5 Tips To Refresh Your Home For Spring Time

It may still be snowing in some parts of the country, but spring is almost here. Before the flowers start budding outside, refresh the inside of your home to give your interior spaces that springtime glow.

Bring the outdoors inside

Adding fresh plants or flowers to an otherwise ho-hum space can spice things up in the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t have a garden full of fresh flowers to choose from, greens make a lovely addition to your living room, or even an eye-catching centerpiece for your dining room table. Better Homes and Gardens suggests gathering a few fresh fern fronds for dramatic texture and rich color.

Don’t be afraid to add color

One of the easiest ways to perk up your space is to invest in a gallon of paint, call in reinforcements to help you out, and go to town with brushes and rollers. If you’re not incredibly adventurous when it comes to color choices but still want a pick-me-up, try going with a warmer, creamier version of the neutrals you already have; a creamy barely-yellow adds so much more warmth and interest than stark white.

You could even paint an accent wall a bold, fun color and use that space to showcase some of your favorite art or family portraits for your own personal art gallery. ForRent.com suggests incorporating bright colors in a breakfast nook or one of the smaller spaces of your home or apartment. It’s less of a risk than painting your entire kitchen or living room, but still packs a punch.

Reorganize your bookshelves

If you’ve got a fantastic library, now is a great time to take everything off the shelves, blow the dust off the covers, and reorganize. You might even consider artfully stacking books in different directions, some horizontal and some upright. Apartment Therapy reports some pretty impressive results simply by arranging books by color for a uniquely eye-catching display.

Photo by Craig Conley via Wikimedia Commons
Update window treatments

Spring is a great time to trade in your richly-textured drapes for lighter, breezier, more summery colors. If privacy isn’t a huge issue in a space, try adding light, breezy sheer curtains on a thin, minimalist rod. You’ll love how much the change automatically brightens your space. You might also consider substituting your ordinary blinds with Roman Shades. They’re a classier way to control light and privacy, and to update your style.

Make your entryway welcoming

Upgrade (or thoroughly clean) your front-door mats and add a wreath to your front door. This could be a fun DIY project for the entire family. Make sure you have an efficient landing spot just inside your front door — a place to drop keys and hang up a coat or jacket before coming inside. This is also a great place for a fun mirror and a flower arrangement. Your home’s entryway often gives guests their very first impression of your home, so make it shine with your family’s personality and a touch of style.

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes … and undue stress caused by moving. Whether or not you use the services of a REALTOR® to help you wade through the uncertain waters of the buy-and-sell process, moving is stressful, period. And there’s not much you can do to avoid it. And we’re not just talking about packing and paperwork. Moving is an emotional process. If your’e not calming down your nervous children, you’re trying to reassure yourself that you’ll meet people in your new neighborhood, that you bought the best house within your means, and that your kids’ new schools will measure up.

It’s easy to forget while we’re dealing with all of these jitters that moving actually can represent an exciting adventure, a growth opportunity and the prospect of new beginnings. Once the dust settles after your move, you’re entering one of the most memorable times of your life. With any luck, you’ve recruited a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the obvious stresses as well as the insidious (and subsequently more detrimental) ones. Depending upon your relationship with your Realtor, you should be able to rely on him or her for more than just closing the deal. Your Realtor also should be able to calm your trepidations by giving you the support you need — giving you the facts about that new school district, reassuring you that your jitters are perfectly normal, and giving you as much information about your new hometown as possible, increasing your familiarity with the previously unknown.

It’s important to remember throughout the entire selling and buying process, however, to reserve time for yourself and your family. It’s not a waste of time, but rather an insurance policy for your sanity and continued happiness. Stress is sneaky, as we’ve all discovered. It can eat away at us during what are supposed to be the happiest of times, because after all, any major change in life is stressful. If it’s supressed, it can wreak havoc both emotionally and physically and spread throughout the family. And there’s nothing worse than moving a grumpy family across the country. For the sake of your continued family unity, keep in mind the following stress-relieving measures:

First, remember that it’s perfect normal to feel unsure of your decision right now. You’ve just made a major commitment, and all of us experience those last-second “What on earth did I just do” worries after signing contracts and making life-changing decisions. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with “what ifs” and dread, reframe this decision as a prime opportunity to begin your lives in a new environment. The old saying “When one door closes, another one opens” definitely applies here. Trust that your Realtor is looking out for your best interests, ask as many questions as you need to throughout the entire process (that’s part of what your Realtor is paid for), and look forward to the adventure that lies ahead of you.

