Washington State finished the year on a high with jobs continuing to be added across the market. Additionally, we are seeing decent growth in the area’s smaller markets, which have not benefitted from the same robust growth as the larger metropolitan markets.
Unemployment rates throughout the region continue to drop and the levels in the central Puget Sound region suggest that we are at full employment. In the coming year, I anticipate that we will see substantial income growth as companies look to recruit new talent and keep existing employees happy.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 19,745 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2016—up by a very impressive 13.4% from the same period in 2015, but 18.7% below the total number of sales seen in the third quarter of the year. (This is a function of seasonality and no cause for concern.)
- Sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with home sales up by 47%. There were also impressive sales increases in Grays Harbor and Thurston Counties. Jefferson County had a fairly modest decrease in sales.
- The number of available listings continues to remain well below historic averages. The total number of homes for sale in the fourth quarter was down by 13.7% compared to the same period a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will continue to be a seller’s market. We should see some improvement in listing activity, but it is highly likely that demand will exceed supply for another year.
- Demand continued to exceed supply in the final three months of 2016 and this caused home prices to continue to rise. In the fourth quarter, average prices rose by 7.1% but were 0.4% higher than the third quarter of the year. The region’s average sales price is now $414,110.
- In most parts of the region, home prices are well above historic highs and continue to trend upward.
- When compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County. In total, there were eight counties where annual price growth exceeded 10%. We saw a drop in sales prices in the notoriously volatile San Juan County.
- The aggressive home price growth that we’ve experienced in recent years should start to taper in 2017, but prices will continue to increase at rates that are higher than historic averages.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by 15 days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2015.
- King County was the only area where it took less than a month to sell a home, but all markets saw decent improvement in the time it took to sell a home when compared to a year ago.
- In the final quarter of the year, it took an average of 64 days to sell a home. This is down from the 78 days it took in the third quarter of 2015, but up from the 52 days it took in the third quarter of 2016. (This is due to seasonality and not a cause for concern.)
- We may experience a modest increase in the time it takes to sell a home in 2017, but only if there is a rapid increase in listings, which is certainly not a given.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2016, I actually moved the needle a little more in favor of buyers, but this is purely a function of the increase in interest rates that was seen after the election. Higher borrowing costs mean that buyers can afford less, which could ultimately put some modest downward pressure on home prices in 2017. That said, the region will still strongly favor sellers in the coming year.
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The Windermere Foundation had another banner year in 2016, thanks to the continued support of Windermere franchise owners, agents, staff, and the community. Over $2.2 million was raised in 2016, which is an increase of seven percent over the previous year. This brings our total to over $33 million raised since the start of the Windermere Foundation in 1989.
A large amount of the money raised last year is thanks to our agents who each make a donation from every commission they earn. These funds enable our offices to support local non-profits that provide much-needed services to low-income and homeless families in their communities.
|SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2016|
|Number of individual grants fulfilled:||664|
|Average grant amount:||$2,581|
|Average donation to the Windermere Foundation:||$122.05|
|Total funds provided in 2016:||$1,951,878.78|
So how are funds used? Windermere offices get to decide how to distribute the funds their agents raise so that they may help organizations in their communities. Our offices have helped to fund school lunch and afterschool programs, supported non-profits that provide housing assistance to homeless families, donated to food banks, purchased school supplies, provided meals and gifts for families in need over the holidays, fulfilled wishes for children through Make-A-Wish programs, and purchased shoes, clothing, blankets and other items to help keep families warm during the winter months.
This year was also marked by a new partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks to help #tacklehomelessness. During the 2016 football season, Windermere donated $100 for every Seahawks home game tackle to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides essential services to homeless youth. At the end of the season, the #tacklehomelessness campaign raised $35,000, which is being used to help fund YouthCare’s transitional housing program.
Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. And not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click on the Donate button.
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Maybe it’s that 1980s soaking tub with the giant surround, or maybe you’re prepping for resale, or perhaps an overhead flood is to blame. Maybe it’s just time for a change. Whatever the motivation behind them, bathroom renovations are one of the projects homeowners put the most effort and investment into. Here are 6 of the most dramatic before-and-after bathroom stories from Houzz, from budget-friendly to luxe.
