Add Some Plaid to Your Holiday Decor

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Holiday decor is going gingham style this year. Checkered plaid is one of 2018’s hottest holiday design accessory. Black and white or red and black buffalo prints are popping up in everything from Christmas stockings, ornaments, table runners, and wreaths.

The buffalo prints are really a nod to the cozy farmhouse and rustic design styles. Mix black and white buffalo prints with some burlap, greenery, and the warm, yellow glow of lights and candles and you have a very welcoming home this holiday season.

 

Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2Eea0Sd

4 Tips for Using Paint to Update a Home

Photo Credit: Clare

Painting a room can be a quick, transformative update for new homeowners to accomplish. Say your clients recently purchased a home and now they need a little design inspiration to bring it into all its glory. Paint is often the fastest and more transformative way to quickly update a space. Interior decorator Nicole Gibbons, who become known as the “paint maven” with her own brand, Clare, has four tips for using color to update a room. Here are a few of her insider tips:

Photo credit: Clare

  • Pare down your color choices.Research shows that it typically takes an average of four months to choose paint color, which is an unsettling statistic for Gibbons. Tell your clients to focus on a more narrow, curated palette from the get-go, which will help them to not become overwhelmed.
  • Try the color on. Peel and stick color samples are a great way to try out a color without the mess of mini cans of paint and partially painted walls.
  • Shine a light on it. View potential paint color at different times of day, Gibbons recommends, and in different artificial lighting to get the full impact of the color.
  • Don’t forget the primer.“Think of primer as a base coat that creates the foundation for a flawless paint job,” Gibbons writes. It covers imperfections, creates a uniform surface, and neutralized the color so the paint your client chooses appears in its truest, most brilliant form. Two coats may be needed if you’re toning down a higher-gloss paint finish in a switch to matte, or if you’re going from a darker to a lighter hue.

Source: Nicole Gibbons, clare.com

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2SFm56N

The Popsicle Place Program in Seattle Helps Families in Need

It’s tough to afford housing in many cities across the U.S., but in Seattle, it’s a particularly competitive market.

Living in an urban area with such a high cost of living can break a family when emergencies arise, but luckily for the people of Seattle, Mary’s Place has been relieving housing burdens since 1999.

Initially established as a women’s day center, Mary’s Place has evolved and expanded into a housing facility. It now provides a warm bed for 680 family members every night of the year.

As the shelter’s website states, “The Mary’s Place model is simple – partner with anyone and everyone who can help to address the issue of family homelessness: congregations, individuals, cities and counties, and businesses of all sizes.”

It seems to be a phenomenally successful model – and it only continues to grow. The Popsicle Place program, formed in 2018, is a Mary’s Place program focused on assisting families who are simultaneously experiencing homelessness and caring for medically complex or critically ill children.

A devastating statistic says that 1 in every 285 children in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20, and many more will be hospitalized for serious illness and injury. Additionally, 60 percent of people with the highest rent burden can’t cover three months of expenses.

Serious illness can put many families in financial crisis, and the stress of caring for children in need of medical intervention as well as maintaining livelihood for the whole family can be debilitating.

But at Popsicle Place, families don’t have to worry about costly emergency housing options, like motels, or choosing between having a place to live and having a healthy child. They also don’t have to worry about spending the night apart, since the Popsicle Place has a medical staff and volunteers on hand so that every member of the family can rest comfortably, in private rooms, all under one roof – regardless of health status.

While a small housing operation can’t alleviate every concern for families in medical and financial distress, simply having a bit of support can provide immense relief – relief that those families need to take their next step.

“Not only do they have their own private rooms,” says Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place, “but they also have access to our healthcare clinic. They have a Popsicle Place lounge, where if their children aren’t feeling so well or if they have immunocompromised conditions, they can go in there and relax. [We] just want to set them all up for success.”

And that they do, with excellent results.

The Mary’s Place blog recently shared the story of a single mother of three named Nycolle. When she found black mold in her apartment, she was forced to immediately leave with her children, each of them with their own unique and demanding healthcare requirements, leaving them in need of emergency housing. That’s where the Popsicle Place program came in.

“Being at Mary’s Place gave me peace of mind,” says Nycolle in the article, “knowing we had electricity for Karlah’s treatments and refrigeration for Krystoffer’s medications. It let me focus on keeping them well!”

With their basic needs managed, the family members soon found a large, affordable 3-bedroom house in Spokane and happily relocated. They now enjoy a large yard, as well as a home to call their own.

That’s exactly what the program is all about, according to Hartman. “Let’s get you the housing options that you need and then move you forward.”