If you can, keep an emergency fund in case you run into any unexpected costs. One example: If your buyer comes forward after a home inspection is completed and requests a series of repairs prior to move-in, you’ll be prepared. Chances are good that you won’t necessarily agree with the buyer’s requests, but at least you won’t face the additional stress of being short the money for repairs if you plan ahead and save some extra cash (no set amount — just as much as you can handle. A goal you might try to shoot for would be in the range of $2,500). It’s probably in your best interests not to try to guess what the buyer will want to repair, and then fix it ahead of time. That’s because buyers have a habit of isolating areas of your home that you never considered having repaired, and not even noticing the ones you expected them to pinpoint. So save yourself any expenses until you’ve determined their requests.

And while we’re on the subject of finances, try to anticipate and prepare for the initial expenses you’ll face upon move-in. Resign yourself to the fact that during the moving process, you’re going to feel as if you’re holding your wallet upside down, and everyone — movers, contractors, buyer, etc. — is sitting underneath, catching the windfall and demanding a larger share. Keep in mind that this is an investment for the good of your family, and that these costs are a one-time inevitability.

Remind yourself of why you’re moving in the first place. A job transfer, or is it a voluntary choice? Obviously, whether or not you had some degree of control over the decision will affect your outlook. Regardless of your answer to that question, round up as much information as you can about your new hometown. What kinds of cultural offerings does the town/city offer? What are its landmarks and natural attractions? Research some possible day trips you might take with the family once you’re settled. Is your new hometown near state borders, giving you the opportunity to explore different regions of the country without much effort?

Envision your new home. Where will you place the furniture? Remind yourself of the home’s primary selling points. Will you have more space? More closets? A large backyard and/or swimming pool? What does your new street look like? Do a lot of young families reside there? If so, your children are likely to be reassured by that knowledge. As often as possible, try to picture yourself and your family fully adapted to your new environment.

Remember to have a little fun occasionally. You’re still allowed, even if you feel as if you don’t have a penny left to your name. Take the family out to dinner, to a movie or a picnic — anything that gets all of you out of the house and away from boxes, paperwork, emotions and all of those pre-move concerns. Keep a regular “date” to get out together — for example, every Friday night leading up to the move. Take your mind off your stress for a few hours, and remind yourself that your family members are experiencing many of the same emotions. Like misery, stress often loves company, so enjoy your time together and remember that this stress won’t last forever. Regardless of what you’re feeling now, the move will happen and everything will eventually fall into place. Journeying into the unknown is what makes life rewarding, so trust in your Realtor’s expertise and in your family’s resilience, and look forward to the journey ahead.

8 Ways To Up Your Chances Of Buying Your First Home

Between rising prices, tough loan limits, and massive competition among other eager would-be buyers, it can seem like an impossible feat to purchase your first home. Homes in first-time buyer ranges are highly coveted and stories abound of buyers having made offers on numerous homes, only to be shut out time and again by multiple offers that drive prices up and out of their budget. But, there are ways you can put yourself ahead, even if the situation seems desperate.

Work with a good REALTOR®

Everyone has a real estate agent in their neighborhood or in their family or friend group (or all three!). And, while you would undoubtedly love to give business to someone you know and care for, you have to balance your sense of loyalty against your goal. This may not be the time to entrust your financial future to a brand-new agent or one who simply dabbles in the industry in his or her spare time. You’ll likely need a seasoned agent to buy your first home, especially if you’re looking in an area where the market is highly competitive. An agent with extensive experience and good industry relationships can help find you homes that may not be listed yet and then negotiate a winning offer.

Get that preapproval

It goes without saying today that you need a preapproval to buy a house. Many real estate agents won’t even take clients out to tour homes unless they have received their preapproval amount from a lender. Even if you are just casually looking, make sure you talk to a lender before you head out on a househunt. You don’t want to fall in love with something and lose out on owning it because someone else was already preapproved and you first had to start pulling your paperwork together. Nor do you want to fall in love with a house that’s out of your budget because you didn’t know what your purchasing power was.

Talk to landlords

If there are rental homes in your target area (and there probably are!), you might have an opportunity to buy a home that isn’t even on the market yet—and might not be listed for sale anytime soon. Your real estate agent should be able to locate some homes and initiate a conversation about the potential of purchasing. Some rental home owners may want to sell but be reluctant to take the steps to update the home and get it on the market. You may be able to slide right in there, which would be a win-win!

Consider a home that needs work

You might have better luck buying a home that isn’t updated and/or staged because they can tend to stay on the market longer. But, a home that’s a real fixer-upper can be a great buy thanks to the 203(k) loan, which packages the home loan and money for needed repairs.

“An FHA 203k loan allows you to borrow money, using only one loan, for both home improvement and a home purchase,” said The Balance. “203k loans are guaranteed by the FHA, which means lenders take less risk when offering this loan. As a result, it’s easier to get approved (especially with a lower interest rate).”