Bath Makeovers 1: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
1. The Bathroom That Helped Sell a House in One Day
BEFORE: In this Massachusetts bungalow, over 100 years old, the 1960s bathroom renovation wasn’t offering much help to real estate agents.
Bath Makeovers 2: Copper Dot Interiors, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: Interior designer Karen Goodman had resale in mind, as she was redoing the house to flip. But it was important to her to preserve and restore the original 1902 feel. She found a claw-foot tub at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and painted it green, added a wall-hung sink and used subway tile befitting the home’s turn-of-the-century aesthetic. A unique shower curtain adds color and personality, while the classic fixtures have widespread appeal.
Great tip: Goodman shared her philosophy about painting the original wood with Houzz contributor Annie Thornton. “If it’s painted, it’s getting painted. If it’s wood, it’s staying wood,” she said. “It wasn’t my place to decide what should be wood and what shouldn’t be in a place I don’t plan to call home.”
Shower curtain: Danica Studio; tub paint: Moss Green Rust-Oleum spray paint; claw-foot tub: Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Bath Makeovers 3: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
2. Dilapidated 1970s Bathroom Gets Inspiration From a Dilapidated Mansion
BEFORE: The state of the bathroom in this 1912 Colonial-style home in New Jersey was sending the whole family up to the third floor to use the facilities because they couldn’t stand the cracked tiles, 12-inch-high tub, awkward layout and dated colors in the main bath. While walking through a once-grand old house during an estate sale and seeing its fabulous colors and tile patterns, homeowner Jody Suden had a clear vision for the bathroom makeover in her own home.
Bath Makeovers 4: Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: Interior designer Tracey Stephens worked closely with Suden to help her achieve her vision, using classic fixtures and completing lots of complicated tile drawings to get the details just right. The tiles are based on historical patterns and colors and were handmade in Arkansas by American Restoration Tile.
The overall style suits the home’s age and style, mixing mint green, white and black with vintage apothecary style.
Great tip: Even if you have a strong idea of what you want your room to look like, hiring a designer is key — you just have to find one who gets it. Suden told me she couldn’t have done it without Stephens, who told me she considered herself the “midwife” helping Suden achieve her vision.
Bath Makeovers 5: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
3. The Bathroom Where 2 Doctors Take Deep Soaks After Long Days
BEFORE: This Cincinnati bathroom was dark, dated and awkwardly laid out. Because of a lack of smart storage, the countertop had become a magnet for clutter.
Bath Makeovers 6: Ryan Duebber Architect, LLC, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: Architect Ryan Duebber stole about 16 inches in length for the bathroom from the master bedroom, then moved the toilet to the back of the room. This allowed space for a spacious shower and a Japanese soaking tub.
The sapele wood at the back of the room draws the eye and makes the room look deeper, while a new skylight, lots of reflective white, clear glass, a floating vanity and a strategic lighting scheme bathe the room in light. (For example, check out the glow on the floor provided by the LED tape lights underneath the vanity.) In addition, there’s a place to store everything so the counters can stay clean, maintaining the minimalist look the homeowners love.
Great tip: Having a specific place for everything you use in the bathroom will keep the clutter at bay. Give it a lot of thought early on in the design process. Where will your hairdryer go? Which products do you use every day in front of the mirror? Are you a toothbrush-out or a toothbrush-put-away kind of person?
Bath Makeovers 7: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
4. Saving the Best for Last
BEFORE: These San Francisco parents worked on the spaces the whole family could enjoy before tackling their awkward master bathroom.
Bath Makeovers 8: Hulburd Design, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: Taking over an unused terrace space gave architect Holly Hulburd plenty of room to work in a new bathtub, a generous separate shower stall and a long vanity complete with dressing table. The room is a study in lines and scale, from the way the tub surround extends into a shower bench to the careful use of different sizes of rectangular tiles.
Great tip: When using strong lines, lining things up is important. In order to have the tiles meet the ceiling and floor without any cuts, Hulburd dropped the ceiling a little to make the geometry work.
