News Feeds (RSS) Covid 19 coronavirus: Almost 10pc of tenants stopped paying rent or left tenancies: landlords Landlords say two in every 100 tenants have stopped paying rent and 6 per cent have simply left their properties. That's according to a survey of 621 rental property owners and managers by the NZ Property Investors' Federation.... Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:05:41 +1200 2020-04-03 13:05 +12:00 2020-04-03 14:05 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: SkyCity axes 200 jobs SkyCity is slashing about 200 jobs in New Zealand with immediate effect, as it attempts to reduce costs.The casino giant has also stood down about 90 per cent of its Australian workforce at its Adelaide riverside property.The... Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:14:26 +1200 2020-04-03 09:14 +12:00 2020-04-03 10:14 +13:00 Supreme Court upholds ruling on Hamilton realtor collusion The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that a group of Hamilton realtors colluded to pass on a hike in Trade Me's property listing fees.The Lodge and Monarch agencies and their respective directors Jeremy O'Rourke and Brian King... Thu, 02 Apr 2020 17:46:48 +1200 2020-04-02 17:46 +12:00 2020-04-02 18:46 +13:00 COMMENT: Making sense of it all: COVID-19, the economy & property <p>The Covid-19 crisis means everything is changing fast, so CoreLogic&rsquo;s Kelvin Davidson* has put together his 10 key points on what to be aware of when it comes to the property market.</p> Thu, 02 Apr 2020 10:54:00 +1200 2020-04-02 10:54 +12:00 2020-04-02 11:54 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: Property firm apologises for 'inartful' advice to avoid rent holidays From RNZ A nationwide property management company has changed the wording of its advice to landlords wanting to offer rent holidays to tenants struggling during the Covid-19 shutdown.Property Brokers had been suggesting on its... Wed, 01 Apr 2020 05:56:24 +1200 2020-04-01 05:56 +12:00 2020-04-01 06:56 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: House-building approval numbers hit new 45-year record House building consenting has set a new 45-year record but what effect coronavirus will have on the multi-billion dollar sector remains unknown.StatsNZ data just out showed 37,882 new residential buildings were consented in the... Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:49:28 +1200 2020-03-31 10:49 +12:00 2020-03-31 11:49 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: North Shore family face double rent of $1620 p/w during lockdown A young Auckland family are pleading for compassion after being told they must pay double rent during the emergency Covid-19 lockdown totalling more than $1600 a week.And their hardship is likely to be mirrored by countless Kiwi... Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:41:23 +1200 2020-03-31 09:41 +12:00 2020-03-31 10:41 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: Sir John Key on why 'it's harder to get out' than into a lockdown Ex-Prime Minister Sir John Key has raised questions about how New Zealand leaves the coronavirus Level 4 Alert, saying it will be "challenging" for this country to exit that.Talking on Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB, Key... Tue, 31 Mar 2020 07:15:54 +1200 2020-03-31 07:15 +12:00 2020-03-31 08:15 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: Property Brokers tell landlords not to offer rent holidays KEY POINTS: &bull; Another 76 cases of coronavirus confirmed in NZ today &bull; It brings the total to 589 since pandemic began&bull; Family of the only woman to die in NZ of Covid-19 say her death is a 'wake-up call' &bull; Two... Mon, 30 Mar 2020 18:53:09 +1200 2020-03-30 18:53 +12:00 2020-03-30 19:53 +13:00 Covid 19 coronavirus: Over 5,000 house sales left in limbo More than $200 million in daily residential property sales have been shelved until the end of April as buyers and sellers sit out the four-week covid-19 shutdown period.Latest estimates by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand... Mon, 30 Mar 2020 14:04:49 +1200 2020-03-30 14:04 +12:00 2020-03-30 15:04 +13:00 Home Improvement Cleaning Spring Spring Cleaning 101: Make It Fast, Easy and Effective Because you want to enjoy your space now without added fuss. Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:02:44 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Spring is the perfect time to open up the windows in your house and clean every surface inch, but there&#8217;s no reason to spend more time on this task than necessary.</p> <p>Use these tips to quickly get your home spic and span.</p> <h2>Have a plan</h2> <p>When it comes to spring cleaning, the best approach is an organized approach. "I recommend having a plan, which includes an outline of the areas you plan to clean, a schedule with time slotted to do that work (for you and any family members), as well as a list of products, tools and even cleaning techniques or tips pertaining to those areas," says Melissa Maker, blogger and host of the popular YouTube show "<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Clean My Space</a>."</p> <h2>Choose the right supplies</h2> <p>When you&#8217;re making your spring cleaning plan, take inventory of what supplies you need to gather to begin cleaning. Once you figure out what you need, be sure to choose the most effective and powerful cleaning supplies so that the product is doing most of the work - not you.</p> <h2>Clean room by room</h2> <p>It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you are going from room to room to complete various tasks. Choose to target one room at a time so you can see the results of your productivity quickly and not get discouraged.</p> <h2>Work smarter, not harder</h2> <p>Don't scrub any more than necessary. Simple steps like soaking pots and pans before you scrub them, waiting for cleaning products to sit before you wipe down surfaces, and using the self-cleaning setting on your oven can save you tons of time.</p> <h2>Clean your cleaning supplies</h2> <p>Did you know your cleaning supplies, such as sponges or microfiber cloths, are most likely the dirtiest items in your home? It goes without saying that you can't effectively clean your home with dirty supplies. So be sure to disinfect sponges or other cleaning supplies in a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water for 30 seconds.</p> <h2>Don't forget the &#8230;</h2> <p>There are several items in our homes that we often forget to clean on a regular basis. Among forgotten items, Maker recommends cleaning behind the oven, bathroom exhaust fans, refrigerator coils and window coverings.</p> <h2>Focus on the MIAs</h2> <p>Spring cleaning can be a huge undertaking (especially depending on the size of your home), so Maker suggests focusing on the MIAs, or the Most Important Areas. When deciding which area to choose, think about the most visible ones, like the living room or home office.</p> <h2>Get rid of the clutter</h2> <p>You can never truly have a clean and tidy home if you are buried in your own stuff. When cleaning out your things, remember the 80/20 rule: Only 20 percent of the items we own are truly important - so 80 percent of our belongings are just getting in the way.</p> <h2>Figure out ways to be more efficient in the future</h2> <p>While you are cleaning and organizing your home, take note of all the clutter that you most often find. For example, if you are finding that most of your clutter is paper, figure out the best ways to go paperless throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning: 5 Can&#8217;t-Miss Spots</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Winning the War on Pet Hair</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Extra-Credit Spring Cleaning Tasks</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 24, 2016.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2020-03-26 17:02 +00:00 2020-03-27 06:02 +13:00 Covid-19 coronavirus: Thousands of Kiwi businesses might not have to pay rents Hundreds of thousands of Kiwi businesses and commercial property owners will be scrambling to check their leases to see whether rents will still have to be paid during the coronavirus lockdown.A leading legal expert says many Kiwi... Wed, 25 Mar 2020 12:00:41 +1200 2020-03-25 12:00 +12:00 2020-03-25 13:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY Fixtures kitchens How to Install a Kitchen Faucet Tired of staring at your old faucet? Installing a new one is easy! (No, really.) Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:36:23 Z The DIY Playbook <p>If you&#8217;ve been washing your hands a lot lately, you might have started paying extra attention to your faucet. Does it drip? Is the chrome flaking off? Is it dated?</p> <p>Plumbing projects can be intimidating, because no one wants to accidentally flood their entire home. But installing a new kitchen faucet truly is a DIY that anyone can handle.</p> <p>As long as you work slowly and follow the directions, you can add a beautiful faucet to your kitchen with zero emergency calls to the plumber.</p> <p><strong>Supplies:</strong></p> <ul> <li>New kitchen faucet (and the installation manual)</li> <li>Adjustable wrench</li> <li>Flashlight</li> <li>Bucket</li> <li>Rags</li> <li>Cleaner</li> <li>Screwdriver</li> <li>Towels</li> <li>Teflon tape (optional)</li> </ul> <p>Before purchasing a new faucet, take note of your current setup. Look under the sink to see how many holes yours has (usually between one and four).</p> <p>This determines the type of faucet that will work with your sink. A single-hole faucet can be installed in a three- or four-hole sink by adding a deck plate, but not vice versa.</p> <h2>Step 1</h2> <p>Remove everything from under your sink. This DIY takes place in tight quarters, so you want to make it as roomy as possible. Also, be sure to keep a towel nearby for any water drips.</p> <p><img class="wp-image-931 size-full aligncenter" src="" alt="full_cabinet" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Step 2</h2> <p>Turn off the water supply lines to the kitchen faucet. There will be a cold water and hot water valve underneath your kitchen sink.</p> <p>Turn each of these water valves clockwise until you can't turn them anymore. Then turn on your faucet and make sure water doesn't come out.</p> <p>Keep the faucet in the "on" position to relieve any water pressure.</p> <p><img class="wp-image-934 aligncenter" src="" alt="water_turnoff" width="545" height="816" /></p> <h2>Step 3</h2> <p>Now that the water is safely off, you can unhook the hot and cold water supply lines. You will need a wrench for this step. Simply loosen them (counterclockwise) until they unhook.</p> <p>A little water may drip out, which is totally normal. Just keep your bucket and rags handy.</p> <p><img class="wp-image-948 aligncenter" src="" alt="unhook_water_line" width="801" height="535" /></p> <h2>Step 4</h2> <p>Unscrew your old kitchen faucet from underneath the sink.</p> <p>Every faucet is different, so yours may look a bit different than this one. Ours had a gold ring that we just had to loosen with our hands. Others might be connected with a nut. If that&#8217;s the case, you'll have to use your wrench again.</p> <p><img class="wp-image-950 aligncenter" src="" alt="unscrew_faucet" width="545" height="868" /></p> <h2>Step 5</h2> <p>Pull your old faucet through the top of the kitchen sink and out.</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-951 aligncenter" src="" alt="remove_old_faucet" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>Step 6</h2> <p>Clean up any gross residue that was hiding underneath your old kitchen faucet with your towel. This is the time to get it nice and clean, so put some muscle into it!</p> <h2>Step 7</h2> <p>Grab the manual for your new faucet, because you're going to need it! Since every faucet is different, they all come with their own set of directions. But we'll walk you through the general steps.</p> <p>Feed your new kitchen faucet into the hole at the top of your sink. You may want to enlist a buddy to help keep the top secure as you venture underneath the sink.</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-954 aligncenter" src="" alt="feed new faucet" width="800" height="540" /></p> <h2>Step 8</h2> <p>Secure your faucet from underneath the sink. Ours required tightening a few screws.</p> <p><img class="wp-image-956 aligncenter" src="" alt="screw_new_faucet_in_tightly" width="545" height="879" /></p> <h2>Step 9</h2> <p>Attach your cold and hot lines to their valves, and make sure they are nice and snug with your wrench.</p> <p>You may want to wrap your threaded pipes with some Teflon tape to make sure your seal is tight and your connections remain leak-free!</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-957 aligncenter" src="" alt="attach lines" width="800" height="570" /></p> <h2>Step 10</h2> <p>Turn your water supply valves on … slowly! Then check the faucet to make sure both your hot and cold water are working.</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-959 aligncenter" src="" alt="turn water on" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>That's it. Seriously easy, right?!</p> <p>You can elevate the look of your kitchen in under an hour, and it will only cost you the price of a new faucet.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Replace a Ceiling Fan</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 22 2020-03-24 15:36 +00:00 2020-03-25 04:36 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating Spring 5 Ways to Refresh Your Space Throw open the curtains, let the breeze in and brighten your home decor. Tue, 24 Mar 2020 10:00:32 Z Erica Sooter <p>With springtime comes a sense of renewal, and a desire to clean, organize and refresh - especially if you&#8217;re spending a lot of time at home. Get your creative gears turning, and whip your space into shape. You&#8217;ll be surprised how a few simple changes can give you a whole new outlook.</p> <h2>1. Embrace natural light</h2> <figure id="attachment_194411" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194411" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-194411 size-full" src="" alt="Create the feel of windows with large mirrors. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf. " width="800" height="534" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194411" class="wp-caption-text">Create the feel of windows with large mirrors. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>With warmer days comes more sun, so open those blinds and bask in the natural light. Instead of flipping on your lights in the morning, pull back the curtains and let sunshine light the way. The simple act of opening your windows can help lift your mood, and you&#8217;ll save a little on your electric bill too.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t have many windows? Fake it by using large mirrors to reflect light and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">brighten up your room</a>. Bonus: mirrors also give the illusion of a bigger space, making your home feel brighter, larger and clearer.</p> <h2>2. Give your furniture a clean slate</h2> <figure id="attachment_194412" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194412" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-194412 size-full" src="" alt="All white furniture creates a spring vibe in a living room. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf." width="800" height="534" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194412" class="wp-caption-text">All-white furniture creates a spring vibe in a living room. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Spring is the perfect time to break out all of your lighter and cooler clothes - and this also goes for furniture. A white, beige or light gray couch is the perfect nesting spot.</p> <p>Light neutral chairs set the tone, reflect light and keep you from getting too warm. If desired, you can keep these pieces out year-round to invoke springtime memories and stave off wintertime blues when skies are gray. If you don&#8217;t want to commit to white furniture, invest in slipcovers that you can use seasonally and remove once colder temperatures return.</p> <h2>3. Let nature be your guide</h2> <figure id="attachment_194413" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194413" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-194413 size-full" src="" alt="Wickers and wovens are materials that work through spring and well into summer. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf. " width="800" height="715" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194413" class="wp-caption-text">Wickers and wovens are materials that work through spring and well into summer. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Incorporate lightweight natural materials into your decor - think wicker, woven baskets, light wood grain and cotton curtains. Keep it airy and light, leaning on nature to inspire you.</p> <p>Switch out heavy blankets for summery throws, and pack away heavy, dark decor items in favor of woven baskets paired with colorful or nature-inspired accessories. By adding earthy materials to your home, you invoke nature inside and out for a fresh and renewed feel.</p> <h2>4. Pack some punch with pops of color</h2> <p>Spring is the perfect time to ditch all those moody blacks and grays of winter, and trade them in for something a bit cheerier. Oranges, pinks, yellows, purples, blues and greens are all colors that recall spring and sunshine. Pick your favorite hue from the rainbow and run with it. Try a few peachy throw pillows, springy green candles or periwinkle decorative bowls.</p> <p>Step out of your comfort zone and try a bold statement, or keep it cool with subtle hints of something you know you love. You&#8217;ll be surprised how much your mood lifts when you&#8217;re surrounded by a sea of pretty shades.</p> <h2>5. Go green and breathe deep</h2> <p>Adding potted plants, bouquets of flowers and herb gardens to your home is a great way to bring the outdoors in. Not only do they provide beautiful focal points and improve your mood, they also give off little hits of oxygen - so breathe deep.</p> <p>Hit up your local farmer&#8217;s market for pretty blooms on the cheap, or <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grow herbs in windowsill pots</a>. And for all those black thumbs out there, faux plants will still give off a fresh green look, but without all the hassle and maintenance.</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re looking to freshen up a couple of rooms in your house or overhaul your whole space, there are easy steps you can take to get your home spring-ready. Give yourself a new outlook and a fresh perspective by taking the time to rejuvenate your space and your mindset.</p> <p>From mixing up colors to looking to nature for inspiration, you can completely transform your home into a sunny, light and airy space.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning 101: Make It Fast, Easy and Effective</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Low-Key Color Palettes for a Sophisticated Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Versatile Houseplants for Every Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 2016</em></p> <h6 class="p1"></h6> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2020-03-24 10:00 +00:00 2020-03-24 23:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Property from the trenches <p>Covid-19&#39;s major impact on New Zealand&#39;s economy means job losses and that has implications for landlords. Veteran investor&nbsp;Debbie Van Den Broek offers some suggestions on how landlords can weather the storm.</p> Tue, 24 Mar 2020 10:11:00 +1200 2020-03-24 10:11 +12:00 2020-03-24 11:11 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Renting Storage 'Where Should I Keep My ...?': Solving the Ultimate Small Space Dilemmas Squeeze every last bit of storage space out of your dwelling, no matter its size. Sat, 21 Mar 2020 22:56:58 Z Sheila Cain <p>When you&#8217;re in a small space - especially if you&#8217;re sharing it with others, and you&#8217;re spending a lot more time there than you ever have before - you&#8217;ve probably come to realize that square footage is something to be savored, not squandered. If things are feeling a little crowded, this may be a good time to assess your organization methods.</p> <p>Whatever your hobby or collection, there&#8217;s an <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizational hack</a> to help you store it. Here are some clever storage tricks for six of the toughest, bulkiest space-takers you may own.</p> <h2>Offseason wardrobe</h2> <p>Tuck those bulky winter sweaters (or shorts and flip-flops) in plastic bins under your bed. If your bed's too close to the ground, lift it up with sturdy wood blocks. Even a few extra inches create enough space for a sizable storage container.</p> <p>If elevating the bed isn&#8217;t an option, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">maximize your closet space</a> with a few sets of cascading hangers. Put blouses on one set and T-shirts on another, and you&#8217;ll most likely double your closet space.</p> <h2>Extra linens</h2> <p>Extra pillows, comforters, and bedsheets are great for guests, but not so great for your small space. Try vacuum storage bags - stack your items inside, and use your vacuum cleaner to remove the air. Your items will shrink significantly so you can store them under your bed or on a shelf.</p> <h2>Shoe collection</h2> <p>A burgeoning shoe collection can take on a life of its own if not properly corralled. Take it back to dorm-room days with an over-the-door shoe organizer. These college favorites are popular for a reason - they store a dozen pairs of shoes or more, plus scarves, baseball caps, belts and chunky necklaces.</p> <h2>Bikes</h2> <p>Bikes can be one of the most difficult belongings to stash, especially if you don't have a deck, garage or basement. Try installing a strong hook in the wall, and hang your bike by the front tire. Pro: It&#8217;s a great way to get the bike off the floor. Con: It still protrudes into the room.</p> <p>For a less invasive option, hang your bike flush against the wall - like you're hanging a piece of art. The hardware can be as simple as two wooden dowels that support the bike's horizontal bar. (Just make sure you anchor the supports in the wall&#8217;s studs so they can hold the weight.)</p> <h2>Exercise equipment</h2> <p>An inflatable exercise ball is a great workout aid - and a real space suck. You could always deflate it, but the hassle probably isn&#8217;t worth it. So, why not get creative and make it a usable piece of furniture?</p> <p>Repurpose medium or large exercise balls as dining room chairs, and store them under the dining table when you&#8217;re done.</p> <p>No room for a dining table? The bike trick applies here, too. Install a couple of dowels high up on the wall, and set the ball there until you&#8217;re ready for a crunch session.</p> <h2>Decorations and keepsakes</h2> <p>Have a collection of things you just can't get rid of? Maybe old photo albums, holiday decorations or crafting supplies? <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Strategically placed shelves</a> are your storage lifesaver when seeking space for infrequently used items.</p> <p>There's often a wealth of unused space above and behind your hung clothing in bedroom and hallway closets. While shelves in these locations may require a footstool or flashlight to access, it won't matter if you only need the items a few times a year.</p> <h6><em>Top photo from <a href=",apartment_duplex_type/112563654_zpid/40.848034,-73.914042,40.732365,-74.041071_rect/12_zm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Your Lease Is Up? Here Are 3 Good Reasons to Renew</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Tips for Making Any Room Seem Larger</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 3 2020-03-21 22:56 +00:00 2020-03-22 11:56 +13:00 Home Improvement Cleaning home maintenance Spring 10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend  Welcome warmer weather with a spotless home (in just one weekend). Sat, 21 Mar 2020 13:00:35 Z See Jane Drill <p>Spring cleaning is all about getting our homes ready for a new season of sunshine, warmth and time outdoors - and indoors, too - especially if that&#8217;s where you&#8217;re spending a lot of time right now. Get ready to wipe off the grime, clear out the cobwebs and refresh your living spaces.</p> <p>Add these project to your spring-cleaning checklist, and you&#8217;ll be rewarded with a home that feels brighter, cleaner and more functional.</p> <p>Best of all, you can knock out most of these jobs in a weekend.</p> <h2>Wash windows, inside and out</h2> <p>Some say <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">clean windows</a> make your whole home look better, and we think it&#8217;s true.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-215125" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>For a DIY cleaning job that yields professional results, use a solution of water, ammonia and white vinegar. Apply the solution to your windows with a large sponge, and remove it with a professional-grade squeegee.</p> <h2>Clean refrigerator and air conditioner coils</h2> <p>These appliances create a cooling effect by circulating air through the coils. Over time, dust builds up on the coils and decreases their efficiency, making your refrigerator or air conditioner work a lot harder.</p> <p>Unplug the appliance, then vacuum out the coils with your vacuum&#8217;s crevice tool. You can also use a special refrigerator-coil cleaning brush, available at most hardware stores.</p> <h2>Check ceiling fans</h2> <p>Clean your ceiling-fan blades to remove winter dust build up.</p> <p>And if you reversed your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ceiling fan&#8217;s</a> direction to clockwise for the winter, turn it back to counterclockwise for the warmer months. This sends the air straight down, creating a cooling effect.</p> <h2>Clean dryer vent</h2> <p>Cleaning a dryer vent is easier than you might imagine. First, unplug the dryer from the power source. Next, clean out the vent with a special dryer-vent cleaning brush or a vacuum.</p> <h2>Deep-clean carpets</h2> <p>Even if you vacuum regularly, a thorough carpet cleaning once a year will reach deep down into the fibers to clean out debris, dust, and food particles.</p> <p>If you don&#8217;t own a carpet cleaner, you may be able to rent one from a home improvement store or even your local grocery chain store.</p> <h2>Inspect roof, gutters and chimneys</h2> <p>Spring is the perfect time to check your roof for damage that may have occurred over the winter. If you can't use a ladder to get up on the roof, try inspecting it with binoculars.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-215124" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Check decks and patios</h2> <p>If the finish on your wooden deck still looks good, that&#8217;s great! You might just need to clean the deck to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">get it ready for summer</a>.</p> <p>If the finish appears to be worn, then you&#8217;ll want to consider both cleaning and resealing the deck. For decks made of composite material, follow the manufacturer&#8217;s instructions for cleaning and preserving the deck.</p> <h2>Prep lawn equipment</h2> <p>Get those lawn mowers, weed whackersnand pressure washers out of storage, turn them on, and make sure they are running properly. Sometimes a little lubricant or cleaning is all you need to get your tools back in shape.</p> <h2>Clean outside furniture</h2> <p>Use Murphy Oil Soap for wood furniture. For most other types of outdoor furniture, a solution of dishwashing liquid and water should do the trick.</p> <h2>Freshen up your front entrance</h2> <p>Sweep and/or wash the front porch and steps. Shake out your welcome mat, or replace it if it&#8217;s starting to fray or fall apart. Add a pot or two of brightly colored annuals, and your home will feel renewed!</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Spring Cleaning Tips &amp; Tricks</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning: 5 Can&#8217;t-Miss Spots</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Your 4-Step Kitchen Deep-Clean</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-03-21 13:00 +00:00 2020-03-22 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY home maintenance Home Organization Kid-Friendly DIY 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Kids' Toys From Taking Over Your Home Conquer the clutter and reclaim the precious space you once ruled. Fri, 20 Mar 2020 13:00:53 Z Steve Asbell <p>If having your family at home all day, every day has made your space feel chaotic, and your days and nights seem to run together, regain a sense of order with these simple tips.</p> <h2>1. Reduce the clutter</h2> <p>It doesn't matter how organized you are - a surplus of toys will always ensure your house is a mess waiting to happen. Fortunately, getting kids on board with the idea of ditching their stuff is a lot easier than it sounds.</p> <p>The trick is to make it an opportunity for them to define themselves and their interests. Encourage kids to make a pile of "baby toys" to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">donate</a>, and have them set aside any toys that no longer interest them, such as action figures from a forgotten TV show. Separating these toys will help them appreciate how much they've grown and rediscover the toys they love.</p> <h2>2. Choose toys wisely</h2> <p>Since you'll probably be stuck with them for a while, it pays to be picky when it comes to buying toys. To make toys more meaningful to your child, only buy them for holidays, special occasions and rewards - don't shy away from asking relatives to do the same.</p> <p>Avoid toys that are poorly made (cheap), not age-appropriate, unnecessarily large, pointless or anything tied to a movie - unless it's that one you've been playing on repeat every day. The best toys are versatile, encourage creativity and can easily be expanded upon, such as Legos, wooden train tracks and dollhouse sets.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223439" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>3. Leave some toys out of reach</h2> <p>If you're constantly finding play dough and puzzle pieces in the sofa cushions, it's time to put them on the top shelf of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">closet</a>. Designating these messy toys as "family toys" will give you more quality time with your child instead of scrubbing pen marks off the curtains.</p> <p>Also, try to set aside a tote of toys, games and puzzles for rainy days. This ensures you'll always have a trick up your sleeve for sick days or when a boring relative visits.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223443" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>4. Set boundaries</h2> <p>If toys are already sprawled out over every available surface of your house, don't worry! You can quickly reclaim order in your household by setting a few ground rules, such as "no toys in the kitchen" or setting limits on the number of toys allowed out overnight.</p> <p>While that might seem a bit draconian, children are generally happier when they're given clear expectations and few surprises. That's why it's important to follow through and pick up every night, no matter how exhausted you feel at the time.</p> <h2>5. Give kids ownership</h2> <p>Picking up toys doesn't have to be boring. Babies, toddlers and big kids alike can have fun <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizing</a> and picking up, just as long as it's not a negative experience. This means you should provide enough time for enjoyment without resorting to counting "1, 2, 3" or shouting empty threats.</p> <p>A great thing about setting aside extra time for picking up is that you and your child can do fun things like scoop up blocks with a blanket or deliver toys across the house via tricycle. If you make it fun enough, your kid will eventually pick up without even being asked.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223446" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>6. Give every toy a home</h2> <p>Without a simple organizational system, picking up can be a major headache. Don't throw everything into one big toy box; there's a better way.