Keep Housing Market In Mind When Choosing Renovation Projects

If you’re thinking of remodeling in order to sell your home, or thinking of doing the house-flipping trick, be warned, it’s not as easy to make money off renovations as you might think. In fact, as the housing market continues to improve, the money made by flipping is getting lower by the month. In the San Fernando Valley of California, for instance, home prices have climbed 29% in the last year and are at the peak of their value since the crash of 2008. This is good news for people wanting to sell the homes they’ve lived in for a long time, but not so good for house flippers.

Home Flipping Becoming Less Profitable
Ron Henderson is president of Multi Real Estate Services in West Hills and he said, “The easy money has been made. The local real estate market is in a transition from an overheated, low-inventory market with well-funded foreign and institutional investors . . . to one where inventory is increasing and traditional buyers rule again, but squeezed by higher prices and interest rates.”

Another setback for home flippers set to go into place early this year is a the Dodd-Frank mortgage regulations, which will affect the entire nation. They will place regulations on banks, lowering the number of average Americans who can qualify for low interest rate loans.

Most Common Renos
If you’d still like to have a go at remodeling, it might be wise to stick with doing your own home, for now. And remember that every dollar you put into a renovation doesn’t necessarily beget a dollar in return. Ian Levy of Sky Renovation and New Construction out of Van Nuys, CA, said, “Our most common renovation is bathrooms. After that it’s kitchens and flooring. That’s where you add the most value. Inside is where it’s at.”
On the other hand, Jane Peters of Power Brokers International said doing extensive renovations on the bathroom or kitchen won’t be worth it if you’re doing it just to up your sale price. “The kitchen and the bathroom would be the two things to remodel. But to do it to sell? No. you do it for yourself because you want to live in a nice place.”

Improve Curb Appeal For Better Sales
Another cost-effective remodel might be adding a coat of paint to the outside to up the home’s curb appeal. Pat Zicarelli of Style Reality in Tarzana said, “A few hundred dollars’ worth of touch-up paint can generate as much as $10,000 more on the sales price.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by


Interior Design Trends Emerging In 2014

We’ll soon be ringing in the new year and homeowners will be wondering what 2014 interior design trends they should be looking forward to. Will we be inundated with vibrant yellows and greens? Will we be hanging our walls with pieces of abstract art? Will we be plastering over our wooden floors with shag carpet? That last one is unlikely, but you never know when trends will reoccur. The Wall Street Journal canvassed a few home decor pros to help and they came up with the styles homeowners should be watching for.

That’s right—those woven pieces of art popular in the 70s have come back in style. My grandmother can leave off remodeling her bathroom for a little while longer. Ms. Burham, an interior designer, said, “It’s sculpture for your wall that adds texture and replaces wallpaper or fine art you can’t afford.” Ace Hotel chain and well-known architect Barbara Bestor have already adopted this trend.

Sheer Drapery
Heavy drapes are drooping off the popularity scale as people continue the trend of wide open spaces. Open floor plans call for light, airy window treatments. New York designer Celerie Kemble explained, “Everyone wants greater transparency and more light.” However, avoid the old fashioned lace in favor of sheer fabrics, which Los Angeles designer Kim Alexandriuk said “are no longer granny-ish and polyester. The new ones in linen and wool look rich.”

Corduroy Upholstery
If you’re looking to replace your furniture or get it recovered in the near future, try looking into corduroy. Ms. Burnham said, “It’s the casual alternative to velvet and the preppy version of chenille.” Put it on formal chairs and look into wider wales, which Mr. Harte said make “gutsier” statements.

White Kitchens
White might sound like a boring choice, but done well it can look clean, shiny, and open, much like the open floor plan and sheer fabric. Plus, people may begin to wander away from the stainless steel appliance look in favor of the new look made popular by white iPhones and other technological devices. NYC designer Fawn Galli said, “The new white-glass appliances add cleanliness and calm, unlike ubiquitous stainless steel” which looks a lot like industrial appliances.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Relocating May Be Easier Than Renovating

New Year’s resolution time is right around the corner, though you may still be focusing on Christmas shopping, present wrapping, and calorie consuming. However, if you get a moment you might start planning now for how you want next year to go. What plans did you have this year that you put off and never carried out? What goals ended up flopping and which ones did you actually stick to? Chances are, there was some repair job or renovation that wasn’t quite crucial enough for you to complete this year. Make a plan now to get that taken care of in 2014.

