Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring

The flooring of a home is one of its defining features. Wood flooring remains one of the most popular options, as it is a naturally inviting, beautiful and timeless material. While older, more traditional homes often have the original hardwood floors still in place, many newer homes are using laminate. It offers a natural look similar to wood but at a lower price.

When deciding between hardwood vs. laminate flooring, there are several pros and cons to consider. Sure, when comparing laminate vs hardwood cost, laminate is usually the more affordable option. But you also must look at durability, resale value, cleaning, installation and more. This article will compare some of the factors between hardwood vs laminate flooring and help you decide which is best for your home.

DIY Laminate Flooring

Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

Laminate vs. hardwood cost

The reality of flooring costs and what you can afford may be miles apart. Take into consideration the cost of laminate and hardwood flooring to determine what is best for you.

  • Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood flooring is made of harvested trees; pricing depends on the type of wood you choose. In general, hardwood is considerably higher to buy and to install.
  • Laminate: PROS – Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. The image of hardwood is then placed over the composite wood, covering it to form the laminate. Not only are the materials themselves cheaper, but laminate wood installation cost is, on average, 50 percent less than hardwood installation.

Laminate flooring can cost $3-$7 per square foot, including installation. Solid wood flooring can cost $5-$10 per square foot, including installation. Again, the exact prices will vary depending on the types of materials used and the size of your home.

Laminate vs. hardwood durability

Assess the traffic load and wear and tear on flooring in your home. A more durable surface is easier to maintain and will look great for years to come.

  • Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood is susceptible to scratching, can get damaged from excessive moisture and will show wear, especially in heavily trafficked areas. PROS – Hardwood is the real deal; it is gorgeous and, depending on the type of wood, can add considerable value to your home.
  • Laminate: PROS – Since laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture and wear and tear. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean. CONS – Even though laminate is more durable, it is not as visually appealing. Lower qualities of laminate may have artificial-looking wood grain textures.
flooring

Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Laminate vs. hardwood repair

Your home’s flooring will typically need repairs at some point. From minor accidents to excessive wear and tear, laminate and hardwood have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Hardwood: PROS – Hardwood can be repaired by sanding imperfections and refinishing. This gives it the edge over laminate, in that it will last for years.
  • Laminate: CONS – Laminate flooring doesn’t repair easily. If you buy flooring that comes in individual pieces and snaps together, you may be able to replace individual boards — although, depending on sunlight and age, the new piece may not match properly.

Best places for hardwood vs. laminate flooring
In addition to price, durability and repair, you should also consider the best (and worst) places in the home for both types of flooring.

  • Hardwood: Hardwood flooring is both beautiful and fairly durable, especially in lower-traffic rooms like bedrooms and dining rooms. But, if you have pets or a lot of foot traffic, your hardwood floors might show the scratches and wear overtime. Basements and bathrooms with a lot of moisture are also not good places for hardwood flooring. On the other hand, continuous sunlight can fade your hardwood flooring overtime as well.
  • Laminate: Because laminate flooring is so durable, it’s less susceptible to wear and tear from pets and foot traffic. While it withstands moisture better than hardwood, it should not be in a regularly wet area of the home. Because of its top coat, laminate flooring typically does not fade from sunlight as quickly and noticeably as hardwood flooring and can be used safely in rooms with large windows.

Your home will benefit from the look of wood flooring; deciding between hardwood vs. laminate flooring is up to you. Review the pros and cons, and be realistic about your lifestyle; if you have pets, young kids or high traffic, that may influence your decision.

If you have a lot of sunlight in your home, hardwood can fade because it is a natural product, while laminate wood flooring has UV protection integrated into the surface. Consider all the factors — and enjoy how the warmth of wood will improve your home’s aesthetic appeal and value.