</p> <p>Buy a series of matching plastic bins and line them up along the wall where your child can easily put away and retrieve toys on his own. Designate one box for Legos, one for stuffed animals, one for train tracks … you get the idea.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223447" src="" alt="" width="800" height="580" /></p> <p>Use stacking plastic boxes for smaller toys like matchbox cars and dolls. Organize them further by storing puzzle pieces, doll clothes and other annoyances in Ziploc bags.</p> <h2>7. Hit the books</h2> <p>It's not your imagination. That pile of storybooks by the couch really is getting taller, and if you wait much longer, it will likely turn into a giant heap.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223448" src="" alt="" width="650" height="866" /></p> <p>Worse yet, your kid uses those books to stall and push back bedtime a little later with each passing night. That's why it's important to either keep the books in your child's room, or keep a small selection of favorites in a basket for easy retrieval.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Organizing Secrets Only the Pros Know</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Declutter Your Way to a More Organized, Intentional Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Tips for Organizing an Irresistible Yard Sale</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2020-03-20 13:00 +00:00 2020-03-21 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY gardening How to Attract Birds to Your Yard (Hint: Don't Just Wing It) With a little effort, you can build a swanky bird paradise even your fussiest feathered friend will love. Mon, 16 Mar 2020 18:47:24 Z Steve Asbell <p>While you&#8217;re spending time at home, why not find ways to bring the natural world to you? Backyard bird watching is an enjoyable way to experience your local ecosystem up close.</p> <p>It takes more than a bird feeder to attract a colorful variety of songbirds to your backyard. Think of your feeder as a drive-thru fast-food joint in an unsafe neighborhood: The birds will stop to eat, but they won't stick around for very long. They want to get home to their comfy nest in an exclusive deciduous broadleaf community, where they can get fancier food anyway.</p> <p>If you want to see more than bird backsides at a millet buffet, you need to give them all the luxuries they've come to expect.</p> <h2>Create a habitat</h2> <p>Birds prefer townhomes to single-level ranch houses. They need perches for preening, thickets for hiding, branches for bickering, wide-open spaces for showing off, and, eventually, a tree cavity where they can nest and paint their nursery a nice robin's-egg blue.</p> <p>Give them privacy by planting walls of foliage. Native shrubs, small trees, and even tall grasses and perennials offer the versatility they need to make a quick escape.</p> <p>Create a ceiling of tall deciduous and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">evergreen trees</a> at the back of your property, and plant small understory trees between them and your house. Selectively <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">prune</a> lower limbs of shrubs and small trees so you can easily see perching birds from your window. They'll appreciate the perch, and you'll appreciate the camera angle.</p> <h2>Grow your own birdseed</h2> <p>Money doesn't grow on trees, but, conveniently enough, birdseed does! It also grows on shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and anything else that qualifies as a plant.</p> <p>To grow the seed that your local bird species prefer, however, choose the native plants that they'd otherwise find in the wild. Native plants vary by region, but some good choices include coneflower, blanketflower, beautyberry, asters and sunflowers.</p> <p>Attract hummingbirds with nectar-filled trumpet honeysuckle and cardinal flowers. Native oaks, hollies, dogwoods, sumac, cedars and spruces provide nuts and berries, as well as shelter.</p> <h2>Stage your birdhouse</h2> <p>Research the birds that you'd like to attract, and give them the house that suits their needs. For example, bluebirds like their nesting boxes out in the open, while chickadees like thick leaf cover.</p> <p>Whichever bird you try to attract, keep that nesting box away from human noise and activity so you'll never have to witness the heartbreaking sight of abandoned eggs in an empty nest. Also, keep your cat indoors, if possible. Otherwise, you may find birds not only in your backyard but on your front doorstep too.</p> <p>If birds haven't moved in yet, be patient. Sometimes all your birdhouse needs is a little lichen, moss, or wear and tear to make it more appealing.</p> <h2>Turn a birdbath into a Jacuzzi</h2> <p>If your birdbath is emptier than a swimming pool in January, there could be a reason. The ideal birdbath doesn't look like you'd expect - it's placed directly on the ground in a shady space with nearby shrubs.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-216760" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Add some gravel to the basin so birds can find their footing, and even add a few rocks on the outside to serve as steps. Include a small pump or fountain, if possible. This turns your birdbath into a miniature water feature, and the circulation keeps the water clean and helps birds cool off on hot days.</p> <h2>Leave the leaf litter</h2> <p>If you&#8217;re looking for an excuse to get out of gardening chores, you'll be pleased to know that you&#8217;re absolutely allowed to keep that accumulation of dead leaves and small branches on your garden's floor. It gives birds everything they could ever ask for - bugs and other small animals for snacking, materials for nesting, and even a hiding place from predators.</p> <p>If things begin to look untidy, just break down the larger branches by hand or with a pair of anvil pruners, and spread everything out evenly. Everyone loves free mulch.</p> <h2>Invest in your feeder</h2> <p>Rather than spending money on multiple feeders that you have to replace year after year, invest in a feeder that's made with quality materials, has a tightly fitting lid, and drains easily. Better yet, purchase a sturdy pole and squirrel baffle.</p> <p>Even the best feeder will need maintenance, so give it a thorough cleaning every year, and break up any clogged holes so moisture doesn&#8217;t accumulate. Trust me on this - cleaning out a maggot-infested feeder is something nobody should have to experience.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Repotting Plants: Give Them a New Home Sweet Home </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> 8 Hot Landscaping Trends for 2017</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Do&#8217;s and Don&#8217;ts of Summer Landscaping</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published June 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 3 2020-03-16 18:47 +00:00 2020-03-17 07:47 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization 10 Tips for Organizing Your Whole House Tackle one task per day and you'll be more organized in no time. Sat, 14 Mar 2020 19:24:22 Z DorothyTheOrganizer <p>Getting your home and space organized can help you feel more in control of your environment. That sense of order can reduce stress, help you focus on your own well-being and achieve your other goals. Follow these tips to organize your whole home quickly and easily.</p> <h2>Set up a no-fail garage system</h2> <figure id="attachment_190845" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-190845" style="width: 300px" style="float:right; margin: 0 0 15px 15px;"><img class="wp-image-190845" src="" alt="shutterstock_302174828" width="300" height="225" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-190845" class="wp-caption-text">A place for everything, and everything in its place (or at least you&#8217;ll be able to tell if it&#8217;s not).</figcaption></figure> <p>I suggest <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">starting out in the garage</a>, because it can be one of the most overcrowded places in the house. Picture yourself driving into your garage and seeing at least one new system set up for easy use in the coming year.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s an approach that&#8217;s simple, inexpensive, and quick to accomplish.</p> <ol> <li>Hang some peg board</li> <li>Put some tool hooks in the holes on the board</li> <li>Using a thick marker, draw an outline around each tool to reserve its location.</li> </ol> <p>Your new tool organizing system will keep you organized, and alert you when tools are missing. This garage system also helps other family members put things away because it's easy to see where to place each item.</p> <h2>Cut laundry time in half</h2> <p>How can one of the smallest rooms in the house seem so chaotic? And why does doing laundry seem to take up so much time?</p> <p>Here&#8217;s a laundry system that will save you time and restore your sanity. First, provide everyone with their own laundry basket. Put family members' names on the sides of the baskets so there are no lost items or mix-ups.</p> <figure id="attachment_190840" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-190840" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-190840 size-full" src="" alt="laundry" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-190840" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a></figcaption></figure> <p>Now here's the sweet secret. When the wash is done, rather than placing the clean laundry on the dining room table or the stairs (and watching everyone walk by without picking up their clothes), have everyone come to the laundry room to pick up their personalized basket of clean clothing.</p> <h2>Work some kitchen magic</h2> <p>The kitchen is the activity hub of most homes. It's a busy area because family members or roommates use the kitchen at least three to five times a day. We open our mail here, study, read, use our laptops and tablets here - not to mention, it's where the food is.</p> <p>Because we have so many varied activities happening in the kitchen, it&#8217;s wise to create separate stations for those activities. One way to accomplish this is to invest in a rolling cart - whatever style and size works best in your kitchen.</p> <p>Use this cart to establish a dedicated space for one of your most common activities. For example, create a lunch-making station stocked with a cutting board and knife, salt and pepper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items (bread, oranges and apples) and snacks. Create the space for your family to assist in making your life easier while also keeping one station of like-items together.</p> <h2>Put it in writing</h2> <p>Whether you&#8217;re a one-person household or a family of five, one tool can save your life or home: a household manual. The beauty of this handy tool is it doesn't have to be compiled all at one time, and it costs you nothing to create.</p> <p>Grab a three-ring binder and a three-hole punch, and keep your essential information in the binder. To get started, collect your emergency contact info and other vital information such as the name of your vet, school rosters, alarm codes, medication doses for your kids, the name of your father's caregiver, and where your home&#8217;s gas shut-off valve is located.</p> <p>As you continue to organize your home and find more essential documents, you can add to the binder. For those who prefer a digital approach, store your manual on a highly secure cloud service.</p> <h2>Get a charge</h2> <p>Many people are frustrated by cell phones, iPad chargers, memory sticks and tangled cords sprinkled throughout the house. Relaxation and recreation activities often seem to need the power of a charging station that's easily accessible - and it doesn&#8217;t hurt if it&#8217;s attractive too.</p> <p>One simple solution is to consider a charging station that conceals the cords, keeps all the electronic items together, and looks good while doing it.</p> <h2>Tell a tidier toy story</h2> <p>Whether it's grandparents or new moms and dads, one of the biggest complaints of people who share their home with children is about picking up toys.</p> <p>The "putting away" task is a skill that can and should be taught to children, as it&#8217;s important for establishing personal responsibility in kids as they grow into teens and then adulthood. Besides, putting away toys can be fun.</p> <p>Here's one idea that will shift your play storage situation from frustration to elation. Use colorful bins to hold toys, designating each bin to hold one type of toy, such as musical instruments, cars, dolls, games or Legos.</p> <p>To make it even easier, find pictures of the toys in magazines or online, and use them to label the bins.</p> <p>If you have dolls or stuffed animals in one bin, attach the matching picture to the front of the bin. Keep the number of bins small, but make sure the bins are large and easy to access.</p> <h2>Declutter the grownups&#8217; bedroom closet</h2> <p>Bulging closets and growing piles of clean and dirty laundry may nix the possibility of either rest or romance. Decluttering in the bedroom creates a sanctuary for both.</p> <p>Starting with the closet is good move. Once the space is clear, it all boils down to finding what you need when you need it.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s a quick process for getting your closet in order:</p> <ol> <li>Clear the floor so you can move around easily.</li> <li>Make sure you have proper lighting.</li> <li>Pull everything out.</li> <li>Only put back in what fits you right now, is stain-free, and requires no repairs.</li> </ol> <h2>Set kids&#8217; closets straight</h2> <p>For organizing kids&#8217; clothes, there&#8217;s no better tool than a hanging shelving unit. Designate one pocket for each day of the week, and label it. Each weekend, pick out clothes for the following week, and put them in the pockets for the day your child will wear them. Imagine a calm morning without clothing conflict.</p> <h2>Bundle toiletries and grooming tools</h2> <p>Some bathrooms are small, and everyone seems to have their own favorite shampoo, hairbrush and brand of toothpaste. Drawer, cabinet and counter space tends to run out quickly.</p> <p>If this is your situation, try assigning everyone in the house a bathroom caddy, loaded up with all their cosmetics, toiletries and grooming tools, and labeled with their name.</p> <p>Store the caddies on a shelf in the bathroom or carry them to and from the bedroom. The bathroom stays organized, and there's an automatic clean-up built in after every visit.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Conquering Kitchen Clutter</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tricks for Sneaking Storage into Small Spaces</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Preserving Personal Mementos and Children&#8217;s Artwork</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2016</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-03-14 19:24 +00:00 2020-03-15 08:24 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Pantries Organizing Your Pantry in 6 Easy Steps When your pantry is tidy, every trip to grab a bag of chips or stash the week's groceries will be a treat. Tue, 10 Mar 2020 00:09:03 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>Food pantries can take just about any form. These versatile storage areas for canned goods, paper products and less frequently used small appliances may be housed in a walk-in room, a simple drawer, a wall cabinet or a closet. Hutches, armoires and even open shelving also work well.</p> <p>Regardless of the setup, the key to a successful pantry is keeping it organized. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.</p> <h2>Clean it</h2> <p>Similar to a refrigerator, the first step to seeing what you have to work with is emptying it out and giving it a good overall cleaning. Start with the ceiling - look out for spider webs! - and work your way down to the floor.</p> <p>Next, give shelves a thorough wipe-down with soap and water, capturing any dust and crumbs. If you&#8217;re feeling ambitious, repaint your shelves or even wallpaper the pantry. If not, simply line the shelves with contact paper and mop the floors.</p> <h2>Take inventory</h2> <p>While boxes and food items are strewn throughout your kitchen, grab a donation box and think about what you really need and use.</p> <p>Were certain items out of reach that would be better relocated closer to the stove, like herbs and olive oil? Place those items where they may make more sense, and make a list of the items you need from the store to fill the culinary gaps.</p> <p>Throw away expired products, and set aside any items you don&#8217;t think you&#8217;ll use - like the navy beans for that special recipe you never got around to making - for your local food bank</p> <h2>Solve problems</h2> <p>If the clean-out process revealed hard-to-reach items in the back of your pantry, relocate them. Put things you rarely need - like extra mixing bowls and seldom-used appliances - in the back, and label the front of the shelf to remind you of their new location.</p> <p>If your pantry is deep enough, opt for installing roll-out shelving or wire bins for those hard-to-reach essentials.</p> <h2>Get a better view</h2> <p>If you have open shelving or glass-front cabinets, handling a mix of boxes, bags and random containers can be a challenge.</p> <p>Invest in a large set of clear glass or plastic jars for storage. Their attractive uniformity will cut the visual chaos, and they&#8217;re perfect for storing baking supplies like flour and sugar.</p> <h2>Decide on storage solutions</h2> <p>Once you have a handle on what you want to store, it&#8217;s time to round up the items you need to put your pantry back together. Your list may include spice jars, Mason jars, contact paper, racks for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and bins and baskets to wrangle small items.</p> <h2>Put it all back together</h2> <p>You&#8217;ve taken everything out and purged what you don&#8217;t need. Now it&#8217;s time to reload the pantry with everything you plan to store.</p> <p>Group like items together - coffee and creamer with sweeteners; flour and sugar with baking soda; pastas and grains with oats; soups and olives with other canned items. Play around with your arrangement until it looks so organized that you feel proud enough to show it off.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Are There Monsters in Your Closet? How to Banish Moths Forever</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pillow Talk: Yep, You Can (and Should) Clean Them</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">6 Low-Cost, High-Impact Projects for Your Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2015</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 13 2020-03-10 00:09 +00:00 2020-03-10 13:09 +13:00 COMMENT: Act against radical tenancy changes <p>New Zealand&rsquo;s 290,000 rental property owners should resist radical changes to the <em>Residential Tenancies Act</em> both by submission and by their vote in this year&rsquo;s election, argues Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler.</p> Mon, 02 Mar 2020 05:05:00 +1200 2020-03-02 05:05 +12:00 2020-03-02 06:05 +13:00 Home Improvement gardening Spring Get Ready to Grow: 6 Tips for Planning Your Spring Garden Keep that growing season momentum all year long with these gardening tips. Thu, 27 Feb 2020 14:00:59 Z Steve Asbell <p>Does spring have you dreaming of lush gardens and sunshine? Despite what you might see on TV, beautiful landscapes don&#8217;t happen overnight. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Weeds will invade</a> your beds and need to be pulled. The mulch will break down and require replacing. And your attention span will no doubt move on to shinier things long enough for your garden to fall into disrepair.</p> <p>If you get to know your garden's unique conditions and choose the right plants, you'll ensure that both the garden - and your enthusiasm for it - will last for a lifetime.</p> <h2>Invest in your soil</h2> <p>To get the dirt on your dirt, perform a soil test with your local agricultural extension office. This will tell you everything you need to know about what will grow there and how to improve it.</p> <p>In the meantime, amend your soil with as much organic matter as possible - either by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">starting a compost pile</a> or by adding bags of composted manure. This will give it a better texture, a diverse population of beneficial organisms, and more fertility.</p> <p>If your soil is poorly drained, either grow plants that tolerate wet feet, or install a dry creek bed or French drain to prevent standing water.</p> <h2>Ditch the trash trees</h2> <p>With any luck, the trees that you plant today will be there for a long, long time. Keeping that in mind, don't grow things that you'll regret one day - like a messy silver maple that drops seeds all over the lawn, or a cypress that will eventually dwarf your house.</p> <p>When choosing a tree or shrub for your garden, consider the eventual size, form, and habit. Avoid planting anything that has weak limbs or is susceptible to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pests</a> and blights, because tree removal is a costly and unnecessary expense.</p> <h2>Understand your garden's sunlight</h2> <p>Those little &#8220;full sun&#8221; and &#8220;part shade&#8221; icons are on the plant tag for a reason - too much sunlight will burn the foliage and compromise the plant's health, while too little will make it lanky and weak.</p> <p>Choose plants that thrive in your conditions. A spot that receives eight or more hours of direct sunlight is a perfect place to grow vegetables, fruit trees, and most flowers. Part to full shade is ideal for growing plants like perennials, ferns and small trees that are naturally found in the forest's understory.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-212691" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>If you have a shady yard but can't live without roses and tomatoes, consider hiring a professional arborist to remove trees or large limbs to get more sunlight.</p> <h2>Purchase plants with confidence</h2> <p>If it seems like everything you grow dies sooner or later, stop buying unhealthy plants. Inspect the foliage and slip the plant out of its pot to check for firm, white, and healthy roots. The best place to buy healthy plants is at a local garden center, but otherwise, purchase them shortly after they've arrived on a shipment.</p> <p>If you can't find the plant you're looking for, order seeds, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bulbs</a> and plants online from reputable sellers like <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Burpee Seeds and Plants</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Brent and Becky's Bulbs</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Plant Delights Nursery</a>.</p> <h2>Plant for all four seasons</h2> <p>It's tempting to do all your plant shopping in spring, but those pretty blooms will soon fade away. To avoid 11 months of boredom, choose a variety of plants that offer interest at different times of the year.</p> <p>Grow summer-blooming plants like canna, coneflowers and guara to keep the show going until fall, when colorful foliage and fall bloomers like mums and goldenrod take over.</p> <p>For winter interest, look to trees with interesting branch patterns and bark, as well as unusual cultivars of evergreens - like heuchera and abelia - or even architectural, hardy palms and succulents.</p> <h2>Divide and conquer</h2> <p>Here's a huge money-saving trick: Choose a perennial, bulb or ornamental grass that can be propagated by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">division</a> - one that you'd love to see growing all over your garden in a few years.</p> <p>Plant several copies of that plant in your garden. After a couple of years, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">divide the plants</a> by digging them up and slicing through the middle with a sharp spade. For best results, do this in spring when the weather is cool and the plant is actively growing.</p> <p>Plant the divisions in the ground again, cover the space between the plants with mulch, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">water them thoroughly</a> to help them establish. Repeat these steps every two years, and you'll have not only a ton of free plants, but also a garden that looks cohesive and established.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Tips for Preparing a Fabulous Flower Bed</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tools Every Gardener Should Splurge On</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Getting Your Garden Ready for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published February 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-02-27 14:00 +00:00 2020-02-28 03:00 +13:00 Unique Homes tiny homes unique homes You'll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home This tiny home packs a bouldering wall, a roll-up garage door and a full-sized soaking tub into just 250 square feet. Sat, 22 Feb 2020 18:43:40 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There's no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At least that&#8217;s what the team at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Tiny Heirloom</a> figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most - fitness and being outside - into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225570" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got," Francis said. "So we figured out a way to make it happen!"</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We've built many custom homes," Francis added, "but this was definitely one of our most unique."</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225568" src="" alt="" width="800" height="540" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225581" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225573" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225566" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225567" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225569" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1200" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225562" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225571" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they've had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225577" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing," Francis said. "We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys."</span></p> <p><em>Photos courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Tiny Heirloom</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here&#8217;s the Wackiest Tiny Home You&#8217;ve Ever Seen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Saying &#8216;I Do&#8217; to a Tiny Grain Silo Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 132 2020-02-22 18:43 +00:00 2020-02-23 07:43 +13:00 Unique Homes unique homes waterfront homes Whale Watch From Any of This Home's 3 Rooftop Decks What's better than a rooftop deck? Three of them. Each with its own sweeping view. Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:24:17 Z Melanie Moriarty <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Olympic Mountains. The Strait of Georgia. The shoreline of Victoria, Canada. And maybe a pod of orcas, if you're lucky. You can see all of that (and much more) from one of this home's three rooftop decks. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Located on the rocky shores of San Juan Island, Washington, this coastal retreat has a unique connection to the land it occupies - the home is built directly into the hillside, so it gracefully descends the ground's natural slope.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229477 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A team of architects from Seattle-based firm </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Prentiss Balance Wickline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> worked on the design. Dan Wickline, one of the architects on the project, drew inspiration from the island's stark natural beauty.  </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229476 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Rooted into a linear ravine on the site, the spaces of the house are composed in a series of stacked volumes climbing the terrain and aimed toward specific views," Wickline says.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229475 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These specific views can be admired from one of the grassy rooftop decks, from the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the water-facing walls or from one of the rectangular window clusters. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The strategically placed clusters create the sensation of total immersion in the rugged landscape - no matter which way you turn, a view awaits.   </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229478 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Inside, the design features a muted color palette inspired by the lush greens, earthy browns and serene grays of the Pacific Northwest. These subtle and somewhat restrained hues allow the home's simple, elevated aesthetic to really shine.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229474 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From every angle, the home resembles a work of art - fitting, considering it was actually designed for a painter. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The top-floor art studio overlooks the water, as does its clean, light-filled library. And if those views aren't enough to inspire creativity, there's always a rooftop deck or two nearby.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229479 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The grass roofs establish a new landscape, which at the same time nest and blend the house into the existing terrain," Wickline says.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229481 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This delicate tug of war is a testament to the home's thoughtful design and a conflicting (yet romantic) notion: that a place perched so high above the horizon can still feel so deeply rooted in the earth.  </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Photos by </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eirik Johnson</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p> <p><b>Related:</b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Living in Beauty Without Excess: A Small Coastal Home With Views to Spare</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Modern Design Goes Green in This Park City Mountain Escape </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">From Scraps to Sanctuary: A $700 A-Frame Cabin</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 38 2020-02-21 17:24 +00:00 2020-02-22 06:24 +13:00 Unique Homes unique homes Hibernate Luxuriously in This 5,572-Square-Foot Cave Mansion Stalactites? Check. Waterfall? Check. 4 bedrooms and an illustrious guest list? Check, check! Fri, 07 Feb 2020 20:52:52 Z Callie Little <p>When most people envision their dream home, they describe large kitchens, beautiful hardwood floors and clawfoot tubs. But not John Hay.</p> <p>In the mid-1980s, Hay - founder of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company and great-great grandson of U.S. Secretary of State John Milton Hay - purchased the Beckham Creek Cave in Parthenon, Arkansas. He had plans to transform it into a 10,000-square-foot bomb shelter, consisting of cinder-block walls, plywood flooring, 11 coats of clear epoxy on the natural formations of the cave, and an internal freshwater spring.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>He stocked it with enough freeze-dried food to keep 50 people fed for up to two years, and he twice had his religious group sit out bomb scares in the cave. By 1987, Hay realized the end of the world wasn't coming quite so soon. Various records indicate the property was sold to a man known simply as "Mr. Richardson," who had a different dream in mind when he came into possession of the property.