There are a number of improvements that can be made with a 203(k) loan, including bathroom and kitchen remodels, additions, HVAC, plumbing, and flooring, but if you’re looking to add a pool, you’ll have to do that on your own dime. “Luxury improvements” are not allowed under the terms of the loan.

Look just outside your target neighborhood

In the city of Frisco, TX, a suburb of Dallas and one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, home prices have climbed to levels that can put even the smallest and oldest homes out of reach for many first-time buyers. In the adjacent city of Little Elm, however, home prices are lower – even though it’s also a desirable, growing city—and many of the neighborhoods feed into the preferred Frisco ISD schools. For young families that are looking to get their foot in the door and make sure their kids have access to great schools, looking just outside your target neighborhood can be a great way to go.

Consider a transitioning neighborhood

Buying in a neighborhood that is transitioning can be tricky…you’ll have to depend a lot on your real estate agent’s knowledge and your own gut to make sure you’re buying in an area that is going to appreciate—and is also going to meet your needs now. The current state of the the neighborhood might not fit that dream home idea you’ve had in your head, but, if you’re in it for the long haul, you could be making a smart move by looking in an area that isn’t exactly top of your list in its current state. The obvious draws of buying a home in a transitioning neighborhood are: more affordability or more home for the money, and the possibility to make some money as the neighborhood changes.

“Getting a lot of bang for your buck is one of the benefits of buying in a so-called transitional neighborhood,” said LearnVest. “Keys to finding such a place: “The area’s proximity to public transportation is one of the most revealing factors. Pinpoint your favorite trendy neighborhood – and then take the local train or subway one or two stops past it. That’s how you’re most likely to spot emerging areas because they’re already linked to established routes of transit.” Also, a neighborhood “that’s adjacent to a much-desired one is much more likely to gentrify than one that’s surrounded by less prime areas.” Paying attention to decreasing local crime and DOM (days on market) for real estate listings in the area, and noting whether there is a vibrant art scene in the area, are additional tips to locating an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Raise your budget

Some people get a number in their head and decide that’s the most they’re comfortable with spending. Say you’ve decided you can’t spend more than $300,000 on a home, but you’re not having any luck finding anything in your target neighborhoods and you’re not willing to look elsewhere. Consider this: Is your preapproval from your lender higher than that magic $300,000 number? If so, consider upping it. That $20,000 difference could open up your search to numerous additional properties, and would cost you only about $100 per month. Bring a lunch to work instead of eating out a couple days a week or skip one night out at the movies and dinner per month and you’ve got it covered.

Go back to your lender

If you’re already looking for homes at your max approval amount and not having any luck, have a conversation with your lender. There might be a way to reconfigure your loan options to get you more money to spend.

The Best Paint Colors For An Enduring Look In Your Home

Trends come and go. If you paint your walls the “provocative and thoughtful purple shade” of Ultra Violet, as Pantone, itself, calls it, you’re probably gearing up to repaint them in whatever the color authority deems the “it” shade next year. If you’d rather pick a paint chip or two and keep your space the same for the long haul, you’ll love these colors that endure.

Garden Stone, Clark+Kensington

When it comes to gray, we might be at the end of the widespread trend. But certain shades of gray are classics and “go-to’s” for designers – and they’ll be around long after the next trend is here and gone.

“I try to stay away from colors with heavy blue undertones, and I direct my clients toward warm grays that will stand the test of time,” Ace design expert Katie Reynolds, who prefers Garden Stone, said in Good Housekeeping. “This shade is a favorite.”

Revere Pewter, Benjamin Moore

Google Revere Pewter and you will be inundated with countless photos and praise for this iconic shade. Despite its great popularity, you don’t have to worry that your home will look cookie cutter because the shade looks different in every home – in every room, even – depending on the angles and the amount of light in the space. It also complements any style of architecture.

Repose Gray, Sherwin Williams

Greige is not too gray, not too beige. This favorite color toes the neutral line, and not only is it a favorite of designers, it apparently clicks with homebuyers, too. Pick a mix of gray and beige – “greige” – for your exterior,” said MyDomaine. A recent analysis of colors that help build value “found homes with these shades on their outside sold for $1,526 more than white properties.”

Repose Gray is appreciated because it is “the perfect paint color for almost any room whether you’re living in your home or preparing it for sale,” said Kylie M. Interiors. “Repose Gray is a soft, light gray that has soft and SUPER subtle undertones of brown with a wee dab of purple — not enough brown to qualify it as a greige, it’s just the undertone that adds a certain softness to this lovely color, keeping it from falling flat.”

