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Think Outside The Box: Fresh Ideas For Wall Art

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The truth is, we all need art in our homes. Something to break up the space, add color, provide inspiration to the spaces in which we live. But the era of staidly framed oil paintings is so over.


Now is the time to liberate your artwork from its archaic quadrilaterals and allow it to roam free in a totally new realm of perception. This is the 21st century, after all.


For starters, who says that a piece has to be contained by just one frame? Why not use many frames, as in the case of this map of Italy? A huge work of art in many small pieces translates to a big visual impact.

You can also make your everyday ephemera into an interesting work of art. Try posting them, collage-style, over a desk or a mantelpiece and ta-da! Instant eye-catching art, no museum visit required.

Here’s an interesting idea for nature-lovers: drawing on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which seeks to find beauty in the transient and imperfect, this mantel display incorporates weathered wood and a variety of round stones. The result is a visual meditation on form and subtle variation that is at the same time both interesting and unfussy.

For the steady of hand and ambitious of spirit, you can take a cue from Ava Roth, who hand-painted these gilded patterns on the plum-colored walls of her dining room. The golden vines, birds, and flowers are so beautiful you’ll literally have dinner guests talking to the walls!

However, if you really must stick with the concept of square art, at least make it interesting. Try grouping clusters of quadrants together for a bigger impact. Broaden your definition of art display, and see where it takes you!

This article was originally published by Addy Cleverly on 

Control Clutter with a Mudroom

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With all the bizarre weather experienced across the country recently, the problem of dirt and slush being tracked all over your nice, clean house is a major problem. Worcester, MA Realtor® Richard Walsh suggests that a mudroom could solve this problem, and many others, too.

Control Clutter with a Mudroom

“Before you assume that this does not apply to you, consider what a mudroom is and how some version of it may be helpful to you.

What is a Mudroom?

Originally, a mudroom was a room or area near the most commonly used entrance, and served as a place to remove snow-covered, wet or muddy clothing and footwear. In a broader sense, it could be any well-designed utility space near the entrance of a home and that is used to organize frequently used gear.

For a family, this gear might be umbrellas, boots, gloves and other wet or muddy clothing. It could also be sports equipment, roller blades, helmets, backpacks, or anything family members need to deposit on the way into the house or grab on the way out of the house, even leashes, mail and keys. And any gardener can track as much mud into the house as any self-respecting 8-year-old.

Initial Considerations

Location: What is the most frequently used entrance? If it is the front, formal entrance, the design will be something quite different than a rear or side door. If the entrance is from the garage into the house, an area inside the garage and near the door can be used.

Size: An entryway or utility room inside the door is a wonderful place to create a mudroom. However, even a well organized corner can be tremendously useful.

Uses: While the primary benefit may come in rainy and snowy seasons, think year-round. This space can be useful 12 months a year.

Key Elements of a Mudroom

The floor: The floor should be durable, provide traction when wet and be easy to clean. Concrete and vinyl are durable but tend to be slippery if they are not textured. Wood has obvious problems with constant moisture. Look into what is available in textured rubber, ceramic or unpolished tile. Whatever the decision, get two doormats: a heavy-duty mat outside made of bristle or rubber to scrape off mud and snow and another light-duty mat inside to absorb moisture.

A place to sit: It’s important to have a comfortable and convenient bench to sit on while removing or putting on footwear. The bench can fit with the decor of a formal entryway or informal back door. A seat with a hinged top and storage inside can also help reduce clutter…”

This article was originally published on Apr 26, 2011 on

The Home Gym: A New Gathering Hub

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Help buyers and sellers evaluate their home fitness needs with this guide to workout space design.


Sure, home gyms are great for avoiding driving to a club and paying membership fees. But there’s another motivation behind the transformation of basements, garages, and spare bedrooms into home fitness centers: They’ve become a way to gather family members for healthy activity that everyone can enjoy.

Atlanta businessman and avid cyclist Steve Cesinger remodeled his home’s basement so that his family of four can exercise together. Thanks to stays at upscale hotels with gyms, he knew what he wanted to include. He hired design firm HammerSmith in nearby Decatur, Ga., for the remodel, arranging equipment in distinct areas for cardio, weights, yoga, and boxing, as well as creating a place for a sauna, massage, and shower. Designer Eric Rothman aligned equipment with wall mirrors to maintain good posture, and flat-screen TVs were wall-mounted in several locations to help exercisers vary their routines. Because of the basement location, Rothman provided sufficient and evenly spaced lighting that cuts glare and doesn’t create too much heat.