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229914" src="" alt="" width="801" height="534" /></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229924" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Soon after turning the space into a $6 million clubbing venue, Mr. Richardson held a grand unveiling that welcomed over 250 esteemed guests, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and many other Hollywood elite.</p> <p>It's no wonder that in 1994, John Hay repurchased his now illustrious cave.</p> <p>In the decades following, several new owners have taken hold of the 257-acre property, each one undoubtedly in awe of the great room&#8217;s 40-foot rock ceilings and 2,300 square feet. Stalactites descend from overhead throughout the 5,572-square-foot home, and raw rock has been used wherever possible to maintain the unique character of the space.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229922" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229919" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Though it's been renovated several times, the sprawling cave has kept its surprisingly cozy charm intact. Part of the reason the cave's natural features have been preserved is surely thanks to Hay, who reverently told People magazine in 1988 that the home's "original architect was God."</p> <p>The bad news - every dream home comes with its own downfalls, after all - is that a few of the stalactites drip. However, the whole property is climate-controlled thanks to geothermal units throughout.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229916" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229915" src="" alt="" width="801" height="534" /></p> <p>Update: The Beckham Creek Cave is no longer for sale, but it is for rent! The home has been transformed into a luxurious <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">vacation rental</a>, available for nightly stays, so anyone can now experience this unique space.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href=";" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Remarkable Home Is Anything but Square</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sleep Under the Stars in This Tiny Cabin Near a National Park</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 33 2020-02-07 20:52 +00:00 2020-02-08 09:52 +13:00 COMMENT: Checking in on insulation <p>Sizzling summer temperatures might be hitting towns all round New Zealand yet the insulation of rental properties remains a hot topic.</p> Fri, 07 Feb 2020 16:01:00 +1200 2020-02-07 16:01 +12:00 2020-02-07 17:01 +13:00 Unique Homes converted homes farmhouses unique homes This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle) If you wanted to, you could drive straight through this home's living room. But it's too pretty for that … Thu, 06 Feb 2020 22:00:38 Z Melanie Moriarty <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like many married couples, the Clarks have a lot in common: a last name, a first name (they're both Kelly) and an affinity for wide-open spaces - which inspired them to build a 10,000-square-foot barn-style home on 30 acres of land in West Monroe, Louisiana. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But let's back up. Kelly Clark (that's him) and Kelly Moore-Clark (that's her) wanted a change of scenery for their family. So when a friend put some land up for sale, they decided to make a move. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We pretty much bought the property sight unseen because you couldn't walk through it," Moore-Clark says, referring to the thicket of overgrown trees and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plants</a> that carpeted the ground. "We bought the land and then crossed our fingers that, when we cleared it, we would find a spot to build the home." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spoiler alert: They found that spot. The perfect location sat at the back of the property on a hilltop, far from the main road. </span></p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They immediately began working with a team of designers to create a plan for their space. The blueprints were beautiful, but something didn't feel quite right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We just couldn't pull the trigger on it. … It was just a gut feeling," Moore-Clark says. "I [felt] like whatever [was] supposed to be out here [was] supposed to be special." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, Moore-Clark's mother had an idea: Why not build a home that looked like a barn?</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229755 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I remember [my mom] specifically saying, 'You could roll the doors up and drive through the house,'" Moore-Clark says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And that's when it all clicked. With the help of Moore-Clark's father, a former army draftsman, they made a new plan, hired a team of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subcontractors</a> and watched their home begin to take shape. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was a very organic [building] process," Moore-Clark says. "As the framers started framing it up, we would come into the room, and I would try to envision what our life [would look] like." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moore-Clark doesn't have to use her imagination anymore. Today the couple, their three daughters, a dog, an old pony and 80 free-range chickens roam about the 10,000-square-foot home. And although they spend most of their time in a small fraction of the space, there's plenty of room to grow. Three main areas, to be exact.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229756 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At approximately 2,250 square feet, the east side of the home is where you can usually find the family. This area includes the bedrooms, the living room/kitchen area and the bathroom. </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229757 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaking of that bathroom: "I wanted it to be like a little greenhouse," Moore-Clark says. Her vision for the bathroom predates the actual bathroom itself - she bought the tub before they started building. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even though there's room for dozens of bedrooms, the girls share one room, complete with custom-designed bunk beds. </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229752 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And then there's the breezeway. This is the second section of the home, and it's around 2,000 square feet. The breezeway is an indoor porch area with roll-up doors and plenty of living space. </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229751 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Lots of playing happens in the breezeway," Moore-Clark says. "[The girls] ride their bikes through it, put on musical events with their friends - ballets, plays, lots of things."  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, there's the west side, which contains an office space, a home gym, a shop, and a guest bedroom and bathroom.</span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229759 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"When people stay … they really have their own space," Moore-Clark says. "You don't even hear each other. It's good for a little retreat." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home is good for a lot of activities that fall outside the ordinary - it's hosted <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">live music recordings</a>, floral workshops and even a Christmas Eve church service. </span></p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-229754 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So what compelled Clark and Moore-Clark to create a space so vast and so intimate at the same time? They're not really sure. Yet.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We feel like, one day, it's going to be used for something interesting. … [It's] a gut feeling." Moore-Clark says. "We don't know exactly why we built this place the way it is. But we knew it was right." </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Photos by </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seth MacMillan</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p> <p><b>Related articles: </b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Farmhouse-Style Prefab That&#8217;ll Make You Want to Ditch the Big City</span></a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sleek Prefab Meets Rustic Red Barn – House of the Week</span></a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Haylofts to Hardwoods: How One Family Salvaged a Historic Barn By Hand</span></a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 159 2020-02-06 22:00 +00:00 2020-02-07 11:00 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating DIY Personalize Your Space With a DIY Gallery Wall Curate a magazine-worthy gallery wall - with everyday masterpieces you already own. Thu, 06 Feb 2020 13:00:07 Z Douglas Calhoun <p>Blending interior design styles with a roommate or partner is all about including personal touches and pinpointing a shared interest or aesthetic. The floor-to-ceiling gallery wall we created for a special couple on the West Coast is a perfect example. Of course, anyone can create an expressive gallery wall, whether you live by yourself or with friends or family.</p> <p>When Lauren and her partner Greg moved in together, Lauren wanted to make space for not only his furniture and accent pieces but also his style.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203340" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4610 sm" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>The active couple shares a love for food, wine and entertaining, so we set out to brighten the dining room.</p> <p>Graced with iconic Seattle views of the waterfront, seaplanes and hillside homes, the dining room connects the home&#8217;s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cozy living room</a> with the kitchen, from which we drew foodie inspiration for the gallery wall.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>When creating a gallery wall, it&#8217;s a good idea to create a balance of organic shapes and square corners.</p> <p>On Lauren&#8217;s wall, vintage cookbooks, antique kitchen tools and metallic shapes like street signs and decorative letters complement the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">framed art</a> and images, while a variety of shapes and sizes provides visual interest.</p> <h2>Make a game plan</h2> <p>Lay the items out on the floor so you can try different arrangements - without hammering a single nail.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203330" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4295 sm" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Once you&#8217;ve decided which items to include, trace their shapes on leftover wrapping paper or butcher paper, and then tape these templates to the wall to guide you in placing nails and hangers.</p> <p>For a final touch, include a small piece of furniture at the bottom of your gallery wall. A chest or bench anchors the whole scene and makes a lovely spot for a row of glasses or a flower arrangement.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203342" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4674 sm" width="650" height="974" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">8 Ways to Incorporate Your Passions Into Your Home Decor</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2020-02-06 13:00 +00:00 2020-02-07 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY Home Organization Moving 5 Tips to Declutter Your Closet in a Day Streamline your wardrobe, and help others at the same time. Wed, 05 Feb 2020 20:25:31 Z Lindsay Cohen <p>I recently had a closet collapse. I came home from a day at the office to find heaps of what had been neatly hung, color-coordinated clothes in one giant, messy mound on the floor. Worse than picking up the pieces of chipped drywall? Admitting that maybe it was time to get rid of that favorite shirt of mine - from college. In the &#8217;90s.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So I sought the help of style expert <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Darcy Camden</a> to find out what she tells her clients. Camden has been cleaning out closets and styling men and women for more than a decade (read: she spends a TON of time in strangers' homes). The busy fashionista (she's a mother, too) insists there are easy ways to declutter that tangle of t-shirts or pile of old papers. And you can do it in as little as an hour.</span></p> <h2>A little goes a long way</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Purge a little at a time, says Camden, who has helped more than 900 clients in her career. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Most of my clients think that purging a closet is a huge all-day endeavor, but it often makes more sense to do a little at a time," she says. "I encourage everyone to keep a Goodwill donation bag in their closet or bedroom, and add to it here and there as you discover items that don't fit or have gotten worn out."</span></p> <h2>If it doesn't fit, you can't wear it</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It rarely makes sense to keep something that physically doesn't fit you - even if you love it," Camden says. Put it in a pile to donate, and imagine how much joy the next person will get from that item.</span></p> <h2>New season = new chances</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When the weather warms up or cools down, it's a great opportunity to think about what you've worn - and what you haven't. "If you didn't wear it last winter, you probably won't wear it </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">next</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> winter," Camden says.</span></p> <h2>Use the "plus one, minus one" method</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fab new pants? Great! But only put them in the closet after removing a pair that&#8217;s collecting dust. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I tell my clients to subtract one old item for every new item you purchase," Camden recommends. "If you spend an afternoon shopping and come home with five new things, spend some time reviewing your closet. Remove five older things you're no longer wearing."</span></p> <h2>Finally, donate!</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Think of how much you can keep out of the landfill by gifting your giveaways to a good cause. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I'm constantly amazed that my clients are worried their castaways aren't good enough for Goodwill," Camden says. "Will they really want this stained old t-shirt? Or this single sock? Yes!" </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Working closely with <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Seattle Goodwill</a> over the years has given me tons of insight into what happens to donations," she continues. "Your smelly socks and stained clothing provide jobs and can be recycled or reused. Never throw away clothing to a landfill."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last year, Seattle Goodwill kept more than 53 million pounds of useful goods out of landfills. In addition to helping the planet, those donations also help fund job training and educational programs, adds Seattle Goodwill&#8217;s Katherine Boury.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Happy cleaning!</span></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ways to Self-Sabotage Your Organizing Efforts</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tackling the Top 10 Home Organization Issues</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 11 2020-02-05 20:25 +00:00 2020-02-06 09:25 +13:00 Home Improvement entertaining Fall 9 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness Gray skies don't have to mean a drab indoor life. Mon, 03 Feb 2020 23:20:46 Z Callie Little <p>As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.</p> <p>While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the art of hygge</a>, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.</p> <p>The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they're the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?</p> <p>When it's cold and rainy out, you might hear the siren song of your favorite TV streaming service. Aah, sweet, solitary binge-watching! But if you'd like a more satisfying way to spend a chilly evening, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.</p> <h2>1. Set the mood</h2> <p>Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.</p> <h2>2. Bake something</h2> <p>Cake is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn't just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) - it begins when you buy the ingredients.</p> <p>Go to your favorite market, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with great care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It's just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells - and taste good too.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Call up a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. Baking together makes for a lovely afternoon, no matter the weather!</p> <h2>3. Add texture</h2> <p>Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inviting space</a>. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.</p> <h2>4. Invite people over</h2> <p>Do you tend to hide from your friends as soon as the days get short? Fight the urge to retreat, and invite your nearest and dearest (or those you want to know better) over to share your coziness. Bonus: Ask them to bring a bottle of your favorite seasonal beverage!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Low on funds but want to host a dinner party? Ask everyone to bring an ingredient for soup, and make it together, or just plan a casual potluck.</p> <h2>5. Get out the board games</h2> <p>If they&#8217;ve been gathering dust, this is the time to bring them out! Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Have long-distance friends and loved ones? There are many gaming apps you can play from all over the world. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-229648" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>6. Perfect your hot drink game</h2> <p>Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine - pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can't wait to show it off. Then invite those friends over again!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it's usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for friends who don't imbibe.</p> <h2>7. Embrace sweater weather</h2> <p>If you don't already have a favorite sweater, it's time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair - anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Start a knitting, crocheting or weaving circle, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. It's easier to get through lengthy projects when you're sitting beside a friend - and it's a great excuse to get together every week, no matter the weather.</p> <h2>8. Curate your cold-outside playlist</h2> <p>Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Instrumentals are classics for a reason - they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.</p> <h2>9. Do seasonal activities</h2> <p>Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year&#8217;s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen - put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an &#8220;accountability partner&#8221; (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Make the Most of 500 Square Feet: See How This City Renter Did It</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Does Your Dream Cabin Look Like?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 37 2020-02-03 23:20 +00:00 2020-02-04 12:20 +13:00 COMMENT: The truth about flexible workspaces <p>Think you know about flexible workspaces? Odds are - you don&rsquo;t, so IWG&#39;s Alexander Sykes* busts some myths about flexible workspaces for curious landlords.</p> Thu, 30 Jan 2020 06:24:00 +1200 2020-01-30 06:24 +12:00 2020-01-30 07:24 +13:00 COMMENT: What lies ahead in 2020? <p>It&rsquo;s that time of year when we are all contemplating what the year ahead has in store&hellip; So here&rsquo;s GRA managing director Matthew Gilligan&rsquo;s property market predictions for 2020.</p> Fri, 03 Jan 2020 08:00:00 +1200 2020-01-03 08:00 +12:00 2020-01-03 09:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Off-the-plan investing in 2020 <p>Interested in the idea of investing off-the-plan? Propellor Property Investments founder Nikki Conners* explains what you need to know about off-the-plan investing going into 2020.</p> Fri, 27 Dec 2019 08:00:00 +1200 2019-12-27 08:00 +12:00 2019-12-27 09:00 +13:00 Tips & Advice home buying Mortgages Personal Finance 5 New Year's Resolutions That Can Help You Buy a Home New year, new home? Whip your financial resume into shape to improve your home-buying odds. Fri, 20 Dec 2019 22:19:10 Z Alexa Fiander <p>Thinking of buying a home this year? We compiled five New Year&#8217;s resolutions that can help you keep your financial resume in tiptop shape.</p> <h2>1. Avoid job hopping</h2> <p>Employment history and income are two of the biggest factors lenders look at when evaluating a mortgage application. A new job may be a good career move, but if you plan to buy a home in the new year, know that job hopping can be a red flag to some underwriters - especially if you&#8217;re moving to a different industry.</p> <p>A steady job history and few or no gaps in employment over the past two years are ideal, as it helps lenders more easily forecast your future income.</p> <p>If you do get a new job while <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home shopping</a>, let your lender know as soon as possible. It doesn&#8217;t mean you won&#8217;t qualify for a mortgage - just be prepared to show extra documentation.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re moving from a commissioned or hourly job to one that&#8217;s salaried with equal or more compensation, it may help your application. Lenders often prefer borrowers to have steady, predictable paychecks.</p> <h2>2. Limit monthly subscription services</h2> <p>Monthly subscription services are certainly convenient, but they can add up. Even if you pay off your credit card every month, you could be dinged for high credit utilization if your credit report is pulled midcycle.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re thinking of buying a home this year, consider keeping your monthly subscription services to a minimum.</p> <h2>3. Build a solid credit history</h2> <p>One of the first things a lender will look at is your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">credit history</a>. Lenders prefer borrowers who have a history of paying off credits cards and other debts on time - because it signals that you&#8217;re a responsible borrower and less of a risk.</p> <p>If you don&#8217;t have credit, securing a home loan may be significantly more challenging and time-consuming, but not impossible. Records of paying rent and utilities on time, as well as student loan debt or cell phone bills, can help show a potential lender that you have a history of managing monthly payments.</p> <h2>4. Check your credit</h2> <p>Your credit score can have a significant impact on your ability to buy a home. A low credit score can negatively affect how much money a lender is willing to loan you, as well as your interest rate.</p> <p>Just a few percentage point differences in an interest rate can cost you thousands over the life of a loan. Monitor your credit closely, especially for fraudulent activity, to prevent any surprises that could delay the loan application process.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re unsure of your credit score, many financial websites offer credit score monitoring, or you can get a full credit report once a year.</p> <h2>5. Avoid large purchases</h2> <p>Avoid taking on large amounts of debt - whether it&#8217;s buying a car or planning a large vacation - before buying a house. This is advisable even if you&#8217;re already preapproved.</p> <p>Your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">debt-to-income ratio</a>, or how much money you make compared to how much debt you have, can significantly affect how much money a lender is willing to give you. Keeping debts to a minimum can help make the home-buying process go a lot more smoothly.</p> <p>Just like proofreading your resume before you apply for a job, cleaning up your financial resume can help improve your chances of buying a home.</p> <p>Take advantage of online tools and resources, like our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">affordability calculator</a>, which can help you determine how much home you can afford. Our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mortgage calculator</a> can also provide custom down payment estimates based on home price and interest rates. And as you search for your future home, check out our extensive lender and agent reviews, which can help you find the best real estate partners for your needs.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Can I Afford a House?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Questions to Ask Potential Mortgage Lenders</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Owning vs. Renting: What is the Right Decision for You?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 23 2019-12-20 22:19 +00:00 2019-12-21 11:19 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Home Organization: Embracing Order in the New Year Tackle clutter and make your space work for you - with style. Fri, 20 Dec 2019 18:50:20 Z Sara Knowles <p>For many people, the new year represents a clean slate and brings a renewed sense of possibility and enthusiasm. It's a wonderful time to get your home organized in anticipation of the busy months ahead. Effective storage solutions and organization systems will enable you to enjoy your home to its fullest. Here are some tips to put you on track for an orderly and productive year.</p> <h2>Learn to let things go</h2> <p>The first step in any organization plan is purging. This can be the hardest part, but it is also the most rewarding.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t keep things that aren&#8217;t functional or don&#8217;t bring you joy. Also remember that something you let go of might make someone else very happy.</p> <p>If you're not sure you can part with an item, store it in a box and see if you miss it or need it. This is a great litmus test for what's truly necessary. If you don&#8217;t miss it after a set amount of time, donate it!</p> <h2>Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good</h2> <p>Any organization effort is better than no organization effort. It&#8217;s best to approach a behemoth task like organizing your entire home in stages.</p> <p>The house provides us with natural barriers. Think of each room as its own project and it will begin to feel more manageable.</p> <p>And remember that it gets worse before it gets better, so don't feel discouraged early on. Organizing is not something that happens in one day - it&#8217;s a journey and a state of mind.</p> <h2>Think outside the box store</h2> <p>A trip to your local organization store can be fun, but unorthodox storage solutions make for a more interesting space.</p> <p>Beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces can be highly practical and help make your home more functional. Make use of available and affordable materials, when possible, to stretch your home organization budget. You can craft solutions yourself or revitalize secondhand pieces that fit with your style.</p> <figure id="attachment_167748" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167748" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-167748" src="" alt="Source: Belathee Photography" width="500" height="764" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167748" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>This bookcase was made out of old wine boxes and then stained a dark walnut color.</p> <h2>The three Bs: bins, buckets and baskets</h2> <p>Oh, and jars. (But that doesn&#8217;t start with a B.)</p> <p>Once you&#8217;ve whittled down your belongings to favorites and essentials, you&#8217;re going to need somewhere to store them. Baskets and buckets have a wonderful visual impact in a room - filling nooks, resting against chairs and adding texture and color.</p> <figure id="attachment_167709" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167709" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-167709" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167709" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>They are also highly functional for storing everything from toys and blankets to magazines and shoes. Keep an eye out for unexpected vessels, like this gigantic industrial mixing bowl that is now a great solution for avoiding entryway clutter.</p> <figure id="attachment_167715" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167715" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-167715" src="" alt="Source: Belathee Photography" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167715" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>Using jars in the kitchen to store dry goods can make open shelving a lot more appealing. Bonus: By keeping healthy ingredients in plain sight, you&#8217;ll probably end up using them more often.</p> <figure id="attachment_167710" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167710" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-167710" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167710" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Use your vertical space</h2> <p>If your home doesn&#8217;t have a huge footprint, vertical solutions are essential for staying organized. These can be implemented in a more practical manner - like stacking bins and boxes under your bed or in your closet - as well as through design decisions.</p> <p>Capitalizing on vertical space draws the eye to different parts of the room and creates a sense of balance, in addition to saving important real estate on the floor.</p> <figure id="attachment_167705" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167705" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-167705" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167705" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>This curio cabinet makes excellent use of a corner that might otherwise be neglected. A hanging light above has a nice visual impact and doesn&#8217;t take up any additional space.</p> <p>The best reason to get and stay organized? You&#8217;ll save yourself valuable time - which means you can focus on doing things that really matter to you.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Organizing Your Pantry in 6 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Perfect Conversation Pieces for Entertaining</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2015</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 16 2019-12-20 18:50 +00:00 2019-12-21 07:50 +13:00 COMMENT: Landlords obligations to tenants <p>Do landlords have moral and social obligations towards their tenants, asks Auckland Property Investors Association vice-president Peter Lewis.</p> Tue, 10 Dec 2019 05:49:00 +1200 2019-12-10 05:49 +12:00 2019-12-10 06:49 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating DIY entertaining holidays Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags Easy handmade decor and trimmings set the scene for a festive holiday get-together. