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If giving your home a fresh coat of paint isn’t an option for you, we have you covered. Here are some low-lift ways to decorate with the 2019 Colors of the Year.
— Read on www.domino.com/content/decor-ideas-color-of-the-year-2019/

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This is a great little chart to help both when buying or selling a Smart Home to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits. Sometimes information regarding the manuals or which items you have in the home can be lost in the complicated process of purchasing or selling a home. Easy to print or save to your computer. Thank you Florida Realtors for putting this together. Very much appreciated!

 

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Study shows blues and grays are the way to go for interiors and doors, ‘greige’ for exteriors

Homes with bathrooms painted in a powder blue or periwinkle shade sold for an average of $5,400 more — the highest sales premium of all colors analyzed.

When it comes to a home’s exterior, neutral tones, such as ‘greige,’ sold for $3,496 more than comparable homes in a different color.

by MARIAN MCPHERSON 

Furthermore, homes with front doors painted in shades of dark navy blue to slate gray sold for an extra $1,514.

On the other hand, buyers seem to be put off by style-specific features such as terracotta walls, which resulted in a $2,031 dip in sales prices. But even more than that, prospective owners seem to hate white walls: Homes that had no color whatsoever sold for an average of $4,035 less. Ouch!

“Color can be a powerful tool for attracting buyers to a home, especially in listing photos and videos,” said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. “Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space.

“Incorporating light blue in kitchens and bathrooms may pay off especially well as the color complements white countertops and cabinets, a growing trend in both rooms,” she added.

If a seller is adamant about keeping color in the home, have them consider a pop of color on an accent wall using Pantone’s Color of The Year, Greenery, or have them incorporate jewel-toned decor pieces throughout the home.

BYMARIAN MCPHERSON     Email Marian McPherson.

Energy-efficient upgrades not only shrink your utility bill, they can increase the value of your home.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents  Nov 2016

Homebuyers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of energy-efficient homes. In fact, they’re often willing to pay more for homes with “green” upgrades, says Sandra Adomatis, a specialist in green valuation with Adomatis Appraisal Service in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Just how much your home will increase in value depends on a number of factors, Adomatis says, like where you live, which upgrades you’ve made and how your home is marketed at sale time. The length of time to recoup the costs of green upgrades also depends on the energy costs in your area.

In 2014, upgraded homes in Los Angeles County saw a 6 percent increase in value, according to a study from Build It Green, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California, that works with home professionals. Upgraded homes in Washington, D.C., saw a 2 percent to 5 percent increase in 2015, according to a study Adomatis authored.

Consumer Reports suggests that upgrades like a gleaming new kitchen or a finished basement may give you more bang for your buck than energy-saving features. But if going green appeals more than adding quartz countertops, here’s where you can begin.

Find out how much energy your home uses

Getting a quick energy assessment or a more thorough energy audit can determine how much energy your home uses, as well as which upgrades would make the most sense for your home and finances. An audit may include an energy rating, a number that indicates how energy-efficient your home is and how much it will increase if you make recommended upgrades.

The Department of Energy (DOE) website lists ways to find assessors in your area. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program offers assessor and advisory services to help you determine what to upgrade. Your utility provider may also offer energy audits.

The cost varies depending on location and who’s providing the service. Your utility company may offer an assessment for free or at a discount. A full audit may run $300 to $500 depending on the complexity, according to Don Knapp, senior marketing manager with Build It Green. You may not want to foot the bill for a full audit unless you’re planning to take advantage of it with major upgrades.

Once you know where you can improve your energy use, begin by making the changes that are most affordable and have a quicker payoff, Adomatis advises. Then consider whether the costlier ones are worth the investment. Keep in mind that a variety of tax credits and financing options are available for energy-efficient improvements.

Common energy upgrades, from least expensive to most

1. Insulation. A 2016 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling magazine found that the average attic air-seal and fiberglass insulation job costs $1,268, with an added value to the home at resale within a year of completion of $1,482. That amounts to a 116 percent return on investment. And according to Energy Star, homeowners can save $200 a year in heating and cooling costs by making air sealing and insulation improvements.