Manchester Tan, Benjamin Moore

Described as a warm neutral, this hue drinks in the sun but also changes slightly depending on the amount of light and shade in the room, adding interest you don’t always find in a paint color from the beige family.

Clay Beige, Benjamin Moore

“This is my go-to whenever a neutral, but not boring, background is needed,” said Atlanta designer Mandy Lowry in Better Homes and Gardens. “It’s a chameleon color. It has the amazing ability to read either warm or cool and never fails to make its surroundings elegant in any light.”

Super White, Benjamin Moore

You would think it would be easy to pick a shade of white, but…no. Really, there is nothing more challenging when it comes to choosing paint. This one has a little too much yellow. This one is slightly beige. Wait, is that baby blue? I thought I bought white! Ugh.

Go to the paint store, buy a gallon of Super white, and you’ll never look for another shade of white again. “Our go-to white around here if you are looking for a modern clean color,” said Emily Henderson. “It reflects light in such a pretty way and doesn’t have any cool tones that would it go blue or warm tones that would make it yellow.”

Stiffkey Blue, Farrow & Ball

This moody blue brings some drama to a living space without creating a cave-like feel, and is also a good choice for the kitchen, according to Brian Paquette of Brian Paquette Interiors.

“For cabinets, I am more drawn to the material and detail of the actual cabinet and aim to keep the paint neutral, bright, and reflective of what may be going on in nearby room” he said on MyDomaine. “My go-to’s for paint colors are Decorators White by Benjamin Moore and Shaded White by Farrow & Ball for that European look. A contrast on an island or lower cabinets can be fun, and once again I lean toward a fun color that may run throughout the space, a deep gray, like Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball, or a blue that reminds me of the deepest depths of the ocean, like Stiffkey Blue from Farrow & Ball.”


Bright Ideas: How to Light Up Your Rooms

These clever tricks banish dim interiors and dark corners, and usher natural light into the house.

Most homes have a few gloomy rooms and nooks, but you don’t have to stay in the dark. To illuminate a poorly lit home without flicking a single light switch, use a combination of these bright ideas to enjoy an improved result that’s like the difference between night and day.

Choose glass-paneled doors. One of the most effective ways to let natural light flood into your home is to use glass-paneled doors. Installing a new window or increasing its size usually requires a permit, but this may not be the case when replacing exterior doors. Whether you like the bold lines of these steel-framed doors or prefer the traditional French doors in the next photo, there is a design to suit every palette and position, both inside and out.

Tip: If privacy is a concern, opt for frosted glass.

Use transom and sidelight windows. This Sydney home uses a sophisticated series of interior French doors to borrow light from adjacent rooms. Designed by Luigi Rosselli Architects and Decus Interiors, the transom windows (which crown the tops of the French doors) and the sidelight windows (which flank the opening) more than double the aperture and maximize the amount of light that travels from room to room.

Sidelights, transoms and fanlights (which also sit above doorways and are arched or elliptical) can usually be retrofitted with relative ease.

Adopt glass backsplashes. Can’t afford to lose valuable cabinet space by replacing your wall-mounted kitchen cabinets with a window? Try using a window for your backsplash instead, as Rudolfsson Alliker Associates Architects did in this residence in Sydney. Natural light will illuminate your countertops and provide important task lighting for cooking. Window backsplashes are possible when your kitchen butts up against an exterior wall. If yours runs along an interior wall, try using a mirrored backsplash instead.

Install clerestory windows. We can’t always puncture a wall with a window at eye level, but clerestory windows can be equally effective in brightening up interiors. Clerestory windows sit high in your wall, as shown in this house in Melbourne, Australia, and because they are positioned above your sightline, they rarely compromise your privacy. They are also especially effective in letting light into dim, excavated rooms.

Select white paint that has a sheen. If you’ve asked anyone how to brighten up a dark home, chances are you’ve already been told to paint your walls white and banish dark furnishings. While this is the first trick in the book, the glossier the paint is, the better it will diffuse light throughout your home. So opt for a satin finish on walls and use gloss or semigloss paint for the trim.

Just note that paints with a medium to high sheen highlight every inconsistency, so make sure that you plaster, sand and prime surfaces well before painting — or call in a professional.

Tip: Reflective tiles and metallic wallpaper have a similar effect.

Embrace glossy floors. We rarely consider treating our floors to lighten a room, though high-gloss floors are brilliant at bouncing light around. It may be as straightforward as sanding back your floorboards and polishing them with a glossy finish, or you may prefer to employ a more drastic treatment and use high-sheen white floor paint or epoxy.

