Before & After: A Lighter, Brighter Southwestern Home

Territorial architecture and the Southwest go together like deserts and sunsets. But for one partially retired couple in Phantom Hills, AZ, the syle of their mountainside home felt more dated than charming.

The couple enlisted Ernesto Garcia, an award-winning interior designer based in Phoenix, to update the kitchen and bathroom, which hadn’t been touched since the mid- to late 1970s.

Here’s a look at how Garcia transformed the home.

The kitchen

“[The homeowner] said she wanted to feel like Doris Day in her kitchen every morning,” Garcia recalls. “She wanted something happy.” Her husband, a gourmet cook, wanted ample space for preparing meals.

The couple’s other requests included a large bar to entertain friends, and a breakfast nook for informal dinners.

Remodeling the space to suit their needs posed an interesting challenge. Because most territorial homes tend to feature what Garcia calls a “fan floor plan,” the rooms end up being narrow and curved. Garcia says these homes give you access to vast views, but they require a certain skill set to use the space wisely.

Before: The old, dated kitchen lacked light, and offered no functional spaces for entertaining.
Before: Drab colors sucked light from the kitchen, and the square layout fought the home’s fan floor plan.

“My approach was to respect the curves,” he explains.

He added the clever ensemble of island, bar, and cocktail table to follow the flow of the home. “It makes the space’s circulation and its functions a lot more efficient,” Garcia says.

After: Garcia breathed new life into the space with colors and patterns inspired by the home’s desert surroundings.

After: A curved island and bright colors bring functionality and style to the kitchen.The designer also aimed to pay homage to the home’s Southwestern roots. Garcia says that the custom-built window seat not only highlights the striking view, but also features Navajo-woven fabric from the 1920s.

“The pillows pick up the various reds in the Navajo fabric, while the cabinets, made of knotty alder wood, create a harmonious dialogue between the existing architecture and the materials,” he notes.

After: The custom-built window seat highlights striking desert views.

Garcia, who worked on the project for nearly six months, says the clients wished to keep the fireplace and beams, which made sense, given the latter’s radial layout.

“Everything conveys movement,” he says. “I liken it to the waves of a tide.”

After: The new layout complements the home’s existing radial beams.

The bathroom

For the bathroom, the biggest priority was to bring in more light and make use of the narrow, curved space.

Out went the old Jacuzzi with its bulky brick base, and in went an oval-shaped tub with contemporary fixtures. A panel of frosted glass was placed in the wall behind it, allowing light from the vanity windows to stream in.

Before: Bathed in brown, the old bathroom felt dark and closed in.
After: A clean, neutral palette drenches the small bathroom in light and modernity.

In the small shower, Garcia placed subway tiles in an unconventional vertical pattern to get around the tight curves.

The vanity, meanwhile, got a facelift with new mirrors and face-level light fixtures.

After: Vertical subway tile and a modern bathtub open and brighten the space.

Garcia is particularly proud of the rift-oak vanities, which he chose for their smoky gray finish.

“Here in the desert, wood will often turn that beautiful color if it’s left out to dry in the sun,” he explains.

After: Garcia gives a nod to the home’s Southwestern roots in the bathroom cabinets’ finish.

Get the look at home

Inspired by Garcia’s Southwestern design? Here’s how to pull off the look in your own home.

  • Tell a story with color. For Garcia, that meant choosing bathroom linens with subtle variations of ivories, browns, and other tones that reminded him of Navajo rugs. In the kitchen, it meant choosing white counters encrusted with blue glass that played off the tones of the backsplash.
  • Obey the architecture. Rather than strip the home of the very aspects that made it unique, Garcia took pains to respect its curves, using a modest vocabulary that incorporated something of the Southwest. “The kitchen island, for instance, is an organic derivation of the architecture,” he says.
  • Keep what you can. “The island and cocktail table are the main features that define the character of the kitchen,” says Garcia. But many old parts remain. The traditional kitchen floor was refurbished, while the fireplace and ceiling beams were left untouched.

Photos courtesy of Ernesto Garcia Interior Design


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Before & After: A Lighter, Brighter Southwestern Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

3 Home Improvements Even a Beginner DIYer Can Tackle

New homeowners rapidly learn an expensive lesson: The handyman costs money – and that running list of home fix-its adds up quickly.

Fortunately for beginner do-it-yourselfers, you don’t have to invest in a trunk full of tools for basic upgrades and fixes; most require minimal investment in time and equipment.