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10 Laundry Room Ideas To Organize Small Spaces

Laundry rooms are hot spots for household improvement these days. Whether your laundry room is in the basement, garage, kitchen, or closet — or you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated laundry room — these 10 laundry room ideas will help create a space that’s organized, up to date and is so beautiful that you’ll look forward to doing laundry. 

Where’s the best place to add a laundry room? Consider convenience first. Set up your laundry close to where dirty laundry collects, or near the bedrooms where clean laundry goes. Other favorite laundry room locations include near the back door, in the mud room, the kitchen, bathroom, closet, or dressing area.

Keep in mind that accidental flooding could happen in your laundry area. Waterproof flooring below the laundry machine is essential, especially if your laundry room is located on the second floor. Good ways to waterproof your floor include adding plastic sheeting over the subfloor, building out a shallow pan for the laundry machines to sit on, or using tile or waterproof vinyl under your washer and dryer. 

Another thing to consider when choosing a laundry room location is the noise from the machine’s vibrations. Laundry machines that are located on the second floor should be fitted with vibration pads that dampen the noise that occurs when the machine is in motion.

Although a few of our inspirational photos in the gallery are large rooms, these ideas work well for small laundry rooms or laundry workspaces in a closet. With a little creativity and planning, a useful, efficient laundry room is possible. 

 Here’s a laundry list of 10 easy laundry room ideas that organize, add value and upgrade your space.

1. Vibrant Laundry Room Paint Color

laundry color 1

Make the laundry room workspace bright and cheerful with a fresh coat of paint. Paint is an easy DIY way to upgrade your laundry room on a budget. Choose a color theme that’s bright and uplifts your mood. Popular paint colors to liven up your laundry area include vibrant citrus tones like lime green, yellow or orange. A crisp, bright white is another clean option that makes the room and your mood feel fresh. Don’t stop with the walls, also consider painting your laundry room cabinets!

2. Extra Laundry Counter Space

laundry-counter-21-re

Counter space is key in the laundry to make sorting and folding laundry easy work. Create a custom laundry room design by adding a counter over your side-by-side washer and dryer.

If you have the square footage, add an island to your laundry room to increase counter space.

3. Built-In Cabinets

laundry 6

To create a high-end, custom laundry room, install kitchen cabinets around your washer and dryer. Stay on budget by buying inexpensive cabinets and upgrading them with contrasting, bright wall colors or wallpaper. Remove builder-grade hardware and replace it with custom drawer pulls. A versatile and contemporary drawer pull will uplevel your style and can work as a towel or hanger rack.

If your budget is tight, visit a restaurant supply shop’s used section. Stainless work tables and shelving are a solid modern laundry room idea and easy-to-install alternative to built-in cabinets.

4. Creative Washer and Dryer Mounting

laundry 8 multi desk

If you don’t have enough space to keep your washer and dryer side by side, stack them vertically. This is a great way to work with smaller spaces while still having a functional laundry area.

Another creative way to mount your washer and dryer is to lift them off the floor. Raising your washer and dryer makes it easier on the back by eliminating the need to bend over to load and unload the washer and dryer. Create a storage area in the space below the washer and dryer. This also leaves room to create a storage area in the space below the washer and dryer. Some washer and dryer manufacturers offer the raised storage unit in the matching appliance finish.

5. Extra Laundry Storage Ideas

laundry storage 20

Wall cubicles, floating shelves, baskets and clothes bars are all good storage options in a laundry room.

Be sure to add a dirty laundry sorting system to save time when doing laundry. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of three dirty laundry bins for white or light clothes, and dark clothing. Don’t forget – asking everyone in the household to sort their own dirty laundry in the proper bin saves time.

6. Upgrade Lighting

laundry light main 27

Laundry rooms are often located in dark or windowless spaces, so good lighting is important. Add under-cabinet lighting or a large, overhead fixture to brighten and enlarge the space. Good lighting also helps you find spots and stains on laundry items, so you can pre-treat before washing. Better yet, add a combination of lighting that includes canned ceiling lights, pendants and under cabinet lighting like the image above.

