Archives For December 2013

The beginning of a new year is a great time to make improvements or begin new habits––so why not start at home?

HGTV put together a list of 5 goals to make your home more organized, efficient, and safe in 2014:

1. Streamline. Clearing the clutter in your home is an inexpensive way to improve your surroundings. Go through each room in your home and clear anything you don’t use, wear, or love, and donate it to charity. Anything not used on a daily basis should be cleared from surfaces and put away in baskets, bins, or drawers.

2. Make it safe. To ensure their home is safe and free from health hazards and fire risks, every homeowner should consider doing the following things:

  • Check your house for radon. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels which can be very dangerous to your health. You can purchase a test kit for about $20 at your local hardware store.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom in addition to fire detectors.
  • In addition to the lint trap, clean the vents and ducts behind your dryer. Lint is highly combustible and accounts for more than 15,000 building fires a year.
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation in each room––particularly bathrooms and attics––to avoid mold.
  • If your home was built or last remodeled before 1978, consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring.

3. Shrink your carbon footprint––along with your bills! You don’t have to buy a hybrid car or install solar panels to make a difference. Here are some easy ways to cut energy usage in your home:

  • Switch off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.
  • Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads.
  • Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.
  • Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.
  • Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.
  • Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.

4. Come up with a weekly plan to keep your house clean. Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco suggests the following:

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

  • Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths, in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
  • Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
  • Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
  • For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. Divide the jobs up to make the cleaning process go faster and seem more manageable.

5. Get your home ready to entertain. A bit of rearranging and a few updates can make your home much more guest-friendly. Interior designer Stuart McCormick suggests adding plants as a way to make your home feel more “finished”, selecting a new accent color to freshen up your room with a new throw pillow, add a colorful rug or runner to help anchor your space, or rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just toward the television.

This post can be found in its original form at HGTV

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

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Home for sale via Househappy

Need to give your home’s exterior some pizzazz before you show it off to buyers? HGTV’s FrontDoor made a list of 8 budget projects that will enhance your home’s curb appeal.

1. Repaint the Front Door

Adding a new coat of paint to your front door is an easy way to transform your house. Try painting your door a bright color such as red to make it stand out.

2. Manicure the Lawn

Having a green lawn makes a home stand out since it covers a large portion of the front yard. Make sure to rid your lawn of weeds and have it freshly mowed. If you are in a hurry and want your lawn to be green for a showing, you can spray your lawn with a green lawn spray paint that is nontoxic and environmentally safe.

3. Groom the Beds

Showing buyers that you keep your front yard well maintained is an easy way to boost your curb appeal. Start by removing debris and weeding planting beds. Then to give your landscape a fresh appearance put down a new layer of mulch. If you need to plant some flowers consider brightly colored ones in the spring and summer, and autumn hues such as reds, yellows and oranges in the fall.

4. Wash Off Dirt

Use your garden hose on its strongest setting to wash debris off sidewalks, your driveway and the front of your home. Another option would be to rent a power washer, but be careful not to do any damage to the siding or around the windows.

5. Clear the Driveway

Buyers don’t need to see your garbage and recycling containers in front of your house, so store them in the garage or on the side of your house. Then use a sealant to take care of any cracks in your driveway. Lastly, you don’t want anything blocking the view of your home from the street, so park cars in the driveway or down the street.

6. Make the Windows Shine

Cleaning windows inside and out can make your home sparkle in the sun. Grab a ladder and get to business. First wash them with the hose to remove dirt and cobwebs. Then use a sponge with a small amount of vinegar to scrub them clean and rinse with water after.

7. Update Light Fixtures

Removing outdated front door or garage light fixtures will instantly give your home some added curb appeal. If you don’t want to buy new fixtures you can also try spray-painting your old ones a darker color.

8. Trim Trees and Bushes

Cut overgrown bushes and trees to keep your house visible to potential buyers. Also make sure to remove branches that block walkways and windows.

This article can be found in its original form on HGTV FrontDoor.

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In New Canaan, Connecticut stands a beautiful house with windows as walls. The Glass House is the most notable work of American Architect Philip Johnson who designed and built it along with many other structures in 1949. The house is a National Trust Historic Site preserved as an interpretation of modern architecture, landscape and art.

The Glass House is a little less than 1,800 square feet with a cylindrical brick service core housing a bathroom and hearth. The rest of the house is 360 degree views out the glass windows surrounding the exterior. Johnson chose the land and the location of the house because of his superstitions. He believed that by building his house on the shelf of a hill it would bring good spirits, as they will be intrigued by the hill. Johnson continued to build structures on his 49 acres of land as architectural essays. He even built a guest house, which he deliberately designed to be less than comfortable since he rarely had guests over and didn’t want them to stay more than a couple days. In 2005 Johnson passed away in his sleep at the Glass House. The house is open to visitors for tours around the entire property from May through November.

