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7 Terrifying Things That Can Happen During Home Renovations

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A home renovation isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good contractor who can take care of the heavy lifting. But even that doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to your fair share of disasters—including some that can be scary, some that can be traumatic, and some that can even be harmful to your health.

You can’t avoid every terrifying possibility, but you can do your very best to minimize the risk. And that starts with knowing what terrors could be lurking behind that ordinary-looking brick wall or innocuous, if hideous, popcorn ceiling. We’ve got your back, friends!

Here are seven frightening and dangerous things to watch out for when you’re renovating or remodeling.

1. Flooding and electrical issues

Smart DIYers call 811—the service line that informs you where underground utility lines can be found—a few days before they dig. The helpful operator on the other end of the line will notify utility companies to send you indications of any water, gas, or electrical lines.

But maybe you forgot. Or maybe you hit a smaller water pipe in your wall, which the water company won’t know about.

“Mistakenly hitting a water pipe can have consequences much more serious than just getting your shirt wet,” says Dan Barr, a property restoration expert with 1-800 Water Damage.

Say you pop out for a bite after drilling a hole in the wall between your laundry and living rooms, not realizing you just punctured a pipe. When you return, everything is flooded. Including a puddle around your drill—that’s still plugged in. Yikes!

If you hit a line and find electric tools or appliances submerged, Barr recommends locating your home’s main electrical panel and turning off the power before you start wading through the water.

“It could be charged and extremely dangerous,” he says.

2. Creepy creatures

True story: My fiancé was unscrewing a can light in the living room of our brand-new house—and a handful of wasps smacked him in the face. Fortunately, they were dead.

But what if they weren’t?

“You can have really dangerous creatures fall or crawl on you,” says Texas designer Pablo Solomon. Dead wasps are just the beginning. Depending on where you live, shuffling around your attic or inching through your crawl space might bring you into contact with brown recluse or black widow spiders, scorpions, centipedes, or snakes.

While there’s no sure-fire way to avoid creepy-crawlies, full-coverage clothing will protect your skin from bites. As for the years of nightmares—you’re on your own.

3. Mold invasion

Skipping steps during a renovation is sure to cause you major problems down the line. And one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of a home renovation is proper ventilation.

“Most bathrooms have so little ventilation that they unintentionally become labs to grow mold and mildew,” says David Schneider, an interior designer in Chesterfield, MO, who focuses on sustainable, green remodeling.

So any time you remodel a kitchen or bathroom, make sure you’re installing enough fans—strong ones—to suck out all the moisture-ridden air. Most experts recommend one 100 cfm (cubic feet per minute) fan per appliance.

Plus, a whirring fan can cover up any unpleasant sounds. This is known as “value added”!

4. Release of asbestos and lead

You’re probably already aware of your home’s lead or asbestos risk. Unless you had a particularly unscrupulous seller, you should’ve signed a lead paint disclosure when buying any home built before 1978. And the second you Googled “popcorn ceiling,” you probably spotted the word “asbestos.”

But still, maybe that’s not top of mind when you’re in a hurry to yank out your ugly old cabinetry or rip up that garish old tile to start fresh—and you end up unleashing unknown amounts of those toxic materials.

“Inhaling or swallowing even small amounts of lead or asbestos is extremely dangerous,” Barr says. “Any time you remove walls or ceilings or do major work on floors, you run the risk of encountering both.”

Wear a mask during small renovation projects to help protect you. For bigger jobs, such as taking down a wall, contact an indoor environmental expert who can take samples. If asbestos or lead are present, plan to hire a professional for demolition.

5. Foundation damage

Have you ever used a drill to mount a pot rack or a flat-screen TV and found that your hands are a bit … wobbly afterward? Your walls feel the same thing—and the jiggling can cause major problems.

Constant shaking and hammering from power tools can create new fissures and other problems inside your walls. You might spot water leaks or even cracked Sheetrock, Solomon says. If possible, peek inside your walls after you drill for any new problems and repair them immediately.

6. Damage to your hearing

Construction is loud. You might think it’s tolerable, since it’s temporary. But if you’re, say, remodeling an entire kitchen, your ears will be under siege day after day for what could be a protracted period—and that could incur long-term damage.