Related:

  • What You Need to Know About the Fair Housing Act
  • Why Cities Must Become Affordable for the Middle Class
  • Look Inside America’s First 3D-Printed Home

How Virtual Twilight Photos Sold a Languishing Listing

By Harry Parson, guest contributor

A picture is worth a thousand words, and if you have bad photographs of your listing, it tells a thousand bad stories.

So, when I recently took over a home that had been lingering on the market for more than a year, I focused on its photography and online presentation. The home had been listed using poorly lit and composed photographs, which was doing little to generate buyer interest.

High quality photography truly makes the difference between a home that sits and a home that sells. In addition to having good photographs, I used tech tools from VHT Studios, a national real estate photography firm, like virtual twilight to help photograph and present the home in an evening glow to help it stand out from other photos too.

Virtual twilight is when image specialists take exterior photographs taken during daylight and digitally alter them to reflect the warm indoor lights and cool outdoor hues of a home’s exterior at dusk. Twilight photographs stir emotions and make a connection with buyers. They also allow agents to showcase their listings in a new, differently lit way, without having to return for multiple photography sessions to capture a home in different lighting situations, or actually at dusk.

See the difference …

BEFORE

AFTER

The result?A buyer made an offer less than a week after I mounted the new images on my web site. Plus, the property sold for $20,000 over the asking price.

Why Virtual Twilight?

I used virtual twilight photos on the listing to make it stand out from similar-looking houses on the block. I believe the combination of higher quality photographs and the virtual twilight exterior made the difference.

In addition to the obvious beauty component, virtual twilight photos also help homes that have significant outside window reflections. It can be distracting when buyers see windows reflect other houses across the street, passersby, or cars parked on the street. This technology can remove these obstacles and replace them with a warm, romantic glow.

Virtual twilight photos aren’t just for luxury listings or already beautiful homes. For properties requiring exterior improvements, virtual twilight can add a polished look, improve curb appeal and increase buyer interest in practically any property.

How You Visually Market a Home Matters

High quality photographs are incredibly important in marketing a home in the digital age, since buyers search online and decide on a home’s worthiness before ever contacting a real estate professional. Engaging a professional photographer who can take well-lit photographs with wide-angle lenses and knows the ins and outs of lighting and composition will provide you with photographs that will pull buyers in.

If you have a property that’s been sitting on the market awhile, consider ways to amp-up the listing’s visual marketing, rather than automatically lowering the asking price or resorting to extreme measures like pricey remodels or traditional home staging.

Be honest, and put yourself in a prospective buyer’s shoes: When you look at the listing online, do the photographs look bright and inviting? Does the home attract buyers desiring a certain lifestyle? Does it make you want to book a showing or make an offer? If the answer to the above questions is a resounding “no,” you may want to consider engaging a photography partner who knows how to turn heads and help you grow your business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Harry Parson is a Real Estate Broker with Coldwell Banker in Chicago, who engaged VHT Studios to take high quality photographs and conduct Virtual Twilight services on a local property.

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2U8bXVI

Hibernate Luxuriously in This 5,572-Square-Foot Cave Mansion

When most people envision their dream home, they describe large kitchens, beautiful hardwood floors and clawfoot tubs. But not John Hay.

In the mid-1980s, Hay – founder of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company and great-great grandson of U.S. Secretary of State John Milton Hay – purchased the Beckham Creek Cave in Parthenon, Arkansas. He had plans to transform it into a 10,000-square-foot bomb shelter, consisting of cinder-block walls, plywood flooring, 11 coats of clear epoxy on the natural formations of the cave, and an internal freshwater spring.

He stocked it with enough freeze-dried food to keep 50 people fed for up to two years, and he twice had his religious group sit out bomb scares in the cave. By 1987, Hay realized the end of the world wasn’t coming quite so soon. Various records indicate the property was sold to a man known simply as “Mr. Richardson,” who had a different dream in mind when he came into possession of the property.

Soon after turning the space into a $6 million clubbing venue, Mr. Richardson held a grand unveiling that welcomed over 250 esteemed guests, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and many other Hollywood elite.

It’s no wonder that in 1994, John Hay repurchased his now illustrious cave.

In the decades following, several new owners have taken hold of the 257-acre property, each one undoubtedly in awe of the great room’s 40-foot rock ceilings and 2,300 square feet. Stalactites descend from overhead throughout the 5,572-square-foot home, and raw rock has been used wherever possible to maintain the unique character of the space.

Though it’s been renovated several times, the sprawling cave has kept its surprisingly cozy charm intact. Part of the reason the cave’s natural features have been preserved is surely thanks to Hay, who reverently told People magazine in 1988 that the home’s “original architect was God.”

