Find Out the New, Hot Home Color for 2019

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Photo credit: Behr

The paint company Behr has named a rich, bluish hue its 2019 Color of the Year. Blueprint is a mid-tone blue that is described as warmer than denim but softer than navy.

Behr is predicting that embracing a full range of blue, teal,and gray will be a key style for home design in 2019. “Layer light and dark blues on walls, cabinets, furniture, and decor for impactful results,” Behr says.

The color matches with the jewel tone trend that has been taking off in 2018, which also has seen the popularity of dark greens and purples in decor.

Blueprint is a dark color but can also be a classic that can be mixed with many color combos and in different home styles too, the company notes. The color can work as an accent wall color, on kitchen cabinets, in home accessories, bedding or blankets, or furnishings.

Gray will remain a hot neutral in 2019, but color forecasters believe that as warmer tones in taupe and terra-cotta rise in popularity, earthy blues and brown combinations will grow too.

Also, Behr predicts that powder blue, blush peach, and tinted lilac will emerge as new neutrals in the new year as well. These colors  create “relaxed and expansive spaces,” the company says. “Matte finishes emphasize softness, while metal accents add glamour.”

Photo credit: Behr

Photo credit: Behr

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How to Understand Home Staging Pricing and Proposals: Do’s and Don’ts

By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource

A lot of real estate agents are looking for a good, reliable home stager that can magically transform their listings into the price point their seller is hoping to achieve.  The trouble and confusion sometimes comes when the real estate professional asks a few home stagers to “bid” or present a proposal on their vacant home.

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Photo credit: HSR Certified Helen Bartlett of Refined Interior Staging Solutions in Kansas City

The vacant staging proposal price can range anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000 for a smaller home, so do you just pick the best priced stager?

I think we can all agree that there is a BIG difference between Walmart and Restoration Hardware when it comes to furnishings, so choosing a home stager on price alone is not a good idea … here’s why.

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Photo Credit: HSR Certified Corrine Kaas of Harmonizing Homes

The professionally certified and trained home stager ranks the home based on “luxury level” and places the most ideal furnishings that kind of buyer would “expect” in the home.  In each area across the country, there is a certain buyer “expectation” that corresponds to price point and location.

DO make sure the furnishings enhance and correspond with the buyer expectation for that home.

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Photo credit: HSR Certified Donna Dazzo of Designed to Appeal in New York City

It’s not a matter of simply choosing a couch/chair/coffee table/rug to go into the space … it’s an art form. Professional stagers tend to base their price on the VALUE of the furnishings that go into that home. This is how they calculate their return on investment (ROI) and cover their costs, so that their business will be around in a year. This is also how they are able to stay on trend, turn over older furnishings, and present the home in a fresh, modern way every time.

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AFTER  

Photo credit: HSR Certified Leia Ward of LTW Design in Connecticut

DON’T choose on price alone. 

Going with the lowest priced staging proposal could mean you are getting low priced furnishings, which ultimately could hurt the sale of the home. Here are a couple questions to ask a home stager rather than base your choice on price:

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Photo credit: HSR Certified Glenda Evers of Elite Interiors

DO ask them what kind of “look” can I expect to go in this home?

This is their chance to show and talk you through their expertise and show you their work. If they fumble or choose a style that does not fit the style or luxury level of the home, then I would question their credibility and training.

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Photo credit: HSR Certified Jeff Johnson of the Home Staging Pros in Florida

DO ask them if they buy wholesale?

The certified stager knows how to buy wholesale and can get AMAZING prices on luxury furnishings (thus more bang for your buck!) But some home stagers are not certified or trained in this kind of advanced shopping.

I train on this extensively, and here’s an example of the kind of pricing you can get by going to the market. I love the look of layered rugs and this zebra hide rug costs only $99 at the market … what?!

 

DON’T base your choice on experience alone. 

Staging will always be an art form and some of the most talented stagers I’ve seen who do not sacrifice on quality of materials are brand new to the industry. Their heart and soul is placed into that home and it shows.  Take a chance and try someone new.

