2017 Home Design Trends With Staying Power

At the end of last year, our Zillow Digs design experts identified a handful of home decor trends we could expect to see in 2017, from jewel tones to built-in home bars.

Now that we’re halfway through the year, we’ve asked top designers to share some of the other recent trends they believe have true staying power. Here are some of the looks they predict we’ll be seeing well into 2018.

Black window trim

“It’s the perfect way to accent large windows and doors. It actually allows you to see out the window more clearly, instead of the visual block of white mullions. When you can’t have those beautiful European iron doors, this is a great way to get the look. It also is very flexible in terms of style: farmhouse, Parisian modern, Tudor, or even classic contemporary.”

– Susan M. Jamieson, ASID, Bridget Beari Designs, Inc.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See the dreamy coastal getaway Susan designed. 

Simple lines, bold details

“We’re seeing homeowners gravitate more and more toward thoughtful simplification – think sleek navy blue cabinets, or flat-front kitchen cabinets paired with inconspicuous appliances. Balanced by eclectic tiling and statement windows, spaces in the duration of 2017 will feel neutral with a welcome kick of color or pattern.”

– Kerrie Kelly, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Photo courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.

Check out Kerrie’s design for a Palm Beach-inspired retreat.

Sustainable design

“Trends that aren’t going away soon include going green with recycled materials, designing with refurbished vintage furniture, and maximizing the use of LED lighting. The ‘fast-fashion’ culture of the design world unfortunately lends itself to a lot of waste, which on an architectural and interior design scale is exponentially more harmful. We find the most sustainable approach to design is quality craftsmanship that results in long-lasting finishes and furnishings. Custom furnishings are made by local fabricators to cut down on shipping and support local businesses, vintage pieces are sourced to promote beautiful re-use of objects, and LED fixtures to reduce electrical load are preferred. We find the things that last beyond trend lifecycles are the quality pieces our clients end up not being able to live without. Our best advice for trends is to set them with things you love instead of following them with things you think you need.”

– Elena Frampton, Frampton Co.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See Elena’s sophisticated city apartment design.

Thoughtful storage placement

“A combination of open storage and drawers or cabinets create opportunities to display found or collected objects, while storing necessary functional items out of sight.”

– Sara Boulet Upton, Rowland+Broughton

Photo from Zillow listing.

Mix-and-match upholstered pieces

“The world of upholstery has recently seen a big shift, with more homeowners skipping matched sets for an eclectic mix of complementary pieces. Matched sets – where the sofa, love seat, and armchairs are all of the same style and color – can feel a little stuffy and generic. (Plus, a room full of identical furniture becomes a problem should your new puppy decide that your love seat is a chew toy.) Mixing together complementary pieces gives you so much more flexibility with layouts and styles. Want to bring in some bold color but worried you’ll get sick of an emerald green sofa? Use green on a love seat. Need a comfy hangout space but limited on square footage? Go with a deep, pillowy sofa and stick with more petite armchairs. This allows you to blend favorite styles from different manufacturers, accommodate the comfort preferences of everyone in the household, and stagger purchases so you aren’t stuck with buying an entire room of furniture all at once. As a rare home decor trend that is both stylish and practical, we hope this movement sticks around for years to come.”

– Chris Stout-Hazard, ROGER+CHRIS

Photo from Zillow listing.

Rustic modern design

“I think the rustic modern look will continue to be popular – a mixture of more rustic textures like reclaimed wood walls with some bling in lighting and wallpaper.”

– Christina El Moussa, HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” and SuccessPath

Photo from Zillow listing.

Read Christina’s tips for budgeting for home improvements.

Cocktail culture at home

Bar carts – and, when space permits, cocktail closets – are a trend that is here to stay. Specialty cocktails have become the norm on menus at restaurants all over the country as mixologists concoct savory drinks using unusual ingredients. Many homeowners want to bring the ‘cocktail experience’ into their own homes, and are doing so via stylish bar carts that are both functional and pretty.  They provide a great place to stage cocktails, complete with glasses, mixers, liquor, bar tools, and coasters, plus little decorative touches like flowers or pottery to complete the look. A beautifully appointed bar cart can take center stage in a room when a mirror or piece of art is hung above it or when the wall behind it is painted a dramatic color or covered in a grass cloth wallpaper.”

– Deidre Oliver,  Oliver Designs

Mid-century bar cart, West Elm, $ 350.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs. 

