Monday, February 28, 2011

Choosing the finishing touches for your newly built home

Normandy Park New Construction TownhomesImage by burienundressedblog via Flickr
Many home builders out there offer a wide range of upgrades that will enhance a buyers home for years. In some instances, the choices of wood finishes, hardware, and counter tops is limited, along with paint colors, while others run the gamut. There are a few things to remember during this process.





1. Take your time and research-
  Just as important as pleasing your color pallet, it is important to know what upgrades are worth it and what upgrades aren't. This is an investment opportunity, and in some cases, making the wrong choice in finishes can be costly mistake later.



New Construction InteriorImage by thepatriotcompany via Flickr
2. Wood finishes-
Try to match your wood finishes in your new construction- Flooring and cabinetry look best when they are the same. Some may argue that this seems to be too much of a good thing, but to counter that is the fact that mixed woods are distracting to each other. Also know that trend wise, Oak is on the lower end of the totem pole, with more desirable woods falling under Maple, Mahogany, and Cherry. All of which can be finished in different stains, so try to at least keep stains similar. Contrasts are nice in a home, but you can easily bring in contrasts via paint colors and in decorative elements.



3. Hardware-
Make sure you don't mix your finishes in the room. While some designers will think it a bold move, most of the time from a visual stand point, having brushed Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze in the same setting just doesn't  jive well. There are metals that flatter each other that you can mix, such as Oil Rubbed Bronze, antique bronze, and  Copper, or Brushed Nickel and Pewter. Do not forget your cabinetry hardware when planning your fixtures. Lighting fixtures, faucets and cabinetry should all go well together. You can go a little creative, but this isn't the best area to be daring in. A pulled together room will always have a professional touch to it, and the way to achieve it is when you carefully match your finishes throughout.




Dried green paintImage via Wikipedia
4. Paint color and type-
 There are two schools of thought with regards to paint colors for you new home, one is to paint before you move it, which is a great way to avoid getting paint on furniture and allows you the ability to move about freely from room to room. The other school of thought is wait to paint until you move in the home for a while so that you can be certain that the color choices you make will work well with your furniture and decor. Another consideration is that if you move into your home first you will have the opportunity to examine the effects that lighting cause in each room. Perhaps you want to capitalize on a rooms natural light by picking a color that will enhance the natural light. There may be a room that receives little light that you may want to paint a brighter color, or use a semi gloss to redirect what light does come into the room. One thing you want to remember with regards to painting is to keep the same color family in any areas that are connected, or open up to each other. When several rooms are visible from one viewpoint, you can stay in the same color family. You can make distinctions by going with a varying shade of the same color. Make sure to go with the correct type of paint in kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens usually do not fair well with flat paints as even small grease particles can eventually be seen on your walls. Bathrooms need a paint that will have waterproofing characteristics and also be mold resistant. See : Sherwin Williams Bath Paint.




An example of solid wood flooring with a top c...Image via Wikipedia
5. Flooring-
Ideally using the same flooring through out your home is playing it safe and for most a wise route. However, you can mix flooring if you are doing different materials as long as the colors meld well with each other. For instance, Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors will look perfectly fine in your living room, but you may wish to have stone tile in your kitchen. This is perfectly acceptable if you go with a stone tile that embodies the same warm red, gold and tan tones found in the Cherry flooring. Do not mix hardwoods with other hardwoods, example, an oak floor in your living room should never butt up against a mahogany floor in your dining room. This will make the areas look choppy and your flooring will appear to be an afterthought. In some cases it even suggests that part of the home is older, or has an add on. It just doesn't look pulled together. Tiled stone flooring shouldn't be a mix of styles either. The exception perhaps in bathrooms.
Granite Installation, Santa Cecilia Countertop...Image by granite-charlotte via Flickr




6. Counter tops and Vanities-
Make sure you go with a pattern in your counter top choice that will accommodate a change in color scheme. If a granite counter top has several color variations, you will have an easier time at a later date, should you grow tired of the paint color in the room.  For the same reason, you may want to chose a Vanity top that can easily go with any color.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Different tile choices for flooring

Ceramic tiles flooring in Istanbul streetImage via Wikipedia



Linoleum tile
Linoleum tile is increasing in popularity because it is made of natural materials with low-energy processes. It contains no toxins and is mildly antibacterial. Early linoleum was only available in muted colors, but today bright, vibrant colors are also available. This may be one of the most affordable means of flooring on the market today. There are unique features to this product so be sure to always do a thorough research to make sure it is the right product for your renovation.

