017 (So Far) 19 Sep 2017, 1:54 pm

Each week we shine a spotlight on a home with unusual features, outstanding architecture or a spectacular locale. Take a look at the homes we’ve shared so far, and cast your vote for the best Houses of the Week. At the end of the year, we’ll crown the 2017 winner!

January


 

 

Quiz Maker – powered by Riddle

See more: Snow White Cottage, Firehouse Turned Home, Fairytale Cottage, New York Farmhouse

February


Which home do you love most?

233-Year-Old Home

Mansion with a Lap Pool

Storybook Home

Provence-Style Mansion

 

 

See more: 233-Year-Old Home, Mansion with a Lap Pool, Storybook Home, Provence-Style Mansion

March


Where would you rather spend a day?

Oldest Residence in Charleston

LA Log Cabin

Paintbrush Stroke of Beauty

Hawaiian Paradise

Dallas Glass House

 

 

See more: Oldest Residence in Charleston, LA Log Cabin, Paintbrush Stroke of Beauty, Hawaiian Paradise, Dallas Glass House

April


Which home would you pick?

Converted 1900s Firehouse

Lighthouse Inside a House

Historic Southern Manor

Hobbit-Inspired Lake House

 

 

See more: Converted 1900s Firehouse, Lighthouse Inside a House, Historic Southern Manor, Hobbit-Inspired Lake House

May


Which home is calling your name?

Ocean-View Oasis

Clock Tower Penthouse

Buttonwood Manor

$100 Million Mansion

 

 

See more: Ocean-View Oasis, Clock Tower Penthouse, Buttonwood Manor, $100 Million Mansion

June


Which home do you like most?

Northwest Island Cabin

Tiny Shipping Container

Tropical Creative Oasis

Historic Home with Greenhouse

 

 

See more: Northwest Island Cabin, Tiny Shipping Container, Tropical Creative Oasis, Historic Home with Greenhouse, World’s Tallest Single-Family Home

July


Where would you rather wake up?

Mid-Century Time Capsule

Tiny Home in the Desert

Magical Treehouse

 

 

See more: Mid-Century Time Capsule, Tiny Home in the Desert, Magical Treehouse

August & September


Which home speaks to you?

Part Treehouse, Part Ship

Artist Compound

1800s Estate with Personality

 

 

See more: Part Treehouse, Part Ship, Austin Artist Compound, 1800s Estate with Personality, Dome Built by Hand

Related:

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