Wonderful Hallway Runner Ideas for Your Home

The hallway is the first part of your home’s interior. If it is designed inviting and cozy, it will leave a good impression on you and your visitors. To make a hallway cozy one very easy way is to roll out a stylish runner rug. Some really beautiful rugs are available at catwalk rugs too. Let’s say, if you want to add pattern to your hallway, roll out a striped runner. If you want to add texture, go for a woven rug. These and more designs are below for your inspiration:

1. Spice Up The Hallway  with a Traditional Runner

Image via: houzz , style blueprint

Old is gold and any runner with a traditional pattern will definitely increase the beauty of your hallway by many folds.

2. Create A Customized Runner with Carpet Tiles

Image via: flor , boston magazine

If you can’t seem to find the right size of the runner for your hallway then you can make one by yourself using carpet tiles. In this manner you can create the perfect combination of design and size without compromising on style.

3. A Floral Masterpiece

Image via: ideas designing

Flowers bring freshness and a feminine feel to any place they are added. And the same goes for a hallway.

4. Coordinating Stair and Hallway Runners

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If your hallway has stairs too, then you can match the stair and hallway runners to create a harmony in style.

5. A Timeless Moroccan Stencil Runner

Image via: the everygirl

Some patterns are designer approved and one such pattern is a Moroccan stencil. No matter how many trends will come and go, Moroccan stencil can never go wrong.

6. A Woven Runner Rug with a Wonderful Texture

If you want to introduce texture to your hallway, then a woven runner is the decor element you should go for.

7. Dandy Striped Runners in Different Colors

If you are a fan of stripes, then depending upon your design taste go for a monochrome or a colorful striped runner.

8. A Classy Chevron Runner

Image via: memorable decor

Just like Moroccan stencil discussed above, chevron pattern is also timeless. It is a stylish pattern and goes well with almost any kind of interior.

9. An Animal Print Runner

Image via: houzz

Do you like animal prints? If yes, then decorate your hallway with an animal print runner. If you don’t want the print to be too loud, then you can go for a runner with an animal print in muted tones like this one.

10. Cheerful Color Pops

Image via: houzz , lonny

Want something lively and cheerful in your home? Then adorn your hallway with a jazzy runner.

Beautiful Bedroom Design Ideas For The Whole Family

“When you invest in your bedroom you invest in yourself”

 

Designer Gillian Gillies shares three bedrooms she designed for a family with two kids. Get her tips on how to create a space personalized to each family member, plus smart bedroom storage solutions that go beyond the closet.

In the parent’s master bedroom, Gillian wanted to create a spa-like retreat, so she used a palette of light green and blue for a soft and serene atmosphere. A built-in wall separates the dressing room, while a custom king-sized storage bed keeps clutter at bay. For the kids rooms, Gillian took a more layered approach with pattern, color and texture. The daughter loves art and is very creative, so Gillian kept the color scheme neutral so she can add in her own prints and accessories. The son’s room didn’t have a closet before the renovation, so adding storage, like a bed with drawers and a built-in desk, was the main focus of the renovation.

See the sources for the items in this video here: https://houseandhome.com/video/family…

 

Remodeling 101: Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switches

by Barbara Peck

There are many instances in which you may want to turn down the lights: for a dinner party, a relaxing bath, movie night, and on other occasions we don’t need to get into here. For when you don’t want to get out of bed—or when you’re on your way to the airport, only to realize you forgot to leave a lamp on—there are now smart dimmer switches that use wireless technology to adjust light levels. Here’s what you need to know.

Belkin Wemo Wireless Light Control Switch Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch In-Situ
Above: The Belkin Wemo Wireless Light Control Switch in situ.

What are the smart ways to dim the lights?

In the past we covered the new smart light bulbs that you can control with your smartphone or tablet (see Remodeling 101: Smart Light Bulbs). If you have smart bulbs in your lamps and light fixtures, you can dim them using their app. But maybe you’re not ready to invest in smart bulbs—those things can be pricey. Or perhaps you have a beautiful ceiling fixture that only takes candelabra bulbs. Your best option is to replace your old wall switch with a smart dimmer switch.

What’s a smart dimmer switch?

Most smart dimmer switches are installed inside the wall, behind your existing switchplate. Once installed, they let you dim (or brighten) a number of lights using a mobile device—or even with voice commands, using a smart-home virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa. You generally need to have installed a smart home hub (such as Wink, Apple’s HomeKit, or Samsung’s SmartThings) to operate these dimmer switches remotely. If you already have a smart-home system, that will likely dictate the type of switch you choose.

