The Art of Minimalism and How to Bring It Home

The Art of Minimalism and How to Bring It Home

Minimalism, which has become a real estate agent’s favorite trend recently, is characterized by great simplicity and spareness. The idea is to make each room look more spacious and inviting by drawing attention to only a few detailed components.

Consider these four principles if you want to stage your next home in the minimalist style:

1. Lose the needless

One of the biggest influences of minimalism is Japan’s Zen culture that emphasizes simplicity and the present. This means getting rid of the needless, which in your case may include a lamp or extra chair that isn’t essential to make the room look good. While writers urge each other to “omit needless words,” we suggest you omit needless items.

Instead, keep your home staged with furniture and accessories that are necessary to the function and form of the area. Doing so with each room, whether you’re dealing with a kitchen or master bedroom, will allow the place to evoke a consistent style. Less clutter makes rooms in a home look more spacious and allows potential buyers to have an easier time envisioning their own belongings in the room.

2. Focus on the details

The art of minimalism is all about doing more with less. This means that every piece in the room will receive much more attention and thus should be carefully chosen to evoke the feeling you want each particular space to have. These items will look better and really make the room look attractive if you keep things clean and sophisticated.

On that note, avoid trying to hide things. Since the art of minimalism is all about sparseness, you’re doing it wrong if you’re able to hide needless objects behind other extras. Like we said before, remove unnecessary items so that buyers touring the home will only set their sights on the gorgeous aesthetic items you carefully chose.

3. When choosing colors, go for simplicity

Colors are a powerful tool when staging a home when it comes to setting a feel or mood. To achieve a minimalist look we recommend black and white since they’re perfect for directing attention to other elements in the room. Dark and bright colors will distract visitors from the details and style you’re trying to emphasize in the space.

At the same time, using only white and black isn’t necessary to give the home a touch of minimalism. The trick is to select a color palette that works well together and doesn’t erase the feeling of simplicity in the area. Colors certainly have their place in minimalist decor but they should be chosen and used wisely.

4. Use simple decorations and artwork

Although we’ve been accentuating the idea that minimalism is all about doing more with less, that doesn’t mean your wall should remain empty and dull. To keep the style consistent we recommend photos and paintings or drawings that are framed with a solid color. It’s also OK to leave a wall bare if adjacent walls feature a piece of artwork.

Simplicity also goes for decorations you’d place on a table or corner of the room. Instead of filling your space with accessories, stick to just a vase of flowers, a nice lamp, or potted plant. Make sure your focal item features bright, attractive colors to help draw attention and add a touch of energy to a room with subdued colors.

Whether you are selling your home or just needing a new home look, fluffing and de-cluttering can be done with minimal effort and cost. Give it a try!

8 Things Pets Secretly Hate About Your Home

8 Things Pets Secretly Hate About Your Home

According to animal behaviorists and vets, certain features or items in a home can make dogs and cats mighty uncomfortable. So if you want to create an environment that keeps your four-legged family members happy, check out this list of home amenities that pets often hate—as well as solutions that you can both live with.

1. Dogs hate hardwood floors

Your gleaming hardwood floors may bring warmth and charm to your home, but dogs find them difficult to walk on. The reason: Slick hardwoods have lousy traction, says Jenna Stregowski, a registered veterinary technician.

“When dogs feel like they have less control, they take their toenails and claw into the surface,” says Stregowski. Hardwood floors can be particularly tough for older dogs or dogs with arthritis.

Solution: Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist and owner of All Creatures Behavior Counseling in Kirkland, WA, recommends placing nonskid area rugs on the ground to make the floors easier for pups to walk on.

Don’t want to cover your beautiful hardwoods? Stregowski suggests buying ToeGrips, nonslip rubber rings that slide onto your dog’s toenails to improve traction.

2. Dogs hate your fireplace

“A lot of dogs don’t like the crackling or popping sound of logs in the fireplace,” says Sung. Meanwhile, if you have a gas fireplace, the ticking sound when you turn it on can also scare your pooch.

Solution: Before using the fireplace, give your dog a bone to distract it.

Bonus: “He’ll begin to associate the fireplace with a treat,” says Sung. “It’s positive conditioning.”

3. Dogs hate scented cleaning products

Strong odors can irritate your dog’s nasal passages. “Even a mild-scented cleaner can be a problem, since [odors] smell stronger to dogs than they do to us,” Stregowski says.

Solution: Use odorless cleaners instead of harsh-smelling ones such as vinegar or bleach.

4. Dogs hate chain-link fences

Enclosing your backyard with a fence gives your dog the ability to roam around without your supervision, but chain-link fences can create anxiety. Why? Because dogs can see through the fence at that squirrel, stray cat, or strange human on the other side, but can’t get past the fence to do anything about it. Bummer. Ever stared at desserts through a window? Same idea—it drives ’em crazy.

Solution: If you’re building a fence, opt for solid panels to block your dog’s line of sight, says Mikkel Becker, an animal trainer at FearFreePets.com, a website that provides online and in-person education to veterinary professionals. If you already have a chain-link fence installed, you can buy wooden boards or vinyl panels to cover the gaps.

