Creating the Rustic Barn Look in Your Home

You may not find a wraparound porch or stalls with hay, but newly constructed homes and remodeled properties around the country are getting the barn treatment.

Tall windows weren’t commonly found in barns, but by adding overhead beams, Locati Architects made this space architecturally believable.

Designed by Locati Architects

“Everyone wants something like going home to grandma,” explained Christopher Travis, an architect and designer specializing in restoration projects and high-end remodels in rural communities. “The inspiration at the heart of it are things that remind them of their own experience or a period in history.”

In the early 1900s, American barns were purchased as kits from companies such as Sears Roebuck. Travis says crosshatch doors and other classic barn features were added because they were easy and cheap at the time, but now you have to make them from scratch.

As a result, today’s barn-home style is less about building an exact replica than embodying the rustic look and feel.

“It’s a flavor of rustic architecture,” Travis said. “People are drawn to it not because of aesthetics but because it’s comforting — it speaks of a time when things were simpler.”

Locati Architects built this home to look like a farm with the barn and outbuildings slowly added over time.

Modern amenities, rustic accessories

To create the look in your home, designer Anita Oates says you don’t have to have make your space old fashioned. In fact, she says it’s crucial to first design for your lifestyle.

A sliding barn door, barn-wood table and antique chandeliers give this contemporary kitchen a rustic feel without being dated. Designed by Anita Oates of Otrada LLC.

“Don’t have so many rules — it limits the creative process,” she said. “And, it all depends on how you choose to live. Do you have sit-down dinners or just grab breakfast and go?”

Once you’ve determined how you are going to use your space, don’t be afraid to bring in stainless steel appliances or other modern amenities. Just hide outlets, cords and remotes, if possible.

Christopher Travis shows how you can achieve the look and save money by mixing and matching dining room chairs.

Then try to be unconventional with the surrounding furniture and accessories. Consider bringing in a few antiques to create that lived-in feel.

“There are so many different ways to bring in six to 10 dining room chairs,” Oates said. ” Personally, I would put folding chairs under a barn-wood table.”

Interior designer and real estate agent Dotty Hopkins designed her kitchen with vintage-inspired, modern fixtures and appliances.

Travis suggests using an apron sink and curtains instead of cabinet doors. Here are a few other barn-inspired elements you could use to balance a contemporary space:

  • Crosshatched or barn doors
  • Riding boots
  • Embroidered initials
  • Wheelbarrow side table
  • Wheat or crop centerpieces
  • Burlap or canvas

Natural woods & metals

From barn-wood coffee tables to industrial light fixtures, barn-style furniture shows off two key materials: natural wood and metal. And, it’s not just the furniture; these materials can also be woven into the architecture of your space.

The key, Travis says, is to select items that are believable.

“You never see sheetrock in a farmhouse or barn-style building,” he said. “It’s always a plank wall. It has an emotional connection for people because that’s what they had in actual barns.”

Jordan Design Studios combines plank walls and vintage accessories for a historic barn look.

To give a new guest cabin a historic look and feel, Locati Architects‘ Greg Dennee experimented with industrial, reclaimed metal.

Locati Architects uses industrial metal on the walls of this bedroom to embody an old farm outbuilding.

“Our main strategy was to eliminate drywall because it didn’t exist 100 years ago,” he explained. “Nothing gives it away because it’s metal from end to end.”

Recycled materials in small doses

While authenticity is key, designers advise taking a less-is-more approach with bringing in recycled barn materials. Not only are they expensive, but they can also lose their appeal if used in abundance.

Dennee recently designed a barn-style home with large windows to show off the view of a nearby mountain range.

“The homeowners needed tall windows, but they were not historically accurate,” he said. “We had to find the right balance there, so I used recycled timber trusses to keep the scale manageable and believable but also create a large open space the homeowners wanted.”

Locati Architects purposely mixed materials in this man cave, creating a light space with architectural interest.

In a game room redesign, Dennee used barn-wood planking, tin countertops and backsplash, and a white wall to keep the room from feeling too heavy.