Beautiful lighting fixtures are not only practical, but they enhance the design of a laundry room.

7. Accessories That Hide Laundry

laundry board 24

A wall or cabinet mounted drop-down ironing board is a great way to hide clutter. Most designs not only hide the ironing board away, but have enough room for storing your iron and laundry supplies. 

A wall-mounted drying rack is another smart option for air drying delicates like lingerie or sweaters.

8. Interesting Patterned Walls

laundry wallp main 14

Besides paint, give your laundry room a modern look by adding visual interest to the walls with pattern and texture. Two great ways to achieve this include:

–Wallpaper. Choose a bold, modern pattern in a moisture-resistant, vinyl paper that’s easy to wipe down
–Backsplash. Add a high-end backsplash design to your laundry room. While some of the most beautiful backsplash tile options can be expensive, a smaller laundry room doesn’t require much tile at all

9. Multi-Purpose Laundry Room Functionality

laundry multi 15

If you have limited room, make your small laundry area a multi-use space. Multi-function laundry room ideas include:

–Craft room
–Mud room
–Sports equipment storage room
–Household cleaning supplies storage room

10. Converted Closet Laundry Space

laundry closet main 23

One of the most clever laundry room ideas is to convert a hall, home office or guest room closet into a laundry room.

Be sure to put up plenty of shelving and watch out for door clearances, so you can shut the doors when the laundry room is not in use.

Many of our laundry room ideas are easy DIY projects you can do in a weekend. Take a fresh look at your laundry area and see how you can upgrade yours to organize it better and add value to your home. What are your favorite ideas to try?

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Home Organizers that Add Color to Your Space

If you love bright color, you’re probably always looking for ways to add shots of bold color into your home. An easy way to add color is to keep it in mind while you’re organizing. After all, who says home organizers have to be boring? Many organizational ideas can be easily modified to add color to any room.

These ideas are also so easy, they’ll typically take only one afternoon to implement. Some ideas are as simple as buying colorful cloth home organizers and bins, and others require some paint. So take a look below to find some easy ways to add color while using home organizers.

Home Organizers Cloth Style

A stacked system would add plenty of color. Image: Michael Kraus / Shutterstock

Colorful Cloth Home Organizers

One of the easiest ways to get some color into your space is to go for simple colorful cloth home organizers. You can use a stacked style, like the organizer in the photo above. These do well hanging in corners. Another idea is to place a bright cloth organizer on a shelf for a splash of color.

These also tend to come in any style or color you can imagine, so there’s sure to be a cloth home organizer that fits in with your tastes. For a more funky and artistic style, try one with a bright pattern. A solid bright color can work well in more traditional spaces.

Home Organizers Colorful Shelving

Bright shelving adds a fun accent. Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Colorful Shelving Displays

Another idea is to select a colorful shelving option, like in the photo above. You can get this look by using cloth box home organizers, as we touched on above. Also, you could consider panting a shelf directly.

You can see in the photo above how well a colorful shelving option goes with the rest of a funky, artistic space. Simply pair a colorful shelving system with wild accents like throw pillows, picture frames or poufs. Your home organizer can easily fit in with the rest of the room that way.

Colorful home organizers also work great as part of an accent color theme. Consider choosing one accent color for your home organizers and using that throughout the room. For instance, your shelving might be a bright cherry red. And then you can place other elements of cherry red around, like an accent chair or a throw blanket.

Home Organizers Painted Boxes

Create your own organization with a bright display using wooden crates. Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Creative Displays Using Paint

Another option is to get creative with paint and some organizational displays, like in the photo above. You can see how easy it would be to simply paint some wooden boxes. Then you stand them on one end and put colorful decorative accents in them. As the photo shows, you can also combine them with colorfully painted chairs and end tables for an eclectic look.