“The noise of saws, hammers, power tools, and other construction machinery can wreck your ears,” says Bryan Pollard, president of Hyperacusis Research, a Hearing Health partner. “Noise damage is cumulative and presents with a delayed reaction. And the longer someone is exposed, the higher the risk.”

So maybe your ears feel fine the next day. But will they be fine a week later? A year later?Or 10 years later? Pollard warns of tinnitus—that annoying ringing in your ears—or hyperacusis, sound sensitivity, and noise-induced pain. Maybe those bulky protective headsets don’t look so dumb after all.

7. Exposure to high-VOC materials

Wearing a face mask can help keep you from inhaling fumes when painting, but their damage lasts long after the color is applied. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemical-emitting gases found in a number of renovation materials, including many paints, carpeting, or upholstering. You know that funny smell your carpet gave off for a few weeks after installation? That’s probably VOCs.

Many VOCs are known carcinogens, and they can cause headaches, allergic reactions, or asthma.

You can purchase low-VOC paint and carpeting to reduce your risk. Keep windows and doors open to ventilate your home and reduce the VOC danger.

 

Posted by Jamie Weibe on realtor.com

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

10 Fabulous (And Real) Front Doors

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Who wouldn’t feel welcomed by this cherry red front door?

Ornately carved, brightly painted, or gleaming in glass, each of these stunning doors makes a bold design statement.

A front door is a home’s first chance to make a good impression. And if you’ve ever asked your real estate agent to skip past a showing appointment because of a house’s unwelcoming exterior, you’ve noticed firsthand just how important curb appeal really is. These 10 homes for sale on Trulia all boast pretty portals — the perfect inspiration for your personal home search.

Cowabunga(low): $414,999, 3009 Elizabeth St., Bellingham, WA 98225

A tangle of grapevines on twin trellises adds curb appeal to this craftsman bungalow in Bellingham, WA. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home is already as cute as a button, with its cranberry-red front door and a location along one of the city’s lesser-trafficked roads. Built in 1926, the charmer has been modernized with a keyless entry, hardwood and tile floors, a subway-tiled kitchen with recessed lighting, and an open floor plan that makes the most of the bungalow’s 1,150 square feet. The master bedroom opens to the large, private fenced yard.

Making waves in Carolina: $539,000, 1031 Bennet Lane, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Just a seashell’s throw from the coast, this contemporary on a cul-de-sac welcomes guests with a front door painted a happy shade of sunshine. The door’s skinny windows provide a peek at who’s outside, but a fuller view is offered by the high-tech doorbell, which is loaded with a camera and an intercom. After guests identify themselves, they’ll cross a threshold into a 3,071-square-foot space that’s flooded with natural light, from the quartz-bedecked modern kitchen to the ground-floor home gym. But if you ever choose to venture out for a workout, you’ll have easy access to the Carolina Beach Fitness Loop.

Smooth around the edges: $765,000, 3019 E. Bonanza Road, Gilbert, AZ 85297

This 3,637-square-foot residence in Gilbert, AZ, sits about 20 miles southeast of Phoenix. The home welcomes guests with a circular brick driveway that’s echoed in a colossal arched front door. The wood- and stone-adorned interior features more curved lines. Arched doorways create a sense of grandeur within the already-stately residence, while an arched portico shades the poolside patio. Fun fact: The ceiling of the home takes inspiration from a villa in southern Mexico and contains 234 Saltillo tiles between the wooden beams.

A pivot(al) moment in the desert: $825,000, 24 W. Linger Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85021

Ever heard of a pivot door? Here’s a crash course: A pivot door is mounted using a set of pins in lieu of a traditional hinge. The pins are set in the top and bottom of the door frame, not the side, which allows for a better weight distribution and enables the (generally larger-than-usual) door to swing both in and out. With its clean lines and architectural flair, a pivot door lends itself to modern design. That’s probably why one was custom-built for this contemporary home in north-central Phoenix, just a few miles from downtown. The frosted glass-and-metal door hints at the 3,168-square-foot stunner’s airy feel. The fully remodeled home is heavy on glass and organic materials like wood and marble.

Verona by way of South Jersey: $849,000, 283 E. Kings Highway, Audubon, NJ 08106

Supported by a quartet of columns, this home sits just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, PA. A Juliet balcony offers views of a tree-lined, residential street in South Jersey. Underneath, a pendant light illuminates two leaded-glass doors that hint at what’s to come: a center-hall Colonial with a decidedly traditional aesthetic. The foyer greets guests with a curved staircase and a glimpse at the four-bedroom home’s double-height living room, complete with a black marble fireplace and a 20-foot-high coffered ceiling. Custom moldings and trim can be found throughout the home’s 3,704 square feet.