Holidays Accentuate Lack of Space
Marion Franke, a home improvement writer for the Houston News, said when people start thinking about what they want for their families in the new year, they might consider if improving their home or upgrading to a new one might not be the best choice for everyone. Franke explained, “During the holidays, a home that is too small, outdated, or simply doesn’t fit the family anymore becomes quite obvious. If you are embarrassed when family comes to visit because of the cramped space or long overdue remodeling that you want . . . stop!”

Assess Home And Neighborhood Value
There are a couple of tests to determine whether you should remodel or sell. First is to get your home value assessed and then compare that amount to the value of neighboring houses and how much homes in the area have recently sold for. If your home has topped out for value in the area, remodeling or adding on won’t be financially smart because it won’t increase the value of the home proportionately, if at all. You’d also want to find out how long homes similar to yours are staying on the market so you know if a move could happen within a few months or if you might be waiting another full year.

Consider Renovation Disruptions
Another factor to consider is the disruption renovations cause in day-to-day life. You’ll be living in a construction zone with dust, dirt, and tarps for some amount of time. Is the stress and hassle going to be worth it? Will your family be able to subsist under such conditions? Kitchen renovations are most popular, but they are also most disruptive to family life. How are you going to eat and cook without a kitchen for some number of weeks? Plan this ahead of time and you may decide that renovation isn’t for you.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Adorably App Makes Everyone Interior Designers

Interior design has all kinds of apps these days. Zillow lets you browse homes for sale. Houzz has thousands of pictures of interior design styles and furnishings to browse through. ColorSmart helps you come up with a color scheme incorporating what you already have. Then there’s Adornably. Adornably is one of the newest and most high tech on the market, now available for iPad. And best of all, it’s free.

Avoid Measuring And Heavy Lifting

The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported the press release published by PR Newswire. Apparently, “The Adornably app allows users to take pictures of their own space and then customize it with high quality, 3D photorealistic imagery of furniture that is automatically set to scale.” This takes care of the hassle of measuring (and mis-measuring) and heavy lifting. You won’t have to move the couch from one wall to another and back again in order to see how the arrangement would look anymore.

Adornably is an interior design expert in your pocket. It can take care of difficult design decisions and allow you to take care of furniture shopping from the comfort of your own home.

Interface Provide Photorealistic Images

Marc Lebovitz is CEO of Adornably and in the press release he said, “We’re thrilled that our technology is able to showcase virtual furniture in such  a true-to-life photorealistic manner. Adornably will set the interior designer inside all of us free and make everyone’s home a design playground.”

All You Need Is A Magazine

Setting up your space within the app is simple. Place a magazine somewhere within the room so it will be visible in your shot and the app will use that to scale the furnishings, windows, walls, etc. Once your space has been created, you can surf a catalog of furnishings from all kinds of manufacturers and place them in your virtual room to see how they’d fit and whether they’d match each other.

CEO of Stanly Furniture Company, one of the many companies whose furnishings you can view in the app, Glenn Prillaman said, “The Adornably application is a potential game-changer in the digital revolution now sweeping across almost every part of a home furnishings industry that previously offered consumers the same shopping experience for over 50 years.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by


Decorating And Arranging Your Dining Room For The Holidays


Christmas is rapidly approaching, along with its family meals, constant snacking, and frequently-used kitchen. If you want to decorate your home to make it fun, festive, and functional, you’ll want to listen to the advice of Tricia Huntley, expert interior designer named on the Washington Design Center’s Ones to Watch list in 2010.

Have Flexible Seating And Table Settings
First, she said to focus on your table and chairs. What kind of entertaining will you be doing? Large family functions will need flexible seating, extendable tables (the kind with inserts that make them longer) and plenty of room for movement and serving dishes. Scale your furniture to the size of the room—not too big and not too small. Holiday centerpieces are nice on empty tables, but you’ll want to remove them during meal time. Also, if your dining experiences will involve the presence of children, you’ll want to choose table linens that will either wipe or wash off easily.

Scale Your Furniture To The Room
Huntley said she also has had clients who have recently moved from a smaller house to a bigger one. She said she tells them, “When you drape [your table] with fabrics, you can make it appear as big as it needs to be. . . . And make sure the walls have something on them.” Bare walls can make a room appear bland and empty, resulting in an uninviting dining area.

If, on the other hand, you have a small dining room, a table with a clear surface can help the limited space feel larger. Huntley explained, “The transparency creates volume where it doesn’t exist. That’s true of all spaces.”