It’s a fun idea for when you need to organize your decorations in a space. This style also shows that home organizers don’t have to be all cloth boxes and traditional shelving. Feel free to get creative.

Home Organizers Bin System

Plastic bins come in many bold colors. Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Colorful Bins

Another mainstay in home organizers is plastic bins. And this option is easy to find in a colorful style. You can see in the photo above how some exposed colorful bins add a playful feel to this children’s room. The bins do a great job of matching the colorful rugs in the space.

This space goes to show how colorful home organizers were made for children’s spaces, too. Children’s spaces can get pretty messy, with all the toys and art supplies about. So you can easily organize the space and add some bright tones using a colorful bin system.

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The Behr 2020 Color Trends Palettes are Here

Behr Paint released their 2020 Color Trends Palettes and they’re significant. According to the company, it’s a new decade, calling for fresh and exciting new paint hues.

The 3 collections of 15 colors offer enough variety to work with all design styles from modern to traditional. Unlike other paint color companies, the palettes were created for use in both home and work spaces.

According to Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr, “2020 marks the start of a new decade, and with that comes a desire for balance—both at home and at work,” she said. “The new collection of 15 trending hues encompasses themes of wellness and wellbeing, connected experiences, inviting environments, and deliberate color stories.”

Here’s a look into what the next decade will look like, according to the Behr 2020 Color Trends palettes.

Behr 2020 Color Trends Worldhood Palette

The Worldhood palette features rich hues for a modern, warm space. The colors were designed for the hospitality industry: “Customers of restaurants, hotels and other businesses will feel drawn to the rustic tones inspired by exotic travels that reflect natural rugged landscapes,” said Woelfel.

Behr 2020 color trends Bubble Shell

Bubble Shell updates the popular Millennial pink by giving it a richer, earthier tone. All images courtesy of Behr.

behr 2020 color trends Rumba Orange

Rumba Orange is a great accent color for a neutral room.

Behr 2020 Color Trends Restore Palette

Cool and serene colors that provide restorative qualities to a home. “Blues and greens create a soothing sanctuary, which is why we recommend them for healthcare and hospitality environments,” said Woelfel.

behr 2020 color trends back to nature

Back to Nature takes the ever popular sage green and adds a bit of vibrancy to the hue.

behr 2020 color trends dragonfly

Dragonfly has a Mid-Century modern vibe, similar to a vintage aqua tone.

Behr 2020 Color Trends Atmospheric Palette

Urban and modern with layered soft pastels and neutrals. “The Atmospheric palette resounds with both modern and traditional environments, making it a great choice for multifamily housing or other commercial spaces,” said Woelfel.

behr 2020 color trends creamy mushroom

Creamy Mushroom is an elegant and sophisticated take on beige.

behr 2020 color trends battleship gray

For a contemporary and deeply saturated grey tone, Battleship Gray is a good choice.

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The Painting Experts Explain How to Fix Painting Mistakes and Problems

Painting is undoubtedly one of the quickest and least expensive ways to transform your home. It can update an area, hide flaws, highlight architectural details and so much more. If you follow the 10 commandments of painting, you’re on the road to success. However, mistakes and problems do happen. If you encounter a hiccup, the painting experts explain how to fix it.

Blistering can be caused by heat.

Blistering can be caused by heat. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

The paint is blistering/bubbling  

Fortunately, this type of blister doesn’t hurt, but it can be painful to look at. “Paint blisters or bubbles occur when the paint film lifts from the underlying surface,” says Mike Mundwiller, Field Development Manager at Benjamin Moore.

So what causes a paint blister? “The loss of adhesion between the paint film and surface is usually caused by heat, moisture or a combination of both,” Mundwiller says. And it eventually leads to peeling. While it can be corrected, he says you need to figure out what’s causing the problem or it will occur again.

Moisture is another cause of blistering.

