Artfully Organizing Your Bookshelf

 

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.

How to Get Through the ‘Punch List’ Stage of Your Remodel

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

 

Paint

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

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

 

Tile

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

 

Plumbing

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 

First Time Buyers, Millennials, and What to Expect in 2017

 

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. 

Blinds or Curtains? Or Both? Top Things to Consider When Choosing Your Window Style

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.

 

Price

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.

 

Insulation

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.

 

Style

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.

Inspired By Nature: Pantone 2017 Color of the Year

 

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.

6 Plumbing Hacks for Tiny Homes

 

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.

 

Related link: Make the Most of Your Bathroom With These Key Measurements 

 

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

 

What’s In Store For The 2017 Seattle Housing Market?

 

2016 was another stellar year for the Seattle housing market, in which a surplus of buyers and a deficit of sellers drove home prices higher across the board. So, can we expect to see more of the same in 2017? Here are some of my thoughts on the Seattle/King County housing market for the coming year:

 

  1. Our market has benefited greatly from very healthy job growth, driven in no small part by our thriving technology companies. Economic vitality is the backbone of housing demand, so we should continue to see healthy employment growth in 2017; however, not quite as robust as 2016. Migration to Seattle from other states will also continue in the coming year, putting further pressure on our housing market.

 

  1. Are we building too many apartments?  The answer to this question is “maybe”. I believe we are fast approaching oversupply of apartments; however, this glut will only be seen in select sub-markets, such as South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. Developers have been adding apartments downtown at frantic rates with many projects garnering very impressive rents. In the coming year, look for rental rate growth to slow and for concessions to come back into play as we add several thousand more apartments to downtown Seattle.

 

  1. The Millennials are here! And they are ready to buy. 2016 saw a significant increase in the number of Millennial buyers in Seattle, and I expect to see even more in 2017. The only problem will be whether Millennials will be able to find – or afford – anything to buy.

 

  1. Home prices will continue to rise. But price growth will taper somewhat. The market has been on a tear since bottoming out in 2012, with median home prices up by a remarkable 79% from the 2012 low, and 14% above the pre-recession peak seen in 2007. Given the fact that interest rates are now likely to rise at a faster rate than previously forecasted, I believe price appreciation will slow somewhat, but values will still increase at rates that are well above the national average. Look for home prices to increase by an average of 7.5 – 8.5% in 2017.

 

  1. More homes for sale? I am optimistic that inventory levels around Seattle will increase, but it still won’t be enough to meet continued high demand.

 

  1. This is my biggest concern for the Seattle housing market. Home prices – specifically in areas with ready access to our job centers – are pulling way ahead of incomes, placing them out of reach for much of our population. This forces many buyers to move farther away from our job centers, putting additional stress on our limited infrastructure. We need to have an open discussion regarding zoning, as well as whether our state’s Growth Management Act is helping or hindering matters.

 

  1. New Home Starts/Sales. As much as I would love to say that we can expect a substantial increase in new homes in 2017, I am afraid this is not the case. Historically high land prices, combined with ever increasing construction and labor costs, slow housing development, as the price of the end product is increasingly expensive. This applies to single family development as well as condominiums. We should see a couple of towers break ground in 2017, but that’s about all. Vertical construction is still prohibitively expensive and developers are concerned that there will not be sufficient demand for such an expensive end product.

 

  1. Are we setting ourselves up for another housing crash? The simple answer to this question is no. While home price appreciation remains above the long-term average, and will continue to be so in 2017, credit requirements, down payments, and a growing economy will all act as protectors from a housing crash in Seattle.

 

This blog originally appeared on Widnermere Seattle Spaces and Places

The Most Important Marketing Choice When Selling Your Home: The Price

There is often a temptation for sellers to overprice their home, but Windermere agent, John McKenna, shares why that is a big mistake. Get insight into the psychology of the homebuyer and how to find a real estate agent that understands the science of pricing your home.

 

Hosting New Year’s Eve at Home, with Style

Invite a few close friends to ring in the New Year with an easy, intimate party at home.

 

Preparation

Considering that New Year’s is a pretty hot-ticket holiday, it’d behoove you to let your friends know sooner rather than later that you’ll be hosting a party at your place. Paperless Post is a good alternative for those who don’t want to track down friends’ addresses, go out to buy a roll of stamps, or leave the house. For those on a budget, there are several free invitation designs to choose from.

 

Safety

Hire a carpool so no one has to drive home. This is best done by using a traditional car service that can be scheduled for pick up and home delivery. Other ride share companies like Uber and Lyft offer similar services but they cannot be reserved and on a busy night you might find your friends coming in late and leaving far later than desired.

 

Drinks

For a refreshing alternative to Champagne, try Prosecco. For nonalcoholic selection try Twelve, a fizzy blend of fruit and herbal tea. It’s delicious and certainly more elegant than sparkling cider. Pellegrino and Perrier are also very nice to keep people happy and hydrated.

 

Food

Don’t let people get hungry! Make it easy on yourself and your wallet. Get some fabulous, frozen pre-made appetizers and keep them rolling from the oven. Cheese and cracker, charcuterie and veggie platters that require no cooking and can be made ahead of time are always crowd pleasers. These can even be purchased from your local deli if time is more important than slicing and arranging your own cheese.

 

Sweets

We’ve all been eating way too much sugar all December but if you want to do a small dessert and make it look special, dust some edible glitter onto your store bought cookies or cake. Yes, edible glitter is a thing.

 

Music

Set up Pandora at a volume where you can hear it – but don’t have to raise voices to hear each other. Hipster Cocktail Party is a great one. Don’t let the name turn you off; the music they play is terrific. Bill Withers, Nina Simone, Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin are some regulars you'll find on this station.