“You would never find white drywall in a barn, but we wanted it to feel light and bright,” he said. “Also, it doesn’t compete with other things in the room.”

The overall goal, according to Travis, is to avoid anything that connotes a completely contemporary or manufactured building.

“You want it to look like someone bought old antiques at an antique show,” he said. “Pick the pieces that are really special and speak to you emotionally, and have your designer build them into your space.”

This article was originally published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.


How to Market Your Home for Maximum Exposure

Once you’ve made the commitment to sell your home, chosen a Realtor to represent you, and established a list price, it’s time to work with your Realtor to market your property so it sells as quickly as possible. Your Realtor should share a marketing plan with you, but the more you know about the process of selling your home the easier it is to support your Realtor’s efforts.

Market Your House for Maximum Exposure

Pre- Market Tips

The day your home goes on the market it should be in prime condition and priced right to attract the most potential buyers. While your Realtor can help you determine an appropriate price and can offer suggestions to make your home more appealing, your job is to put in the work to get your home pristine clean and to remove clutter and personalization. Buyers want to see a home where they can visualize themselves living. If buyers see an overstuffed closet, they’ll assume the home lacks storage space; and if your kitchen counters are cluttered, they’ll think the space is too small.

Provide your Realtor with tips about what you love best about your home and community that can be incorporated into your marketing materials.

Your Realtor can advise you on what you need to repair before putting your home on the market. You can also visit other homes that are for sale, or even local model homes for ideas on ways to present your home to potential buyers.

What to Expect From Your Realtor

Many Realtors have experience staging homes, or they can bring in a stager to rearrange your place. In addition, your Realtor should market your home in multiple ways:

  • Research the market to identify potential buyers to target for direct mail,
  • Reach out to other real estate brokers and agents who work with buyers in your price range,
  • Take excellent photos or hire a professional photographer to showcase your home online with attractive pictures,
  • List your home on the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and make sure it receives maximum exposure on multiple websites,
  • Take a video of your home or produce a virtual tour with numerous photos so your home can be viewed in-depth by buyers looking online.

Once buyers begin visiting your home or contacting your Realtor, your agent should respond as quickly as possible to keep the momentum going. Every visitor to your home or their agent should be contacted by your Realtor to get feedback on your home and to gauge their interest.

What Your Realtor Should Expect From You

While your Realtor does the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing, as a seller you need to support your Realtor in several ways:

  • Keep your home as clean, neat and odor-free as possible while your home is on the market. This may mean that you have to give up cooking your favorite liver-and-onions dish and that you have to bribe your kids to make their beds and take out the trash every day.
  • Make your home as available as possible to buyers, no matter how inconvenient it is for you and your family. Your home won’t sell if no one can see it.
  • Leave the house when buyers are there, since studies show that buyers will linger and look more carefully when the homeowners aren’t there.
  • Lock up your pets or take them away when buyers are visiting, especially during an open house when multiple visitors are expected.
  • Provide information to buyers about community amenities or neighborhood sports leagues so they can appreciate your home’s location.

If you and your Realtor develop a team approach to selling, you’ll benefit from a quicker and more pleasant real estate transaction.

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


What’s Cooking in the Kitchen?

A spotlight on the latest trends in kitchen design.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

With the kitchen becoming a home’s central meeting place, more homeowners are redesigning their old ones to accommodate the needs of their families.

“It’s where everybody congregates,” says Sue Pelley, the international spokeswoman for INTERIORS by Decorating Den based in Montgomery Village, Md.

Pelley suggests adding a breakfast bar with stools or a table and chairs in the kitchen, if there’s room, so that children can do their homework or play games while the cooking is going on.

Other trends in the kitchen include:

Granite countertops. Although other materials are slowing edging out granite, it’s still the most popular choice. “That is it,” says Pelley. “Granite is the big thing. It’s still what people really want. Corian countertops are really highly sought after as well.” While there are many choices for counter material, Pelley says many homeowners still like tile, although some of them are going for the larger ceramic sizes to minimize grout lines.