Sources: NY Times & The Philip Johnson Glass House

According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Community Preference Survey 60 percent of people desire living in neighborhoods with a mix of houses, shops and restaurants with parks nearby. The survey done by NAR’s Smart Growth Program aims to shed light on the characteristics that people desire in their neighborhoods and how they rank as most important to least important to them.

The report showed that while many were able to sacrifice the size of their yard to live in a walkable neighborhood and have a shorter commute to work. When it came to owning a detached single family house over an apartment or condominium, most preferred to have a detached single family house even if it required more driving between shops restaurants and a longer commute to work.

Below are some of the most important takeaways from the report:

  • If people could live anywhere, 30 percent would want to be in a suburban neighborhood with a mix of houses, shops and businesses
  • A little over half would prefer to live in a community of houses with small yards and an easy walk to schools, stores and restaurants over houses with large yards where you have to drive to get to schools, stores and restaurants (55 percent over 40 percent).
  • 53 percent said they would want to have parks, playgrounds and recreation areas within walking distance from their house (42 percent).
  • 57 percent of people would prefer a house with a smaller yard and a shorter commute to work, over a house with a larger yard and a longer commute to work (36 percent).
  • Nearly two thirds of people want a neighborhood that has a mix of houses and stores and other businesses that are easy to walk to over one with houses only and you have to drive to stores and other businesses (60 percent over 35 percent).
  • On the other hand 57 percent would rather own or rent a detached, single-family house, and have to drive to shops and restaurants and have a longer commute than own or rent an apartment or townhouse that is an easy walk to restaurants and shops and have a shorter commute to work.

Source: NAR

Photo: CrowdSourceDC

This Los Angeles is perfect for someone looking for the feel of downtown living in a single family home. The two bedroom, two bathroom residence has 2,137 square feet of open space with polished concrete floors and steel trusses to give it an industrial, loft-like feel. The home also features art lighting, skylights, a great room with fireplace, walk-in closets, a master bedroom, and integrated speaker system. Two-story glass doors open to the outdoor-living area with a solar heated pool, spa, and entertaining area.

655 San Juan Avenue is listed with Sparks Landon of Abbot Kinney Real Estate and is on the market for $3,200,000.

This property post can be found in its original form by clicking here, or view complete gallery below. 

Hawthorne District, Portland Oregon, via Kyle Burris

Inner-city neighborhoods are becoming more gentrified. From Echo Park in Los Angeles to Bishop Arts District in Dallas to Prospect Heights in New York, urban pioneers are turning these areas into neighborhood hot spots.

“It’s all part of this cultural shift toward living in urbanity, getting things in an urban area you can’t get in the suburbs,” says Paris Rutherford, a Dallas-based developer who works on urban revitalization projects. “And that’s obviously driving a lot of new investment all over the country.”

The hard part it seems is how exactly these homeowners and real-estate investors find a neighborhood that is becoming more livable and where home values will rise over the long term.

Characteristics have been found that help pinpoint an urban area as being gentrified. Median household incomes are rising along with a significantly faster home appreciation compared to the city average and the government is investing in local infrastructure.

Many times people will move into neighborhoods near ones that have been gentrified hoping that there is a higher probability that this one will too. This sort of “halo effect” has worked for many areas such as Logan Circle in Washington D.C. However, this type of outlook is also risky since sometimes the neighborhoods don’t end up flourishing even if they are in proximity with more prosperous areas.

Checking out the local retailers is a great way to see if the neighborhood has potential. When the stores start selling more higher-priced items, this can mean there is an increase in the household incomes of the neighborhood residents. In addition, it can be a good sign if lots of new retailers are opening stores in once vacant spaces.

Looks matter a lot, too. Older homes tend to have more character and people are attracted to their potential. “You need a neighborhood that has good bones,” says Jonathan Butler, founder of a real estate website in Brooklyn, N.Y. Renovations and construction are other positive signs that homeowners and the government are investing into the growth of the neighborhood.

Lastly, looking at the numbers and economic data will give you the straight hard facts. A neighborhood with close proximity to available jobs is guaranteed to far better than one with not enough jobs for new residents.

Source: WSJ

Did you know it is 5x more expensive to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco than it is in Cleveland?

This map from Priceonomics shows the rent prices in 50 of the most populous cities in the US. The results probably won’t surprise you:

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities to Rent 

  1. San Fransisco – $2,850
  2. New York – $2,700
  3. Washington DC – $1,900
  4. San Jose – $1,832
  5. Boston – $1,730
  6. Chicago – $1,500
  7. Miami – $1,500
  8. Seattle – $1,445
  9. Los Angeles – $1,395
  10. Oakland – $1,375

Want to know where you can get the most bang for your buck? Check out Priceonomics to see the complete results and use the interactive map.