2. Appliances. Your appliances account for about 15 percent of your home’s energy consumption, the DOE says. Certified clothes dryers can save you $245 over the life of the machine, according to Energy Star. A certified dryer from General Electric can run from $649 to $1,399.

When upgrading, look at the kilowatt-hour usage of a new appliance and compare it to your current one — a good Energy Star rating doesn’t necessarily mean it will use less energy than your existing appliance, Adomatis says.

3. Heating and cooling systems. These systems account for about 43 percent of your energy bill, according to the DOE. Replacement costs for an entire HVAC system — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — vary widely depending on equipment brands and sizing, but may run several thousand dollars. Energy Star estimates that you can save 30 percent on cooling costs by replacing your central air conditioning unit if it’s more than 12 years old.

According to Energy Star, a certified heat pump water heater has a payback time of two years and can save a four-person home $3,400 over its lifetime. A 50-gallon Geospring hybrid electric water heater from General Electric costs $1,399, plus installation.

While addressing your home’s heating and cooling systems, bear in the mind that leaky duct systems can be the biggest wasters of energy in your home, according to Charley Cormany, executive director of Efficiency First California, a nonprofit trade organization that represents energy-efficient contractors. The cost of a professional duct test typically runs $325 to $350 in California, he says.

4. Windows. Replacing the windows in your home may cost $8,000 to $24,000, and it could take decades to pay off, according to Consumer Reports. You can recoup some of that in resale value and energy savings. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report found that installing 10 vinyl replacement windows, at a cost of $14,725, can add $10,794 in resale value. Energy Star estimates that certified windows, doors and skylights can reduce your energy bill by up to 15 percent. If you’ve already tightened the shell of your home, installing a set of new windows may not be worth the cost. But the upgrade may be worth considering if you live in a colder climate.

5. Solar panels. EnergySage, a company offering an online marketplace for purchasing and installing solar panels, says the average cost of a solar panel system is $12,500. The payoff time and the amount you’ll save will vary depending on where you live. Estimated savings over a 20-year period in Philadelphia, for example, amount to $17,985, while it’s more than twice that amount in Seattle: $39,452, according to EnergySage.

Last: Let buyers know

When it comes time to sell, your real estate agent can help you market your home as energy efficient. Provide your agent with utility bills or your energy rating, if you received one with your audit, to include when describing the house on a multiple listing service, or MLS. There’s a growing trend in the real estate industry to make energy upgrades visible, Knapp says; energy disclosures are now a common practice in cities like Berkeley, California, and Chicago.

“If it’s reflected on the MLS, “it’s more likely to be reflected in the resale value,” Knapp said.

Bottom line: If you weigh the costs and savings carefully, going green can be worth the investment.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents  Nov 2016

 

 

 

Built-in shelves and a gas fireplace Image: Dream Book Design

Enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the best price tomorrow.

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely.

Here are eight affordable (under $5,000) home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide excellent financial return in the future.

1. Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

Decorative molding is a classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans first installed it to add grandeur to their buildings.  Centuries later, molding is still one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room. It’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.

Today’s wood moldings come in hundreds of options — from simple to ornate — that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow.

Buyers consistently rank both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home (#3 and #7 respectively), according to the annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want.”

And at $1.50 per foot if you DIY it, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. (Although we don’t recommend DIY unless you’ve got above-par mitering skills.)

A few tips about molding:

Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.

Place a chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height. Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion.

Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

2. Install Quality Ceiling Fans

If crown molding and chair railing were #3 and #7 on buyers’ decorative wish lists, what was #1?

Ceiling fans.

Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd pleaser. Once they were just a cheap solution to rising energy costs — ugly, wobbly, noisy eyesores endured because they were cheaper than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room.  If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Ceiling fans should hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200 to $600.

3. Plant Some Trees

Apple tree outside of a house next to a patio Image: M. Williams

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more. Trees also:

  • Save $100 to $250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some tips:

Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.

Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30%, on the north and northwest sides of your property.

Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage.

Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height. So, for example, if a tree reaches 40 feet, it should be planted at least 50 feet from any other trees.

Related: Good Landscaping Adds HOW MUCH Value to My Home?