Belkin Wemo Wireless Light Control Switch from Home Depot Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch
Above: The Belkin WeMo Wireless Light Control Switch;$49.99.

Why would I want a smart dimmer switch?

For starters, a smart dimmer switch lets you can dim your lights without getting up off the couch. But it does much more than that. It lets you control a number of lights simultaneously using a mobile device. You can even arrange for a group of lights to dim automatically at a certain time every evening, or to drop to a set level at the touch of a button. (Some switches have a customizable button, so that one tap or two taps will adjust the lighting to set preferences.) Plus, any smart dimmer switch will also let you turn your lights on and off, wherever you happen to be. That’s handy if, say, you’re out of town and want to create the illusion that there’s someone home. And tech-challenged household members can still operate these switches manually, the old-fashioned way.

What do I need to install a smart dimmer switch?

Home Wi-Fi, of course, is essential. In most cases, you’ll also need a smart-home system or hub to allow your mobile device to communicate with the switch. And if you’re doing the installation yourself, you’ll need pliers and a screwdriver.

What kinds of smart dimmer switches are recommended?

Most smart dimmers look like a traditional paddle-style wall switch; you may even be able to use the same wall plate (in fact, many come without the wall plate).

New products are coming on the market all the time, so before you make a decision, bone up on the subject online. The Wirecutter currently suggests smart dimmers that use wireless Z-Wave technology, which integrates with a large range of smart-home hubs. Note that Z-Wave dimmers do need a smart-home hub for you to communicate with them. Below are a few models currently on the market.

Homeseer HS Z-Wave Scene Capable Wall Dimmer Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch
Above: Wirecutter’s top choice, the HomeSeer HS-WD100+ ($55 at Amazon), works best with HomeSeer’s HomeTroller system, but it’s also compatible with other Z-wave controllers.
Insteon Remote Control Dimmer Switch White Smarthome Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch
Above: The Insteon Remote Control Dimmer Switch ($49.99; also available via Amazon) requires the Insteon Hub; it integrates with Apple HomeKit technology and also with Amazon Alexa. The accompanying Screwless Wall Plate ($2.99) comes in six neutral shades.
Luttron Caseta Wireless In-Wall Smart Dimmer Kit
Above: To use the Lutron Caséta Wireless In-Wall Smart Dimmer Kit (from $59.25 via Amazon), you’ll need to add either the Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge, which lets you integrate the switch with Apple’s HomeKit (so you can ask Siri to dim the lights), or the Wink hub; either way you can connect your switch to Alexa. For more information, visit Caséta Wireless.
Leviton Decora Smart Wifi Dimmer from Amazon Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch
Above: No hub is required for the Leviton Decora Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer ($49.99 via Amazon); simply install the switch in the wall and use the My Leviton app (for iOS and Android) to connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi. This switch also operates via voice control with Alexa; see Leviton for more.

Can I install my own smart wall dimmer?

You might be able install a smart dimmer yourself if you have some experience swapping out light switches. You’ll need to turn off the power to that circuit at your fuse box, open up the existing switch, and do some rewiring to attach the wires to the new switch. If anything about that makes you nervous, bring in a licensed electrician to do the job.

Switchmate Light Switch Toggle White Home Depot Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switch
Above: Looking for an option without rewiring? The Switchmate Light Switch Toggle ($29.97) attaches magnetically to existing switches (avoiding the need for an electrician) and can be controlled via an app, but it can only turn lights fully on or fully off. For more automatic on/off switches, see our earlier post Lights Out: Sensor Light Switches.

5 Expert Tips to Attract Cream-of-the-Crop Tenants

by Kevin Perk

Tenants. That one word can send chills down a landlord’s spine. To a landlord, tenants are both their bread and butter and their biggest problem. We have all heard the horror stories of bad tenants who trash properties, steal our money, and otherwise want to make us sell everything we own. Top that off with the ever increasing number of tenant-friendly laws being enacted by jurisdictions around the country, and you might wonder why anyone would want to be a landlord.

One has to remember, however, that not all tenants are bad. There are some great ones out there, and the key is attracting these good tenants to you and your properties. Attracting these tenants is not always as simple as placing a “For Rent” sign in the front yard. It takes a bit of thought and effort. But if you can attract the best tenants you will significantly reduce the amount of problems and the levels of stress you face.

So how do you attract great tenants? Here are some ideas.