Moisture is another cause of blistering. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

How to fix blistering/bubbling paint

You can scrape and sand the blisters to remove them (if they don’t go down to the substrate). Once the area is smooth, Mundwiller says you should apply a coat of primer and then apply the paint. “However, you’ll need to find and remove the source of moisture if the blisters go down to the substrate.”

To stop paint from blistering or bubbling, Mundwiller says you should always start with a clean, dry surface. “Apply primer-sealer over any stains and give it time to dry completely,” he says. “Always make sure that the paint is completely dry before you expose the surface to moisture,” Mundwiller adds. He also recommends using (or installing) exhaust fans or vents in high-humidity areas. 

Allow each coat to dry before applying the next one.

Allow each coat to dry before applying the next one. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

The paint is cracking or flaking

When you see a hairline crack, don’t ignore it. “Cracks in paint can start small, but will worsen over time if they are not fixed,” Mundwiller says. Cracks or flakes can be caused by a variety of issues, including not preparing the surface or applying oil-based paint over latex paint. “Also, if you use a cheap paint, it’s not going to adhere properly or be flexible,” Mundwiller says. Sometimes, the paint is old, or it’s being applied in the wrong environment and, therefore, is drying too quickly.

Extreme cracking, sometimes called ‘alligatoring,’ is caused when a second or third coat of paint is applied before the previous coat dries completely, or when the undercoat is incompatible with the finish coat,” he explains.

Always remove loose paint.

Always remove loose paint before repainting. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

How to fix cracked or flaking paint

You can use a wire brush or scraper to remove loose paint (if the cracking isn’t down to the substrate). “Then, sand the area to feather the edges, prime any bare spots and repaint the surface,” Mundwiller explains. You may need to use a filler if flaking happens in multiple layers of paint.

“If the cracking goes down to the substrate, remove all of the paint by scraping or using a heat gun, sand the surface until smooth and even, prime, and then repaint with a quality latex paint,” Mundwiller says.

For a perfect finish, use the right amount of paint.

For a perfect finish, use the right amount of paint. Image courtesy of PPG Paints.

The paint is spread too thin

Colors are powerful and that’s why your color choices are important. But it’s also important to use the proper techniques when painting. A common mistake is spreading paint too thin, according to Jenny Burroughs, PPG Paint Brand Senior Product Manager. “Always ensure that your brush is evenly covered but not soaking wet, and follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for application,” she says.

Touch up paint should be seamless.

Touch up paint should be seamless. Image courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

Touch up mistakes

Sometimes, you don’t need to paint a whole room, you just want to touch up a small area. “It’s not uncommon to see a noticeable difference in appearance between the original finish and the touched-up areas,” according to Mark Eichelberger, Senior Product Manager of Architectural Paint at Sherwin-Williams.

Always clean the surface before applying touch-up paint.

Always clean the surface before applying touch-up paint. Image courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

“To avoid this, I recommend trying to clean marks with a soft sponge and liquid detergent before touching up,” he says. If it’s possible, he also recommends using the original batch of paint and a similar applicator to the one used in the original job.

 

New boards must be properly cured.

New boards must be properly cured. Image: BondRocketImage/Shutterstock

Deck staining issues

Interior paint isn’t the only place you can run into issues, either. Staining a newly replaced deck can produce undesirable results. “People do not allow for proper curing time. Once cured, they also don’t know that they have to remove the mill glaze prior to staining,” says Michael Nungesser, Owner of Five Star Painting of Central Georgia and Fayette/Coweta.

“Allow 30 to 60 days for new boards to cure,” Nungesser advises. He says that most homeowners aren’t aware that the new decking has a mill glaze (a glossy film that forms on the deck). The glaze can be removed with a wood deck cleaner, but Nungesser says this is another area prone to mistakes. “People often wash a deck with bleach and don’t neutralize the bleach with a wash prior to staining.” He also warns against using a pressure washer since it will impregnate the wood with water. For the best finish, he says to “allow the deck to dry to 20% moisture, and then apply two new coats of stain.”

