Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: 6 Beautiful Ways to Add the Color Black in Your Home

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock

It’s time to switch over to the dark side—at least in your home decor.

Yep, that’s right. When it comes to today’s hot trends in interior design, black is the new black. From bold accent walls to chic black-and-white living spaces to onyx kitchen cabinets, designers are increasingly turning to the darkest shade on the spectrum to create a dramatic statement.

Sure, using black can be a little intimidating. But just like a little black dress, it goes with everything.

“Black is a great choice for interiors because it never goes out of style, it goes with every other color, and it conveys a feeling of luxury,” says Val Malnar, principal designer at Orangetree Interiors.

Plus, black works seamlessly with most styles, no matter if your home is Hollywood glamour, Mid-Century Modern, or even industrial (farmhouse chic, anyone?).

Ready to go dark? We asked some top designers to show us the way.

1. On your cabinets

So your kitchen or bathroom needs a style upgrade, but you don’t want to spend a boatload of cash on a major renovation. What’s a homeowner to do?

Paint the cabinets black, says Cynthia Spence, an interior designer in San Francisco.

“It can be very grounding and the hardware can shine against it—be it brass, polished nickel, or even satin nickel,” she says. “It becomes a very different architectural element, and it’s also gender-neutral.”

2. On an accent wall

If you’re feeling brave, a black accent wall can hit all the right notes, says TC Chou, founding partner at Design Determination in New York City. In your bedroom, living room, or dining space, a brush of black can offer a classic look without feeling overwhelming.

“It gives the sense of a cozy, warm space, and is a great backdrop for artwork and statement furniture pieces to pop,” Chou says. “And it’s a less common wall color, so it gives the room a sense of uniqueness.”

3. In a hallway

Photo by No Chintz

If using black in a high-traffic area such as the living room or kitchen is a little too bold for your tastes, consider it in a hallway instead. You can go all-in and slather everything in black or pair it with other dark tones.

In a recent home project with a long vestibule, Spence painted all the doors a semigloss black (with brushed-nickel knobs), and kept the walls and trims a platinum gray.

“The result was quietly impactful and made space more of a destination rather than an eyesore,” Spence says.

In the past, Spence also painted a hallway ceiling black for extra flair.

“It literally made the ceiling disappear, and the light fixture and wall covering became the focal points,” she says.

4. On the ceiling

Speaking of a dramatic ceiling, don’t limit it to the hallway.

“A black ceiling can help emphasize architectural features in the room such as moldings,” Chou says.

It can also make kitchen fixtures pop and help define an area in an open floor plan, he notes. Plus, if you think about it, black is known in fashion for its ability to cover up any flaws—and the same goes for the home.

“For rooms like basements, it’s a great way to hide exposed ductwork or ceiling tile,” Chou says.

5. With chalkboard paint

Always need to remind yourself to buy more sugar or milk? A space in your kitchen covered with black chalkboard paint that you can write on is just what you need, says Kelley Lauginiger, a lifestyle blogger and home décor expert in Ohio.

“This is also a great option for kids’ rooms or a den/office where you keep lists or notes,” she says.

6. In your accessories

Not ready to devote an entire wall (or ceiling) to the color? You can still make a statement with select black pieces throughout your home.

“Black plates and cutlery add chicness to a dinner party, black-framed mirrors bring elegant drama into a room, and even something as simple as black candleholders can be an eye-catching item on a table,” says New Jersey–based interior and furniture designer Neffi Walker.

And remember: You can’t go wrong when you pair black with it’s BFF, white.

“By mixing in a graphic black and white pillow or a striped black-and-white rug, you get the impact of the black, while the white adds a softness, making it easier to digest,” says Austin-based designer Chloe Smith. “This takes the edge off of blending black into your home.”

 

Posted by Jane Chertoff on realtor.com

Advertisements

Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home

What to do with all that new space? Experts weigh in on filling it affordably and thoughtfully.

As a new generation graduates from renting to homeownership, they face plenty of uncertainties: How much homeowners insurance is enough? Is a home warranty necessary? How do you fill a 4-bedroom home with the stuff that used to be in a 1-bedroom apartment?

Transitioning from an apartment to a larger home is always tricky, but making that move — known as “upsizing” — is extra complicated for today’s young home buyers because they’re really going big.

“When Millennials do become homeowners, they leapfrog the traditional ‘starter home’ and jump into the higher end of the market by choosing larger properties with higher prices, similar to homes bought by older buyers,” states the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. “They pay a median price of $217,000 for a home—more than Baby Boomers, and just 11 percent less than Generation X. The Millennial median home size is 1,800 square feet, similar in size to what older generations buy.”

Many millennial home buyers move from small apartments into 1,800 square feet or more. Photo from Zillow listing.