BRRRR-strategy-deal

5 Expert Tips to Attract Cream-of-the-Crop Tenants

1. Know your rental market.

All markets in real estate are extremely local. Various neighborhoods and communities will attract differing segments of the tenant base and will offer differing amenities. In some neighborhoods the proximity of a good school may be a major attraction. In others it may be proximity to work or to entertainment facilities. You as the landlord need to understand what attracts good tenants to your location and market towards that. If the school is great, say so. If the proximity to entertainment is great, say so.

Your market will also determine the type of amenities offered, as not all locations will offer the same ones. For example, some locations can attract good tenants without supplying appliances, while others cannot. You may not like supplying appliances, but if it is done in your local market and you do not, the best tenants are going to go elsewhere.

2. Know how your tenants search for rentals.

Understanding how the best tenants, along with the bad ones, will find you is another key. You need to focus your advertising towards the most productive methods to find the best tenants. Gone are the days of just being able to put a sign in the yard and hoping for the best. Today a landlord has many ways to advertise their properties.

Yes, you can still use signs in the yard, but these will only attract those who happen to be driving by your property or specifically looking in your neighborhood. While signs may be good if you are trying to attract tenants because you are next to a good school, they will not work if your goal is to attract professionals moving in from out of town. Know and understand who you are trying to communicate with and how they prefer to communicate.

3. Act professional.

Always remember that you are running a business, and professionalism goes a long way. Remember that prospective tenants are looking for a place to call home, and they are going to have their guard up when they see your ads or contact you. Thus, you need to be professional at all of the points of tenant contact, including everything from having professional looking signs and a website, to a professional looking personal appearance and manner. Nothing is going to spook the good tenants more than a bad vibe they get from an unprofessional looking or unorganized and confused sounding landlord. Think about it from their point of view. They are sizing you up just as much as you are them.

4. Have standards/rental criteria.

Nearly every prospective tenant is going to have concerns about who is living next door. It is only natural to be worried who will be on the other side of that wall. Unfortunately for them, you really should not tell them much about who lives there. It can get you into trouble, and it is not very professional to share info about tenants. You can, however, explain your rental criteria and state that everyone you rent to has to meet those criteria. So, for example, you can state that all tenants have to pass a criminal background check and make enough money to afford the property. Tell them the same standards that you are going to apply to them applied to everyone. That will often calm most nerves.

marketing-presentation

 

5. Keep your property tidy and maintained.

I hate to have to say this, but it needs to be said. If you let your properties become run down, you will end up in a downward spiral of lower and lower quality tenants who will cause you more and more problems. This does not mean that you have to provide granite countertops or plant rose gardens, but your properties should look well kept. That means cut grass, a trash-free yard, a lack of peeling paint, and a general tidy and cared about appearance. Yes, this all costs money, but it is going to be less money than the amount you have to spend due to a bad tenant.

Tenants can make or break a landlord. Attract the good ones by following the tips outlined above. Let the bad ones move on to your less informed competition.

20 Beautiful Kitchens With Floating Shelves

by Camille Moore

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image via homedesignlover.com

If there’s one room in your house that needs plenty of storage space, it’s the kitchen. Beautiful kitchens are a source of pride, and one way to keep your kitchen looking good is to keep it clutter free. But we all know that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Between dishes, ingredients, and utensils, there are plenty of kitchen items that need a place to go. For people whose homes don’t have pantries, finding a convenient place to store things can get a little difficult. No one wants to clutter their counters with pots, pans, or dishes, but people also want to make sure that all of these items are easily accessible. This is where shelving comes comes in.

Shelves allow you to store your items in a way that reduces clutter but also makes them easy to get to. That all sounds well and good, but you’re probably thinking about how boring and ugly shelves can be. However, floating shelves offer storage and style. These shelves, which appear to be suspended in air, are a great solution for kitchens. If you want to see how amazing these shelves can look, especially in already beautiful kitchens, these examples will give you a taste. Here are 20 beautiful kitchens with floating shelves.

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image via rilane.com

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image via homedesignlover.com

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image via houseupdated.com

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image via decorpad.com

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image via shelterness.com

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image via houzz.com

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image via biggerthanthethreeofus.com

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image via decoist.com

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image via beeyoutifullife.com

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image via freshome.com

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image via http://www.smnrc.org

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image via http://www.alineadesigns.com

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image via http://www.foodking.us

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image via decorpad.com

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image via http://countertop.iconloungesf.com/

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image via lonny.com

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image via http://hzmeshow.com

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image via decoist.com

 

 

 

 

What Is Transitional Style? The Type of Decor Everyone Can Agree On

By Margaret Heidenry

 

With so many decor styles out there, it can be hard to stick with just one. Modern, rustic, shabby chic, traditional—deciding on the vibe you want for your home can be downright confusing. But here’s the great thing about interior design: Many of these styles overlap, and can actually work really well together. The design world uses the term “transitional style” to describe the type of design that melds two different aesthetics—modern and traditional—into the same room. So how can you bring transitional style into your home? Our experts break it down for you.

