Making Your Home Special with Creativity & Character
Stir your creativity
It’s your home so dream big or dream small, but make it your own. That’s the beauty of planning a home project, you can let your imagination lead you. Your goal is to create a look & feel that makes your home unique and charming. To stir your creativity, visit new home models in your community or visit re-sale Open Houses in your neighborhood to see what others have done. Gather ideas from paint to décor.
Home projects gallery
View our Home Projects Gallery below. Whether you’re adding a room, painting, decorating, or building an outdoor patio for entertaining, it’s helpful to see a variety of photos to get some ideas. We've included multiple images, designs, colors, and architectural selections for you to browse. As you embark on your project just remember, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. Take your time and focus on quality.
How to proceed
Once you’ve gained vision for your project you should meet with several reputable contractors to review your plans. Listen to their suggestions and compare their bids before you proceed. You may choose to do some of the work yourself, or hire out the entire job, that’s up to you. If budget requires you to do some of the work, seek assistance from family pros. Make sure all contractors are licensed and insured.
Take your time and expect delays
Home projects seldom run on time, or on budget. You can reduce stress with proper planning and solid communication with all parties involved in your project. Get details in writing and review them in person if possible with the contractor or others you are depending on to complete the job. If you’re doing the work yourself, proceed with caution. There’s also less risk of injury when you pace yourself.
Review plans with city or county to obtain permits
Are permits required for your project? Are you required to obtain approval from a Home Owners Association? Check with all authorities, especially if you are adding on to your home. Most municipalities require a permit for work to ensure building codes and safety measures are addressed. Fines and penalties, or removal of the structures just added are never fun so ask before you task!
When you make improvements to your home, you’re making a significant investment. Carefully evaluate the costs to complete your home projects. Inquire with a Realtor or property appraiser to determine the estimated value of your home with improvements completed. If you’re within the value range of your neighborhood, great. If your projected value will be well above your neighborhood, limit improvements.
How Much is My House Worth: Understanding Home Equity
Home Projects Gallery
Improve Your Home's Value With An Outdoor Entertainment Area
Outdoor Entertainment areas now rank high on the American homeowners' wish list. Reasons range from healthful living and realizing the value of sunshine and Vitamin D, to exercise and outdoor activities, gardening, and growing great organic foods. And as always, outdoor areas are a wonderful place to unwind and relax with family or friends after a hectic day, or week at work.
The latest "Cost vs. Value" Report from Remodeling Magazine pegs an upscale outdoor deck addition as the third most popular redo with a return investment at 56.4 percent on the average improvement cost of $39,339. A slightly less expensive, mid-range deck averages $17,249 nationally and returns a higher 65.2 percent.
While watching family dollars and cents make sense, don't forget the "joy factor". The National Association of Realtors® places “joy” as equally important as investing and building equity. Every improvement isn't about resale values, but enjoying a home while you live there!
The key to planning an outdoor project is researching options and setting priorities. There are so many new designs and great new products to choose among. In addition, you may have a limited land area, as well as limited budget, so careful planning is important.
If your budget permits, consider hiring a design firm or landscape architect to help tackle your project. Sacramento, California-based landscape designer Michael Glassman, co-author of The Garden Bible: Designing your perfect outdoor space (Images Publishing), suggests that you consider spending 10 to 20 percent of the value of your home on outdoor entertainment improvements. Then, decide what will appeal most to you and your family. He starts with a master plan to see how changes relate to one another, the site and the home. Projects can be phased in over time to fit each family’s budget.
To get the biggest bang for your dollar on any improvement, Glassman suggests these following five areas, which many of his clients now request.
- The area should be large enough to accommodate seating and lounging.
- The three most popular floor materials are redwood, flagstone or textured or stained concrete.
- Consider the sun. You don't want it beating down on you all afternoon, so create covered or shaded areas. Options include a pergola with vines such as wisteria to cut glare and wind, or look into awning options, sail-shaped covers, or cabana designs.
- Outdoor kitchens have become more prevalent. However, the trend toward cloning the indoor kitchen and including everything from a barbecue grill to pizza oven, refrigerator, beer tap, running water in a sink, storage, counters, and more is fading.
- Site your outdoor kitchen near a back door to cut down on dual equipment. Check into new glass wall and door designs that open existing kitchen areas to outdoor entertaining areas.
- Feature what's most critical, Glassman says. Maybe, include one of the new hybrid grilles where you can use gas or charcoal and outdoor woks or a Hibachi, Kegerator or wine refrigerator.
