2017 Home Design Trends

Housing styles emerge slowly and typically appeal first to cutting-edge architects, builders, and interior designers. As a trend spreads and gains wider interest, it may go mainstream, become almost ubiquitous, and eventually lose its star power. Just look at once-favored granite, which now has been replaced by the equally durable and attractive options of quartz and quartzite.

The economy, environment, and demographics always play a big role in trend spotting. But this year there are two additional triggers: a desire for greater healthfulness and a yearning for a sense of community.

1. Community Gathering Spaces

Why it’s happening: The combination of more time spent on social media and at work and the fact that fewer people live near their family members has caused many to feel isolated and crave face-to-face interactions.

How it will impact you as a real estate pro: Multifamily buildings and even single-family residential developments are rushing to offer an array of amenity spaces to serve this need. Some popular options include clubhouses with spiffy kitchens, outdoor decks with pools and movie screens, fitness centers with group classes, and drive-up areas for food-truck socials. At its Main+Stone building in Greenville, S.C., The Beach Co. began hosting free monthly events such as its “Bingo & Brews.” Make sure you know which buildings, communities, and neighborhoods offer these sought-after social events and gathering spaces so you can help clients connect.

2. Taupe Is the New Gray

Why it’s happening: White remains the top paint color choice due to its flexibility and the fact that it comes in so many variations (PPG Paints has 80 in its inventory, according to Dee Schlotter, senior color expert). Though white has been upstaged by gray in recent years, this year many will be searching for a warmer neutral, which is why paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams named “Poised Taupe” as its 2017 Color of the Year. “Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of a weathered, woodsy neutral and a sense of coziness and harmony that people seek,” says Sue Wadden, the company’s director of color marketing.

How it will impact you: Dallas-based designer Barbara Gilbert considers taupe a smart alternative since it still performs as a neutral with other colors, cool or warm. She expects to see taupe on more exteriors — blending well with roofs, doors, window frames, and surrounding landscape — but it also will turn up indoors on walls, ceilings, kitchen cabinets, furnishings, and molding. It might even work to help update a listing clad in gray, she says, as the two colors work well together.

3. More Playful Homes

Why it’s happening: Americans work harder now than ever, with many delaying retirement or starting second careers, so they want their homes to be a refuge and a place to unwind.

How it will impact you: Be sure you’re asking buyers how they like to spend their free time. Spaces that encourage play are trending higher on their wish lists, whether it’s a backyard bocce court (the latest outdoor amenity to show up in residential backyards) or a putting green. And sports don’t have to be relegated to the outdoors. says Gilbert; technological advances have allowed for rapid improvement in indoor golf simulators, for example. While some of her clients have installed modest models, she’s working on a dedicated golf room with software that gives homeowners virtual access to any golf course in the world. Though landscape architect Steve Chepurny of Beechwood Landscape Architecture in Southampton, N.J., designs putting greens with synthetic grass that range from $12,000 to $30,000, he also notes he’s seeing more playfulness outdoors in the form of non-sports amenities, such as pizza ovens.

4. Naturally Renewable, Warmer Surfaces

Why it’s happening: The pervasiveness of technology throughout homes has resulted in a corresponding yearning for more tactile surfaces and materials that convey warmth. Natural cork is a perfect expression of these needs, with the bonus of being low-maintenance.

How it will impact you: In recent years, cork, a renewable material harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, has resurfaced as a favorite for myriad uses, and for good reason. Some credit designer Ilse Crawford’s introduction of cool, edgy cork pieces in her “Sinnerlig” collection for IKEA for the resurgence. Aside from aesthetics, the material is appealing since it’s resistant to mold, mildew, water, termites, fire, cracking, and abrasions. Moreover, cork can be stained and finished with acrylic- or water-based polyurethane. Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange likes to incorporate cork to clad walls and floors. “It’s an especially effective and forgiving choice since dents bounce back and floors retain heat,” she says.

5. Surface-Deep Energy Conservation

Why it’s happening: As energy costs continue to increase, the search is on for ways to save. Incentives to do so only increase as states and municipalities enact new, stricter energy codes. While energy-wise appliances and more efficient HVAC systems are still appealing to homeowners looking to save on their utility bills, less costly surface upgrades are gaining in popularity.

How it will impact you: After New Jersey increased its requirements for insulation, architect Jason Kliwinski, principal at Designs for Life and current chair of New Jersey’s AIA Committee on the Environment, went looking for new options. He found new low-E window film that can double the performance of glass at one-fifth the cost of a full window replacement. Several options for this film are on the market now, and Kliwinski says manufacturers such as EnerLogic are producing versions that are invisible when installed. Other surface-change artists that lower energy use and that are cost-effective and relatively easy to apply include a ceramic insulating paint coating for walls and a thermal energy shield for attic interiors. Tesla, the innovative manufacturer of electric cars, is just debuting solar glass tiles that resemble traditional roof materials such as slate and terracotta, but provide passive heat gain.

