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

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

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

4 Outdoor Fireplaces Perfect for Fall Entertaining

While the long summer nights may be coming to a close, your outdoor entertaining opportunities are just getting started. Extend your home beyond your sliding glass door by using an outdoor fireplace to keep the party going. Here are four settings perfect for warming up and chilling out.

Home away from home

If you and your family and friends spend most of your evenings outdoors, consider bringing the inside, outside. Add homey details like a mantle, shelving, and outdoor furniture around the fireplace unit for a cozy space to curl up on a cool night.

This type of area, with its rustic vibe and comfortable ambiance, is ideal for treating the kids to s’mores or sharing a glass of wine with friends at the end of the evening.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Totally transparent

For a luxe look, consider installing a double-sided outdoor fireplace. Not only does this style open up your entire backyard area, but it also allows for better ventilation throughout the space.

Add a uniquely fashioned grate to one side to protect plants and guests from sparks or ash.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Chimney charm

Every outdoor landscape needs a great focal point, and in the case of a fireplace, it’s a beautifully crafted chimney. While you have the option to choose a minimalist fire pit or simple bowl feature, why not highlight your outdoor fireplace by utilizing unique texture, an interesting shape, or robust color?

This chimney is a standout feature in this hidden backyard area. The cool gray stone plays well with the bold brick walls and overall dark color palette. By using two textures and two colors, the chimney adds dimension and interest to this carved out cove.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Modern minimalism

Outdoor fireplaces don’t always have to be made of brick or stone. Try a minimalist approach to the outdoor fireside by mixing up its color and shape.

In this outdoor area, the hearth is long and lean, boasting an open flame that flickers safely because of the smaller flames emitted. With this type of look, keep a safe distance between the fireplace and flammable furniture and textiles, and situate it near brick or stone to reduce the risk of overheating and burning anything in close proximity.

Add outdoor furniture that matches your contemporary fireplace to complement the look.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

See more outdoor fireplace inspiration.


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4 Outdoor Fireplaces Perfect for Fall Entertaining was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighborhood, Faster

While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Moving to a new home is tough, but it gets even harder when the move includes relocating to a new city or neighborhood. Logistical considerations — like figuring out the best way to get to work — are stressful and time-consuming but require only a bit of trial and error.

Finding your sense of place within a community is not as straightforward. While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Here are five tips to make the transition go more smoothly, whether you’re moving across town or across the country.

1. Make the first move

Sure, it can feel daunting to approach a new next-door neighbor and introduce yourself, but they may be equally hesitant to disturb your family, particularly if you seem busy settling in. So take the initiative and look for an opportunity when they don’t look rushed or preoccupied either. A simple wave or hello can open the door without being intrusive.

2. Make yourself approachable

Likewise, create chances for others to welcome you. Sit on the front porch. Take leisurely walks. Or perhaps just focus on being approachable — avoid the usual mad dash to your car every morning and ditch the grumpy expression upon returning from work.

The same rule applies when you’re out and about in the community. Pick a bar seat over a corner table to enjoy a coffee or beer; there’s something about communal seating that encourages conversation. Take the kids to a playground or park — and don’t keep your face submerged in your iPhone. Make eye contact, smile, and say hello.

3. Become a local

Do as the locals do and frequent a local restaurant, farmers market, or shop. Got a dog? Even better. Dog parks practically beg to help you and your pet make new friends. Soon enough, a nearby destination will be one of those places where at least a few people know your name.

4. Get involved

There’s no better way to meet like-minded people than by participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Finding the right fit may just require a little digging. Check with local schools and universities, park districts, recreation commissions, sports organizations, and — perhaps the greatest reference of all — neighbors and fellow parents.

Large cities often house bars that cater to locals who cheer for out-of-town professional teams — say a “Steelers bar” in San Francisco. Just search on Google, try a handy app, or check out message boards on the team’s website.