A modern-day Hobbit house: $925,000, 3395 SE Hidden Valley Way, Olalla, WA 98359

The front walkway might lead you to believe you’re entering another time and place, but be assured that this modern-day Hobbit house is in Olalla, WA — about 20 minutes southwest of Seattle. Built in 1982, the home welcomes you inside through handmade wooden doors with extensive ironwork. With four bedrooms and 2,800 square feet, the charming cottage lures buyers in with a rarely encountered selling feature: a complete lack of right angles. Those rounded corners contribute to the home’s quirky charm, which borrows a page from the storybooks with stained-glass windows, stone fireplaces, hand-carved wood beams, and rounded doorways. Frodo, are you in there?

Ahead of the carve: $3.1 million, 44 Beech Hill Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583

Standing guard in a display of glass and ornately carved wood, twin front doors mark the entrance to this 6,500-square-foot residence in the posh Beech Hill neighborhood of Scarsdale, NY. Loving the doors’ medieval vibe? You’re in luck: This place is full of it, thanks to the previous owner’s penchant for woodwork. You’ll see it in the home’s coffered ceilings, tigerwood floors, decorative mantels, and mahogany elevator. Besides four bedrooms, a heated garage, and a showstopping garden, this home features a top-notch chef’s kitchen and a Mediterranean-inspired wine cellar.

Sliding in from the slopes: $3.9 million, 14235 Mountainside Way #6, Truckee, CA 96161

Whether you enter from the road through an all-wood door or kick off your skis and head in through the glass slope-side door, you’ll be entranced by this home’s mountain-modern design. You can’t get much closer to the mountains than this 3,450-square-foot modern marvel. With direct access to the Northstar California ski resort, it’s cantilevered over a ski run. Inside, the alpine abode boasts four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. Plus, those floor-to-ceiling windows offer uncompromised views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Once the skis come off, you can thaw out in the home’s private hot tub or beside the fire pit, or head to the community lodge for a dip in the pool.

Champagne taste in the Sunshine State: $3.95 million, 7035 Greentree Drive, Naples, FL 34108

The owners of this 3,032-square-foot home, steps from the white-sand beaches of Naples, FL, took a no-expenses-spared approach during its 2016 remodel. The white-hot interior was outfitted with custom cabinetry and top-notch Wolf appliances in the gourmet kitchen and Italian porcelain plank floors throughout. Out back, a brand-new saltwater pool and outdoor kitchen offer a private oasis. The arched front door follows suit: Its ornate design was custom-made using luxurious mahogany. The surrounding community offers plenty of options for further relaxation, including a 570-acre nature preserve, exclusive-access beaches, a fitness center and wellness studio, and a cultural center.

Calm, cool, and collected: $7.145 million, 1900 Sabal Palm Drive, Boca Raton, FL 33432

You’ll be the first to live in this new, 9,650-square-foot estate in Boca Raton, FL. Its futuristic facade is marked by massive, marine-grade steel double doors. Enter and find an open floor plan with all the markings of modern design: clean lines, abundant glass and metal, and a so-cold-it’s-hot neutral color scheme. The huge retracting windows in the living room help redirect some of the focus from the 12-foot-long linear fire feature to the view. (This six-bedroom home sits just beyond the first fairway of the world-class Royal Palm golf course.) Fore!

Posted by Julie Davis on Trulia

Live Happily Ever After: Creating a Fairy Tale Interior

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Once upon a time, there was a home that captured storybook allure with luxe fabrics and delicate details.

Pretty accessories, elegant touches, and finishes fit for a king all combine to create a fairy tale interior. From delicate pastel palettes to chic chandeliers, this sweet and sophisticated style is dreamy, decadent and perfect for any home.

Twinkle twinkle

Pretty statement pendant lights and elegant tableside fixtures create the perfect amount of illumination for a fairy tale interior. Create this look with layered lighting: choose a sophisticated statement pendant and complement it with dimmed floor lamps or bedside lighting.