Top image courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab


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2017 Home Design Trends With Staying Power was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Listing Photos: Your Home’s First Showing

Let’s face it, buyers form their first impression of your home based on the online listing. As they say, Web appeal is the new curb appeal.

If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside.

You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent local real estate agent, and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.

Never list your home online without photos

Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.

Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe – but maybe not.

You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.

Clean, declutter, organize and remove

You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home  is in impeccable condition.


A tidy home free of clutter appeals to buyers. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.

The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.

Poor photos won’t cut it

Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.


Well-lit photos show off your home’s assets. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Don’t skimp on the number of photos

When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.

Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.


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.

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Listing Photos: Your Home’s First Showing was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Serenity Now! Find Tranquillity In These 8 Homes With Waterfalls

When you’re ready to get away from it all — and seek a few moments of Zen — you might head to the mountains for a little rest and relaxation. But if you’re lucky enough to snap up one of these eight charming homes for sale, you won’t have to pack up the car or pull on your hiking boots: Just head to the backyard. From a cabin in Highlands, NC, to a beachside retreat in Papaikou, HI, these homes with natural waterfalls can add a sense of peacefulness to your day.

Creekside haven: $ 185,000, 7222 M28, Au Train, MI 49806

Waterfall views from every level? Yes, please! With three bedrooms, two baths, a unique loft area and sitting room, plus vaulted ceilings and more than 3,000 square feet in an open layout, there’s plenty to love about this cozy (and affordable!) cabin.

Woodsman’s paradise: $ 269,900, 266 Armor Way S, Ellijay, GA 30540

You’ll feel worlds away living in this wood-paneled cabin in the woods. Charming details like a dry-stack stone fireplace, window seats, and a wood-burning stove add to the rustic charm of the three-bed, two-bath home on 1.5 acres. The wooded oasis out your back door means the landscaping is virtually maintenance-free, and did we mention the babbling waterfall nearby?

High expectations in Highlands: $ 599,000, 6435 Buck Creek Road, Highlands, NC 28741

With the U.S. Forest Service as your neighbor and a waterfall almost directly beneath you, this renovated mountain home feels like the ultimate staycation. Beamed cathedral ceilings, new appliances, and three fireplaces give the four-bedroom, three-bath home a dose of cozy-meets-chic charm.

Back-deck bliss: $ 679,000, 5415 E. 21st Ave., Spokane, WA 99223

Boasting more than 5,000 square feet and 9 acres, this contemporary estate will keep you relaxed and entertained. Host some friends for dinner on the massive back deck with built-in ambiance as the waterfall splashes down a rock nearby. Inside, light fills the four-bedroom architect-designed home through massive windows, but the wooded lot preserves a hideaway feeling.

Cashiers cottage: $ 959,000, 216 Little Sheepcote Road, Cashiers, NC 28717

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this three-bedroom North Carolina cottage is on the market for the first time and boasts a renovated kitchen, floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces, walls of windows, and waterfall views from the back deck. A second waterfall is a short hike down a nearby path. The master suite includes luxe features such as heated tile floors, a gas fireplace, a massive dressing room/closet, and waterfall views from a private balcony. Bliss!

100-mile mountain views: $ 1,350,000, 15 Sunset Lane, Asheville, NC 28804

This architect-designed mountain home has views of the famous Grove Park Inn, Cold Mountain, and the Asheville city skyline — and natural waterfalls that flow year-round. With its 4,250 square feet, this home was thoughtfully designed for daily life on a mountain, with a heated driveway, generator, geothermal heating and cooling, and expansive windows to take in the views.

Hawaiian hideaway: $ 1,680,000, 27-926 Lalahiwa Road, Papaikou, HI 96781

No need for a vacation when you live in a green Hawaii sanctuary like this one! Soak up the views of the stunning waterfall from the home’s treehouse, then say aloha to ocean views and the privacy of your property. The 3,612-square-foot, custom-built post-and-pier home sits on more than 20 acres along the Hamakua Coast. With stunning vaulted ceilings, a chef’s kitchen with blue ceramic countertops imported from Spain, walls of windows, and a master suite featuring two master baths, a dedicated office, and a private lanai, it’s the ultimate everyday escape.

Relax on the Roaring Fork: $ 9,750,000, 42474 Highway 82, Aspen, CO 81611

With 400 feet of frontage along the fly-fishing–friendly Roaring Fork River, this home also boasts a waterfall constructed in 1913 under the authority of President William H. Taft. The Redstone home includes a state-of-the-art kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the waterfall, and bilevel verandas accessible from every room. There’s even a guest suite if the 5,237-square-foot retreat feels too crowded.