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 17:50:09 Z Douglas Calhoun <p>Holiday entertaining is all about one-of-a-kind decor, and we&#8217;ve got some show-stopping looks that you can make yourself. You don&#8217;t have to be an expert crafter to accomplish these easy DIY projects. Creating a custom hanging herb chandelier and dessert takeaways will really impress your guests at this year&#8217;s seasonal get-together.</p> <p>Create a rustic vibe by wrapping the dining table in brown kraft paper. Arrange leaves, loaves of bread and open bottles of wine along the center of this setup. Lovely butter knives atop neatly placed cloth napkins seal the deal.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe title="Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>Serve tea or coffee with your homemade treat bags after the meal to brighten everyone&#8217;s day. Taking the little bit of time to make this thoughtful goody that your guests can break into right away or take home really makes visitors feel special. Taffy, cookies or a slice of pie are all great sweets to bag up for later.</p> <h2>Hanging Herb Chandelier Materials</h2> <ul> <li>3-foot cut of wood (or desired length, depending on your table)</li> <li>Cup hooks</li> <li>5-foot length of multi-purpose rope</li> <li>Baker&#8217;s twine</li> <li>Ribbon</li> <li>Herbs/flowers</li> </ul> <h2>Stamped Paper Bag Takeaways Materials</h2> <ul> <li>Brown canvas, burlap or paper bags</li> <li>Stencil (ours is Antlered Deer, part of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Winter Holiday 4-Pack by Stencil 1</a>, $13)</li> <li>Black craft paint</li> <li>Taffy or other candies</li> </ul> <p><em>Videography and photography by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Mikal Marie Photography</a>. </em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Deck Out Your Guest Room to Give Holiday Visitors a Warm Welcome</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Styling Bar Carts: 4 Irresistible Looks</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A Guide to Giving Holiday Gifts to Your Roommates</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2019-11-26 17:50 +00:00 2019-11-27 06:50 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating holidays winter The Secret to No-Fuss Holiday Decor? Use What You Already Have Holiday decorating can be as simple as dusting off your flower vases, unrolling a spool of burlap and polishing your silver. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:00:04 Z Marissa Hermanson <p>Hold your holiday decor horses! Before you purchase gobs of tinsel and piles of twinkle lights, take another look at items you already have - they may be the holiday embellishment you've been looking for.</p> <p>By hunting through your cabinets and closets, you can easily repurpose common household items into yuletide decor for your abode. Need a little inspiration? These design experts share how they style up everyday objects into festive flourishes.</p> <h2>Dig through the craft closet</h2> <p>"Bust out the burlap! I've been known to use burlap for anything from tablecloths to a Christmas tree skirt. It's so versatile and lends an organic, rustic vibe."<br /> - Brooke Wagner, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Brooke Wagner Design</a></p> <p>"Roll out brown or black butcher paper on your table like a runner. It somehow elevates everything you set on it. Plus, you can write your guests names on it in black marker (or chalk marker for black paper) instead of place cards."<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p>"Paint a wall with chalkboard paint. It&#8217;s the perfect themed accent wall that's fun and creative, and it gets the kids involved, too."<br /> - Melissa Martin Molitor, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">MMM Designs-Interiors</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222937" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222937" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-222937 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1067" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222937" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Melissa Martin Molitor.</a></figcaption></figure> <p>"Tie ribbon on everything! Thread it through chandeliers or banisters. Or put festive printed fabric in picture frames and scatter them throughout the house."<br /> - Katie Schroder, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Atelier Interior Design</a></p> <h2>Scour the kitchen cupboards</h2> <p>"Place a set of teacups on a pretty tray, and fill each cup with a succulent or small flower arrangement. Or create a centerpiece by placing candles on a serving tray or cake stand."<br /> - Gita Jacobson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">In The Deets</a></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-222992 size-full" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <p>&#8220;Fill a large glass serving bowl - or maybe a punch bowl or trifle bowl - with whatever seasonal item you want. Just use the same thing so it looks purposeful and pretty.&#8221;<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p>"Take an ordinary flower vase, and stick glass ornaments inside with a string of white lights. It's a pretty display that&#8217;s simple and creative!"<br /> - Wendy Berry, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">W Design Interiors</a></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222989" src="" alt="" width="800" height="521" /></p> <h2>Ransack the fridge</h2> <p>"Dried fruit garland is still classic and sweet. Take a needle and thread to some popcorn, cranberries or dried sliced oranges, and string it up wherever you want to!"<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222990" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>"Cut up fresh fruit and put it in a pitcher before adding flowers for a centerpiece. Throw in some cloves and cinnamon sticks for added flair. For a dash of festivity, use oranges with cloves in them for place card settings."<br /> - Christine Estep,<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"> Jackson Thomas Interiors</a></p> <h2>Sift through the closet</h2> <p>"Use a vintage plaid throw as a tablecloth or runner. Or decorate a small tabletop tree with jewelry or ribbon."<br /> - Katie Schroder, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Atelier Interior Design</a></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222988" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <p>"Repurpose one of your favorite scarves as a cozy centerpiece runner."<br /> - Gita Jacobson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">In The Deets</a></p> <h2>Forage in the yard</h2> <p>&#8220;Instead of placing a star at the top of my Christmas tree, I'll take a handful of fallen sticks and tie them together at the top of the tree with a raffia bow. I'll also layer pine cones throughout my tree to balance out the glass ornaments for an organic, natural feel.<br /> - Wendy Berry, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">W Design Interiors</a></p> <p>&#8220;I gather sticks cedar branches, along with magnolia, holly, boxwood and pine. I spread them around the bases of containers or arrange them in colorful tea tins. It&#8217;s an easy way to bring in greenery without spending too much money."<br /> - Susan Jamieson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Bridget Beari Designs<br /> </a><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222991" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <p>&#8220;I love to add a garland of fresh greens around my dining room chandelier and hang ornaments from it. The fresh scent mixed with holiday cooking is wonderful."</p> <p>- Jennifer Stoner, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Stoner Interiors</a></p> <h2>Look everywhere!</h2> <p>"Scatter some festive items that aren&#8217;t necessarily holiday themed. For example, we&#8217;ll set out some naturally shed antlers in the fall or a tuxedo hat around Christmas. I&#8217;ll mix in a few of these types of things that feel seasonally appropriate but aren&#8217;t necessarily traditional holiday decor."<br /> - Summer Thornton, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Summer Thornton Design</a></p> <p>"Give a corner of your home a holiday touch with just a handful of tweaks. We made a sitting area more festive by adding new pillows (they needn&#8217;t have an overt holiday motif – a wintery look works just as well), some evergreen cuttings from the yard (with a few sprigs of berries), a stack of wrapped gifts, a scarf and bow for our deer, and a teddy bear found in the attic."<br /> – Chris Stout-Hazard, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Roger + Chris</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222934" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222934" style="width: 650px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-222934 size-full" src="" alt="" width="650" height="650" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222934" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Chris Stout-Hazard.</a></figcaption></figure> <p>"Gather objects with a similar color scheme. I pull out all of my white and silver anything and group them together - candle holders, vases, pots, ribbon. Then I go to my neighbors' yards for magnolia and holly cuttings and get laurel out of my own yard. I just keep everything green, white and silver - jumbled together it works."<br /> - <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Lesley Glotzl</a></p> <p>"Repurpose a metallic vessel into a vase for displaying rich greenery or arrangements of holiday objects. A brass champagne cooler, a bright silver trophy cup or even small copper mugs could work perfectly. Add fresh pops of red with cranberries, pomegranates, deep-red apples or even a few red roses."<br /> - Kerrie Kelly, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Kerrie Kelly Design Lab</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222936" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222936" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-222936 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="640" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222936" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Kerrie Kelly.</a></figcaption></figure> <h6><em>Top photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Entertaining Essentials: 5 Items Every Host Needs</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 6 2019-11-26 13:00 +00:00 2019-11-27 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating holidays How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact) Focus on these three areas to maximize your decor efforts. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 12:55:26 Z Lindsay Jackman <p>You may have dreams of decorating your home like it&#8217;s a display window at a fancy department store, but then reality strikes: You&#8217;ve still got gift shopping and wrapping to do, holiday parties to attend and host &#8230; not to mention your everyday life to live.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t get overwhelmed. Go for intentional minimalism. Some years, less is more.</p> <p>Simple decor can still have a big impact - not the least of which is relieving you of some <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">holiday hustle and bustle</a>. All you need to do is hone in on sprucing up three key areas in your home.</p> <h2>Target your tree</h2> <p>The most obvious place to start is your Christmas tree. For an easy, fuss-free tree, go with a monochromatic color scheme.</p> <figure id="attachment_208882" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208882" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-208882" src="" alt="tree_2" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208882" class="wp-caption-text">Metallic ornaments give your tree extra glitz and seasonal sparkle.</figcaption></figure> <p>Another option is to use all neutral colors so you don&#8217;t have to worry about balancing a color palette or tree placement - it will coordinate with any room&#8217;s normal decor.</p> <h2>Make your mantel magical</h2> <p>If you have a fireplace in your home, the mantel is an ideal spot to bring a little holiday cheer, but don&#8217;t make it too complicated.</p> <figure id="attachment_208880" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208880" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-208880 size-full" src="" alt="mantel_4" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208880" class="wp-caption-text">Cotton branches intertwined with silver artificial garland.</figcaption></figure> <p>Choose a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement-making garland</a> to hang or drape across the top. Place some candles on the mantel to light at night, and you&#8217;re good to go.</p> <h2>Top off your table</h2> <p>The holidays are a prime time for entertaining, hosting and gathering around the table. So bring seasonal flair to your table with a beautiful garland, which can go a long way as a table runner.</p> <figure id="attachment_208881" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208881" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-208881 size-full" src="" alt="table_6" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208881" class="wp-caption-text">A garland made of magnolia leaves and evergreen creates a dramatic table runner.</figcaption></figure> <p>Make the decor as simple as placing a lush garland in the center of your table and mixing in candles for added ambiance.</p> <p>Decorating for the holidays doesn&#8217;t have to be a chore. Focus on these three spots, and your home will feel magical and holiday-ready in no time.</p> <p><em>Photos courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">White Buffalo Styling Co</a>. </em></p> <p><b>Related:</b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">The Year I Decorated the White House for Christmas</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">5 Home Repairs to Make Before You Host a Holiday Gathering</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2019-11-26 12:55 +00:00 2019-11-27 01:55 +13:00 COMMENT: Unlawful premises – moving past Anderson v FM Custodians <p>Curious about the law around the use of non-residential property for residential purposes? Auckland Property Investors Association member Kristine King* explains the situation now that there&rsquo;s new legislation in place.</p> Tue, 26 Nov 2019 10:32:00 +1200 2019-11-26 10:32 +12:00 2019-11-26 11:32 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY entertaining home maintenance 5 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Guest-Ready for the Holidays This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration. Mon, 25 Nov 2019 17:28:21 Z See Jane Drill <p>Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn&#8217;t the time to undertake any major updates.</p> <p>Chances are, you&#8217;re busy enough get ready for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re a first-time party host with a few jitters or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.</p> <h2>Light the way</h2> <p>The sun sets early this time of year, so it&#8217;s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">well-lit</a>.</p> <p>If you have a large front yard, focus on the entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights or replace the bulbs if needed. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.</p> <p>On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It&#8217;s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip:</strong> The easiest way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!</p> <h2>Take care of the bottom line</h2> <p>Our mothers used to say this, and it&#8217;s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.</p> <p>Even if you&#8217;re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, make sure your floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip</strong>: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair so they have time to dry fully.</p> <h2>Brighten up your bathroom</h2> <p>If you&#8217;re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That's it!</p> <p>Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations or pictures on the wall to further <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">spiff up your powder room</a>, and it will be ready for your guests.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip:</strong> Get the buildup out of a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs - all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.</p> <h2>Tune up kitchen appliances</h2> <p>Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you&#8217;re hosting a big family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.</p> <p>Make sure all stove burners are working. Now&#8217;s the time to clean the oven if you haven't done that for a while.</p> <p>Clean out the refrigerator, and check to see that the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.</p> <p>Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip</strong>: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.</p> <h2>Make your space kid-friendly</h2> <p>If you make your home welcoming for children, you&#8217;ll ensure their parents have a great time as well.</p> <p>If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you&#8217;re in luck. But if not, think about adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable and alleviate kid boredom.</p> <p>Here are some ideas to get you started:</p> <ul> <li>Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.</li> <li>Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons and some comfy pillows or throws.</li> <li>One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Pro tip: </strong>If you don't have children, or if yours are older, don't forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable or unstable. Do some <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">baby-proofing</a>, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.</p> <p><em>Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">home improvement videos</a>. </em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Home for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY: Refresh Your Bathroom With a New Sink and Vanity</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Holiday Hazards: How to Avoid Insurance Claims</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 10 2019-11-25 17:28 +00:00 2019-11-26 06:28 +13:00 COMMENT: Removing 90-day notices - the impacts <p>Being a successful landlord is all about managing risk but getting rid of &ldquo;no cause&rdquo; 90-day&rsquo; notices means risk will skyrocket, argues NZ Property Investor Federation executive member Brian Kerr.</p> Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:26:00 +1200 2019-11-20 17:26 +12:00 2019-11-20 18:26 +13:00 COMMENT: The truth about tenancy terminations <p>The Government wants to get rid of &ldquo;no-cause&rdquo; tenancy terminations. Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis explains why that is a bad idea.</p> Tue, 05 Nov 2019 10:27:00 +1200 2019-11-05 10:27 +12:00 2019-11-05 11:27 +13:00 Market Trends Down payments home buying Zillow Group Report How to Actually Afford to Buy a Home in America Home buying hurdles exist - but research, creativity and flexibility will help you clear them. Wed, 23 Oct 2019 15:43:38 Z Brittan Jenkins <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Home buyers today face tough challenges - housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn't go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">How are people today making such a large purchase despite these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of financing creativity, today's buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.<br /> </span></p> <h2>Know your options (and credit score)</h2> <p>The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including what mortgages you&#8217;re eligible for and how much you need (and can afford) to put down upfront.</p> <p>Learning the minimum FICO score required by lenders and understanding your own credit score are important starting points.</p> <p>Many home shoppers aren't sure how much they have to put down on a home, what the lender-required minimum down payment will be (it&#8217;s not always 20%), or what programs are available to help with down payments, like FHA loans.</p> <p>Before buyers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should <a href="">know what their financial resources are</a> and if they're eligible to buy.</p> <h2>Make enough money to save</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to buy face tough financial headwinds. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019</a>, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is nearly $40,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $75,000 annually). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $75,000 in household income, it&#8217;s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. &#8220;I</span>f you're making $37,500 per year, it's probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market," says Zillow Chief Economist <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Dr. Svenja Gudell.</a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.</span></p> <h2>Save enough cash (but not as much as you think)</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most daunting parts of home buying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zillow Housing Aspirations Report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For people buying the national median home valued at $229,000, with the traditional 20% down payment, that&#8217;s $45,800 upfront - just to move in. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,&#8221; says Gudell</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. &#8220;But they should know they don&#8217;t have to put 20% down.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although putting down less than 20% means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, according to the <a href="">Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019</a>, only one-fifth of recent buyers (20%) put 20% down, and just over half of buyers (56%) put </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">less</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> than the traditional 20% down.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, 34% of buyers who get a mortgage also get help in the form of gifts or loans from friends and family to come up with a down payment. </span></p> <h2>Know your deal breakers, but be flexible</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To get into a home - even if it's not the home of their dreams - some of today's buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list and getting increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition and even home type.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they&#8217;re looking for a $110,000 home,&#8221; Gudell says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Affordably priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it&#8217;s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"If you&#8217;re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple trade-offs, you might be able to find a home that is farther out that might be cheaper," Gudell explains. &#8220;You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices."</span></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 3-Step Plan for Finding and Buying Your Next Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">What Do Mortgage Lenders Review on Bank Statements?</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 47 2019-10-23 15:43 +00:00 2019-10-24 04:43 +13:00 Unique Homes cottage This Isn't Your Average Woodland Cottage Constructing these homes is like kneading dough. Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:54:08 Z Maria Hashim <p>"We spend so much of our lives in boxes," says Alexis Borsboom, owner of this cottage nestled among the trees on Mayne Island, BC.</p> <p>The unique shape is just one reason she and her husband moved in. The rest of the story lies inside its walls - and begins with the walls themselves.</p> <p>That's because they're made from cob: a combination of clay, sand and straw that's mixed with water and then sculpted by hand. The couple fell in love after meeting in a cob-building workshop; later, they purchased the home and built a life constructing cob structures together.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231015 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /></p> <p>With soft edges throughout and a wooden staircase, the interior of their home seems like something out of a dream - but subtle nods to 70s decor make it feel familiar.</p> <p>Cob is a little like adobe. But unlike adobe, which is formed into bricks and hardened before building, cob structures are sculpted while the mixture is still wet.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-231016" src="" alt="" width="650" height="893" /></p> <p>Working with raw earth means there's not much need for loud equipment on a cob site. And because most of the necessary materials can be gathered from the surrounding area, constructing a cob has very little ecological impact.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231017 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /></p> <p>This construction style also informs the natural, organic shapes you'll find throughout a cob home, like arched doorways and a space perfectly sized to fit the wood-burning stove.</p> <p>The kitchen, which sits just off the living area, is a cozy space with enough room for the essentials - plus a breakfast nook for enjoying a morning cup.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231018 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="685" /></p> <p>Upstairs, a gently sloping ceiling gives the bedroom and workspace a uniquely homey vibe. And just above that ceiling sits a wide, undulating roof. It's crucial - it protects the home from wind and rain. With a strong foundation and the right roof, a cob-style home can last forever. But "if it's left out in the elements, it will turn back into dirt within a year," Borsboom says.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-231019 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="685" /></p> <p>The door on the second story leads out to a small deck that&#8217;s perfect for catching the magical sunsets off Canada's western coast.</p> <p>Alexis describes cob-style homes as a "gentle and beautiful way to live." We couldn't agree more.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related: </strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Does Your Dream Cabin Look Like?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Before &amp; After: Low Country Cottage Renovation</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">From Scraps to Sanctuary: A $700 A-Frame Cabin</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-10-21 17:54 +00:00 2019-10-22 06:54 +13:00 COMMENT: Sign of changing times <p>Fletcher Building opened a flash, new, high tech, prefabricated house building factory yesterday. Great things are expected of it, but Miriam Bell ponders what it means for your average investor.</p> Thu, 17 Oct 2019 11:54:00 +1200 2019-10-17 11:54 +12:00 2019-10-17 12:54 +13:00 Unique Homes castles Step Inside the Castle a Dad Promised to His Son Wooden knights and a secret passageway add to the home's magical charm. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:40:29 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Many kids dream of owning their own castle, but John Lavender - owner, designer and builder of the Highlands Castle in Bolton Landing, New York - made his son Jason's childhood fantasy a reality. After telling his (then) 3-year-old son that he would build him a castle, Lavender delivered on his promise, constructing it from scratch himself. Nestled in the beautiful Adirondacks and overlooking the coast of Lake George, the stone castle sits on nine acres of land and feels as though it was plucked from a medieval English countryside.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Construction on the Highlands Castle began in 1982, and ever since, Lavender has been in the process of constantly building and renovating it to perfection. Currently, the structure stands at an impressive 12,000 square feet and features 3 beds, 2.5 baths as well as a two-story tower sitting area, and a "great hall" with floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a picturesque look at Lake George. The castle also has a music/library room, sitting room, den and a covered terrace that gives you magical, panoramic views of the lake. Lavender also incorporated a sense of play into his castle design, adding a secret passageway to the downstairs bedroom, patio and entertainment room.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230997 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>To give it a sense of old-world authenticity on the interior, the castle is filled with antiques and collectibles at every turn - ranging from beautiful pieces of furniture to sculptures to hand-carved wooden knights - that Lavender started procuring five years before he even purchased the land.</p> <p>"I went out and purchased antiques year after year. And I started to just put them in storage," Lavender says. "I &#8230; was committing myself to fulfill the promise [of building the castle]."</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231004 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>Attention to detail was important in the design and construction of Highlands Castle, which features over 800 tons of stone (placed painstakingly one at a time), custom woodworking and stained-glass doors, all lending to its antique Gothic style. Thankfully, however, the home does include some modern amenities that make castle life suitable for the 21<sup>st</sup> century, including an open concept and up-to-date kitchen, luxurious bathrooms with custom tile work, and spacious bedrooms fit for a king or queen.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231002 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>The best detail of the castle, however, is the unmatched view of Lake George, which Lavender says he never takes for granted.</p> <p>"There&#8217;s a lot of people will ask the same question: 'Do you ever like get tired of looking at the view? Or do you ever not look at it and just forget to look at it, take it, you know, just for granted?' And the answer is no. I mean, I can sit here and tell you that several times a day I will give thanks just for my time that I&#8217;m able to spend here," he says.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230995 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="767" /></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiE1OjPqqHlAhUMsp4KHbnOA9UQFjAAegQIBBAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3sxOIylOaxHmimDUmEDZ0A" data-ctorig="">Living Legacy: Making a Family Home in a Historic Mansion</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjA7N_qqqHlAhVNvJ4KHQWFC68QFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw1T-5zkArn4WW9odIKW4gqH" data-ctorig="">1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab</a></li> <li><a href=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiPq7n7qqHlAhUDqp4KHfduA-cQFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3vAxxyvaDQOB7ECK7JF5WW" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Urban Castle&#8217;s Magical Design Will Have You Spellbound</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2019-10-16 17:40 +00:00 2019-10-17 06:40 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating Fall kitchens 4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall Grab your hearty soup recipes, decorative pie plates and favorite cookbooks. Fall is here, and with just a little effort you can get your kitchen ready to make the most of it. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 15:00:28 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>The season has changed, and so follows your home decor. Decorating for the chillier fall months means incorporating warm and inviting colors and textures into your home's interior design, specifically in the kitchen.