Bath Makeovers 9: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
5. The Bathroom That Makes the Most of Burgundy Floor Tiles
BEFORE: For the 2012 D.C. Design house, Christopher Patrick decided to embrace the existing tile and plumbing configuration in order to stick to a budget.
Bath Makeovers 10: Christopher Patrick Interiors, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: He chose a neoclassic wallpaper that complemented the burgundy tones in the floor, and added a more modern vanity to blend old and new.
Setting the sink and mirror asymmetrically on the right side of the vanity left ample room on the counter.
Great tip: Don’t get stuck in a bathroom design rut. Patrick had an “antibathroom” attitude, styling the room more like a living room or den and adding open shelves instead of a typical medicine cabinet.
Bath Makeovers 11: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz
6. Adding Laundry Makes Way for a Guest Room in a Toronto Pied-à-Terre
BEFORE: The converted loft in this 1905 eyeglass factory offered a decent-sized laundry room that didn’t get much use, but it didn’t have an extra bedroom. By integrating the laundry into the bathroom, there’s now room for guest bunks in the former utility room.
Bath Makeovers 12: Affecting Spaces, original photo on Houzz
AFTER: This shows the opposite wall from the one in the “before” photo; to see the complete makeover, click over to the story. Architect and designer Gillian Lazanik removed a linen closet and planned a layout that made the most of the space. This included room for a stackable washer-dryer and a new walk-in shower stall with a clear glass divider that opens up the room.
By Becky Harris, Houzz
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If you are even a casual fan of TV channels like HGTV, you’re sure to have noticed our nation’s current real estate obsession: Tiny Houses. Tiny House living can offer more financial freedom, more mobility, a lower environmental footprint, and an emphasis on experience over stuff. People who have adopted this lifestyle typically want to live a simpler, more pared-down life, and the rest of us want to watch them do it.
These homes have come a long way in the past five years. Designs for them have gone from extremely simple structures that are more affordable than the average new car, to extensive thought and design – including “Smart” Tiny Homes that can live “off the grid” using solar power and water recycling.
To the contemporary Tiny House purist, the structure is very small and simple. This usually means less than 300 square feet and a loft for the bed.
Keeping the home on wheels allows everything from moving whenever the mood strikes you, to overcoming issues with building codes that require permanent structures to have a larger square footage.
Interiors are designed to be simple, providing basic needs and amenities without a lot of flourish or detail.
Sleeping lofts are the norm, so if you have an issue with climbing stairs or ladders then a larger model with a main floor sleeping option is definitely a better choice.
They offer two sizes with a useable space option of 218 square feet or 246 square feet and the roof is just begging to have solar panels installed.
Not only does this model provide what looks like a decent amount of counter space, it also has a main floor bed and bath, unlike many other tiny homes that only provide a sleeping loft.
The cost for this kind of tiny living starts at $62,950 – $72,950.
Many people who adopt the tiny house lifestyle say that communities are the key to a happy and successful living environment. Another trick to living large in small spaces is to have great public places to go to – preferably by foot or bike. Creating a micro-friendly community requires careful planning, walkability, and dedicated public spaces, but for those who achieve this trifecta of tiny living, the rewards can be anything but tiny.
This blog originally appeared on Windermere Spaces and Places.
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When it comes to organizing a bookshelf, there are a multitude of directions you can go. For example, a simple Pinterest search will turn up endless results of bookshelves stylishly organized by color, but what if that entails separating books from within a series? For some of us, that’s like separating our children. Ultimately, how you organize your bookshelf is a personal choice based on your own aesthetic, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some tips to help give your reading space photo-worthy style.
Sorting by color:
- One color per shelf (a blue shelf, a green shelf, and so on). If you're having trouble filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in craft paper.
- A gradual "rainbow" flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
- A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the whole bookcase is filled. This is time-consuming, but impressive.
Sorting by size:
- Large, heavy books should be shelved on sturdy shelves, below head height.
- Start by placing the tallest and largest books on the lowest shelf, placing smaller and smaller books as you move upward. This creates a tidy, organized appearance. On some bookcases, this is a necessity to adapt to the height of each shelf.