Which home inspires you to live near a natural waterfall? Share your favorite and why you love it in the comments!

The post Serenity Now! Find Tranquillity In These 8 Homes With Waterfalls appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

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Serenity Now! Find Tranquillity In These 8 Homes With Waterfalls was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower

Outdoor showers may seem like a luxury – something that only those with beach houses would need or be lucky enough to have. But if you have kids and pets that love to play in the yard, or if you’re an avid gardener, runner, or someone that enjoys the freedom of bathing in nature, you may consider an outdoor shower for your own home.

Lucky for you, outdoor showers are an accessible feature for just about anyone. It all depends on how simple or complex you want your shower to be. A simple outdoor shower with cold water costs approximately $ 1,000 or less. An outdoor shower with an enclosure and hot and cold water will run about $ 4,000-$ 8,000.

Here are four things to consider before taking the plunge on your own little piece of outdoor bathing heaven.


This is one of the most important considerations. It’s best to choose a spot that you use often. In most cases, anywhere near the back entrance to your home is a good choice – maybe adjacent to the back door or on the back deck. If you have a pool, situate the shower nearby for easy rinse-offs before and after swimming.

Another major consideration is plumbing access. Unless you’re installing the type of shower that attaches to a garden hose, you’ll need to install it close to existing plumbing.

Last but not least, go for a sunny spot. This will help keep mold and mildew at bay, and provide natural warmth while you rinse.

Photo from Zillow listing


Privacy is a fairly important consideration, unless you think only swimsuit-clad people will use the outdoor shower. “I encourage people to build with the most modest person in mind,” says Ethan Fierro, author of “The Outdoor Shower.” The trick is, you want the shower to feel private and far from prying eyes, but you also want to keep the natural feeling.

Photo courtesy of Point One Architects.

An easy and adjustable choice is a freestanding folding screen. These screens work particularly well on decks and patios, where it might be impractical to build any type of wall.

Another option is building corrugated metal wing walls to create a shower “corner” of sorts, where swimmers can rinse off after a dip. You can make this more private by adding a third wall to the design. Of course, there’s always the more elaborate option, which would be to surround the shower with wooden walls.


The simplest and most inexpensive plumbing option, and one that many people choose, is a shower connected to a garden hose, which is then hooked up to an outside faucet. This cold-water fixture is perfect for an outdoor shower that’s used only in the heat of summer, and mostly for cleaning off dirt and sand.

Next up is the hot-and-cold hose option. First, you’ll need a plumber to install an outdoor hot-water faucet next to the cold one. From there, it basically works in a similar fashion to the cold-water hose shower.

Photo from Zillow listing

The most elaborate – and most expensive – is the plumbed-in outdoor shower. This is worth investing in if you anticipate consistent outdoor showers, and not just for cleaning up after a hot day in the sun. The only downside to this option: If you live in an area with freezing winters, you have to make sure you can fully drain and insulate the plumbing so it doesn’t burst.


The simplest and most common drainage system is letting the used water drain into your yard. If you don’t have very porous ground in your yard, or if the outdoor shower is close to your home, consider attaching the plumbing to your home’s drainage pipes or installing a French drain (essentially, a gravel-lined channel connected to a pipe that directs water to a drainage area).

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to go with the first option and recycle the water into your garden.


Add some affordable accessories that greatly increase the fun and pleasure of showering outdoors. A large rainfall showerhead enhances that outdoor feeling, and plants or flowers in the shower area or peeping through the enclosure add a whimsical touch.

Photo courtesy of Urrutia Design.

Add some soft solar-powered lights for showering at dusk, install hooks for hanging towels and wet bathing suits, and maybe even add a chair to sit in. Most importantly, design your shower to take advantage of nature’s views, whether that’s the sky overhead or the splendor of your backyard garden.

Photo from Zillow listing

With just a little planning and effort, you can install your own outdoor shower and stay cool during the sweltering summer months.

Get more outdoor shower design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Top photo from Zillow listing


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Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Eviction 101: What’s Legal, What’s Not, and Your Rights as a Tenant

By Stephanie Reid, Avvo attorney and NakedLaw contributor

There it is: the dreaded eviction notice, taped not-so-subtly across the front door of your home. Getting an eviction notice may seem like the end of the world at first, but renters do have tenant rights that can help resolve the issue or change the landlord’s decision.