Glass, nickel, and high-gloss finishes are all princely illumination options, and work perfectly in the master bedroom, dining and living areas.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Powdery pastels

Create a space straight out of a storybook with soft and lustrous pastel colors throughout the room. Choose a satin-finish paint for the walls in a soft white or powdery gray, and add plush upholstered pieces in muted neutrals for additional elegance.

Top off the look with airy drapery and linens, and soft, tufted textures throughout.

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Courtesy of AdamHunterInc.

Enchanted embellishment

One of the most beloved characteristics of fairy tale interiors is their decadence and grandeur. From crown molding to ornate coving and ceiling medallions, fairy tale style is nothing short of sophisticated.

For your own enchanted space, consider adding molding. Moldings add shape and dimension to a room, lending an opulent feel to the design.

Accessorize the room with ultra-feminine furniture and velvety fabrics topped with masculine elements like fur and metal fixtures.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Plenty of sophisticated touches can be added for your own personal pampering. Ornate fireplaces, cozy curtains, textured tapestries and delicate details all add their own fairy tale flair. Four-poster beds covered in sensual fabrics, vintage throws, and tufted pillows create decadence, while calming colors create a restful haven.

Combine your favorite fairy tale elements to create an ambiance perfect for a beloved storybook character. Bring the look into modern-day design with transitional elements, or keep it classic by playing up its old-fashioned appeal.

Posted by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow

Declutter Like A Boss: 15 Secrets From Professional Organizers

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Experts share their top clutter-smashing strategies, so you never have to let clutter take up space in your home, budget, or mind ever again!

Most of us have it, but none of us want it. Clutter can overwhelm our lives if we let it — even our wallets can take a hit. According to the National Organization of Professional Organizers, unnecessary spending related to disorganization eats up as much as 20% of our annual budgets. Excess stuff, no matter what form it takes, can really take a mental toll, even making you less productive and more irritable.

The good news? Kicking off a full-on clean sweep isn’t as hard as you think. If you ask professional organizer Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now!, spring is the perfect time to tackle clutter once and for all. “I prefer spring cleaning to involve the purging of anything that’s weighing heavy on you, whether it’s a cluttered garage, an overclogged to-do list, a bursting email inbox, or an ongoing argument with a loved one,” she says.

Are you ready to declutter your home? Follow these time-tested tips from organization experts.