The bad news – every dream home comes with its own downfalls, after all – is that a few of the stalactites drip. However, the whole property is climate-controlled thanks to geothermal units throughout.

The 4-bed, 4-bath cave home will run its next owners somewhere around $2.75 million. And while it doesn’t have those coveted hardwood floors or the clawfoot tub that fantasies are made of, we still consider this incredibly cool residence to be a real gem.

Related:

  • This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle)
  • This Remarkable Home Is Anything but Square
  • Sleep Under the Stars in This Tiny Cabin Near a National Park

How to Move Cross-Country: See How These Renters Made It Work

When former New Yorkers Erica Warren and Cici Harrison drove across the country and settled in the Pacific Northwest, they had a list of criteria for their new rental.

They’d need a parking space, a home office so Erica could work remotely and, of course, a yard so they could adopt a dog. And this rental couldn’t be too splashy, because a cross-country move is expensive enough.

All of this complicated their search in Portland’s tough rental market. Luckily the couple were able to stay locally with friends until they found the right rental. And their new home ticks all the boxes – while requiring some minor compromises to make it all work.

We chatted with Warren to hear how she and her wife navigated a cross-country move, including finding a home in a new city and making their new rental feel like home.

Where is your home, and how long have you lived there?
We’re in the Southeast, specifically the Richmond neighborhood. We moved there in March of 2017, and we’ve been there a year and a half.

How did you find your rental?
When we got here, we were staying with Marty and Tera, our friends who live here locally. The day after we arrived, there was the biggest snowstorm Portland had ever had in 30 years. That put a damper on our apartment searching, because we couldn’t drive our car or get anywhere. This place was actually the first one we saw, because it was in walking distance from Marty and Tera’s house.

We heard about it because Tera had sent an email around at her job asking if anyone had a lead on a rental. Someone else who worked with her had recently purchased a duplex and was looking for renters for the other side.

We walked over and saw it, and it was a very nice place. But it was the first place we looked at. We had no context for if it was a good deal or not. Of course, it seemed like a good deal to us, coming from New York. I was like, “It has a washer and dryer, it has a yard – I’ll pay any amount of money for that!”

So we didn’t say yes right away, and then we probably spent the next two or three weeks looking at places. We looked at about a dozen places all over the city. We saw all the different variations.

At some point we were almost ready to sign a lease on a 1 bedroom in a new apartment complex. It was, on paper, everything we were looking for. And Cici, out of nowhere, goes, “Why didn’t we want that first place that we looked at?” The one we were going to sign a lease for was 1 bedroom, and this was 2 bedrooms, and it was bigger, and the monthly rent was less. And we were like, “Oh, that was a much better place!” So we emailed the landlords to see if it was still available, and it was.

What price range were you looking for, and what did you end up paying?
We were looking in the $1,500-$1,700 per month range. This place ended up being right in the middle. It was $1,600 when we started the first year we were here, and it’s now $1,685. It seems like a pretty reasonable price for the neighborhood we’re in, because the rental market in Portland seems to be growing so fast.

What was the application and approval process like?
It was really straightforward. Our landlords live on the other side of the duplex, and they’re really nice people. I think they were looking for good neighbors as much as they were looking for good tenants. So I think that also helped with the relationship.

Were there any surprise fees?
We paid first month’s rent and a security deposit. The only extra fee when we moved in – we had just adopted Billie, and they had a $25 monthly dog rent. Which they told us about beforehand, because we were very particular about wanting a building that would allow us to adopt a dog. We got her a month after we moved in.

What was your cost of moving across the country?
We paid about $5,000 total for a full-service moving company, which is a lot of money. It was our biggest moving expense, but all we had to do was box up our things. They sent a whole team of people, packed our stuff into a storage cube, stored the cube for us, and then when we found a place, shipped it across the country. We didn’t have to do any of the logistics, and we didn’t have to do any of the carrying of things – we just had to pack a few boxes and unpack the boxes when we got here.

New York is notorious for small apartments. Is your Portland space bigger or smaller?
It’s slightly bigger, and I feel like it’s most noticeable in the kitchen. The kitchen that we have here is two or three times bigger than what we had in New York. I didn’t know how much I wanted a really nice kitchen, but now that I have one, I’m like yes, this is exactly where we needed the extra space!

We also have outdoor space, which makes a huge difference. It’s not huge – it’s more like a patio than a yard. We have a little grill, and we can sit out there on a nice day. Plus, it’s got a fence, so we can let our dog out.

Did you have any challenges making the place functional?
Nothing major. It was built in the ’60s or ’70s, but the landlords had renovated our unit before we moved in, so the kitchen, bathroom and flooring were all brand new – you know, everything works and is nicely designed, so that helped.

