Defining a House Style: What Makes A Creole Home?

Louisiana is a place like no other. It and its surrounding areas are home to a truly unique style of architecture known as the Creole home. Though you’re less likely to see this home outside of New Orleans, that in no way discounts the rich history and one-of-a-kind make up that this home style has to offer.

Take an in-depth look at the Creole home, including its complex beginnings, its two distinct sub-types and some of the defining features of the style. Read on to learn for yourself what makes this type of architecture so special.

creole home

Creole homes can be traced back to French colonization. Image: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

History of the Creole home

The word “Creole” has a varied and complex history. It can refer to anything from ethnic heritage to recipes or styles of music. In much the same way, the history of Creole architecture comes to us from a variety of different paths. No one knows for sure what the exact origins are.

However, we do know that rather than resulting as an adaptation to the environment, Creole architecture formed out of cultural influences from the various settlers who called the Mississippi Valley home. Some believe that Creole architecture is due largely to French Canadian settlers in the area. Others think it came directly from France. Still others argue that the architecture shows more influence from the West Indies.

To complicate matters further, after two fires in the late 1700’s destroyed many original Creole houses, Spanish settlers from the time responded by strengthening building codes and adding their own architectural influences to the mix during reconstruction.

subtypes

There are two distinct subtypes of Creole homes. Image: dejjf82 / Shutterstock

Types of Creole homes

There are two main sub-types of the Creole home. You can tell them apart in the following ways.

The Creole Cottage

The smaller of the two house types, the Creole cottage is also the oldest. These houses feature anywhere from one to four rooms with no hallways to speak of. However, unlike the similarly-built shotgun house, which is also prevalent in the area, these cottages have rooflines that run either side-to-side or parallel to the street. They also feature a second half-story for bedrooms. In rural areas, these homes are known for their sprawling front porches. However, in New Orleans, where space is at a premium, they meet the street.

The Creole Townhouse

The Creole townhouse is perhaps most well-known for its presence in New Orleans’s French Quarter. These houses date from after the Great New Orleans Fire in 1788. Made from stucco or brick, rather than wood, these homes are more fire-resistant. This type of Creole home features thick walls, open courtyards, arcades,and cast-iron balconies. Additionally, they show both Spanish and French influence with their steeply-pitched roofs and dormers.

features

Creole homes have a unique set of defining features. Image: Phuong D. Nguyen / Shutterstock

Defining features of Creole homes

Though the two sub-types of Creole homes differ from one and other, they still share many similarities.  There are as few defining features that tie this style together. Here are some of the exterior and interior features to look for in a Creole home.

Exterior

  • Large front porches on every story (also known as galleries)
  • A broad, spreading roofline that overhangs the galleries
  • Gallery roofs that are held up by colonnettes

Interior

  • Principal rooms above grade (in case of flooding)
  • A lack of hallways between rooms
  • Lots of French doors
  • Presence of French wraparound mantels

What do you think of this style of home? Let us know in the comments!

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10 Small Corner Desks That Transform A Corner Into A Functional Small Home Office

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Productivity is possible, even in the smallest of spaces. And if you’re space-challenged, there’s no better place to set up your small home office than in an awkward, unused corner. Check out these 10 small corner desks — and how they’ve been styled — for great ideas to transform a corner into a functional small home office.

1. Harper Blvd. Kemble Metal/Glass Corner Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corner desks

For a sleek and contemporary look, choose a glass top to lighten up the corner. If you don’t have a window to look out, hang a mirror or wall canvas on the wall.

2. Fynn Wall Mount Corner Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corner desks

This floating desk is wall-mounted to allow space for a chair to tuck in. The cubbies are perfect for holding files and other items.

3. Ellen Corner Desk at Target, $130

small corner desk

This furniture-like small corner desk can also work as a small TV cabinet.

4. Friedman Corner Desk with Hutch at Wayfair, $183

small corner desks

Make maximum use of a corner by adding a hutch that takes advantage of the wall space over the desk.

5. Fold-Out Convertible Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corner desks

This well-designed wall desk has cubbies and a cork board to keep you organized. The actual desk surface area drops down, with the door becoming the supporting leg. To clear the area when done, put everything back in the cubbies and fold the unit back up to close.

6. Ameriwood Home Parsons Corner Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corner desks

The shallow lower shelf of this small corner desk can hold additional items like books or a small printer while still allowing space for your legs.

7. Willingham Wall Mount Folding Laptop Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corner desks

If all you need to create a home office is a spot for your laptop, this wall-mounted small desk may be the solution. Hang it on one of the walls of your corner for a mini work station.

8. Tangkula Corner Desk at Amazon, click for price

small corer desks

Some small corner desks have very limited surface area and storage. But this unit features a pullout keyboard tray and shelving large enough to hold a desktop computer tower.

9. Moorton Corner Computer Desk at Wayfair, $286

small corner desks

This transitional small corner desk can work in many home styles. Use a cube or square ottoman as a desk chair if your corner area space is limited.

10. Calgary L-Shaped Desk at Wayfair, $223

small corner desks

The L-shape of this desk fits well into a corner, with an integrated bookcase serving as one of the supporting legs.

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9 Small Space Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

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When it comes to designing and decorating small spaces, most people know the cardinal rules. Keep things light; make sure the furniture matches the scale. But while trying to make sure you’re getting the most out of every inch of a small space, you could be doing the total opposite. When designing around a less-than-robust space, think beyond the usual suspects. Avoid these small space mistakes by taking the big picture into account. Follow our guide to avoid some of the most common gaffes.