Parents have additional outlets for making new friends, like volunteering at school activities, getting involved in car pools, or hosting play dates. Donate your time to community organizations to get to know the neighborhood and improve it by cleaning up trash, helping other residents, or clearing park trails.

5. Use your existing network

Take advantage of organized programs that can help you meet others in your new community. If you were active in a church or other place of worship in your previous location, ask for a referral to a similar establishment. Many employers offer programs that connect newly relocated workers with one another as well as longtime residents.

Most colleges and universities also have local alumni chapters. And don’t forget to mine your online networks. Ask Facebook friends if they know anyone in your new town, or search sites like Meetup.com to find others with similar interests. With a little time, you’ll find “community” is wherever you make it.

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5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighborhood, Faster was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Found On Trulia: Sinners And Saints Built This Annapolis Estate

Picture this: It’s the Roaring ’20s. An industrialist from Baltimore, MD, is looking for the perfect spot for his new home base, and he has some very specific requirements. Because although his business in the steel industry is legit, he also has a secret — he’s running guns and selling illegal liquor on the side.

Then he finds a piece of land in Annapolis, MD, along the Severn River, secluded and expansive, with daring views of the United States Naval Academy. The industrialist builds his massive estate on the site — including a secret underground vault that connects to a tunnel leading from the home to the river.

That’s the truth-is-wilder-than-fiction behind the construction of this luxurious $ 28.8 million estate for sale in Annapolis, MD. But that’s not the end of the story.

Annapolis real estate

The 26,000-square-foot home sits on 23 acres along the Severn River, just 40 minutes from Washington, DC. It’s been renovated many times over the last 80 years, but its private location is what attracted the original owner — and, years later, the Catholic Church, which turned it into a Capuchin friary, and finally its current owners, who made it an expansive yet cozy family home.

Annapolis Real Estate

One big clue to the estate’s illicit past? That secret vault. “Supposedly, it was a tunnel that went all the way from under the house down to the river. We don’t know if it still goes down that far, but you can still get into the vault through the billiards room,” says listing agent David DeSantis, partner and managing broker, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, DC.

But the billiards room no longer looks the way it did when the vault was built; it has since been paneled with hand-carved teak. “The entire room was hand-carved in Southeast Asia,” says DeSantis. “The ceiling, the walls, everything. It was measured to specifications, shipped to Annapolis, and then rebuilt in the house.”

Annapolis Real Estate

While we’d love to know what gems could’ve been tucked away in this wine cellar in the 1920s, chances are slim that any original items would’ve made it through the home’s many extensive renovations. “[The home] was pretty much uninhabitable when the current owners bought it,” explains DeSantis. “There were raccoons living in it.”

Annapolis Home for sale

Saved from its sinful origins, the home was eventually purchased by the Catholic Church and converted into a friary. The vaulted ceilings in the ballroom (it once served as the chapel) are some of the last remnants of its religious past. According to DeSantis, about 25 to 30 friars lived here, sleeping in a dormitory that was torn down to build the home’s more recent spa wing, added by the current owners.

Annapolis Real Estate

The current owners, who are in the seafood business, restored the estate, adding contemporary updates — including this cheerful commercial-sized gourmet kitchen. Although the home has been for sale for a few years as a private listing, the owners aren’t in a hurry to sell. (We can see why!) Buyers today might benefit from those days on the market; it was originally listed at $ 32 million, now down to $ 28 million.

Annapolis Real Estate

Rich wood paneling and comfortable furniture with antique accents, seen here in a trunk-turned-coffee-table and Windsor rocking chair, keep formal spaces casual. “[The owners] have been fishermen for several generations,” says DeSantis. “It was very important to them not only to restore the house to the grandeur that it once had, but [also] to reflect their sensibilities and be a house that was comfortable for them.”

Annapolis Real Estate

Instead of the massive friars’ dormitory, the home now has a more manageable seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms — including this light-filled room with paneled walls. In this bedroom, Old World meets New, with elegant drapery around the Colonial-style, four-poster bed frame and rich oil paintings that frame the entrance to an adjacent sitting room.