Install a tubular daylighting device. These ingenious inventions go by many names —tubular daylighting devices, solar tubes, sun tunnels, tubular skylights. Most capture sunlight through a small dome on your roof and funnel it down a reflective tube and through a skylight-like opening in your ceiling, which diffuses light throughout the room.

These devices amplify natural light, do not cause homes to heat up and in some cases are capable of capturing solar energy to light rooms at night. Most can even be installed in rooms with no direct roof access, using angled reflective tubing to channel light into hard-to-reach spaces.

Create an atrium. The sheer elegance of atriums is enough of a reason to try to incorporate one into any design. This circular skylight designed by Decus Interiors channels sunlight down to the ground-level kitchen, while natural light pours into the upstairs rooms via interior windows that overlook the void. One of the best features about a large round skylight is the exquisite light play and shadows that transverse your interior over the course of a day.

Break through the ceiling. What better way to wake up than to gaze at the sky during your morning shower? Besides letting natural light pour into a room, skylights have an uplifting effect and can be used in most places with direct roof access.

Gable skylights can be cleverly angled to suit the aspect of your site.

Many skylights and roof windows now use self-cleaning glass. This usually has a specially formulated exterior coating that reacts with ultraviolet sunlight to break down leaves and debris that fall on the glass. Rain then finishes the job by washing the panes clean.

Tip: Skylights can trap heat inside homes, so increase your ventilation to counter this.

Consider exterior glass walls. For sites where privacy is not an issue, using floor-to-ceiling windows instead of walls will flood your interiors with light. Opt for double panes (at least) for insulation, and try to position your wall-to-wall windows facing north. Excessive glass on the western and even eastern sides of your home often lets harsh, hot rays inside and can overheat your house.

If you would like to install floor-to-ceiling windows but are concerned that this may sacrifice your privacy, there are many inventive screening options that may still make it possible to enjoy exterior glass walls and some seclusion too.

Swap walls for room dividers. Sometimes there is no alternative to walls for structural or screening reasons. However, if you want to delineate a space rather than divide it and create a solid barrier for privacy, consider using a room divider instead. Room dividers come in countless creative forms, including glass blocks and laser-cut screens, so the only limits are your imagination and site restrictions.

Hang a mirror on the wall. We’ve all heard that mirrors can transform any space from gloomy to glamorous, but there are a few tricks. First, bigger is always better when using mirrors — the larger the reflective surface, the more light it will bounce around the room.

And second, your mirror needs to reflect a light source, so place it opposite or adjacent to a window. Hanging a mirror behind a lamp can brighten a room even further.

Follow These Steps Before Starting Your Kitchen Remodel

If your kitchen is looking a bit dated, consider a remodel to upgrade its efficiency and looks. Here’s a quick guide to planning your kitchen update:

#1 Plan it out.

Sketch out what you want your finished kitchen to look like. Whether you draw your designs by hand or use software, understanding the finished look of your kitchen is an essential first step.

#2 Measure your space.

It’s important to know how much space you have to work with. Record the dimensions of your entire kitchen and other surrounding areas in your initial sketch. Use your measurements to plan the rest of your project.

#3 Choose storage options.

One of the biggest advantages of remodeling your kitchen is adding more space. Think about your current storage problems and how to solve them. Consider all your storage options, from standalone shelving units to built-in turntables in your new kitchen cabinets.

#4 Pick a color scheme.

Do you want to keep the same color scheme or go with something different? Do you want your kitchen to stand out from the rest of your home or blend in? Now is the time to answer these questions. Your color scheme could impact the appliance- and flooring-related aspects of your remodel.

#5 Compare materials.

Now it’s time for window-shopping. Head to your local home improvement center and begin calculating your remodeling budget. Compare the different costs of different materials. While it’s okay to splurge on some aspects, stray away from a $50,000 kitchen remodel.

#6 Have a set budget.

Once you know how much your project will cost, start saving your money and planning your remodel in earnest. Prices can change over time, so be sure to include some flexibility in your budget. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of permits and contractor labor.

#7 Find a remodeling pro.

Unless you are an expert, you will probably need to hire a remodeler to update your kitchen. Research local contractors, check their references and interview at least three pros before hiring one.


Remodeling and redesigning your kitchen takes work. If you want to create an updated kitchen, you’ll need to plan, budget and hire a trusted professional.

8 Hot Kitchen Trends For 2018

8 Hot Kitchen Trends For 2018


Kitchen design has been about three things for the past few years: white cabinets; quartz or marble countertops; and subway tile backsplashes. The good news is, 2018 trends are veering away from a couple of these mainstays (quartz and marble aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!). If you’re getting ready to do or redo your kitchen, here are eight ideas to consider.