Ceramic tile
 What is Ceramic tile?  Ceramic tile is made from clay fired in a kiln. A colored glaze is added, and the tile is fired again, making the colors that have been applied come alive in vivid variations. Ceramic tile can be slippery, so they are usually treated with an abrasive if they are to be used a floor tiles. Unglazed ceramic tiles, called quarry tiles, are also available. They stain easily, so they should be sealed for use as flooring. Remember that slick surface tiles are not ideal in places like the bathroom, pool changing rooms, or anywhere water may collect.

Terra Cotta
Terra cotta is clay that has been fired but not colored, the same material used for garden pots. It is usually left unglazed. The color can vary, due to variation in the mineral content of the soil, but usually has an orange cast. Terra cotta floor tiles absorb liquid, so they have to be treated before use indoors. The Terra Cotta tiles have long been a great choice for those that may  be interested in adding flooring to a Sun room,  or in green rooms where you will be dealing with dirt and water on a regular basis. Terra Cotta adds natural warmth and beauty, but should be treated and sealed if you are considering this choice in any interior room of your home.

Terrazzo tiles
Terrazzo tiles are formed from marble or other stone chips embedded in concrete. The surface is polished to a high sheen and is extremely durable. Terrazzo was . Terrazzo floor tiles are beautiful and easy to maintain. Clay has been used for floor tiles from ancient times. Today, the clay can be processed in a number of different ways, resulting in several categories of tile. Terrazzo flooring was seen a lot thoughout the 1960's and 70's in new construction.

                                                                Porcelain and Mosaic tiles
Mosaic glass tile muralImage via Wikipedia
Porcelain tiles are clay tiles fired at very high temperatures. This creates a dense tile that is quite resistant to moisture. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates the hardness of porcelain tiles for use in light traffic areas, group I, to extra heavy traffic areas, group V.  Mosaic floor tiles are usually made from porcelain, ceramic, or glass formed into squares of less than two inches (2.5 cm). The squares can be arranged to form a picture or a repeating pattern. Artisans create unique floors using mosaic tiles. The tiles are also available in standard patterns, which can be purchased attached to a backing for easy installation.

Vinyl tiles
One of the most cost efficient means of flooring, Vinyl tiles have come a long way since their origins and now have a lot of versatility, and style like never before. Vinyl tiles were developed after World War II. Today, the process is so sophisticated that vinyl floor tiles can mimic any other material, from hardwood to porcelain. They are inexpensive and easy to install.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top 5 articles on painting your home interior

A collection of cans of paint and other relate...Image via Wikipedia
If you live in South Carolina and would like to see a complete listing of the finer paint stores in your area please visit this South Carolina Retail Paint Stores Directory. This list is a thorough list of paint stores spanning over most of South Carolina.






Grey the new beige in home d├ęcor
Ten years ago, if someone had said grey would soon be the new beige in home decor, one might would have scoffed. However, in recent years consumers have softened towards this not-so-new color and it is turning up everywhere in homes. Grey is no longer the dull and drab institutional color it once was. Today, the average homeowner is more skilled in design than ever before. Most consumers are quite design savvy and have access to information and know that in the right settings, and paired well with supporting colors, grey is the new hot neutral. Continue reading on Examiner.com: Grey, the new beige in home decor 

Making neutral paint colors work
We have all heard on television that neutrals are the way to go when painting a room, especially if you are planning on selling sometime in the near future. So you went and bought some beige and went to work "neutralizing" your home. Did you run across a feeling of boredom? Did you feel you toned your home down to the point it could be used for a sleep center? Well what a lot of these decorating shows on television fail to mention is that neutrals work but to get them to "pop" requires, bold compliments in trim and accents.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: Making neutral paint colors work



Painting basics for beginners
Few improvements you make in your home will be as affordable or easy as painting the walls in your room. The impact can be huge and gratifying. Knowing the best paint for the particular type of room you are working on is an important first step before your project should begin.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: Painting basics for beginners


Painting green for a healthier home
A few decades ago, painting a room involved a major process of opening windows and doors, sleeping in other rooms, and hours and hours of dry time. Little did the consumer know, the walls they were painting were laden with lead, and high concentrations of VOC's. Now the homeowner has options like never before to make their home beautiful, healthier and Eco friendly.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: Painting green for a healthier home 