Decorative backsplashes. “What people are doing, on tile backsplashes, is using decorative tile to personalize it—you can get decorative tile, decorative accents, architectural shapes, raised surfaces—and they’re personalizing it in that vein,” she says.

Glass-front cabinets. “If you have some beautiful pieces, you can display them. That’s a today look,” Pelley says.

Stainless steel and white appliances. “They’re very neutral, very clean. Stainless steel can work with a lot of different design styles. It lends itself to contemporary kitchens, but clean lines and simplicity are always good,” she says. “They age well. It’s almost like everything old is new again. White kitchens are no different. Toasters, blenders… you look at them, they’re very retro. They’ve got a big look again.”

Turquoise and pink. “It’s any color pink. Pink is the hot shade. Bubblegum, raspberry pink, cherry pink… all those pinks are big. The other big shade is turquoise. Turquoise jewelry is hot and we’re starting to see that in fabric and wallpaper design. It’s just now starting but it will get huge.”

Round or oval tables. “They’re much more conducive for conversation. They don’t take up as much space. That’s a bit of a trend that’s continuing,” she says.

Hardwood floors. “What we still see is hardwood, more hardwood than tile. Some of the new things they’re doing with hardwood is laying it in octagonally and bordering it with deeper shade of wood to call attention to it, making it look like a wood area rug,” Pelley says. Ceramic tile and vinyl continue to be popular choices as well as a large selection of area rugs. “Because some of the kitchens are so big, people want to warm up the hardwood a bit and make a little softer.”

When redecorating a kitchen, Pelley says, it’s best to go for a more timeless look. We find most decorating styles go in eight to 10 year cycles,” she says. “Once everybody has it, it’s over. We don’t seem to want it anymore when everyone can have it. Creating a more timeless look is really prudent for your remodeling budget… unless you have the money to remodel every 10 years.”

This article was originally published by Diana Lundin on See it here.

How to Compete Against a Cash Buyer

In many real estate markets today, there’s a lot of talk about cash buyers.

How to Compete Against a Cash BuyerThese buyers have a reputation for swooping in and “stealing” homes out from under other buyers, simply because someone with cash doesn’t need a loan. Regular buyers relying on credit are often intimidated by what appears to be a “lose-lose” situation. They assume that if they need a loan, they can’t compete.

The truth is, someone buying a home with credit can still compete against cash buyers and win. Do you have a 20 percent down payment? Are you well employed? Do you have cash reserves in addition to your down payment? Do you have very little debt? Do you have good credit? If so, your purchase should be as bullet-proof as a cash buyer’s.

Here’s what you need to do to compete against a cash buyer.

Structure your offer as if it’s a shoo-in

Ask your lender to write not only a pre-approval letter but to verify that you’re a well-qualified buyer. Get your agent or mortgage professional to provide some financial information about you with your offer (if you’re OK with that, of course).

See if your mortgage professional can take it a step further. Have your lender take as much of your loan through the process as possible. Send the lender a copy of the preliminary title report, if available. If you’re buying a condo, find out if a condo questionnaire is available and give it to your lender. If you take any of these steps, let the seller know.

Shorten the loan and appraisal contingencies

Ask your lender how quickly an appraiser can be sent out to the property and how long the loan would take to turnaround. In some parts of the country, loans are being approved in less than 14 days.

Pre-order an appraisal

This may not be as easy with a bigger bank. But smaller banks, direct lenders or mortgage brokers can line up the appraisal in advance. At the time your offer is written, tell the seller the appraisal has already been ordered.

Have the inspection immediately

Along with the quick appraisal and loan contingencies, get your inspector in and out. Shelling out a few hundred dollars and getting the inspections done within days of having your offer accepted shows the seller you mean business.

Pay extra

Paying more money to beat a cash offer may sound counterintuitive, but cash buyers nearly always expect a discount from the seller simply because they’re offering cash. As a result, the cash buyer will often make a lower offer. To increase your chances, top the cash offer.

If a seller is faced with a few thousand dollar difference, the seller probably wouldn’t risk it. But what if your offer is 5 percent higher than the cash buyer’s? The seller, perhaps wanting the best of both worlds, may ask the cash buyer to raise his or her offer. Some cash buyers will come up, but not always enough to match.