When you upsize from an apartment into a spacious new home, opportunities abound — plenty of closet space, a yard for the dog, and extra rooms for that home office, spare bedroom, or home gym you’ve always dreamed of.

But once the moving van’s gone and the boxes are unpacked, new homeowners often face the harsh reality of upsizing: The furniture, wall hangings, and knickknacks that fit so perfectly in your small apartment occupy only a fraction of your larger home’s space. And that spare bedroom would be perfect — if only you had a spare bed.

Many new homeowners’ first instinct is to hit the discount stores and buy affordable pieces to fill the space. While budget-friendly furniture has its place, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your new acquisitions.

There are plenty of ways to use what you already have — and optimize your spending for the things you don’t — to make your new house a cozy home.

Don’t buy things just to fill space

It’s tempting to stockpile new furniture and decorations, but it’s an effort that can easily backfire, according to Jennifer Dwyer, professional organizer and owner of Seattle-based A Logical Mess. Inevitably, the measurements are wrong, or the piece doesn’t match your existing style or decor.

“People naturally want to fill the space, but you really have to consider how you’re going to use it,” advises Dwyer. “Wait until you move in, place the furniture you have already, and assess at that point.”

Start by placing the pieces you have, then decide what to add. Photo from Zillow listing.

It’s OK to sparsely furnish the new place while you get a feel for your new home and the style you’re after. “You can tell when people just go to, say, Pottery Barn and buy what’s on the showroom floor,” says Jason Mathews, owner of Seattle interior design and home staging firm, Jason Mathews LLC.

Prioritize with a special piece

To furnish a large living room or family room, Dwyer recommends investing in a sectional couch. Like a dining room table that expands to seat more people, a sectional sofa pulls apart and goes back together depending on design preferences. And such sofas often have expansion pieces you can buy later to further fill space, adds Dwyer.

Sectional sofa components can be separated and expanded to change the room. Photo from Zillow listing.

Mathews agrees that a sofa is a good investment piece. “It’s something you’re going to use every day,” he says. Furthermore, sectionals pull apart to create more than one focal point in a room — think an L-shaped seating area and coffee table in one part of the living room, and a smaller couch and lamp in another for a cozy reading nook.

Not everything needs to be a statement piece, both Dwyer and Mathews emphasize. Once your sofa is in place, find inexpensive side chairs or perhaps an antique table to repurpose as a coffee table.

Place furniture thoughtfully

Furniture arrangement can make a big space seem smaller. Area rugs are ideal for anchoring furniture groups and making a space feel more homey.

A patterned area rug defines a space within a larger room. Photo courtesy of S+H Construction.

“The great thing about rugs is that they don’t have to be expensive — even a large rug,” Mathews says. He advises centering the rug, then placing furniture on and around it. “Even if the rest of the room is empty, you’re starting out with a cozy spot.”

Homeowners often make the mistake of pushing furniture right up against the walls. But pulling the furniture toward the center of the wall helps minimize an expansive room.

In an expansive room, arranging furniture away from the walls creates natural living areas. Photo from Zillow listing.

“Even just six inches off the wall,” advises Mathews. “It gives the room a chance to breathe a bit.”

Decorate your space

Once you’ve furnished your new home, it’s time to decorate. Items like a standing coat rack in an entryway or decorative vases in a stairwell are classic pieces that also fill space — and they don’t have to be expensive.

“I’m a big fan of T.J. Maxx and Ross,” says Dwyer. “You can play around with ideas, and if they don’t work out, you’re not out a ton of money.”

A few well-chosen decorations give a room a personal touch. Photo from Zillow listing.

Give extra rooms purpose

Empty rooms hold such promise: Will you have a home office? An extra bedroom for visiting families? A place for a treadmill, weight set, and stationary bike?

It’s OK to take some time to think it over — just shut the door if the emptiness bothers you. But whatever you do, don’t use that extra space as a storage room, warns Dwyer, or it will never become anything else.

“Find a home for everything, and don’t leave those boxes lying around,” she says. “If you don’t know where to put it, you probably don’t need it in your new home.”

Posted by Sheila Cain on Zillow

How To Squeeze A Tree Into Your Living Room

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, thy placement is so vexing.

Picture this: You’ve recently moved to a new Washington, DC, apartment or snagged a new home for sale in Houston, TX, and your furniture is perfectly positioned: There’s just enough room for your swanky chesterfield sofa, club chair, and coffee table. But as the season changes and you swap out your pumpkin-spice candle with cranberry peppermint, a thought hits you like a sack of coal: There’s no room in your perfect living room for a Christmas tree.