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Photo credit: HSR Grad Leslie Anderson of Leslie Anderson Interiors in Virginia

A good rule of thumb is to consider spending a little less or around 1 percent the value of the home on vacant staging in order for the staging to match the luxury level of the home. The million-plus dollar home needs to be staged like a million bucks …. buyers expect this.

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Photo credit: HSR Grad Birgit Anich of BA Staging and Interiors in Connecticut

If the seller’s furnishings are over 10 years old then DO have them consider “moving out” beforehand, so that they can make an extra 5 to 10 percent the value of the home in the sale.  According to recent staging statistics, the seller who spends close to 1 percent on staging usually sees over a 10 percent return on investment. There does appear to be a connection between spending more and getting more.

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Photo credit: HSR Grad Corrine McKendrick of Pacific Home Design

Photo credit: HSR Grad Corrine McKendrick of Pacific Home Design

DO educate the seller on how they can get the best price for their home by staging.

I’m seeing a lot of smart agents educating their sellers on this critical cost, sometimes even paying it up front (for the cash poor seller) and then charging it in closing as part of their fee. We all know that markets go up and down, but the real estate agent who consistently puts the best marketed and priced product on the market for the sellers, is the one that will be around forever.

To find home stagers that do the kind of work featured above, visit Directory of Certified Home Stagers and Designers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president and founder of the Home Staging Resource, an advanced home staging and redesign certification training company.  Slinkey has been awarded the “Most Innovative Product of the Year Award” three times for her training and serves on the board of the Real Estate Staging Association. Slinkey is a published author and international speaker on staging, color, and design. She is proud and privileged to help create and mentor thousands of staging and design businesses across the globe.

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Before and After Photos: How Staging Can Make a Big Difference

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

What is the key to staging a home in appealing to a broad demographic?  Presenting a property’s main rooms so buyers can see its true potential beyond what they read in the listing.

A room showcased in a way that features the best use of the space will not only get noticed but will increase the perceived value and ultimately reduce the time spent on the market. The following are some examples of rooms that were “styled to sell” by meeting targeted buyer specific needs.

Feature a Room’s Original Purpose

Take away the guesswork from buyers by converting the key rooms of a home back to their original purpose. A living room that was being used as a library or office space (as shown in the example above) lacks the “wow factor” when entering the home and is a turn-off to young buyers looking for room to entertain guests.

By adding cozy furniture and modern accents such as a plush rug, wall art, and colorful throw pillows, the space has a fresh, welcoming appeal and helps buyers see the home’s true potential.

For the bedroom above that was used by the sellers as a wardrobe closet, it’s safe to say that buyers would lose interest if they can’t see how a full-sized bed, side table, and shelving would work in the room. Presenting a more functional use of the space rather than one that appears tiny with nothing but racks of hanging clothing, immediately might increase the property’s perceived value for buyers with young families.

Use Furnishings That Fit a Small Space

When staging a small, vacant property such as this flip/investment property shown above, choose the right sized furniture and don’t overdo with too many accents.

Try a love seat and smaller accent chair in the family room or position the head of a bed in front of a window to save space and increase perceived room size.

 

Present Creative Options For A Large Space

Or when styling a large space such as this living room, divide it into distinct sections to show creative uses of the space. We created a cozy game zone in this living room by incorporating a large round table and chairs accented with wall art by the window for an extra inviting touch. Buyers will not only be attracted to the style of the room, but the potential function as well.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is principal, interior decorator, and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. She has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full-service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for the luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company received the Houzz 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Awards for Customer Service.

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Staged to Sell: A Fixer Upper to Show Stopper

Home stager: Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, with offices in Portland, Ore., and Seattle

The home: This Portland, Ore., home was a “complete and total fixer,” Riordan says. But it wasn’t anything that some savvy staging couldn’t fix. The 3,180-square-foot home was built in 1906 and features five bedrooms, 3.5 baths. It’s listed for $875,000.

Riordan’s Staging Tips: 

Photo Credit: Justin Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

  1. When staging a home, stick with neutral rugs with little to no pattern. This will keep the the rugs from distracting from the house itself.