4. Install a Patio

Back yard patio in the dusk Image: Suzanne Davis at bebehblog

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

Related: How to Make Your Hobbit-Sized Patio Feel Like Versailles

5. Pump Up Your Home Security

The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless.

In reality, price varies. You can buy and install it yourself for $50 to $300, or a security company can sell and install a system from $0 to $1,500. The “zero” is the hook companies use to lure you into signing a multi-year monitoring contract that ranges from $95 to $480 per year.

If a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance. Most companies will discount your annual rate 15% to 20% if you have a security service.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50% of homebuyers (in the NAHB survey) say a home security system — particularly security cameras — tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

You can go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks and a laser trip wire. Or you can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.

Tips:

  • If you do decide to go with a monitoring system, choose a company with a 10-year track record to ensure reliability.
  • Don’t rely on any system as your sole means of security. Locking doors and windows is still your best first-line of defense.

6. Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A UCLA study examined the sales prices of 1.6 million California homes from 2007 to 2012 and found that homes with Energy Star, LEED, or GreenPoint certification had, on average, a 9% higher price.

That finding is echoed in NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2% to 3% less.

One energy-saving home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. If you like to crunch energy numbers, gas fireplaces have energy-efficient ratings as high as 77%, compared with wood-burning fireplaces that convert only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat.

In fact, 39% of homebuyers say a gas fireplace is an essential or desirable feature of the next home they purchase. So when it comes time to sell your home, more than one-third of potential buyers will be looking for a gas fireplace.

In the meantime, it’ll be paying for itself in reduced heating costs.

Some tips for converting to gas:

  • direct-vent gas insert most closely replicates the wood-burning experience at a cost of about $3,000 to $4,000, installed.
  • If you don’t have an existing fireplace, you can install a direct-vent (vents directly outside so you don’t need a chimney) gas fireplace for about $5,000 (installed and finished).

Related: 5 Quick Energy Fixes to Save Up to $660 a Year

7. Add Some Creative Storage

We don’t have to sell you on the value of storage and built-in organization. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Never, we bet.

Adding storage is a no-brainer, but it does take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage.

Here are a few ways to think outside of the toy box:

  • Open drywall to create storage cubbies between your wall’s studs.
  • Install platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling.
  • Even stairs can give you more storage. One clever mom repurposed an old chest of drawers and created storage within a basement staircase.

Related: Storage Hacks from Space-Challenged New Yorkers

8. Light Up the Outdoors

Exterior lighting makes your home shine in the evening, accents features you like most about your house, and helps keep burglars away. A hard-wired lighting fixture can cost $150 to $250 to install. On the plus side, you could get a 50% return on your investment, says Judith Patriski, a Cleveland appraiser and REALTOR®. Installing motion-detecting lights can even lower some homeowners’ insurance premiums. (Check with your agent.)

And with technological advances in solar lighting, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to boost your home’s nighttime curb appeal.

Plus, 90% of buyers say outdoor lighting is on their list of desired home features.

Tips:

  • Place accent lights under your favorite trees to show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • If your lights are hard-wired, put them on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm white light. It’ll make your home look and feel welcoming.

These residences are outfitted with the finest in workout equipment and space, proving that you don’t have to go far for fitness.

July 15, 2016 / Property Spotlight http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/property-spotlight/eight-impressive-home-gyms

Watching athletes from around the world compete in Rio de Janeiro for gold will inspire many to hit the track—or the pool, tennis court, or basketball court—and set a personal best. For most, that will involve a trip to the gym or at least another facility with the capacity for such activities. Not so for the owners of these luxurious retreats, where an on-site fitness center is a key attraction. From personal weight-training equipment to private saunas and even indoor basketball courts, upscale fitness amenities make it entirely possible to train like an Olympian right at home.

Mountain Retreat
Telluride, Colorado

Enjoy an après-ski workout with a view of the trees outside the windows of this Telluride estate, which also has an indoor basketball court.
Enjoy an après-ski workout with a view of the trees outside the windows of this Telluride estate, which also has an indoor basketball court.