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These are the Most Popular Rooms to Remodel – And the Cost for Each

A new report by Houzz reveals that kitchen renovations are still the most popular remodel – and also the most expensive. In 2018, the kitchen was the top interior room renovation among homeowners who renovated last year.

The report also notes that costs are rising. “Last year’s 10 percent increase in tariffs on imported building materials is clearly hitting consumer pockets in areas such as kitchens and bathroom remodels that are heavily dependent on imports of cabinetry, countertops, ceramic tile, plumbing fixtures and vinyl flooring from China,” Nino Sitchinava, Houzz’s principal economist, tells Freshome. “We expect similar effects to take place in 2019.”

Below, Freshome breaks down the most popular rooms to remodel, along with Houzz’s median cost data and the percentages of homeowners who did a remodel vs. an addition.

Homeowners are recreating designer kitchens.

Homeowners are recreating designer kitchens. ImageFlow/Shutterstock

Kitchen: $14,000

28% remodel/30% addition

Kitchens remained the most popular and most expensive room to renovate in 2018. In fact, the median spend on kitchen renovations jumped 27 percent in 2018, following a 10 percent increase in 2017,” Sitchinava says.

Some homeowners are looking for ways to expose concrete walls in their home, but Josu Gaubeka, President of La Cuisine Appliances also recommends concrete countertops in the kitchen. “Concrete is definitely in when it comes to kitchens. Even though marble and quartz countertops will never go out of style, what is currently trending is the industrial touch that cement adds to the designs.”

There’s plenty of room in this Kitchenaid Built-in French Door Refrigerator.

There’s plenty of room in this Kitchenaid Built-in French Door Refrigerator. Image courtesy of La Cuisine Appliances.

No matter the style of kitchen that you have, from the most elaborate in terms of sophistication to the simplest and utilitarian, if you have a stylish appliance in the kitchen, the appliance will certainly make the difference,” Gaubeka says.

Another trend that Gaubeka has observed is having everything out in the open. “Obviously, kitchens with open shelves or storage areas require a lot of order, but it’s also a simpler way to optimize time in the kitchen, since everything is on display.”

The 2019 faucet trends include vintage styles. “Even though the use of vintage faucets is a matter of taste, they are frequently found in many current kitchen designs. It’s part of a new country chic trend that recently became very popular, and works well with farmhouse styles, Gaubeka says.

Guests are no longer relegated to small powder rooms.

Guests are no longer relegated to small powder rooms. Image:Krista Abel/Shutterstock

Guest/other bathroom: $3,500

25% remodel/27% addition

“Median spend on guest bathroom remodels, the most popular type of bathroom to renovate, grew by 17 percent,” says Sitchinava.

If you’re remodeling your home for resale, the best return on your investment will come from focusing on bathrooms and kitchens, according to Jonathan Self, a realtor at Center Coast Realty in Chicago. “Using a reputable designer can be a smart money saving – and possibly money making – move. Also, depending on how large the scope of work, my pro tip is to factor in the cost for a project manager.”

Even if you have a general contractor and a great designer, Self warns that neither position is really tasked for project management. “Both of them end up getting roped into the job of project managing, and you end up adding more chaos to a chaotic process.”

Bathrooms recreate spa experiences.

Bathrooms recreate spa experiences. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock

Master bathroom: $8,000

22% remodel/23% addition

“Median spend on master bathroom remodels, the third most popular room to renovate, grew by 14 percent,” says Sitchinava. Homeowners want spa-styled bathrooms with natural light, open showers, and bathtubs that make you want to soak for hours.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, transitional bathrooms are the most popular design style. It’s a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with clean lines.

Homeowners are also incorporating some of the 2019 bathroom technology trends, including Wi-Fi/cloud-based digital showers with personal presets to control the temperature, outlets, and shower time. Intelligent toilets with personalized cleaning and dry functions, and a heated seat, can help to create the ultimate master bathroom.