- Like the whoosh of water, which is soothing? Less costly alternatives to a pond with waterfall and boulders are a bubbler or fountain that recirculate the water and can be a colorful, tall addition in your garden depending on the container. They also require far less maintenance.
- If working out is your goal and you have the space and funds, nothing beats a swimming pool. Know that the costs border around a minimum of $35,000 for an in-ground gunite design, depending on its size.
- A smaller variation of just a spa or hot tub can be constructed for about $19,000 and give you year-round enjoyment. Build it close enough to your back door so you'll venture out even when it's chilly, Glassman says.
- Another affordable alternative is to build a play pool, which is shallow on each end and deep in the center. This is a great way to play water volleyball or water polo.
- Know how much physical work you’re up for before you plant, as well as how much research you want to do. For example, you need to know what type of soil you have and if it needs amending with nutrients before you plant to be sure materials thrive.
- Also know what animals lurk nearby since they're apt to check out your veggies and fruits and devour results unless you build a tall deep fence.
- Not sure this is for you? Test your interest by planting tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits in pots or grapevines along a fence. If you do find being a farmer appeals and you want to go bigger, consider raised beds from redwood or slate or horse troughs that can be painted bright fun colors.
- Installing an outdoor water source near your garden eliminates the need to lug around a hose.
- Bocce ball courts have become one of the latest "in" additions with the court cost dependent on its size and surface material, whether masonry or wood.
- Landscape designer John Cowen likes to bring weatherproof ping-pong tables outdoors to his own and clients' homes for a fast, fun game.
- Landscape architect Steve Chepurny has installed putting greens for duffers to work on their short games in their own yard.
- Still another popular way to entertain is with a TV that's designed just for the great outdoors with its surround that’s water-resistant and a screen that cuts glare.
Final Benefit: Whatever way you go, outdoor entertainment is really all about being together with family and friends in your own special haven.
Snap App and SnapDry by Sherwin-Williams
plus New Colors and Painting Tips
Home Painting Products: Snap App and SnapDry by Sherwin-Williams
Selling a home? Just bought a home? Paint is the easiest and least expensive decorating tool to help homeowners transform a house when moving out – and often before moving in. Fortunately to avoid spending dollars on hiring a painting contractor, many homeowners can paint themselves. However, choosing the right paint color can be intimidating. No worries – there are several ways to find help, from apps and visualizers to specific color charts.
On the inside
Selecting a color with universal appeal can be tricky. Many real-estate salespeople recommend going neutral (white or beige). We asked paint and color expert Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing at manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, based in Cleveland, which paint color works best on walls, ceilings, and trim for resale, as well as which type of finish to use.
"You can definitely go white for a blank-canvas look, but I prefer going with a neutral for a somewhat stronger look," she says. And here's why." Too many will find the white too institutional looking and antiseptic and will think they'll have to hire a painter to make their home feel like a home," she says.
But don't think you have to use just one neutral color. Consider a series of grays that are trending now or some taupes that will help personalize the home and rooms. And to curtail the cost, you don't have to paint every single room. Focus instead on the main living spaces plus the master bedroom, which are the rooms most buyers care about when they view homes.
Which neutrals are most likely to appeal? Wadden likes her company's Accessible Beige, #7036, which falls in between being warm and cool, has a bit of gray, and looks well with all styles of furnishings. If you don't want all the rooms in the same hue, she suggests going "up" or a bit darker on a color strip to Tony Taupe, #7037, for an adjoining room such as a dining room or family room. It offers a similar feeling but is a bit darker and richer. For yet another room – maybe, a kitchen or the master bedroom, consider going a bit lighter with Aesthetic White, #7035. Using paint on the kitchen cabinets can refresh the room without investing in a renovation when you don't plan to stay. If sellers want to be hip, they might consider the company's recently named 2017 Color of the Year, which is Poised Taupe, #6039, and a bit darker and more modern.
When it comes to trim and ceilings, a good idea is to be consistent throughout. Even if buyers don't like the color of your walls, they may find they like the trim and ceiling choices. This means they won't feel compelled to repaint, which can be time consuming and costly. One classic color that works for both is the company's Pure White, #7005.
What about the finish? Part of the decision should hinge on the condition of the surfaces. If your house is older and may have some bumpy areas, consider a flat finish that tends to mask imperfections. It also works well on ceilings to make them fade away and not reflect sunlight. For trim, consider semi-gloss, which adds a bit of sheen and is also very durable if baseboards get dinged or scuffed. If you're concerned about scrubability – in a hallway or busy trafficked area, consider going with a satin or eggshell finish, which are easier to wipe down, Wadden says.