Such renovations can act as a magnet to attract buyers, says salesperson Stephanie Mallios with Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J. “I recently showed a home with a huge gym in a basement with mirrors, professional equipment, big-screen TV, and sound system, and the home owner was finishing a session with a personal trainer. My buyer was very impressed and considered it a huge positive,” she says.

For a variety of price tags, you can duplicate national training manager Matt Elsessner’s examples of home gyms; prices are estimates based on his company’s Life Fitness line of equipment. The company’s Web site also has a room planner to suit specific home owners’ needs.

Advanced Gym: $12,707
T5 Treadmill: $4,399
X8 Cross-Trainer: $4,699
G7 Home Gym: $3,499
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20

Small Gym: $2,907
LifeCycle GX: $1,999
Weight Bench: $199
Dumbbell Set with Rack:  $599
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Bedroom Gym: $2,109
X1 Cross-trainer: $1,999
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Yet, fancy gyms aren’t a magic bullet for all buyers. Not everyone wants a space designated to this purpose, says salesperson Barb St. Amant, ABR, of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, in Atlanta. “Some may be excited seeing a gym, but others aren’t. In our area, there are many inexpensive opportunities for places to work out,” she says.

The key to the perfect balance is helping buyers and sellers understand what’s most important to meet their workout goals and the space and budget limitations. Here’s what the professionals advise.

Be honest about the level of interest. This is the first rule of thumb: Home owners should invest in equipment that will encourage getting started and staying motivated. If home owners are committed to working out regularly and think they’ll stay with a routine, it makes more sense to set aside a room or large area and equip it adequately. But if they’re not sure and may only exercise sporadically, they should start small in a room that can serve a variety of uses.

Set up a gym in the right spot. Out of sight can become out of mind, says Matt Elsesser, national training manager for Life Fitness, a manufacturer based in Schiller Park, Ill. A basement can offer more space than a spare bedroom, but if the bedroom will be more attractive because it’s above ground and has more natural light, that acts as a stronger lure, he says.

Home owners also need to leave sufficient circulation room, says Rothman of HammerSmith. Yet, even a small apartment can host some equipment if it’s arranged properly. Fitness expert Liz Neporent, author of Thin in Ten (Sunrise River Press, 2012) and emeritus board member of The American Council on Exercise, placed a treadmill behind a sofa in her New York apartment so that it faces a TV but isn’t visible when someone enters the room.

Focus on a three-dimensional approach.

  1. Cardiovascular workouts, which increase blood flow and lung capacity, can be achieved with numerous items such as an elliptical cross trainer, treadmill, or stationary bicycle. Consider equipment with built-in tracking options and a TV, or at least an outlet for an iPhone or iPad and headset. If home owners have no room or funds for those items, a staircase in a house or apartment building can provide a good workout, says Eugene Reynolds, a trainer with Equinox in New York. It’s most important that home owners figure out what they like to do, so they’ll keep doing it, he says.
  2. Strength or resistance training, to build muscles, can also be done with numerous items such as elastic bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells. All are inexpensive and can be stashed easily; bands can be purchased for $12 to $16, while an exercise ball can cost anywhere from $40 to under $100, says Alycia Kluegl, exercise physiologist and owner of Empower your Body in New York.
  3. Flexibility training, to improve the range of motion, can be done with a simple mat, jump rope, or medicine ball. Techniques and routines can be learned in just a few sessions with a personal trainer or by purchasing exercise videos. “There are hundreds [of videos] to consider from experts such as Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels,” says Neporent.

Add in upgrades and frills as space and dollars permit:

  • Different pieces of equipment from each category will help vary routines.
  • Wall-mounted mirrors aid in checking positioning.
  • A wall-mounted TV, if there isn’t one built into equipment or the home owner doesn’t have a workout buddy.
  • Exercise apps can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Android platforms to provide workouts such as Life Fitness’s LFconnect, which syncs with specific Life Fitness cardio equipment to provide preset workouts and track results.
  • Heart-rate monitors allow home owners to keep tabs on exertion levels.
  • Occasional or regular sessions with a certified trainer will help improve skills and accountability.
  • Wood and cork floors and skid-proof and electrostatic mats stay cleaner and won’t absorb sweat as much as carpeting does, while padding can add bounce and cut noise transfer.
  • A bathroom, or at least a shower close by, is a big bonus.
  • A tack board with photos and sayings will serve as greater inspiration and motivation.

