Five Tips to Identify Fixer-Upper Homes Worth Investing In

 

When shopping for a fixer-upper home, some properties have potential beyond their appearance. Keep the following tips in mind as you look for that home.

When shopping for a new home, be aware of properties that have potential beyond their current appearance. Home buyers often overlook a great property because they are too focused on the cosmetic appeal, which can be easily altered. Keep the following tips in mind as you search for your perfect home:

  1. Finding the Best Neighborhood for You
    Location is one of the most crucial factors to consider as you look for possible homes. Unlike the style and even structure, no amount of time, effort, or money can change a home’s location. To find the best neighborhood for you, it can help to visit the area multiple times at various hours. This will help reveal the local culture and activity to be expected from neighbors.
  2. Identify a Cost-Efficient Fixer-Upper Home
    Look for a home with sound fundamentals and an appealing floor plan. Cosmetic improvements like new paint, lighting fixtures, and flooring are relatively cheap and easy to change, while work on plumbing, electrical systems, structural walls, or cabinets are more difficult and expensive. Typically, the most expensive change involves altering a home’s structure.
  3.  Hire a Contractor Before Buying a Home
    You may want to hire a contractor in your search if you know you want to make changes to a home you plan to purchase. A contractor can help you better understand what kind of commitment a given home will require. Many remodelers will visit a potential purchase at no charge to give an estimate of how much the work would cost. This is valuable information when comparing different homes with one another.
  4. Know What to Check Before Buying an Old Home
    Examining a home can be a complex process, and looking for one with unused potential can make it more difficult. Keep in mind that homes older than 50 years are likely to have similarly aged plumbing, electrical, heating, and other systems. The home may also be worn out or too outdated to remodel.
  5. Real Estate Agents Can Help
    Real estate agents are valuable resources. They can help you understand a home in the context of its neighborhood and area, and may be able to offer advice on how to increase the value of the property after purchase.

8 Tips and Tricks to Get More Storage From a Small Closet

Get ideas for arranging your clothes closet with 8 combinations of shelves, hooks, rods and drawers.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

Large, luxurious walk-in closets may be the stuff dreams are made of, but they are not always the reality. If the closet space you have to work with is on the petite side, there’s still plenty you can do to make the most of it. From ultraslim shelving to wall-mounted storage, here are steal-worthy ideas from eight closets that put every inch to work.

1. Dresser + hanging rod + curtains. Replacing the closet doors with curtains has freed up some much-needed space in this small bedroom, allowing access to every inch of the reach-in closet. Inside the closet, a high shelf holds baskets (perfect for storing less-used items) over a hanging rod, with a dresser below. The dresser top is put to work too, with a wire storage basket and space for a few pairs of shoes.

Best for: Reach-in bedroom closet.

See more of this bedroom

2. Tall bookcase + hanging rods + wall hooks. A tall, shallow bookcase anchored to the wall provides ample storage space for folded clothes and accessories in this petite closet. Opposite the shelving, rods hold hanging clothes and a set of wall hooks provides a handy drop spot for scarves and jackets.

Best for: Narrow walk-in closet.

3. Shelves under eaves + short hanging rod. Shelves in graduated sizes make the most of this space beneath a sloped ceiling. Two wide drawers hold folded clothes below, and a short rod provides space for hanging items.

Best for: Bedroom with sloped ceiling.

4. Wall-mounted shoe rack + hanging rod + high shelf. A slim wire shoe rack mounted on the wall holds plenty of pairs without taking up precious floor space. At the back of the closet, two high wire shelves over the hanging rod hold luggage and other infrequently used items.

Best for: Deep, narrow closet.

5. Shelves + crates + lidded boxes. A simple setup with wall-mounted shelving is made more functional with the addition of crates to keep bulky items from toppling over. Wall hooks hung both low and high keep bags and belts neatly stowed, and lidded boxes provide a spot for stashing small accessories.

Best for: Small closet with more folded than hanging clothes.

6. Hanging rod + high shelf + floor basket. An easy setup for a petite closet, this allows room for hanging items on the single rod, with a storage shelf above and a basket on the floor to hold accessories (or clothes to be dry-cleaned). If your closet is a bit wider, add shelving to the wall opposite.

Best for: Small closet with more hanging than folded clothes.