</p> <p>Try these four tips to create a cozier kitchen for fall.</p> <h2>Weave in dark textiles</h2> <p>Fall means decorating with gorgeously textured throws, pillows and table linens. Introduce your kitchen to an autumnal palette using dark, natural window coverings and similar table linens for a cozy effect. This look juxtaposes raw texture with soft details like fresh fruit, warm place mats and smooth surfaces.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-221335" src="" alt="" width="650" height="780" /></p> <h2>Bank on butcher block</h2> <p>Found most often in farmhouse-style or rustic homes, butcher block is great for countertops and tables because it&#8217;s durable and looks better the longer you have it.</p> <p>If you're thinking about switching out your countertop, consider butcher block for a warm, inviting feel. If you don't want to commit to a full countertop, try a large cutting board or table to add earthiness to your kitchen.</p> <figure id="attachment_184690" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-184690" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-184690 size-full" src="" alt="ISt4nlxhnohhfk0000000000" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-184690" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Add pops of color</h2> <p>If your kitchen has a blank space or accent wall, consider painting it for an inviting scene. For the fall season, you can choose to use warmer, darker colors like a deep red, warm orange, or olive or brown tone.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t want to paint an entire wall? Select a piece of art or two featuring deep and rich colors to create a cozy ambiance. You could even paint your cabinets or counters.</p> <figure id="attachment_184693" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-184693" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-184693 size-full" src="" alt="ISdwlmdyf4ueyk1000000000" width="800" height="530" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-184693" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Nurture indoor plants</h2> <p>Houseplants are always good go-to decorations because they require little upkeep and add a touch of freshness to any space. They are particularly useful in the fall because they can double as herb gardens or unique decor.</p> <p>Install a small indoor garden on your window sill or on a shelf near a window to have easy access to fresh rosemary, sage, and basil, even when the weather might not call for gardening.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-184694" src="" alt="shutterstock_256003411" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>While these suggestions may seem small, they are great touch-ups to boost your festive theme this fall season. Add one or two, or mix all of the design tips for a home-sweet-home feel.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Our New, Old Kitchen: How We Rose to the Remodeling Challenge</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">These Stylish Floors Will Make You Rethink Your Renovation Plans</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Retro Decorating Trends That Deserve a Comeback</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 14 2019-10-09 15:00 +00:00 2019-10-10 04:00 +13:00 Home Improvement Appliances budget DIY Fixtures kitchens 7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling Take your kitchen forward without setting yourself back too much. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 13:00:37 Z Marissa Hermanson <p>Kitchen renovations require time and money, often taking several months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you don't have the financial resources for a full-on renovation, there are a variety of ways you can give your kitchen a new look for a lot less. From refacing cabinets to replacing lighting, a few cosmetic tweaks can give you the kitchen you've always wanted.</p> <h2>Cabinets</h2> <p>Many homeowners are turning to kitchen refacing as an easy way to update their cabinets. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers and hardware and covering the entire exterior of the cabinets in a brand-new veneer. If you're happy with the layout and function of your kitchen, but aren't so keen on the aesthetic feel, consider cabinet refacing.</p> <p>"It's for people who have kitchens from the '70s and '80s that have solid wood cabinets," says interior designer Anna León, who has a background in kitchen refacing with Home Depot. "They can take off the original doors and put on modern doors."</p> <p>The cost, which typically starts at around $6,000, depends on the size of the kitchen and the materials used. With an array of options available - such as woodgrains, painted wood and pressure-fused laminate doors like Thermofoil - you can transform a kitchen's facade easily. Contemporary Thermofoil doors also come in a variety of fun looks, including glossy, matte and woodgrain.</p> <p>While a full kitchen gut and renovation may take several months to complete, cabinet resurfacing typically takes three to five days.</p> <p>Painting cabinets is more affordable than refacing, costing around $3,000 to $5,000 for a professional to do the job, according to León.</p> <p>Or, you can always DIY, which is the most affordable option, but it&#8217;s laborious and takes a great deal of time.</p> <p>"Painting cabinets is great, but it's all about the prep work," says Richmond, VA-based interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. "You have to prep and paint them perfectly or they&#8217;re going to chip or peel. You can&#8217;t cut any corners."</p> <figure id="attachment_223974" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223974" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223974 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223974" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Backsplash</h2> <p>Creating a new backsplash is an easy way to freshen up your kitchen. Be sure to choose a timeless material that will complement your cabinetry, and avoid mixing styles and periods. For instance, if you have '70s-era cabinetry, you won't want to pair that with something trendy like subway tile.</p> <p>If you're a confident DIYer, tile your backsplash. Or for $20, you can paint it in a bold high-gloss paint that you can easily wipe down after cooking.</p> <p>In Glotzl's home, she installed a beadboard backsplash and painted it in a high-gloss blue.</p> <p>Shiplap is an affordable and durable option as well, and it&#8217;s not difficult to DIY. Glotzl also recommends using vinyl wallpapers from companies like <a href=";PageSize=60&amp;PageStart=60&amp;type=152&amp;page=2&amp;_=1512569716465&amp;" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Osborne &amp; Little</a> as a backsplash, as they come in an array of fun textures, colors and patterns.</p> <figure id="attachment_223980" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223980" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223980 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="549" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223980" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Countertops</h2> <p>For countertops, head to your local stone yard and choose a granite at the lower end of the price range. Formica - a more affordable option than natural stone - has a lot of cool countertop options in patterns like Greek key or textures like barn wood or grasscloth.</p> <p>If you're short on counter space and aren't looking to add more cabinetry, consider buying a premade island or bar-height table that you can float in the center of your kitchen.</p> <p>Or, if you have a more contemporary kitchen, consider purchasing a stainless-steel food prep table from a restaurant supply company. Just make sure you have at least 36 inches between the cabinets and island on all sides for easy traffic flow, advises Glotzl.</p> <figure id="attachment_223982" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223982" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223982 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223982" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Shelving</h2> <p>If your cabinets don't have lip molding on the interior, remove cabinet doors to create open <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shelving</a> and show off your beautiful serving dishes.</p> <p>Or, if you have an empty wall, create your own shelving system with floating shelves from a retailer such as Pottery Barn or IKEA. Just be sure you install brackets underneath the shelves if you plan on loading them up with dishes and cooking wares. Glotzl recommends Van Dyke's Restorers for shelving support.</p> <figure id="attachment_223965" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223965" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223965 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="569" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223965" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of any room. Tear out harsh fluorescent lighting and replace it with can lights.</p> <p>Make food prep easier by having an electrician install under-cabinet halogen fixtures or ambient <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Light Tape</a>. Over the kitchen sink is the perfect place for a statement piece like a sculptural pendant light.</p> <figure id="attachment_223815" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223815" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223815 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="628" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223815" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Pulls and knobs</h2> <p>If you're going the cabinet-refacing route, you'll have plenty of new pulls and knobs to ponder. You can find them at online retailers or local shops.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re painting your cabinets - or even if you&#8217;re not - new pulls and knobs can go a long way toward creating a new look in your kitchen. This simple solution is one that works particularly well for renters.</p> <figure id="attachment_223819" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223819" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-223819" src="" alt="" width="800" height="543" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223819" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Appliances and plumbing</h2> <p>Dated appliances paired with updated cabinetry will make your kitchen feel incomplete. New stainless-steel <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appliances</a> are the finishing touch. For less than $500, you can get a new stainless-steel electric range; for less than $700, a brand-new top-freezer refrigerator.</p> <p>"Compared to everything else you have to do, it ends up feeling like pocket change," says León.</p> <p>You can easily update your faucet for under $100 (although, of course, you could spend a lot more). And a new farmhouse sink could be yours for less than $400.</p> <figure id="attachment_223816" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223816" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223816 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="601" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223816" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 34 2019-10-09 13:00 +00:00 2019-10-10 02:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Getting to grips with tenancy disputes <p>Widespread ignorance of tenancy law is behind current representations of residential tenancy disputes which feature tenants as victims, writes Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:21:00 +1200 2019-10-07 14:21 +12:00 2019-10-07 15:21 +13:00 Unique Homes halloween Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House Is that a ghost or just your imagination? See for yourself. Tue, 01 Oct 2019 15:54:59 Z Catherine Sherman <p>With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.</p> <p>Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.</p> <p>Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he&#8217;s carefully curated every detail - from the grandfather clocks to the silver.</p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t know where it comes from,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;I just like that time and that era.&#8221;</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe title="Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn&#8217;t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.</p> <p>Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.</p> <p>But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won&#8217;t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie&#8217;s friends refuse to spend the night.</p> <p>&#8220;A spirit really is within the house,&#8221; Goyette says without blinking an eye. &#8220;It&#8217;s quite serious.&#8221;</p> <div class="owl-carousel"><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="575" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /></div> <p>From mysterious footsteps to children&#8217;s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.</p> <p>Some believe he&#8217;s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.</p> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Video and photos by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Awen Films</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Video: Get Ready for Four-Legged Halloween Fun</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Haunted Homes You Can Own Today</a></li> <li><a href="">For Sale: A &#8216;Slightly&#8217; Haunted Home</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 35 2019-10-01 15:54 +00:00 2019-10-02 04:54 +13:00 COMMENT: Let the buyer beware! But what about the seller? <p>Where would you stand if a property you have contracted to buy or sell is damaged on or before the settlement day? Buddle Findlay* partner John Buchan and senior associate Julia Gabrielle explain.</p> Tue, 01 Oct 2019 07:14:00 +1200 2019-10-01 07:14 +12:00 2019-10-01 08:14 +13:00 Home Improvement entertaining Fall halloween How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party Gather some gourds, and invite your favorite witches and ghouls over for a little Halloween fun. Thu, 26 Sep 2019 18:59:13 Z Lindsay Jackman <p>Nothing says Halloween like carved pumpkins, festive treats and fun costumes. Try these tips for throwing the perfect pumpkin-carving party with all your friends.</p> <h2>1. Create a casual atmosphere</h2> <p>Head out to the backyard, set up a few long folding tables with tablecloths and let the fall atmosphere be your decor. Play some music to get the party started.</p> <h2>2. Assemble a self-serve buffet</h2> <p>Don't worry about serving a full meal that creates a lot of work for you. Instead, set up a self-serve buffet stocked with enough goodies for the evening, so you can enjoy the party. Think of a few simple savory dishes, add some fun and festive sweets - you've got it covered. Include a drink station with a few options in dispensers. Label them, set up a stack of glasses and let your guests enjoy.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185562" src="" alt="shutterstock_328084430" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>3. Set up carving stations</h2> <p>Arrange a simple but structured carving station so your guests can enjoy the main event. Stock a table with an assortment of carving templates for those who want something other than the traditional jack-o&#8217;-lantern face. Don't forget tape - you&#8217;ll need to hold the templates in place while you carve.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185557" src="" alt="shutterstock_225804526" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>On other tables, place cute buckets your guests can scoop the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. Then put out smaller containers to hold the carving utensils. Just add some pumpkins and you&#8217;ve provided everything your guests will need.</p> <h2>4. Hold a carving contest</h2> <p>What good would pumpkin carving be without a little friendly competition? Have some judges and a variety of prizes on hand for the event. Think outside the box with the awards and go beyond just the "Best Pumpkin." Think in terms of "Most Creative," "Most Adventurous," "Scariest" and so on.</p> <h2>5. Commemorate the evening</h2> <p>All that hard work should be documented! Make sure you gather up the carved masterpieces for a group shot at the end of the evening, and don&#8217;t forget to share the party photos with your guests after the fact.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185556" src="" alt="shutterstock_219009244" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Get out those pumpkins, set the tables and crank up the music for the best pumpkin-carving party around.</p> <p>Need some more inspiration? Check out our video tutorial for easy ways to make your space spooky in no time.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="314" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpen Your Pumpkin Carving Skills With a Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tips for Haute Halloween Decor</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Set a Fabulous Table for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-09-26 18:59 +00:00 2019-09-27 06:59 +12:00 Unique Homes This Studio Came From a Feed Store And now it's a home fit for a fairy tale. Wed, 25 Sep 2019 17:53:42 Z Maria Hashim <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A California couple decided to move east and preserve this Tyringham, Massachusetts, studio. Decades before that, it was a studio of a different kind.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230918" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1920s, a local sculptor converted his backyard silo - originally purchased as a kit from a feed store - into a place where he could perfect his craft.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230914" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Large mill windows let in plenty of natural light for him to create. Today, that same light casts an ethereal glow over the second-floor bedroom. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230913" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Down the spiral staircase, a wood-burning stove and vintage decor give the first floor charm from a bygone era.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230916" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The two-story studio sits just behind Santarella, a dwelling lovingly dubbed the Tyringham Gingerbread House - appropriate, since it looks like it's from a storybook. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230917" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 450-square foot home has one bedroom and one bathroom, and unique features like Gothic doors and repurposed barnwood. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230915" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today, the couple describes the studio as a sculpture in itself. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">We think the sculptor would agree.</span></p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjotpL7q6HlAhUvIjQIHYn9DyYQFjAAegQIAxAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw2unR--nhwCQJDk0B12fo3y" data-ctorig="">Tour These Whimsical Cabins Made From Recycled Materials</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjziMmFrKHlAhWHsJ4KHeP4CMIQFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3KpmtANl-qHixGspAdWoNo" data-ctorig="">Saying &#8216;I Do&#8217; to a Tiny Grain Silo Home</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwi0sfWPrKHlAhWMnp4KHeNnDr8QFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw31iA3LSlKrcZxzTFe9VeIW" data-ctorig="">House of the Week: Snow White&#8217;s Cottage in the Woods</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2019-09-25 17:53 +00:00 2019-09-26 05:53 +12:00 Home Improvement home maintenance What Kind of Bugs Are in Your House? This guide to common household creepers will help you send pests packing - for good. Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:34:12 Z Lidia Ryan <p>Pests are everywhere, and having a few in your home is pretty much inevitable. But knowledge is power when it comes to critters, says Dr. Nancy Troyano, director of technical education and training at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Rentokil Pest Control</a>.</p> <p>When you know how to recognize and prevent an infestation, you can keep unwanted visitors at bay. The first step is learning which pests might become an issue for you.</p> <p>Here are the top pests to watch out for, according to Troyano.</p> <h2>Wood-destroying bugs</h2> <p>Termites and carpenter ants eat away at the foundation, and you have to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">call a professional</a> to remove them. They&#8217;re usually hard to see, but you can still find evidence that they&#8217;re around.</p> <p>In the Northeast, subterranean termites build mud tubes that you can usually spot. Look for brown staining around the house, both inside and out, and pay special attention to baseboards in the basement.</p> <p>Other hints are blistering paint, loose siding, piles of droppings or a substance that looks like sawdust.</p> <p>Homeowners in the Southwest and California should look out for drywood termites. They create colonies in the wood instead of the ground, and they need very little moisture. Watch for piles of droppings or swarms of termites flying out of the wood.</p> <h2>Cockroaches</h2> <p>Cockroaches are a big problem in crowded cities and apartment buildings. While they don't actually cause damage to a home, they do require professional extermination - and they're just gross.</p> <p>Cockroaches are attracted to food and garbage, and they&#8217;re usually brought in from the outside. Secondhand or rented furniture is a big culprit of cockroach infestations.</p> <p>The one &#8220;upside&#8221; to roaches is that they're big, so you will definitely know when you have a problem.</p> <h2>Nuisance pests</h2> <p>Most unwanted critters are pretty harmless - just annoying.</p> <p>After the Zika outbreaks, mosquitoes are generating more concern than in the past. Standing water creates a breeding ground for these pests, so try to minimize the water that collects around your home.</p> <p>Bed bugs are a big issue in cities, where it's easy for them to be brought in by furniture, clothes or people - and they&#8217;re notoriously hard to get rid of. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Homeowners with pets</a> should also be wary of ticks and fleas.</p> <h2>Rodents</h2> <p>Bugs aren't the only unwelcome guests you may encounter - keep your eye out for rodents, too.</p> <p>Bird feeders are a "mouse buffet," says Troyano, so keep an eye on those. Mice are also drawn inside to escape the cold, so homeowners in colder climates should make sure their homes are tightly sealed.</p> <p>Then there are our flying friends: bats. Bats are usually found in homes with attics or chimneys, because they like to hang out in dark, cavernous areas.</p> <p>You can easily lure out one or two bats, but if you have a big problem, you&#8217;ll want to call a professional. A word of warning about these winged creatures: They can carry rabies, so be careful with any DIY measures you undertake.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229438" src="" alt="" width="801" height="601" /></p> <h2>What to look for where you live</h2> <p>The types of pests you encounter largely depend on where you live.</p> <ul> <li>Tropical, humid places like Florida are breeding grounds for water-loving pests like mosquitoes.</li> <li>In wooded areas, you will find spiders, ants and beetles.</li> <li>In the desert, you&#8217;ll have to worry about snakes and scorpions.</li> </ul> <p>The type of home will also determine what kinds of pests you get. Log cabins are the most pest-prone homes, Troyano reports, and can attract beetles, termites and bees. Houses with vinyl siding or brick tend to be safer bets.</p> <p>Older homes are also a concern, because they are full of cracks and crevices where pests can enter or take up residence. Spiders and silverfish love these nooks.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New construction homes</a> come with their own issues. When wooden beams are exposed to the elements during construction, they gather moisture, which attracts fungus beetles. These tiny beetles are very common and will go away on their own once the material dries - but that could take up to a year. The fungus beetle has been nicknamed the "new-house pest," says Troyano.</p> <h2>How to prevent pests</h2> <p>The good news is that most pests are easily lured out of the home.</p> <p>Troyano trains people on the biology and behavior of pests. Rather than putting down a pesticide, she says, you can &#8220;outsmart&#8221; the bugs. "If I have an ant problem, and I know what they like to eat, I will take away their food source."</p> <p>Don&#8217;t forget to think about how the critters are getting inside. Plants and trees can act as a superhighway for pests. "I've watched ants walk along tree limbs into a home," Troyano says.</p> <p>Here are Troyano&#8217;s top tips for keeping your home free of unwelcome intruders:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Don't let them inside.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Keep your house sealed up</a> nice and tight. Use window screens, seal window and door frames, and plug up other exterior entry points.</li> <li><strong>Keep your home&#8217;s exterior tidy.</strong> Mow grass regularly, trim shrubbery and trees to prevent branches from touching your home, and keep mulched beds away from the house.</li> <li><strong>Watch for water pools and drainage issues. </strong>You don&#8217;t want water pooling up by your home&#8217;s foundation. Make sure your gutters direct water away from the house. Similarly, you don't want hills sloping toward your house. You'll also want to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard by keeping an eye on stagnant pools of water, like birdbaths.</li> <li><strong>Inspect your house inside and out. </strong>Regularly check for signs of pests.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tasks to Tackle Before Fall Arrives</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY: Fixing 3 Common Household Problems</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 30 2019-09-24 10:34 +00:00 2019-09-24 22:34 +12:00 Home Improvement home maintenance Is Your Home Trying to Kill You? How to detect and avoid five of the most common household hazards. Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:26:34 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. It's where you tuck your kids into bed and lazily watch hours of Netflix on the couch.</p> <p>Without your care and vigilance, however, your home may develop conditions that can make you severely ill - or even kill you.</p> <p>Here are five ways your home can potentially harm you and expert advice on keeping these issues from affecting your household.</p> <h2>1. Mold</h2> <p>Though <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mold</a> isn&#8217;t a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it&#8217;s still an allergen that you don&#8217;t want hanging around your house.</p> <p>"When people say they have a mold allergy or they have a mold condition, it's an allergic reaction," says Peter Duncanson, director of business operations for disaster restoration specialists <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">ServiceMaster Restore</a>. "[Molds] generally considered toxic are ones like stachybotrys, which are black in color - but not all black molds cause the same reactions."</p> <p>Molds, including black molds like stachybotrys, form if moisture concentrates in an area where a food source is present, such as skin cells or paper. You know you have mold growing in your home if you smell an earthy, musty scent. Though mold exposure won't severely harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advised for your health.</p> <p>"The buildup [of mold] causes a more violent reaction, and those reactions are generally respiratory in nature and pulmonary, so you have trouble breathing,&#8221; Duncanson explains. &#8220;A very severe reaction to mold can be anaphylactic - you can't breathe, and you go into an anaphylactic shock."</p> <p>Luckily, you can prevent mold by keeping your home dry, running the exhaust fan when taking a shower, and purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement in the summer.</p> <p>If you do find black mold (or what's commonly referred to as toxic mold) in your home, don't panic. Contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and eliminate the water source feeding it.</p> <h2>2. Exposed asbestos</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Asbestos</a> was a commonly used building material up until the mid-20th century, when it was determined to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Though builders aren't legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products anymore, traces of it are often found in older homes.</p> <p>"Asbestos is not harmful to you if you don't disturb it," Duncanson says. "The problem arises when you start cutting or doing demolition and asbestos becomes airborne."</p> <p>It may be tempting to DIY an open-concept living space in your vintage bungalow, but if your home was built before the 1980s, seek the advice of a professional before you start knocking down any walls. The latency period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not arise until much later in your life.</p> <p>Handling asbestos is a dangerous task, and professionals have the equipment to remove it safely without risking your health.</p> <h2>3. Carbon monoxide poisoning</h2> <p>Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people each year, occurs when there&#8217;s too much carbon monoxide in your blood. This can result in tissue damage or death.</p> <p>Improperly ventilated appliances like stoves, water heaters and gas appliances can release carbon monoxide. Improperly cleaned chimneys cause smoke to circulate throughout the home - this can also give you carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Andy Kerns, a home maintenance researcher.</p> <p>To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, properly ventilate appliances and clean heat sources like wood-burning stoves every year before use. Call a professional if you have any doubts about the safety and security of your appliances or ventilation within your home.</p> <h2>4. Fire</h2> <p>Seven people in the U.S. die each day from house fires, according to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">National Fire Prevention Association</a>. Most of these house fires are the result of normal, everyday use of appliances, candles and cooking equipment. The most surprising fire starter, however, lives in the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">laundry room</a>.</p> <p>"Dryer lint can collect in the dryer and become an electrical fire starter,&#8221; says Kerns. &#8220;Dryers are the number one cause of house fires."</p> <p>To prevent house fires, ensure that your appliances have the right rating before you plug them into outlets. Always extinguish candles after usage and carefully watch the stove when cooking.</p> <h2>5. Slippery bathroom surfaces</h2> <p>The bathroom is often ranked as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often lead to falls - and result in anything from embarrassment to a fractured hip.</p> <p>"Bathtubs, especially, are an area where you can fall and hit your head,&#8221; notes Kerns. &#8220;A lot of people get pretty severely injured in the bathroom, particularly when they're older."</p> <p>As we get older, bathroom safety gets more pertinent, so it&#8217;s a great idea to install things like grab bars or a walk-in tub for ease of use as you age. Be sure to wipe down any wet surfaces, and place bath mats by the sink and tub to prevent bathroom falls.