Minimal home with bookshelf

Only have the storage you actually need. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Too much storage

When you’re dealing with a small space, all storage feels like good storage. You need a place to keep your stuff uncluttered and organized, right? But going too crazy with storage solutions like boxes and baskets can ultimately trip up your design and make a room feel smaller. Stick with the storage solutions you need and stash them away under furniture so they aren’t under foot.

Small scale pieces

It’s important to choose furniture that fits the scale of the room. An overstuffed couch in a tiny study can make it feel cramped. But too much small furniture can have the same effect. In some cases, one large piece feels more spacious than several smaller pieces, such as rugs. Opt for large anchor pieces and pepper in to-scale furniture to make a room feel roomy.

Traditional living room

Use lighting to illuminate every inch. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Skimping on light

Lighting is another area where people make small space mistakes. No one wants to trip over cords and plugs in a small room, so some homeowners opt to skip accent lighting. After all, shouldn’t overhead lights be enough? Unfortunately, dark corners can make a room feel smaller than it already is, so use accent lighting to illuminate every inch of a small space for big impact.

Being total wallflowers

Pushing all the furniture against the walls of a small room might be a clever stager’s trick, but it doesn’t always work. It can make for strange layouts and limited design. Consider moving couches away from walls to allow for narrow tables or a layout better for socializing. The center of the room might feel a little smaller, but you’ll gain big design points.

Bright, modern kitchen with backplash

Choose texture over bold colors. Image: JR-Stock/Shutterstock

Relying on color only

You’ve probably heard that light colors make a room feel large and dark colors can make a room feel tiny. But the way a small space feels is probably less about color and more about texture. Color alone can be choppy and disjointed, especially when viewed with the rest of the home. Instead, keep colors monochrome in your home and utilize texture as your main design strategy. Woodwork and textiles bring character to a small room without boxing it in.

Stopping with the walls

A small space needs all the help it can get, so don’t stop painting once the walls are done. By extending the same color onto the ceiling, it creates an unbroken line. This can make a room feel much more spacious than it really is.

Breaking up the space

In your efforts to make a room feel bigger, you could be doing the total opposite. Breaking up a small space with small furniture, bold accent colors or fussy textiles and drapes automatically causes the eye to see a room in fits and starts. Instead, keep your eye line as fluid as possible. Consider the room in conjunction with the rest of your home and avoid furniture and accents that break up the space.

White bedroom with blue accents small space mistakes

Minimal decor keeps a small space bright and airy. Image: Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock

Too much decor

It’s a common mistake in interior design in general: there can definitely be too much of a good thing. Don’t feel pressure to “design” every inch of a small space. Leaving some tables bare or a couch without pillows and throws might not be the most interesting choice, but it gives the eye a break. That break can offer the illusion of extra space. This is an easy solution to one of the most common small space mistakes.

Not seeing potential

It’s one of the saddest small space mistakes of all. Small rooms and spaces are often relegated to unused rooms or corners of the home. But with the right design, every area in your home can be functional–if not palatial. Consider the potential in small spaces. What you consider small might be a cozy place to read or a great place to enjoy your morning coffee. See past size and put your smaller spaces to work by thinking outside the square foot.

Hey, we can’t all have homes big enough for a football game. But every nook and cranny can be thoughtfully designed to have a purpose. Embrace the tiny life by avoiding the small space mistakes that make your home feel more compact than it is and you’ll find that size doesn’t matter.

Do you have any additional small space mistakes that we should avoid? Let us know in the comments.

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FSBO: Should You Sell Your Home Without a Realtor?

Who knows your home better than you do? Not only have you actually lived in it, but you know all of the home’s great features. You’ve put years of TLC into it. So it may seem like a waste of money to pay someone else thousands of dollars to sell your property. Especially if you’ve done your homework and have a pretty good idea of how For Sale By Owner (FSBO) works.

However, have you considered all of the other factors that go into FSBO? Below, Freshome takes a look at the pros and cons of selling your home without a realtor.

Advantage: Saving Money

FSBO can eliminate the middle man

FSBO can eliminate the middle man. Image: RichLegg/Getty Images

The most obvious advantage is the amount of money you could potentially save. “Typically, a realtor charges a 6 percent listing fee: 3 percent to the buyer’s agent, 3 percent to the listing agent, and selling by owner waives this fee,” explains Amanda Graham, a real estate agent at MacDonald/Becker/TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, DC. “Also, the homeowner is in control of the price and negotiates with the buyer for the terms they want,” Graham says.

But isn’t the homeowner in control of the price anyway? Yes, but according to Mark Cianciulli of The CREM Group in Long Beach, CA, homeowners may be influenced by their realtor’s opinion. “However, in this situation, the homeowners will be able to have complete control over pricing and can price the home for whatever they want,” Cianciulli says.

Advantage: Control

Homeowners can control every aspect

Homeowners can control every aspect. Image: tabs62/Getty Images

“When homeowners sell their own home, they can do as much or as little marketing as they wish. They have full discretion over how the marketing materials will look,” Cianciulli says.

The homeowner is the most knowledgeable person regarding the home. This, he says,  puts them in a great position to communicate this information to potential buyers. For example, if you installed a new sunroom, you can explain how it helps to lower your heating bill in the winter.