7. Extra-high hanging rod + step stool. Take advantage of a space with a high ceiling by hanging a second rod extra high, and use it to store off-season or less-used clothes. This frees up the lower portion of the closet for shelves, with wire baskets to keep small items and accessories neat. Be sure to keep a step stool handy to reach the upper rod.

Best for: Petite closet with high ceiling.

8. Shelves + drawers + dressing table. With shelves on one side, a short hanging rod on the other and dresser drawers in the center, this petite closet fits in a little bit of everything. The mirror against the back wall turns the drawer unit into a dressing table with room for jewelry, perfume and other getting-ready essentials. Open bins on the highest shelves keeps less-used items out of the way but still easily accessible.

How to Make Your Move Less Stressful

Make your move less stressful by taking these steps to protect yourself and your belongings

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

From horror stories of lost, stolen and broken items to surprise charges tacked on to an already high bill, moving is not for the faint of heart. And after recently pitching in to help my mom through a downsizing and a big move, I’ve learned a few things about working with professional movers. If you have a move coming up, read on for eight tips to help your move go smoothly.

1. Take the time to research movers thoroughly. We’ve all heard horror stories about movers stealing, losing or recklessly damaging belongings, but with a bit of diligence on your part you can make sure you’re choosing a reputable, licensed company with ample experience. Check reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings and references before committing to hire. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

2. Don’t wait till the last minute to book your movers. Moving companies do book up, especially during the busy summer months, so don’t leave this decision until the last moment. Start looking for a company early and get on its schedule.

3. Honestly assess your belongings before getting a quote. If you end up bringing more items than discussed with your movers, the best-case scenario is that you get a higher bill — but the worst-case scenario is that there isn’t room on the truck for everything you plan to bring. The reverse can also be problematic: If you pare down your belongings a great deal between the time of your quote and moving day, you may find yourself paying more than you needed to.

If you do require flexibility in truck space for your move, be upfront about it. Some companies allow you to pay by the foot, which means you pay only for the space you end up using. Usually this involves sharing space with another customer, in which case your belongings will be divided with a locked partition inside the truck.

4. Don’t assume that professional packers are also pros at labeling. If you’re planning to hire professional packers, it’s smart to ask about their policy for labeling boxes. If they don’t label (surprisingly common), plan to be present while the packers work (a good idea anyway) and make it your job to label each box as it’s completed.

Packing tip: Label your boxes with your last name as well as the name of the room in your new home where you want the box to end up. When labeling rooms, use language that will make sense to the movers: Instead of “Katie’s room,” you could label a box “Upstairs small bedroom.”

5. Block out close parking in advance to avoid long-carry fees. If your movers can’t park the truck close to your home, you’ll probably get stuck with what’s known as a long-carry fee — and the farther the movers have to walk to bring each item, the longer it will take. To avoid this, do whatever you can to ensure there’s a close place to park the truck at both your old home and new. You may want to notify neighbors in advance, park your cars in the closest spaces to hold them, or put cones and signs in the space in front of your house on the day of the move.

6. Remember to measure openings at your new home. After one harrowing experience attempting to get a giant sofa through a narrow stairway (our movers eventually gave up), I now know the value of measuring doorways and stairwells in advance. If bulky furniture doesn’t fit, you may be forced to leave treasured pieces behind, or — if you simply can’t do without an item — you may need to ask for hoisting services, which aren’t cheap and may not be available right away.

7. Take the time to read the fine print. Before the movers leave at the end of the day, you’ll be asked to sign off on the inventory sheet and bill — and you’ll be exhausted when this happens. It’s easy to breeze through these last steps and just sign whatever papers they thrust in front of you, but it’s important that you take the time to actually read what you’re signing.

Double check that everything that went into the truck has actually arrived. Look over the bill carefully and be sure there are no extra charges. Especially if you were sharing space, belongings can get missed quite easily, so it’s a good idea to take a look inside the truck before it pulls away. And look close: Tiny (but necessary) items like drawer knobs and shelf brackets can easily get overlooked on the floor of a big truck.

8. Just get the big stuff into position; the rest can wait. Think rugs and major (read: heavy) furniture pieces — anything you can’t easily move on your own — are the things that should be put into position by the movers. Ideally, you’ll already be armed with a floor plan of the new space with furniture positions marked out. But if you didn’t get anything that elaborate organized, no worries. Just station yourself in the new place as early as possible before the movers arrive and make some decisions about where things will go.

Then locate the box with your bedding, because you’re going to be ready for a good night’s sleep!

Tell us: Have you moved recently? Share your tips in the Comments.