Annapolis Real Estate

This wood-paneled sitting room is a spot for quiet contemplation — and cozying up by the fire with a good book. (Or perhaps writing one about the colorful history behind this piece of Annapolis real estate?)

Annapolis Real Estate

The current owners replaced the dorm with a spa wing, which includes an indoor pool and elaborate baths. According to DeSantis, since the owners frequently travel to Asia for work, their travels inspired them to add Asian influences throughout their decor — like the dragon candlesticks in this shower.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

The Asian influence carries over throughout the spa wing, where a teaching Buddha statue, symbolizing the union of teaching and method, overlooks the indoor pool and spa.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

The back of the home overlooks a 60-foot infinity edge pool lined with chairs. To the left, a covered pool pavilion with an outdoor fireplace offers a sheltered place to relax.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

This room, called the Zen room, is part of the guest wing. The large, circular windows let in light and offer views of swimmers in the outdoor pool. “A lot of times when you go in very expensive homes, they have that feeling like a museum — where you’re uncomfortable touching anything,” says DeSantis. “This home doesn’t feel like that.”

Annapolis Real Estate Waterfront Home

Of course, no self-respecting gunrunner would be able to transport goods without a private dock. The home now boasts a private, six-slip dock with a boatlift — and 2,000 feet of riverfront.

Annapolis Real Estate Teahouse

The current owners built the charming teahouse, a relaxing spot to enjoy a pot of Sencha — the tea that a guest is most likely to be served when visiting a Japanese home. The property also includes a conservatory, game room, catering kitchen, workshop, nine-car garage, roof garden, and tennis court.

Check out the image gallery and real estate listing for this home: 1600 Winchester Road, Annapolis, MD. (Find other homes for sale in Annapolis.)

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Found On Trulia: Sinners And Saints Built This Annapolis Estate was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Found On Trulia: A Gothic Revival Castle In Charlotte County, VA

It’s common knowledge that to reach the storybook version of “happily ever after,” you have to derail the malevolent plot of a scheming witch, rescue a damsel in distress — and maybe slay a fire-breathing dragon or two. But that’s not always the case.

Because at this 167-year-old castle-style estate in Brookneal, VA, fairytale endings are turnkey, presented in a pretty, turreted package that represents the lofty reverie of a deep-walleted nobleman and an architect with champagne taste to match. Together, this mid-19th-century duo turned their shared penchant for life’s finer things into Staunton Hill, a 15,696-square-foot Gothic Revival mansion with enough pomp and splendor that the boundary between fantasy and reality is successfully blurred.

Long, perilous quests to prove purity of heart aren’t a prerequisite to living here, but future inhabitants will have to conquer a different kind of beast: the monthly mortgage payment that accompanies a $ 5.490 million asking price. Hey, this particular ride into the sunset may come easy, but no one said it’d be cheap.

Staunton Hill Exterior

Situated upon 273 wooded acres overlooking the Staunton River in Charlotte County, VA, Staunton Hill was commissioned by Charles Bruce, a wealthy second-generation American whose father and benefactor, Scotland native James Bruce, had found fortune in the Southside Virginia tobacco industry.

In 1848, a little more than a decade after his father’s death, Charles Bruce built his 15,696-square-foot mansion on a hillside parcel deeded to him by his father’s estate. The three-story, 14-room plantation home was built in the Gothic Revival style, then considered to be a new and progressive choice for domestic use. With its crenellated facade and turrets, the Gothic architecture was a fitting design decision for a young man who fancied himself somewhat of an American royal. Bruce was, after all, considered to be one of the richest men in Virginia at the time.

Staunton Hill Yard

The property has since been augmented to include multiple guesthouses plus a tennis court, indoor racquetball court, an outdoor pool, and a greenhouse. Currently, the main home hosts 11 bedrooms and 10.5 bathrooms, while collectively, the estate comprises 25 bedrooms, 20.5 bathrooms, and close to 30,000 square feet of living space.