Homeowners can also control the schedule. For example, you may prefer to coordinate your schedule with potential buyers to show them the home at a time that is mutually convenient. Also, you may not be in a rush to sell the home as soon as possible. Under these circumstances, Graham says the FSBO route may work for you. When homeowners have put a lot of work into their homes, such as adding architectural details, they may want to wait for a buyer with a similar appreciation.

Fred McGill, CEO and licensed agent at SimpleShowing in Atlanta, GA, believes that FSBO is a great approach for some homeowners. “For example, if you’re comfortable with the process of selling a home because you’ve done it once or twice before,” he says it could be an advantage to sell the home yourself at your own pace.

McGill also thinks it could be a good idea when selling certain types of properties. “In a homogeneous area — like a condo or townhome community — where pricing is similar across the entire community, this makes it easy to simply list the home FSBO and then grab the overflow traffic from other listings in your same neighborhood,” he explains.

Advantage: Legal Help is Available

Legal help is available

You don’t have to go it alone. Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

In addition, McGill says this method may work for people who aren’t afraid of the legal aspects of the contract. “This includes attorneys, in particular, and other folks in the legal field who are comfortable with contracts, amendments and exhibits,” he says.

If you’re not an attorney, and you’re uncomfortable navigating the legal aspects, you can hire an attorney. Jeff Van Fleet, an attorney at Woodhouse Roden Nethercott in Cheyenne, WY, says that selling your own home might seem challenging. But he believes that with the right team, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“An attorney can draft a buy and sell contract, generally for a flat fee, as opposed to the commission that real estate agents charge,” Van Fleet says. “And like a real estate agent, an attorney can only represent the interests of one side,” he explains.

“Buyers may approach the seller with offers involving a real estate agent, including a request for compensation in the form of a commission,” Van Fleet says. “As the seller, you are the master of the contract and you can choose the terms you desire, including the option not to work with an agent,” he explains. “If the buyer wants to engage the services of a real estate agent, let the buyer pay the real estate agent.”

Van Fleet says that your attorney will partner with a title company to arrange both the title work and closing. “The process is straightforward for experienced attorneys,” he says.

Disadvantage: Statistics

Realtors sell homes for more money.

Realtors tend to sell homes for more money. Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

While there are numerous advantages to FSBO, we found as many reasons why it may not be a good strategy. “The idea of saving thousands of dollars on commission by selling your own home can be tempting and, for a few, it may even make sense,” says Jo Ann Bauer, realtor at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Scottsdale, AZ.

But she thinks the majority of homeowners will lose money using this approach. “According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical FSBO sale in 2017 (the latest year with full data) was $200,000, compared to $265,500 for agent-assisted home sales,” she says. “When we do the math, it’s easy to see that even with paying a commission, homeowners, on average, earn more money from the sale of their home by hiring a real estate agent,” Bauer explains.

And homeowners might not even save as much money as they think on the commission. Cianciulli says you’re only saving money on the listing agent side. “Most homeowners think they are going to save 5 to 6 percent of the sales price, but this isn’t true in the majority of cases. They still have to offer a commission to buyer agents to bring their buyers to the home,” he says. “Additionally, many sellers are so hyper-focused on saving some commission dollars, yet they end up netting less money because they end up selling the property for less than they would have with a seasoned realtor.”

And that’s because there’s a learning curve if this is your first or second time selling your home without a realtor. “I guess the question is: do you really want to risk making mistakes that can cost you time and money on such a large transaction?” Cianciulli asks. So, what are some of the complications that can arise? “Dealing with unpermitted work, issues with chain of title, requests for repairs/price credits during escrow, financing issues and atypical financing structures are just some of the potential obstacles,” he explains.

Disadvantage: Subjectivity and Underestimating Work

Homeowners are defensive

Homeowners tend to be defensive regarding their home’s flaws. Image: Steve Debenport/Getty Images

There is also an emotional component involved in selling your own home. When valuing and negotiating your own home, Cianciulli believes that it’s almost impossible for sellers to be objective. And this type of emotional reaction can hurt sellers in more than one way. “As sales agents, we need to be able to reposition a property if current strategies aren’t quite working perfectly. One of the ways to know this is by getting honest feedback from potential buyers or their agents,” says Steven Gottlieb of Warburg Realty.

But if potential buyers are afraid of offending or insulting the seller, they won’t provide candid comments. For example, you may think your property is worth more because it has a large, unfinished basement. A buyer, though, may not want to pay more if they also have to transform the basement into livable space. “The selling agent acts as the buffer for this, and should be able to tell a seller helpful feedback — even if it’s unpleasant — to re-market the property by accentuating the property’s attributes and downplaying the handicaps.”

Sellers may also underestimate the amount of work required. “Just sticking a sign in your front yard will likely not generate the traffic and interest in your FSBO for which you hope,” warns Bauer. She admits that a seller can pay a flat fee to brokers to publish their home on the MLS. “However, the owner is responsible for all the marketing, photos, property descriptions, inquiries, open houses, showings and vetting of potential buyers,” Bauer says. “For most FSBOs, the time and effort it takes to move from deciding to sell themselves to realizing a successful close prove to be too much. Many end up eventually listing with a real estate agent.”