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

Create a vacation vibe in your at-home sanctuary and you’ll be better able to recharge.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

With warmer evenings and sunlit mornings, summer begs us to take a more relaxed approach to life. That might mean a slower-paced schedule, a breezy wardrobe or a goal of keeping the house tidy. These eight rules can help you savor the season each day from the moment you rise and pull open the shades until you tuck into bed at night.

1. I will preserve time at the beginning and end of the day for quiet reflection. Even if it’s only five minutes spent sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning or herbal tea before bed, having a smidgen of dedicated me-time in the peace and privacy of your bedroom can bookend a frantic day, or bring satisfying closure to a pleasant one. Write in your journal, read an inspiring book, meditate or simply look out the window as you set intentions for the day ahead.

2. I will treat myself to extended weekend mornings in bed. If you’re a parent, finding a way to make this happen may be impossible at times, but the bliss of a morning in bed (read: at least 20 uninterrupted minutes with a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite publications) is worth whatever scheduling acrobatics it takes to arrange.

3. I will keep my wardrobe simple. Living out of a suitcase on vacation can seem carefree because you have fewer choices. Re-create that feeling at home by editing your wardrobe down to your most-loved and worn pieces, and stash away (or consign) the rest. While editing, keep in mind that the smaller the wardrobe, the more important it is that everything goes together. Stick with pieces that mix and match (such as colorful, patterned tops and solid, neutral bottoms) to maximize outfit-making potential.

4. I will decorate with reminders of summer. Surrounding yourself with visual reminders of what you love most about summer will make your bedroom feel more like a getaway. Try nautical maps, postcards from far-flung locales, snapshots taken on your last vacation, a bedspread bought in a seaside town, or shells and sea glass collected on the beach.

Set the Mood: 5 Colors for a Calming Bedroom

5. I will keep things clean and uncluttered. Putting away clothes and shoes each day isn’t a glamorous task, but the five minutes (or less!) of effort is well worth the calm atmosphere you will enjoy coming home to when everything is neatly put away. Need inspiration? Give your bedroom a makeover at the start of summer to motivate yourself to keep the space looking sharp.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Right

6. I will help overnight guests feel at home. When friends and family come to stay, a few special details are all it takes to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Snip flowers from the garden for the bedside table, set out a selection of beach reads and make up the bed with light layers. Don’t have a spare quilt or even a guest bed? A tapestry (the sort pinned to dorm room walls) or even a large sarong can make a summery and budget-friendly bedspread, whether you’re covering a bed or an air mattress.

See the rest of this eclectic home

7. I will say yes to mermaids. Mermaids are equal parts kitschy and mysterious, making them the perfect motif for a summery bedroom. Plus, having something to collect makes shopping at your favorite flea markets and art fairs even more fun. Not into mermaids? Pick your own icon of summer, and start collecting.

8. I will let the stars guide me to bed. Can’t get away to that rustic lakeside cabin? Pretend you’re camping at home, and turn down the electric lights in favor of candles and lanterns a few hours before bedtime. You may be surprised at how this one simple change can make your home feel completely transformed, at least for the evening. Indulge in screen-free entertainment like playing cards or board games, and be sure to peek outside at the stars before retiring to your room.

10 Ways to Rock Minty Hues in Your Home

A touch of this light green can freshen up any room or style.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

If pre-remodel bathroom tiles are what immediately come to mind when you think of mint green, think again. There’s a lot more to this hue than retro appliances and vintage bathrooms. From bungalow charm to midcentury cool (and beyond), mint is a design chameleon that can work just about anywhere.

1. Mint looks cheerful on cottages and bungalows. Mint makes a cheery first impression when paired with earthy siding or natural shingles on a craftsman bungalow or cottage. Repainting your house not on your to-do list? Give your bungalow a curb appeal boost with a mint green mailbox and copper house numbers that will develop a natural verdigris patina over time.

2. Mint makes a refreshing change of pace from all white. All-white kitchens have been the star of the show for years. If you (and your kitchen) are ready for a change of pace, why not try mint green? On walls, cupboards or both, soft mint green brings a hint of vintage nostalgia, yet plays well alongside more contemporary features like stone counters and sculptural wood stools.

See more of this kitchen

3. Mint lightens up a room full of antiques. Have a full-blown antiques obsession? Show off your treasures while steering clear of the musty antiques-store vibe by painting the walls fresh mint green. The light walls offset dark wood and lacquered pieces beautifully.