Take a deep breath of that delightfully festive-smelling air. Just because there’s no space in your current configuration doesn’t mean you have to forgo a tree. And while there are tons of ideas out there for alternative Christmas trees — including twine trees and book pyramids — sometimes nothing beats the smell of a real Fraser fir. Although you may have to settle for something smaller than your dream 7-foot tree, you can still fit in a tree with a little creative thinking.

First things first: Safety. When considering your unconventional tree placement, make sure you’re not blocking a walkway or doorway. Ensure your tree (and those precariously placed glass ornaments) isn’t an obstruction to actually walking around your space. Next, remember that Santa does not appreciate tripping over an extension cord as he reaches for his milk and cookies. Finally, place that tree in an area that’s away from heating elements, including forced air, radiators, and fireplaces you use.

Safety concerns addressed? Good. Cue the holiday music, fire up that cranberry-peppermint candle, and consider one of these five ways to deck your halls and squeeze a tree into any space.

how-to-squeeze-a-tree-into-your-living-room-12-6-infographic

Posted by Liz Olech on Trulia

Secrets of Professional Home Stagers

Where’s the house? Where’s the fountain? Home-stager Barb Schwarz says you can’t sell it if you can’t see it.
Home Staging Secrets

Maybe you’ve seen the shows. A house languishes on the market and a crew of home stagers descends on the place and before you know it, they whip it into shape fast. And then what? It sells.

An investment of a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars in a home headed for the market — a sprucing up the pros call “home staging” — can yield nice returns.

Why stage a house? “Buyers can only imagine what they see, not what it’s going to be,” says Barb Schwarz, a broker who now focuses entirely on staging homes with her International Association of Home Staging Professionals. “If you don’t clean the carpet or don’t take down the flocked wallpaper or the teenager’s walls are painted bright purple, the buyer can’t envision it any other way.”

If done well, staging makes a remarkable difference. “We took over a house that was on the market for six months, didn’t change the price, staged it, and it sold in 18 days,” says Realtor® Paul Conti, who with his wife Ginger, stages and sells houses with Re/Max Valley Properties in San Jose, Calif.

Schwarz, who says she invented the concept and term of “home staging,” claims that homes staged by her accredited students sell in an average of 42 days vs. an unstaged home’s 136 days and with an increase in sales price of 6 to 22 percent.

Regardless of the numbers, the National Association of Realtors® has touted the benefits of staging — and it’s a given that real estate agents on commissions are just as eager as home sellers to boost a home’s selling price and lessen its time on the market.

Whether you want to spruce up your home for your own pleasure or boost its bottom line, stagers’ advice can give your house an amazing new look. Here’s how:

Start at the street

“Curb appeal” isn’t just a fancy phrase created to boost landscapers’ income. It’s a crucial first impression that can make buyers either wary of stopping to look or eager to step inside. Be sure your lawn and gardens look great, trash cans and bikes are put away, house numbers are attractive and easy to see, the front door is spectacular (because you’ve replaced it or painted it and perhaps updated the hardware), and that you have some attractive potted plants by the door.

Remember the foyer

The second first impression comes the minute a potential buyer steps inside your home. Coats on a rack, shoes underneath and keys and other doodads in a dish on a console table may mean you’re a fabulous organizer, but it’s not the way to sell a home. Put the coats and shoes in a closet, the keys in your purse and a vase of flowers on the table.

Try the 1/4 to 1/2 rule

While a few homes out there have too little furniture and too few accessories, the vast majority have way too much. You don’t just want to straighten up your clutter, you want to remove it. Consider putting at least one-quarter of your furniture in storage, one-third of your books in boxes and at least one-half of your knickknacks away. Use the same rule with cabinets, closets and counters. If they’re stuffed full, buyers will think they’re too small. Keep them tidy and one-third to one-half empty (place just a few things on each shelf). Don’t forget to pare down your outside furnishings and accessories, too.

Clean ’til you drop
Or hire a cleaning crew to come regularly while your home is on the market, or at least for a one-time super-cleaning. Don’t skip windows (inside and out), behind the toilet, bathroom grout, under sinks. Actually move your furniture to vacuum behind and under it.

Before and after of redecorated bathroom

A coat of paint and a little attention to accessories turned this blah bathroom into something worthy of guests.

Arrange furnishings to highlight the architecture

Take advantage of views and fireplaces. Spruce them up by framing or highlighting them, not covering them up or weighing them down. Put tall objects (furniture, vases, paintings or plants) against tall walls. Highlight, don’t block, the traffic flow. Grab a couple of sturdy friends and play with different ways to arrange your furniture. Again, pay special attention to your friends’ opinions.

Use rooms as they were intended

Take the exercise equipment out of the guest room and put a bed back in. Put a table and chairs in an eat-in kitchen. Get the home office equipment and filing cabinets out of your little-used dining room and set the table for company (or just put a nice vase of flowers on top).