Disadvantage: Overestimating Ability to Sell

Selling a home is not as easy as it looks

Selling a home is not as easy as it looks. Image: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

After a lot of hard work, you may realize that you’re in over your head. In fact, this is what happened to Michael and Jessica Walden of Walden Custom Renos. The husband and wife duo had twelve years of experience flipping houses. They tried a variety of ways to sell their products, including the use of a popular sell-your-own-home website. “With the website, we had tons of viewings over a two-month period, and there were lots of questions and long visits — but not a single offer,” they told Freshome. “However, within 24 hours of listing the same house with the top selling agent in the Durham region, we had three offers from six viewings and sold for over asking.”

They admit that listing with an agent will generally cost between 4 and 6 percent of the sales price. However, they believe the results are worth it. “This comes with free advertising in local papers and online, as well as access to the Rolodex of other agents with clients ready and wanting to buy.”

And there are other potential challenges you may encounter when trying to sell the home yourself. “Our team has inherited listings from people who initially tried to sell with a limited service broker or on their own and the result is almost always the same. Most don’t sell,” according to Matt Miner, co-principal and real estate broker at the Get Happy at Home team of Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, WA.

For one reason, Miner says realtors are leery of homes being sold by the owner. “They are often very challenging transitions with a much higher probability of failure,” he says. “When we inherit these sorts of listings, we end up selling the home for much more than they were unable to sell.”

Other Considerations

Be sure to do your homework.

Be sure to do your homework. Image: docent/Shutterstock

One alternative to using a traditional agent or doing an FSBO is using a company like SimpleShowing. “Our company, and several other ‘digital/online’ real estate brokers like us, offers a service that goes beyond FSBO but is less expensive than a traditional agent. With these types of companies, there are no upfront fees for sellers and they only pay $5,000 at closing,” McGill says.

Also, even though Van Fleet (as an attorney) handles FSBOs, he recommends paying a real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis. “Do not rely on website-generated estimates or county assessments to price the home as this fails to account for the real-life conditions of the market and is frequently incorrect.”

In addition, he does not recommend the legal forms of purchase that you can find on the internet. “These forms are usually a bad choice for a legal transaction such as selling a home, as they generally fail to incorporate local and state requirements — and the consequences could be dire.”

Van Fleet also provides advice on earnest money. “There is a trend in the market to make offers with a small amount of earnest money,” he says. As the seller, Van Fleet says you are in charge of the contract — and you can and should request additional earnest money.

“The earnest money often becomes the center of legal disputes, so make sure there is enough money to deter a buyer from improperly backing out of the deal, or that the earnest money is enough to cover your legal expenses if litigation is necessary,” Van Fleet advises.

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When Selling Your Home, Are Neutral Colors like Builder Beige Too Boring?

Although black is the most stylish color of every year, it’s conventional wisdom to use neutral colors like builder beige, gray and taupe when putting your home on the market. However, some people (myself included) actually like these colors apart from resale factors. We believe that these neutral color palettes have gotten a bad rap. Is builder beige really boring? And is gray really too gloomy? What do realtors really think about these color choices when putting your home on the market?

Below are examples of these color palettes that might change your mind regarding neutral colors – along with advice from a handful of experts.

Today’s beige isn’t boring

Builder Beige - background

A neutral background allows the crisp white hues to stand out. Image: Svet_Feo/Shutterstock

Perhaps the issue with builder beige is related to the color choices of the past. “Today’s more taupe-based beiges have a wonderful quality of warmth but don’t have a yellowish cast,” according to Carol Marcotte, lead designer at Form & Function in Raleigh, NC. “For example, WhiteTail by Sherwin Williams provides a warm backdrop for just about anything, and it’s definitely not boring,” she says.

Builder Beige: Color does not compete

These light colors don’t compete with the view. Image: Erik Isakson/Getty Images

She also likes Benjamin Moore’s Maritime White, especially in the foyer.  “It is beige-esque, but has a lovely reflective quality and allows the artwork and other elements to standout.”

As another alternative to the usual builder beige, Marcotte says she also likes Creamy by Sherwin Williams. It is a more flesh-based white. “Again, it has the warmth of a beige but with a decidedly different cast, and in strong light, it pairs down the flesh or potential peachiness.”

When your home is on the market

Builder beige - sophisticated color

This sophisticated color scheme is sure to appeal to buyers. Image: Esin tellioglu/Shutterstock

So, is the builder beige adage still true when selling your home? “Beige is certainly a good color choice for the majority of a home’s rooms when it’s on the market – although I personally prefer white,” says Sandra Miller, principal broker and licensed partner at Engel & Völkers in Santa Monica, CA.

“Regardless of the neutral shade you choose, I have also found that having subtle walls of color can be effective in driving a faster sale,” she says. But Miller says it’s important to know which color palettes are in style at any given moment.  “Right now, these trendy colors include any shade of gray, and mossy light green or blue,” Miller explains. “Subtle color can help potential home buyers connect to a home on an emotional level, resulting in a faster sale.”

Beige or gray can serve a purpose

Builder beige warm and inviting

This elegant room is warm and inviting. Image: phototropic/Getty Images

According to John Manning, manager broker at  RE/MAX On Market in Seattle, WA, whether you love or hate builder beige and similar colors, they’re used for a reason. “These colors create a neutral backdrop that allows prospective buyers to envision their own furniture, design and color scheme,” Manning says.