See more of this home

4. Mint and midcentury style are a match made in heaven. Since mint was a popular color in design from the late 1930s through the early 1960s, it makes sense that it looks right at home alongside furniture and decor that reference that era. Pair up midcentury-style furniture (like the credenza shown here) and eclectic art with mint walls for a happy, modern look.

5. Mint can be elegant. Paired with chinoiserie panels, gourd lamps and neatly tailored linens, mint brings a bit of cool, Grace Kelly glamour to your space, especially when used in a luxe fabric like velvet or silk.

6. Chalky mint makes a great furniture paint color. If farm-fresh eggs, fabulous quilts and ironstone pottery are what make your heart go pitter-pat, the natural matte look of milk paint and chalk paint are probably right up your alley. Update a thrift store furniture find or pick up a new piece in unfinished wood and give it a coat of mint green milk or chalk paint.

7. Mint works equally well for boys and girls. If you’re planning a room for siblings to share or your child just isn’t a fan of pink or blue, consider mint, the modern alternative to gender-neutral yellow. It’s fresh, hip and especially current when you paint just half the wall a minty hue.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Just Right

8. A hint of mint goes a long way. Whether you add mint green barn lights or a collection of jadeite kitchenware, a few mint accessories are all you need to elevate a basic all-white design.

9. Mint is beachy without being blue. Love the easy breeziness of beach style but don’t love true blue? Choose a softer shade of sea-glass-inspired green rather than the more common navy or turquoise.

10. Mint is timeless. With a rich history in design (you can find beautiful shades of mint among historical paint color palettes) and its ability to work anywhere from a traditional farmhouse to an urban loft, mint green may be trending, but it’s also here to stay.

Tell us: Are you a fan of mint green? Share your thoughts and photos in the Comments.

Add Bathroom Technology for a Smart Remodel

Like it or not, technology is changing the way we see and hear things every day. These days, when considering a remodel of any room in the house, homeowners are integrating new technology into their plans, including bathroom technology.

Feb 24, 2017

Like it or not, technology is changing the way we see and hear things every day. And a remodel of any room in the house should incorporate some use of smart home technology. But, even in the bathroom, you say? Yes, bathroom technology is a thing and an array of products are available to make this room a tech showcase.

Bathroom Luxury

If you are considering remodeling your bathroom, there are many options to think about and possibly include in your plans. Bathroom technology can give you state-of-the-art, spa-like luxury in your own home. There are smart toilets that clean themselves, bathtubs with lighting like a swimming pool, and high-tech lighting for showers. For instance, a smart home system with different colored light bulbs for atmosphere can be controlled by an app, or you can install hands-free faucets with automatic soap dispensers. And you never have to miss your favorite program to take a bath or shower because the new flat screen TV you installed is visible from all angles of the bathroom. Your new showerhead can even incorporate smart home technology, with a wireless speaker that can easily be removed for charging. These smart devices and other bathroom technology products are available at Best Buy and at Lowes in Redding — and best of all they are easy to install.

Convenience and Comfort

Bathroom technology can also make you really comfortable — light therapy and heated toilet seats are options that spring to mind. Of course heated towel racks have been around for a long time as have heated floors, but the smart bathroom floor of the near future will sound an alarm if someone falls. Because your phone is always with you, docking drawers with charging stations are convenient for keeping your smartphone or other device always charged and ready to go when you are. The drawers can also be equipped with electrical outlets for hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, and the like.

You may be thinking that with technology changing so rapidly, won’t your remodel be out dated practically before you finish? Actually, you can replace most of these items without need for a complete re-do. Replacing a toilet, for instance, is really low cost. Lighting can also be changed with little effort or expense.

Ordinary people are recognizing that they need to get more integrated with their electronics. In the case of the bathroom, It is literally opening doors for those people while enabling them to feel the luxury of their own 10-star spa. Don’t mistakenly think of these features as simply luxury items. The future buyer of your home will most likely view smart technology products as essential, and any house without them might appear outdated. You don’t need to do all these upgrades at once, but if you are remodeling, think to the future.

Image Source: StockSnap.io

12 Trending Designs to Bring Into Your Home Today

Houzz looks back at their latest stories to help you look ahead to your next design project.