On the outside
Curb appeal – or what buyers see right away – does ring true. The front door and any shutters should look clean and fresh. If homeowners want to go classic, a dark color such as a black, red, or deep green is a safe choice, particularly in the Northeast, Wadden says. In warmer areas such as the Southwest, they might go a bit bolder with a coral or turquoise, depending on the rest of the house, including its facade frame, which usually should be in a neutral that appeals to a wide market.
Use a Snap app
For either the interior or exterior, sellers can take real-world colors and turn them into paint-color swatches on their smartphone or ipad with the company's "ColorSnap(R) Visualizer."
Finally, if time is of the essence, and home owners need to make a quick fix, they should use the company's new "SnapDry (TM)" line of semi-gloss door and trim paint, which dries and cures within an hour. The door can be closed without sticking.
The goal of any paint color is to visually tell a story about your home and make it feel lived in and loved.
Contemporary Style Among Bathroom Trends for 2017
Photo by Jeff Davis Photography
Whether your bathroom needs an update or you want to improve the look of your home to attract buyers, the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) https://www.nkba.org/Design.aspx provides insights gleaned from an annual survey of the association’s members. The members, who are design professionals from around the country, tend to work with deep-pocketed customers. However, some of the trends they identify can be incorporated into remodeling projects for more budget-minded homeowners.
Top bathroom trends for 2017 include:
- Traditional style is out. Contemporary and transitional styles are both more popular than traditional style for bathrooms. In addition, Shaker-style is becoming more popular for bathrooms, along with mid-century modern. These trends correlate with homebuyer preferences for clean lines and an uncluttered look in every room of the house.
- White and gray color schemes are everywhere. By far the most popular color schemes for bathrooms are gray and white, echoing the look of Carrara marble. Among trendier designers looking for more of a wow factor, blue, violet and purple touches are being introduced into bathrooms. Some contemporary bathrooms include stainless-steel vanities, but white-painted vanities and gray paint are far more common.
- Vessel sinks are fading. Pedestal sinks and vessel sinks are both declining in popularity as homeowners prefer under-mounted bathroom sinks. Also gaining in popularity: trough sinks, which are a smaller equivalent of farmhouse-style sinks in kitchens.
- Freestanding tubs are the in accessory. While many remodeling projects in the master bathroom include the replacement of a combination tub-and-shower or a separate soaking tub with an oversized shower, one exception to this trend is the preference for freestanding tubs. Sixty percent of the designers surveyed think there will be more requests for these sculptural freestanding tubs in 2017, although these are primarily in vogue among homeowners with plenty of discretionary money to spend and a large master bathroom.
- Bathroom safety becoming a priority. Whether this is a reflection of an aging population or simply more awareness of the ability to increase safety and comfort in bathrooms, more homeowners are opting for items like comfort-height toilets, seats in showers, lighting in showers and no-threshold showers. These features are helpful to people as they age and others with mobility issues. At the same time, homeowners realize they add comfort and convenience to all family members.
- Expect more high-tech features in future bathrooms. Designers say some of the emerging trends coming this year and in the future include music in the shower, radiant floor heating, self-cleaning toilets and “smart toilets” that include heated seats, automated flushing, a nightlight and overflow protection. At the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, several manufacturers of bathroom fixtures demonstrated programmable systems to cycle through multiple showerheads and set preferences for each family member. Water-saving toilets and faucets are already becoming mainstream for homeowners remodeling their bathrooms.
- New storage options gaining in popularity. While wood vanities and linen storage cabinets are still the most common storage options for bathrooms, “floating” vanities, which are attached to the wall without support underneath are increasingly being used in high-end bathrooms. Open shelving is also requested more often than in the past.
- Faucet colors are changing. While brushed nickel replaced gold faucets years ago, designers say the new colors that are becoming more popular are brushed brass and gold. Homeowners appear to be open to mixing different metals in their kitchens and for other hardware, a trend that could spread to bathrooms.
While trends can be interesting to follow, it doesn’t mean you must adhere to the tastes of other homeowners or designers, particularly if you plan to stay in your home for years to come. It makes more sense to pick what you love – even if that means you install an untrendy whirlpool tub – and to wait until you’re ready to sell and for tastes to change again before you make any updates based on buyer preferences.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. who has been writing about real estate and personal finance for more than two decades. She writes for consumers, Realtors and investors. Her work appears regularly in The Washington Post, New Home Source, Bankrate, Fox Business, MSN, Yahoo, The Motley Fool, REIT magazine, Realtor.com, HSH.com and numerous Realtor association publications. She is the author of "New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home" and "HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time."