Defining transitional style
The key to achieving this style is balance. Transitional style welcomes disparate styles—the traditional and the modern, the feminine and the masculine—in the same space. It’s a classic, clean look that’s reinvigorated by mixing in contemporary furniture, rugs, and accessories, according to Ellie Thompson, CEO of Venyou, an online platform that lists private homes and estates for events. An angular, modern dining table surrounded by traditional upholstered chairs is a typical example of transitional design. A rule of thumb: You want the decor to be inviting and accessible, not veering too far into one trend or another.

 

 

Photo by Ashley Campbell Interior Design: A modern marble table is paired with more relaxed, upholstered dining chairs.

As with any design style, there are unofficial rules to get the look. You can best achieve the mix-and-match transitional style in your home by choosing pieces that follow these guidelines.

Element No. 1: Beige is your friend

Neutral tones are the hallmark of transitional style, according to Thompson. Go for an unsaturated palette of white, cream, beige, tan, gray, or light brown. A simple neutral backdrop for the walls, flooring, cabinets, and large furniture will make the room feel timeless.

Element No. 2: Mix textures

Transitional style embraces different materials that have the same color but that give texture to the space. “Whether it be stone, wood, or leather, transitional style isn’t married to one type of material,” says Thompson. “Using a couple different textures will help you achieve an elegant but modern look.” She suggests incorporating such textures as chrome, gold, wood, glass, fabric, and faux fur into every room of your home.

Element No. 3: Use antiques strategically

Balance out an otherwise contemporary room with an antique statement piece. This will give the room depth and show off your curating skills. “Nothing makes a room feel more modern,” says interior designer Mark Cutler of Los Angeles. “The more sleek the space, the more rustic and worn the antique should be,” he says.

Element No. 4: Use bold accents sparingly

“Don’t overdo it!” says Thompson. Keep it simple by picking a couple loud pieces that accent the room but don’t clutter it. Patterns are used sparingly and tend toward geometrics. “And window treatments will be simple, with sleek lines instead of fussy or complex designs,” says Griffin.

Photo by Martha O’Hara Interiors: Yellow accessories in a transitional living room add interest but don’t overpower.

Element No. 5: A contemporary rug is a must

Transitional furnishings will almost always be partnered with a contemporary rug—think solid, geometric or animal prints—rather than a traditional rug that’s floral, paisley, or oriental, says Griffin. “This is a simple way to touch on transitional style that doesn’t require a complete redesign of your home.”

Element No. 6: Choose modern art that makes a statement

“Keep it big and bold for a greater impact, instead of hanging lots of smaller pieces,” says Griffin. Art should have a contemporary look, in terms of style and colors—abstract works, graphic prints, and photography are best.

Element No. 7: Rely on classic lines

Stick to furniture, tables, and beds that have a sophisticated shape with simple, sophisticated lines, as opposed to pieces that are rounded and ornate. Transitional furniture will be comfortable but boast straighter lines.

“Square off everything,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, lead designer at Express Homebuyers. That means that in choosing a traditional element, you avoid curves and ornate detail, and make sure it has straighter lines, to minimize detail. “For example, doorknobs could be straight levers as opposed to round knobs, and sinks may have a rectangular shape.”

The transitional aesthetic requires the seamless marrying of several traditional pieces with true contemporary pieces. Essentially, this means that your home should be a sophisticated yet livable home, full of beloved items and sensible furniture that can last a lifetime.

Take A Peek Inside 19 Living Rooms In Actors’ Homes

By Melissa Minton

When actors are not on location for an upcoming movie or television show, they retire to their high-design homes around the world. In their living rooms, celebrities (and their designers) incorporate cozy fireplaces, comfortable seating, bold art, and warm lighting to create spaces that are perfect for any occasion, whether they are entertaining A-list friends, learning their lines, or relaxing with family. Take a glimpse at the personality-packed living room decor of George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Degeneres, and many other stars and see where they kick-back after a night on the red carpet.

DERRY MOORE

The main room in Angela Lansbury’s Irish retreat was designed by Stephen Pearce to offer varied spaces for relaxing, such as a fireside reading area and a bright breakfast nook.

SCOTT FRANCES

The living room in Jennifer Aniston’s Los Angeles home by Stephen Shadley is an intimate space that opens to views of the koi pond.