Houzz Contributor, Mitchell Parker

Good design is all about the little things. A seemingly small decision or maneuver can pay off to create something big and captivating. Looking back on our articles for this week, we noticed design moves so clever that they make the entire room stand out. Consider including one of these ideas in your next project. And if something here grabs you, be sure to click the link to dive deeper into the story it came from.

1. Bold countertop and backsplash color. If you get inspired by colorful spaces, let this Australian home be your muse. You may not think that a vibrant green countertop would work, but one look at its combination with an equally vivid green backsplash and light wood cabinets, and you could become a convert.

Laminate countertops are making a comeback, and they’re an affordable option that you can customize in any color you want.

Read more about this colorful home

2. Disappearing dining table. Dining space can be hard to come by in some homes. In this 835-square-foot condo, a suspended and recessed compartment beneath the TV opens to reveal a slide-out shelf that extends to create a desk or table surface.

Read more about this hideaway table

3. Accent wall to hide the TV. Despite some reports that feature walls are fading, interior designer, color specialist and Houzz writer Jennifer Ott argues that’s just not the case. “I continue to evangelize for accent walls because they are one of the quickest and easiest ways to inject your own personality into a space,” she writes.

A black- or dark-painted feature wall can make unwanted elements disappear, as is the case in this living room, where the black screen of the TV is virtually nonexistent.

Discover more reasons to embrace accent walls

4. Window wrapped in tile. Graphic tile is a great way to bring pattern and movement to an otherwise white kitchen. But another terrific tip is to wrap that tile all the way around a window on the backsplash wall to give the appearance of a wallpaper effect.

See more backsplashes with graphic tile

5. Black marble countertops. Interior designer and Houzz writer Yanic Simard showed us the versatile beauty of black marble with all the ways it can be used to bring drama and elegance throughout a home. One highlight: countertops. “A dark stone counter makes an excellent pairing with a deep cabinet color,” he writes. “You can break up the darkness with a light backsplash and some shimmering metallic accents. Nobody will want to eat in the dining room again.”

See more reasons to love black marble

6. Field tile feature wall in the shower. Using encaustic tile to cover an entire bathroom could get costly. A more affordable option is to create a smaller feature section in your shower with a solid-color border. Keep the rest of the tile simple, such as white subway, and you’ve got a stunning, affordable design feature.

Read more about this inspiring bathroom

7. Decorative shower drain. In the same shower as the previous photo, move your eyes down from the graphic feature wall and you’ll find this decorative shower drain. It goes to show that no matter how insignificant an element is in your space, there’s always room to have a little fun with design.

See the rest of this bathroom

8. Ceiling treatment. Just as looking down at the shower drain can spark a little creativity, so too can looking up to the ceiling. The homeowners of this Florida home hired a custom artist to paint a scene depicting the night sky.

Read more about this fun children’s bathroom

9. Outdoor furniture indoors. This little design trick is worth repeating time and again. If you live by the water, have kids or pets, or are involved in any activity that may cause abnormal wear and tear on your furniture, consider upholstering your pieces in outdoor fabric. It’s easier to clean and holds up better to active use.

Read more about this modern lake house

10. Old shutter as a display board. If you have a home office, chances are you have some sort of display board for mementos, notes and reminders. If you prefer not to drill, hammer or pin anything into your walls (hello, renters), consider leaning an old shutter against the wall behind your desk, and use clips to secure things.

Get more ideas for inspirational pinboards

11. Wall-hung storage system. Sometimes a bulky storage case or bookshelf can take up a lot of visual and physical space. To keep the floor area free and clear, try a customizable wall-mounted shelf system like the one shown here. You can get creative with the size and location of each shelf to create a functional configuration that can work around almost any fixed element.

Read more about this live-work home

12. Mirrors behind shelves. Every designer has a bag of tricks to bring life and style to a room. Here, a designer used antique mirror to add a reflective element to a richly hued living room in London.

8 Ways to Create a Warm and Welcoming White Kitchen

You can have your white kitchen and visual interest too. Use these ideas to make your cooking space stand out.

Houzz Contributor, Veronica Solomon

An all-white room isn’t as simple as it may seem. If not done properly, the room can feel stark or boring. This is especially true when it comes to kitchens. There are so many hard surfaces in this space — countertops, flooring, appliances, cabinetry — that a white kitchen can end up feeling sterile.

But there are plenty of ways to use materials, light and texture to make the kitchen feel warm and inviting. Here are eight tips to help you plan the white kitchen of your dreams.