Gray and white

The neutral colors add to the formality of this dining room. Image: dit26978/Getty Image

“Color preferences are highly individualistic — one buyer may feel strongly about monochromatic grey, while another plans on using every jewel tone of the rainbow.” Manning says he wouldn’t advise a homeowner to paint their home beige to get an advantage – and if you do, learn how to paint over bold colors using fewer coats. “However, if you have the choice, keep the beige and dress up the home’s best features with bright and interesting staging,” he advises.

Color soothing

Another elegant color palette. Image: dit26978/Getty Images

This sentiment is echoed by Rick Gehrke, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Executives in Boise, ID.  “I think that for the most part builder beige is the way to go because it appeals to a broader range of buyers.”

However, he’s noticing that trends can vary. “Baby boomers are still very much attracted to muted colors and beige really is the safe way to go.” However, Gehrke says millennials tend to like statement walls with bright colors. Location can also make a difference. “In a suburban area, I recommend beige, but if you are in an upcoming and urban environment, a pop of color can be a selling point.”

Adding color accents can help your home sell

Builder Beige dark wood

Dark wood elements complement these light paint colors. Image: David Henderson85/Shutterstock

Some realtors are noticing a trend away from builder beige and other neutral colors throughout the home. “Last spring, I had a listing in which every room was a different color: the living-room was crimson, the kitchen was black and white, and the four bed-rooms were all different colors — gold, green, brown and yellow,” explains Angela Williams, a Birmingham, AL, based realtor at Extreme Agent Realty. She says she wanted to suggest that the homeowner paint over these colors, but refrained from making that suggestion. Williams was surprised that this home ended up being the hottest listing that she has marketed in a long time.

Builder Beige - or vivid colors

Some buyers prefer more vivid colors. Image: Alexey Kashin/Shutterstock

“We set at least ten appointments a week — and I thought we would have to replace the door hinges,” she jokes. The eventual buyer loved the color scheme and said she had no plans to change it.  “We  learn something new every day,” Williams says. “Trends are so much more fluid and diverse these days, and I believe that it is OK to let your personality shine through because there’s probably a buyer out there who shares the same taste.”

Matt Van Winkle, founder and CEO of RE/MAX Northwest, shares her theory. He flatly declares that building beige is boring. “Consumers don’t want things that are boring,” he says. “Now that doesn’t mean to go too bold, but some well curated, professionally selected colors will go a long way to make the home more appealing.”

What are your thoughts on builder beige and other neutral colors? Let us know in the comments!

The post When Selling Your Home, Are Neutral Colors like Builder Beige Too Boring? appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Create an Indoor Compost Bin that Doesn’t Smell

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Finding fresh, enriched soil for your garden can get surprisingly pricey. A 12-quart bag of pre-made compost can run around $25. It’s simply $25 you don’t need to spend if you start composting. You can even do it right in the comfort of your own home by starting an indoor compost bin.

Starting your own indoor compost bin ranks on the easier side of home projects. All you’ll need is a suitable compost bin and all those food scraps from the kitchen that would normally go to waste. Time and nature take care of the rest. You can learn how to make your own compost bin in several minutes or find an indoor compost bin to purchase online or in a store. Read on to learn how to start that compost bin inside. It’s a great way to make a more sustainable home.

Indoor Compost Bin Overhead Picture

You can put scraps like bread and eggshells into a compost bin. Image: photographyfirm/Shutterstock

Indoor Compost Bin Materials

If you want an indoor compost bin, the first aspect of the bin you’ll need to understand is what to put in it, of course. Knowing how to keep a well-balanced compost bin will be your first line of defense in creating a bin that has little to no smell. Adding items to the compost bin that certainly shouldn’t be there, or adding the wrong balance of organic materials, will create an unpleasant odor that could make indoor composting impossible.

Your compost bin needs five major components:

  • Greens: This is a misleading label. It actually covers anything that is nitrogen-rich, not necessarily only green waste. That means you could use veggie leftovers, fruit waste like apple cores and banana peels, eggshells and even old bread. Anything is game, as long as it’s somehow plant-based. Animal products like meat and dairy should be kept out of the bin, as those will immediately lead to a smell.
  • Browns: This label is a little more literal. It covers anything carbon-rich, like coffee grounds, tea leaves, dry grass/leaves and untreated paper (like coffee filters). A general rule is a 2:1 green to brown ratio, but ratio estimates vary dramatically. If your pile is slimy, add more browns. If your pile is dry and slow to compost, add more greens. After a while, you’ll learn the correct balance.
  • Air: Your indoor compost bin should have some type of mechanism that allows for airflow, like holes or filters. That will allow aerobic breakdown of the scraps in a way that doesn’t lead to a foul odor. Estimates vary for when you should turn your compost pile, but a general estimate is that you should turn it once or twice per week for decent aeration.
  • Water: The compost pile should be slightly damp, but not soaking, to the touch. Usually, kitchen scraps can keep this level of moisture, but you should check to make sure the compost pile isn’t drying out. Spray with water if the pile is dry.
  • Soil: The soil has microorganisms that will help with the breakdown of waste. You’ll only need one scoop from the great outdoors.

From there, you’ll want to decide if you want your bin inside full-time or you want a bin that you can take out to a larger compost bin outside. If you have a lot of kitchen scraps, you might want a bin you can keep inside and carry to a larger compost bin out back when the inside container gets full. Otherwise, if you don’t like the idea of schlepping out back in the middle of winter, there are systems that allow for a full-time indoor compost bin.