ROGER DAVIES

Custom-made sofas upholstered in a Great Plains fabric stand before the living room fireplace in Patrick and Jillian Dempsey’s Malibu, California, home, devised by Estee Stanley Interior Design; the painting at left is by Thomas Helbig, the large round table is by Dos Gallos Furniture, and the Alma Allen low stool (used as an end table) is from Heath Ceramics.

WILLIAM WALDRON

The New York apartment of actor Will Ferrell and his wife, auctioneer Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, was renovated by architect Richard Perry and decorated by Shawn Henderson. The living room’s boulderlike seating is by Smarin, and the Hans J. Wegner wing chair and ottoman are covered in a Zimmer + Rohde fabric. The artworks include, from left, a Roy Lichtenstein print, a Mario Dal Fabbro sculpture from Maison Gerard, and two Sol LeWitt woodcuts; the television is by Samsung.

WILLIAM WALDRON

In another living room in Ferrell’s home, Robert Indiana serigraphs are displayed above a Vladimir Kagan sectional sofa clad in a Pollack fabric. Vases designed by Patricia Urquiola for Baccarat glitter on the Milo Baughman cocktail table; the red armchairs and ottoman are midcentury, and the bronze sphere is by Hervé Van der Straeten for Maison Gerard.

SCOTT FRANCES

A Maynard Dixon artwork hangs above the living room fireplace in Diane Keaton’s Beverly Hills home, which was decorated by Stephen Shadley; a William Ritschel painting is on the far wall.

MARY E. NICHOLS

An English dog painting is set over the living room fireplace in Rob Lowe’s Santa Barbara home, designed by David Phoenix, while a photograph by Lyndie Benson is above the Dutch secretary.

MARY E. NICHOLS

Schuyler Samperton decorated the interiors of this beachy Los Angeles home for actor Rob Morrow and his wife, Debbon Ayer.

BJÖRN WALLANDER

In George Clooney’s Mexican home by Legoretta + Legoretta, the living room features a slipcovered sofa and armchairs and a pair of stools by Casamidy grouped around a cocktail table by SL Westwood Design.

SIMON UPTON

In the living room at Jane Fonda’s New Mexico ranch, the carved-wood chandelier has arms that echo the antlers of the mounted elk, the actress’s quarry from a Montana hunting trip; two Marion Kavanagh Wachtel paintings flank a set of French doors, and the lamps are circa-1900 Handel.

MARY E. NICHOLS

A Persian rug hangs above the family room fireplace in Samuel L. Jackson’s Los Angeles home, decorated by Cecil N. Hayes; the mantel holds stoneware pots and a pair of West African chiwaras.

MARY E. NICHOLS

The living room in the Los Angeles residence of actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, actor and director Christopher Guest, features dark wood floors and beams offset by white walls; the home was decorated by Jan McFarland Cox.

WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

The living area in Julianna Margulies’s Manhattan apartment, designed by Vicente Wolf, is anchored by a sofa covered in a Larsen fabric. The African carved post and Portuguese Colonial candlesticks standing at the window are from VW Home, as are the Burmese side table and the hand sculpture.

ROGER DAVIES

In the living room of Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres’s Beverly Hills house, a pair of slipcovered sofas and a cocktail table, all by Kathleen Clements Design, are grouped with Louis XVI bergères; the Avalon blanket is by Hermès, and the fringed throw is an antique textile. A mixed-media sculpture by Catherine Willis takes pride of place over the hearth; to its left are a Roman bust and works by Mark Grotjahn and Ed Ruscha. A Ruth Asawa sculpture hangs to the right of the fireplace.

WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

Designers Brooke Gomez and Mariette Himes Gomez updated Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox’s New York living room with clean-lined modern furnishings, including blue-glass table lamps from Bernd Goeckler Antiques and a pair of Dessin Fournir sofas covered in a Claremont fabric; the artwork between the windows is by Louise Bourgeois, the piano is by Steinway & Sons, and the early-20th-century Turkish Oushak carpet is from Doris Leslie Blau.

ROGER DAVIES

Martyn Lawrence Bullard worked with actress Ellen Pompeo to revamp the 1930 home she shares with her husband, music producer Chris Ivery, and their two children in Los Angeles. To lend architectural distinction to the living room, Bullard framed arched passageways in limestone and installed a custom-made basalt mantel; the mirror is by Richard Shapiro/Studiolo, and the club chairs are a Bullard design, upholstered in a Kravet silk velvet.