1. Layer Shades of White

Avoid a sterile look by mixing whites. If you use just one shade, the room can end up looking flat. Instead, choose three or four shades of white and place them on different materials around the kitchen. This will add dimension and interest throughout the space.

While you are bringing in different shades of white, avoid mixing warm whites with cool whites. Warm tones look more yellow, and cool tones look more blue. Most paint retailers will present their warm whites and cool whites separately, which will help you find whites in the same group.

My go-to warm whites are White Flour by Sherwin-Williams, White Dove by Benjamin Moore and Nude by Behr. For cool whites, I recommend White Diamond by Benjamin Moore, Designer White by Pratt & Lambert and Delicate White by PPG Pittsburgh Paints.

Why this white kitchen works:
Three Benjamin Moore whites come together in this Texas kitchen. It has Titanium on the walls, Chantilly Lace on the ceiling, and Simply White on the trim and cabinets. The slightly different shades on each surface give the room dimension and add visual interest where the trio of paints meet, such as above the sink and doorways.

2. Use a Statement-Making Material

A well-designed white kitchen will depend on the finish materials used in the space. Materials like Carrara marble have strong visual appeal and instantly make a statement, even in a white-on-white environment.

As a general rule, limit materials with a lot of movement (such as the flowing patterns in marble) to just one element, usually the backsplash or countertop. Choosing subtler materials for other surfaces allows the statement-maker to shine.

Why this white kitchen works: The natural marble slab instantly draws your attention in this kitchen because the other materials and fixtures are more subdued. This lets the island, and its marble veins, be the star.

3. Bring On Texture

Bringing in materials with various textures — both tactile and visual— adds depth to a predominantly white kitchen. This can be done by mixing shiny with matte and rough with smooth for a dynamic look.

Why this white kitchen works: These textured pendant lights make a strong visual statement against the white cabinets while balancing the wood flooring. A kitchen that could have otherwise looked stark now feels warm and welcoming.

4. Add Accent Colors

Splashes of color in a white kitchen help play up the cabinetry. Choose a small number of contrasting colors — one, two or maybe three. Then repeat them in accessories to pull the theme together. Places to try adding a bit of color include seating, lighting, countertop canisters, rugs, backsplashes and hardware.

Why this white kitchen works: This kitchen injects bright colors into the seating, lighting and a memo board on the wall. Together, these colors give the room a friendly vibe while keeping the kitchen feeling white and bright. And they draw the eye from one part of the room to another, so you can enjoy every corner.

5. Take Advantage of Natural Light

Natural light from a window or skylight is a great benefit for any kitchen, but especially for a white kitchen because it bolsters the bright and airy feel you were going for in the first place.

Why this white kitchen works: The large set of windows above the sink lets ample light filter in throughout the day. The light is amplified by glass fronts on the upper cabinets. This feature takes advantage of all that light, reflecting it around the space and into adjacent rooms.

Tip: Window treatments in adjoining rooms can make a difference too. Consider using shades that can be pulled up completely in the daytime. This will allow even more natural light to filter into your kitchen.

6. Provide Softness

Fabrics bring pattern and softness into a white kitchen. Window treatments are an easy way to do this. You can also bring in fabrics through floor runners or other smaller rugs, or choose bar stools covered in fabric or leather instead of wood.

Why this white kitchen works: Roman shades with a subtle geometric pattern definitely help soften this kitchen. They are tailored and clean, and can be pulled up to maximize natural light entering the kitchen.

7. Top the Island

Let the kitchen island stand apart from the rest of your work surfaces by topping it with a different color or material. This bit of contrast also breaks up the room and provides your eyes with a nice resting place.

Why this white kitchen works: The wooden countertop on the island creates a center point in the room that feels as if it belongs because it echoes the floor material with its top and the cabinetry color with its base.

8. Bring Texture to the Backsplash

A white backsplash can be a great focal point, even if it’s all white. You can create this interest by using a pattern or textured material, such as mosaic stone, a three-dimensional tile, painted brick or a herringbone pattern.

Because the backsplash is one of the first things you see as you walk into a kitchen, and because it is such a small area, don’t be afraid to go bold with your pattern or textured pick.

Why this white kitchen works: Marble tiles in a herringbone pattern give life to the backsplash, which stretches from one wall all the way to the kitchen’s peninsula. These tiles, with their hints of gray and off-white, bring out the pattern without overwhelming.

Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Fortunately many fixes can be done quickly and with a small budget. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition.