Fix what’s broken

Buyers look for flaws to help lower the sales price in negotiations. That wobbly stair rail may still support you and the crack in the ceiling plaster may not be structural, but it’ll leave buyers wondering what else is not quite right. No matter how minor the problem, take your toolbox around and start fixing.

Update what you can

Tired home is often thanks to tired paint or furnishings. A new coat of neutral-toned paint is a buyer-pleasing backdrop. Remove outdated furniture; trade sofas with a friend or relative while your house is on the market, ditch yours and buy new, or store yours and rent or borrow a more contemporary style. Tired area rugs (or too many of them) detract from nice wood floors. Shag or other old-fashioned carpeting will turn buyers off. Replace it if you can; clean it if you can’t. Update a tired kitchen with an inexpensive new countertop, new cabinet doors, or even just new cabinet hardware.

Erase your personality

Love Hummels? Bummer. Collect fishing lures? Too bad. Think that colorful painting is quirky and fun? At least half the people who see it won’t. Box up your collections, your personal photos, and anything you wouldn’t expect to see on the floor of a furniture showroom. (Nondescript art is fine; art with attitude is not.) And put away blow dryers, makeup and toothbrushes. Buyers need to imagine themselves in your home, not wonder what its current inhabitants are like.

Invite over honest friends

Ask two or three of your most forthright friends to look through your house with the eye of a home buyer: What needs changing? The smell of pets? A cracked window? Not-so-clean appliances? What’s acceptable for daily living isn’t likely to impress a buyer.

Find storage away from your house

It’s tempting to shove all the boxes of extras into the basement or garage, but buyers will be looking there — judging how big they are. Make them as empty as possible by renting a storage space or borrowing a neighbor’s or relative’s garage for a while. (For last-minute things — a stack of papers, a handful of dirty clothes — you need to put away before a showing, stash them in the washer or dryer or under beds; most buyers never look there.)

This article was originally published by Diane Benson Harrington on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Inhale. Exhale. Four Zen Houses To Keep You Calm.

There are those of us that like our houses flowery, fun, and flamboyant: an exuberant expression of all things beautiful and bedazzled. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those of us that need our houses to be a blank canvas, a serene space that invites meditation and tranquility.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

If you find yourself gravitating towards this mindful aesthetic, be at peace: here are four houses, the products of enlightened architectural minds, for your contemplation.
 

1. An Oasis of Calm in Beverly Hills

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

When searching for serenity, Beverly Hills, CA, may not be the first place that comes to mind. But this home (top and above) provides a 7,862 square foot oasis of calm in the big city, employing the finest craftsmanship and material to create a singular retreat. The residence was designed by Bob Ray Offenhauser, who utilized natural materials like cedar, red oak, bamboo, and black slate to craft and finish the space. Roof tiles from Osaka top the structure, while traditional Shoji screens divide the interior space. The half-acre grounds include an elaborate pavilion and tea/guest house and tennis courts, and if the $12.5 million price tag makes you lose your cool, don’t worry – you’re sure to regain it in the intricately landscaped bonsai garden.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

2. Traditional Serenity In NorCal

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

Modeled after traditional 16th-century Japanese country homes, this 4,684 square foot home in the hills of Tiburon, CA, radiates a warm, vibrant energy. Five bedrooms and five baths are encompassed within the traditional architecture, which also houses the best in modern-day amenities, including a fully-equipped kitchen. The open plan of the home flows into the outdoor living areas, admitting ocean cross breezes and far-reaching views of the Great Pacific itself. The price of $6.9 million includes nearly an acre of landscaped gardens.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

3. Timbered Sanctuary Among The Trees

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

The Puget Sound surrounds this home, which is sited on forested Bainbridge Island, WA. The 10,500 square foot residence was designed by local firm Miller Hull in compliance with the dictates of Feng Shui and with great consideration given to the magnificence of the home’s natural surroundings. The structure utilizes ethically harvested and recycled woods in its construction, and is outfitted with the best in security and automation systems. A 4,000 bottle wine cellar, landscaped gardens, and 374 feet of natural waterfront complete the 13 acre property, which is listed for $12.8 million.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

4. Freedom In Freeland, WA

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

This tranquil 10.5 acre property combines an Asian aesthetic with the moody nature of the Pacific Northwest to create a unique contemporary residence with a vibe all its own. Designed to the highest standards of environmental stewardship, the property features a 4-bed, 6-bath main house, a guest house, and a barn, all set on 244 private feet of the edge of Holmes Harbor in Freeland, WA. The unfussy interiors of the main house are finished with hardwood floors and built-in shelving, and the grounds also include a fire pit and landscaped meditation garden. This naturally-insulated haven is listed at $1.7 million.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

This article was originally published by Addy Cleverly on realtor.com.