Remind home owners not to forget to…

  • Invest in footwear that’s safe rather than just trendy and decorative, says Kluegl.
  • Buy the best equipment in their budget. Specialty sports stores with knowledgeable salespeople are a good place to start, says Neporent.
  • Check that any workout area on a second or third story can support the weight of heavy equipment.
  • Be sure the room or area offers sufficient head room—at least 7’8”—and the higher the better, says Rothman.

This article was originally published by Barbara Ballinger on See the original article here.

9 things you learn when you sell your home

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By Brett Martin of Popular Mechanics

We put our house on the market recently. This was our first home, which we’ve lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing and making some minor repairs that we’d been putting off. Here’s what we didn’t see coming.

White and bold wall colors are no-nos

Hearst Communications, Inc.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We worked with a stager — a person who specializes in making homes more sellable. Walking through our house with her was humbling and a bit exasperating. In the past four years, I’ve painted every single room in the house and applied a decorative finish in the kitchen. I’d repaired any problems with the walls and filled all nicks, cracks and holes to make the walls look smooth. I used paints that were easy to clean to keep the walls looking fresh.

The problem? The colors. The white in the foyer and family room (too bland), the green in the dining room and the ocean blue in the kitchen (too bold), the blue-gray in the basement (too dark) and one bright red wall in our older son’s bedroom (too bright) were all the wrong choices to entice buyers. We ended up having to paint nearly every room in the house a neutral color.

What ‘cut the clutter’ really means

9 things you learn when you sell your home
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We knew the real-estate mantra that having the house tidy and organized, with only the minimum amount of furniture in each room, makes the space appear larger and more enticing. So we knew we’d have to clear out plenty of clutter. We didn’t expect to have to take out almost everything.

Three bookshelves in my office, one apiece in three bedrooms and one in the basement all had to go. That meant packing up and carrying about 600 books to the garage. We also had to remove sofas, chairs, dressers, cabinets, lamps, televisions, a desk, kitchenware and one-third of the clothes in our closets. Our garage is now filled to the limit with furniture and full boxes. Be prepared to park your car outside.

It’s not your home anymore

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We’ve lived in this home for more than a decade, so the walls are covered in plenty of family pictures. Our stager wasn’t impressed. She told us that almost every picture had to go. To show the house, the walls had to be almost bare, with the exception of a strategically placed mirror or two and a couple of small scenic pictures in nice frames. This removes personality, allowing potential buyers to see the house as theirs, not yours.

The walls are in worse shape than you think

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

Once you start removing the clutter, you’ll find all kind of unpleasant surprises. Once we removed those dressers, we found myriad nail holes, gouges and cracks that were easily visible in the naked walls. They required filling the holes and fixing the damaged spots, then sanding the walls smooth and then vacuuming up all the dust. It proved to be a time-consuming project that we hadn’t planned to undertake. On the plus side, the new homeowners are going to have perfect walls.

Those large items might not come back out so easily

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

You may tell yourself that anything you got in a room in one piece will come back out in one piece. But as anyone who has ever moved can attest, getting a large item, mainly a sofa, through tight doorways can be like trying to solve a puzzle that weighs several hundred pounds.

Our absurdly heavy sofa with a hideaway bed refused to come out of a room. No matter how we twisted, flipped or contorted the couch, it jammed against the wall opposite the doorway before we could get it out. I ended up taking it apart and removing the bed to get it through the door.

Some cleaning projects will be frustratingly stubborn

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

A decade’s worth of hands running up and down our handrails had caused the brown-stained wood to turn dark and ugly. The wood grains were nearly black. We had cleaned the railings periodically with a wood cleaner, but it didn’t remove or prevent what looked like black stains running the length of the rails. Finally, we used a liquid dishwasher detergent mixed with water to cut through the grease. Then we used a lemon-based furniture cleaner and a lot of vigorous scrubbing to get the wood clean. There are going to be projects that won’t come clean with just a sponge, soap and water, especially if you’ve lived in a home for many years.

Fix those nagging problems — but don’t expect them to be easy

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

The pop-up sink stopper in the bathroom sink hadn’t worked in awhile. It was a problem we could live with — the water still drained just fine — but I wanted to fix it before listing the house; even small, neglected problems could put off buyers.