Taking control and transforming your living space into a reflection of your own personal taste can be both simple and rewarding. Try it this weekend with any of these straightforward home projects that even beginning DIYers can master.

Create open storage with floating shelves

Sleek, open shelving is not only fashionable, but functional, too. Wall shelves are some of the trendiest additions in the homes of today’s DIY decorators, holding displays of cherished photos in the living room or bedroom and laden with dishes and bowls in the kitchen.


Courtesy of Fraley and Company.

The first step in installing this wall storage – or anything that hangs, for that matter- is to determine the composition of your walls. If the wall sounds hollow when you tap it with your fist, it’s likely drywall; if it sounds solid, it’s probably plaster.

For either, you’d ideally want to attach the shelf brackets securely to a wall stud, which can be located using a simple stud finder. If you can’t, affix it with anchors: hollow ones for plaster walls, butterfly or toggle varieties for drywall.

Now, measure and mark the spaces on the wall (on both ends) of where you want the shelf to go, and use a level to pencil a line across the wall where your shelf will sit.

Drill pilot holes into the wall for the anchors, and insert them following the manufacturer’s directions on the package. Then align your bracket with the anchor-filled pilot holes and mount using a regular screwdriver.

To finish, top your brackets with a simple shelf – glass, metal, or wood – and put your new storage spot to work.

Enhance energy efficiency and privacy with window film

While bright, sunny spaces can certainly be attractive, too much of a good thing can be bad. A flood of natural light fades rugs and upholstery over time, and causes air conditioning bills to skyrocket in the summer.

Fortunately, a compromise exists, and it’s stocked in the aisles at your home improvement store: window film. Applied directly to the glass, this thin polyester or vinyl layer can help shrink energy bills, enhance privacy, and even strengthen a window – all under the guise of a decorative touch.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

To adhere window film, spray both it and the inside surface of the window with a soapy solution. Stick the film to your window glass and then trim around the border, leaving about 1/16 inch between the film and the window frame. This will allow the window glass to expand and contract with changing temperatures.

Smooth out any bubbles in the film with a squeegee, and let it dry completely. After the few days it takes to cure, you can resume cleaning the tinted window once more – just stick to a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleanser to avoid scratching and prolong the film’s effectiveness.

Brighten with new light fixtures

Searching for a surefire way to dress up a room? Look up: Swapping out old, “builder’s special” light fixtures for something more stylish – a funky-modern chandelier or chic pendant lighting – can reinvent a space’s mood, all without the help of an electrician.

chandelier sm

Photo by Donna Dotan Photography, courtesy of Claire Paquin.

As with any electrical project, first flip off the lights and cut power to the room via the main breaker panel. Then, climb atop a sturdy ladder to detach the old fixture cover, remove wire connectors, and untwist the light’s wires from the main power wires. Finally, take down the remaining base or trim.

Next, new light fixture in hand, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for matching its wires to the main wires installed in your home. (Hint: Corresponding colors typically connect.)

Use a wire stripper to remove the protective coating from the ends of the light’s wires, then wrap each newly uncovered wire around the metal end of its match, and screw on the connectors. At the same time, attach the fixture’s grounding wire (often green) to the existing grounding screw.

Fold all wiring back into the electrical box, and use the new light’s included hardware to attach the fixture base or canopy over it.

Once you’ve screwed in the recommended bulbs, turn on the circuit at your electrical panel and flip the light switch to the fixture. When you’ve confirmed that it works properly, attach the trim and cover to your new ceiling light, and bask in the glow of your finished project.

See more home design inspiration for your next project.


Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

3 Home Improvements Even a Beginner DIYer Can Tackle was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Don’t Be Afraid of Design: Overcoming Home Decor Phobias

We’ve all paid mind to those pesky design rules: Don’t use large furniture in small spaces, stay away from bold colors, all four legs need to be on the area rug. Fortunately, rules were meant to be broken.

Here’s a look at common home design phobias you can overcome to get creative in your space.

Don’t be afraid of: Wallpaper

Call it retro, but wallpaper has made a comeback. Thanks to modern-day design, you’re able to change your wallpaper choice as often as your hair color.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Stick-and-peel options allow you to try a new design every couple of weeks until you find the perfect match. When you do, outfit the space in your favorite decor to bring the wallpaper to life, or let it stand alone and shine.