</p> <h2>Keep tabs on your home</h2> <p>Taking the time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, semiannual and annual checkup to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.</p> <p>"Given how busy our lives are, and all the different things we have to keep track of in our digital environments, it's harder and harder to keep some of the physical maintenance issues top of mind. I think a lot of people tend to let things go until there's a problem," says Kerns. "Don't leave it up to your memory. Have a good, reliable organizational system that keeps you up to date."</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Security Tips for Living Alone Safely</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Suds and Duds: Laundry Room Maintenance 101</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Safety Upgrades and Tech Tools for Seniors Living Alone</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published May 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-09-24 10:26 +00:00 2019-09-24 22:26 +12:00 Home Improvement Fall home maintenance 12 Tasks to Tackle This Fall Cooler weather is coming - prep your home for its arrival while it's still nice outside. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:10:43 Z See Jane Drill <p>The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks, and leaves are falling from the trees.</p> <p>Yep, it's official: Fall is here. Now&#8217;s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.</p> <p>Take care of these 12 tasks to get your home clean, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warm and cozy</a> for the cool days to come.</p> <h2>Exterior prep</h2> <h3>1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt</h3> <p>Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.</p> <h3>2. Clean out the gutters</h3> <p>No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on.</p> <p>While you're up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.</p> <h3>3. Turn off outdoor plumbing</h3> <p>Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.</p> <h3>4. Start composting</h3> <p>If you don't already have compost bins, now&#8217;s the time to make or get some. All those <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">accumulated autumn leaves</a> will bring you gardening gold next summer!</p> <h3>5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools</h3> <p>It may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they&#8217;re ready for storage over the winter.</p> <h3>6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers</h3> <p>Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you&#8217;ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-205251" src="" alt="shutterstock_155900531" width="800" height="600" /></p> <h2>Interior prep</h2> <h3>7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty</h3> <p>If you didn't already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before you start using it on a daily basis.</p> <h3>8. Clean the fireplace and chimney</h3> <p>Clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now&#8217;s also the time to stock up on firewood!</p> <h3>9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside</h3> <p>Inspect your windows and doors. Check weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn't doing its job.</p> <p>Also, now&#8217;s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.</p> <h3>10. Light the way</h3> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bring as much light into your home</a> as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-228643" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.</p> <h3>11. Create a mudroom</h3> <p>Even if you don't have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now&#8217;s a good time to think about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizing and stocking an entryway</a> that will serve as a "mudroom" area for cold and wet weather.</p> <p>Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.</p> <h3>12. Home safety check</h3> <p>Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time.</p> <p>Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so you&#8217;re ready for any winter power outages.</p> <p>Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Checklist Is the Key to Taking Care of Your Home (Without the Stress)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 24 2019-09-19 15:10 +00:00 2019-09-20 03:10 +12:00 Home Improvement halloween holidays Getting Your Home Ready for Trick-or-Treaters Consider these tips to ensure a fun and safe Halloween night. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:30:54 Z <p>As we settle into fall, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It's a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.</p> <h2>Take no trips</h2> <p>Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.</p> <p>In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible, or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.</p> <p>Meanwhile, if you've decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, keep electrical cords away from your walkways.</p> <h2>Light the way</h2> <p>Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.</p> <p>You don't need to install a full suite of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">year-round landscape lighting</a> simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.</p> <p>And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it's much safer - not to mention more inviting - to keep it on.</p> <h2>Resist flammable decor</h2> <p>Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.</p> <p>If you can't resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o'-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.</p> <h2>Curb your dog</h2> <p>Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are convincing enough to frighten small children, those same get-ups could be equally disturbing to your pooch - particularly on such a high-energy night.</p> <p>It's good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that&#8217;s comfortable and secure.</p> <p>A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a happy Halloween!</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpen Your Pumpkin Carving Skills With a Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Plan a Celeb-Worthy Halloween Party</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published October 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-09-19 13:30 +00:00 2019-09-20 01:30 +12:00 Tips & Advice First Time Home Buyers home buying Buying a Home? Plan for These Hidden Costs Get those rainy day funds in order - you're going to need them. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:00:55 Z Jonathan Deesing <p>You're excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming and the price is right.</p> <p>But the asking price is just the beginning. Be prepared for additional - and often unexpected - home-buying costs that can catch buyers unaware and quickly leave you underwater on your new home.</p> <h2>Expect the unexpected</h2> <p>For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn't stop with the down payment. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Homeowners insurance</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">closing costs</a>, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they&#8217;re lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.</p> <p>The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor affecting your move-in costs. If they take the refrigerator when they move out, you'll have to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buy one to replace it</a>. The same goes for any large appliance.</p> <p>And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, appliances quickly add up - especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.</p> <p>You'll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs, unless you negotiate them as part of your home purchase agreement.</p> <p>Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden of those you may encounter.</p> <p>When purchasing a home, definitely hire a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home inspector</a> (this costs money too!) to ensure the home isn't going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot and other hidden problems you may not find on your own.</p> <p>Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspector discovers a serious problem, you'll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you'll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.</p> <h2>Consider the creature comforts</h2> <p>Another cost is your own comfort. There are a number of smaller considerations you may not think about until after you move in.</p> <p>Are you used to having cable? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It's much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you <em>own</em> those walls.</p> <p>And if you&#8217;re moving from the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">world of renting</a> to the world of homeownership, you'll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.</p> <h2>Plan ahead</h2> <p>The best way to prepare for the unknown and unexpected is through research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting and throughout your search.</p> <p>Look at homes in your budget that need improvements, and then research how much those <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">improvements could cost</a>. Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.</p> <p>There&#8217;s really no limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that's priced lower than others in the area because of its age. You may save money on the list price, but with an older house, you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, making the house more expensive in the long run.</p> <p>This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you're considering to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.</p> <p>Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">down payment</a>, and then look at how much cash that leaves for improvements and minor costs, like changing the locks. That way, when you find a house at the high end of your range, you'll know to walk away if it requires a new washer and dryer or HVAC system upgrade.</p> <p>Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget - otherwise, you could easily end up being house-poor.</p> <p>Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you're getting into.</p> <p><em>Top featured photo from Offset.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Insurance FAQs for First-Time Home Buyers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Huge Risk Home Buyers Take When They Waive Inspections</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 38 2019-09-19 13:00 +00:00 2019-09-20 01:00 +12:00 Unique Homes This Sky-High Water Tower Doubles as a Rustic Beach Retreat In this elevated home, every room is a room with a view. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 23:43:58 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>In the 1940s, this Huntington Beach water tower - which stands at around 100 feet tall - serviced the local trains that came through town, connecting the inner city to the beach. Today, it's a 3,500-square-foot high-rise with unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown Los Angeles and Catalina Island.</p> <p>The historic and beloved water tower has long been a fixture of the Huntington coastline, but it was nearly torn down in the 1980s - until the local community pulled together and demanded it be saved.</p> <p>"There was a huge community outcry to keep it," said Scott Ostlund, the owner of the water tower home. "People were selling quilts and having meetings on 'Save Our Water Tower.'"</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Luckily, the tower was spared, and a local professor decided to turn it into a home in 1986. And in 2017, Ostlund purchased it and did extensive renovations, which were sorely needed.</p> <p>"There was literally dust dropping from the termites in the ceiling, so it needed a lot of work. We went through and restored it after the buy," Ostlund said.</p> <p>A crew of 70 worked round-the-clock for three months to update the features and bring the water tower back to its former glory. The hard work and renovations paid off, and the one-of-a-kind-home will remain a neighborhood institution for years to come. Though the outside of the home still looks like the traditional structure of a water tower, the inside is cozy and rustic with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.</p> <p>Sprinkled throughout the home are artifacts of its past life of servicing trains, such as the barrels and burlap sacks decorating the first-floor bathroom as a nod to how trains carried cargo back in the late 19<sup>th</sup> and early 20<sup>th</sup> centuries. A tiny train track also hangs on the ceiling of one of the home's lounge areas, giving the house a feeling of nostalgia and a sense of its history.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230873 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>Beyond the historic details, the water tower's living spaces are impressive: A lounge area boasts sweeping, panoramic views of the ocean&#8230;</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230871 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>&#8230;and the spacious kitchen features fire-engine red cabinets, open shelving, subway tiles and floor-to-ceiling farmhouse paneling.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230869 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="684" height="1024" /></p> <p>The sizable bedrooms upstairs have multiple windows that pop open, offering enviable and unobstructed views of the ocean right from the comfort of a bed.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230872 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>The water tower's best feature, however, is its wraparound deck that's perfect for sunset views, catching a good ocean breeze and soaking in the hot tub, which is conveniently located next to a built-in wine fridge and wet bar.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230874 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="684" height="1024" /></p> <p>The novelty of a water tower-turned-home isn't lost on Ostlund, who knows how unique it is to the area as well as the whole country.</p> <p>"The value in the water tower is the permanence to build a house on the beach 100 feet in the air.  You look out over every other house in Southern California. There is no house that&#8217;s this tall in the country," he said.</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-09-16 23:43 +00:00 2019-09-17 11:43 +12:00 COMMENT: Prospects strong for yielding assets <p>Commercial property can offer investors better options as the search for yields intensifies so NZ Mortgages &amp; Securities director James Kellow provides his rundown on the outlook for the commercial market.</p> Mon, 16 Sep 2019 11:07:00 +1200 2019-09-16 11:07 +12:00 2019-09-16 11:07 +12:00 Home Improvement Fall home maintenance 11 Fall Maintenance Tasks to Do This Weekend Put down that pumpkin spiced beverage and take care of these maintenance to-dos before winter sets in. Thu, 12 Sep 2019 21:37:36 Z <p><em>By Shannon Ireland</em></p> <p>The scent of pumpkin spice has begun to fill the air, sweaters are moving toward the front of the closet, and leaves are changing from their summer green to the vibrant hues of fall.</p> <p>But before you cozy up with a fleece blanket and a cup of tea, take the time to tackle a few home maintenance projects.</p> <h2>Why is seasonal maintenance important?</h2> <p>The answer is simple: Seasonal maintenance can help keep your home looking and functioning properly, and save you money because you'll catch problems <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">before they get out of hand</a>.</p> <p>Plus you'll get the added bonus of sleeping easier at night knowing you've taken all necessary precautions.</p> <p>'Tis the season to …</p> <h2>1. Rake it in</h2> <p>Few things are more beautiful than a yard speckled with crimson, gold and tangerine-colored leaves. But failing to dispose of them can kill your grass and inhibit growth in the spring months.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Grab your rake</a> and enjoy the crisp temperatures of the season. You can always treat yourself to a pumpkin treat when the raking is done.</p> <h2>2. Clean the gutters</h2> <p>Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater can't flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your home's siding, roof and foundation.</p> <p>It's better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem.</p> <h2>3. Check the roof</h2> <p>While we're on the subject of the roof, fall is a great time to check that all <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shingles are in place</a> and in good shape before winter snowstorms pop up on your radar.</p> <h2>4. Conduct a walking inspection</h2> <p>Take a walk around the exterior of your home, keeping an eye open for damage along the pathways leading to your doors. Cracks could mean loose cement or gravel, increasing the likelihood that someone could trip or slip and fall.</p> <p>To ensure the safety of visitors, seal any cracks you see. Be sure to inspect the siding and foundation while you're at it, and tackle any repairs as soon as possible.</p> <h2>5. Cracks and gaps can cause problems indoors too</h2> <p>When you shut doors and windows, make sure there aren't any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">seal them</a>.</p> <p>You may not think much of these little gaps right now, but you will when you open your heating bill and see how much you're paying to keep the whole neighborhood warm, or when you find out that a mouse has made your cabinet his home for the winter.</p> <h2>6. Store summer staples</h2> <p>Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably won't spend as much time outside - except for roasting marshmallows over the fire pit - move outdoor furniture, trampolines and other summer staples into storage.</p> <h2>7. Make it a clean sweep</h2> <p>Schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It's important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires.</p> <h2>8. Pipe down</h2> <p>Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and insulate your pipes before the weather dips below 32 degrees. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting and flooding your home.</p> <h2>9. Take time to vent</h2> <p>Your dryer vent, that is. Cooler weather means more static electricity, which means lint buildup in your dryer can ignite more easily. Clean your dryer vent to help prevent this problem and keep it working more efficiently.</p> <h2>10. Testing … 1, 2, 3</h2> <p>Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, it's important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely, or able to extinguish smaller fires before significant damage is done.</p> <h2>11. Check your home insurance coverage</h2> <p>Can your insurance weather the storm? The final item on your fall home maintenance checklist should always be to call your insurance agent. Arrange a time to walk through your coverage to ensure your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home will be protected</a>, no matter what situation may arise.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Why Halloween Scares Insurance Providers (and Should Scare You)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Insurance 101: Review Your Insurance Policy at Renewal</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tips for a Safer, More Organized Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published October 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 6 2019-09-12 21:37 +00:00 2019-09-13 09:37 +12:00 Tips & Advice Fall home buying 5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall The days may be getting shorter, but the list of home-shopping benefits is getting longer. Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:55:00 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>Real estate markets ebb and flow, just like the seasons. The spring market blooms right along with the flowers, but the fall market often dwindles with the leaves - and this slower pace could be good for buyers.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re in the market for a home, here are five reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.</p> <h2>1. Old inventory may mean deals</h2> <p>Sellers tend to put their homes on the market in the spring, often listing their homes too high right out of the gate. This could result in price reductions throughout the spring and summer months.</p> <p>These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, you are likely to find desperate sellers and prices below a home&#8217;s market value.</p> <h2>2. Fewer buyers are competing</h2> <p>Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">school season</a> are no longer shopping at this point. That translates into less competition and more opportunities for buyers.</p> <p>You&#8217;ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.</p> <h2>3. Sellers want to close by the end of the year</h2> <p>While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment - one with tax consequences.</p> <p>A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year, so you might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31.</p> <p>Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.</p> <h2>4. The holidays motivate sellers</h2> <p>As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning their parties and events.</p> <p>If a home has not sold by November, the seller is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by listing a home for sale.</p> <h2>5. Harsher weather shows more flaws</h2> <p>The dreary fall and winter months tend to reveal flaws, making them a great time to see a home&#8217;s true colors.</p> <p>It&#8217;s better to see the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home's flaws</a> before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close. In fact, the best time to do a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">property inspection</a> is in the rain and snow, because any major issues are more likely to be exposed.</p> <p><em>Top photo from Shutterstock.</em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Make a Competitive Offer Against All-Cash Home Buyers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Mortgage Misconceptions Set Straight</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tasks to Tackle Before Fall Arrives</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 37 2019-09-12 13:55 +00:00 2019-09-13 01:55 +12:00 Home Improvement modern modern architecture unique homes 8 Minimalist Homes That Are Big on Style (Not on Stuff) These homes with clean lines and bright spaces prove you can maximize style while keeping things minimal. Thu, 05 Sep 2019 17:01:42 Z Lindsay Cohen <p>Stunning. Sleek. Neat. Feast your eyes on eight simple, yet sophisticated homes so serene, they might just have you decluttering in no time.</p> <h2>Open and airy - up, down and around</h2> <figure id="attachment_224170" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224170" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224170 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224170" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">PLUSH Image Corporation</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>High ceilings and a palette of neutral colors make this living room feel open and luminous. From the Mid-Century Modern couch to the simple side tables, furniture with exposed legs adds to the appearance of ample space. Large windows allow abundant natural light to fill the room, giving it an airy feel.</p> <h2>White and bright with wood accents</h2> <figure id="attachment_224169" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224169" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224169 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="523" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224169" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Colt Verret.</figcaption></figure> <p>Three Edison bulbs hang above the island of this kitchen, giving it a radiant, yet clean look. A slate of uniform white cabinets makes the space feel open and spotless, while a stainless-steel farmhouse sink completes the look. From the bar stools to the sliding barn door, natural wood accents complement the kitchen - without the clutter.</p> <h2>Clean, fresh and flowing</h2> <figure id="attachment_224134" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224134" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224134 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224134" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Set against walls of white, this minimalist chic bathroom is the perfect spot to cleanse the body and the mind. This space has flowing, zen-like design elements. The shower walls and double slipper tub have a sinuous look, reminiscent of the nearby Pacific Ocean.</p> <h2>Mid-Century meets the 21st</h2> <figure id="attachment_224137" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224137" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224137 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224137" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Clean and chic, this dining room is a dream in simplicity. A modern, silver-colored chandelier provides a pop of inspiration, set against a classic backdrop of black and white. Hardwood floors and a natural wood dining table add warmth without the clutter.  </span></p> <h2>Classic style in blush tones and gold</h2> <figure id="attachment_224300" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224300" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href=",pf_pt/80836922_zpid/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224300 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224300" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Angelika Piatek Photography</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Crisp white walls and a bold, gray-paneled fireplace anchor this bright living room. Touches of light blush tones complement the simple aesthetic, while metallic-leg, Mid-Century Modern furniture adds to the minimalist chic. Clean, geometric lines - from the crisscross rug to the modern side table - complete the look.</p> <h2>A nod to nature</h2> <figure id="attachment_224367" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224367" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224367 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224367" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Roehner+Ryan</a>. Home staging by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Local Trade</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Ample light and simple lines provide the soothing setting for this home. Gold- and silver-colored light fixtures add to the glow, while a bar cart doubles as a storage space. It&#8217;s also a sneaky way to stash clutter in a pinch, keeping things neat and tidy.</p> <h2>Perfectly placed patterns</h2> <figure id="attachment_224135" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224135" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224135 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224135" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Sleep comes easy when a bedroom is this free of distractions. Classic white walls provide a soothing visual backdrop, while the patterned rug integrates a simple, chic design. Floor-to-ceiling windows elongate the space, inviting in generous amounts of light.</p> <h2>The illusion of height</h2> <figure id="attachment_224136" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224136" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224136 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224136" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Long vertical lines - from the tripod lamp to the decorative wooden ladder and tall potted plant - draw the eye upward, making the space seem larger. Touches of gray and blue add cool, soothing tones to an otherwise neutral space.</p> <h6><em>Top image by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Angelika Piatek Photography</a>. </em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Designer Lookbook: Marc-Michaels Creates Stylish Minimalism</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Minimalist Kitchen Design: Clean Look and Lines</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1920s Japanese Tea House Turned Zen Retreat – House of the Week</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 136 2019-09-05 17:01 +00:00 2019-09-06 05:01 +12:00 COMMENT: How much is too much <p>New regulations around rental properties mean that being a landlord is becoming increasingly unattractive. Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis asks how much is too much&hellip;</p> Thu, 05 Sep 2019 06:32:00 +1200 2019-09-05 06:32 +12:00 2019-09-05 06:32 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating 7 Retro Trends Making a Comeback These styles from the '70s and '80s prove it's OK to say "in with the old!" Thu, 29 Aug 2019 17:32:34 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>Each year, fashion leaves a strong impression on the design industry and its offerings for the season. For 2020, the vibe includes handmade organic details paired with the sparkle of the &#8217;70s disco club and the velvety softness of the &#8217;80s.</p> <p>But beyond the nostalgic hints that those artistic impressions carry, what lies ahead for interiors? How will we change and evolve in our home environment? Read on and see what speaks to your design style as we approach another new year.</p> <h2>Cork and recycled elements</h2> <p>Many manufacturers, designers and architects have focused their products and projects on a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to home building and design. Thanks to modern technology, sustainable products don't mean inferior quality, comfort or design.</p> <p>In fact, these products celebrate eco-chic versions of modern or traditional designs in both elevated and affordable versions. While products like linoleum or cork flooring may have been long forgotten, they will see a strong comeback in the new season, thanks to its natural characteristics.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230832 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="791" /></p> <h2>Abloom with florals</h2> <p>The traditional beauty of floral patterns, either abstracted or straight-up chintz, will continue to be the pattern to use, especially when paired with deep luxurious velvets and maximalist styled spaces. But home designer, beware: Chintz can be tricky. Its bold old-fashioned prints can easily turn to frilly English bed-and-breakfast if you&#8217;re not careful. When done right, the floral theme can add color, texture and just the right touch of classic elegance to your interior.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230830 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="826" /></p> <h2>Handmade accents</h2> <p>Handmade items made with sustainable materials like jute, rice paper and clay will be all the rage in 2020. These elements go far in grounding a home, allowing its inhabitants to be in touch with the earth and their roots. The incorporation of natural materials popular years ago - like caning, rope, sea grass and bamboo - has a strong influence over modern furniture silhouettes and decor details. Elaborately embossed wall coverings, including gold rivets and metallic accents, give surfaces a beautiful tactile sensation and modern ambiance.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230826 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="782" /></p> <h2>Plastic and acrylic</h2> <p>Increasing social consciousness around climate change has influenced the design industry to produce products accordingly. Plastics are being used for indoor and outdoor furniture frames, while water bottles are being used to create outdoor rugs and accents.