What should have been a simple fix turned into a major project. The replacement stopper wouldn’t work either. Since one of the faucet handles was cracked anyway, we decided to replace the whole faucet and drain assembly. After three trips to the home center — one for the stopper, one for the new faucet and then one to replace the shutoff valves that decided to start leaking after being turned off for the first time in years — and spending plenty of time working in the tight quarters behind the pedestal sink, the faucet and drain worked great. But it shot an entire afternoon.

Everything will take longer than you think

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We made the decision to sell our home in early April. My kids and my wife, who’s a teacher, were on spring break, and I took the better part of the week off to get the house in order. With all four of us working, we expected to have the house ready for listing by the end of the week. And by working 12-plus hours a day, we almost made our goal.

We ate up four days filling nail holes, sanding and giving each room two coats of paint, which put us behind schedule. We also ran into the common problem most people face when they prepare to move: We had a lot more stuff than we thought, and it took a long time to pack it up. It also made us wonder why we didn’t have a garage sale a long, long time ago.

The house won’t stay clean

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

With the house freshly painted, thoroughly cleaned and filled with just a minimal amount of furniture in the rooms, our mission of making the home look large and inviting was accomplished. It actually looks better now than when we bought it. But maintaining that clean and organized look is a challenge that we have to answer every day because of constant showings.

Despite a new family-wide policy of not wearing shoes indoors and not touching the walls, the house won’t stay clean. The floor in the foyer seems to magically attract mud, the carpet constantly needs vacuuming, schoolbooks and backpacks appear throughout the house and the walls get dinged and need to be touched up. Some of this is unavoidable: You can’t live in a house without kicking up a little dirt. It’s what we’ll be dealing with until the house sells.

This article was originally published on MSN Real Estate. To see the original article, click here.

6 Ways a Home May Turn Off Buyers

Posted on Updated on recently featured a list of the top ways buyers back away from a home listed for sale. Its list includes these items, among others:

by varandah, courtesy of
by varandah |

1. Dirt: “The No. 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. That’s huge,” says Chad Goldwasser of Goldwasser Real Estate in Austin, Texas. “I won’t even represent sellers at this point unless they are fully aware of how important it is to get their home in the absolute best condition that they’ve ever had it in.” Goldwasser suggests also steam-cleaning tile and grout and carpets and replacing carpets if necessary.

2. Odors: “Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors,” says Julie Dana, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell. “I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish, or greasy food while the house is on the market. … Interestingly, next to the kitchen, the smelliest room in the house is actually the living room. That’s typically the room that has the most fabric, so that is where odors get absorbed.” She recommends having curtains and upholstery cleaned, particularly if someone in the home is a smoker, and taking steps to eliminate any pet odors.

3. Old fixtures: “You need to change out old fixtures in your house,” Goldwasser says, adding outdated ceiling fans and light fixtures should be replaced prior to listing a home. “New cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference.”

4. Wallpaper: When buyers see wallpaper, they think of another thing to add to their to-do list, says Dana.  “Wallpaper is extremely personalized. You’ve spent hours looking over books to pick out the wallpaper you want,” she says. “What are the odds that the person walking in the door will also like that wallpaper that you picked out?”

5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings: These ceiling were popular in the 1960s and 1970s but now can date a home. Still, it can be a mess and costly to remove, so real estate professionals say sellers may need to be prepared to credit a buyer in certain markets if they decide to keep the popcorn ceiling when selling a home.

6. Too many personal items: Cluttered homes make it difficult for buyers to see past the home owner’s belongings and start envisioning themselves there. “Anything that makes your house scream ‘you’ is what you don’t want,” Dana says. “I tell all my clients that how we decorate to live and how we decorate to sell are different, and right now, we’re decorating to sell.”

Source: “10 Ways to Turn Off a Would-Be Homebuyer,” (June 10, 2013)

This article was published on See the original article here.

Why Didn’t The Realtor Show Up To Show My Home?

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What happens if a Realtor doesn’t show up for a showing? Today’s question comes from Knoxville, TN.


Q: Today this was the second time this has happened to me. A Realtor was supposed to show my house between 6:15 and 7:15 pm.

I spent my day off preparing the house for the showing, including turning on extra lights and extra heat. It was another no show with no phone call advising me of this. Is this something I can report to the local board of realtors? I feel this was very rude, inconsiderate and extremely unprofessional.