Don’t be afraid of: White decor

While a mixture of bold colors can strike fear in a few, the absence of color altogether makes most homeowners tremble. White is often synonymous with what they call a commercial look because it can become perceived as sterile.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Try dipping a toe in the water by picking a strong statement piece, like a white sofa or dining table. Once you’ve chosen one unique piece of furniture, complement it with lighting, linens, and decor in shades of white.

The idea is to slowly transition into a bright white haven, and before long you’ll forget your phobia all together.

Don’t be afraid of: Layering area rugs

One of our favorite new trends is the idea of layering decor. You can instantly brighten and boost any room’s design factor in a matter of minutes by adding another area rug.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

If you have a large woven rug in your living room, consider adding a cowhide on top for a chic update. The same can be done for several small rugs. Choose variations in color, textures, or patterns to keep the look fresh and interesting.

Don’t be afraid of: Big furniture in a small space

This is an understandable phobia. When you make a move into a smaller space with a king-size mattress, a 12-seater dining table, and an ottoman the size of your bathtub, it may seem overwhelming at first.

Try choosing one large piece to keep, and make it a focal point. Your large ottoman can also serve as a coffee table in the center of your living room, or additional seating during a housewarming party. Your king-size bed may only require one nightstand to create a cozy corner in the bedroom.

big furniture

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

And remember: With a key piece of furniture, it’s important to keep the rest of the room light and airy. Too much decor can get stuffy.

What design phobia will you conquer next? See home design inspiration to get started.


Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Don’t Be Afraid of Design: Overcoming Home Decor Phobias was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Most & Least Regretted DIY Home Projects

Thinking of going the DIY route for a home improvement project? Well you’re not alone. Nearly three-quarters of homeowners have completed a DIY project in the past three years. However, 40 percent of them wished they hadn’t, according to a new survey from home design site Zillow Digs.

Deciding whether to do it yourself or hire professional help is a common question. To help homeowners make better decisions related to tackling home improvement projects, Zillow Digs asked homeowners from around the country which projects they regretted the most and the least. The results of the survey are revealed below.

Top 5 most-regretted DIY projects

1.  Add or expand a room (such as a bathroom or bedroom)

regret 1

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

2. Refinish cabinetry (kitchen or bath)

regret 2

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

3. Refinish basement or attic

regret 3

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

4. Reinstall new carpeting

regret 4

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

5. Refinish or install new hardwood floors

regret 5

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

Top 5 least-regretted DIY projects

1. Replace lighting fixtures

no regrets 1.1

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

2. Replace cabinet hardware (kitchen or bath)

no regret 2.2

Courtesy of Zillow Digs

3. Paint one or more rooms

painting 2

Courtesy Zillow Digs

4. Install new kitchen appliances

No regrets 4

Courtesy Zillow Digs

5. Replace plumbing fixtures (bath, sink, toilet)

plumbing features

Courtesy Zillow Digs

Looking for inspiration for your next home renovation project? Check out Zillow Digs today!

Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

5 Most & Least Regretted DIY Home Projects was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Tour a Texas Home Straight Out of a Dystopian Novel

Picture this: You wake up in your minimalist house, choke down some government-regulated gruel, and slog through your chores along with the thousands of other robots *cough* — humans — in your city.

That is, until the day you’re cherry-picked to compete in some epic battle, shuttled off to a luxurious, coldly modern estate owned by the government overlords as you prepare to shatter said oppressive government system and ignite a rebellion.

But what the overlords don’t know is, they have placed you in the perfect training hideaway to take their fragile system down.

Tour this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Farmers Branch, TX, and then see if you can find a better-equipped estate to train for defeating oppressors of the next legendary dystopian world. (Need inspiration? Here’s how to house-hunt as if you’re the heroine of your very own teenage dystopian novel.)

Hunger Games House

Stoic and unassuming, right? The natural exterior and eerily quiet curb appeal of this home fit well within even the harshest government housing regulations.

Escape from this building? Not without a fight. The home was built with metal and steel (including the interior doors) and perched atop a polished concrete floor. And from the neat line of cactuses in the front yard to the small, meticulously mowed lawn, there’s no place to hide if you do make your way outside.

But that’s about where the Capitol’s control ends. Once inside, it’s a playground for rebels and anyone who dares speak against the government (or, like Tris, needs to practice hiding those divergent tendencies).