Indoor Compost Bin Black Style

Many attractive compost bin styles can fit right on the counter, like this Breeze 0.85 Gal. Kitchen Composter. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Types of Bins

There are several different types of bins you can choose for your indoor compost bin:

  • Basic countertop scrap bins: These are literally just tubs that sit on your countertop. They’re meant for filling with scraps in the kitchen and taking to a larger compost pile. Many come in distinct shapes and colors to work with any decorating style. Some also have bags inside to cut down on odor and mess.
  • Under-counter bins: These attach to the inside of cabinet doors. They’re larger but are still typically meant for emptying into a main compost pile. They’re a convenient way to keep the composting bin out of the way.
  • Bokashi system: This is a type of bin and microorganism mixture kit. It allows you to fill the bin with waste and then cover the waste with a mixture to neutralize the smell and ferment the material. It’s a system you can use as a full-time indoor compost bin.
  • Aerobic bins: These bins have some sort of vent and filter system, usually with charcoal filters. These allow for the aerobic breakdown of waste, which can also cut the smell. These are also suitable for full-time indoor use.
  • Worm bins: Some kits allow you to grow worms, which can aerate the material and keep it more nutrient dense. These systems are also odor-free, making them good for indoor use. Plus, it’s a good science project to do with kids.

And remember, your indoor compost bin should be able to fit your family and your environment. For instance, people in harsher climates may want a full-time indoor bin. Or families with a high volume of kitchen scraps could opt for a system of collecting scraps indoors and carrying them to a larger pile outdoors. The compost bin should work for your lifestyle first and foremost.

The post How to Create an Indoor Compost Bin that Doesn’t Smell appeared first on Freshome.com.

Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On?

There were eight hurricanes during the 2018 hurricane season and ten during the 2017 hurricane season. These storms cause billions of dollars in damage each year. If a hurricane damages your home, should you rebuild on the same spot or move to another area? It’s not a question with a simple yes or no answer. But we reached out to several experts to learn some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Level of damage and insurance

Hurricanes cause flooding

Hurricanes often cause flooding. Image: JodiJacobson/Getty Images

“A homeowner’s decision to rebuild after a hurricane will likely depend on how much damage they sustained to their property, and how much of that will be covered by their insurance policy,” according to Peter Duncanson, Disaster Restoration Expert at ServiceMaster Restore. His company specializes in minimizing the impact of weather damage.

“Once it’s safe to return and assess the situation, you should call your insurance agent and begin the claim filing process for any major damages as soon as possible.” However, be cautious when entering your home for the first time after a hurricane. Duncanson recommends that you take several necessary safety precautions. “And be sure to wear protective gear, as broken debris and standing water can pose serious health risks in your home,” he says.

Another person with first-hand experience dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane is Robert Himmaugh, Manager at Acadian Windows and Siding in Kenner, LA. “Catastrophe can hit your home in many ways, but here along the Gulf Coast, our number one threat is hurricanes,” he says. “Each year from June to November, we are faced with the possibility of being in the direct line of one of these storms.”

Himmaugh also believes the two deciding factors are the extent of your home’s damage and the type of insurance coverage you have. “If you have a policy that includes temporary living expenses and replacement cost, then rebuilding might be the best option,” he says. However, Himmaugh warns that rebuilding could actually turn into a full remodeling job. This is because most homeowners will want to upgrade instead of just replace lost items. “If you do decide to rebuild, make sure to invest in hurricane windows, a laminated glass that holds together when hit with blunt force,” he suggests.

Flood zones

Flood insurance

Flood insurance is not a part of your standard insurance policy. Image: orundongel/Getty Images

Many homeowners don’t know that a standard insurance policy may not cover everything. “Flood damage often requires a completely separate policy, and water damage can be one of the main reasons you have to rebuild,” Himmaugh says. If your home has sustained significant water damage, he warns that it can lead to mold, rot and the complete deterioration of your home. “In this case, it’s best to move on rather than take on the massive expense it will take to rebuild,” Himmaugh says.

Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design in Charlotte, NC, agrees. She says that dealing with water damage after flooding requires special considerations. “In some municipalities, it’s illegal to build in a flood zone. Or you can, but completely at your own risk as the property is uninsurable,” Allard says.

She does not recommend rebuilding homes and infrastructure in coastal areas that are constantly being hit by hurricanes. “The building standards should be much, much stricter in coastal communities. I believe that the practice of continuously building housing in vulnerable areas is immoral,” Allard says.

Other factors

Hurricane ravaged home

Demolition on a hurricane-ravaged home. Image courtesy of Nathan Outlaw at Onvico.

Nathan Outlaw is the President of Onvico, a construction company in Thomasville, GA. However, his company frequently works in neighboring Florida. They are currently restoring several homes on the Gulf that were destroyed by the last hurricane. In the photo above, you can see where the company has started demolition on a home with water damage.

“I think a flooded home is worth rebuilding,” Outlaw says. “Usually the flood damage will not be so great that repair costs are higher than the value of the home in good condition.” He points out that since flooded homes tend to be close to rivers, ponds or the ocean, they’re often in desirable locations. “This means they will continue to be somewhere that people want to live in the future.”