The estate’s current acreage has been greatly reduced from its original 5,000-plus acres, which formerly produced wheat, tobacco, livestock, and corn at this once-prosperous plantation in antebellum Virginia.

Staunton Hill Front

As his architect and builder, Bruce hired his friend John Evans Johnson, who wasted no time spending the young nobleman’s money. In fact, it’s said that the home’s $ 75,000 final construction cost was almost twice the sum originally agreed upon by Bruce.

The most ostentatious display of Johnson’s extravagant taste? The 10-column portico that decorates the south side of the home. Crafted of imported Italian marble, the portico and fluted columns reportedly cost as much as the rest of the home’s masonry (stucco over brick) combined. To put that in perspective, the home’s original plans included the manor home, a six-room colonnade (the east wing), and an adjacent law office.

Staunton Hill Guest Stair

Spanning two floors, the curved double staircases were Johnson’s pièces de résistance, considered to be the manor’s most esteemed design feature. The one-of-a-kind twin staircases greet guests on the other side of a marble-floored octagonal foyer, accessed through the marble portico of the main house’s south entrance.

Staunton Hill Foyer
Thirteen-foot-tall ceilings add to the grandeur of the three first-floor parlors, each of which features plaster crown molding and cornicing original to the manor. In fact, much of the home holds some key to its past, whether that be a solid mahogany pocket door, a Venetian mirror, a candelabra sconce, or an ornate, carved mantle.

Staunton Hill Guest

The plantation’s office, a two-story structure detached from the main house, burned down in the 1930s. It was rebuilt to its original specifications and now serves as the estate’s pool house, so-named due to its proximity to the outdoor pool.

Behind a mullioned-windowed facade that very much resembles that of the main house, the pool house offers additional living space in the form of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a second-floor library. Sweeping views of the surrounding lowlands are another amenity here.

Staunton Hill Guest Yard

Heightened by the crunch of gravel underfoot, the experience of Staunton Hill’s landscaped grounds and gardens is decidedly British. A boxwood maze cuts a circuitous path beside the pool house, while climbing roses, lilac, and blooming bushes and trees decorate the courtyard’s perimeter during the warmer months.

Staunton Hill Guest Rear

The west wing, which forms the courtyard on Staunton Hill’s north side, was added in 1934 by David K.E. Bruce, grandson of Charles Bruce and one of four generations of Bruces to come into possession of the estate. Staunton Hill is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Check out the image gallery and listing for this home: 1100 Magnolia Lane, Brookneal, VA 24528(Find other Brookneal, VA homes for sale.)


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Found On Trulia: A Gothic Revival Castle In Charlotte County, VA was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

The Colors of Summer: Mixing Cool and Warm Tones

Summer means bright sunny days spent next to cool blue waters, and brilliant pink and purple sunsets. As the days warm up outside, it’s a great idea to bring a little of the season into your home. Mixing the cool and warm tones of summer creates a fresh, sophisticated look in your decor.

coral and turquois small1. Framed Art Print, West Elm, $ 130 | 2. Turquoise Cushion Cover, H&M, $ 6 | 3. Coral Pillow, Target, $ 25

4. Striped Throw, Target, $ 25 | 5. Woven Basket, Urban Outfitters, $ 60 | 6. Framed Seascape, Urban Outfitters, $ 99

To make this look feel cohesive, find an inspiration piece like this colorful framed print. For a quick room update, lean artwork like this on a mantel or prominent piece of furniture so it’s the focal point of the area.

Once you have your inspiration piece displayed, work it into the rest of the space. The main color palette in the print consists of shades of coral and turquoise. Pull those into the rest of your decor with textiles, complementary artwork and accessories. A few colorful pillows on the couch and a vase on the coffee table filled with flowers goes a long way.

You can get any room in your home summer-ready in just an afternoon with this inspired color palette. Now you won’t have to get outside to enjoy summer’s brilliant hues.

See more home design inspiration.


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The Colors of Summer: Mixing Cool and Warm Tones was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home