Living areas can recreate the elegance of hotel suites.

Living areas can recreate the elegance of hotel suites. Image: Pai/Shutterstock

Living/family room: $3,400

21% remodel/23% addition

Whether a formal living room or a more casual living/family room where everyone – including the family’s pets – can feel right at home, homeowners are updating these spaces. Open floorplans that create clean sightlines to the kitchen are also popular for entertaining and keeping an eye on the kids.

Bedrooms are luxurious and comfy.

Bedrooms are luxurious and comfy. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock

Master bedroom: $2,000

14% remodel/15% addition

Master bedroom remodels continue to be popular as homeowners strive to create a sanctuary. Sometimes, this entails a master suite addition. Other times, it involves remodeling the area, and may include knocking down walls to open up the room. This allows homeowners to create an area for lounging on a sofa or large chairs.  Other upgrades include painting the walls, ceiling, and trim, adding a ceiling fan and lighting, and changing out the flooring.

Closets are as glamorous as bedrooms.

Closets are as glamorous as bedrooms. Image courtesy of Ornare

Closet: $700

13% remodel/15% addition

Closets, in general, and walk-in closets, in particular, are increasing in popularity, according to Claudio Faria, Director of Ornare USA, which offers luxury kitchen, baths, closets and cabinetry. In fact, he says he’s seeing the highest rise in closet orders. “People are putting more importance into them as the home for all their most valuable possessions. Many are looking for a more retail/boutique design with clear glass doors to showcase their favorite items,” Faria says.

“Others are looking for new solutions for more efficient storage with a more glamorous experience for themselves. That might include dedicating an entire room to also work as a dressing lounge or integrating it with the master bedroom to make it part of the design.”

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Porthole Windows: They’re Not Just for Ships and Boats

Porthole windows are standard on ships and boats. However, they’re now showing up in residential homes. Just as garage doors aren’t just for garages anymore, porthole windows are being used in other applications. And since porthole windows are available in a variety of materials and sizes, they can add a completely unique touch to your house (from both the interior and exterior). But, how do you know if a porthole window is right for your home?

Advantages of a Porthole Window

Porthole window perfect for stargazing

This porthole window is perfect for stargazing. Image: Relentless_one/Getty Images

“Porthole windows have the ability to turn a seemingly plain room anywhere in the home into a unique space,” according to Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor. He says bathrooms are a popular location. “Why should bathrooms be boring? A porthole window can enhance even the simplest spaces, and that includes bathrooms,” Roberson says.  “And as a bonus, it can also give the nautical illusion of being on a cruise, and who doesn’t want to feel like they’re on vacation?”

Porthole window artwork

A porthole window can also serve as artwork. Image: asbe/Getty Images

Porthole windows can also be used to line the walls of a staircase, according to Roberson. “Using these rounded windows there can help not only draw in light when transitioning levels but also create the illusion of more space,” Roberson says.

Another fun place for them is in the ceiling. “We all have seen a skylight, but circular windows in the ceiling can create a fun illusion of the sun when the light shines through.” Roberson says.

Porthole window above the door

When the curtains are drawn, this porthole window takes center stage. Image: Astronaut Image/Getty Images

Many homeowners use porthole windows as artwork.  “Depending on your home’s scenery, whether it’s overlooking a beautiful beach or lake or the city lights, a large circular window can be thought of as a piece of artwork and a focal point in any room, particularly a living room.” Besides bathrooms, attics and loft areas, porthole windows are also being used in other areas of the home, and there are even doors with porthole windows in them.

Porthole bunkroom

This bunkroom porthole window helps to create a nautical feeling. Image courtesy of Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Dan Nelson, principal at Designs Northwest Architects, has installed porthole windows in several projects. In the photo above, Nelson installed a porthole window in this bunk room. Due to the room’s design, which includes an arched ceiling, a porthole window works well.