Concrete countertops

Perhaps due to the influence of Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, who favor the material for kitchens, concrete is growing in popularity for countertops.

“Blame Pinterest, blame Joanna Gaines, blame marble madness overload – but concrete countertops have taken over farmhouses in the past few years,” said Country Living. “It’s easy to see why: Installing concrete counters is a sure way to infuse your home with a rustic yet industrial feel that’s at once trendy and unfussy. And the durability of the cement-and-sand mix has some hailing it as a rock solid (we had to) design choice.”

They caution, however, that concrete counters can stain, scratch, and crack. They’re also not quite as low-maintenance as you might think. While you can DIY this project, beware: it’s not as easy as it looks.

Antibacterial materials

Your solid-surface countertop may soon get an exciting upgrade, with antibacterial properties and also the ability to eliminate “chemicals that come into contact with it, as well as (purifying) the surrounding air,” said Houzz. “Imagine a countertop that helps take care of that salmonella bacteria for you after preparing chicken for dinner. That’s the idea behind several materials presented at the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings (CERSAIE) in Italy back in September. The new K-Life technology incorporated into Porcelanosa’s Krion solid surface uses a process called “photocatalysis, which uses a semiconductor in the surface to enhance a reaction to light, killing bacteria and breaking up pollutants.”

Disappearing vent hoods

The statement hood has been a focal point of the kitchen for the last several years, but as a more minimalist approach to kitchen design peeks in, vent hoods may be a casualty of new trends.

Statement ranges

Statement hoods may be replaced by bold ranges that bring in a burst of color. “So what is the new kitchen focal point? Look to the statement stove to keep the interest simmering,” said House & Home. “In fun colors, high-end purveyors such as Aga and Lacanche are more than willing to grab all the glory, and prove they are worth every penny.”

Flat-panel cabinets

Is this the end of the shaker cabinet? Flat-front cabinets have been showing up in modern kitchens for years, but they’re growing in prominence. According to Inman’s look at what’s hot and what’s not in kitchens for 2018, “Fifty-seven percent of homeowners chose shaker-style cabinets, followed by flat-panel (18 percent) and raised-panel (17 percent) cabinets,” but look for those numbers to start changing this year.

Wood cabinets

As for finishes, look for wood cabinets to make a comeback, giving white a run for its money. “The return of wood cabinets was almost inevitable, but, instead of the heavy, figured doors of the 1990s, today’s wood cabinets are either very modern, or in basic rustic styles…which feel authentic and organic – as if they were born there,” said Apartment Therapy.

Mix-and-match finishes

It may be time to ditch the idea of a one-color space. “The days of monochromatic kitchens are far behind us, Sue Wadden, the director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, told Elle Décor. “She explains that, this year, it’s all about mixing and matching color, no need to keep it all the same: ‘Using multiple colors in kitchens has become a popular trend this year. For example, painting base walls or cabinets in a dark charcoal tone and upper cabinets and walls in creamy off-white tones is something we’re seeing more and more of.'”

Black fixtures

Fixtures have been moving out of silvery finishes and into gold tones, but black is another option that is gaining heat. “Black is classic in the fact that it will always work with just about every style and color palette that you have going on,” said Emily Henderson.

16 Ways To Make Your Home Look New For The New Year For Under $1,000

Image result for new year new home

It’s common to start thinking about a new house in the New Year. We all do it (in fact, we’re doing it right now). But if it’s not a practical time to but (or sell) or you’re not in a financial position to make that kind of change, you can still make your house feel like new. Make one big change or a couple of smaller ones to breathe new life into your home. In honor of the coming new year, we’ve got 16 ways to go about it, and you can do them for under $1,000.

1. Paint!

You won’t find a better way to make a big change for a small financial hit, and you can do it yourself. If your kitchen or bathroom cabinets have seen better days, a coat of paint can reenergize the spaceand save thousands of dollars in replacement costs.

2. Redo your exterior trim

Painting your entire exterior might not be in the cards right now, but giving some attention to your home’s trim can have a tremendous effect on the way the house looks. Look closely at the wood areas around windows, doors, and garage doors. Any chipped or peeling areas can be sanded and repainted. Bringing in some contrast or depth with a new color is a great way to change the look of your home with minimal financial pain.

3. Repaint your door

Replacing the entry door busts our $1,000 budget (the midrange cost average is $1,230 according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report), but the return on investment is over 100 percent, making this one smart renovation to do if your home needs it. Or, splash a coat of paint on your door to get a fresh feel at a lower cost. Need color inspiration? Check out these options.