This contemporary estate in the Rocky Mountain ski resort of Telluride, Colorado, presents stunning views of the San Sophia mountain range. With 8,000 square feet of interior space, the home includes three main living areas connected by a series of bridges. On-site recreational facilities range from a basketball court to a gym with views across the treetops outside. There is also a ski utility wing with access to Telluride’s world-class skiing facilities, which are just a short walk away.

Contemporary Cascais
Lisbon, Portugal

With its tempting view of the pool, this gym serves up a cool setting for a workout in this stunning Lisbon-area residence.
With its tempting view of the pool, this gym serves up a cool setting for a workout in this stunning Lisbon-area residence.

Situated within a gated residential community in the golfing community of Cascais about 23 miles from Lisbon, this striking property boasts a large game room with bar, a home theater, and staff quarters with private entry. A spacious leisure area includes a gym, sauna, Turkish bath, and indoor pool. Outside, the grounds feature manicured gardens, a barbecue, several dining areas, a large pool, and three tennis courts.Sleek Estate

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A compound composed of six individual penthouses, this impressive building at the edge of the exclusive golf course The Dutch has a separate gym and sauna.
A compound composed of six individual penthouses, this impressive building at the edge of the exclusive golf course The Dutch has a separate gym and sauna.

This newly built estate located adjacent to a famous and very private golf course outside Amsterdam is actually six independent penthouse apartments—all of which have the potential to be connected—boasting a combined total of 38,179 square feet of interior space. The modern structure, designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, is complemented by a carriage house with a pool, gym, sauna, and Turkish bath. Additionally, a butler’s house provides six bedrooms and kitchenettes. About a one-hour drive from central Amsterdam, this unique property combines the utmost in convenience and indulgence.

Lakefront Allure
Clayton, Georgia

Set up as a professional gym, the workout area of this lakefront house in Georgia provides ample space for exercising.
Set up as a professional gym, the workout area of this lakefront house in Georgia provides ample space for exercising.

This elegant lake home has warm accents such as reclaimed oak floors and beams, exposed brick and stone, multiple fireplaces, and hand-distressed wood kitchen cabinetry. Situated on Lake Burton—a reservoir of the Tallulah River in northeastern Georgia—the residence is ideal for entertaining guests thanks to its chef’s kitchen, waterfront porch, and fabulous home gym with its own sauna and steam shower. A workshop represents an additional outlet for expending energy and accomplishing a goal.

Modern Manse
Cannes, France

Taking an exercise break in this house is like escaping on a mini-vacation; the workout room with views over the hills of Provence also has a hot tub and sauna.
Taking an exercise break in this house is like escaping on a mini-vacation; the workout room with views over the hills of Provence also has a hot tub and sauna.

Perched atop a hill overlooking the ocean and the Lérins Islands, this expansive retreat offers 7,201 magnificent square feet of interior space that includes eight bedrooms. The dramatic grounds also feature a guest house, caretaker’s cottage, pool, and garage. The fitness room in this bright and airy house has large windows plus a sauna and hot tub. The property’s location in the French Riviera—one of the first modern resort areas—makes it an ideal getaway for active travelers, especially yachting enthusiasts.

Island Escape
Honolulu, Hawaii

The fitness room of this glamorous Honolulu mansion boasts majestic panoramic views of the Pacific, enhancing the appeal of home workouts.
The fitness room of this glamorous Honolulu mansion boasts majestic panoramic views of the Pacific, enhancing the appeal of home workouts.

Combining the glamour of Hollywood and the sophistication of New York City, this opulent hillside Honolulu retreat serves up panoramic views of Lanai, Maui, and Molokai from nearly every angle. The property itself is a magical setting complete with a koi pond, tea pavilion, outdoor spa with hot tub, and tropical waterfalls. The 9,166-square-foot interior features grand entertaining spaces, a chef’s kitchen with professional-grade appliances, plus a master suite with its own movie projector and drop-down screen. Fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the ocean-facing exercise room outfitted with an array of equipment and free weights as well as multiple television screens.

Spanish-Style Grange
Smiths Parish, Bermuda

With space for just about any type of weight-training equipment, this brightly lit Bermuda gym also has its own steam shower.
With space for just about any type of weight-training equipment, this brightly lit Bermuda gym also has its own steam shower.