Hunger Games House Living Room

At first glance, the interior appears to be designed for someone who appreciates minimalism. But viewed through the eyes of our teen protagonist, every nook and cranny is ready to transition from everyday function to training opportunity.

Clear the three pieces of furniture in the living room, and you’ve got a large room for training and strategizing, much like The Pit from Divergent. Those trusses on the ceiling? Perfect for practicing trust falls onto the sofa below for future Dauntless tests of bravery. The “decorative” divider? It’s an easy way to hone your tree-climbing skills, or to make like Katniss and sharpen your archery game using the holes as targets.

Use the polished concrete floor to lay out your strategy and maps, then sweep it all under the rug (literally) and push the chairs back into place if you hear Effie knock at the door of your Hunger Games house.

Hunger Games House Kitchen

The Bulthaup-designed kitchen lies on the far side of this massive room and allows for a seamless transition from training to feasting.

The main colors featured in the room are gray and silver, muted tones to promote a sense of calm. But the Capitol knows that tributes must be well-fed, and Peeta could certainly whip up some delicious baked items on the stainless steel Miele and Fisher & Paykel appliances.

Hunger Games House Dining Room

The dining room is outfitted with a simple table and modern chairs, no more and no less than what you need. But that won’t stop Tris from strategizing over dinner about how to pass all faction simulations.

Hunger Games House Bedroom

Our smart tributes requested traditional blackout curtains to ensure adequate sleep, but these curtains serve a more important purpose that the Capitol couldn’t anticipate. Pull down the shades and grab a book from the strategically placed shelf — between the windows and out of view from outdoors.

Hunger Games House Bedroom

The master bedroom is devoid of artwork and offers only one small corner window. Almost entirely empty except for the bed, a few chairs, and a nightstand, the room invites with a simple, uncluttered space for the main protagonist to get a little shut-eye, hopefully without any night terrors from the day’s battles.

Hunger Games House Bathroom

Just as a home has its curb appeal, every rebel-on-the-inside has to maintain appearances for the Capitol, at least in public. With a luxe bathroom that features a large soaking tub for ice baths after grueling sessions and a stand-up shower to scrub clean, there are more than enough amenities for any hero to clean up and look decent, even after the most demanding round of training.

Hunger Games House Backyard

Green grass, knockout rosebushes, and pea gravel. Outside, few passersby would guess at what happens inside these walls. More importantly, function reigns on the roof of the house, which features solar panels to keep the house running through a strong storm (or the chaos of an uprising).

Check out the image gallery and listing for this home: 2619 Leta Mae Ln., Farmers Branch, TX, 75234.

Trulia’s Blog

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Tour a Texas Home Straight Out of a Dystopian Novel was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Veterans: Get 100% Financing on Home Loans up to $1 Million

As the financial crisis gets further behind us, mortgage options get more flexible. One loan program that’s often overlooked is a VA loan. If you’ve served in the U.S. military, you can get a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with no down payment.

VA loan features

This may be a surprise: VA loans aren’t actually made by the VA. They are made by mortgage lenders, and the VA backs the loans, which enables lenders to be more flexible when making these loans.

Features of VA mortgages include:

  • Financing for up to 100 percent of a home’s value. The national loan limit is $ 417,000, but can go up to $ 1,000,000 in high-cost areas. VA loan limits for your area are available on the VA site, and a VA lender can also give you local VA loan limits.
  • The ability to finance most of your closing costs, including appraisal, credit report, title insurance, lender origination fee, recording fees, and survey fees. These represent the bulk of the closing costs in most home purchase transactions.
  • No mortgage insurance. This is a material benefit that will save hundreds of dollars per month compared to other government-backed programs like FHA loans, which come with high mortgage insurance fees.
  • No prepayment penalty if you pay off the loan early.
  • Loans for a primary residence only.
  • A wide variety of fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage loan programs.

Who’s eligible for VA loans?

It’s important to work with a VA loan specialist so they are familiar with the criteria of who exactly qualifies for VA loans. To be eligible for a VA loan, you must be one of the following:

  • Veteran.
  • Active duty service member.
  • Current or former National Guard or Reserve member who has been activated for federal active service.
  • Current National Guard or Reserve member who has never been activated for federal active service.
  • Discharged member of the National Guard or Selected Reserve who has never been activated for federal active service.
  • Surviving spouse receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.
  • Surviving spouse who isn’t receiving DIC benefits.