Photo Credit: Justin Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

2. Mix styles because not everybody loves modern or Victorian or vintage. By having an eclectic mix of styles in each room, the staging can appeal a little bit to each person.

Photo Credit: Justin Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

3. Use color blocking. By assigning a single color to each room, buyers will have a way to discuss each room. This house has a green bedroom, a pink bedroom, a grey bedroom, and a brown bedroom. When the buyer say, “I think Sally should have the pink bedroom,” the other buyer will understand immediately which room they were talking about.

 

Have a home you recently staged that you’d like to show off here at Styled Staged & Sold? Submit your staging photos for consideration, along with three to five of your best spruce-up tips. Contact Melissa Dittmann Tracey at mtracey@realtors.org.

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Virtual Staging Transforms Cold, Vacant Spaces Into Warm, Welcoming Homes

Photo credit: VHT Studios

By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios

Technology and the convenience it offers to buyers and sellers has changed real estate forever. The days of starting a home search inside the office or car of a real estate professional and touring five or six houses are long gone. Now, interested buyers expect to “shop” for their new home whenever they want on whichever device they desire and they often spend hours clicking through listings online before ever scheduling a visit. As a result, savvy real estate professionals are using many new tools to help their listings gain an advantage and sell faster.

One of the hottest tools deployed by real estate professionals is virtual staging, especially when used to market vacant condominium units.
Let’s face it, an empty condo unit, whether it’s a studio or penthouse, can lack the “curb appeal” that motivates buyers to take the time to make a visit. Empty rooms appear as boxy walls of white (or even worse, depending on the previous owners’/tenants’ tastes and color palette).

If many condos are for-sale in the same building, those big boxes with beige carpet and white walls appear disappointingly similar and fail to present their possibilities as a home. Virtual staging can help a vacant condo stand out from the rest and inject a new look into the listing photography, which brings that condo to life.

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Photo credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

Not to worry – you don’t have to put on silly helmets or special goggles to do it.

Virtual staging in real estate refers to the virtual photographic tools available to real estate professionals, in partnership with their professional photographer, to showcase a home and its potential. Virtual staging is the most common tool in the virtual real estate drawer and is playing a major role in the marketplace by appealing to prospective buyers or tenants.

Through virtual staging, a professional photographer captures photographs of vacant or lived-in homes and virtually changes a condo’s décor and furniture to make a great first impression to buyers or renters searching for their next home.

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Photo credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

In many cases, you really don’t want to show a house as it is decorated by the current owner/tenant, since buyers may not be interested in seeing the current owner’s stuff. Sellers should be reminded that their listing needs to help the next homeowner envision their own unique future lifestyle in that condo or apartment.

Take a fresh look at those empty rooms where the next owner will spend most of his/her time. Ask how you can appeal to that future owner/tenant by presenting the different possibilities of styling and furnishing various rooms. Various virtual staging tools such as virtual redecorate, virtual furnish, virtual repaint, and virtual declutter provide endless ways to showcase homes.

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Photo credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

These virtual tools give owners the chance to showcase the multiple functions of a spare bedroom by using virtual redecorate as an inexpensive virtual makeover to convert it to an office, arts and crafts room or nursery.

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AFTER
Photo credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

Want to appeal to a fitness fanatic? You can virtually redecorate a second bedroom as a workout space. Virtual redecorating strips all furnishings from a photograph and drops in new furniture, wall color and décor to help you attract the next homeowner by showcasing the potential of the room in different styles or even different functions.
No two homeowners have the same taste, so appeal to the broadest audience possible by offering many different styles of the same living room, such as rustic, modern, shabby chic, traditional and beyond.

Sometimes, the virtual tools solve real estate professionals’ biggest headaches.

Did the current owner move out quickly, taking all her furniture and leaving behind a unit that appears cold and unwelcoming? Virtual staging can fill a vacant room with furnishings without the expense or inconvenience of having to rent or move in tables, chairs, couches or beds. The savings in time and budget are significant when compared to traditional staging costs.

Did the seller forget to clear the clutter before a photo-shoot? Virtual declutter can magically eliminate all of the current owner’s/tenant’s personal effects and knick-knacks from surfaces to present a clean, wide-open look.