A: I can understand your frustration. I’m sure you understand that there is nothing that your listing agent can do, other than letting the agent know about your frustration.

You do however have the right to know which agent was supposed to be showing your home. You should also expect feedback from your listing agent as well, with the positive and not so positive comments about your home. This allows you to make adjustments, to make your home more marketable (if they are feasible and cost effective). Although I agree that being a no-show with no phone call is rude and inconsiderate, I don’t think you would get any justice by calling the board. There isn’t much they can do in a situation like this as circumstances can vary widely as to why an appointment is cancelled. Good luck and hopefully your next showing will be ‘THE ONE.”

– Troy Stavros, REALTOR® Gables & Gates, Realtors

This post was published by Deidre Woollard on See the original post here.

9 Simple DIY Weekend Decorating Projects

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As you look around your home, you’re probably wishing you had some extra time on your hands to make a few renovations or to handle a few extra redecorating projects. But, you already have the time – it’s called the weekend!

ImageIn that short 48-hour time span, there’s a lot of work you can get done. Even if you pick one task per weekend, that’s four decorating projects completed a month!

Don’t think it can be done? Well just check out these nine simple weekend decorating projects that can each be started Friday evening and wrapped up before you go to bed Sunday night.

1. Organize and Beautify Your Bookcases

If you have a lot of books, videos and collectibles clambering for space on your bookcases, taking a Saturday afternoon to remove, sort and organize everything will instantly make the room look cleaner and tidier. Sometimes successful redecorating isn’t about changing the way things are but more about cleaning up and organizing what you already have.

This is also a good time to de-clutter your bookcase. Tossing out old magazines or storing books you no longer want in the garage can go a long way towards making the most of your bookcase’s capacity.

2. Tile the Kitchen’s Backsplash

If you really want to give your kitchen an updated look but you can’t afford a complete renovation, install ceramic tile to the backsplash for an instant update. It may take some time to get up and running, but once you find your swing, you’ll discover this job moves along at a smooth pace. Both weekend days will be required for this job, and you might have to extend the finishing touches over to next weekend, but you’ll be able to get the bulk of the heavy lifting done in one weekend.

3. Transform the Fireplace

The fireplace is the focus of the room during the cold, winter months but what do you do with it for the other eight months out of the year? Once winter’s chill has left, clean out the fireplace and decorate the hearth with a variety of low-maintenance plants and add a touch of vibrancy to the room. Succulents work nicely because they don’t require a lot of watering or sunlight. Use tiered plant pot holders for a truly beautiful look that will also cover up the unsightly cinder stains on the inside of the fireplace. Or, for a complete re-do, you can even consider painting the fireplace!

4. Install Some Molding

Crown molding makes a room feel and look larger than it really is, and it’s not really that difficult to install, especially when you use specially-made corner pieces that eliminate the need for cutting perfect mitered edges. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you might be able to install it in all of your rooms before the weekend is over.

While you’re at it, you can also install chair railing or update your baseboards with a newer, more modern style.

5. Unify Your Picture Frames

Odds are the picture frames that adorn your walls have been purchased over a long period of time, so no two probably look alike. But, if you take them all down and paint the frames all the same color, they will suddenly look as if they all belong together. In addition, this will help give your room the color accent it’s been missing.

6. Update the Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Forget about the old brushed nickel cabinet knobs. Today, hardware stores have a ton of different varieties to choose from. Pick a style that best reflects your home and replace the knobs in your kitchen for a quick and easy kitchen makeover.

7. Makeover Your Lamp Shades

Adding some fabric, beads or ribbons to your lamp shades will turn them from drab to fab. Choose a color scheme that compliments the room and your friends won’t stop asking you, “Where did you purchase those beautiful lamp shades and how much did they cost?”

8. Redecorate the Bedroom

All you need to redecorate your bedroom is some fresh paint, some new curtains and a new comforter and voila – you have a freshly redecorated bedroom. The bulk of your time will be spent re-painting the bedroom and that won’t take that long at all, so go ahead and start planning your bedroom’s new look.

9. Add Some Fresh Flooring

If you have hard surface floors, add some color and style to the room by incorporating a few area rugs and/or carpet runners. This is an especially good idea come winter time as the carpet will help keep your feet off the cold floor and help insulate the room.

This article was originally published by  on