Your February Home Checklist

February is a time of year to indulge in home comforts like cooking big-batch meals, reading in the afternoon and watching movies with the family. Here are a dozen ideas to add to your to-do list this month, from the necessary (clearing sidewalks of snow and ice, say) to the just-for-fun (treating yourself to weekly flowers).
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11 New Kitchen Cabinet Ideas You’ll See More of This Year

If you’re looking to update your kitchen style for the new year with something different, you might consider reworking your cabinets. These new cabinet ideas will likely be showing up more in 2018, but I’m betting you’ll be seeing them around for years to come.
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While black is hardly new, we do find more and more clients being bold and asking to include some elements of black to bring a stately appeal to their kitchen, especially when used as part of a two-tone look.

Using black on the lower cabinets, or a pantry area, paired with black entry doors and even some modern black fixtures gives a room an effortless, fashionable look.

 

 

This article originally appeared on houzz.com

The 10 Most Popular New Kitchen Photos of 2017

End-of-island storage, dual barn doors and in-drawer charging stations are among the stars of this year’s top kitchens

The trend toward kitchens featuring colored cabinets and islands is gaining steam, but the appreciation for the classic white-and-wood look is hardly on fumes. The most popular kitchens cover a mix of traditional, contemporary and rustic styles, but no matter the look, smart storage solutions and functional layouts were definite crowd pleasers. Counting down, here’s a look at the most popular kitchens uploaded in 2017, as measured by how many Houzz users saved them to their ideabooks.

1. Take charge. Designer Tracey Stephens was tasked with creating a retro-style kitchen that features vintage furniture and checkerboard floors for a New Jersey family of four. But the requirements of the technology age were not lost on the design. The kitchen includes a drawer with a built-in charger, complete with regular and USB outlets. “It’s so nice not to have all of those devices out and dealing with cords all the time,” homeowner Jody Suden says.

Drawer charging station: Docking Drawer 18

 

This article originally appears on houzz.com

 

12 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

Try these clever design moves to get more storage and create a roomier feel

This article is from Houzz.com’s Most Popular stories file.

A kitchen of any size can feel roomy if you know a few tricks. Sticking to white cabinets and walls is a good start, but there are many other ways to create extra room in your kitchen, or create the illusion of a bigger space than you have, all without sacrificing a sense of personality. Here are 12 of my favorite ways to balance storage, style and long sightlines to get a functional layout with a spacious vibe.

8 Narrow Kitchen Islands With Function to Spare

Islands are workhorses in the kitchen. They offer an additional surface area, apart from the perimeter counter tops, that can be used for food prep, serving or as a place to perch and hang out with family and friends. Those with space-challenged kitchens often think there’s no way they can squeeze in an island, but you’d be surprised at just how compact you can go.
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This article originally appeared on houzz.com

9 Bold and Beautiful Back splash Designs That Will Transform Your Kitchen

Backsplash—it’s the design detail that can take your kitchen from blah to beautiful.

Of course, at its core, a backsplash is meant to be functional—a protective backboard to catch spills and prevent stains behind your stove or sink. But it’s also a blank canvas just waiting for your personal stamp. And boy, are homeowners having fun with it. Gone are the days of square beige tiles. Today, you have a whole host of backsplash design choices—each one brighter, funkier, and more impressive than the last.

If you’re looking for a way to make a statement and elevate the heart of your home, a new backsplash could be the answer. We’ve pulled together nine of the hottest design trends for you to swoon over.

1. Oversized tile

“One of the hottest looks for kitchen backsplashes is the emphasis on larger-scale materials, rather than smaller mosaics and subway tiles that had been commonly seen before,” says Gale Sitomer of G Sitomer Designin New York City. Installing big glass tiles, for example, means fewer grout lines to scrub, so the look is clean and the maintenance is much lower.

2. Single slab

A uniform look—using one type of stone or slate over the length of your kitchen’s surfaces and up the backsplash—is also hot in kitchen decor right now, Sitomer says. If your material has veining, it can even have an enlarging effect on the room, making your kitchen appear more spacious.

Of course, to get this look you’d have to change out your countertops, too. It’s definitely not a cheap endeavor, but it’s a kitchen renovation that will pay off if you have the means to take it on.

3. Black glass

Sheet glass, particularly in black, is making its way into kitchens. Not only does it look sleek, it’s also very functional, says Larry Patterson, owner of Glass Doctor in Dallas.