6. More Authentic, Personalized Use of Space

Why it’s happening: As home prices escalate — up 5.5 percent, according to CoreLogic Case-Shiller — and baby boomers downsize to retire or cut costs, every inch of available space counts more than ever. To make the best use of space for each resident, design professionals are zeroing in on how clients want to live rather than thinking about how people use space generically. “One size doesn’t fit all any longer,” says Mary Cook, whose eponymous Chicago-based design firm specializes in amenities, public spaces, and model home interiors.

How it will impact you: You and your clients are likely to see a greater variety in terms of layouts, building materials, home systems, color palettes, and furnishing choices, both in model homes and in houses staged for sale. Listing agents can take the cue from this trend by helping sellers highlight the flexibility of their spaces when putting a home on the market. Buyers’ reps should similarly showcase a range of living options in each home-shopping session.

7. The Walkable Suburb

Why it’s happening: Urban centers have long been a magnet for residents wanting to walk rather than drive to work, shopping, and entertainment. But the trend is now spreading to the suburbs where being close to a town center — and public transit into a larger city — offers similar appeal.

How it will impact you: A high walk score has become a recognized real estate marketing tool. Real estate salesperson Stephanie Mallios of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Short Hills, N.J., has seen a huge uptick in interest and value in single-family homes and townhouses close to town centers, especially those near a train station if residents commute to a large metropolitan area. “Most homes for sale in my area list the number of blocks and steps to public transit in their marketing materials. Homes far from everything have become less valuable,” Mallios says. The most appealing towns also incorporate individually owned shops rather than chain stores.

8. Healthier Homes

Why it’s happening: Consumers have been increasingly aware of hazardous indoor environments over the last few years, but news of the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich., raised awareness to a nationwide level in 2016. Homeowners are actively seeking out healthy water supplies, purifiers, and HVAC systems, along with nontoxic paints and adhesives. A newer element to this trend in 2017 will include enhanced environmental testing.

How it will impact you: A growing number of builders, remodelers, architects, and interior designers expect health to influence their business decisions due to consumer demand, according to studies from both the Urban Land Institute and McGraw-Hill Construction. You should expect to see more buyers hiring health experts to examine listings and requiring in-home contaminant removal prior to a sale. Your clients will also have greater access to additional home products that promote healthy sleep patterns, such as those featuring UV and LED circadian lighting.

9. Shifting Hearths

Why it’s happening: The traditional log-burning fireplace has lost some appeal as homeowners realize it’s less energy-efficient and can send more particulates into the air. But there are a number of replacement options waiting in the wings.

How it will impact you: Homeowners have been switching out their log-burning fireplaces with new gas models for many years. Newer on the market are the ventless alcohol-burning fireplaces that can be placed almost anywhere and without costly construction, says Los Angeles–based designer Sarah Barnard. Another increasingly popular solution is to build a fireplace outdoors, according to landscape architect Chepurny.

10. Counter Options

Why it’s happening: Much like granite did, quartz and quartzite are predicted to be kitchen favorites until another material comes along. But other green laminate options are gaining in popularity, and they’re no longer just for the budget-minded consumer.

How it will impact you: A new countertop can make a big difference in the appeal of a room. Sally Chavez, senior product designer at Wilsonart in Temple, Texas, which manufactures engineered surfaces, says laminate options that mimic stone, wood, distressed metal, and concrete are gaining in popularity. But she recommends avoiding designs that include the “spots and dots” or speckled patterns from decades past. Some newer countertop options offer an additional perk: They lessen the time and cost of installation and also eliminate the need to discard the old countertop. Trend Transformations, an Italian manufacturer with a U.S. manufacturing facility, incorporates recycled granite, glass, and even seashells in its surfaces, which are installed over an existing countertop. Installation can be finished within a day, and prices are competitive with quartz and quartzite. Because these countertops are less porous than traditional stone, they’re also more resistant to stains and scratches.

11. The Transforming Office

Why it’s happening: Regular work-from-home time among the non–self-employed population has grown by 103 percent since 2005, according to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego–based research and consulting group focused on workplace change. Her organization estimates that number will continue to grow at between 10 percent and 20 percent a year.