Unfortunately, not every eviction is avoidable: Landlords have rights, too, and obligations to uphold the value of the property and the safety of all other tenants.

Here’s a look at what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to the eviction process.

Lawful reasons for eviction

When you first moved in, you (hopefully) signed a lease agreement with the landlord. At a minimum, the lease should contain the payment terms and effective lease dates. Most likely, it also contains a broad list of prohibited acts that could lead to an eviction, such as:

  • Failure to pay rent on time
  • Criminal activity or drug use
  • Assaulting or threatening other residents
  • Damage to the unit or common areas
  • Failure to abide by property guidelines or restrictions
  • Subletting without written permission
  • Having a pet
  • Exceeding the number of approved tenants
  • Smoking in the unit

Your agreement may also include opportunities to correct the problems if they come up.

Unlawful reasons for eviction

Your landlord cannot evict you just because he “feels like it.” Your lease is a binding legal document, and it’s only legal to evict you if you have broken the terms of the agreement.

Discrimination is forbidden in the housing industry, and the Fair Housing Act strictly forbids any housing decision based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or the presence of children. If you believe that discrimination has anything to do with why you’re being evicted, you should report the landlord to your state’s housing department immediately.

A landlord also cannot evict a tenant, or refuse to rent to them in the first place, based on a tenant’s disability or reliance upon a service animal — even if the property has a no-pets policy. A landlord must agree to make reasonable accommodations for the renter, including a wheelchair accessible housing unit or common areas designed to accommodate disabilities.

Proper eviction procedures

  • Time. Sticking a note on your door saying “Get Out” does not count as legal eviction protocol. Proper notice must be given, usually 30 or 60 days before the eviction date. In some states, a three-day eviction notice may be allowed if the tenant has committed an egregious act, such as assault or domestic violence, or failed to pay rent.
  • Details. An eviction notice does not always have to state the reason for the eviction, but some cities may require this. The eviction notice must properly identify the tenant, the unit in question, the contact person responsible for the unit — usually the landlord — and that person’s address. If the eviction has to do with non-payment of rent, the notice must include a valid address where rent may be sent.
  • Process. Under the U.S. Constitution, you’re entitled to due process of the law if you lose a fundamental right, including public or private housing. Telling a tenant verbally, giving the message to a mutual friend, or assuming he knows it’s time to leave will not cut it under the law. The tenant must be served the notice in person, sent the notice in the mail, or presented with the notice on the front door of the unit.

How to keep your home

It’s not impossible to remedy the problem or appeal an illegal eviction. In most cases, there is a way to fix the issue and avoid losing your housing.

  • Pay your rent. If the eviction is based on unpaid rent, the landlord must give you an opportunity to pay the entire outstanding balance on or before the final eviction date, which should be clearly stated in the eviction notice.
  • Fix or pay for damage. If the eviction is based on damage to the property, many jurisdictions allow the tenant to immediately repair or pay for the damage.
  • Appeal an illegal eviction. For residents of private housing units, an appeal is probably not available, but you may be able to pursue civil legal action if the landlord doesn’t follow your state’s proper eviction procedures. If you live in public housing, it might be possible to appeal an eviction, particularly if you think you’re being evicted illegally. In many states, pro bono fair housing lawyers are available to help renters defend against unlawful evictions and remain in their homes. Visit the U.S. Department of Housing website to see a directory of your state’s housing authority and resources.
  • Talk to a lawyer. If you have questions about your situation, you can consult a landlord/tenant lawyer for free in Avvo’s legal Q&A forum, where most questions are answered by a lawyer within 12 hours. If you would prefer immediate and confidential advice, you can use the $ 39 fixed-fee Avvo Advisor service to speak to a lawyer on the phone, right away.

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Eviction 101: What’s Legal, What’s Not, and Your Rights as a Tenant was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

7 Clutter Problem Areas And How To Tame Them

So you’ve found The One: a space to call your own. It’s got a great location (you actually landed a Mission-area apartment in San Francisco, CA!), the rent fits your monthly budget, and it even has a little architectural charm. The only downside? Its size. And while you knew things would be tight, there’s still a moment of surprise when you realize that an amount of clutter that wouldn’t make an impact in a larger place makes your apartment look as though it should be on Hoarders.

Short of doing a major purge, you can focus on smaller, easier-to-manage problem areas. “Apartments, or small-space homes, tend to have two main areas that get easily cluttered: the entryway, and the kitchen counter or table,” says Clea Shearer, co-founder of the stylish organizing service The Home Edit.