This Mediterranean-meets-Bermuda residence offers seaside luxury and multiple amenities. Set on three acres with south-facing ocean views, the elegant 1947 home has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a cedar-panelled library with fireplace, a media room, and—for the athletically inclined—a spectacular home gym with its own steam shower. A tennis court with a shady pavilion and changing room—plus a pool with its own pavilion and wet bar—complete the package of this retreat located just moments from some of Bermuda’s best beaches and a nature preserve.

Glorious Georgian
New Vernon, New Jersey

The spacious home gym in this New Jersey Georgian-style home is roomy enough for a range of fitness equipment., and its wall of mirrors will help exercisers ensure that good form is second nature.
The spacious home gym in this New Jersey Georgian-style home is roomy enough for a range of fitness equipment., and its wall of mirrors will help exercisers ensure that good form is second nature.

Situated in a leafy town about an hour outside Manhattan and adjacent to a protected trout stream, this Georgian-style residence offers stately architecture, generously sized rooms, and wooded grounds with a pond. From the detailed millwork to the wainscoting and vaulted and tray ceilings, the residence generates an authentic Old World ambience. Woodburning fireplaces, custom built-ins, and handsomely crafted kitchen cabinetry add to its charm and warmth. The finished lower level has a spacious recreation room and a fitness room with a mirrored wall.   Discover more homes with exquisite gyms 

July 15, 2016 / Property Spotlight http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/property-spotlight/eight-impressive-home-gyms

From poolside cabanas to open-air living rooms, elegantly appointed outdoor spaces are a key selling point in today’s luxury market.

from http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/market-insights/sumptuous-outdoor-spaces

1. Four-Season Outdoor Living Room
Fully realized alfresco living rooms are distinguished by one signature feature: fire. Whether a dramatic stone hearth and fireplace, a firepit, or a chiminea, a fire element turns an outdoor space into an outdoor room that can be used year-round in warm-weather states throughout the U.S., including Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona. “Florida’s weather is such that you can do virtually all of your living and entertaining alfresco, especially during the winter months, when the weather is characteristically warm and dry during the day and deliciously cool and comfortable at night,” says Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company. Fire elements generate warmth and a welcoming ambiance; additionally, two-sided fireplaces can create a natural separation between outdoor spaces, such as a living room and dining area.

Fire elements provide warmth and enhance the ambiance of the outdoor living room of this luxury home in Nokomis, Florida.
Fire elements provide warmth and enhance the ambiance of the outdoor living room of this luxury home in Nokomis, Florida.

2. Poolside Cabanas 2.0
A perennially popular poolside accompaniment, the cabana today is designed to serve triple and even quadruple duty at summer homes in New England, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. In addition to being a respite from the sun’s rays, cabanas may be furnished with a wet bar and stools, a kitchenette, and even a full-size dining table. “Our clients enjoy being able to spend the day outside with little need for going indoors,” says Liza McKenney from Great Point Properties. “Being able to fix drinks and food, dine outside, and get some shade is a plus for many. Stepping out your back door into an outdoor living area makes you feel like you have your own private oasis.”

This deluxe poolside cabana creates the sense of a true private oasis on the grounds of a summer retreat in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
This deluxe poolside cabana creates the sense of a true private oasis on the grounds of a summer retreat in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

3. Designer Flourishes
“Carefully selected furniture adds to the sense of stylish outdoor living,” says Maria Gryllaki of 
Ploumis Sotiropoulos. Gryllaki has worked with numerous properties in Greece where the designer treatment has been given to the outdoor patios and terraces of centuries-old villas: importing pieces from shops as far-ranging as London and Hong Kong adds just the right touch of contemporary sophistication. Comfortable, elegant seating and pillows done in luxurious fabrics further blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.

 

The patios and terraces at this centuries-old villa in Hydra, Greece, have been designed with great care so as to blend the old with the new.
The patios and terraces at this centuries-old villa in Hydra, Greece, have been designed with great care so as to blend the old with the new.