How it will impact you: More of your clients are likely to need a work-from-home space, but due to the diminished size and highly transient nature of technology tools, there’s less need for a dedicated, separate office. Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s chief economist, says almost any area of a house can become a workplace, but the most functional ones incorporate built-ins and furnishings that serve a dual purpose. That same desire for flexibility may someday translate to layouts that can easily change to a homeowner’s whim, such as the KB Home ProjeKt movable wall concept in its “Home of 2050” at the Greenbuild Conference and Expo this past October

 

Credit to Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate

homes for rent, homes for sale,
homes for rent, homes for sale, newstarrealty.com

5 Landlord Tips for the Holiday Season

In many parts of the U.S., winter has arrived. Are you and your tenants prepared?

As cold weather sets in, it’s time to winterize your rental properties. This article discusses five ways to keep things running smoothly, avoid expensive surprises, and keep your renters happy.

Roofs, windows, and electrical and plumbing systems are all vulnerable to the ravages of freezing temperatures. When it comes to winterizing, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of expensive sub-zero repairs.

In addition, the holiday season presents an opportunity for landlords to thank their renters with small gifts. Let’s get started.

1. Keep Your Tenants Safe

The holiday season means Christmas trees, and they can be an accident waiting to happen. A safety reminder to your renters—in the form of a holiday notice—could help avoid an expensive and dangerous catastrophe. The National Fire Protection Association says that one-quarter of the 210 Christmas tree fires that occur each year are caused by the presence of a flame or other heat source, and 35% are caused by electrical equipment.

Install GFCI Outlets or Breakers

Even if you’re not required to have a GFCI outlet in the living room, it’s prudent to install at least one and encourage tenants to plug the Christmas tree lights into that outlet.

The outlet trips when a short occurs, which greatly reduces the chances of a fire from electrical arcing. As an alternative, replace the living room breaker with a GFCI breaker. That way, all the outlets on the circuit are protected.

If your renters plan to hang outdoor lights, make sure they have an outdoor GFCI outlet. Also, it doesn’t hurt to advise your renters in the holiday notice to use new—or at least undamaged—cords and light strings. If you opt for a GFCI breaker for the living room circuit, you might as well install one for the outdoor circuit(s) as well.

Don’t Forget the Smoke Alarms

The NFPA recommends that you replace smoke alarms every 10 years, and the fire marshals in many states, including California, require it. Check the installation dates on the smoke alarms in all your rentals, and replace the ones that have expired.

2. Keep the Gutters Clean

Debris on the roof slides into the gutters and eventually clogs them. As snow melts during the day, it can back up onto the roof and form pools that refreeze at night to form ice dams. Nothing is worse for the roof, which can leak or sag as a result. Prevent this kind of damage by blowing off the roof and cleaning out the gutters before the cold weather sets in and the snow starts.

While your maintenance crew is on the roof, they should also look for and remove overhanging branches. Limbs routinely break during ice storms, and if they don’t cause damage immediately, they can contribute to ice dam formation.

3. Prepare for Frozen Pipes

Exposed water pipes can easily freeze in the winter, and when the weather warms up, you may need an expensive emergency plumbing call to stop the resulting leak. The pipes inside the walls are usually safe, but any pipes that run through crawl spaces and attics are vulnerable.

Insulate outdoor pipes before the cold weather comes.

It’s common to overlook pipes that may be part of a sprinkler system or network of outdoor faucets. The best way to prevent an outdoor burst is to shut off the water to the outdoor system and drain all the faucets. Even if you do that, some water may remain in risers and exposed horizontal runs. Insulate those runs as well.

Clean the Vent Stack

While your maintenance crew is cleaning the roof, have them clean out the sewer vent stack. It may be a nasty job, but if debris is partially blocking this vital component of the plumbing system, ice can destroy it. Then the toilets and sinks won’t drain properly.

4. Ensure the Heat is Working

When temperatures drop, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that everyone stays warm. In some places, such as Massachusetts or the City of San Francisco, the furnace must be able to maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if there is no specific temperature requirement, though, the heater—whether it’s a furnace or wood stove—must be maintained in good working order.

A Short Checklist

You should inspect and maintain the furnace and fireplace yearly. Here are three important things to do:

  • Check the thermostat—Start by replacing the batteries, then turn on the heat and wait for the blower to come on. Make sure the air coming from the blowers is hot.
  • Replace filters—Air return filters aren’t expensive, and you should change them on a yearly basis. This not only guarantees efficient heating, it prolongs the life of the furnace.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney—If your rental unit has a fireplace or wood stove, you need to regularly remove creosote from the chimney and chimney cap to ensure proper updraft. Besides improving performance, cleaning also reduces the possibility of spark emission from the chimney.