“A glass backsplash positioned across from a window will reflect natural light, plus it doesn’t mold or stain and is cheaper than a lot of materials, including marble,” Patterson points out. Dark shades and black are chic in the kitchen, especially when paired with white subway tile and stainless-steel appliances.

4. Reclaimed wood

Wood is warm and homey—and gaining fast in popularity, especially when it’s reclaimed from an old barn or floor, says Bee Heinemann, a decorating expert at Vant Wall Panels. “Repurposed wood has a very distinct look, though it may not be the best material for a high-use kitchen,” she cautions.

That’s because wood is less durable than tile or ceramic; it can nick easily (say, if you knock it with a heavy pot or cooking utensils); and it can show water stains if it isn’t sealed properly. Consider this rustic detail for a backsplash in a less trafficked spot such as the butler’s pantry or a wet bar.

5. Tin sheets

If you’re looking for a durable, easy-to-clean backsplash with fabulous patina and texture, give tin a try. Plus, upcyling something vintage is eco-friendly and on trend.

“When this material is reclaimed from those classic old ceilings, you can bring the same kind of beauty into your kitchen,” Heinemann says.

To find this coveted material, search estate sales, antiques shops, and flea markets. “And if you can’t locate it there, new tin plates are available with some of the similar feel of yesteryear,” she adds.

6. Chalkboard

Who doesn’t love to grab a fat piece of neon-pink chalk and doodle? You can do this all day long with a chalk backsplash behind your cooktop or kitchen sink.

“Chalkboard is a great trend to try, especially if you’re artistic or have kids,” Heinemann says.

And if you’re not really into drawing, you can write up the evening menu, keep a running shopping list, or spell out a recipe for your teen cook in training. Or just motivate/annoy the family with a new inspirational saying each day.

7. Brick pavers

Exposed brick walls are all the rage, but most homes don’t sport this feature. Don’t feel left out! Instead, try brick pavers on your kitchen backsplash.

Jenna Sue of Jenna Sue Design Co. re-created an entire cottage with a farmhouse feel—and bricks played a starring role.

“I used them in a herringbone pattern above the stove,” she notes. Just keep in mind that brick is fairly porous (water can seep in). So if you’re hoping to install them, speak with your contractor about applying a sealant to protect against moisture and debris.

8. Linear mosaic

Whether you choose stone, glass, or marble, a linear pattern is a more modern take on traditional mosaic backsplashes, according to Monica Mangin, host of Lowe’s DYI series The Weekender.

“This look is thin and sleek—and the multihues help to add texture,” she notes. Seek out specific tile lines with this type of pattern (allen + roth has one) or create your own by mixing and matching tones you like.

9. Wallpaper

“Wallpaper is definitely making a comeback,” Heinemann says. “It’s an inexpensive way to add color and pattern to the kitchen or bar area.”

To protect your design, choose durable self-adhesive panels or paper that can withstand some scrubbing. You’ll also want to buy a little extra to replace the strips that gets the most wear and tear. Or consider tile or marble on the lower portion of the backsplash, and save the paper for above.

3 Ways to Balance a White Kitchen

White continues — and will continue — to be the overwhelmingly popular choice for kitchen cabinets. Some 42 percent of homeowners will choose white cabinets this year, according to a recent Houzz study on kitchen trends. But the choices you make in addition to the white cabinets will make the difference between having a comfortable, bright space and an icy lair reminiscent of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. The following kitchens with white cabinets show how to introduce color, contrast and warmth.
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Five Items That Are Important For Baby Boomers

  1. Rethink the laundry room. After the kids move out, many home owners spend less time in the laundry room, but that doesn’t mean they want to ditch it entirely. As the house becomes less chore-centric, home owners are more prone to focus on fun. Try carving out a space for crafts or pet care if a huge laundry room feels like a waste of space to buyers.
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  2. Boost the light. As people age, the lens of the eye thickens and lets in less light. This means a 60-year-old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old. Look for inexpensive ways to add light in unexpected places, such as inside drawers and cabinets.
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  3. Be subtle about accessible features. Everyone wants to be able to age in place, but few want to think of a time when they’ll be physically limited. Thankfully, many features that make a home more navigable and safer for those with mobility issues aren’t very obvious, such as even, level surfaces that make it easier for those using wheelchairs, canes, or walkers. Many bathroom product manufacturers are now making grab bars that look more like shelves and towel racks than institutional-style safety features.
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  4. Point out low-maintenance features. One of the first things that comes to mind when people are looking for a low-maintenance home is the size of the lawn, but there’s much more to taking care of a home than that. “I want you to think beyond yard maintenance. Stain-resistant quartz countertops and roofs that don’t have nooks where leaves can collect can be important qualities of a property.
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  5. Examine where the stairs lead. Steps can be problematic for those with mobility issues, but they aren’t an automatic no-no for communities targeted at older buyers. It just depends on what’s at the top of the staircase. A bunk room for the grandkids or an exercise room is a much better use for second- and third-floor space than a master bedroom or another place the primary resident might have to visit frequently. Also, landings and railings are both safety musts. “Stairs are the number one reason people go to the emergency room, and not just those over 55.”
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Home Design Trends