 

Parting Gifts

Send everyone home with recovery bags: Insert a packet of emergenC, a pre-packaged duo of Tylenol and breath mints and attach it to a bottle of water.

 

Originally posted on Windermere Seattle Spaces and Places

 

How to Live Through a Home Remodel

 

If you’re thinking about remodeling or are about to break ground on your first renovation, odds are you probably know a bit about how the project is going to go. After all, you’ve watched a few TV shows, your cousin’s husband is a general contractor and the guy you sit close to at work tells you every detail of how his wet bar is coming together. So you pretty much know all there is to know, right? Not so fast.

 

Live Remodel 1: JLB Property Developments, original photo on Houzz

 

As much as you may be able to glean from friends and family, articles and TV, there’s no experience quite like personally getting down into the dirt (more on this later) of a remodel. And what you don’t often hear about are the harsh realities of wading through such a detailed, often stressful project.

We’ve written before about how remodeling a home is the ultimate litmus test for your relationship. And that’s why I think understanding a few of the common negative things that happen during remodel is a vital component of being prepared.

I’ve not only braved a few remodels myself, but I’ve worked on the other end as a general contractor, and while I can’t claim I know everything, I do think I have a lot to share. Here are a few things you should know about what it’s really like to live through a renovation.

 

Related: How to Survive the 'Punch List' Phase of a Remodel

 

Live Remodel 2: Turnbull Griffin Haesloop, original photo on Houzz

 

It Will Upset Your Daily Schedule

Say, for example, every day before you leave for work you like to brew a cup of tea, settle in with your tablet at your breakfast nook and prepare for the day by going through your emails.

Now picture this exact routine while your kitchen and breakfast nook is under construction. The peace and tranquility (and cleanliness!) of your morning retreat is no more.

You may have to alter your daily routine a bit by finding a coffee shop near your house where you can relax, or by relocating to your bedroom for your beloved cup of chai.

Creatures of habit, be warned: You may have to (take a deep breath here) change a couple of your habits while your remodel is going on.

 

Related: Remodeling Your Kitchen? Move Your Coffee Station to Your Living Room

 

Contractors often like to take up shop (if permitted) in garages, as they are often places where they can make a bit more of a mess and noise while remaining close to the job site. If you want certain parts of your home, yard or garage to remain sacred, talk with your contractor about areas where work can and cannot occur.

 

Live Remodel 3: Kasper Custom Remodeling, LLC, original photo on Houzz

 

There Will Be Dust

This one may be a no-brainer to some and a shock to others (again, take a deep breath). Some contractors will give hints that the project will get dusty, such as: “We will take measures to put up dust barriers around the area of the remodel” or “we will keep a broom and dustpan on site at all times.”

But no matter how many protective products are put up, there are certain stages of construction that can get intense (for example, sanding down drywall). Not only does dust get thrown into the air while work is going on, but it stays floating around in the air for a while afterward. And floating dust’s favorite pastime is, regrettably, travel.

It may travel to different areas of the house, settling into your dog’s bed, onto your kitchen counters and even into your lungs. You may be thinking, “So what? I breathe dust all the time. That’s just life.” This is true, but the dust you’re usually inhaling is dirt and dead skin cells and other organic stuff. Remodeling dust can be made of not-so-nice things such as chemicals found in paint, fiberglass insulation or cement.

Have a conversation with your contractor to see whether he or she plans on using an air scrubber during your remodel as well as dust barriers and traditional cleaning. This combined system helps to prevent dust from traveling, and it also takes a lot of the nasty particulate out of the air before it has time to invade other areas of your house.

While most contractors genuinely work to keep your home clean, safe and comfortable during a remodel, sometimes dust control isn’t a top priority. It will quickly become front and center in your home, though, if it isn’t properly managed from the start.

 

Related: Bathroom Renovation? Get Ready for the Day in Peace With a Bedroom Vanity

 

Live Remodel 4: studiovert design, original photo on Houzz

 

It Can Be an Emotional Roller Coaster

Every person handles stress and emotions differently, but the fact is that having a bunch of unfamiliar faces tear your house apart before your very eyes is stressful. I know that sounds like a bit of hyperbole, but when you’re actually living through a remodel, that’s exactly how it feels.

It can be tough to keep your head on straight when you’re trying to make selections for tile and lighting fixtures that suit your budget while simultaneously worrying about whether the project will end on time. Add family and work life to that? Yikes.

Now that I’ve worked you up, let me provide some peace of mind: Contractors know what they are doing. They will do everything they can to make sure you are happy with your home and the job is completed in a timely manner. Your local YMCA provides yoga classes, which can be very helpful with managing stress. Feeling better?

Accept that you will feel some stress and some emotions, and allow yourself to be OK with that. It’s a part of the process. Freaking out about the fact that you’re freaking out will only make things, well, freakier.

 

Live Remodel 5: Amanda Armstrong Sava, original photo on Houzz

 

Now that I’ve shaken up any romanticized beliefs you may have held about remodeling, let me instill a bit of faith by saying that it’s not all bad. Remodeling can actually be quite pain-free, in fact, if you communicate. I know I’ve harped on this before, but I can’t stress the importance of it enough. Talk with your contractor before work starts about things such as scheduling, dust control and communication preferences. It makes a world and a half of difference.

So, yes, there will be dust, and yes, you might get tired of seeing your project manager every day, but there will be days when you come home after work and see new countertops being installed, and it will stop you dead in your tracks because — whoa — those look great!

Other times you might have the house to yourself for a second and you can poke around to “ooh” and “ahh” over all of the new, shiny things filling your beloved home. So not only is it not all bad, some of it is actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that you might even start thinking about your next project before the first one even ends.

 

By Hannah Kasper, Houzz