- Large decorative objects and oversized books look best if they are spaced out between different spots in the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. They also make excellent bookends and will help to keep books in place. A zig-zag pattern works well.
Design effects to consider:
- Create a dark backdrop. The bookcase will look more striking if the backdrop is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of the bookshelves to create this vivid effect. This can be anything from basic black to pale beige. For open-backed bookshelves, hang a cloth between them and the wall.
- Stack books on top of each other on some shelves, and vertically next to each other on others. Shelving books in different orientations by varying the position of the books is eye-catching and chic.
- Try a pyramid of books, topped with a small trinket.
- Leave plenty of empty space. Gaps often look better than a shelf clogged with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases placed in the middle of a room, which need a large amount of space to let light through.
This blog originally appeared on Windermere Spaces and Places.
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When I say “punch” a house, I’m not talking about putting holes in your drywall. I’m referring to the writing of the “punch list,” which is created at the very end of a project and details any outstanding items that need to be taken care of.
Punch lists are usually made continuously by your construction manager throughout the project to avoid a lengthy list at the end of the project. However, the time when homeowners are involved is usually toward the end, right around the time when you’re able to use your newly remodeled space again. The punch list ensures that both you and your building professional agree that the project is completed. Typically, a signed-off punch list also ensures that the builder will be paid any remaining money owed by the homeowner, so this goes hand in hand with both parties agreeing that the project is complete.
It’s important to keep track of any items you find by adding them to a punch list as well as noting them throughout the house with a small piece of painter’s tape (not duct tape or electrical tape, which could damage finishes). This makes it easier on your memory as well as on your contractor. No one has to go hunting for that one corner with the ding in the drywall.
Punch lists are normal for almost all contractors. No matter how much protective product your remodeler lays down, no matter how good the painters and plumbers and trim carpenters are, there is bound to be at least one thing that will need to be taken care of at the end of the day. And, just like nearly every other aspect of remodeling and home building, how your building professional will resolve punch items varies based on where you live, what type of work your contractor is doing, how big the firm is and so on.
Be sure to check out your contract (take a look at any sections containing the words “substantial completion,” “inspection” or “warranty”) for information on how your contractor handles these issues. If you’re still unsure about issues such as costs associated with punch lists, how quickly punch items are resolved or whether anything is too small to punch, clear the air by having a conversation with your contractor.
Punch List 1: Jamie Keskin Design, original photo on Houzz
Let’s start with paint. Mistakes involving paint are typically the easiest for homeowners and pros to spot, primarily because paint is so aesthetic. If your walls are a different color than the one you selected, that should be pretty easy to pick up on.
However, there are other, smaller details that can be overlooked. One of my best painters once taught me to check the paint on woodwork with my hands instead of my eyes.
Walk up to your trim and cabinetry, look the other way and run your hand over it. Is it rough or bumpy? Can you feel any blemishes, paint drops or brush strokes? Does the finish make you grimace? If you answer “yes” to any of the previous questions, add this to your punch list of “to-do’s.”
Keep your eyes open for sheen variances. Is one spot of the wall shinier or duller than the rest? Also, note any cut-ins. Is the paint line where the wall meets the ceiling straight?
Depending on how many paint punch items are found, the paint crew may have to touch up a couple of spots on a wall here or there, or it may need to repaint entire sections. Again, this all depends on your contractor. Repainting entire rooms could constitute a change order for some, while others see it as a warranty item. Communication is key in determining where your builder stands on these issues.
Punch List 2: Rafe Churchill: Traditional Houses, original photo on Houzz
Sheetrock (also known as tape, bed and texture) is another aesthetic finish that can be pretty easy to punch (both in the punch list sense and in the physical sense).
One of the best tips I’ve learned is that Sheetrock is easiest to punch after the paint primer has gone up but before the actual paint color hits the walls. Dings, dips, crooked edges and texture inconsistencies stand out like a sore thumb.
So ask your construction manager whether you can stop by after primer is applied. With your blue tape handy, walk through the construction area and take a look. Turn the lights on and inspect texture. (Is it too heavy in some places or too light in others? If you selected a smooth texture, are there any bumps that stand out?) Take a look at wall corners. (Are they straight and square from bottom to top?) Scan walls and ceilings for scratches and dents.