Reputable companies

Only use reputable companies. Image: skynesher/Getty Images

Outlaw’s view is supported by Richard and Judith Woods, Owners of Albany Woodworks in Tickfaw, LA. In 2005, a New Orleans home that they owned flooded during Hurricane Katrina and they rebuilt it. And then, in 2016, their family home flooded during a freak rainstorm.

They agree that the extent of the damage and insurance considerations are important. But they also point out other factors. According to Richard, the most important question is this: “Are you healthy enough to handle the stress of losing your home and the strain of navigating the tricky world of rebuilding post-disaster?”

He says the 2016 flood took a huge toll on him emotionally. Even though he never considered not renovating the home, Richard believes it’s important for people to understand the reality. Rebuilding after a disaster is not the same as a project to transform your basement or design a trendy, new bathroom.

And if you’re not in a state of mind to rebuild, Judith says it may be better to take the insurance money and move on. She also says homeowners should weigh the chances of another hurricane. In addition, they should consider whether they can even get insurance if they rebuild in the same spot.

Additional tips

Get the water out as soon as possible

Get the water out of your home as soon as possible. Image: Onur Dongel/Getty Images

It’s often hard to think clearly in the aftermath of a hurricane. However, our experts say there are some things you need to do as soon as possible. “It can be devastating and overwhelming to process the extent of the storm’s impact on your property, but remember to take pictures of any damage you see. Also, take detailed notes for your insurance claim and personal records,” advises Duncanson. “Once you’ve assessed the damage and salvaged what you can, flood damage restoration experts at companies like mine can help you make the necessary repairs and get you back up on your feet as quickly as possible.”

Outlaw agrees that you should take immediate action to mitigate future damage. “Homeowners should go ahead and get the water out, set up a dehumidifier and remove wet drywall and insulation, if possible,” he says. “Removing moisture and preventing mold will help keep future mitigation costs more reasonable.”

Outlaw also recommends getting several quotes before any service is performed. “A natural disaster has a tendency to bring out contractors who only want to take the money and run — or who will overcharge clients for the work performed,” he warns. “Be sure to carefully go over any proposal and don’t give anyone money up front.”

The post Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On? appeared first on Freshome.com.

These are the Top 5 Moving Mistakes to Avoid

Moving can be a long and difficult process. It’s no surprise that many people make missteps along the way. Luckily, we’re here to save you the pain and frustration that comes with making those mistakes. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common moving mistakes, as well as how to fix them. With these tips you should be able to get through your move without a hitch.

moving mistakes

Don’t go into your move without a plan. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Not scheduling it out

The Mistake: One of the biggest moving mistakes we see is people who think they can just go with the flow when it comes to packing and moving. This leads to packing at the last minute, throwing things in boxes with little sense of organization and an overall unpleasant moving experience.

The Solution: Make a schedule. Before you start packing a single box, write out a schedule of when you will pack and move the items in your home. Start a few weeks out from your final moving day in order to give yourself plenty of time. Then, break the task out into organized chunks. Tackle storage areas first, as they’re often the trickiest things to pack. Then go room-by-room to keep the process organized.

questions

Get all your questions answered before you hire a moving company. Image: JR-stock/Shutterstock

Not asking questions before hiring movers

The Mistake:  Did you know that most moving companies will only insure items that they pack themselves? Important information like that often goes unsaid during the moving process, leaving homeowners in the lurch when something goes awry. Unfortunately, in the craziness of moving, sometimes you make assumptions about a moving company’s process without anyone stopping to check the facts.

The Solution: Ask questions before you hire a moving company – and keep asking them until you’re sure you know the full story. Ask how their process works, if they’re insured, what’s covered under their insurance and what’s not, what excess fees you could incur and what their procedure is in the event of a lost or broken item. Then, once you have a contract in hand, read it over in full so that you know what you’re agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.

estimates

Ask for in-home estimates. Image: Latkn/Shutterstock

Forgoing the in-home estimates

The Mistake: The majority of moving companies will offer you an estimate. However, they usually do these over the over the phone and vary widely. If you forget to mention a large or difficult-to-move item in your initial consultation, your estimate could end up well over the figure that was originally quoted to you. This is one of the more expensive moving mistakes.

The Solution: Ask for an in-home estimate. That way, someone from the moving company can see exactly how much stuff needs to be moved. They’ll also know if any particular items require special consideration. Armed with that information, they should be able to give you an accurate quote. To make sure you’re getting the best possible deal, aim to get estimates from at least three different companies in your area.

pack

Make sure your boxes aren’t too heavy to lift. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Packing boxes too heavily

The Mistake: We understand the impulse to load boxes until they’re chalk-full. After all, fewer boxes means fewer trips to and from the moving van. However, overloading boxes is one of the moving mistakes that isn’t good for you or your belongings. On one hand, it could be an injury risk. On the other, the weight of your items could cause the box to break.

The Solution: Conventional wisdom states that, for your safety and the safety of your items, moving boxes should never exceed 50 pounds. Keep that figure in mind as you pack up your home. Additionally, pack heavier items – especially things like books – in smaller boxes. That way, you’ll have a built-in stop gap.

inventory

Check and double-check your inventory sheet before signing off. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Not checking your inventory sheet

The Mistake: At the end of a long moving day, it’s only natural to want to send the movers away as fast as possible so that you can get started on the unpacking process. This impulse often leads to people signing off on their final inventory sheet – a list of everything that the movers moved into your new home – without checking to see that all their items are accounted for.