Housing styles emerge slowly and typically appeal first to cutting-edge architects, builders, and interior designers. As a trend spreads and gains wider interest, it may go mainstream, become almost ubiquitous, and eventually lose its star power. Just look at once-favored granite, which now has been replaced by the equally durable and attractive options of quartz and quartzite.

The economy, environment, and demographics always play a big role in trend spotting. But this year there are two additional triggers: a desire for greater healthfulness and a yearning for a sense of community.

1. Community Gathering Spaces

Why it’s happening: The combination of more time spent on social media and at work, and the fact that fewer people live near their family members has caused many to feel isolated and crave face-to-face interactions.

How it will impact you as a real estate pro: Multi-family buildings and even single-family residential developments are rushing to offer an array of amenity spaces to serve this need. Some popular options include clubhouses with spiffy kitchens, outdoor decks with pools and movie screens, fitness centers with group classes, and drive-up areas for food-truck socials. At its Main+Stone building in Greenville, S.C., The Beach Co. began hosting free monthly events such as its “Bingo & Brews.” Make sure you know which buildings, communities, and neighborhoods offer these sought-after social events and gathering spaces so you can help clients connect.

2. Taupe Is the New Gray

Why it’s happening: White remains the top paint color choice due to its flexibility and the fact that it comes in so many variations (PPG Paints has 80 in its inventory, according to Dee Schlotter, senior color expert). Though white has been upstaged by gray in recent years, this year many will be searching for a warmer neutral, which is why paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams named “Poised Taupe” as its 2017 Color of the Year. “Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of a weathered, woodsy neutral and a sense of coziness and harmony that people seek,” says Sue Wadden, the company’s director of color marketing.

How it will impact you: Dallas-based designer Barbara Gilbert considers taupe a smart alternative since it still performs as a neutral with other colors, cool or warm. She expects to see taupe on more exteriors — blending well with roofs, doors, window frames, and surrounding landscape — but it also will turn up indoors on walls, ceilings, kitchen cabinets, furnishings, and molding. It might even work to help update a listing clad in gray, she says, as the two colors work well together.

3. More Playful Homes

Why it’s happening: Americans work harder now than ever, with many delaying retirement or starting second careers, so they want their homes to be a refuge and a place to unwind.

How it will impact you: Be sure you’re asking buyers how they like to spend their free time. Spaces that encourage play are trending higher on their wish lists, whether it’s a backyard bocce court (the latest outdoor amenity to show up in residential backyards) or a putting green. And sports don’t have to be relegated to the outdoors. says Gilbert; technological advances have allowed for rapid improvement in indoor golf simulators, for example. While some of her clients have installed modest models, she’s working on a dedicated golf room with software that gives homeowners virtual access to any golf course in the world. Though landscape architect Steve Chepurny of Beechwood Landscape Architecture in Southampton, N.J., designs putting greens with synthetic grass that range from $12,000 to $30,000, he also notes he’s seeing more playfulness outdoors in the form of non-sports amenities, such as pizza ovens.

4. Naturally Renewable, Warmer Surfaces

Why it’s happening: The pervasiveness of technology throughout homes has resulted in a corresponding yearning for more tactile surfaces and materials that convey warmth. Natural cork is a perfect expression of these needs, with the bonus of being low-maintenance.

How it will impact you: In recent years, cork, a renewable material harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, has resurfaced as a favorite for myriad uses, and for good reason. Some credit designer Ilse Crawford’s introduction of cool, edgy cork pieces in her “Sinnerlig” collection for IKEA for the resurgence. Aside from aesthetics, the material is appealing since it’s resistant to mold, mildew, water, termites, fire, cracking, and abrasions. Moreover, cork can be stained and finished with acrylic- or water-based polyurethane. Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange likes to incorporate cork to clad walls and floors. “It’s an especially effective and forgiving choice since dents bounce back and floors retain heat,” she says.