I’ve got to take a second here to make a small point: I know that every part of your home is important and worth time and attention. But consider this: Is a ding in a bottom corner of a coat closet really worth the same as one at eye-level in a kitchen?
I’m not saying that your contractor shouldn’t put time and effort into making your house your dream home, but if you feel like you’re getting carried away with the blue tape, take a step back and reevaluate. I can promise you that your dinner guests aren’t going to get on their hands and knees and inspect the Sheetrock in the corner of your pantry. And if they do, that’s another conversation entirely.
Punch List 3: Lauren Jacobsen Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
Like paint, tile can be inspected by sight and touch. Take a minute to make sure that everything looks flat and level, and that grout lines stay a consistent size. Then, if the tile is on the floor, take your shoes and socks off and walk around to make sure everything feels nice.
A creative tip I picked up from a homeowner is to walk throughout the house bouncing a tennis ball. Anywhere the ball hits the tile and makes a hollow sound is a place you’ll want to tag with tape. Tiles that aren’t well-secured will sound hollow and could lead to cracks or loose tiles in the future. Whether you do it during the punch phase or later when the tiles come loose or crack, the tiles will need to be replaced.
I’ve worked with several customers who decide that a loose tile in a corner somewhere isn’t worth the effort. I’m not saying to just throw in the towel on little things like a loose tile, but in the end, it is your house. If you don’t want anyone coming back to fix it and you can live with it, that’s perfectly fine too.
Punch List 4: Best Builders ltd, original photo on Houzz
Electrical, Audio and Video
Punching electrical, audio and video work is a lot less visual than some of the other finishes we’ve covered so far. With electrical and A/V, you’ll want to turn everything on and off. And then turn it on and off again. And then do this one more time.
Then, turn everything on and leave it on for a while. (This makes sure that lights don’t “freak out” when they’re on for extended periods of time.) Next, test the dimmer switches to make sure they dim correctly. Dimmers that aren’t properly paired to the lighting source can cause flickering. (Strobe lights can be cool, just not in your kitchen.)
If you really want to go above and beyond, test to make sure all the outlets are functional, and press the buttons on the GFI outlets — the outlets in wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens — to ensure that they trip (cut off the electricity) as they’re supposed to.
For appliances, make sure you have all the pieces that came with them and the warranty materials (all that paperwork that comes in the box). This is super important, as having the warranty information will be useful for any service you may need for your appliances in the future.
As with all other punch items, mark them with blue tape (if you can reach them; no need to strain yourself to put tape on a flickering can light in a 20-foot ceiling) and add them to your list.
Punch List 5: Kasper Custom Remodeling, LLC, original photo on Houzz
Like electrical, plumbing isn’t the easiest to check visually. There are a few things you can see, like scratches in the finish or straightness of plumbing fixtures, but there’s a lot behind the scenes that might only come to surface after use.
Turn on your hot water and let it run to make sure it gets hot, and turn on the cold water to make sure it stays cold. (It’s not unheard of to have the cold and hot switched.)
Plug your sink, fill it to the top and then drain it. This tests two things: 1) that the drain stopper works and 2) that there aren’t any leaks in the plumbing under the sink. The added pressure of all of the water leaving the sink at once tests the plumbing in a way that a normal stream of water can’t. You can do the same thing in your bathtub. Another good test for a tub is to fill it up to the overflow hole to make sure the overflow is connected properly.
With mechanical punch items such as plumbing and electrical, it’s likely that your building professional will try to lump all the punch items into one visit. This saves money and time. So if you notice that your toilet has hot water (it’s happened!) or a bulb in a closet is flickering and it’s not being attended to immediately, fear not! Your contractor may just be making sure to have a comprehensive list before calling in the cavalry to get it fixed.
Punch List 6: Decotick, original photo on Houzz
I know this all may sound like a lot of work. You may be thinking, “Isn’t this why I hired a general contractor or full-service builder in the first place?” And you’re absolutely right. But it’s my experience that homeowners like to get in on the action sometimes, and this is a great, productive way to do so.