Choosing A Serving Style
When it comes to serving styles, the choice you make will depend on your available space. Passing dishes can be cumbersome and take up space on the table that’s needed by other place settings. However, it can make a more homey feel and allows easy helpings to seconds. Huntley’s preference is a buffet style of serving. “It gives me the opportunity to create a looser, more interesting tablescape,” Huntley explained.

She also said you can create a food “guide” by serving hors d’oeurves in the living room, setting up the buffet in an adjacent room, and having the guests sit in the next room. “Don’t underestimate the power of sequencing,” she went on. “Guiding guests from one room to another with food is a wonderfully subtle way to add a sense of procession to the evening.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Being An Owner Builder VS DIY-er

The DIY (do-it-yourself) movement is well known. Renovations are all the rage, but instead of hiring contractors, many homeowners are choosing to complete the remodels themselves. This can make the job cheaper, but has the risk of reno-gone-wrong. If you don’t think you’re up to the DIY renovation, there is another option you might look into. Instead, of doing the reno, you could oversee it as an “owner builder.”

Trend Gaining Australian Popularity

The owner builder trend has been gaining popularity in Australia, where home renovations and extensions add up to a whopping $30 billion a year. However, the Commonwealth Bank said that many homeowners who attempt DIYs end up poorly planning their remodel, have a lack of budget control, and an overly high opinion of their own technical and carpentry skills. Australians who realize they aren’t up to DIY are choosing to become owner builders instead. In fact, 40,000 Australians are renovating and owner building each year. Generally, those who choose to do so are young people trying to improve their quality of life and have confidence in their management skills.

Acting As A Manager, Rather Than Construction Worker

Owner builders are basically overseers, rather than “doers” of tasks. They manage a team of contractors, which means they spend a lot of time trying to find the best people for the job. They’re more likely to take on bigger projects because they aren’t limited by their own skill set, rather they try to find the finest craftspeople they can to do the work for them. Another benefit of this approach is they don’t have to divide their time between personal needs and renovation. They can direct the work to be done and then go about their own business. This makes the whole process far less stressful and frees them up to get away from the work whenever they need to without slowing down its completion.

Minimize Personal Risk

A downside of being an owner builder is that it’s more expensive than the DIY method, yet it’s still less expensive than hiring a firm to do everything, including the managing, for you. Andrew Heaton, senior construction and home improvement writer for, said, “Ultimately the decision to DIY, owner build, or engage a registered builder remains with homeowners. . . . Renovating, whether DIY or owner building is a challenge, and minimizing personal and financial risk is mandatory priority.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Quick Fixes For Bathroom Remodeling

Ever get tired of the same old decor in your bathroom? There’s more you can do than just splash a new coat of paint on the walls or hang a new picture above the toilet. Try out some new styles just for the fun of it when you have a weekend free. Who knows, you might find you like it.

The Sponge And Stencil Technique

Visit a craft store sometime and check out their selection of stencils. It seems like there are a million styles out there, which won’t make your decision any easier. You can also make your own by cutting shapes out of sheets of plastic or cardstock. It’s best if the material you use has a bit of weight to it. Some of the most popular bathroom stencils include seashells, clovers, hearts, and flowers. And remember that you don’t have to pick one and stick with it through the whole bathroom. Choose a few–one as a border to the counter, one opposite the door, one around the window, etc. One interior designer suggested that if you choose a tropical theme, “You could have such shapes as fish, suns, sunglasses, and waves.”

Once you’ve chosen your stencil, assemble your painting tools, which should include sponges cut into two-inch squares. Tape the stencil to the wall to hold it in place, dip your sponge in the paint, and then dab it onto a paper towel or piece of paper to thin the paint. Stop dabbing when you get your desired look. Remember that the point of sponging is to get a textured look. Be gentle when you remove and relocate your stencil. Wipe it clean to prevent the paint from tainting your fresh surface.

Bring In Nature

Silk vines and flowers can bring a little of the outdoors into your bathroom. For instance, try cutting the stems from silk flowers or vines and gluing them to the corners of cabinets. And what about the insides? You don’t have to leave the inside of the cabinet doors plain. Instead of gluing, you might choose velcro. Get some industrial strength velcro that won’t peel away from the wood after a few uses and attach half to the flower, half to the cabinet.

Mirror, Mirror

Adding mirrors to the walls can help make a small bathroom feel bigger. It also will provide you with all the angles you need to do makeup or your hair. Maybe try a mirror mosaic on the wall with different sized or shaped mirrors. Don’t let them quite touch. You could also add a mirror border to your main mirror above the sink.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by