Here are a few expert solutions to tame those areas — and others — that collect the most clutter in your small space.

1. Empty the sink

If you let dirty dishes take over the sink (or, perhaps, have temporarily hidden them in an unused oven when guests drop by), you know how to solve this clutter area: Wash them. Divide the task into two parts to make it seem like less of a time commitment: Once you rinse dishes, stack them on a drying rack — just be sure to tackle the rest of the chore later. “Dirty dishes should never pile up,” Shearer says. “But once they are clean, they can go right onto a drying rack if you don’t have time to put them away immediately.”

organizing your home

2. Rethink recycling bins

If you have an open bin for recycling, you’re going about it wrong — all it takes is an empty milk jug (even flattened) and a few catalogs to create an overflow. The better alternative is a receptacle with a lid (like this IKEA Sortera recycling bin). You can also stack another bin on top, to further sort paper from plastic, doubling your bin space in the same amount of floor space. Thinking vertical also comes in handy for cleaning supplies, which can be sorted in stacking bins (like in the above image from The Home Edit) or in rolling drawers.

3. Manage mail

The answer to stressful heaps of old bills and junk mail: Know thyself. “If you walk into your apartment and always set the mail down in the same spot, put a basket down to keep everything contained and neat,” Shearer says. You could even use a slim magazine file to separate must-read mail from the inevitable catalogs if you’re the type to lose things in a pile.

organizing your home

4. Relocate laundry supplies

If you’re living without a laundry room, detergent and dryer sheets can end up anywhere — sometimes out in the open or cluttering up spaces that don’t make sense, like your pantry. Look to odd-sized cabinets instead. “Use that brilliant little cabinet in the kitchen, there’s almost always one, that’s oddly positioned and wouldn’t be used for china or dishes,” says Nicole Krinick, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York, NY. “This is always a go-to, or under the sink in the bathroom if there are cabinets there.” If you just laughed at the idea of cabinets, you might have to store supplies in the open. But you can make detergent pods a little prettier by stowing them in a nice jar, decanting liquid detergent into bottles (just make sure to label!), or throwing everything into a stylish bin like in the above example from The Home Edit.

5. Stop shoe piles

Corners of any room can collect shoes, and when tossed absent-mindedly on the floor, shoes are at best hard to find and at worst, a tripping hazard. Organizing expert Felice Cohen (you might remember her from the viral video on living in a 90-square-foot apartment) stresses first cutting down on how many pairs you own, then solving the issue at hand. “Once you’ve culled down a little, under the bed is a good place for shoes,” she says. “Or a multifunctional bench with shoe storage in the entrance. I like shoe cubby storage that has slots for several shoes. You can also fit one on the bottom of a closet, where the space is usually wasted.”

6. Get creative with sports gear

Sports gear often is tossed just about anywhere. To better organize it, hide it in plain sight. “Yoga mats, rolled up, fit nicely in an umbrella stand outside my door. They also fit nicely into shoe cubbies, or you can roll them up and place behind an angled piece of furniture,” Cohen says. “For bikes, I have found they take up the least amount of room hung up by the top wheel on a hook. They’re easy to install and can fit up high.”

7. Give your closet a breather

Small spaces often come with small closets and small spaces for dressers, which is why it’s important to prioritize what you need and store things based on use. When it comes to next season’s clothes, a somewhat-inaccessible location is totally fine. “High, hard-to-reach cabinets or under the bed are great for storing things you use less often, like decorations or off-season clothing,” Cohen says. Subdividing smaller items, like ornaments, into smaller bins minimizes headaches when it comes time to use them.

Bonus tip: Declutter in phases

Of course, even the cleverest solutions won’t help if you’re still holding on to things like your high-school T-shirt collection. If this sounds like you, it’s time for a purge. “That can be easier said than done, which is why I encourage clients to break the clutter down into manageable, bite-sized tasks,” Cohen says. “Can you get rid of five things a day? Or put away just five things a day? Now imagine if you did that every night. Soon, most would be put away.”

How have you decluttered your small space? Share tips for organizing your home in the comments!

The post 7 Clutter Problem Areas And How To Tame Them appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

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7 Clutter Problem Areas And How To Tame Them was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Board & Vellum’s Second Story Add-on

Bigger isn’t always better. In the case of this West Seattle remodel, the owners were set against a large, looming addition that they feared would overwhelm surrounding homes. They turned to Seattle design firm Board & Vellum, where they found the solution to their need for extra space.