Plus, everyone’s human. No matter how top-notch your remodeler or builder is, there is a chance (even if it’s just a .00001 percent chance) that something may be overlooked. Having a second set of eyes to make sure everything is up to their standards and yours doesn’t do anyone any harm. Now, get punching.
By Hannah Kasper, Houzz
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I believe that the big story for the coming year will be first-time home buyers. Since they don’t need to sell before purchasing, their reemergence into the market ensures that sales will continue to increase, even while inventory is limited. Thirty-one percent of buyers currently in the real estate market are first-time buyers, but it would be more ideal if that figure was closer to 40 percent.
Why don’t we have enough first-time buyers in the market? With Baby Boomers working and living longer, we aren’t making much room for Millennials to start their careers. Plus, the major debt that the younger generation owes on student loans ($1.3 trillion today) hugely impacts the housing market. But the bigger issue is lack of down payments. Before the recession, many Millennials could look to their parents for help with down payments; however, these days that is not as much the case.
I would also contend that the notion of Millennials being a “renter generation” is nonsense. In a National Association of Realtors survey, 75 percent of them said that buying a home would be the most astute financial decision they’d ever make; however, 80 percent said they don’t think they could qualify for a mortgage. I do believe that Millennials will eventually buy, but they’re delaying their purchasing decisions by about three years when compared to previous generations, which is about the same amount of time they’re waiting to start families as well.
Mortgage rates have risen rapidly since the election, and unfortunately, I do not see a turnaround in this trend. That said, they will remain cheap when compared to historic averages. Expect to see the yield on 30-year mortgages rise to around 4.7% by the end of 2017. For those who have grown accustomed to interest rates being at historic lows, this might seem high, but it’s all relative.
If I were to gaze all the way into 2018, my crystal ball takes me to the dreaded “R” word. Like taxes and death, recessions are another one of those unwanted realities that inevitably comes to visit every so often. Irrespective of who was voted into the White House, my view remains the same: prepare to see a business cycle recession by the end of 2018, but, rest assured, it will not be driven by real estate, nor will it resemble the Great Recession in any way.
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Some rooms just need blinds, other rooms just need curtains, and then some rooms look best with both. But how do you decide which rooms need what? There are a number of factors to consider when you’re picking window treatments for rooms in your house, from price to insulation to style to orientation within the room.
Adding a combination of blinds and curtains on your windows may seem like the best idea for almost any room in your home. But that can get pricey. Basically, you’re doubling up the cost of the treatments for each window. So when you’re deciding on a budget for your treatments, be methodical. Guest bedrooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or any uncommon, informal areas in your home are good candidates for either blinds or curtains, not both—you likely don’t spend much time in these spaces, they don’t need to be the most styled part of your home and/or they don’t require a high level of privacy. Save the money on these areas and choose a treatment that gets the job done. On the other hand, living areas, formal dining rooms and master bedrooms are places where a combination of both can add ultimate style, privacy and temperature comfort, and it could be worth the money to invest in these high-impact areas.
Sunlight can be a blessing and a curse for your home. It can fill living areas with wonderful natural light. It can liven up dining areas or kitchens. But, harsh sunlight can also heat up a room late in the afternoon, it can fade furniture, or it can wake you up too early on the weekends. When it comes to blocking out the sun, faux wood blinds and heavier curtains should be considered. Wood blinds or faux wood blinds block out a great deal of sun, but not all of it. If you want complete darkness to grab a few more winks on weekends, add some curtains over the binds to double up the sun defense. Consider the positioning of the windows throughout the house and protect the windows and rooms that bear the brunt of the sun, while making it easy for natural light to shine through when you want it.
When it comes to curtains and shades, there are a number of sun-blocking options. Cellular shades filter out the sunlight while still letting enough natural light into the room. Roman shades, sheer shades, and curtain fabrics all have different thicknesses, which block out different levels of UV rays and sunlight. If your living room faces west, you will certainly want some thicker shades to block out that evening sunshine and keep the temperature in the room manageable.
Just about any style under the sun is available when it comes to choosing window treatments. Gone are the days when curtains were the only way to add style, warmth and luxury to a room. Many options in shades and blinds can achieve the same effect.