AFTER Photo Credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

BEFORE

AFTER
Photo credit: VHT Studios (virtually staged)

Or does the dark red wall make the living room appear smaller? It can be virtually repainted a calming gray or white, making the room look more spacious and inviting.

During showings, to remind buyers of the virtually staged photographs they first saw online, real estate professionals can place the virtually staged photographs on an easel, or offer as a handout so buyers can actually see the potential of a room, rather than imagine it on their own.

Another tool that is rising in popularity is interactive floorplans. Some people just can’t look at a floorplan and “see” the flow of a condo. Interactive floorplans include photos from each room, to effectively help a buyer visualize how she’d live in her new home, or how he’d quickly move from his exercise room to the shower and make it to work on time.

Young singles and married couples now make-up the largest population of buyers and are accustomed to being wowed by the content they read and watch. Their expectations are no less when it comes to being dazzled by the potential of the next property they’re thinking of buying. Smart real estate pros will sell listings faster and grow their businesses stronger, by appealing to the needs and expectations of this young market and by helping them envision the full realm of possibilities.

Brian BaldufABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit VHT.com, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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Watch for Asbestos When Renovating Older Homes: You May Be at Risk

Photo credit: BanksPhotos -iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rosie Rosati, guest contributor

As a homebuyer, it’s easy to understand the appeal of investing in an older home. After all, it’s the perfect opportunity to tackle a few DIY projects and renovations to give the place the custom touch you’ve always imagined. Although this can seem like an exciting endeavor, new owners may get ahead themselves without realizing their house may be harboring toxins from decades ago.

It’s important to understand the dangers of asbestos during home improvement projects and how to reduce exposure risks.

Measuring Your Risk

Asbestos is a natural silicate mineral that was revolutionary for the building trade until its carcinogenic nature was discovered. This toxin was once widely-used by the construction industry due to its resilience and ability to withstand chemicals and high temperatures. Although its health risks were discovered as early as the 1920s, the United States continued producing, importing and manufacturing asbestos-containing consumer products for decades.

Researchers concluded in 1960 that asbestos exposure could cause a wide range of long-term diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. As more tradesmen came forward with asbestos-related illnesses, this mineral became known as a primary source of occupational cancer.

The mineral is heavily regulated today, but millions of people are still vulnerable to exposure due to its expansive use in residential homes and buildings.

Asbestos is only considered dangerous when contaminated materials have been worn down or damaged which unfortunately, is a standard part of most renovation or remodeling work.

Any sanding, grinding, sawing, drilling, buffing, or physical impact may cause these fibers to become airborne and easily ingested or inhaled by anyone in the general proximity.

What Homeowners Need to Know

Asbestos is nearly impossible to identify on your own because it’s often mixed within building products, but it is possible to identify a hazardous situation and take appropriate preventative action.

Before getting involved with any sort of home improvement project, you should always double-check that your property has been recently inspected by a trained professional. This simple step is especially important if you reside in a home built more than 40 years ago and has visible signs of aging. This bit of precaution could save you from developing an asbestos-related illness years later.

You should be aware of common products that have a history of containing the toxin and monitor their condition for any sort of wear and tear. Keep an eye on old insulation, ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring, joint compounds, door gaskets, furnaces, roof shingles, electrical wiring, fireproof products, and more.

Asbestos is known to be a significant threat when it is “friable,”  meaning it can be easily crumbled or crushed by hand. Spray-on insulation and spray-on ceiling textures are prime examples of products that once contained friable asbestos and have been found within residential homes today.

Unlike floor tiles and cement that must endure long-term deterioration before asbestos fibers are loosened, the slightest amount of pressure can instantly release these fibers, allowing them to be carried throughout the air and dust indoors.

Do not panic and try to remove any materials you think are toxic, as this will only do more harm than good.

Instead, block off the area and avoid any activity, including sweeping or vacuuming, which can exacerbate the situation and cause toxic dust and debris to travel even further throughout the house.