  1. Follow the one-in, three-out rule. To declutter like a pro, first you have to think like one. That means throwing out the old “one in, one out” system, which “doesn’t do a thing to declutter your home — it basically just evens things out!” says Gracia. She instead sticks to a “one in, three out” policy: When you bring in anything new, three items in the same category (clothes, jewelry, toys, etc.) must be donated, recycled, or trashed.
  2. Don’t store beyond your space. A good rule of thumb to ward off clutter from the get-go is to purge all items you don’t reasonably have room to store. “If you own a house with wall-to-wall shelving in the den, you’ll have a lot of space for books,” says Jodie Watson, founder of Supreme Organization. “But try to keep a library’s worth of books in a studio apartment, and you’ll run into clutter issues pretty quickly.” The same idea applies to kitchen appliances, dishes, shoes, you name it — keep this in mind especially if you’re moving to a studio apartment for rent in Austin, TX, and closet space is limited.
  3. Color-code your closets. While you’re in the closet, arrange garments by color. “This will help you see if you have been accumulating black T-shirts over time or have an excessive amount of pink tanks,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of Neat Method. “You really won’t know until they’re all grouped together, and it makes the purging process much easier.”
  4. Sort the fridge. Similarly, Murphy suggests grouping like foods — such as sweet treats, salty snacks, and fresh fruits — in baskets in your fridge or pantry. That way, you can see exactly what you have. “It forces you to not overbuy. If it doesn’t fit in the designated basket, you don’t need it,” she says.
  5. Put hard-to-reach storage to work. Murphy advises clients to commit all of the out-of-reach spaces in a closet (the highest shelf, back corners, etc.) to special-occasion pieces. For example, you might stash dress shoes if you do most of your day-to-day work in a casual setting, or swimsuits if you live in a climate that’s typically cold. Then keep the heavy-rotation wardrobe items within easy reach.
  6. “File” everyday shoes. Closet on the small side? Consider loading flats, flip-flops, and sneakers vertically in a basket. “It takes up such a small amount of space but holds a ton of shoes,” says Murphy.
  7. Ditch packaging ASAP. As soon as you bring a product home (or as soon as something comes in the mail), take everything out and recycle the box or package immediately — and instantly reclaim that space. “Unless you plan on returning the item soon, there’s no reason to hold on to it,” says Julie Naylon of No Wire Hangers. “If something goes wrong, most companies won’t require the original packaging anyway.”
  8. Opt for paperless manuals. Yep, go ahead and recycle that product manual too. Steal this trick from Naylon before the paper piles up: “Whenever I buy a new product, I go online, type the model number into Google, and download a PDF of the manual onto my computer.”
  9. Organize first, then declutter. To make organizing and tossing easier, Watson suggests separating paperwork into categories first. “It’s much easier to address a smaller stack that’s either medical, financial, or home-related than to mentally jump back and forth and make decisions on each document pulled from a random pile,” she says.
  10. Toss excess office supplies. “There’s not one house I’ve been in that didn’t have an overflow of office supplies,” says Naylon. “If you can’t part with of some of your pens or paper clips, pack them up and keep them in back stock. You don’t need every pen you own cluttering up drawers.” This goes double for any freebie promotional pens that you rarely use.
  11. Purge idle projects. We all bite off more than we can chew at different times in our lives. If neglected projects (a half-knit sweater, a travel scrapbook you never got around to putting together) have been sucking up visible space around the house, it’s time to move on. “Be realistic about the projects you’ve been planning to do. Decide not to do two or three of them and let go of any items you’ve been keeping around ‘just in case,’” says Watson.
  12. Make things visible. “If kids can’t see what’s in a storage bin, they’ll never put things away properly,” says Murphy, who recommends see-through or mesh bins for toys and other kids’ stuff. Her pick: colorful locker bins from The Land of Nod, because they look great and “let little ones see that games go in one, dolls in another, and so on.”
  13. Use the right-sized containers. An overstuffed bin isn’t useful to anyone — you’ll never want to dig through it to get what you need. “If an entire group of items can’t fit inside one container, find a bigger one or break it up into two,” says Watson. On the flip side, don’t keep too few items in a larger container. That just wastes precious space.
  14. Conquer your inbox. Digital clutter weighs just as heavily as the tangible kind. To keep it from spiraling out of control, Gracia suggests making a standing daily date to deal with it. “Give yourself a set amount of time, like 15 minutes, to delete or respond at the same time every day. Set a timer and keep going until it sounds,” she says. On lighter days, take a few minutes to unsubscribe from newsletters and companies you’re no longer interested in, set spam filters, or sign up for a service like unroll.me. If things have gotten really dire, consider deleting all of it. Highlight everything and press “Delete” or change email services. “Then contact those in your address book, asking anyone awaiting a response to resend their question,” says Gracia.
  15. Use the rule of four. There’s nothing more intimidating than an overloaded to-do list. That’s where Gracia’s “rule of four” hack comes in: “Keep two lists: one master list for everything, and one called ‘To Do Today.’ Move only four items from the master list to the ‘today’ list, and only focus on those four until they’re done. At that point, you can move four more over. Every time you complete a set, reward yourself!”

 

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

5 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Windows

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Don’t skimp on quality windows: If your windows look worn, your house will, too.

Every home will need new windows at some point. Here’s how to know when the time is right.

Your house may not be able to talk to you, but nevertheless it gives you signs when something’s not right. A home’s windows are particularly communicative. Although they don’t last forever, high-quality, well-maintained windows could last for 20 years or more, but there are many factors at play. (Windows in a coastal city like Charleston, SC, might age faster than they would in Los Angeles, CA, for example.) If your windows are more than a few decades old, listen carefully to what they’re telling you, so you’ll know when they need to be replaced. Here’s what to be on the lookout for.

1. They’re damaged, warped, or broken

It’s sometimes possible to repair a window instead of replacing it. If your window’s problem is minor, such as needing new weatherstripping or hardware, a repair might be the best option. But replacing a damaged, warped, or broken window sash or frame is almost always preferred to attempting a repair. “Even if the windows are still operable, they can develop problems,” says Kris Hanson, Senior Group Manager in Product Management at Marvin Windows and Doors. Do your windows fog up? Are they drafty? Do they stick when you try to open or close them? Do they refuse to stay open? If your windows are communicating in those ways, they’re telling you to replace them.