WILLIAM WALDRON

Decorator David Flint Wood painted the living room of actress Brooke Shields’s New York townhouse in Benjamin Moore’s cozy Chelsea Gray. Portraits of Shields’s two daughters flank a heart-shaped Keith Haring work, which was a gift from the artist.

ROGER DAVIES

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith created a family haven near Calabasas, California, with the help of architect Stephen Samuelson and interior designer Judith Lance. A large retractable skylight floods the double-height living room with natural illumination. The pair of vintage resin tusks is from Downtown, and the lanterns at left are Moroccan.

SCOTT FRANCES

When actress and comedian Ali Wentworth and her husband, television journalist George Stephanopoulos, relocated from Washington, D.C., to New York City, they enlisted their friend Michael S. Smith to decorate their new apartment. The living room features a skirted sofa and armchairs, all by O. Henry House, upholstered in fabrics by Cowtan & Tout and Jasper, respectively; the Regency mirror and the mahogany bookcase were bought at auction, the settee is a Swedish antique, and the cocktail table and the curtain fabric are both by Jasper.

Establish a Cleaning Schedule that (Finally!) Works for Your Home and Your Life

Image credit: Morgan Schemel

Creating a cleaning schedule may not be at the top of your to-do list, and I get it. There are hundreds of more pretty, fun, exciting, and pressing things to do. But know this: having one makes life better. You get to live in a cleaner space and you have more control over your time. The question is, how do you get started when you’re super busy already?

Image credit: Courtesy of Melissa Maker

It’s All About Routines vs. Schedules

Before we get into the nitty gritty, allow me to make a quick distinction: Routines encompass the things we do each day, usually the exact same way, and schedules are plans and tasks we block in based on what we need to accomplish during a given period of time.

Work Cleaning Into Your Routine

A healthy chunk of your cleaning can get knocked off your list if you re-think your daily routines and find ways to weave cleaning into them. It’s akin to adding more vegetables to your diet—if you learn how to tweak things just so, your food will taste just as good and your body will feel happier, all without expending much extra effort. The same thing can happen with cleaning, my friend.

Have a good, honest look at your daily routines and see what your everyday patterns are. Then, when you have figured out what your Most Important Areas are (which I call MIAs), marry the two and re-work your daily routines.

Here’s an example: Every day when you come home, you drop your shoes, bags and coat at the front door, leaving them to be picked up some time later. But you realize that your entryway is an important area (MIA) for you, so you have a lightbulb moment: If you can revise your routine to include hanging your coat and delivering your shoes and bag where they belong before getting distracted with anything else, nothing needs to be done later. Your entryway MIA stays clean and tidy forever.

By incorporating little micro-tasks into what you’re already doing instead of delaying it for the big half-marathon cleaning session, you get to square away the majority of your regular cleaning needs with just a few simple tweaks.

 

Image credit: Morgan Schemel

Make a Schedule for Everything Else

The bigger jobs need planning, that’s for sure. Anything important that doesn’t get handled with small, routine changes needs to be worked into a schedule. The schedule has to work for you and your family, though. And once you think through a few things, you’ll see that the work is far less daunting than it seems. You’ll clean what you want, how often you want, at the time you want.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • How often do you need this task completed? Just because Susie So-and-So from perfecthouseandlife.com says she cleans her tub every 4 days, that doesn’t mean you need to. What suits you? What’s a level of acceptably clean that you can tolerate? When the scale tips from “it looks ok” to “I can’t even,” that’s when you know your time to clean has come. Don’t sweat it too much; you’ve got good instincts for what you require frequency-wise.
  • What are you going to clean? If you’ve seen my previous post about figuring out your MIAs, then you already know where you need to focus your efforts. If you haven’t, I’d suggest you figure those out first. Trust me, this makes the job significantly easier and gives you far less to schedule.
  • Find the best time to do the cleaning. When are you most energetic? When do you have your cleaning mojo? When are you least likely to make excuses? That’s the best time to clean.
  • Determine who can help you do it (if you’ve got a roommate or family member, this is your time to flex those negotiation skills) and determine what each person is going to do. Finally, determine how this will be tracked: an app, a spreadsheet, calendar items? (Something else?) What works for your situation?

In my book, I share with you the Maker Method, which is the secret to cleaning better, faster and loving your home every day (this is also the subtitle of the book, which makes sense). The third and final step of the Maker Method is dedicated to routines and scheduling, and I go into detail about how to do this, as well as include my four key routines (sharing the before and after of each), and a comprehensive scheduling tool which allows you to set up your very own cleaning schedule in a simple and manageable way.