</p> <p>For a more luxe look, acrylic products are having a comeback, giving a room the architectural structure it needs without taking up visual real estate. Acrylic in a small space, like an entryway or sitting area, provides a surface that can be layered with more organic items and not feel fussy.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230831 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="806" /></p> <h2>Authentic construction</h2> <p>The rise of digitally printed fabrics has created a true appreciation for real embroidery, thick wool boucles, linens and other artisan-inspired elements. Rich textural expressions are the theme of the upcoming season. Think velvet upholstery, hemp drapery, cork walls, wicker and jute for furniture and finishes.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230827 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="821" /></p> <h2>Maximal artwork</h2> <p>The surge of minimalism and Scandinavian design, characterized by neutral colors and simple materials, is finally declining. In its place, bright colors and graphic patterns are becoming more prevalent in the home.</p> <p>Don't be afraid to mix colors, patterns and textures. Take a gallery wall to the next level by having it cover an entire wall, or add a dramatic large-scale piece to your space. In this case, more is more.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230828 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /></p> <h2>Metallic accents</h2> <p>And speaking of timeless metal accents, sparkle is still on the design scene for living room decor compositions. Add a hint of disco glamour and luxury by introducing bronze, gold and chrome details through decorative accents, furniture inlays, hardware, lighting, mirrors and accessories.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230829 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="576" /></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A DIY for the Books: How to Get Custom Built-In Shelves on a Budget</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-08-29 17:32 +00:00 2019-08-30 05:32 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating 7 Ways to Incorporate Your Passions Into Your Home Decor Surrounding yourself with reminders of your hobbies and interests makes any space more meaningful. Thu, 29 Aug 2019 15:21:27 Z Moriah Simmons <p>Your home reflects who you are, and you're way more than a selection of tasteful paint and furniture. Why not celebrate your passions by incorporating them into your decorating? When your talents, skills and hobbies are on display as a natural part of your decor, you feel more inspired and more at home.</p> <p>You don't have to remake your life to incorporate your passions into your home decorating. In many cases, just a small change of storage or placement will make all the difference - and you may even save money because you're using items you already own.</p> <p>If something makes you happy, bring it out and let it shine.</p> <h2>Store your tools in arm's reach</h2> <p>Many creative hobbies come with beautiful tools. Don't hide your paintbrushes or yarn - show them off with pride of place!</p> <p>Make sure to put tools you use frequently in accessible places where you can grab them. Nothing's worse than being inspired to create and having to wrestle a guitar off the wall or extract a crochet hook from the back of a cabinet. A good rule is to keep anything you use once a week or more within easy reach.</p> <h2>Display seasonal equipment year-round</h2> <p>Just because you can only ski a few months out of the year doesn't mean you forget about hitting the slopes. Keep your seasonal passions alive by keeping them in sight, but out of the way.</p> <p>Mount skis or fishing poles over a door in the off season. If you have space above kitchen cabinets, that's a great place for the gorgeous fondue set you only use in winter. You could even ceiling-mount a canoe paddle - or the whole canoe if there's room. The good thing about most seasonal equipment is that you use it outside, so you don't have to worry too much about interim storage.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-226143" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <h2>Put your talents to work</h2> <p>Give your creative passions room to shine in everyday life. If you're great at calligraphy, write a stylish meal-planning list for your week or create a framed list of house rules.</p> <p>Woodworkers can make anything from cutting boards to furniture. If you embroider, make your own cushion covers and embellished hand towels. Potters, once you fill your mug cupboard, branch out into making planters and wall hooks.</p> <p>For almost any art or craft, there's a practical application, so make it a fun challenge to find yours.</p> <h2>Let your collection tell a story</h2> <p>When you're a collector, every piece has a story. As a whole, the items in a collection tell a narrative of their own history and how they came into your life.</p> <p>Keep collections in a place of honor where the whole story can come together. Cabinets and display shelves are great for 3D objects like glassware, figurines and curios, and albums are perfect for stamps, old photos and ephemera. And of course a planned wall arrangement offers plenty of room for old movie posters, artwork or mounted objects.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-226139" src="" alt="" width="800" height="564" /></p> <h2>Use decor to inspire action</h2> <p>If you need a little motivation to practice your passion, let your decor help inspire action. Match each inspiring object with the place you're most likely to need a boost.</p> <p>If you aren't feeling your usual gourmet self, display your antique bakeware in your kitchen. To help with writer's block, display your diploma, your first pitch acceptance letter or special first editions of your favorite books over your desk. Hang athletic medals and photos of you at the finish line over the shoe bin near your entryway to encourage you to go for a run.</p> <h2>Match the vibe of the room</h2> <p>In general, keep the purpose of the room in mind when deciding where to display your prized possessions. Don't just go by where you have available wall space; take time to find the right fit.</p> <p>A shelf of antique clown toys can look great in an office or playroom, but might not feel restful in your bedroom. And your championship soccer cleats or a signed football may be perfect inspiration in your workout room, but they're less than appetizing hanging in the dining room.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-226140" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Mellow treasures set the mood</h2> <p>Some of your possessions are just for you, and they spark special memories and feelings when you see or touch them. If you have an object that brings your comfort, place it according to how it makes you feel. Does that beach rock make you feel calm? Keep it by your bedside.</p> <p>If your grandpa's old pipe reminds you of how he taught you to read, keep in in a display case on a bookshelf or by your desk.</p> <p>These are just a few of the ways you can bring your passions into your home decorating. Hopefully these ideas inspire you to bring your most important possessions into your decor, so you can keep those passions alive in your daily life.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ideas for Personalized Home Accents That Are All About You</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get Hygge: Cozy Up to Scandinavian Simplicity</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 17 2019-08-29 15:21 +00:00 2019-08-30 03:21 +12:00 Home Improvement bedrooms decorating Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom? The best way to create a cozy bedroom you'll love snuggling up to? Find a look that reflects your personality. Thu, 29 Aug 2019 13:05:28 Z Renee Meininger <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aah&#8230; the bedroom of your dreams. Will it include fuzzy pillows or homespun quilts? Perhaps it's covered wall to wall in plush rugs. Or maybe it's a clutter-free, serene space. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rest assured, this quiz will help you discover your style.</span></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" width="300" height="150"></p> <section> <h2>What&#8217;s Your Nesting Style?</h2> <p>Take the quiz to find out.</p> </section> <section> <h2>Minimalist</h2> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">Clean lines, neutral colors - for you, less is more. While others banish beige, you say bring it on. It takes a renegade like you to strip away the unnecessary clutter and focus on a few statement-making features. </span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Farmhouse</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">You'll take all the reclaimed wood and wrought iron, please. Your look is all about keeping things light, yet cozy. If it's rustic, knitted, homespun or antiqued, you'll welcome it with barn doors wide open. </span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Romantic</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">This isn't granny's doily collection. You're going for refined elegance, which means delicate shapes paired with ornate details. Think curvaceous frames, chandeliers dripping in crystals and lush florals with creamy whites.</span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Bohemian</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">You're vibing hard on ikat prints right now. Surround yourself with bright pops of colors, crocheted textiles, and patterns on top of patterns on top of patterns. You'll feel like you're in an exotic locale, even if it is just the suburbs. </span></p> </section> <section> <h2>Which season do you enjoy the most?</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Where would you love to go on vacation?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your ideal date?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your must-have accessory?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What midnight snack do you reach for?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your preferred beverage?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>Which accent do you need in every room?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>If you had an extra $100, what would you spend it on?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What best describes your fashion sense?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>How do you like to unwind?</h3> </section> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></iframe></div> <div data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><strong>Related:</strong></div> <ul> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Create a Restful Bedroom</a></li> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Home Design Quiz: Would You Rather &#8230; ?</a></li> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get Hygge: Cozy Up to Scandinavian Simplicity</a></li> </ul> <div data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></div> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 100 2019-08-29 13:05 +00:00 2019-08-30 01:05 +12:00 COMMENT: The dangers of neglecting code compliance certificates <p>It&rsquo;s a legal requirement for commercial buildings to have a Code Compliance Certificate yet many don&rsquo;t. Building compliance expert Rosie Kilip explains why this is not a good thing...</p> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:12:00 +1200 2019-08-28 10:12 +12:00 2019-08-28 10:12 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating Home offices Home Organization Creating a Home(work) Station That Gets Top Marks Good study habits are easier to build when you have a dedicated and attractive spot to hit the books. Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:00:21 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>When was the last time your home workspace or study station inspired you? For most people, the answer is, "Not recently."</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re prepping an area for your work-from-home days or setting up a spot for young scholars to study , you can kick inspiration into high gear with home office solutions that will get your creative juices flowing again.</p> <h2>Window wonder</h2> <p>It's no secret that sunshine does the body good. Fix up a space near the window so you can soak up plenty of vitamin D while pumping out price lists or writing that term paper.</p> <p>Greenery looks great near a bright area, so a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">potted plant</a> or two might help naturally bring your space to life.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-229284" src="" alt="" width="800" height="531" /></p> <h2>Arts and crafts</h2> <p>The age of DIY is upon us. Embrace the casual-cool vibes and create your very own home desk area.</p> <p>Need a semipermanent to-do list? Try using chalkboard paint to make yourself a giant notepad on a nearby cabinet or a framed chalkboard. Tired of the overdone corkboard for your sticky notes? Framed chicken wire with clothespins makes a more shabby-chic memo board.</p> <p>The possibilities really are endless for this type of style. Just don't let your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIYing</a> get in the way of the tasks you originally sat down to do!</p> <figure id="attachment_181204" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-181204" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-181204 size-full" src="" alt="arts" width="500" height="750" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-181204" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Collaboration is key</h2> <p>For those less focus-intensive projects, investigate a collaborative workstation with several small spaces or a giant community table. This type of work environment has been popular among small companies and creative agencies for the purpose of bouncing around ideas.</p> <p>If you still want your own personal space, put a divider between you and the other desks for some extra privacy, and take it down when it's time to meet and discuss. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.</p> <figure id="attachment_181205" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-181205" style="width: 550px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-181205 size-full" src="" alt="collab sm" width="550" height="645" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-181205" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>A clear mind</h2> <p>While many of us would like to think we have complete control of our habit of logging onto Facebook or checking what else our calendar has in store for us, most of us really don't. And the greatest enabler of this sidetracked behavior is a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cluttered workspace</a>.</p> <p>Set the stage for a clean slate with a bright white desk and matching chair, a simple light fixture and an inspiring element. Keeping your workstation simple and clutter-free ensures you have a productive day - even if your homework is less than exhilarating.</p> <p>Whether you're up all night cramming for exams or prepping for a work presentation due first thing in the morning, you'll feel more focused and productive by incorporating any of these tips into your workstation.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Ways to Conquer Clutter and Simplify Your Life</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don&#8217;t Have the Space)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ways to Self-Sabotage Your Organizing Efforts</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 18 2019-08-22 11:00 +00:00 2019-08-22 23:00 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying Home selling real estate agents Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Real Estate Agents Do you need one? Do they pocket the whole commission? Let's set the facts straight. Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:09:24 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>Buyers and sellers often enter the market with misconceptions about real estate agents - how they work, how the process works and what the agency relationship is all about.</p> <p>It&#8217;s helpful to point out, without getting too far into the weeds, that in any one real estate transaction, there are most likely two agents: one for the buyer and one for the seller.</p> <p>Here are five myths (and five truths) about working with both buyer's and seller's agents.</p> <h2>1. Agents get a 6% commission, no matter what</h2> <p>Most people assume that their agent is pocketing the entire <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">commission</a>. That would be nice, but it&#8217;s just not accurate.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>First, it's helpful to know that the seller pays the commission, and they split it four ways: between the two brokerages and the two agents.</p> <p>Finally, the brokerage commission isn't fixed or set in stone, and sellers can sometimes negotiate it.</p> <h2>2. Once you start with an agent, you're stuck with them</h2> <p>If you're a seller, you sign a contract with the real estate agent and their brokerage. That contract includes a term - typically six months to a year. Once you sign the agreement, you could, in fact, be stuck with their agent through the term. But that&#8217;s not always the case.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>If things aren't working out, it's possible to ask the agent or the brokerage manager to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">release you from the agreement early</a>.</p> <p>Buyers are rarely under a contract. In fact, buyer's agents work for free until their clients find a home. It can be as quick as a month, or it can take up to a year or more. And sometimes a buyer never purchases a house, and the agent doesn't get paid.</p> <p>Before jumping into an agent's car and asking them to play tour guide, consider a sit-down consultation or a call, and read their online reviews to see if they're the right fit.</p> <p>Otherwise, start slow, and if you don't feel comfortable, let them know early on - it's more difficult to break up with your agent if too much time passes.</p> <h2>3. It&#8217;s OK for buyers to use the home's selling agent</h2> <p>Today's buyers get most things on demand, from food to a ride to the airport. When it comes to real estate, buyers now assume they need only their smartphone to purchase a home, since most property listings live online.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>First-time buyers or buyers new to an area don't know what they don't know, and they need an advocate.</p> <p>The listing agent represents the seller's interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate the best price and terms for the seller. So working directly with the selling agent presents a conflict of interest in favor of the seller.</p> <p>An excellent buyer's agent lives and breathes their local market. They've likely been inside and know the history of dozens of homes nearby. They're connected to the community, and they know the best inspectors, lenders, architects and attorneys.</p> <p>They've facilitated many transactions, which means they know all the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">red flags</a> and can tell you when to run away from (or toward) a home.</p> <h2>4. One agent is just as good as the next</h2> <p>Many people think that all agents are created equal.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>A great local agent can make an incredible difference, so never settle. The right agent can save you time and money, keep you out of trouble and protect you.</p> <p>Consider an agent who has lived and worked in the same town for around ten years. They know the streets like the back of their hand. They have deep relationships with the other local agents. They have the inside track on upcoming deals and past transactions that can't be explained by looking at data online.</p> <p>Compare that agent to one who's visiting an area for the first time. Some agents aren't forthright and might be more interested in making a sale. Many others care more about building a long-term relationship with you, because their business is based off referrals.</p> <h2>5. You can't buy a for sale by owner (FSBO) home if you have an agent</h2> <p>In a previous generation, sellers who wouldn't deal with any agents tried to sell their home directly to a buyer to save the commission.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>Smart sellers understand that real estate is complicated and that most buyers have separate representation. And many <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FSBO sellers</a> will offer payment to a buyer's agent as an incentive to bring their buyer clients to the home.</p> <p>If you see a FSBO home on the market, don't be afraid to ask your agent to step in. Most of the time the seller will compensate them, and you can benefit from their knowledge and experience.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How Do I Sell My House: Getting Started</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Do I Need an Agent to Sell My House?<br /> </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Price Your Home to Sell</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published June 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 59 2019-08-01 13:09 +00:00 2019-08-02 01:09 +12:00 Unique Homes cabins treehouses unique homes This Stylish Treehouse Is Luxury Off-the-Grid Living More castle-like than rustic, this forested glamping retreat took the couple three years to build. Wed, 31 Jul 2019 17:39:09 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p id="video">Kati O'Toole and her husband, Darin, wanted to create a giant piece of artwork on their private and heavily wooded seven-acre property in Montana. They ended up with what they refer to as the Montana Treehouse Retreat - a two-story, fully finished treehouse nestled among three living trees.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>"Everybody thought we were crazy [at] the beginning, like 'What are you guys doing building a treehouse here?' Our parents thought we were crazy," says Kati.</p> <p>But the hard work and vision paid off, and now visitors from all over the world routinely come to stay at their carefully crafted work of art. The 700-square-foot treehouse features a master suite with a deck that overlooks the forest, a living area with three benches that can double as sleeping quarters, and two bathrooms. Guests can also prepare a meal in the treehouse's downstairs kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, a stove, a sink and a dishwasher.</p> <p>"There&#8217;s even air conditioning in this treehouse, because we wanted to create a very luxury experience here. I have to be honest - the treehouse is nicer inside than the house that I live in, so I like to come back here and just have a little retreat away from it all," says Kati.</p> <p>Every detail of the treehouse was painstakingly thought out, and most of the materials were either sourced locally or repurposed. The trim and the interior feature wood that Darin himself milled, sanded and finished, and the breakfast table nook was made from the base of a tree located right on their property.</p> <p>One of Kati's favorite details of the treehouse, however, is the spiraling exterior staircase, which is wrapped around a large tree shipped in from Darin's grandmother's yard, roots and all.</p> <p>Although Darin handled most of the heavy-duty construction of the structure, Kati's handiwork is all over the interior.</p> <p>"We wanted it to be kind of funky and modern - but still have some Montana accents and still be a little rustic too. So there were many things coming into play, and we wanted people to feel like it was a very cozy home away from home when they came here, and just like a one-of-a-kind Montana experience," she says.</p> <p>A combination of white shiplap and multicolored wood paneling covers the interior walls, giving the home an eclectic yet polished farmhouse look, and expansive windows create an open, airy feeling in the small living spaces. Modern elements that are dotted throughout the house, like the industrial chandelier in the kitchen and the black hexagon and subway tiles in the bathrooms, are more reminiscent of a boutique hotel than a remote treehouse located near Glacier National Park.</p> <p>Close to Kati's heart are the pieces by local artists that don the walls, with some of the pieces coming from guests who created the artwork while staying at the treehouse.</p> <p>"It&#8217;s been really cool to see [how] this place inspires people," she says.</p> <p>But the defining characteristic of this home - and what guests travel miles for - is the unique experience of living out your childhood dreams of sleeping in a treehouse.</p> <p>"It&#8217;s a very unique feeling that most people have never experienced, to be lying in bed and seeing a tree - or you&#8217;re actually moving. And people have told me that they love the experience, and it&#8217;s - yeah, it&#8217;s a treehouse. That&#8217;s the beauty. It&#8217;s a real treehouse," says Kati.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="">Explore a Tiny Tropical Treehouse in Hawaii</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Nashville Treehouse Will Drench You in Light</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tour These Whimsical Cabins Made From Recycled Materials</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 32 2019-07-31 17:39 +00:00 2019-08-01 05:39 +12:00 Tips & Advice curb appeal home remodel home seller tips home staging paint color 5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home True or false: All real estate advice is good advice. (Hint: It depends.) Wed, 31 Jul 2019 14:15:36 Z Mary Boone <p>Everyone has advice about the real estate market, but not all of that unsolicited information is true. So when it comes time to list your home, you'll need to separate fact from fiction.</p> <p>Below we&#8217;ve identified the top five real estate myths - and debunked them so you can hop on the fast track to selling your property.</p> <h2>1. I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won't get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.</p> <p>Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood, and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.</p> <h2>2. My home&#8217;s exterior isn't as important as the interior</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> Home buyers often make snap judgments based simply on a home's exterior, so <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">curb appeal</a> is very important.</p> <p>"A lot of buyers search online or drive by properties before they even enlist my services," says <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bic DeCaro</a>, a real estate agent at Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, Virginia. "If the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there's a chance they won't ever enter the house - they'll just keep driving."</p> <p>The good news is that it doesn't cost a bundle to improve your home's exterior. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.</p> <h2>3. If my house is clean, I don't need to stage it</h2> <p><b>Truth: </b>Tidy is a good first step, but professional home stagers have raised the bar. Tossing dirty laundry in the closet and sweeping the front steps just aren&#8217;t enough anymore.</p> <p>Stagers make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home&#8217;s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. For example, they might recommend removing blinds from a window with a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger.</p> <p>Of course, you don't have to hire a professional stager. But if you don't, be ready to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">use some of their tactics</a> to get your home ready for sale - especially if staging is a trend where you live. An unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market.</p> <h2>4. Granite and stainless steel appliances are old news</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.</p> <p>"Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated," says <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dru Bloomfield</a>, a real estate agent with Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona. "When you a design a space, you need to decide if you&#8217;re doing it for yourself or for resale potential.&#8221;</p> <p>She suggests that if you're not planning to move anytime soon, decorate how you&#8217;d like. But if you&#8217;re planning to put your home on the market within the next couple of years, stick to elements with mass appeal.</p> <p>"I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago, and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless steel appliances."</p> <h2>5. Home shoppers can ignore paint colors they don't like</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Moving is a lot of work</a>, and while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don't want to.</p> <p>That's why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property stand out in online photographs, which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.</p> <p>Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house will cost about $3,000 to $6,000, depending on labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it's probably a worthwhile investment.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Listing Photo Do&#8217;s and Don&#8217;ts</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Say What? Home-Buying Lingo You Should Know</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 1, 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 48 2019-07-31 14:15 +00:00 2019-08-01 02:15 +12:00 COMMENT: The coming rental housing crisis <p>Failure of government to reverse policies will result in a calamitous fall in houses to rent and escalating rents in a crisis unseen since the 1930&rsquo;s, writes veteran property investor Jonathan Bidmead.</p> Tue, 30 Jul 2019 10:25:00 +1200 2019-07-30 10:25 +12:00 2019-07-30 10:25 +12:00 Unique Homes tiny homes unique homes This School Bus Is a Tiny Home ... to a Family of 6! With bunk beds for the kids, a master bedroom for the adults and a rooftop deck for all, one family is redefining the term "on the go." Wed, 24 Jul 2019 17:49:14 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The wheels on the bus go round and round - and then might stop for family dinner, if you're Gabriel and Debbie Mayes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It may not be the dream for every family, but it's the one Debbie envisioned after seeing a video on Facebook a few years ago. It featured a couple who had converted a school bus and spent all their time on the open road, exploring the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I immediately thought, 'Hey, we can totally do this with our kids. Why not?'" she recalled. "And so I brought the idea to Gabriel. It took a while to convince him."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Definitely took a while," Gabriel chimed in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the more the duo thought about the idea, the more it made sense. They felt disconnected as a family in a 5,000-square-foot home; downsizing would bring the family closer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">4,752 square feet closer, to be precise. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We were talking about that disconnection in our marriage, in our family as a whole, and just thought if we&#8217;re gonna do anything adventurous, now would be the time," Gabriel said. "We were looking to reconnect, to do something crazy exciting with our kids, and just to take life and flip it upside down."</span></p> <p>So they bought a school bus to live in.