2. You want to reduce your energy bill

Windows provide some heat in the winter by letting in sunlight. But drafty windows can cause your energy bills to be about 10% to 25% higher, according to Energy.gov. Replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones can reduce your heating and cooling bills. Bonus: If you’re considering listing your home for sale, those new windows — and the resulting energy cost savings — can be a big selling point.

But don’t assume all windows are the same; it’s important to consider your specific needs. One factor? Your location. “Marvin offers a wide range of energy-efficient options and can tailor your windows to best suit your climate,” says Hanson. “Insulating glass is standard in all Marvin windows, along with thousands of options that meet the Energy Star Most Efficient designation, the highest standard for efficiency for the program.”

3. Your home needs a makeover

Windows are one of the most prominent features of a home, and if they look worn, your house will too. Look to see whether the color is fading or the window material is warping, or whether old screens or storm windows detract from the curb appeal of your home, suggests Hanson. “Architects and builders know that good design is critical for the longevity of a structure. Design considerations are a close second to quality when selecting new windows, and the overall vision or design theme of a home or space should be a driving force in the window selection process,” he adds.

While you’re upgrading your home’s appearance, you might also wish to change the type of window from a fixed sash to a window that opens. This way, “you can create a more comfortable interior and improve airflow through your home,” says Hanson. Another option? Install larger windows to increase a room’s natural light, which has aesthetic and health benefits: According to the Lighting Research Center, daylit environments increase productivity and comfort, plus help regulate your circadian rhythms for better general wellness.

4. You just survived a severe storm

If you live in a hurricane impact zone or other area prone to severe weather events, you’re probably prepared for the possibility of damaged windows. In fact, just living near the coast can do a number on your home’s exterior, including your windows. “If you worry about the effects of sea salt, humidity, or coastal winds, consider Integrity windows made with Ultrex fiberglass,” says Hanson. “These windows resist corrosion and remain stable in extreme temperatures because of a material that expands at the same rate as glass.” But even if you don’t live in a coastal region, if your top priority in a window is low maintenance, windows made with Ultrex fiberglass would be a smart choice. “The finish is three times thicker than the competitors’, which ensures Integrity windows won’t crack, dent, chip, or peel — they’re virtually maintenance-free,” adds Hanson.

5. You’re renovating a historic home

Maybe you moved into a historic home that suffers from vinyl replacement windows that detract from the home’s historic charm. The wrong window can dramatically change the overall look of a historic home and can even interfere with its integrity. If your goal is to install historically accurate replacement windows, a company that can handle custom requests should be your go-to. “Marvin specializes in creating customized windows to match one-of-a-kind spaces as well as producing exact replicas for historical homes,” says Hanson.

 

Posted by Laura Agadoni on Trulia

9 Home Decor Myths You Should Stop Believing Immediately

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Even if you’re an ardent amateur decorator, starting from scratch in a new place can be intimidating. So many white walls screaming out for paint, so much bare hardwood dying for furniture. What’s a new homeowner to do?

Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Maybe you don’t want to shell out for an interior decorator and besides, you have Pinterest on your side. Hey, you can do this thing yourself, right? All you need to do is follow the rules of the decor road. You know the ones we’re talking about—the nuggets of conventional wisdom like “don’t paint a small room with a dark color” or “avoid mixing metals.”

But not every decor rule should be considered gospel—in fact, some are downright myths. Here, our expert designers clear up nine misconceptions about how you should decorate your home. So get moving and decorate your place already!

Myth No.1: Ceilings must be white

Photo by Sroka Design, Inc.

A complementary ceiling color gives a cozy feel. White ceilings might seem like the norm, but they aren’t right for every room.

“White ceilings can actually be distracting if there is no other white in the room,” says Dee Schlotter, the senior color marketing manager for PPG.

Deep-emerald walls look strange with a blazing-bright ceiling. That cheerful yellow you carefully selected for the kitchen seems too bold with the ceiling so stark white. A complementary color—or even a coordinating off-white shade—can prevent distraction, Schlotter says.

Myth No. 2: Everything should match perfectly

The days of matching and monochromatic looks are over. Instead, cohesive coordination reigns supreme. Think: Wood tones, lush fabrics, and colors that harmonize with (not identically match) your walls. Otherwise, you risk dull, monotone decor that bores every visitor who passes through your doors.