5. Cats hate being confined to low spaces

Cats are descended from wild predators that spend a lot of time in trees while they’re hunting, says Nicholas Dodman, author of “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.” Consequently, felines crave access to high spaces, and they hate when they can’t access balconies, lofts, or other perches.

Solution: Give your cat spaces to climb. For example, consider building high shelves that are accessible from other furniture, like a sofa or mattress.

6. Cats hate most scratching posts

Cats scratch in order to mark their territory, which is why pet experts recommend homeowners buy scratching posts. Unfortunately, “a lot of scratching posts are made from materials that cats don’t like,” so they don’t use them, says Becker.

Solution: To protect your furniture, buy scratching posts that are made from sisal, a fabric that mimics the rough surface of a tree trunk that cats love to scratch. Also, “make sure that the post is at least 3 feet high, and that it’s anchored to the ground so it doesn’t rock when your cat scratches it,” says Becker.

7. Cats hate tiny litter boxes

Litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes, but you need a litter box that’s large enough for your cat. Buy one that’s too small, and cats may feel inclined to do their business elsewhere.

Solution: Your litter box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat, says Becker.

Also, “don’t put the litter box in a location that’s difficult for the cat to reach,” says Becker, who recommends transforming a cabinet into a litter box if you’re looking to conceal it. (Just make sure there’s enough ventilation.)

Pro tip: “You want to have at least two litter boxes, because a lot of cats like to go No. 1 in one box and No. 2 in the other box,” says Becker.

8. Cats and dogs hate dark spaces

Like us, cats and dogs need vitamin D from sunlight exposure to protect against osteoporosis, rotted teeth, respiratory infections, and other health issues—which explains why they hate being trapped in dark spaces.

Solution: This one is pretty straightforward: Don’t relegate your pet to dark spaces, like the basement. Open those blinds and let them lie in the sun!

Article source: Daniel Bortz for Realtor.com
Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Thanksgiving is almost here, the glorious holiday when many Americans will spend the entire day sweating in the kitchen—and quite possibly several additional days prior to that, stressfully prepping. As for the big day itself, that oversized fowl will take three to five hours to cook, depending on its girth, and then there are side dishes to prepare and pies to bake. So many side dishes and pies!

After a brief reprieve to actually peck at the food, you’re back in the most important room in your home to clean up a monumental mess.

Even apart from Flightless Bird Consumption Day, Americans are spending more waking hours in the kitchen—cooking, eating, and socializing—than ever before. That’s why the kitchen has become the most obsessed-about and downright valuable room in real estate. But we want details! So we decided to tap our ever-hungry data team to dive into the statistics and apply some cool, hard numbers to this hot obsession.

What we discovered: some fascinating facts about the way we cook and eat today, how that shapes the features we want in our home kitchens, and how they drive the prices that we’re willing to pay. Let’s head to the SousVide machines!

Kitchen confidential No. 1: A trophy kitchen sells your home better than anything elseOnce a small, functional space tucked away at the back of the house, the American kitchen has emerged as the showpiece of the home. Top-of-the-line-appliances, rich cabinets, and shining stone countertops have become status symbols. And catnip for home buyers.

“It’s almost not worth calling it a kitchen anymore—it’s a living room that you can cook in,” says Christopher Peacock, a high-end cabinetry designer in Norwalk, CT.

In real estate, the data proves that the kitchen has become the most important room in home buying and selling. Of all homes listed for sale on realtor.com®, 69% of them tout the kitchen as a selling point in their descriptions, compared to 49% that mention the bedrooms and 21% that mention the living room.

Homes that include a “killer kitchen” or “luxury kitchen,” as described by the sellers, sell 8% faster than similar-sized homes in the same ZIP code. And that’s why they’ve become a key part of renovation plans, home decor upgrades, and listings descriptions. Vive la cuisine!

Kitchen confidential No. 2: Small homes no longer mean small kitchens

You can turn out a holiday meal from a cramped galley kitchen, but would you want to? Across the United States, the size of home kitchens varies by region. And you might be surprised to find out which regions of the country love their kitchens the most.

Homes in the Mid-Atlantic region—New York and Pennsylvania—have the largest kitchens (at an average of 170 square feet); while the wide-open West North Central region—the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa—have the smallest kitchens (153 square feet), according to a report from the American Kitchen and Bathroom Association.

While larger homes tend to have larger kitchens, the scale of the increased kitchen size is not proportional to the overall home, the report notes.

“We see extra space in the Mid Atlantic, where people are more affluent, and prime land is relatively inexpensive. In the Southwest, where families are bigger and need a bigger kitchen. And, of course, everything is bigger in Texas,” says Javier Vivas, realtor.com’s economic researcher.

High-end kitchen mania is not universal, however. In America’s heartland, people appear to be less enthusiastic about investing in a luxury kitchen. Affordability, efficient layout, and outdoor features are more appealing to these folks. More of them are maximizing the utility of a small kitchen with clever organizers, like racks that can be attached to a drawer. A rolling island, which can be used both as a prep area and dining surface, is becoming a popular way to save sanity on Thanksgiving Day, says Heidi Féliz-Grimm with Martha O’Hara Interiors in Minneapolis.