Bottom line: Stay in the game and know your limits. Do you plan to live in the house for many years and it’s the home of your dreams? Overpaying isn’t the end of the world, so long as you’re within a reasonable range.

Make yourself known to the seller

Some buyers write “love letters” to the sellers, hoping to appeal to their personal side. Does this work? Sometimes. If you’re competing with a cash buyer, particularly an investor who plans to rent the home out, it can’t hurt to get a little personal.

When a seller’s agent presents an offer, the seller always wants to know more about the potential buyer. Ask your agent to write a cover letter and an introduction. Let the seller know who you are, why you like the home and what your intentions are. It usually works.

But not always. Sometimes a seller just doesn’t want to take a risk with someone getting a loan, and nothing you do — aside from paying all cash — will change that. So do the best you can and be realistic. Make sure your financial “‘house” is in order. Work with a good local real estate agent and start working with a local mortgage professional well in advance. Structure your offer to show that you’re ready to roll. And who knows? It just might go your way.

This article was originally published by Brendon Desimone on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

Rustic Contemporary Farmhouse in Vermont

This rustic red contemporary farmhouse looks right at home in its picturesque mountain setting and worth every penny of its $2.9 million price tag.





Tucked away in Stowe, Vt., the 3.5-acre property combines contemporary farmhouse architecture with sublime summit views to create one of the most coveted retreats in the area.



Sporting a red-paneled façade, the main home offers five bedrooms and an interior decor that can be described as country-contemporary — exposed beams, stone finishes and other cabin-like qualities in a modern mold.





Enveloped in mature foliage, the home’s various porches, patios and Euro-style decks provide the ideal spot to rock away summer nights with views of a kidney-shaped swimming pond and Mount Mansfield. Manicured gardens and landscaping only enhance the relaxed atmosphere.



Pall Spera of Pall Spera Company Realtors is the listing agent.

This article was originally published by Neal J. Leitereg on To see the original article, click here.

Trying to Sell a Haunted House?

Niche buyers actually want something to go bump in the night.

Haunted House for Sale Isn’t Spooky

You might think an old haunted house beset by ghost sightings, strange noises and apparitions would scare away potential buyers, but research has shown that such features can be a plus when putting a home on the market.

Even “The Most Haunted House in Ohio” found a buyer.

Franklin Castle, built in 1865 by Hannes Tiedemann on Cleveland’s west side, was a looming gothic mansion with intimidating size, a spooky wrought-iron gate and stone gargoyles guarding its entrance.  Over the years visitors and owners claimed they heard crying babies and odd noises, felt cold spots, and saw ghost-like figures moving about.

Local newspapers published the home’s address. Every curiosity-seeker from teenagers to paranormal societies camped outside, hoping to spot the ghosts. And the place was broken into more than once. The owners couldn’t hide the home’s past, but they didn’t have to. In 2011 it sold for $260,000.

Houses with an alleged ghost can be a plus for some buyers, according to’s Haunted Real Estate Survey.

The survey asked average homebuyers what they thought about haunted houses. More than half of home buyers are open to buying a haunted house.

However, most buyers expect a discount. Of the survey’s respondents, 34 percent said they would want up to 30 percent off the asking price to consider purchasing a haunted place, while 19 percent said they would need more — up to half off. Only 12 percent said they would pay full market value or more for a haunted house for sale.

Niche buyers aren’t looking to get a deal on a house because of a bad reputation, they actually hope things will go bump in the night. But, if you’re trying to sell such a place, you have to set realistic expectations. Most specialty buyers aren’t going to pay more than the average price in your neighborhood just for the ghost. Still, for some sellers, waiting for a niche buyer might sound better than slashing the asking price.

If that’s you, there are a few things you can do to find the right buyers. First, look into your home’s past. Generally, paranormal buffs are looking for rich and troubled histories. If you can prove your home fits the bill through newspaper clippings or local history books, you’ll help legitimize your home’s ghost stories.