Restrict anyone from going near the area until a professional can take samples to confirm it contains asbestos. If the toxin is present and appears to be hazardous, the licensed professional can safely remove the toxin from your home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Rosati is with the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center. She is  a health advocate for anyone impacted by the aggressive form of cancer known as mesothelioma. She dedicates her time to educating the public on where asbestos is found today and how to prevent exposure. Her ultimate goal is to connect anyone affected by this rare diseases with the resources and support they deserve.

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Hot Home Trend: Furnishings With Curves

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Furniture is getting curvier this year. Rounded options are pushing out the sharp-edge designs. It can be a nod to the 60’s and 70’s but contemporary fabrics and details are keeping it from looking dated.

You’ll likely notice softer lines, curves, and ruching are growing more popular, designers say. Check out some examples.

Rounded chairs

 

Circular tables

 

Curved sofas

 

Rounded backs

 

Curvy ottomans

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Small Kitchen? Try These 9 Tips for Making the Most of Your Limited Space

Is there some kind of law that requires rental apartments to supply no more than a single square of kitchen counter space to each unit?

Between the white walls, scarce and often outdated cabinets, and a lack of amenities, it’s rare to find a solid kitchen in the world of yearlong leases.

But no good makeover starts with a beautiful subject, right?

All you need to transform that bleak little kitchen into a well-designed, functional space is a bit of imagination, some basic home maintenance skills, and a few solid pieces.

Here’s where to begin.

Donate first

Before moving into your new space, make sure to get rid of all those things you don’t need anymore.

Have you actually used that discounted bundt pan in the past year or two? If not, donate to your favorite local charity shop. Someone else might get use out of it, and you’ll be saving yourself from more clutter in your new home.

Think vertically

Vertical storage is a tried-and-true method of using space, and the kitchen holds some unique opportunities for making the most of it.

Hanging pot racks, magnetic knife strips, mounted dish-drying racks installed above the sink, and rods with hooks for towels, aprons, small tools and oven mitts are all excellent ways to keep clutter in its place – and keep the surfaces and lower area of the room free.

Find beautiful cleaning tools

The ugly truth is that a lot of everyday items just make sense to keep out – but that doesn’t mean they have to be such an eyesore.

Skip the plastic and get yourself a classic wooden broom, natural fiber dish brush and a glass soap dispenser. These items don’t cost much, but they add a softer look while also getting the job done.

Tap into change

Just because your place didn’t come equipped with a dishwasher doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Installing a quality faucet with a pull-down sprayer can make your chores less of a chore (and, as long as you swap it back before you move out, it shouldn’t violate your rental agreement).

Have space and the budget for something more? Portable dishwashers are a massive timesaver. From small countertop models to wheeled butcher-block-top options, there are sizes that fit into almost any space and require nothing more than your standard sink to function.

Live the island life

A kitchen island is a versatile tool for almost any space – even the tiniest micro apartments!

Whether you choose a larger center-of-the-room-style piece or a small butcher-block number, these additions create more counter space and storage, all in one piece.

Bonus: If your island has wheels, it can serve as a portable bar for your next party. (Hey, if we can call bingeing our favorite shows with a few of our closest friends a “party,” so can you.)

Light it up

Another timeless tip: Good lighting is everything.

If your kitchen is dedicated to getting things done and starting your day, invest in cool lighting – the kind that washes everything in a bright, sunlit glow. A refreshing, cooler light wakes us up and creates an invigorating feeling.

If you’re more of a romantic and enjoy taking your time in the kitchen, keep relaxing, warm lighting around so that you can let the day melt away as you sip your merlot.

For those who prefer a bit of both, app-enabled bulbs can customize the mood for any occasion, and some even use every color of the rainbow.

Think (temporarily) BIG

If there’s one common complaint about renting, it’s the stark white walls. Removable wallpaper adds a touch of personalization and won’t break the bank – or at least, it doesn’t have to.

To keep costs low, stick to one accent wall. Finding a large-scale print will make the space feel larger, and layering a sizable mirror on top will maximize the look and any light.

Curate unique displays

One of the best ways to keep an assortment of oddly shaped kitchen items is to dedicate either one section of the room (think: the top 12 inches of the walls) or one wall to showing them off.