5. Spread Some Holiday Cheer

Lawyers and shopkeepers understand the value of keeping their clients and customers happy with gifts during the holiday season, and so should you. Foster good relations with your renters (at least the ones you want to keep) with a small gift. The good feelings can last throughout the year. For example, if you’re firmly in the black and feeling generous, consider a modest end-of-year rent reduction. It’s a gift that any renter appreciates.

In summary, it’s easy to keep your renters safe, dry, and warm inside and out, and the rewards are well worth the small output of effort.

Credit to Chris Deziel

Chris has owned and managed 4 rental properties in Santa Cruz, CA, and Salida, CO. He is a DIY handyman expert for popular sites like Pro Referral.

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homes for rent, homes for sale, newstarrealty.com

5 Easy Holiday Decoration Tips for Renters

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You don’t have to limit your holiday decorations to a plastic tree or fake candles just because you live in a rental unit.

Here are five ways to decorate for the holidays without violating the terms of your lease.

1. Suction Solutions

Putting lights around the perimeter of a window allows you to share a little illumination with the outside world.

Instead of putting screw hooks in the frame around the window, use suction-based hooks or clips designed to stick to glass or any flat, smooth, and clean surface. Suction hooks have a standard, clear suction cup on one side and a small hook on the other; simply press one every 8 to 10 inches around the perimeter of a window to hold a strand of mini lights in place.

Suction clips work just like suction hooks. The difference is a swiveling clip mounted on the non-suction side. These clips are ideal for adding light strands to a window.

You can use both the suction hooks and clips to hold other lightweight decorations against the window, such as small flat wreaths, snowflake ornaments, and other nearly flat decorations. Some companies even offer suction hooks designed specifically for wreaths.

2. Temporary Adhesive Hooks

Temporary adhesive hooks are good ways to hold items onto surfaces. Look for brands such as Command Decorating Clips. They’re designed to work on almost any smooth, clean surface and they can be peeled away without leaving a mark when it’s time to pack away the holiday decorations. These hooks work equally well for strands of lights, wreaths, stockings, and almost any decoration that can be hung.

Read the package to ensure the clips you buy are strong enough to hold the items you intend to display. While temporary adhesive hooks are designed to peel away without damaging walls, check with your landlord, or read the terms of your lease to ensure they’re allowed.

3. Frames for Festive Lights

At least one manufacturer has recognized the need for hanging lights around a window without tape, tacks, or hooks. The “Window Wonder Frame Kit” is a customizable plastic frame system that you can press in place between the windowsill and top window jamb. Add-on pieces are sold to fit windows of larger sizes so you can customize the fit for just about any window.

Clips on the plastic frame hold incandescent mini-lights in place, but they’re not designed to hold LED lights. Once installed, the lights are visible from inside or outside, and they’ll be perfectly aligned around the perimeter of the window.

4. Brick Clips

If your apartment has a brick wall or fireplace, you can use brick clips, which snap in place vertically over bricks. They can even hold weighty decorations such as wreaths. The metal clips work on any brick that juts out a bit from the masonry, and they grab the top and bottom portions of the brick without harming the facade in any way. Two small hooks in each clip offer flexibility when hanging items such as stockings or wreaths.

The clips come in different sizes based on the most common brick heights, so be sure to measure a brick before purchasing the clips. Many of the clips are designed for indoor or outdoor use, so you can decorate your patio or balcony, too.

5. Window Clings

Window clings offer an excellent way to decorate windows and mirrors without leaving any marks or residue. Static electricity holds the clings in place. When you no longer need them, you simply peel them off the window and place them back on the original backing paper.

For even more fun—especially for kids—make your own clings out of puffy paint.

  1. Draw or print out a simple design such as a snowflake, ornament, or Santa.
  2. Place it beneath a sheet of plastic wrap or a clear plastic storage bag.
  3. Trace the design with any color of puffy paint (or even several colors).
  4. Let the paint dry overnight.
  5. Peel it off the plastic.
  6. Stick it on the window.

Any of the above decorating ideas can be applied to other holidays—and they help keep homes in their best shape.

 

Credit to Kathy Adams

Kathy is an award-winning investigative journalist, not to mention a writer, brand blogger, decor/DIY expert, renter, commercial landlord. She also writes for brands such as Behr, Kroger, Canon and Black+Decker on topics pertaining to home and apartment decorating and maintenance.

homes for rent, homes for sale,
homes for rent, homes for sale, newstarrealty.com

7 Smart Storage Solutions for Small Apartments

Businessman at the entrance of a labyrinth

Whether you’ve downsized or underestimated the available space in your apartment, dealing with a lack of storage can cause a clutter-fueled conundrum.