I did a little bit of work in the yard, just because it was a little muddy, and it’s Portland, so it’s wet in the winter, and Billie likes to dig. I got some pebble stones to fill in some of the muddy areas. We got into some light container gardening, because we never had outdoor space in Brooklyn. So we have a little blueberry bush, some star jasmine and some other little things I’m trying not to kill.

What else have you done to make your rental feel like home?
We painted a couple accent walls, which our landlords were totally fine with. We have this wide picture window in the living room that faces the road, but because of that you can see right into our house. So we got a custom shade that you can pull up from the bottom or pull down from the top, just so that we can have privacy but also sunlight if we want.

How long do you think you’ll stay?
I don’t know specifically. When we moved in, we talked about how we’d love to stay here until we’re in a position to buy a house. One day I’d like to own a house – a dining room would be nice at some point in my life. But where we’re at right now, this is the right amount of space, and it’s a really great neighborhood.

What do you want from your next place, other than a dining room?
A big fenced-in yard for Billie! Cici’s mom sent us an article about how the thing that’s finally getting millennials to buy houses is their dogs.

I’d also like a little bit more guest space so we could have people visit more frequently, because all of our family is on the East Coast.

And this is 100 percent because Cici has already claimed it – whatever house we buy has to have a basement so that she can play drums there. Number one is a yard for Billie, and number two is a basement for a drum kit and band practice.

Erica’s tips for finding a rental in a new city

1. Look around to get a sense of the market

Look at as many places as possible. Because even if you don’t want that unit, it gives you a sense of the market. So when you do find a good deal, you know that you have a good deal.

2. Know where you’re willing to compromise

If you have enough money that you don’t have to make sacrifices in renting, you probably don’t need to be renting. So everything’s a trade-off. There’s not a perfect rental out there. So it’s like, “This place has 2 bedrooms, but it’s more expensive, or this place has a bigger yard, but it’s farther out.”

3. Get a little help from your friends

We were so lucky to stay with Marty and Tera in their guest room until we found our own place. And Tera emailed co-workers to see if they knew of any rentals, which is how we ended up finding this place.

4. Conserve your energy and hire a full-service moving and storage company (if you can)

There’s enough stress in moving at all, amplified by moving cross-country. We probably could have gotten a U-Haul, packed it up, driven it cross-country and put our stuff into a storage unit here. But the logistics, let alone the physical labor, were not extra pieces of stress we needed. And even though it was really expensive, it was worth every penny.

Apartment photos by Erica Warren.

Related:

  • How to Make the Most of 500 Square Feet: See How This City Renter Did It
  • 3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big
  • How to Perform a Landlord Background Check

3 ‘Subtle’ Holiday Staging Tips

Want to give your listing a little holiday flair–without going overboard?  Elyza Brillantes, design program manager at Havenly, offers some of the following tips:

1. Infuse greenery.

Greenery is always a must for staging your home so the space feels fresh. “For the holidays, seasonal greenery like evergreen boughs can be a lovely way to make the space look inviting, and also smell great,” Brillantes says. “If you live in an area where evergreens aren’t readily available, eucalyptus or magnolia can be a great substitute.”

2. Make it cozy.

The holidays are all about getting cozy. Pay close attention to your throw pillows and throw blankets in the living spaces to help potential buyers envision themselves spending quality time in your home, Brillantes suggests. Materials like wool and fleece are perfect for the cold weather months, and patterns like buffalo check are a timeless pattern that can feel just as classic as they do holiday, she says.

3. Show off entertaining potential.

Entertaining during the holidays can be top of mind for buyers. Dress up your dining table in a way that feels inviting. For example, a simple table runner and centerpiece can be a great way to make a space feel perfect for having the extended family over for the holidays, Brillantes says.

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2Rebb7M

An Up-Close Look at Housing Insecurity (and How to Help!)

Five years ago, Timothy C. Acena was living – and sleeping – in his wheelchair behind a busy fast-food restaurant. At night, he’d park himself on a fresh piece of cardboard near the restaurant’s dumpster and clip together a makeshift awning of eight umbrellas to protect him and the five backpacks full of his belongings from the elements.

During the day, he’d sit in front of the restaurant and ask customers to buy him a meal, which they always did, he says. He used the restaurant’s bathrooms and traveled for showers and laundry. All the while, he waited for an affordable apartment to open up.

Today, Acena, 52, has his own bed and a roof over his head. The former construction worker, who lost the ability to walk when he was 40, lives in a studio apartment in West Seattle in a building that provides affordable, stable housing and mental health and addiction treatment services to him and 65 other people who had been sleeping in shelters or out in the cold.