Whether it’s your grandmother’s antique creamer collection or the jumble of cookie cutters that won’t fit into your drawers, making them into a vignette adds a layer of personalization to your space while also providing covert storage in plain sight. Easy-to-install hooks or some simple shelves are great ways to achieve this solution.

Keep it alive

Every room deserves a plant. Not only do they look good, but they also improve the quality of the air around them. If you don’t have the floor or counter space to spare, a hanging plant will do the trick.

No natural light in your kitchen? Or perhaps you’re better at killing plants than keeping them green? No matter – there are plenty of realistic artificial plants these days, which means everyone can benefit from the organic shapes of ferns, succulents and the ever-popular fiddle-leaf figs.

Have pets? Make sure to check the toxicity of your plants before choosing their placement.

No matter how uniquely challenging your space might be, there are solutions waiting for you to find them.

Related:

  • ‘You’re Throwing Money Away’ and Other Myths About Renting
  • The Top 5 Renting Nightmares and How to Face Them
  • ‘Where Should I Keep My…?’: Solving the Ultimate Small Space Dilemmas

Kitchen Countertop Buying Guide: Meet the Main Players & Find Your Best Match

Your kitchen is the heart of your home, which means your countertops have to be fit for the job.

Sure, it’s nice if your countertops are stylish. But are they durable? Cost-effective? And will they ultimately suit your lifestyle?

In this buying guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about popular countertop surfaces so you can make an informed choice.

Quartz countertops

Quartz countertops have become increasingly popular due to their solid stone-like appearance and even coloring. While quartz is a naturally occurring mineral, quartz countertops are actually manufactured from quartz particles mixed with a binding resin. Thus, the final color pattern is designed and not a product of nature.

Pros and cons
Quartz countertops have a lot of the benefits of a solid stone slab countertop, like granite, but there are some drawbacks you need to be aware of.

Since quartz countertops contain a large amount of resin, they’re susceptible to heat damage. Placing a hot pot or pan on a quartz countertop can burn, melt or damage the surface.

Unlike granite or marble, however, quartz is resistant to staining from liquids like red wine, and it doesn’t require a sealant to keep it stain-free.

Budget
Quartz is made by different brands, and each brand has their own colors and product names. Quartz prices vary, but you can expect to pay a little less on average than granite – typically around $50 per square foot, with added costs for upgraded edge profiles.

Where to buy
You can shop for quartz at home improvement stores or granite and marble yards. Because it’s manufactured and doesn’t have natural color variations and vein, like marble or granite, you don’t need to shop for it in slabs. Looking at small sample pieces is fine – what you see is what you get.

Some of the brands will carry quartz with faux veining in it, so you might be able to see larger images of those particular products. For the most part, you can take samples home to your kitchen to get a better idea of what you like.

A quartz countertop isn’t a DIY-friendly option, but it does typically come with some sort of warranty. Be sure to shop around for the best price.

What to look for
Selecting the right quartz countertop really comes down to coordinating the color and edge options with your kitchen and personal taste.

Both the light and dark color patterns are the most popular since they are fairly neutral. For edge profiles, a simple, beveled or eased edge will be the lowest cost option and will look fine in most homes.

For a higher-end look, consider a more ornate edge profile that gives a more regal feel to the space.

Glass countertops

If you want a unique and modern look, consider a glass countertop. Glass countertops offer a multitude of designs, configurations and price points.

Recycled glass countertops

Pros and cons

These manufactured countertops are made from broken shards of glass, which get embedded in a resin or concrete base. They come in a wide range of glass and base colors, but most commonly feature blue, green or brown glass pieces.

Some versions are resistant to high heat, but others aren’t, so be sure to check the product details for each product you consider.

Budget

The biggest advantage to this type of glass countertop is its affordability. Recycled glass countertops will range in price from around $75 to $100 per square foot. Expect to pay more for counters with concrete substrates.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Solid glass countertops

Pros and cons

Solid glass countertops are manufactured individually for your unique application and feature a seamless look with blue or green hues. These countertops are much less common than recycled glass versions, due to both their higher price and stark appearance.