If you’re in any of these categories, you can search for VA lenders to help you find a loan.

You will, however, need to provide your lender with a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to verify that you’re eligible for a VA loan. The COEs for each category of eligible VA borrower have different requirements.

An expert VA lender can also help you obtain the correct COE based on your circumstances. If you fall into one of the eligible categories but don’t know how to get your COE, ask a lender to help you.

The VA loan approval process

Getting your VA loan approved is mostly the same as getting a non-VA loan approved. A lender will calculate your total proposed monthly housing cost plus all other monthly debt — like payments on credit cards, cars, and student loans — and compare it to your income. They’ll want to see that these total monthly costs don’t exceed 43 percent of your monthly income.

Lenders will also look at your credit scores. Each lender will vary in terms of the credit score they require, but generally a score of 620 or better is required to qualify for a VA loan.

If you’re buying a condo, the VA must approve the condo project. The agency maintains a database of pre-approved condos, and if the condo you want isn’t on this list, you’ll need to work with your lender to get the condo approved.

This can add considerable time to the transaction, so make sure you do this research before writing an offer. And make sure your real estate agent is aware you’re getting a VA loan.


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

Veterans: Get 100% Financing on Home Loans up to $1 Million was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Eco-Friendly Home Updates That Save You Green

Each year, Americans save billions of dollars by employing energy-saving measures and investing in energy-efficient homes. Some upgrades — like Energy Star appliances, new hot water heaters, or geothermal pumps — can be pricey upfront, but there are plenty of small, inexpensive updates that will make a big difference in your budget over time. Here are some places to start.

Go low-flow

Thousands of gallons of water go down the drain every day. Toilet flushing and showering are the two biggest culprits. One solution is to upgrade your home’s plumbing fixtures so you use less water to accomplish the same task.

Low-flow fixtures, which are both inexpensive and easy to install, can reduce your home water consumption by as much as 50 percent, and save you up to $ 145 a year on electricity, according to Energy Star.

Insulate, insulate, insulate

Upgrading your home with energy-efficient insulation is one of the quickest energy payback projects you can undertake. If your house doesn’t have enough insulation (and many homes don’t, especially those built before 1980), bringing it up to current standards will not only make it more comfortable all year long, but you’ll save money — anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Consult the Department of Energy’s ZIP code specific recommendations for the right amount of insulation for your climate.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs

Yes, fluorescent bulbs are more expensive that regular bulbs, but each bulb can save up to $ 40 over the lifetime of the bulb, and they last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs.

Install a programmable thermostat

Did you know that the average household spends about $ 2,000 annually on energy bills, and that close to half that figure can be attributed to heating and cooling?

Enter the programmable thermostat. When used properly (don’t be intimidated!), this little gadget, which you reset when you’re asleep or away from your home, can pay for itself in a matter of months. Annually, you’re looking at saving up to $ 150 or more.


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.

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

Eco-Friendly Home Updates That Save You Green was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

6 Ways to Make a Home for Your Hobbies After You Retire

Retirement is all about doing what you love in the comfort of your own home. But is your home set up to help you with the hobbies you love?

With all the extra time you have to relax, your home should reflect your lifestyle. Follow these six tips to reorganize your home and create new leisure spaces for your hobbies.

Rebuild your reading nook

Turn an old workspace into a refreshing reading nook. That way you can set aside investment newspapers and scholarly journals and turn to a favorite novel instead.

  • Sit comfortably. Place a favorite chair next to the window for natural light.
  • Kick up your feet with a footstool. A small footstool will provide extra comfort for long hours of reading.
  • End the hunt for your reading glasses. Keep reading glasses close at hand with a small side table.
  • Add an overhead reading lamp. When the sun goes down, you can still turn to the next page.

Renovate your garage workspace

Avoid a dark and unorganized garage, and create new space without sacrificing inventory.

  • Raise the height of your workbench. You’re less likely to strain your back when you don’t need to hunch over a low table.
  • Add a pegboard wall for tools behind your workbench. You’ll have a place for all your tools – no reaching for the toolbox required!
  • Organize your supplies by type. Separate motor oil from antifreeze to avoid confusion when working under the hood.
  • Install proper overhead lighting. Don’t stumble in the dark. Add a light switch next to the door to avoid missteps.
Image courtesy of Remodeling Guys

Revamp your baking area

Pulling freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies out of the oven is great, but forgetting the chocolate chips is not. Find a place for everything, and you’ll never overlook that crucial ingredient again.