4. Update the exterior details

While you’re thinking about the exterior of your home, take a look at other elements like the house lights and the landscaping. It might be that changing out your lights to something more modern, adding uplights that showcase the home, or even adding some fresh flowers and a seating area on the porch, is enough to give the home the lift it needs.

5. Get a new toilet

It may sound silly, but something as simple as changing out a toilet that’s seen better days can take away the little stresses that are making your home feel less than great.

6. Get a new vanity

The same principle applies to your vanity. An older version with chipping paint or a tired sink/countertop can drag down your space and take you with it. Plumbing is something that experts typically recommend leaving to a pro, but if you’re game (and willing to attend a workshop or watch a few videos), you can do it yourself and feel a sense of pride along with the joy of seeing something pretty in your bathroom.

7. Update your lighting

Old, ugly ceiling fans or builder standard light fixtures making you sad? Your space will sparkle with new options. Pendants continue to be the hottest thing in lighting, and newer, sleeker ceiling fans can continue to give you the function you want without the hideous look.

8. Knock down a wall

A closed-in kitchen, and, especially a kitchen and living room that aren’t open to each other, is reason enough to feel like moving. Removing the wall in between can change the way you use your home, see your home, and feel in the space. But make sure you’re not dealing with a support wall, or taking it out can be much more expensive (at the least) and potentially dangerous to the structure of the home.

“It’s sometimes difficult to determine whether a wall is load bearingor not,” said Houzz. “So it’s always best to call in a professional.”

9. Create a pass-through

If you are not able to knock down the wall, creating or expanding a pass-through from the kitchen to the living room or dining room can give you a similar feel and function.

10. Get one great piece of furniture

Sometimes that’s all it takes to shift the focus from what you don’t like to what you do. And a great piece doesn’t have to be expensive. Go get that fuchsia chair you’ve been eyeing. Replace your old couch with a great new one. Up the ante in your bedroom with a statement headboard. Or hit the flea markets for an antique sideboard you can paint peacock blue to turn your dining room on its ear.

11. Think slipcovers

If new furniture is not in your budget, covering it up can make it look brand new.

12. Dress the walls

Whether you don’t have enough art or the art you do have is not inspired, focusing on dressing your walls can have a dramatic effect on how the space comes together.

13. Let the light in

Are those dark, heavy window coverings stifling your space? Go for a layered look that allows better light control and adds interest with texture and color.

14. Clear the clutter

It will cost you nothing to get rid of stuff. In fact, donating items can be a tax write-off!

15. Rip out that old floor

Yes, flooring can be a huge expense. Sourcing materials and pitching in to do it yourself can keep costs manageable. And a new floor—especially a product like wood-look tile, which is on trend and super easy to maintain—may just be enough to make you forget about moving.

16. Get a great rug

A great rug can also turn a worn floor that’s looking sad into one that’s happily sheathed by something pretty. It’s not a permanent solution, but the “out of sight, out of mind” principle applies here. If your can cover up the offending areas—where it’s most stained and scratched, it’ll feel new again, even if it’s not.

6 Ideas For Selling Your Home In The Winter

#1 Keep the house warm.

While you don’t have to keep the heat on all the time, keep the house warm during showings. You don’t want people shivering while they look through the house. Set the thermostat to at least 70 degrees — whether you’ll be in the house or not.

#2 Trim the outdoor foliage.

Remove snow from shrubs and trees so that potential buyers don’t get wet as they walk up the sidewalk to your home. Brush off snow, prune the tree limbs and trim the hedges as needed. You can even hire a tree serviceto do this for you if you’re strapped for time. While your lawn is dormant this time of year, you can at the very least make it look well maintained to give buyers a sense of what it looks like during the spring and summer. You can also display photos in your entryway of how your home looks outside during the greener months.

#3 Handle winter conditions.

If you have ice and snow on your driveway and sidewalk, you need to take care of it way in advance of showings. Clear ice and snow with shovels and salt, so that your exterior looks nice and safe to buyers. It will also increase the aesthetic quality of your home to buyers and keep you from getting sued by a buyer who falls or slips. If you have particular trouble with ice and snow, you can call a snow removal serviceto do it for you.

#4 Show off the fireplace.

If you have a fireplace, you should showcase it as part of your home’s aesthetic appeal. A gas fireplace is easy to turn on before a showing, and it adds natural beauty to your home — not to mention warmth. A wood-burning fireplace is a bit harder to maintain, because you can run out of firewood. So you need to time the lighting just right before the showing. You also need to make sure the chimney is in good condition, so have it cleaned and checked by a fireplace professionalahead of a showing to avoid any problems.

#5 Add comfort to your home.