Kitchen confidential No. 3: Some features add big value, some don’t

If you want to keep your home from looking dated, you need to up the ante in the kitchen. At the same time, kitchen renovations really can cost you—so home owners need to be wise about putting their money where their mutton is (or where it could be, judiciously broiled and served with rosemary and garlic-infused fingerlings. Delicious!)

As we can see from our listings, some features are better at adding value than others. Custom cabinets that pull the kitchen together, a center island that holds everything you need, and a capacious pantry to stock with your favorite essentials are among the most frequently mentioned features.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you should probably stay away from over-the-stove microwaves, maple cabinets, and 4 x 4 tile floors—those are so yesterday.

Kitchen confidential No. 4: The chef’s kitchen is growing in popularity

If budget is not a concern, having a professional chef’s kitchen is the ultimate dream. Currently, 4.7% of homes on the market describe their kitchen as a “chef’s kitchen” or “gourmet kitchen,” up from 3.3% three years ago. Homes with this feature carry a median price tag of $589,900.

While there’s still no standard definition of what a “chef’s kitchen” includes, we were able to calculate which features are most frequently associated with one. The idea is becoming more and more specific and tangible to homeowners and would-be buyers alike.

The No. 1 principle: Think big, and bigger. That means an oversized fridge (it’s even better to have a separate fridge and freezer); dual commercial-quality ovens to separate the main dish and the sides, a six-burner stovetop (or two!) so your pans don’t crowd each other, and a butler’s pantry that serves as a catering station.

Those are the most touted gourmet features, but we also couldn’t help drooling over indulgences like a walk-in refrigerator, blast chiller (it cools beverages and food within minutes), and a wood-fired pizza oven.

Kitchen confidential No. 5: The nation is split—between open kitchens and formal dining rooms

For years, HGTV has been telling us to knock down walls and open up the kitchen, so that families can spend more time together, whether they’re cooking or eating.

“I can’t even remember the last time somebody asked me to put a wall in their kitchen,” says Féliz-Grimm.

But the formal dining room still has a hold on some parts of the country. For each state, we counted the number of homes in our listings that mention explicitly whether they have an open kitchen or a formal dining room. Here we present you with the United States of America—divided by kitchen layout:

In New England, where many of the country’s oldest homes tend to be smaller, opening up the kitchen and creating a feeling of space is the focus of many home renovation projects. In the Southwest, where balmy weather dominates most of the year, an open floor plan increases natural light and the connection to the outdoors.

This does not apply in the South, where the formal dining room has been a tradition for centuries. People are far more likely there to enjoy their turkey with all the family in a separate dining room, often lit up with chandeliers and adorned with plush drapery.

Article by Yuqing Pan for Realtor.com Follow @YuqingPan

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

There are several different ways you can increase the curb appeal of your home, some simple, some more complex. Colorful flowers, garden lights, a well-manicured lawn and a chic mailbox are just a few examples. The most fun example would have to be your door color.

In many cases, people choose to go with an accent color, not necessarily a color that matches the exterior of their home. This opens the door (pun intended) to many possibilities. For this reason, your door says a lot about who you are.

Here are some of the many colors you can paint your door and what it could say about you.

1. Red

Red is a bold yet traditional color to paint your door. The brightness of the color suggests that the inside is lively and exciting. Traditionally a red door screams ‘come on in’ and is reflective of an extroverted, hospitable personality; somebody who’s always willing to host.

2. Blue

One of the most popular colors to paint your door is blue. It signifies peace and serenity. If your door is blue, you view your home as a refuge from the dastardly chaos of the outside world. You’re a calm peaceful individual and there’s no better place to kick back and relax.

3. Black

While black doesn’t mean stay away, it isn’t emblematic of the ‘mi casa su casa’ philosophy. It speaks of a very strong personality that demands order, authority, and power. When invited to a home with a black door, feel confident that you’re welcome, but don’t put your feet up on the coffee table.

4. Brown or Natural

A brown or natural finish signifies a very down to earth person. Like the earth, brown suggests stability, integrity, and reliability. If your door is brown, you value genuine people and create a non-judgemental environment where they can flourish.

5. Yellow

If your door is yellow, you’re probably a morning person and use a lot of exclamation points! It screams energy, positivity, and excitement! It also signifies confidence, that you’re not afraid to stand out and are very comfortable rubbing off on some of your less enthusiastic guests.

6. Green

If you paint your door green, you’re likely a very driven and ambitious person. Green is strongly associated with growth and money, which often go hand in hand. An ambitious person is not only looking to grow their wealth, but also enrich their lives. It goes without saying that green is one of the most popular colors to paint your door.

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling Your Home

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling Your Home

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling your Home

When you are opening your doors to the public for showings, you need to take extra precautions. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your belongings safe.

After the holidays, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”

If you are selling your home and opening your doors to strangers, this is just one example of a habit that could put you in danger. Let’s use this as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety in your home, especially if you are selling.

National Snapshot of Burglaries

A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.

Consider using this checklist to better prepare yourself when you have interested buyers coming to your door:

  1. Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
  2. Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.