In the building’s lobby, letters cut from beige construction paper hang over the mail slots on the wall, spelling out the season’s message: “Be thankful.” Acena says he lives those words every day. He knows he would probably be dead or still homeless had other people not cared enough to build and manage a place where he could afford to live – and where he could very well spend the rest of his life.

More than a half a million Americans were homeless in 2017, a number that increased for the first time since 2010, according to a one-night count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Experts agree the count doesn’t capture all the people sleeping outside and say the number is likely to be much higher.

In some cities, homelessness has reached crisis levels as the economy continues to expand and people flock to urban areas for jobs, driving up rents that were once affordable for people earning low and middle incomes.

Many people are one emergency away from a missed rent payment. Today, only 52 percent of renters say they would be able to cover an unexpected expense of $1,000 if they had to, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018. Gen X renters, who are between the ages of 39 and 53, are the most vulnerable: Only 44 percent say they could weather a $1,000 hit to their budget.

In some cities, the share of median income spent on rent exceeds 40 percent, according to Zillow economists, whose research also ties rent increases to moves and even homelessness. In Los Angeles, for instance, a 5 percent increase in rent would add 1,993 people to the ranks of the homeless.

Colin Maloney, project manager for Cottage Grove Commons, the Downtown Emergency Services Center building where Acena lives in West Seattle, said homelessness affects a broad swath of humanity: families, people with advanced degrees, people with mental and physical disabilities, and people with job skills no longer in demand.

Some residents of the Grove apartments grew up in homelessness or bounced through the foster care system only to end up alone when they turned 18. Others, like Acena, have struggled with addictions or remain yoked to criminal records that keep them from jobs and homes. At times, it’s hard to for them to see a path back to home, Maloney says.

But, he adds, “We have to believe that a better future is possible.”

Acena is proof of that. Before he became homeless, he lived in a $60 a night motel room, paid for with a combination of his Social Security disability check and funds from a church youth group. When the group’s subsidy stopped, Acena made a temporary home behind the restaurant rather than return to shelter living.

Acena smiles recalling the day he moved into his current home. He could finally sleep lying down. “It was like somebody took a Tyrannosaurus rex off my shoulders,” he says.

His apartment costs him $215 a month, about 30 percent of his $720 monthly Social Security income. He spends his days there building plastic models, watching TV, indulging in pancakes with peanut butter and staying healthy.

“I don’t think it’s unsolvable,” he says of homelessness. “It’s just difficult. Anything difficult has got to have something good in the end if you go through it.”

This holiday season, you can help these organizations that are working to bring housing security to communities across the country. Their success brings hope to all of us.

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania Washington, D.C.
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island West Virginia
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wisconsin
Wyoming

Related:

  • The Popsicle Place Program in Seattle Helps Families in Need
  • Why Cities Must Become Affordable for the Middle Class
  • Look Inside America’s First 3D-Printed Home

Black Friday Shopping? The Top Searched Furniture Items by State

Consumers may be most on the hunt for a new sectional, TV stand, hutch, and sofa table to spruce up their home. These were the most searched-for home furniture items based on Google shopping data, according to a new analysis of search data by NextDay Blinds.

NextDay Blinds analyzed the data to find the top-searched furniture items and broke it down by state. Many homeowners may be setting their sights on enhancing their living room. Consumers within 27 states were most searching for a furniture item that was specific to the living room.

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2qSkfUj

Denim Design: The Jean-Look Is Hitting Home Decor

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

If you thought jeans were just for wearing, you are mistaken. Denim is becoming a hot fabric in home décor. We’re seeing denim sofa coverings, pillows, table runners, ottomans, rugs and bedding.

Denim is being lumped into a bigger trend of using more “utility fabrics” in home décor. Besides denim, those trending utility fabrics also include burlap, grain sacks, and drop cloths. All of these are heavier fabrics but they can add texture in designing your space. Another bonus: These utility fabrics are known for being less expensive and durable. That helps make denim great for rugs, sofas, or even a kid or teens’ bedroom. Denim wears and washes well so it can also be a great choice for high-traffic areas of the home.

 

Blue is really taking off as the “it” color in home design this year, and obviously blue denim fits right into that. A more mainstream use of the jean trend may come from denim-inspired blue paint finishes on furnishings or on kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

 

Can denim make a lasting enough impression on home decor to stick around? It’s a heavy fabric and it doesn’t exactly give off a cozy vibe. But in some areas of home design, it may very well find a niche.

from Styled, Staged & Sold https://ift.tt/2B0kdzA