There are other steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and inviting during the winter months. Focus on small improvements to your home like:

  • Adding blankets to your couch
  • Turning back the comforter on the bed
  • Baking a pie or cookies for the smell
  • Lighting some candles
  • Turning on some relaxing music

    #6 Make sure your home is well lit.

Since winter takes away a lot of sunshine, you need to utilize light bulbs and other forms of lighting. Outside lights, security lights, candles, LED lighting — every bit of lighting is crucial in the interior and exterior. You want all lights on when buyers are walking through your home — don’t focus on your electricity bill right now. You also want to make as much use of natural lighting as possible. Open your window treatments during the day showings.


Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier


If you’re hosting for the holidays, there is undoubtedly a lot to do and a lot to buy. You probably have a budget you’re looking to stick to, but then you make the mistake of wandering in to Williams Sonoma…and there goes your bottom line! There are places to save a few bucks so you can make a few worthy splurges. Here’s a guide that will help.

Splurge: Good cookware

The quality of your cookware can have a big impact on the quality of your food. If your pots and pans have seen better days, it’s a good time to splurge on a few high-end items, like this Swiss Diamond 10-piece set, made of cast aluminum with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. Consumer Reports rated the set the “best pots and pans for your holiday feasts.”

Their lab kitchen evaluated “cooking evenness and how well nonstick surfaces release fried eggs when the pan is new and then again when scratched,” along with nonstick durability and “how quickly a pot takes to bring 4 quarts of water to a near-boil. Testers measure how hot the handle gets during heating and use an instrument to access its sturdiness. A big part of nonstick’s appeal is easy cleanup, so we note how difficult it is to wash away a sticky bechamel sauce.”

The Swiss Diamond set includes 8-inch and 9-inch frypans, 1.4-quart and 2.2- quart saucepans, 3.2-quart saute pan, 8.5-quart stockpot, and glass lids.

Save: Good cookware

The Consumer Reports article shows how, with a little research, you can find high-quality products without spending high dollars. Their top choice for nonstick frying pans? This $100 Zwilling J.A. Henckels version in stainless steel with an aluminum core. But in second place: A $20 Red Copper nonstick pan from Amazon.

Splurge: Amazon Prime

This is a splurge that’s really a save, if you think about it. The service that costs $99 for a year ends up saving you money on all those last-minute gifts and things you forgot to buy and don’t have time to get to the store for because there are rooms to set up and closets to clean out and food to prepare. Amazon Prime also includes free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, plus you get access to tons of movies, TV shows, songs, and Kindle e-books.

Save: A trip to Costco

Yes, it’s going to be crazy. Yes, you’re going to have to wait in line. But the stuff you can’t find elsewhere (or at least all in one place) will be worth it. Top of our list: Masterpiece plastic plates and Reflections Silverware. They’re nicer than your average disposable stuff and you’ll be grateful when you don’t have to do dishes 12 times a day. And don’t forget to buy lots of toilet paper, paper towels, and Chunky Artichoke & parmesan Dip (seriously, you’ll be happy you did!).

Splurge: A cleaning crew

It may feel like an extravagance to hire a cleaning crew to come before your guests arrive or after they leave – or, who are we kidding: both! But it’s an extravagance that will save you time and peace of mind, which is always important, and especially so when family is in town

Save: Your kids

The children may think holiday breaks are for catching up on sleep or TV, but you know better, right? Homes that have to be prepared for holiday guests needs lots of hands to clean out closets and organize pantries.

Splurge: A good set of knives

Or at least one good multipurpose knife. With all that cutting and chopping you’re about to do between now and the New Year, it’s time to get a real knife. Food and Wine’s best knife is this MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples, which is $145 on Amazon. They praise its “hard, super-sharp blade” and “simple wooden handle that’s extremely comfortable and feels secure in the hand.” Their best value knife is the Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chef’s Knife, $38 on Amazon, if you’re only looking for a mini-splurge.

Save: Cutting board

Yes, it would be lovely to have a giant two-inch-thick butcher board (and it would make for nice Instagram pics). But you don’t have to spend gobs of money – this Walnut cutting board from Williams Sonoma is $155–399 depending on size! – to get the function you need. The Spruce broke down the best cutting boards of 2017 and found this 10.5″ by 14.5″ inch OXO Plastic board to be its best overall choice. The price: $15 at Amazon.

This plastic board from OXO “is a true workhorse,” they said. “It is just the right size—a bit larger than a piece of letter size paper – so it’s ideal for most chopping tasks. The soft, tapered handles on two edges make it easy to grip and carry from your counter to the stove, and because it can go in the dishwasher it’s ideal for cutting up raw meat and fish.” If you’d rather have wood, they have several options listed, including a $36 butcher block.