4. Blended Indoor-Outdoor Living
Oceanfront estates from California to the Caribbean are being designed with an open-air concept that takes full advantage of the desirable weather and gentle ocean breezes. The concept is essentially built into a home’s design, notes Peyton Cabano from 
Willis Allen Real Estate. Architects are bringing the outside in by creating permanent, covered living spaces with all the same amenities as an indoor family room, living room, or kitchen— only one or more walls are absent.

 

Expansive open spaces, vaulted ceilings, and wall-to-wall disappearing glass doors afford unparalleled ocean views.
Expansive open spaces, vaulted ceilings, and wall-to-wall disappearing glass doors afford unparalleled ocean views.

The resulting designs capitalize on sweeping ocean views and make for an impressive space for living and entertaining. “When it comes to entertaining guests, there is no nicer setting than by the sea,” says Dominique Silvera, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at One Caribbean Estates. “Entertaining in a beachfront property creates an unmatchable ambience.”

 

Arguably the most luxurious property ever built on Barbados, One Sandy Lane features residences designed with indoor-outdoor living in mind.
Arguably the most luxurious property ever built on Barbados, One Sandy Lane features residences designed with indoor-outdoor living in mind.

5. Dining Alfresco
Dining outdoors against the backdrop of a breathtaking natural vista is a cherished tradition amid the desert landscape of the American Southwest and the majestic mountain ranges of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. In these places of rugged, natural beauty, understated elegance is best, so as not to take away from the grandeur of the surroundings. That being said, outdoor dining sets have come a long way. Today they are made in a variety of materials that are both luxurious and able to stand the test of time and the elements; teak and cypress are popular choices. Tabletop flourishes including candles, floral arrangements, and elegant tableware and stemware set the stage for an unforgettable evening under the stars.

 

Spectacular views from the patio of this Jackson Hole, Wyoming, retreat are the ultimate backdrop for an evening under the stars.
Spectacular views from the patio of this Jackson Hole, Wyoming, retreat are the ultimate backdrop for an evening under the stars.

6. Next-Gen Pool Design
Ocean Home magazine reports that the latest iteration of pool design trending in the northeastern states—including the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut—is inspired by nature. Characterized by forest-like landscaping, rock work, and water elements that one might happen upon during a stroll through the woods—waterfalls, lily pad–topped ponds—these designs are as much about creating an environment as they are about the actual pool. Taking a page from nature’s playbook doesn’t mean scaling back on luxurious finishes, however. These homes may well have an outdoor kitchen or firepit, or perhaps both.

 

Featuring a cascading waterfall, natural rock work, and landscaping evocative of a forest, this stunning pool at an estate in Holmdel, New Jersey, characterizes the natural-pool trend.
Featuring a cascading waterfall, natural rock work, and landscaping evocative of a forest, this stunning pool at an estate in Holmdel, New Jersey, characterizes the natural-pool trend. 
 from  http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/market-insights/sumptuous-outdoor-spaces

I heard on the news today that one of my favorite food stores Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on housing prices. It seems that homes that are located within 1 mile of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods are worth twice as much as the national median. In a study of home prices between 1997 and 2014, it states that within 2 years of Trader Joe’s stores opening in an area, the homes are worth 10% more than similar homes in areas without Trader Joe’s. Interesting, eh?

All I know is that I am 100% happier within 2 days of a Trader Joe’s opening near me. I lived in California for 20 years and I happily shopped there every week. When I moved back to Annapolis, Maryland no Trader Joe’s were to be found. Within a couple of years, it arrived. Now I live in St Petersburg, Florida and after 8 years of living here, Trader Joe’s opened a store within 5 minutes from my house and office. Hooray!! You see, good things happen to those who wait. Thanks Trader Joe’s! And no, I am not getting any money from them-yet-hint, hint.

Excellent advice-stride for the perfect blend of form, function, and meaning when remodeling.

Growing up, I always wished I had an older brother or sister who could tell me what was cool. Back in the day, I wanted someone to explain which bands were awesome and which ones were “posers,” as was the vernacular at the time. Now that I’m about to purchase my first home, there’s a part of me that wishes I had an older sibling who was working on making their second or third house a home. What disastrous remodeling project would s/he warn me against? Is my DIY idea going to be a homey improvement, or cheesy and impossible to resell? Is wallpaper a natty way to dress up a nook, or is it a literal pain in the neck that will be outdated by the time I’m done Instagramming it?