In a surprisingly compact 740 square feet, their new addition incorporates space-saving techniques and unique design elements without overshadowing the neighbors.

The existing single-story home featured a finished basement, a small living room, two small bedrooms on the main level, an awkward entry, and few distinguishing features. “It just didn’t live large enough,” says Jeff Pelletier, principal at Board & Vellum. “There was no real breathing room at all.”

Understandably, the owners wanted more space, but they weren’t interested in sacrificing curb appeal to get it. Pelletier, who says he loves optimizing small spaces, was the perfect architect to take on the challenge.

A second story made the most sense to get the square footage the family needed, and Pelletier used a combination of bold structural choices and whimsical details to achieve the goal.

Moving up

A second-story addition naturally requires a new stairway to reach it. The typical approach of stacking the new staircase atop the basement set of stairs initially made a lot of sense, Pelletier says, but it “created a challenging second floor that didn’t really work.”

Instead, Pelletier and his team turned a former front bedroom into an entry hall, and placed the new stairway just inside the front door. Then, they added a large archway and glass cabinets between the entry hall and the adjoining living room.

A generous pass-through helps the room spill out into an adjoining space without adding any square footage, while double-sided glass cabinets increase the visual size of the room and help it feel larger. “It’s a great trick for small spaces, where you need storage and a more open feel,” Pelletier says.

Another of the home’s space-optimizing design elements is a 3-foot overhang of the second story at the rear of the house. Placing the bulk at the back of the house easily hides the added space, and also creates a welcome cover over the back deck and grill.

It’s the little things

While the bulk of the family’s new space came with the construction of the second story, a number of smaller design elements helped the family further realize their addition’s potential.

The two kids’ rooms in the new upstairs space offered the most potential for creative design. “The rooms didn’t have to be big, but they had to be interesting,” says Pelletier.

In the daughter’s room, he created a reading nook in a window seat, with built-in bookshelves and storage underneath. In the boy’s room, he opened up the attic to create a loft accessed by a wall-mounted ladder, and closet doors slide side to side instead of swinging open into the room.

Instead of adding doors to upstairs linen closets, Pelletier designed a series of drawers so the closet looks like a built-in cabinet. And in the kids’ bathroom, Pelletier held out for a bathtub that was just slightly smaller than a conventional tub (4 1/2 feet long versus 5 feet long) but fit just right in the available space.

“That extra 6 inches made all the difference,” says Pelletier. “Sometimes you have to look for solutions that are a little more custom but allow the home to feel larger.”

Make the most of your remodel

Sometimes small design changes are all it takes to let a small home breathe. Pelletier offers a few tips to homeowners looking to add space to their existing homes.

  • Turn an attic into loft space. Removing a ceiling to open up an attic can make small bedrooms feel larger. It also allows for the option of a sleeping loft – something kids especially love.
  • Maximize space with built-ins. Adding built-in nooks – such as the glass cabinet in the entryway of this West Seattle home – offers space to store linens and collectibles, while also creating a sight line between two rooms.
  • Blend two small rooms. Adding French doors between a small office and a small living area gives homeowners the option of combining the two. Swing the doors open to create a combined space, and close the doors when there’s work to be done.
  • Consider a finished basement. Remodeling an unfinished basement is a sure way to gain more space, and it’s usually less expensive than adding on vertically.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by John G. Wilbanks Photography


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Designer Lookbook: Board & Vellum’s Second Story Add-on was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Renting or Buying a Home: Which Is Best for You?

The most common question people have about their living situation is whether it’s better to rent or own a home. The answers they get are typically either too generalized mathematically, or cover lifestyle issues while leaving out economic factors. Here are two ways to answer the rent versus buy question.

Step 1: By the numbers

The first method is to understand the basic math of how to compare renting versus buying. There are four components to this step:

  1. Calculate the monthly cost of homeownership.
  2. Calculate the tax benefits of homeownership.
  3. Subtract the tax benefits from the cost of ownership to get the “after tax cost.”
  4. Compare the after tax cost to market rent for a comparable property.

Using this approach, let’s calculate the monthly cost of buying a home in Seattle, where the housing market is very hot and the median home price across the region is $ 478,500.

Suppose you’re buying a home of this price with 20 percent down and a top-tier credit score of 780, with a 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.625 percent (remember, rates change daily). A quick run through the mortgage calculator shows that this mortgage payment is $ 1,746, property taxes are $ 479, and homeowner’s insurance is $ 67, for a total monthly housing cost of $ 2,292.