5. Surface-Deep Energy Conservation

Why it’s happening: As energy costs continue to increase, the search is on for ways to save. Incentives to do so only increase as states and municipalities enact new, stricter energy codes. While energy-wise appliances and more efficient HVAC systems are still appealing to homeowners looking to save on their utility bills, less costly surface upgrades are gaining in popularity.

How it will impact you: After New Jersey increased its requirements for insulation, architect Jason Kliwinski, principal at Designs for Life and current chair of New Jersey’s AIA Committee on the Environment, went looking for new options. He found new low-E window film that can double the performance of glass at one-fifth the cost of a full window replacement. Several options for this film are on the market now, and Kliwinski says manufacturers such as EnerLogic are producing versions that are invisible when installed. Other surface-change artists that lower energy use and that are cost-effective and relatively easy to apply include a ceramic insulating paint coating for walls and a thermal energy shield for attic interiors. Tesla, the innovative manufacturer of electric cars, is just debuting solar glass tiles that resemble traditional roof materials such as slate and terracotta, but provide passive heat gain.

6. More Authentic, Personalized Use of Space

Why it’s happening: As home prices escalate — up 5.5 percent, according to CoreLogic Case-Shiller — and baby boomers downsize to retire or cut costs, every inch of available space counts more than ever. To make the best use of space for each resident, design professionals are zeroing in on how clients want to live rather than thinking about how people use space generically. “One size doesn’t fit all any longer,” says Mary Cook, whose eponymous Chicago-based design firm specializes in amenities, public spaces, and model home interiors.

How it will impact you: You and your clients are likely to see a greater variety in terms of layouts, building materials, home systems, color palettes, and furnishing choices, both in model homes and in houses staged for sale. Listing agents can take the cue from this trend by helping sellers highlight the flexibility of their spaces when putting a home on the market. Buyers’ reps should similarly showcase a range of living options in each home-shopping session.

7. The Walkable Suburb

Why it’s happening: Urban centers have long been a magnet for residents wanting to walk rather than drive to work, shopping, and entertainment. But the trend is now spreading to the suburbs where being close to a town center — and public transit into a larger city — offers similar appeal.

How it will impact you: high walk score has become a recognized real estate marketing tool. Real estate salesperson Stephanie Mallios of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Short Hills, N.J., has seen a huge uptick in interest and value in single-family homes and townhouses close to town centers, especially those near a train station if residents commute to a large metropolitan area. “Most homes for sale in my area list the number of blocks and steps to public transit in their marketing materials. Homes far from everything have become less valuable,” Mallios says. The most appealing towns also incorporate individually owned shops rather than chain stores.

8. Healthier Homes

Why it’s happening: Consumers have been increasingly aware of hazardous indoor environments over the last few years, but news of the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich., raised awareness to a nationwide level in 2016. Homeowners are actively seeking out healthy water supplies, purifiers, and HVAC systems, along with nontoxic paints and adhesives. A newer element to this trend in 2017 will include enhanced environmental testing.

How it will impact you: A growing number of builders, remodelers, architects, and interior designers expect health to influence their business decisions due to consumer demand, according to studies from both the Urban Land Institute and McGraw-Hill Construction. You should expect to see more buyers hiring health experts to examine listings and requiring in-home contaminant removal prior to a sale. Your clients will also have greater access to additional home products that promote healthy sleep patterns, such as those featuring UV and LED circadian lighting.

9. Shifting Hearths

Why it’s happening: The traditional log-burning fireplace has lost some appeal as homeowners realize it’s less energy-efficient and can send more particulates into the air. But there are a number of replacement options waiting in the wings.

How it will impact you: Homeowners have been switching out their log-burning fireplaces with new gas models for many years. Newer on the market are the ventless alcohol-burning fireplaces that can be placed almost anywhere and without costly construction, says Los Angeles–based designer Sarah Barnard. Another increasingly popular solution is to build a fireplace outdoors, according to landscape architect Chepurny.

10. Counter Options

Why it’s happening: Much like granite did, quartz and quartzite are predicted to be kitchen favorites until another material comes along. But other green laminate options are gaining in popularity, and they’re no longer just for the budget-minded consumer.