The solution: rethink your dwelling and create smart storage solutions. From dual-purpose furniture to the clever use of tension rods, you can create plenty of room to store your stuff, even in an “itty bitty living space.”

1. Make Use of Doors

The closets and cabinets are full. Now what? There’s an often-overlooked storage area lurking behind some of the interior doors—the back of the doors themselves.

An over-the-door hanging basket system allows you to hang more stuff inside the closet, as long as the door is the standard, hinged-entry style. You won’t need nails, and you can still open and close the door normally.

Plastic over-the-door shoe organizers can be used for more than just shoes:

  • On the bedroom (or bedroom closet) door, fill them with socks or belts.
  • In an entryway closet, stash cold-weather hats and gloves.
  • In the bathroom closet, fill them with spare washcloths, poufs, or small toiletry items.
  • They’re also useful for housing craft supplies, pet supplies, and small toys.

Door-mounted wire baskets are perfect for storing foil, wax paper, and extra sponges in kitchen cabinets.

Be sure to ask your landlord before installing a basket that requires screws in the door.

2. Install Tension Rods

Narrow tension rods are typically used to hang cafe curtains, but they work wonders inside kitchen cabinets. Install several tension rods vertically between the top of one cabinet or cupboard shelf and the bottom of the next to create dividers. Stash pot lids, pizza pans, and baking sheets between the tension rods to keep them in one place and make them easy to find. No more digging through a stack of stuff to find the right cookie sheet.

3. Add Storage Units

A trim shelf unit or freestanding cabinet works wonders in tiny spaces, especially the bathroom. Freestanding furnishings that are less than a foot deep (front to back) don’t stick out far from the wall. They’re ideal for that dead space next to the sink or near towel bars in the bathroom. Stash towels and washcloths, the hairdryer, cleaning supplies, or random toiletries in add-on cabinets. These units are a godsend when the bathroom lacks a closet.

4. Consider Double-Duty Furniture

Living in a small apartment is a lot like living in a tiny house or traveling in an RV. Every furniture purchase should be thought out to make sure it’s the best choice for the space. The best furnishings for small places have more than one function. Instead of a regular coffee table, use a flat-topped storage trunk. Instead of a solid ottoman, pick one with storage space inside.

The same holds true in the bedroom. If you’re purchasing a new bed frame, opt for a captain’s bed or a platform bed with built-in drawers. If a bed frame with built-in storage is too unwieldy (think about the next time you move), purchase under-bed storage bins, or make your own unique version by adding wheels to the bottoms of old dresser drawers.

Bonus under-bed storage tip: Store your suitcases under the bed and fill the suitcases with off-season clothing or spare blankets.

5. Make Magnetic Spice Racks

No room to store spices in the kitchen? Opt for a magnetic spice holder.

You could also make your own from metal flashing and small spice jars with magnets mounted to the bottom of each container. Just glue strong magnets to the back of the flashing, and stick the spice holder on the side of a magnetic refrigerator.

The exposed side of a wall-mounted kitchen cabinet works great as well:

  • Add Command Strips or another removable, temporary adhesive product, to the back of your spice holder instead of magnets. Command Strips are designed for easy removal when it’s time to take them down. Even so, check with your landlord first to make such it’s okay to use them in your apartment.
  • Then stick the assemblage on the side of the cabinet.

Spice storage problem solved.

6. Use Suitcases as Storage

Vintage hard-sided suitcases add style to a space with an added bonus: tons of extra storage. Stack three or four suitcases to make an end table, side table, or nightstand, and stash items you don’t need to use often inside the suitcases. To make the stack sturdier, attach short bolts through the lid of one case through the bottom of the next.

7. Add Bookcases

Use short bookcases around the apartment—in the bedroom, dining room, or living area—to store items besides books. Here are two ideas:

  • Display some of your favorite home decor accessories on the shelves.
  • Add storage baskets to create tons of extra storage space for clothing, toys, blankets, or anything else that doesn’t have a dedicated space of its own. Note: Storage baskets are available in a vast array of styles and colors, so you’re bound to find something that enhances the look of your apartment while adding smart and portable storage solutions to your tiny living space.

Every minor, clever tweak you make to enhance your apartment’s storage will have a major impact—less clutter and more peace of mind.

 

Credit to Kathy Adams

Kathy is an award-winning investigative journalist, not to mention a writer, brand blogger, decor/DIY expert, renter, commercial landlord. She also writes for brands such as Behr, Kroger, Canon and Black+Decker on topics pertaining to home and apartment decorating and maintenance.

homes for rent, homes for sale,
homes for rent, homes for sale, newstarrealty.com