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether

2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

10. Add Some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

 

12 Unique Antique Store Finds and What to Do With Them

See the accessories one decorator always buys when she spots them — as long as she gets there first.

Houzz Contributor, Charmean Neithart

I get asked fairly often where I find the accessories in my projects. More often than not my answer is antique stores. “Antiquing” is my favorite type of hunting — and sometimes my favorite contact sport, as well.

Antique stores offer one-of-a-kind objects, reasonable pricing and instant gratification. Beware, though, of competitive shoppers eyeing the object you just inquired about. It’s best to wear flats for your next stop at an antique store; you might have to do some fancy footwork.

It’s helpful to know what you are looking at as you wander through, specifically, whether a piece is truly vintage or contemporary. And there are a handful of objects that I always buy if I find them. These objects are on the “buy now, ask later” list: If I see one of these objects I just buy it and then figure out where it will go later.

For some people, this may go against sensible purchasing behavior. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed up something interesting only to find it gone 10 minutes later. Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time that happened. So here is my “buy it now” list for those of you who like to antique.

Suzanis. A Suzani is a type of textile, usually from Uzbekistan or other Central Asian countries. I prefer the vintage Suzanis and use them in many applications, such as this beautiful piece that has been mounted behind a bed. They can also be draped over sofas, used for upholstery, and made into pillows.

The circular designs are embroidered and display bright colors. The circular shapes symbolize the sun and moon and also you will typically see flowers, vines and sometimes animals in the designs. They often were used as wedding gifts as part of a dowry.

Foo dogs. If I come across a great pair of foo dogs I always leash those puppies up and bring them home. Usually bright colors, sometimes old and sometimes new, foo dogs are eye-catching accessories for many styles of room.

Headless sculptures. This is just my quirkiness coming through, but I really like a headless sculpture. Authentic and classic, this type of sculpture adds a layer of culture and sophistication to a room.

The age of a piece will be reflected in price. Typically, the older a piece the more expensive it is. Also look for sculpture that has been artistically mounted. A tabletop size piece should cost anywhere from $100 to $300; very old pieces can be quite a bit more.

Elephants. I met a beautiful, majestic elephant in Thailand many years ago. I was able to feed him and take beautiful pictures that I cherish. I’m always reminded of these animals’ peaceful, protective mannerisms when I see replicas in antique stores. I was told that, traditionally, finding an elephant with its trunk up is good luck. OK — I can use some of that.

Blanc de Chine. You can find both old and contemporary versions of these white porcelain pieces originating from Dehua, China. Old versions can date back to the 1600s; these are very expensive. Typically I come across tabletop-sized statues that depict Chinese characters and animals. The size shown here usually costs around $400.

Porcupine quill accessories. Quill accessories can be vintage or reproductions. Old pieces such as small boxes and frames will be very expensive. The vintage pieces were typically made by Native Americans who collected the porcupine needles that were shed naturally by the animals. They developed intricate styles of weaving using these needles. Modern reproductions, such as this mirror, are striking with their black and cream palette.

African stools. I often come across these stools, sometimes called King’s stools or Ashanti stools.Their organic shapes and carving details look great next to sofas and chairs in modern and traditional spaces. They can cost anywhere from $200 to $500.

Midcentury pottery. I always snatch up groupings of multicolored pottery pieces when I find good ones. I prefer ’50s and ’60s era pieces, which come in a variety of sizes. Singles can be used as vases or sculpture, and groupings are great on sideboards and mantels.

Vintage commercial signs. Vintage signs large and small can be placed in rooms for an eclectic touch that adds whimsy and nostalgia to a space. Large ones can can be propped up in a corner, and smaller ones can be mounted just about anywhere. Try mixing in smaller signs with a photo collage on a wall or over a bed.

Vintage radios. Vintage radios are easy to find and I always enjoy inspecting their knobs and dials. I look for ’50s-era radios and interesting colors and add them to sideboards, mantels and coffee tables. If they work, that’s a bonus.

Vintage suitcases. Old suitcases are best when used in groupings, but just as fun in singles. I use them as end tables, coffee tables or just as sculpture. I always open these up and check their condition, but signs of wear are good — it adds patina to a room.

Vintage globes. Another easy find in antique stores, vintage globes are great as standalone pieces or tabletop accessories. I love the very old ones that have neutral colors, but the multicolored school style is fun too, especially in homes with children learning about history and geography.