How it will impact you: A new countertop can make a big difference in the appeal of a room. Sally Chavez, senior product designer at Wilsonart in Temple, Texas, which manufactures engineered surfaces, says laminate options that mimic stone, wood, distressed metal, and concrete are gaining in popularity. But she recommends avoiding designs that include the “spots and dots” or speckled patterns from decades past. Some newer countertop options offer an additional perk: They lessen the time and cost of installation and also eliminate the need to discard the old countertop. Trend Transformations, an Italian manufacturer with a U.S. manufacturing facility, incorporates recycled granite, glass, and even seashells in its surfaces, which are installed over an existing countertop. Installation can be finished within a day, and prices are competitive with quartz and quartzite. Because these countertops are less porous than traditional stone, they’re also more resistant to stains and scratches.

11. The Transforming Office

Why it’s happening: Regular work-from-home time among the non–self-employed population has grown by 103 percent since 2005, according to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego–based research and consulting group focused on workplace change. Her organization estimates that number will continue to grow at between 10 percent and 20 percent a year.

How it will impact you: More of you are likely to need a work-from-home space, but due to the diminished size and highly transient nature of technology tools, there’s less need for a dedicated, separate office. Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s chief economist, says almost any area of a house can become a workplace, but the most functional ones incorporate built-ins and furnishings that serve a dual purpose. That same desire for flexibility may someday translate to layouts that can easily change to a homeowner’s whim, such as the KB Home ProjeKt movable wall concept in its “Home of 2050” at the Greenbuild Conference and Expo this past October.

Top 10 Design Tips For Increasing the Value of Your Home

Unless my clients are designing their forever home, they are usually quite concerned with resale value when discussing renovations big and small. A home is often a person’s largest asset, so design upgrades are not only an aesthetic decision but a financial one as well. As my clients have sold their homes over the years, I have found that these 10 design tips have been the most beneficial in helping their houses stand out from the pack.

1. Make the room feel bigger than its square footage. Selecting and placing furniture that fits the scale of the room can go a long way in making the space feel larger than it actually is. While the actual square footage of a house will, of course, directly affect the price, perception is a powerful thing. If you can make a room feel more spacious, buyers will likely see more potential in the house.

Gladstone

2. Not everything has to be new. Don’t be afraid to keep a home’s traditional elements. It’s impossible to please every potential buyer by selecting one particular style or trend; keeping honest to the home’s roots can pay dividends. In this Toronto living room, the stained glass windows add classic charm without making the space feel dated.

3. Add custom closets in the master bedroom. A large, functional walk-in closet will add value to any home. It’s a luxury that really excites potential buyers. Prices for installing a custom closet vary widely, but finding an affordable solution that still has a high-end look is not too difficult if you do your research.

4. The kitchen is king. If you’re going to spend money on your home, you’ll get no better bang for your buck than in the kitchen. Whether you’re an avid cook or more likely to order takeout on your way back from work, you use the kitchen for eating, drinking and storage. Even minor upgrades, like updating light fixtures & hardware, will add value to your home.

5. When it comes to storage, the more the better. There is no such thing as too much storage. It’s important to provide ample storage for multiple purposes. Under the stairs is a pullout storage area for tall items like ladders that won’t fit in standard-height closets.

6. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders.
Painting is the most cost-effective way to freshen up a space. Freshly painted rooms feel updated, clean and crisp, without leaving a major dent in your wallet (especially if you do the painting yourself). When selecting paint colors, avoid anything too bold, as neutrals tend to be a safer choice in homes for sale.

7. Try to be energy-efficient. Buying a home comes with many other costs beyond the sale price: closing costs, moving fees and energy bills are just a few examples. Try to offer potential buyers energy-efficient options. They can be as small as CFL or LED lightbulbs or as big as installing solar panels on your roof.

8. Bathroom updates provide a big return. Bathroom upgrades are second only to kitchen updates in providing a great return on investment. Since bathrooms are usually the smallest spaces in the home, a little bit can go a long way. Consider replacing outdated vanities, changing light fixtures and updating hardware.

9. Hire a professional organizer. It’s amazing what a little help can do. A professional organizer can help you create a clutter-free home. The money spent on hiring a pro for just one day will pay off when potential buyers see an organized home that feels larger and more manageable. Buying a house can be stressful, especially for first-time buyers. It might be subconscious, but a well-organized space may help to lessen that stress.

10. Add curb appeal.
First impressions count. Keep the front yard tidy, water the plants and do the updates that need to be done. Peeling paint and cracked exterior walls do not make a good first impression. When adding new plants, always remember to select ones that are low-maintenance.

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