How to find inspiration for color in your room
When deciding my color choices in a room, It's a great idea to use what is already in the room. Often our own decor can give us the greatest help when we need to decide on what color to paint a room that will not only appeal to us, but also enhance the existing decor elements.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: How to find inspiration for color in your room



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Monday, February 14, 2011

Top ways to build equity in your home

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.Image via Wikipedia

We have all heard the term  "upside down mortgage" also known as negative equity. Simply put, this is when a homeowner owes more on the home than what the home appraises for. Those who often fall prey to this type of situation are those that buy homes with little or no down payment and finance for long terms of 30 plus years. Additionally, those hit hardest in this situation would be the home owner that bought the biggest house on the block in addition to the above mentioned pitfalls. The largest home on the block has the least potential for value increase because it's appraised value is more subject to what the market will bear. The reason is the comparison homes in the area have undoubtedly less value and their lower value pulls down the amount the large home can be appraised at or appreciate. Appraisers look at the other homes in the area and use their collective values to appraise your home. If most of the homes in the immediate area are smaller, your home will have a real limit as to how fast it can accrue value.

Many new home owners and first time home owners are easily beguiled into buying the big house, not realizing the long term pitfalls. Had they aimed for the moderate sized home, with potential to increase the square footage, they would have seen a more dramatic increase in the appraised value. It is a scary thing to contemplate the idea that the home you love could be worth less than what is owed which is a symptom of a bad housing market.

There are a few things you can do to help your home retain equity and even gain equity. If you were one of the first time home buyers that took advantage of the so called 8000 dollar home buying credit only to realize that such a small down payment would have very little impact on your homes equity, these tips are for you. Another group of interest would be those that went with FHA loans with little or not down payment required only to realize later that the small down payment also may have backfired, especially if your home lost value of the past few years. Use these strategies to fight the down housing market and protect your investment.

1. Shorten your mortgage term-
Reducing the number of years your home is financed for will save you thousands in interest alone and will  help build equity up faster.

2. Refinance at a lower rate-
If you haven't taken advantage of lower rates then you have had your head in the sand. Do so now. Paying less interest means more of your payment goes towards your principle and when you do this your equity builds faster. Make sure you do your comparison shopping with regards to refinancing, pay attention to the closing costs.

3. Refinance with the bi monthly payment option-

Not only will this also save you thousands over the life of your loan, you actually shave off several years of your mortgage while doing it.

4. FHA Streamline-

Most homes financed through the Federal Housing Authority can be refinanced without having to be appraised if you are simply trying to lower your interest rate. However, your home will still need to be appraised if you are considering shortening your mortgage term.

5. Make extra payments-

Every little bit helps. If you can make either extra mortgage payments, or can round up your payments monthly say from $1200.00 to $1300.00 you are actually making one extra payment every year. It may seem like a small amount but it does add up over the course of a 30 year mortgage.
 
6. Add square footage-

If you have the ability to increase the square footage in your home, you have the ability to add value which will fight a sagging housing market. Consider the benefits of changing an enclosed porch into a sun room or a family room. There are sites that will help you determine exactly how much value the additional square footage will add to your homes value. Increased value equals increased equity. Caution- In most states, these rooms must have certain criteria met before they are considered livable square footage. Most states require that the room have heat and air conditioning, electrical outlets and windows. Research before you build or add on.

7. Update your home-
If you can updating with energy efficient appliances, and windows among other things can really boost the homes bottom line. Whether you plan on selling your home or not, these things are just plain smart improvements to your biggest investment. The money you may save yearly in updating to cost efficient appliances like your refrigerator and water heater can help pay down that mortgage if you do your homework and add the savings to your mortgage payment.
Rome was not built in a day, and updates can be costly, however, by prioritizing that which is most urgent over cosmetic updates will help keep you going in the right direction and if you have to, do a little here and there, the important thing is to get started.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting your home ready for appraisals and inspections


Your home needs to have curb appeal on the outside, and buyer appeal on the inside
Photo: Dawn Gagnon 
 
Whether you wish to place your home on the market for sale, or need to have an appraisal for refinancing, there are certain things you want to take care of in advance.  Failing to take precautions with your home ahead of time can lead to having your loan process, or home inspection hold up progress. This list details things you need to take care of prior to inspections or appraisers coming to your home.
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