The federal tax deductions homeowners get for mortgage interest and property taxes save $ 490 per month in taxes. (To calculate estimated tax savings, multiply loan amount by interest rate and multiply purchase price by property tax rate estimate of 1.2 percent. Add these two numbers, and multiply the result by an income tax rate estimate of 30 percent, then divide by 12 to get a monthly figure. Always consult your tax adviser on any tax-related matters for a precise calculation specific to your situation.)

Subtract the monthly tax savings from total monthly housing cost of $ 2,292 to get an after-tax housing cost of $ 1,802. If we compare this to the Seattle median rent of $ 1,791, we can see that renting is $ 11 per month cheaper than buying — very close, even in a hot market.

If you do these calculations in other areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, where home prices are lower and rents are higher (relative to ownership costs), the math will more clearly support buying over renting. In some markets, buying can be cheaper than renting even before incorporating homeowner tax benefits.

Doing these rent-versus-buy calculations for your own market only takes a few minutes. Just look up home prices and rents in your area to get started.

Step 2: Time will tell

The second method for deciding if it’s better to rent or own is to understand how long it takes for buying to become more financially advantageous than renting. The point at which this happens is called the breakeven horizon.

This is a calculation Zillow created to analyze rent-versus-buy decisions at the household level. It incorporates all possible buying costs and benefits such as down payment, closing costs, mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, and tax benefits, as well as all renting costs for the same home. Calculations also incorporate home value and rental price appreciation.

Breakeven horizon is the year when buying costs become less than or equal to renting costs when accounting for all of the factors noted above.

For our Seattle sample area, the average breakeven horizon is 1.9 years, which (only coincidentally) is the same as the national breakeven horizon right now — meaning buying becomes more financially advantageous than renting after 1.9 years. The latest full list of breakeven horizons for major cities shows how various areas perform on this rent-versus-buy method.

The sample Seattle market calculations above show it costs about the same ($ 11 difference) to buy or rent right now if you account for tax benefits, and it costs more to buy than rent if you don’t account for tax benefits. If you then consider that buying becomes more financially advantageous than renting 1.9 years after your purchase, these two methods combined make a good case for buying.

Once you’ve analyzed both of these rent-versus-buy methods for your target area, you’ll have a strong command of which option makes the most financial sense. Then the rest of your rent-versus-buy decision is about lifestyle choices like whether of not you want mobility, maintenance responsibility, or freedom to upgrade your living space.


Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Tips & Advice

Renting or Buying a Home: Which Is Best for You? was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Mortgage Rates Start Summer Near 2017 Lows … Will It Hold?

This month the Federal Reserve hiked rates for the third time in seven months. Does this mean the end of low mortgage rates? Let’s take a closer look to see how it impacts your home-buying and refinancing plans.

What is a Fed rate hike, anyway?

The Fed Funds Rate is an overnight bank-to-bank lending rate. While this rate isn’t available to consumers, the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) uses it to help influence overall rate levels in the economy.

When times are tough, the Fed lowers the Fed Funds Rate to stimulate the economy. In the heat of the 2008 financial crisis, it cut the Fed Funds Rate all they way down to .25 percent, and kept it there until December 2015, when it felt the  economic recovery had solidified.

Then it started hiking in increments of .25 percent, and have done so four times: December 2015, December 2016, March 2017, and June 2017.

Even though the Fed Funds Rate has now risen to 1.25 percent, traditional mortgage rates haven’t risen much – and, in fact, are near 2017 lows as summer kicks off.

Certain mortgages are already up 1%

When we say “traditional mortgage rates” are holding near 2017 lows, we mean rates on primary mortgages that most people get on their homes.

However, one mortgage product that’s directly impacted by these Fed hikes is the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

HELOC rates are based on two components: a set base rate called a “margin,” plus a fluctuating rate called an “index.”

The index for HELOCs is the Prime Rate, which is a rate that is directly tied to Fed Funds. In fact, the Prime Rate is the Fed Funds Rate plus 3 percent.

We know that the Fed Funds Rate is now 1.25 percent after recent hikes. This means that the Prime Rate is now 4.25 percent.

Therefore anyone with a HELOC now has a rate of 4.25 percent plus whatever their margin is. Margins are typically somewhere between zero and three percent in addition to Prime, and your margin is based on your credit quality and how much or little you’re borrowing relative to the price of your home.

HELOC rates rising 1 percent because of recent with Fed hikes means that your monthly interest cost on a $ 100,000 HELOC is now $ 83 more per month.