Whichever you choose, you want the window treatments to accent the furniture in your room, not vice versa. For example, if your furniture is heavily patterned, choosing solid colors for blinds and curtains is the way to go. If your furniture is solid, light patterns and designs could accentuate certain colors or themes in the room. Keep theme and tone in mind: You wouldn’t choose earthy bamboo shades for a room with a sleek, industrial vibe, or beachy plantation shutters for a room with a modern artsy feel.
Choosing the proper window treatments for each room in your home comes down to a handful of factors. Don’t break the bank or overspend where you don’t need it, make sure you know where the sun is most intrusive in what rooms, and go with a style that fits the vibe of your home. Blinds and curtains can complete the look of a room, and make it feel like home.
Katie Laird is the Director of Social Marketing for Blinds.com and a frequent public speaker on Social Media Marketing, Social Customer Care and profitable company culture. An active blogger and early social technology adopter, you can find her online as ‘happykatie’ sharing home décor, yoga, parenting and vegetarian cooking tips. If you're interested in window blinds like those described by Katie, please go to the Blinds.com website.
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Each year the Pantone Color Institute declares a color of the year that ultimately influences trends in all facets of design; including architecture, interior design, graphic design, and fashion. This year they chose Greenery which is shade #15-0343 in the Pantone color spectrum.
A symbol for fresh, new beginnings it also has a feeling that reflects the mindfulness of healthier food resolutions, growing vegetarian trends, and an appreciation for the outdoors.
Here are some ways the 2017 Color of the Year can be incorporated into spaces within your home:
The vivid color of Greenery is perfect for adding a punch of color to the exterior of the home, like painting your doors.
An accent wall can immediately brighten interiors and plays beautifully with muted furniture.
For a smaller commitment to the color, buy a few accent pillows and throws while indulging in lots of fresh flowers and greenery in vases.
Bringing Greenery into your Kitchen can be done in many ways: rugs, table runners, accent pieces, and chairs.
Don’t be afraid to mix other colors! There are a myriad of ways to use Greenery. Visit Pantone for color pairing suggestions and inspiration.
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Small spaces can drive you crazy, especially if you need pipes in a compact bathroom, kitchen or laundry to run toilets, sinks and washing machines. Here are some must-know tips and tricks for your home’s high-traffic rooms to free up space for features and fixtures that need plumbing.
Plumbing Hacks 1: eat.bathe.live, original photo on Houzz
1. Tinker with the toilet. Many decorators will have ideas about how to create the illusion of space in a small room or house, but the trick is to free up space. And most of the time, the busiest and most-used rooms in the house — the bathroom, laundry and kitchen — are the best rooms to start with.
If you find your fixtures take up too much space, slim them down or get rid of them altogether. A wall-hung toilet with a concealed tank, for example, saves precious capacity in the smallest room in the house. The tank sits in the wall and the buttons and bowl are all you can see. Be aware, though, that concealed tanks can pose an access problem for your plumber and one day that tank will need maintenance and, eventually, replacement.
Pro tips: Hide an access panel, or position the tank where the wall it backs onto is a closet or cabinet, and buy only well-known brands so replacement parts are easily found.
A close-coupled, back-to-wall toilet, where the tank and bowl sit flush — excuse the pun — against the wall, can be a good, more affordable compromise.
You may also consider an integrated toilet with a sink on top. This is a great option if you’re looking to reduce water usage and become environmentally friendlier. It could be just what you need: a sink where the wastewater from washing your hands runs into the tank for the next flush, and you save space because you don’t need a separate sink.
Hiding the tank in a setup like this streamlines the room and creates counter space — a luxury in a tiny bathroom. Connecting the sink wastewater to the tank is also an option in this integrated design.
Plumbing Hacks 2: Sarah Blacker Architect, original photo on Houzz
2. Bath or shower? Why not both? Some bathrooms feature a separate bath and shower, but if you’re short on space, consider getting rid of the bath altogether to create more space, or even combining the two in a shower tub. Modern inset bath designs are slender so you can gain space while still keeping a tub.
Pro tip: If you’re not crazy about the look of a built-in bath-shower, consider a back-to-wall bath design. It has the same style as a free-standing bath on the side facing the open bathroom, but it fits snugly against one wall (or two) for ease of cleaning.