Next, find someone in the field to help market your house. Start by finding a real estate agent who will help you with your marketing plan; this is a home sale, after all, and you’ll need some professional help. Contacting local paranormal research groups may also help you find niche buyers. Many paranormal researchers are happy to investigate your home and possibly add more appeal to your haunting.

Some paranormal groups and researchers keep databases of haunted real estate for sale. For example, Bonnie Vent, owner of San Diego Paranormal Research and Genesis Creations Entertainment, posts haunted house listings on her website.

Finally, be ready to tell stories — lots of stories. During walk-throughs, potential buyers are going to have a lot of questions about the haunting, and any personal experiences you or your family members can share will help seal the deal. Don’t be afraid to point out spots that feel hot or cold, or rooms that make you feel uneasy — you are trying to sell a ghost along with your house, after all.

This article was originally published by Angella Colley on To see the original article, click here.


8 Questions to Help Resolve Your Rent or Buy Dilemma

The decision to buy a home, one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make, can be empowering and exciting.
8 Questions to Help Resolve Your Rent or Buy Dilemma

While the 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey by the National Association of Realtors showed that 80 percent of consumers believe buying a home is a good financial decision, it’s not always easy to know when the time is right to take the leap.

Choosing to become a homeowner takes not only a financial commitment but also the emotional maturity to create a plan and a timeline that suits your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are some of the factors that should be part of your decision to rent or buy a home:

1. How Do Home Prices and Rents Compare in Your Community?

While it’s easy to compare rental prices, when you look at the cost of buying a home you need to include not only your mortgage principal and interest payments, but also homeowners insurance, property taxes and possibly a condominium or homeowner association fee. Sometimes it’s more costly to rent than to buy, particularly when mortgage rates are low. A rent-or-buy calculator can help with your evaluation. You should also look at the long-term wealth-building benefit of homeownership that comes with rising values and increasing your equity as you pay off your home loan. A 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve showed that the median net worth for homeowners was 30 times higher than the median net worth of non-homeowners.

2. Are You Emotionally Ready To Buy A Home?

One of the benefits of renting an apartment is that you typically only commit to a lease for one year. If you’re buying a home, you’ll need to choose a neighborhood and a home where you want to live for the next several years while you recoup the cost of buying and build equity.

3. Do You Have a Five-Year Plan?

While no one knows with absolute certainty what will happen over the next five or 10 years, if your plans include switching careers or moving out of state, you’re probably better off renting. If you plan to start a family in the next few years, you should take that into consideration when developing a budget and choosing a home.

4. Are You Ready to Take Care of a Home?

Along with the joy of decorating your home and changing it to meet your needs, you need to budget at least 1 to 3 percent of the home price each year for repairs. Whether you can handle work yourself or need to hire contractors, you should be prepared for the time and expense of maintaining your property so that it can keep its value and avoid more costly repairs in the future.

5. Do You Have Any Savings?

While there are loan programs available to some borrowers with a down payment of 3.5 percent and sometimes less, you’ll need some cash for a deposit, a down payment, closing costs and an emergency fund when you buy a home.

6. What Does Your Credit Profile Look Like?

Request your free credit report at to check for errors and any negative information on your report. For a small fee you can get your credit score. Lenders typically require a minimum credit score of 620 or 640 and higher for government-insured loan programs, but for the lowest mortgage rates you need a credit score of 740 or above.

7. What Can You Comfortably Afford to Spend on a Home?

You can have a free consultation with a mortgage lender to find out how much you can borrow to buy a home, but you should develop your own budget to determine how much you can spend on your housing payment while still being able to pay your other bills and save for the future.

8. Will Your Budget Accommodate the Type of Home You Want in Your Market?

You can do a quick search on to see what properties are available in neighborhoods where you want to live, or consult a Realtor for a more in-depth consultation about your priorities and your local market. You may also want to take a homebuyer education class to learn more about the buying process.

Your answers to these questions and consultations with professionals such as a lender and a Realtor can help you make the right choice and determine if you’re ready to buy now or need to wait a little longer to become a homeowner.

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner on To see the original article, click here.