Sure, there’s Pinterest and Houzz and a million other home improvement blogs I could consult with my specific design queries. But what if I want to have a conversation? What if I wanted to page through the potential of my new home, room by empty room?

Sherry and John Petersik. (©Todd Wright)

Well, I’ve decided on adopting Sherry and John Petersik as my know-it-all older sibs.* Not that they’re arrogant (quite the opposite really) but they have much more experience than I do at this sort of thing; they have three home purchases and countless upgrade projects under their collective belt. The couple started blogging about their home adventures some seven years ago, and continue to do so at Young House Love. Now they’re on their second book (Lovable, Liveable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You, due out from Artisan publishing on Sept. 22) and reading it, I can guess how the first one found its way onto the New York Times Bestseller list. Their advice is eminently approachable and chic while always keeping cost considerations as part of the conversation. Among their own step-by-step project instructions and case studies from home owners around the world who conquered their own design issues, they sprinkle in snarky asides from their dog, Burger, poll results of their sizable readership on trends and common home conundrums, and realistic but flexible rules you might glean from an interior design class.

Burger the dog (from Lovable, Livable Home).

My favorite part is the Petersik’s approach to infusing personality in one’s home. Because, please: Who wants to actually live in Martha Stewart’s house? No thanks. Instead, the guiding principle of their advice is to try for the perfect blend of form, function, and meaning. Having the most efficient, workable house (function) is no better than having the most beautiful one (form). Then again, no one picks up a home design book with the intention of wallpapering the whole place with their children’s amateur artwork (meaning). The key, say the Petersiks, is to marry these three ideas as best you can in each project.

Above all, this is a practical read. The Petersiks include considerations for families in all stages of development and often make note of the most durable, easy-to-keep-nice options available to each project. They’re keen on helping home owners make a good use of the space they have (whether that’s too much or too little).

I’ve been trying to read it slowly, because we haven’t moved in yet and I think it’ll be more useful when I’m actually in our new space (can you tell I’m counting the days?) But I can’t put it down, so I guess I’ll be reading it twice. It’s the most addictive home design guide for new-ish, young-ish home owners I think I’ve ever come across, and I highly recommend it as a closing gift, or even a staple in your office. Because we all need a big brother or sister’s advice from time to time.

*I should mention here that I draw plenty of inspiration from my little brother and sister-in-law’s adorable home in Minneapolis and my husband’s brother and sister-in-law’s super cute Salt Lake City home, and I wouldn’t give any of them up for the world!

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

These budget-friendly home improvements will help you enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the most value tomorrow.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely.

Here are eight affordable (under $5,000) home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide excellent financial return in the future.

1.  Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

Chair rail moldingImage: Crazy Wonderful

Decorative molding is a classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans first installed it to add grandeur to their buildings.  Centuries later, molding is still one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room. It’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.

Today’s wood moldings come in hundreds of options — from simple to ornate — that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow.

Buyers consistently rank both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home (#3 and #7 respectively), according to the annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want.”

And at $1.50 per foot if you DIY it, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. (Although we don’t recommend DIY unless you’ve got above-par mitering skills.)

A few tips about molding:

  • Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.
  • Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion. Rule of thumb: Place chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height.
  • Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

Related: Stunning Transformations with Crown Molding

2.  Install Quality Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fan in nurseryImage: Kate from This American Wife

If crown molding and chair railing were #3 and #7 on buyers’ decorative wish lists, what was #1?

Ceiling fans.

Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd pleaser. Once they were just a cheap solution to rising energy costs — ugly, wobbly, noisy eyesores endured because they were cheaper than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room.  If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Ceiling fans should hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200 to $600.

3.  Plant Some Trees

Apple tree in yardImage: M. Williams

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more. Trees also:

  • Save $100 to $250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.
  • Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30%, on the north and northwest sides of your property.
  • Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height. So, for example, if a tree reaches 40 feet, it should be planted at least 50 feet from any other trees.