Thing is, this sounds simple because it is. The hard part is just starting. And my best advice for that is just to try it and have faith. I like to believe that cleaning is a self-care tool, and nothing to be too fussy about or too lax about. You need to find your happy place—the just-right midpoint—and a cleaning routine that works for you. When you do, you’ll be more inclined to keep at it and you’ll get to reap the feel-good rewards of living in a cleaner space.

What Are the Fees to Get a Reverse Mortgage?

By DEBORAH KEARNS

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that allows homeowners 62 and older who have paid off all or most of their mortgage to withdraw some of their home’s equity and convert it into cash.

When evaluating the costs of a reverse mortgage against other potential retirement strategies, you’ll want to look at Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, or HECMs, in particular. HECMs account for nearly all reverse mortgage loans in the U.S. and are insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Reverse mortgages differ from other types of home equity loans in a number of ways, one of which is higher costs. Fees will include mortgage insurance premiums, both initial and annual; third-party fees for closing costs; a loan origination fee, capped at $6,000; and a loan servicing fee.

It’s also worth noting that reverse mortgage rates tend to be higher than traditional home loans, and will vary depending on how much you borrow, how you withdraw your proceeds, the home’s appraised value and your credit profile, among other factors.

To get to the bottom of reverse mortgage costs, we asked two experts to weigh in: Dan Hultquist, co-chair of the education committee at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, and Paul Fiore, executive vice president of retail lending at American Advisors Group.

Here are their insights on HECM fees, broken down by upfront and ongoing costs:

Upfront costs

Out-of-pocket HECM counseling fee: In order to get a reverse mortgage, borrowers must undergo mandatory counseling with a third-party HECM counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The fee is typically around $125, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The counseling addresses the lending process, benefits, drawbacks and eligibility requirements involved in a reverse mortgage. This fee cannot be rolled into your loan and must be paid directly to the counseling agency in most cases.

Appraisal fees: Professional home appraisals are always required for a HECM and cost about $300 to $500, on average, Hultquist says. Appraisals can be more (or less) expensive depending on the size, age and condition of your home, he adds. This is a fee you’ll need to pay upfront to an appraisal management company.

Third-party closing costs: Expect to pay typical mortgage fees for loan recording, credit checks, title insurance and so on. Ask to see a detailed breakdown of each fee, which should be included in your closing disclosure from your lender, Hultquist says. Keep in mind that you can shop for your own title company (if you don’t want to use your lender’s suggestion) to perform the title search and provide title insurance.

Initial mortgage insurance premium: You will be charged an initial mortgage insurance premium at closing. The initial MIP due at closing will be 0.5% or 2.5%; the percentage is determined by how you choose to receive your reverse loan proceeds (line of credit versus a lump sum, for example), according to HUD.

Loan origination fee: Many lenders charge a loan origination fee to process, underwrite and close your loan, and a HECM is no exception. Expect to pay either $2,500 or 2% of the first $200,000 of your home’s appraised value (whichever is greater), Fiore says. Additionally, you’ll pay 1% of the amount over $200,000. Loan origination fees were the main barrier to obtaining a reverse mortgage in the past, but they’ve come down in recent years, Fiore says, and are now capped at $6,000. Although HECM origination fees can be rolled into your loan, that’s still cutting into your loan proceeds, he notes.

Ongoing costs

Annual mortgage insurance premiums: Over the life of the loan, you’ll pay an annual MIP that equals 1.25% of the outstanding mortgage balance, according to HUD. You’ll also have to pay an FHA mortgage insurance premium, which acts as collateral to ensure you receive loan advances. You can roll the MIP costs into your reverse loan, which will accrue interest for the life of the loan.

Loan servicing fees: Lenders can charge a monthly servicing fee of up to $30 if your reverse mortgage loan has an interest rate that adjusts annually, and no more than $35 monthly if the interest rate adjusts on a monthly basis. When you close on your reverse mortgage, your lender will deduct the servicing fee cost from your available loan funds and add it to your loan balance each month, which will increase your balance over time. Also, your lender can add the cost of its servicing fee into your interest rate, which will increase your monthly loan balance.

Long-term property costs: When you apply for a reverse mortgage, the FHA requires that you show proof of enough income (without the proceeds from your reverse mortgage) to continue paying essential items such as your homeowners’ insurance premiums, annual property taxes, homeowners’ association dues and hazard insurance premiums (if applicable to your area; these can be steep). If you have any liens on your property because you haven’t paid property taxes or HOA fees, for example, you likely won’t qualify for a reverse mortgage.