Solid glass countertops can withstand high heat from pots and pans, and they can also be used as a cutting board. They clean up very easily with soap and water or glass cleaner.

But, just like any piece of glass, they show dirt or smudges, so you will need to wipe them down more often than other countertop materials.

Budget

Since this type of countertop requires specialty equipment to manufacture, there aren’t as many manufacturers making them. Consequently, you’re going to pay quite a bit for this type of counter. Prices range from just over $100 to well over $300 per square foot.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Where to buy

Because glass countertops are much rarer than granite or marble, you might have trouble finding a supplier. You won’t be able to find glass countertops at your local home improvement store.

The best way to shop for this particular product is to search online for the style, type and color you like. Visit the websites of the various brands you like, and then connect with their individual suppliers.

What to look for

Before you select a glass countertop for your home – either recycled or solid – make sure you see pictures of the same product in a similar installation. It’s best to visit a showroom if you can.

Seeing sample pieces in person is very helpful; this type of countertop is stark, and seeing how a large, bright countertop will affect a room is critical.

Marble countertops

Marble has an elegant appearance that elevates the feel of any kitchen. However, marble isn’t always the best choice for some homes, nor is it the most affordable countertop option.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Pros and cons
There are fewer marble color options compared to granite or quartz, but there is still a relatively large variety. Although most people seem to prefer the lighter options, like the Carrara or Calacatta, marble is not just a white stone.

Marble is mined all around the world, and different regions produce different colors of slabs. You can find marble in cream, brown, green and dark hues, although darker colors are typically harder to find in a countertop slab compared to the lighter tones.

Before you decide on marble as your countertop material, be aware that it stains fairly easily from acidic liquids, like red wine. You don’t want to spend several thousand dollars on a countertop only to have an orange juice spill discolor it. Just be sure that marble is the right material for your kitchen habits and lifestyle.

Budget
Marble comes in a wide variety of prices, and it’s typically quoted per square foot, so it’s a good idea to know how much you’ll need.

Since marble is a natural product, every slab is unique. You can expect to pay anywhere from $75 per square foot up to several hundred dollars per square foot, depending on the features of the individual marble slab. If you want a thicker countertop or a more decorative edge, you’ll pay more.

Where to buy

You need to shop for marble at a granite or stone yard. You’re not going to find marble countertops at a home improvement store.

Most granite suppliers will have some marble slabs for you to choose from, so you can start by checking with them first. It’s best to know exactly what marble color you’d like before you start looking. That way, you can call the suppliers ahead of time to find out what they have in stock.

What to look for
When you are shopping for a marble countertop, look for a slab that’s not only attractive but also consistently colored throughout. Bright white marble with subtle veining is going to cost more than an asymmetrical slab with dark, multicolored veins.

Most slabs will have veining to some extent. Be on the lookout for any yellowing or discoloration. If you find a slab that you really like, but it has some areas in it you don’t love, you might be able to have the countertop patterns cut out around those areas for an additional cost.

Granite countertops

Granite is one of the most popular choices for kitchen countertops and for good reason. It’s a beautiful, natural product that not only adds value to your home but also holds up well in daily use.

Pros and cons
Granite is a durable substance, so it doesn’t scratch easily and can handle a little wear and tear. It’s also resistant to heat, so you’re safe to put pots and pans on it.

The drawback is that granite is porous, and if your countertop is sealed poorly, it can harbor stains and bacteria. Most granite countertops need to be sealed every year.

Budget
Granite comes in a wide variety of prices. It can vary from $45 per square foot up to around $100 per square foot, depending on the grade and color pattern.

Two nearly identical pieces of granite can have different prices if one has a more even color pattern or simply looks more attractive than the other. And thicker granite is going to be more expensive than thinner granite.

In terms of a total kitchen renovation cost, plan on budgeting around 10 percent of your material costs for a granite countertop. That base price usually includes measurement and installation costs and a basic edge profile. More ornate or wider edge profiles will also add to the cost.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Where to buy
You can shop for granite countertops at all major home improvement stores, which have dozens of granite sample pieces to browse. However, you should also look at a granite or stone yard.