4.  Install a Patio

Patio adds valueImage: Suzanne Davis at bebehblog

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

 

5.  Pump Up Your Home Security

The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless.

In reality, price varies. You can buy and install it yourself for $50 to $300, or a security company can sell and install a system from $0 to $1,500. The “zero” is the hook companies use to lure you into signing a multi-year monitoring contract that ranges from $95 to $480 per year.

If a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance. Most companies will discount your annual rate 15% to 20% if you have a security service.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50% of homebuyers (in the NAHB survey) say a home security system — particularly security cameras — tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

You can go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks and a laser trip wire. Or you can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.

Tips:

  • If you do decide to go with a monitoring system, choose a company with a 10-year track record to ensure reliability.
  • Don’t rely on any system as your sole means of security. Locking doors and windows is still your best first-line of defense.

6.  Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A UCLA study examined the sales prices of 1.6 million California homes from 2007 to 2012 and found that homes with Energy Star, LEED, or GreenPoint certification had, on average, a 9% higher price.

That finding is echoed in NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2% to 3% less.

One energy-saving home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. If you like to crunch energy numbers, gas fireplaces have energy-efficient ratings as high as 77%, compared with wood-burning fireplaces that convert only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat.

In fact, 39% of homebuyers say a gas fireplace is an essential or desirable feature of the next home they purchase. So when it comes time to sell your home, more than one-third of potential buyers will be looking for a gas fireplace.

In the meantime, it’ll be paying for itself in reduced heating costs.

Some tips for converting to gas:

  • A direct-vent gas insert most closely replicates the wood-burning experience at a cost of about $3,000 to $4,000, installed.
  • If you don’t have an existing fireplace, you can install a direct-vent (vents directly outside so you don’t need a chimney) gas fireplace for about $5,000 (installed and finished).

7.  Add Some Creative Storage

We don’t have to sell you on the value of storage and built-in organization. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Never, we bet.

Adding storage is a no-brainer, but it does take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage.

Here are a few ways to think outside of the toy box:

  • Open drywall to create storage cubbies between your wall’s studs.
  • Install platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling.
  • Even stairs can give you more storage. One clever mom repurposed an old chest of drawers and created storage within a basement staircase.

8.  Light Up the Outdoors

Exterior lighting makes your home shine in the evening, accents features you like most about your house, and helps keep burglars away. A hard-wired lighting fixture can cost $150 to $250 to install. On the plus side, you could get a 50% return on your investment, says Judith Patriski, a Cleveland appraiser and REALTOR®. Installing motion-detecting lights can even lower some homeowners’ insurance premiums. (Check with your agent.)

And with technological advances in solar lighting, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to boost your home’s nighttime curb appeal.

Plus, 90% of buyers say outdoor lighting is on their list of desired home features.

Tips:

  • Place accent lights under your favorite trees to show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • If your lights are hard-wired, put them on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm white light. It’ll make your home look and feel welcoming.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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  • October 2018 Pinellas County and Pasco County Real Estate Statistics Reports November 26, 2018
    Nationwide existing-home sales increased in October after six straight months of decreases according to the National Association of  REALTORS®. Go here to access the October 2018 Pinellas County report. Go here to access the October 2018 Pasco County report.
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    Brian David Boudro (NextHome Gulf to Bay), born on December 6, 1961, in New Orleans, Louisiana to Lester Boudro and Grace Twilbeck Boudro, passed away on November 15, 2018 in St. Petersburg, FL.  Brian is lived through his loving wife, Constance Boudro and his son Gregory Boudro.  He is survived by his sisters, Penny Palmer […]
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  • Member James Kevin Burns passed away October 8, 2018
    James Kevin Burns 67, of Gulfport, FL (formerly of Dade City) passed away Tuesday, October 2, 2018. He was born March 17, 1951 in Tampa, FL to Nicholas Smyth Burns Jr & Nancy Ellen McCabe Burns. He was a longtime Pinellas County resident and owned and operated K.B. Realty LLC. He is survived by his […]
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  • Member Lucile Casey sponsors event benefiting local public libraries October 8, 2018
    Contact Lucile Casey for more information: lcasey@bhhsfloridaproperties.com
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