Next steps to getting a reverse mortgage

The old way of thinking about reverse mortgages as a “last resort” has shifted in recent years, Fiore says. You have multiple options to tap into your home’s equity with a reverse mortgage while living in the house for years to come.

“A lot of people could really benefit from it, but they need to find someone who knows the products,” Fiore says, adding that anyone thinking about a reverse mortgage should search the NRMLA database for a member lender to work with.

If you think a reverse mortgage might be right for you, contact a HECM counselor to enroll in counseling, or call HUD toll-free at 800-569-4287 to learn more. If you decide to apply for a reverse mortgage, contact an FHA-approved lender that can help.

What Is Transitional Style? The Type of Decor Everyone Can Agree On

By Margaret Heidenry

With so many decor styles out there, it can be hard to stick with just one. Modern, rustic, shabby chic, traditional—deciding on the vibe you want for your home can be downright confusing. But here’s the great thing about interior design: Many of these styles overlap, and can actually work really well together. The design world uses the term “transitional style” to describe the type of design that melds two different aesthetics—modern and traditional—into the same room. So how can you bring transitional style into your home? Our experts break it down for you.

Defining transitional style

The key to achieving this style is balance. Transitional style welcomes disparate styles—the traditional and the modern, the feminine and the masculine—in the same space. It’s a classic, clean look that’s reinvigorated by mixing in contemporary furniture, rugs, and accessories, according to Ellie Thompson, CEO of Venyou, an online platform that lists private homes and estates for events. An angular, modern dining table surrounded by traditional upholstered chairs is a typical example of transitional design. A rule of thumb: You want the decor to be inviting and accessible, not veering too far into one trend or another.

Photo by Ashley Campbell Interior Design—A modern marble table is paired with more relaxed, upholstered dining chairs.

As with any design style, there are unofficial rules to get the look. You can best achieve the mix-and-match transitional style in your home by choosing pieces that follow these guidelines.

Element No. 1: Beige is your friend

Neutral tones are the hallmark of transitional style, according to Thompson. Go for an unsaturated palette of white, cream, beige, tan, gray, or light brown. A simple neutral backdrop for the walls, flooring, cabinets, and large furniture will make the room feel timeless.

Element No. 2: Mix textures

Transitional style embraces different materials that have the same color but that give texture to the space. “Whether it be stone, wood, or leather, transitional style isn’t married to one type of material,” says Thompson. “Using a couple different textures will help you achieve an elegant but modern look.” She suggests incorporating such textures as chrome, gold, wood, glass, fabric, and faux fur into every room of your home.

Element No. 3: Use antiques strategically

Balance out an otherwise contemporary room with an antique statement piece. This will give the room depth and show off your curating skills. “Nothing makes a room feel more modern,” says interior designer Mark Cutler of Los Angeles. “The more sleek the space, the more rustic and worn the antique should be,” he says.

Element No. 4: Use bold accents sparingly

“Don’t overdo it!” says Thompson. Keep it simple by picking a couple loud pieces that accent the room but don’t clutter it. Patterns are used sparingly and tend toward geometrics. “And window treatments will be simple, with sleek lines instead of fussy or complex designs,” says Griffin.

Photo by Martha O’Hara Interiors—Yellow accessories in a transitional living room add interest but don’t overpower.

Element No. 5: A contemporary rug is a must

Transitional furnishings will almost always be partnered with a contemporary rug—think solid, geometric or animal prints—rather than a traditional rug that’s floral, paisley, or oriental, says Griffin. “This is a simple way to touch on transitional style that doesn’t require a complete redesign of your home.”

Element No. 6: Choose modern art that makes a statement

“Keep it big and bold for a greater impact, instead of hanging lots of smaller pieces,” says Griffin. Art should have a contemporary look, in terms of style and colors—abstract works, graphic prints, and photography are best.

Element No. 7: Rely on classic lines

Stick to furniture, tables, and beds that have a sophisticated shape with simple, sophisticated lines, as opposed to pieces that are rounded and ornate. Transitional furniture will be comfortable but boast straighter lines.

“Square off everything,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, lead designer at Express Homebuyers. That means that in choosing a traditional element, you avoid curves and ornate detail, and make sure it has straighter lines, to minimize detail. “For example, doorknobs could be straight levers as opposed to round knobs, and sinks may have a rectangular shape.”

The transitional aesthetic requires the seamless marrying of several traditional pieces with true contemporary pieces. Essentially, this means that your home should be a sophisticated yet livable home, full of beloved items and sensible furniture that can last a lifetime.