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The family of six - two adults, four kids - sought the help of an outside company when it came to finding the bus and designing the features. </span></p> <figure id="attachment_227512" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227512" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227512 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227512" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <figure id="attachment_227521" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227521" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227521 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227521" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Mayes Team</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their priorities: separate sleeping areas for the kids and the adults (the master bedroom has a door that closes), space to entertain guests, and a kitchen with ample countertops. (They pulled that off by installing an under-the-counter fridge. It holds enough food for a week!)</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227515" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227515" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227515 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227515" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We even went and taped out the design on the floor so we could walk through and see," Debbie said. "We did things like reduce the depth of the couch, reduce the depth of the [kids'] bunk beds. We knew aisle space would be way more important than them having that extra bed space. I was very intentional in designing all of the little areas to be functional. It&#8217;s down to the inches."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gabriel's only ask: a rooftop deck.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I just had this vision of taking the bus, backing it up against the lake, opening up the skylight out of my bedroom, going up to the roof deck, and then sitting in my chair and just chilling," he said. "I just wanted this place where I&#8217;m secluded from the rest of the world and I&#8217;m overlooking just beautiful scenery."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227612" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227612" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227612 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227612" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buying and renovating the bus cost about $38,000 and took about five months. During that time, the family sold or donated much of what they owned and put the rest in storage. They hit the road in August 2017.</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227526" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227526" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227526 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227526" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Mayes Team</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On their first trip, the road hit back.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I remember the day that I got in the bus. We had spent the whole day packing. Last thing goes on, the kids get on, we close the door, and I put it in drive and our home starts moving. I can&#8217;t fully explain how exhilarating that feeling was," Gabriel said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was amazing but also did not go exactly how we had planned," Debbie added. "We got 300 miles into the journey, and the bus broke down on the side of the road. It was like, 'Wah-wah.'"</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227514" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227514" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227514 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227514" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The school bus - which they affectionately call "the Skoolie" - picked a patch of desert land in Oklahoma to break down. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Turns out it was also a piece of private land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We fed the kids lunch and tried to figure out what the heck we were gonna do, and a random stranger pulls up after we&#8217;d been there for a few hours, and he was like, 'You&#8217;re actually on my land.'" Debbie said. "But he had been a diesel mechanic."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The stranger ended up building a part to get the bus moving. It's been pretty much smooth sailing ever since, from the mountains of Wyoming to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227528" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227528" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227528" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1198" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227528" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Jen Hammer.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their biggest advice for others considering a home on wheels: Do the research. Find a builder or designer you can trust. In retrospect, they probably would've chosen a washer and dryer over installing a shower, but they have few other regrets.</span></p> <p>And yes, of course, there are seat belts for all. The family designed the living space to hide the seat belts under the couch cushions when the bus is parked. The baby rides in a car seat. &#8220;They are able to buckle up safely,&#8221; Debbie said, about her kids. Anything that&#8217;s breakable gets packed away for when the bus moves.</p> <figure id="attachment_227518" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227518" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227518" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227518" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"To be able to have everything that you own as a family of six inside 248 square feet, knowing everything that you own is where it&#8217;s supposed to be - the amount of stress and anxiety really goes out the window," Gabriel said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Whenever you rid yourself of this desire to have things, it&#8217;s not that the desire goes away, it&#8217;s just that you just don&#8217;t have the space for it anymore,&#8221; he continued. &#8220;It causes you to start thinking on different levels. Now I just want to be intentional with my wife and be intentional with my kids. This massive weight is just gone."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227516" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227516" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227516 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227516" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eventually, the Mayes plan to park the bus and turn it into a short-term rental. They hope to find a forever home and allow others to explore their tiny home on wheels.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The kids feel like they&#8217;re on this massive adventure. Whenever you pull up to a location that&#8217;s surrounded by mountains or there&#8217;s a new waterfall to go explore or some trail just to go run down, you put the bus in park, and you open the door," Gabriel said. "Just to see their excitement … I&#8217;ve never experienced anything like that."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227519" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227519" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227519" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227519" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><em>Top featured image by Jen Hammer.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wild Ride: Turning School Buses Into Homes on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Double Shipping Container Home Has Twice the Delight - House of the Week</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published July 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 9 2019-07-24 17:49 +00:00 2019-07-25 05:49 +12:00 Unique Homes unique homes 6 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure From the elegant to the unplugged, these charming circular homes will make your head turn. Wed, 24 Jul 2019 13:45:14 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Contemporary yurts</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are popping up everywhere - from Los Angeles to Zion National Park - as airy homes, backcountry destinations or even weekend glamping getaways. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Below are some of our favorites.</span></p> <h2>Marfa, Texas</h2> <figure id="attachment_225125" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225125" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225125 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="570" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225125" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Nick Simonite</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Sleep under a swath of stars in this brightly colored Marfa, Texas, yurt. Located about three hours southeast of El Paso, the yurt sits on a 21-acre artists&#8217; retreat with a hammock grove, bike rentals and wood-fired hot tubs. Bringing friends? The yurt is perched alongside safari tents and renovated vintage trailers.</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Orderville, Utah</h2> <figure id="attachment_225126" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225126" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225126" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225126" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Robert Ranney</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just beyond the terra-cotta backdrop of Zion National Park, this Utah yurt is off-grid and on point. Cell service and technology are nonexistent, making for the perfect environment to enjoy this bucolic setting. An outdoor fire pit serves as a spot to warm up underneath the night sky, and the yurt&#8217;s interior can sleep up to 11 people tuckered out from exploring Utah&#8217;s natural bliss.</span></p> <p>This home is currently available for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term stays</a>.</p> <h2>Elgin, Texas</h2> <figure id="attachment_225138" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225138" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225138 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225138" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Sean Mathis</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>About 30 minutes outside of artsy Austin, Texas, sit five yurts for the glamping fan in all of us. Each space is artfully decorated, from the Southwestern decor to the hand-picked vintage furniture. The rustic surroundings provide the perfect escape from the hubbub of big city life. There&#8217;s a classic writer&#8217;s desk inside each yurt, relaxing hammocks outside and walking trails nearby.</p> <p>These homes are currently available as <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rentals</a>.</p> <h2>Fairplay, Colorado</h2> <figure id="attachment_225123" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225123" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225123 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225123" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Joe Holmes</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>If the mountains are calling and so you must go, this might be the yurt for you. Nestled in the wilderness about 30 minutes from Denver, this home serves as a Rocky Mountain retreat for explorers of all ages. Enjoy stunning stargazing at night, fresh powder all winter long and 360-degree views from the wraparound deck.</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Los Angeles, California</h2> <figure id="attachment_225124" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225124" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225124 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1010" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225124" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Ryan Schude</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>This urban yurt proves the circular structures aren&#8217;t just for outdoor explorers. Smack dab in cosmopolitan Los Angeles, this yurt sits under a canopy of orange, lemon and avocado trees, just a few miles from the famous Hollywood sign. The space boasts hardwood floors, modern amenities and a fire pit (for the few weeks each year that LA braves chilly weather).</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Saratoga, Wyoming</h2> <figure id="attachment_225129" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225129" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225129 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225129" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Lodge &amp; Spa at Brush Creek Ranch</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>About two hours outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, sits this 700-square-foot mountain yurt. An overnight stay in this luxury space comes with custom gourmet meals, along with an expert guide to lead you to your digs via horseback. There are luxe glamping amenities on the inside (leather couches and a giant bed) and all that rural Wyoming has to offer on the outside (trout fishing, wildlife viewing and even yoga au naturel).</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <div class="mceTemp"></div> <p><em>Top featured image by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Sean Mathis</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Tiny Home Is Ready for Outer Space</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sleep Under the Stars in a Bubble Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle)</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 69 2019-07-24 13:45 +00:00 2019-07-25 01:45 +12:00 Unique Homes homes on wheels Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of mobile living. Wed, 24 Jul 2019 13:41:24 Z Britany Robinson <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We've all seen photos of the perfectly manicured home on wheels: the reclaimed wood-lined walls, the occupants dreamily sipping coffee and watching a sunrise. People of all ages (including me) are asking themselves, "Can I do that too?" </span></p> <p>When I first saw the van that would one day be mine, I thought it was perfect for me. The 1986 GMC Vandura had a comfy bed, turquoise cabinets and twinkle lights that made me weak in the knees.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But a mobile life can involve just as much work as a stationary one - sometimes even more. You won't have to pay a mortgage, but you might need new brakes. You won't have to rely on neighbors to water your plants when you travel, but you will have to keep a tiny space organized and livable on the road. </span></p> <p>If those things don&#8217;t scare you off, the rewards can far outweigh the work. Here are some important questions to consider first.</p> <h2>Which home is right for you?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are various names for homes on wheels and recreational vehicles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The RV is a self-contained, manufactured home on wheels. It typically contains a bathroom and a kitchen, and depending on the version you choose, it can be driven or towed. If you own a vehicle with towing capacity, a towable RV allows you to park and move around more freely.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220928" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Camper vans are more compact but offer fewer amenities. They might have a small kitchenette but rarely contain a bathroom. If you're willing to rough it on the road, the camper van can be a more affordable option. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then there are the more creative approaches to mobile living. People have converted </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">school buses</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and vintage <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Airstreams</a></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> into living quarters. Choosing the vessel for your life on wheels is an important decision, so weigh your options carefully.</span></p> <h2>How will you use it?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Previously, people bought mobile homes when they retired. These days, the options for remote work allow more people to embrace a mobile lifestyle, with many variations. Some people want to travel regularly, while others park their homes and only occasionally switch locations.</span></p> <p>My motivation for buying a van was the freedom to spend month-long stints on the road and rent out my house whenever I left. As a freelance writer, I often travel in search of stories, and this seemed like a perfect way to do so. I could have the comforts of home and the freedom of wheels.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220930" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>However, since dropping $5,500 on the initial purchase and about $1,000 in repairs, I've landed a full-time job. It's now more of a weekend camping vehicle than a home. The extra headspace that once seemed luxurious now feels cumbersome, especially when I'm driving over windy mountain passes and spending $60 to fill up my tank. Also, the $80-per-month insurance feels extra expensive, now that I'm paying for something I don't often use.</p> <p>I'll travel regularly in my van someday, but my experience illustrates the importance of knowing how your van will facilitate the life you wish to lead. Where will you go, how often will you go and what will you do? Looking back, I would have gone for something a little smaller and lower maintenance.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Freedom can become debilitating if you don't know how you'll use it.</span></p> <h2>Where will you park?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Campgrounds, RV parks, Walmart parking lots and city streets have all become temporary homes for people who live on the road. But you must consider parking laws, safety and cost - every single night. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">RV parks and many campgrounds offer hookups for electricity and water. If your home is designed to accommodate those amenities, they're nice to have. It helps to research campground details before you hit the road. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're freeing yourself from rent or a mortgage, you might not want to dump that money back into parking each night. National forests offer free camping, as long as you're 100-200 feet away from any road, trail or water source. Ask local ranger stations about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">access to dispersed camping</a> and local regulations. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220941" src="" alt="" width="800" height="480" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While mobile life is often celebrated with a backdrop of ocean beaches or beloved national parks, cities are something to consider too. They just require a little extra consideration. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vans have a leg up on bigger, flashier RVs when it comes to cities, especially if your van doesn't look like someone lives in it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most important piece of advice when considering where to park: Do your research. Reserve a spot when heading to popular parks, call ranger stations for information about parking in the area, join </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">local forums</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and always collect information ahead of time so you you're not searching for a place to sleep in the middle of the night with no service.</span></p> <h2>How much does it cost?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paring down your belongings can be a great way to save money. But mobile living isn&#8217;t always cheap. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First, there's the cost of your vehicle, which can vary considerably. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Conversions - van, Airstream, school bus, etc. - can be expensive, even if you&#8217;re doing the work yourself. For example, </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">this stylish Sprinter van conversion</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">cost $54,120</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">You'll see a huge range on RV prices as well, from several thousand to </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">millions of dollars</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once you find a home that&#8217;s right for your budget, you'll need to consider living costs too.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220934" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Camping fees are about $20 per night, which can be alleviated by free parking. But you won't get water and electrical hookups unless you pay for them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vehicle insurance will add a few hundred to several thousand dollars in yearly costs. Comprehensive auto insurance, while more expensive than bare-boned liability plans, will protect your home and belongings from vandalism and theft. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I learned the hard way that an RV insurance plan is required of any vehicle that's been converted into a living space. Even though my van isn't technically an RV, AAA initially refused to tow me when I broke down in Seattle because I didn't have RV insurance. I've since upgraded, which has been worth it for the peace of mind. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, you'll also need to factor in regular repairs. And don't forget gas money! You'll spend a lot more on gas for your mobile home than you will on filling up your regular car. And the more toys you carry with your mobile home, the more your gas bills will climb.</span></p> <h2>Where will you go to the bathroom?</h2> <p>Unless you're able to find a mobile home with a built-in shower and toilet, personal hygiene can be a challenge on the road. But there are plenty of creative ways to make it work.</p> <p>A membership to a gym chain with locations across the country, like Planet Fitness or L.A. Fitness, will allow you to access showers and bathrooms - not to mention a workout, which can be vital when your living space only allows you to walk a few feet in either direction.</p> <p>Campgrounds and truck stops also provide facilities to the traveler looking to freshen up.</p> <p>If you don't have a toilet, you'll likely find yourself using truck-stop and cafe bathrooms. But a late-night bathroom break could mean toilets aren't available, and you'll have to settle for whatever is around.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220939" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Can you work on the road?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remote work opportunities have </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">freed many people</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from the constraints of a typical office job. But working from a mobile home is much different than a home office. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First, consider how often you'll need to work and where you'll be able to do so. It might be helpful to stay close to developed areas where there are plenty of establishments offering free Wi-Fi. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you can work comfortably inside of your mobile home, you can use your mobile device as a Wi-Fi hotspot or purchase a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot for $100-150. Whichever option you go with, you&#8217;ll need to sign up for a service plan with data. Check on the coverage area of service providers before you pick one - they're no use when you're in a dead zone! </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Working from the road also means you'll need electricity, which is nice to have for other uses, too, like charging your cell phone or running a fan to stay cool when your engine is off. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Solar panels</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">are a convenient, rechargeable and environmentally friendly energy source. </span></p> <p>I can see my van parked on the street from the window of my house right now. I'm still not entirely sure what a mobile life will look like, but figuring it out is half the fun.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Converted Van Is a Tiny Home on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="">6 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This School Bus Is a Tiny Home &#8230; to a Family of 6!</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 13 2019-07-24 13:41 +00:00 2019-07-25 01:41 +12:00 COMMENT: Loss ring-fencing ups war on renters & owners <p>New rules around the ring-fencing of rental property losses came into force late in June and Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler believes they&rsquo;ll have a negative impact on the rental market...</p> Wed, 10 Jul 2019 10:07:00 +1200 2019-07-10 10:07 +12:00 2019-07-10 10:07 +12:00 COMMENT: The Sound of One Hand Clapping <p>Two of our Lords and Masters have recently been laid low yet landlords are still treated as the problem rather than part of the solution, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Tue, 02 Jul 2019 10:43:00 +1200 2019-07-02 10:43 +12:00 2019-07-02 10:43 +12:00 COMMENT: The compliance struggle <p>For many property investors, the end goal is setting themselves up for retirement &ndash; but new requirements are making that harder. Investor Dale Young explains how his retirement project is turning into a compliance nightmare...</p> Wed, 26 Jun 2019 07:17:00 +1200 2019-06-26 07:17 +12:00 2019-06-26 07:17 +12:00 COMMENT: Ditching Accommodation Supplement not the answer <p>Tenant advocates have long claimed the Accommodation Supplement benefits landlords over tenants but those demanding it be scrapped are ignoring some relevant facts, says NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King.</p> Wed, 12 Jun 2019 10:53:00 +1200 2019-06-12 10:53 +12:00 2019-06-12 10:53 +12:00 COMMENT: Tenant selection turned into a lotto draw <p>The Privacy Commissioner has created a lotto draw for tenant selection with the recent release of some ill-conceived guidelines, writes property management consultant David Faulkner.</p> Sat, 01 Jun 2019 08:00:00 +1200 2019-06-01 08:00 +12:00 2019-06-01 08:00 +12:00 COMMENT: Why the new standards are not the answer <p>The final version of the Government&rsquo;s new Healthy Homes minimum standards came out last week. Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler tells us what he thinks about them&hellip;</p> Thu, 23 May 2019 09:58:00 +1200 2019-05-23 09:58 +12:00 2019-05-23 09:58 +12:00 COMMENT: Ring-fencing impact likely to be limited <p>The new rules around the ring-fencing of rental losses are unlikely to cause a sea-change in investor behaviour, according to CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson.</p> Mon, 13 May 2019 07:05:00 +1200 2019-05-13 07:05 +12:00 2019-05-13 07:05 +12:00 COMMENT: Punishing landlords won’t solve crisis <p>The capital gains tax debate is over, but landlords are still being scapegoated as the focus turns to Healthy Homes, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Mon, 06 May 2019 07:02:00 +1200 2019-05-06 07:02 +12:00 2019-05-06 07:02 +12:00 COMMENT: Why Takapuna is worth a look <p>It&rsquo;s no surprise that new REINZ data shows Takapuna&rsquo;s median house price has climbed 30% over the past year, writes Takapuna Beach Association chief executive Terence Harpur.</p> Sat, 27 Apr 2019 11:49:00 +1200 2019-04-27 11:49 +12:00 2019-04-27 11:49 +12:00 COMMENT: Tax deductibility of rental property upgrades <p>Rental property upgrades required by the Healthy Homes minimum standards will make the area of tax deductibility even more thorny, writes Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Thu, 04 Apr 2019 08:04:00 +1200 2019-04-04 08:04 +12:00 2019-04-04 09:04 +13:00 COMMENT: Capital gain vs cash flow <p>There are two very different types of property investors and the introduction of a capital gains tax would affect one far more than the other, explains veteran property investor Graeme Fowler.</p> Tue, 12 Mar 2019 09:21:00 +1200 2019-03-12 09:21 +12:00 2019-03-12 10:21 +13:00 COMMENT: Property reno - where are the tradies? <p>What seemed like a straight-forward renovation job on a rental property left Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis wondering where all the tradies have gone when we need them so much&hellip;</p> Tue, 05 Mar 2019 08:02:00 +1200 2019-03-05 08:02 +12:00 2019-03-05 09:02 +13:00 COMMENT: Ring-fencing rules could mean 116,000 less rentals <p>Ring-fencing of rental losses on rental properties could end up resulting in 116,000 fewer rentals, Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler cautions.</p> Tue, 12 Feb 2019 09:29:00 +1200 2019-02-12 09:29 +12:00 2019-02-12 10:29 +13:00 COMMENT: How to fix the housing crisis <p>Dealing with the housing &ldquo;crisis&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t need rocket science, just a clearly articulated set of steps and fast action, argues property commentator Ashley Church.</p> Thu, 10 Jan 2019 08:00:00 +1200 2019-01-10 08:00 +12:00 2019-01-10 09:00 +13:00 The outlook for 2019 <p>2019 is set to be a year of massive change as the Government&rsquo;s suite of housing and tax policies start to bed in. Here&rsquo;s what property market commentators have to say on the coming year&hellip;</p> Thu, 03 Jan 2019 12:18:00 +1200 2019-01-03 12:18 +12:00 2019-01-03 13:18 +13:00 Desperately seeking answers <p>Looking for a straight answer from MBIE&rsquo;s Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team? If you are a landlord, don&rsquo;t expect too much clarity.</p> Tue, 18 Dec 2018 08:30:00 +1200 2018-12-18 08:30 +12:00 2018-12-18 09:30 +13:00 What lies ahead in 2019 <p>Wondering what is in store for residential and commercial property across the spectrum in the coming year? Here&rsquo;s what Colliers International New Zealand&rsquo;s have to say in their annual predictions&hellip;</p> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 07:59:00 +1200 2018-12-12 07:59 +12:00 2018-12-12 08:59 +13:00 COMMENT: Setting policies good practice for landlords <p>Landlords need to establish strict policies around their rental properties rather than just winging it, Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis believes&hellip;</p> Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:01:00 +1200 2018-12-04 11:01 +12:00 2018-12-04 12:01 +13:00 COMMENT: Embedded networks - what to watch out for <p>Developers are increasingly seeking to maintain control of embedded networks in apartments and that means both buyers and body corporates need to know what to watch out for, Auckland District Law Society president Joanna Pidgeon explains.</p> Thu, 29 Nov 2018 08:35:00 +1200 2018-11-29 08:35 +12:00 2018-11-29 09:35 +13:00 COMMENT: War on tenancies should stop <p>Life for rental property owners may become tougher as Labour&rsquo;s newbie Housing Minister Phil Twyford tries to &ldquo;make life better for renters&rdquo;, Stop the War on Tenancies founder Mike Butler warns.</p> Wed, 21 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +1200 2018-11-21 09:00 +12:00 2018-11-21 10:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Landlording is a business <p>Governments from both sides of the political equation have failed to recognise residential landlording as a business - but it is, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis.</p> Tue, 06 Nov 2018 13:22:00 +1200 2018-11-06 13:22 +12:00 2018-11-06 14:22 +13:00 COMMENT: Reforms would increase rental shortage <p>Feelings on tenancy law reform continue to run high as MBIE considers submissions on the Government&rsquo;s proposals. Here&rsquo;s a summary of what landlord Naveen Goel had to say in his&hellip;</p> Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:15:00 +1200 2018-10-31 11:15 +12:00 2018-10-31 12:15 +13:00