If have or need a HELOC to get cash out of your home but don’t want to risk your rate rising further, here’s how to evaluate the difference between a HELOC, home equity loan, and a cash out mortgage.

Traditional mortgages are holding at 2017 lows

The reason rates on primary mortgages most people get haven’t spiked like HELOC rates is because primary mortgage rates are tied to trading in mortgage bonds, not the Fed Funds Rate.

Most U.S. mortgage loans up to $ 424,100 are packaged into mortgage bonds, and these bonds trade daily in global markets. Mortgage rates fall when prices of these bonds rise on economic uncertainty, and vice versa.

Rates have been holding near 2017 lows as demand for mortgage bonds remains strong. The reason for this demand is that these bonds are considered a safe investment when policy initiatives in Washington and global economic growth looks uncertain (like it does now).

Where do mortgage rates go from here?

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates on loans up to $ 424,100 are currently at or just below 4 percent as of  this writing – please note mortgage rates change throughout each day.

The Mortgage Bankers Association updates its rate forecasts monthly, and the June forecast calls for rates to rise very slightly – about .125 percent to .25 percent – from current levels as we move through the summer. And they call for rates to be around 4.375 percent as we move into the holidays.

These projections can change monthly as the economic and political environment evolves in the U.S. and globally, but for now you can see that rates might rise by about .375 percent by year end.

On a $ 300,000 loan, this would mean your payment rising by $ 66.

Not that $ 66 is small, but in the context of the global rate market, this is a relatively small increase that shouldn’t fundamentally alter how much home many people qualify for.

Looking for more information about mortgages? Check out our Mortgage Learning Center.


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.

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Mortgage Rates Start Summer Near 2017 Lows … Will It Hold? was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Your Lease Is Up? Here Are 3 Good Reasons to Renew

If you’re approaching the end of your lease, it’s easy to think of reasons to move – new neighborhood, change of scenery, different amenities. But there are many compelling reasons why staying put might be a better choice.

Take these three considerations into account before packing up and making the move.

Dollars and cents

From security deposits to moving supplies to renting a truck or hiring movers – and even time off work to get unpacked and settled – moving is never cheap.

Moving to a new place can cost renters between $ 2,900 and $ 4,500 –  not including the rent itself, according to Nathan Miller, founder and CEO at Rentec Direct, a company that creates software for landlords and property managers.

“And that’s just our sample size in Portland, Oregon,” he notes. “When you consider bigger cities like San Francisco, Seattle, or New York, it could be two to three times that amount, and many people don’t have that much cash available.”

Deposits and move-in fees can be double or triple the monthly rent. And while many tenants count on getting the full deposit back to put toward a new deposit, it’s rare to get it all back, even if you’ve taken great care of your unit.

“In many cities, landlords aren’t required to refund your deposit for 30 days, so you can’t immediately use that money for your new place,” Miller notes.

The ball’s in your court

If you decide to move, your property manager has to spend money on advertising to fill the vacancy, plus pay at least two to four weeks of carrying costs until a new tenant moves in and starts paying rent.

Landlords paying attention to their bottom line would rather keep you – especially if you’ve been a good tenant that pays on time – than spend time and money finding someone new. This alone puts you in a great negotiating position, so ask for a discount on your rent, better lease terms, or complimentary amenities like parking.

While you negotiate the terms of your new lease, keep this in mind: Many cities and towns put limits on how much a landlord can increase your rent at one time. And given that rental prices are rapidly increasing in many big cities, the new rent your current landlord is proposing may very well be lower than what you’d pay somewhere new.

A bird in the hand

If you have a good rapport with your landlord, like your neighbors, and are generally satisfied with the amenities your community offers, it may not be worth rolling the dice on somewhere new.

“Going into a new community, you don’t always get the personal connection you’re used to,” says Kristen Gucwa, executive vice president of marketing at Richman Signature Properties, a property management group with apartment communities in Colorado, Florida, and Texas. “If you already have a connection with the front desk worker or the maintenance supervisor who always comes right over to help you, there’s a huge benefit there.”

Miller agrees. “If you like your landlord now, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’re going to like the new one. You’re giving up something you know for a complete unknown.”

If your lease end date is approaching, take some time to crunch the numbers and consider the less tangible pros and cons. You just might find that staying put is the right choice – nobody likes to move, anyway.


Tips & Advice – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Your Lease Is Up? Here Are 3 Good Reasons to Renew was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home