The Solution: Check and double-check to make sure all of your belongings have arrived safely before signing off on your inventory sheet. If something is missing, make sure that it’s found before signing anything. Your signature releases the moving company of responsibility for lost or damaged items so make sure you have everything you need first.

Do you know of any other moving mistakes to avoid? Let us know in the comments.

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An Unusual House that Expands Your Life Span is for Sale in New York

The Bioscleave House in East Hampton, New York, can expand more than your indoor living space, or your shoe closet. In a totally different twist, the colorful home promises to add years to your life span. All for $1.49 million.

bioscleave house expands life span

The colorful home is the first U.S. project designed to improve life span. All images courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens.

Listing agency Brown Harris Stevens calls it the “life span-extending villa.” But how, exactly, does this 3,400 square foot, 4-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house do that? The avant-garde creators, Arakawa and Madeline Gins, partners in the Reversible Destiny Foundation, explain.

Uneven floors improve immune system function

bioscleave house longer life span

A sunken living room with strategically placed bars to help dwellers steady themselves.

According to the duo, “Heightened body awareness and the challenging of senses can allow the body to constantly reconfigure itself and, with time, become a means to strengthen the immune system.”

Vibrant color defines space and provides stimulation

bioscleave house hamptons

The open main bath also features an ergonomic bathtub.

Floors stimulate the body’s organs through acupressure points

bioscleave house for sale

Minimal furnishings do not compete with the colorful walls.

According to the listing agency, “There are many ‘metaphysical’ small slopes, hills, nooks and crannies made of Japanese rammed earth country floor to stimulate the feet.”

Here are some other interior and exterior images of the unusual home.

Set on over an acre of woodland

bioscleave house

The home consists of two connected houses finished in geometric block colors.

Trees surround the home while simple, minimalist landscaping allows the colors to stand out.

No interior doors

life expanding house

An open floor plan includes colorful walls to close off bedrooms and create smaller, intimate spaces.

Built around a central atrium, the main home leads to the sunken living room. Although walls add privacy to each space, there are no doors in the interior.

The concept may seem hard to grasp, but the modern use of 52 colors throughout the Bioscleave House does add a vibrant and cheerful effect to the home.

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4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel

Planning a kitchen remodel can be stressful right from the get-go. After all, this undertaking is fairly expensive and there are an innumerable amount of decisions to be made. However, with a little forethought and planning, the process can begin to feel a lot more straightforward. To that end, we’ve brought you four considerations for your kitchen remodel. Keep them in mind to help keep your project as organized as possible.

kitchen remodel

Start by envisioning your end product. Image: 2M media/Shutterstock

Have a vision in mind

Though it may seem a little counterintuitive, one of the best ways to get great results from your remodel is to start with the end in mind. That way, you’ll have an end vision that can serve as a framework as you work your way through the remodeling process. It can help make decision-making much easier as choices crop up.

To create your vision, your first step should be to search for some design inspiration. Make full use of websites like Freshome in your search. No matter what your personal style may be, you should be able to find some kitchen designs that speak to you and can serve as the inspiration behind your remodel.

But don’t just stop there. Be sure to put your own spin on the designs, as well. Use them as a jumping off point from which you can make changes in order to make your new kitchen as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible for yourself.

budget

Plan out your budget first and foremost. Image: LEKSTOCK 3D/Shutterstock

Set the budget

Once you have your ideal kitchen in mind, the next step is to figure out how you can get as close as possible to that end product without breaking the bank. To do that, you must set a budget and do your best to stick to it throughout the entire remodeling process.

First, start by taking a long, hard look at how much you can realistically spend on this home improvement project. If you have money saved up, how much can you spend without leaving yourself hanging financially? If you’re planning on financing your kitchen remodel, look into what size monthly payment you can reasonably afford and how much money that will give you, in total.

Then, do your research. Look into which products seem to most closely match both your aesthetic and your budget. Conventional wisdom states that the more extensively you research the components of your remodel, the less likely you are to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that will drive up the cost.

contractors

Always research contractors before you hire them. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Hire the right people

Once you have your ideal products in place, it’s time to take care of the other piece of the remodeling puzzle: labor. While it may be tempting to go fully DIY on this part of the job in order to save money, now is the time to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities. Think carefully about what you’re able to do versus where it might be better to bring in the professionals.

Whenever you decide to hire labor, that means it’s time to do more research. Start by asking friends and family if they’ve worked with anyone in the past who they’d be willing to refer to you. Then, go online. Thoroughly vet any potential contractors by reading reviews and checking for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have a few potential contractors in mind, it’s time to get estimates. As a rule of thumb, you want to get at least three estimates for each big home improvement project that you undertake. Be sure to talk honestly with each contractor about your plans for the remodel, as well as how much you have to spend.

unexpected

Make sure to include contingencies. Image: Ilija Erceg/Shutterstock

Expect the unexpected

Our last tip is a bit different from the rest, but it’s no less important. Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do beforehand, kitchen remodeling projects have a way of taking on a direction of their own, usually when you least expect it. The only thing you can do is put contingencies in place to prepare for unexpected roadblocks and go with the flow.

When we say “contingencies,” for the most part, we mean monetary ones. In general, it’s a good idea to increase your budget by at least 10 to 15 percent to account for any unexpected costs that may crop up. It’s also a good idea to pad your project schedule in the same manner. That way, you’re prepared if the timeline gets off track.

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