Granite yards typically have a large warehouse with many different countertop slabs. You can pick out the exact slab of granite that will go in your kitchen. They may also have deals where they’ll include a free under-mount sink with a countertop purchase.

What to look for
You shouldn’t pick your granite countertop until you’ve picked your cabinets. You want a slab that will coordinate with everything else in your kitchen. To make that task easier, bring a small piece of a backsplash tile or kitchen cabinet door with you to see how it pairs with those items.

Look at the entire granite slab before you place your order. If you find a slab you like, but it contains a vein or a color you don’t like, the granite yard might be able to cut around that discoloration.

Concrete countertops

Unlike granite or marble, concrete countertops aren’t cut from a slab and trimmed to order. Instead, concrete countertops are custom-made for each individual kitchen application, giving you near total control over the finished look.

Pros and cons
Because of its industrial vibe, concrete usually looks better in a city loft than a country kitchen. However, concrete countertops can be incorporated into any style if designed properly.

Concrete colors are predominantly on the darker side of the color scale, with a few lighter options. Edge options may be more limited compared to granite or marble, depending on the supplier.

One concrete’s big advantages is that you can make it whatever thickness you’d like. Standard granite and marble countertops are around 1 to 1.5 inches thick, but it’s not uncommon to see concrete countertops 2 to 4 inches thick.

However, once you start making your concrete countertop thicker than a standard 1.5 inches, you’re adding a lot more weight. A 3-inch thick concrete countertop is like two granite countertops stacked on top of each other – that’s a lot of weight.

To handle the extra weight from the countertops, your kitchen cabinets might need to be reinforced. A countertop installer can make some recommendations for what’s needed.

Budget
Concrete countertops run around $100 per square foot, depending on how thick you want them.

Although the material costs are low for concrete (around $5 for an 80-pound bag), a significant portion of the cost is in labor – much more so than granite or marble.

Build techniques
There are two basic approaches to building concrete countertops: off-site and in-place.

The off-site method involves building a template of your countertops and molds. The molds are built off-site where the concrete is poured and polished.

The in-place approach involves building a mold right on top of your floor cabinets and pouring the concrete right in your kitchen.

The off-site method generally looks better and is significantly less intrusive and messy. But the in-place method doesn’t give you as smooth of a finished surface, and most concrete countertop builders prefer the off-site method.

Countertop options abound, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Just consider your lifestyle, budget and style, and you’re sure to make a choice that you’ll be pleased with for years to come.

Related:

  • Sellers: Here’s How to Update Your Home With Looks Buyers Love
  • Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget
  • Balancing Home Improvements With Big Price Tags

This Historic Connecticut Home Once Hosted a Dancing George Washington

Built in 1680 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this center hall Colonial home on 1 Sill Lane, Old Lyme, CT, is not only a living testament to early American architecture – it’s also got a storied past of its own.

The home once served as a storefront during the Revolutionary War and was largely used as the Peck Tavern throughout the second half of the 18th century and early part of the 19th century.

It’s even rumored that George Washington stopped by to dance in the former ballroom, which is now used as the master bedroom.

The house was also once headquarters for the Old Lyme Guild, an organization started in the 1930s that exhibited and sold arts and crafts.

For a period of time, there were even shops for cabinetmakers, bookbinders, metal workers, potters and weavers out in the barn.

“Can you imagine the conversations that have happened in this house? That’s something I like to think about,” says the homeowner.

In addition to its spectacular history, the home is also architecturally significant. Hand-hewn beamed ceilings and corner posts, original wide board floors, and rare double-arched paneling that was specific to the Connecticut River Valley in the 18th century are just a few of the unique features in the home.

Updated for modern living (yet still keeping the historical integrity), the home now has geothermal heating and cooling, a modern kitchen and updated bathrooms, as well as plenty of space for entertaining.

“It’s been a wonderful house to be able to share with friends and family,” says the homeowner.

The home is listed for $1.195 million by William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Photos courtesy of Peter Harron.

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  • A Cool Twist on a Historic Ice House – House of the Week