Designing a new space

How to design a new space and what you should consider when creating a vision board.

Green Building

Ecofriendly construction products that can help save money and energy while also making your home healthy for your family.

Selecting A Contractor

Top mistakes that homeowners make when choosing a contractor for their project.

First Time Homebuyers

There's more to think about than square footage when you're debating about moving into a home, especially in this market


A money saving water preserving alternative to traditional landscaping.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DIY Quiz - Should you really do it yourself or hire a professional?

Great resource from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry -NARI.

Should you save money by doing the job yourself? Do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs are a popular trend in the home improvement industry; however, before you grab a hammer and start swinging, you should know that this is a trend with a few potential problems. Before you decide to do-it-yourself, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends taking this DIY quiz:

Take the full quiz over at NARI and see if it's wise for you to tackle your home improvement project yourself or whether it's best to leave it to the professionals. Here's a peek at some of the questions you should ask yourself before deciding to do things like take a sledge hammer to your bathroom...

Yes or No:

  • Do you enjoy physical work?
  • Are you persistent and patient?
  • Do you have reliable work habits—meaning that once the project is started, will it get finished?
  • Do you have all the tools needed and, more importantly, the skills required to do the job?
  • What quality level do you need for this project? Are your skills at that level?
  • Do you have the time that will be required to complete the project? (Always double or triple the time estimated for a DIY project, unless you are highly skilled and familiar with that particular project.)
  • Will it matter if the project remains unfinished for a period of time?
  • Are you prepared to handle the kind of stress this project will create in your family relationships?
  • Do you know all of the steps involved in the project?
  • Have you gotten the installation instructions from the manufacturer to determine whether this is a project you still want to undertake? (Most manufacturers will send you installation instructions before purchase to determine whether the product will meet your needs.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Color Match Phone App from Benjamin Moore

Thanks to Ben Color Capture you can save yourself a headache when choosing the perfect color match for your home design projects. Whether you need to match an existing color on your walls or you want your living room to resemble a fresh picked melon in your fridge you can use this app to match the exact color for you from the 3,000 Benjamin Moore paint colors!

All you do is snap the photo, tap the screen on the color area you want to match, and voila it pulls up a full range of matching colors. You can even give the phone a little shake and it will show you complimentary colors! Oh and it'll show you where the closest BM location is.

You can thank me later... check out all the details here and pick up the app in your app store.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Room Envy: 2010 Home of the year

Well this edition of Room Envy is actually more like Home Envy because I just want the whole thing! Found this gem in Mountain Living and I drool over it every time I see the pictures. This is truly my ideal home and it's here in Vail, Colorado.... It combines a very sleek and modern look with rustic and raw mountain finishes, the result is truly breathtaking.

5280 Lady

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Time Buyers: How to Shop for your First Home

Great article over at AOL Real Estate on tips for buying your first home. There's more to think about than square footage when you're debating about moving into a home, especially in this market. Here's a good gameplan to follow.

It's tempting to just go out and start shopping. After all, that's the ultimate goal and the most fun part. But doing your homework first will pay off in less stress and more savings. If you're house-hunting, whether for tax reasons, more space or just for the chance to have your own washer and dryer, here are tips to get you started.

1. Know how much you can afford
This should be the first step in buying a house so you don't waste your time, or a real estate agent's, by looking at homes that you can't afford a mortgage on. The Fitzsimmonses visited a real estate broker who helped them determine how much of a loan they would qualify for, based on their income and credit. They also factored in property taxes, maintenance, utilities, insurance and possible homeowner-association dues. They totaled those expected costs and set up an experiment: After paying the rent on their apartment, they set aside money equaling the difference between their rent and the projected cost of homeownership. They did this for a few months so they could get used to making the payments. A loan calculator will help figure out how much a home loan will be.
2. How long will you stay in the home?
The longer you live in a home, the better the savings because you're spreading out the upfront costs of buying a house. They include a real estate agent's fee, closing costs, inspection fees and loan fees -- which can add up to 10 percent of the sale price, or approximately 18 months of rent.

3. Get a loan
Getting preapproved for a home loan helps make buying a home faster and easier, especially if there are multiple offers on a home. Your mortgage lender or broker should be able to give you an estimate, down to the penny, of how much money you'll need in closing costs. Then you'll know how much of your savings to set aside for a down payment, which will help determine how much your loan -- and the monthly mortgage -- will be. Putting down 20 percent will eliminate the need for mortgage insurance, although your lender or broker might be able to find loans at good rates that don't require 20 percent down. This is where it really pays to shop around for the best loan rate and terms.
4. Know the market
After determining where your finances stand, the fun part begins in finding out what you can afford and where you want to buy a house . Research neighborhoods that interest you and find out the median price of homes there. You can research homes on websites such as AOL Real Estate, Zillow,, or others you trust. Finding homes similar to the kind you want, and in the same neighborhood, will give you an idea of how fair the price is when you are ready to buy;
5. Shop around
Every house buy requires sacrifices, and you won't get everything you want. There are many factors to consider, such as how much room you need. Does it have to be a single-family home or will a condo work? Is it near transportation, good schools, parks, shopping and your other essentials? Does the home have the amenities you want, such as a fireplace, dining room, backyard, pool or deck?

Find a real estate agent to represent you, or if you're brave and want to do it on your own, go out and shop on your own. Either way, stick to these five steps and you should be fine.

Buying a house, whether your first home or severl down the line, is one of the most stressful and expensive transactions you'll ever undertake. But if you do your homework and prepare for it with the above steps -- figuring out how much you can afford, how long you'll stay, getting a loan, studying the local market, and shopping for a house -- it should be a lot easier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Re-Designing a Space? How to Create a Design Board

One of the most important things you can do when thinking of re-designing a space is to create a Design Board. This will allow you to get all of your ideas in one place and make sure that all of the elements will be cohesive. The process is relatively simple and Ikea has created a nice article to walk you through the process. They also point out the difference between a design board and an inspiration board.

You have two options when creating your board, you can do a tangible board with real finish samples and fabrics or a virtual board which consists solely of pictures of the finish samples. Either way you choose will give you a good starting place to practice your design ideas before jumping in and throwing paint on the walls.

Some good things to include on your board
  • An overall picture of your ideal space, what is the feeling you want to achieve- sleek and clean, warm and cozy, organized and functional, etc.
  • Paint colors and samples. Also consider paint finishes such as faux, whitewashing, stippling, etc.
  • Architectural details like crown moulding or special trim work
  • Fabric swatches in both neutrals and accent colors
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Furniture and furniture placement
  • Accent pieces such as lamps, vases, plants, and other individual details
  • Finish samples such as tile, flooring material, wallpaper, etc.