“Look at the undertones of the primary color scheme,” says Jill Hosking, an interior designer in Windham, NH. “It does take more time and effort to coordinate versus match, but your room will look and feel more cohesive, chic, and likely will seem to be a better reflection of your personal style.”

Myth No. 3: Less furniture equals more space

You might believe paring down your furniture collection will make your small room feel massive—so there’s more room for activities, right?—but be prepared for some disappointment after the final Craigslist buyer trucks away the love seat. In fact, the empty space feels tiny.

“A fully furnished room will actually make the space feel bigger,” says Megan Hopp, a designer with Homepolish. “It’s counterintuitive, but having the right amount and right-size pieces in a layout will make your room feel bigger, better, and help you breathe a sigh of relief.”

If your massive sectional overwhelms the space, consider sizing down with a new couch—but don’t ditch the seating entirely.

Myth No. 4: Dark walls make a space look small

Photo by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects

White or neutral tones aren’t the only shades allowed in a tiny room. Far from off-limits, dark walls can even size up the space.

“Covering all of the surfaces of a room in one color makes it larger,” Schlotter says. Choose a hue that moves you—warm, rich, buttery, soothing—and “envelop the space,” she says. Yes, even the ceiling.

“One unified color fades defining lines, which enhances the coziness of the space and makes it feel larger,” she says.

Myth No. 5: Decor pieces can’t touch

A couch 5 feet from a side table and another 5 feet from the coffee table feels museum-like, not comfy-cozy. And contrary to popular belief, table decor is allowed to slightly obscure your artwork. (It can actually look better!)

“Yes, your lamp can cover the bottom corner of the mirror, and your armchair would love to live in front of your bookcase,” Hopp says. “Just like a sandwich, each ingredient on top of the other makes for a much better recipe than each piece alone.” Bon appetit!

Myth No. 6: You can’t have nice furniture if you have kids

Yes, skip the pricey white leather armchair, unless you’re eager to dress it up with crayon. But you don’t have to ditch all of the expensive and lovely pieces you’ve collected over the years. You can even buy new, elegant furniture that make you happy—even with your rugrats scrambling around.

The key is to choose and position your pieces carefully, and to aim for indestructible materials and finishes. It might seem counterintuitive, but splurging on well-made furniture could end up saving you in the long run. It’s more likely to hold up to years of abuse than the cheap models you think you’re resigned to own.

Myth No. 7: Never mix metals

Photo by Casey & Fox

Gone are the days when it was taboo to mix metals. With the infusion of brilliant golds, brushed nickels, and rich coppers into our decors, designers have found themselves asking: Why limit ourselves to just one? It turns out, you can have it all.

“Mixed metallics is not only a good thing, in my opinion, it’s a better choice than confining yourself and your design to one or the other,” Hopp says.

Some metals, such as copper and gold, contribute warm tones—others (think silver and nickel) are cooler. Together, they create “a healthy balance” that adds texture, glamour, and dimension to your space.

Myth No. 8: Art goes up high

Photo by Laura U, Inc.
Photo by Laura U, Inc.

Move that art lower—please, designers plea. Hang your art like a museum does: at eye level. Placed properly, the glory of your collection can be fully appreciated by your guests, who won’t have to crane their necks.

“Try moving your pieces down so as to sit just above the center point of the wall,” Hopp says. “Think about how art looks in a gallery. Follow suit, and bring it down.”

Myth No. 9: You should always be on trend

We’ll be the first to admit that we spend a lot of time telling you which interior design trends you should incorporate into your home, and which ones are so last year. But here’s something we don’t say often enough: You shouldn’t let Pinterest (or us!) dictate your decor decisions. Following design trends blindly creates a soulless space. Soulless as in dead.

“Only infuse trends into your home if it’s one you truly like and can live with longer than a year,” Hosking says. “It’s unrealistic to paint your walls every year or to add that mirrored chest to the dining room because ‘it’s in.’”

Love a style but hesitant to go all-in on a trend? Consider using smaller pieces to incorporate popular fabrics and styles into your home.

Pillows, throws, and art are easy ways to “infuse a trendy look without breaking the bank or generating buyer’s remorse,” Hosking says. And once you’re tired of the chevron, or the Swiss cross, or the trellis, donate the piece, take a tax deduction, and try something new.

 

Posted by Jamie Wiebe on realtor.com