Another option to consider is a wet bathroom. The layout consists of a toilet and small sink with a shower overhead and a drain in the middle of the room. As the name implies, it means everything can (and usually does) get wet, but without a surround for your bath or shower you can really maximize space.
If that’s not for you, a frameless glass screen to keep the water contained could be a great alternative. This is a practical option, but always remember to hire a professional to waterproof and tile the walls to prevent dampness from seeping in.
Plumbing Hacks 3: clim createur d’interieur, original photo on Houzz
3. Buy compact fixtures. Getting rid of bulky faucets in favor of compact fittings is a small job that can make a big difference, so don’t discount this method of slimming down your bathroom. Consider a side-mounted faucet, which combines hot and cold taps in one, but check the handle swing direction since this may negate the space saved. Or you can opt for wall-mounted mixers that allow the basin to be pushed back and have the no-gunk-around-the-bottom advantage.
The shower head can also come from the ceiling to accommodate a smaller recess.
Pro tip: If your shower walls are being rebuilt and tiled, have niches for your shampoo bottles built into the walls to keep your shower area looking sleek. Hide the niche out of view from the doorway because, more often than not, your shower gel, shampoo bottle and razor collection are not photo-shoot-ready.
Plumbing Hacks 4: Interbath, original photo on Houzz
4. Rethink your sink. Replacing a large laundry sink with a smaller kitchen-sized basin will gain you valuable extra counter and storage space.
Related link: Want More Advice Like This? Ask a Professional Plumber
Pro tip: Switch an indoor hot water tank that holds multiple gallons to a continuous-flow system, which is a small, wall-mounted unit.
A smart placement of features is another good way of gaining extra room. A sink in the corner of the kitchen will give you more prep space, for example.
Plumbing Hacks 5: Day Bukh Architects, original photo on Houzz
5. Off the counter, onto the wall. Wall-mount as many fixtures as possible to use vertical space and clear counter space. This goes for every room in the house.
In the bathroom, consider a sink rather than a full vanity, and build cabinets and shelves along the walls or install a mirror-fronted cabinet above the basin to compensate for the missing vanity storage. Some mirrored cabinets can also be recessed into the wall cavity behind. Accessories such as toothbrush holders and hair dryer docks can also be wall-mounted.
In the laundry, wall-mounting what you can will make doing the washing easier on your back and create a little more room underneath to stash linens, detergents and even your vacuum cleaner and other cleaning equipment.
You can wall-mount storage in every room. In the kitchen, for example, move appliances such as microwaves onto the wall and off your precious counter space. Install a wall-mounted magnetic strip for knives, and mount a paper towel holder onto the wall for easy access.
If you need every bit of space in a room, consider recessing your cabinets or shelving into the wall — the unused space under the stairs is the perfect opportunity for this, as is a wall cavity. If you need deeper storage and can take space from the adjoining room, that’s even better.
Plumbing Hacks 6: Whiting Architects, original photo on Houzz
6. Make more room for what matters. Ever noticed how much room doors take up? You need to keep a space clear to allow them to swing open, which can be a hard ask in a small bathroom. Consider switching the orientation of the door so it swings out of the bathroom, or install a sliding or pocket door.
This also goes for doors on showers, vanity units and medicine cabinets (which can also be recessed into the wall). Some people remove the doors to their kitchen and laundry rooms altogether to create a more open space. The more space you can create, the easier it is to install the fixtures (and storage) you want or need.
Related link: Keep Shower Supplies Tidy With a Chic Caddy
Pro tip: Light is an important element when it comes to creating a feeling of space. In addition to optimizing natural light from windows, install good overhead lighting. Consider skylights or translucent ceilings if the windows are too small in a bathroom or kitchen. Mirrors can be your best friend in creating the illusion of space by doubling the visual area and diffusing light around the room.
Whether you live in a tiny house or simply have small rooms in your home, being able to use what you have well is key to freeing up space. It doesn’t need to cost much to create the illusion of a bigger area, even in the smallest room in the house.
By Darren Clancy, Houzz
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