  • Store baking ingredients on a Lazy Susan. Access everything you need for the recipe in an instant.
  • Clip your cookbook to a pants hanger. Hang the cookbook from your cabinets at eye level for easy reading.
  • Invest in lightweight pots and pans. Forgo the struggle to lift heavy cast-iron cookware. Aluminum pots and pans are lightweight and durable.
  • Use a timer. Don’t leave the apple pie in to burn. Set a timer to have perfectly golden brown crust every time.

Reorganize your crafting

Skip piling crafts on the kitchen table, and convert the old office into a craft room.

  • Use a height-adjustable table. Move the table from sitting to standing height whenever your back needs a break.
  • Invest in an ergonomic chair. Proper back and spine support will make it easier to craft until your project is finished.
  • Store all your supplies in one place. This reduces the need to move supplies around, and prevents them from piling up in unwanted areas.
  • Add a pegboard wall. Take a tip from your garage and hang your crafting tools for easy access.
Photo from Zillow listing

Renew your love of shopping

You don’t need to leave the comfort of your home to go to the store. Stay cozy while shopping from home.

  • Unplug from the desktop computer. No need to hunch over a bulky computer monitor. Invest in a handheld tablet for easy shopping throughout your home.
  • Choose a firm couch. Support your body while browsing – keep a cushion and a soft throw blanket handy.
  • Turn on sales notifications. Never miss a sale again! Sign up for online sales notifications, and jump on them right away with your tablet.
  • Return with ease. Did the order not work out? Schedule a return service pickup from your home so you don’t have to make the trip to the post office.

Restore your napping space

Enjoying an afternoon nap used to be a luxury. Now that it can be an everyday practice, make sure your bedroom is properly equipped.

  • Invest in a new mattress. A firm ergonomic mattress keeps your body supported while you sleep.
  • Hang new window shades. Choose shades that reduce or completely block light to allow your eyes to rest.
  • Add background noise. Soft classical music or nature sounds will help your mind relax.
  • Set an alarm. Avoid post-nap grogginess by resting no more than an hour.

Never stop doing the hobbies you love

Retirement should be easy, so don’t let your home slow you down.

Your redesigned leisure spaces will leave you free to create and explore new avenues with your favorite hobbies.


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

6 Ways to Make a Home for Your Hobbies After You Retire was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Top Home Design Trends for 2016

Today, Zillow Digs announced the top home design trends for 2016, along with the three soon-to-be forgotten fads of 2015. Results were based on a survey of leading interior design experts and trending photos on Zillow Digs.

So what will be 2016’s hottest design trends? Check out the surprising results below.

2016’s top home design trends

1. Art deco-inspired patterns and shapes

art deco

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Art deco will make a bold new comeback in 2016. Look for the style’s trademark geometric patterns and honeycomb shapes to weave their way into everything from wallpaper to artwork, adding elegance and dimension to any space. Experts also predict gold statement lighting fixtures will become more popular.

2. Nubby wool rugs

Nubby wool or other natural fibers will be the go-to texture for 2016, especially for area rugs. Their neutral hues create the perfect indoor/outdoor vibe, while softening bolder colors and dramatic statement pieces.

3. Encaustic tiles


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

These intricate patterned tiles get their coloring from different types of clay rather than glaze, and can be used to create a beautiful, natural-looking focal point. Expect to see encaustic tiles pop up in a variety of rooms throughout the house in 2016, including kitchen backsplashes, bathroom shower tiles, accent walls and even fireplace mantles.

4. Artisan accent pieces

Travel souvenirs, unique artisan pieces and flea market finds will take center stage in home design as more homeowners gravitate toward decorating with unique art pieces that tell a story. Look for a rise in partnerships between big box stores and global artisans to accommodate the increased demand for one-of-a-kind or handmade items.

3 fads to ditch from 2015

1. Mason jars

Mason Jar

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

The mason jar trend is exhausted, and will finally make its exit in 2016. After using them to invoke a rustic chic feeling everywhere from wedding decor to restaurants, experts and homeowners alike are finally ready to move on.

2. Chalkboard paint


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Chalkboards smudge easily, and unless decorated with perfect handwriting, are usually not the best way to label household items. This trend is not built to last in 2016.

3. Burlap details


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Burlap is too harsh for indoor use, and is far overplayed for another year in the spotlight. Instead, homeowners will gravitate toward softer natural fibers that are more suitable for throw blankets, pillows and rugs.

Want to learn more about 2016’s hottest home design trends? Check out more photos of the top trends on Zillow Digs!


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight | Real Estate News, Advice and Inspiration

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Top Home Design Trends for 2016 was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

How To Spot Potential in an Older Home

By Elsie Larson

As a home and lifestyle blogger on A Beautiful Mess, I’ve had several home-buying experiences, both for my personal home and my work. They’ve all had one thing in common: they’re older “fixer-upper” homes. 

Sometimes older homes’ outdated paint colors, fixtures and appliances scare off buyers. But making cosmetic changes to update the home to your taste might be more affordable than you’d expect. It’s all a matter of seeing the potential in older homes.

Dark, dingy kitchen turned sunny and modern

This kitchen, for example, caused me to skip viewing this house several times. It was just so dark, and I didn’t love anything about it. It had dark wood paneling on the walls and ceiling, dingy older appliances, a stained linoleum floor and plywood cabinets. To top it off (although you can’t see it here), the washer and dryer were also in the kitchen.

Potential_before - after

But when we viewed the home in person, we realized we could reface the kitchen on a reasonable budget. We used the existing plywood cabinets along the bottom with a fresh coat of paint. We added inexpensive subway tile and open shelves to the top. We updated the appliances. And we did a faux concrete countertop for under $ 200.

Now it’s a totally new space. It looks more expensive than it really is, and it’s totally custom and fun.

Outdated style transformed to cheerful stunner

As another example, check out the kitchen in my last personal home. I think these before photos speak for themselves.

Potential_before-after 2

We refaced this kitchen with a lot of DIY. Our splurge was a new quartz countertop that still looked brand new when we moved out three years later. We painted the kitchen cabinets and walls ourselves, which is the least expensive way to update an outdated kitchen. It was super fresh by the time we were done.

kitchen combo

This living room makeover is one of my favorites because we really didn’t have to do much. Updating the paint and curtains made a world of difference.

Potential_before-after 3

Potential_living room

See, it really isn’t that hard to update the look and vibe of an older home. For one last before-and-after, here’s the dining room. It started out as formal, dark, and just not my style at all. But I loved the high ceilings and knew it had plenty of room to fit an even larger table.

Potential_before - after 4

After a little paint, a DIY table and a DIY light fixture, it was a completely new space. It went from least favorite to favorite room in our home! And the best part was, it wasn’t a difficult or expensive makeover.

dining room combo

Takeaway tips

Here are a few quick tips for seeing the potential in an older home.

  1. Ignore style choices. Remember that ugly furniture and fussy drapes don’t matter. You can easily change any of those things. Instead, look for good bones and expensive upgrades that will save you money (like a new roof, furnace, or windows), and use your imagination for how the space could look with minor upgrades like fresh paint and new fixtures.
  2. Overlook old smellsIt’s hard to feel positive about a house when you walk in and it smells musty or stale. But unless your home inspection reveals something serious, you can probably make an “old-smelling” house smell nice in a weekend. And if you’re removing carpet, even better.
  3. Disregard colorsThis is tough. When I scan house listings on Zillow, I often get really distracted by that bright red bathroom or that huge Disney mural in a bedroom. But these things don’t matter, and can be changed in a weekend with just a little paint – so don’t judge a house by its colors.
  4. Look past the clutter. This can be another tricky one. It’s hard to look at a room with an open mind when it’s overstuffed with boxes, clothes or knick-knacks. Remind yourself that when you move in, the house will be empty. Bring a measuring tape when you view if you need to be sure something of yours will fit (like your beloved king-size bed).
  5. Take note of special featuresLook for those features you love that you couldn’t add, like an incredible view, a cozy porch or a huge window. For example, in my last house I fell in love with the antique clawfoot tub.


If you’re shopping for an older home, keep these tips in mind. You might just discover your dream home.

For more fun home projects check out our blog, A Beautiful Mess.

Want to add some homemade happiness to your own space? Zillow and A Beautiful Mess are partnering to give away $ 5,000 to make your home feel a little more like you. Enter for a chance to win.


Follow blogger and author Elsie Larson on Instagram, and read more on her blog, A Beautiful Mess.

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How To Spot Potential in an Older Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home