Porthole home gym

Portholes add a stylish touch to this home gym. Image courtesy of Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Nelson also installed a series of porthole windows in this exercise room. “We use porthole windows quite a bit in our work because we specialize in waterfront residences,” he explains. “Porthole windows fit naturally into the nautical theme of many of our homes.”

Disadvantages of a Porthole Window

Porthole complements design

The porthole complements this home’s design. Image courtesy of Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

However, there are some factors homeowners should consider before installing porthole windows. “I think porthole style windows are fine as long as a home owner is just using them for aesthetic purposes,” according to Nathan Outlaw, president at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA.

“They can look great with an appropriately themed room or home but don’t serve much of a purpose,” Outlaws explains.” The light brought in is minimal, they can’t let as much breeze in.” He says another issue is that they don’t serve as egress windows. In the event of an emergency (like a fire), you need a window large enough, and placed low enough, to crawl through. If you’re considering a porthole window, make sure that you have at least one other larger window in the room.

This metal porthole fits perfectly in the metal wall. Image courtesy of Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

“There is also the problem of making them look good in relation to the outside of the home, Outlaw says. “Many times they look great in the room they are placed but mismatch the exterior architectural style.” That’s not a problem for the well-designed homes in the two photos immediately above, but it is something to consider.

Resale Value

Porthole window light and air

Porthole windows can be designed to let in a cool breeze. Image: BenAkiba/Getty Images

Porthole windows are trendy, but will they affect your home’s resale value or not?

“I do think that buyers may see the window type as an obstacle when they start to think about reselling in the future,” says Nicole Durosko of Warburg Realty.

“Anything that a homeowner does that is too specific, no matter how trendy or cute, will narrow the audience of potential buyers,” warns Steven Gottlieb of Warburg Realty. “If a potential buyer doesn’t want a porthole window, it adds to the number of ‘renovation tasks.’” He believes that it won’t widen the potential buying audience, but says it could narrow the field of buyers.

Porthole windows focal point.

Porthole windows can be a focal point. Image: numismarty/Getty Images

And Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty believes a porthole window could be a distraction, and it might turn off a buyer. “Today’s buyers are looking for large windows and lots of light,” she says. However, if there are other windows that provide natural light, it probably won’t be a deal-breaker. And in waterfront homes, it could actually be a selling point.

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What is a Transitional Kitchen?

Transitional is the most popular kitchen design in the National Kitchen + Bath Association’s 2019 kitchen design trends. In fact, 65% of kitchens designed in the past year were transitional, more than double the kitchens that were traditional, contemporary or farmhouse, according to Tricia Zack, Market Research Analyst at the NKBA.

Why are transitional kitchens so popular? And, perhaps more importantly, would this style fit your design aesthetic? Freshome asked Zack and John Starck, CEO and Owner of Showcase Kitchens in Manhasset, NY, to explain the features that define a transitional kitchen.

Clean, light and airy.

Clean, light and airy. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Clean and relaxed

“Transitional design offers the best of both worlds, blending the textures of traditional with the sleekness of contemporary design,” says Starck. “For kitchens, think geometric, clean and practical lines for the countertops, cabinetry, crown molding and other crafted elements.”

Starck says non-fussy is a key element of transitional kitchens. “Never would you include corbels or ornate appliques or other heavily decorative features typical of traditional kitchens,” he explains.

Floor to ceiling subway tiles.

Floor-to-ceiling subway tiles. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Colors

Since transitional kitchens often open to the living area, designers are opting for smooth features that blend in. What’s more, they often aim to achieve a light and airy effect. “Designers report using clean colors such as whites, grays, beiges, bones and blues,” Zack says. Those are good choices for now — and when homeowners decide to sell since neutral colors appeal to buyers.

Cabinet drawers in abundance.

Cabinet drawers in abundance. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Cabinets

In transitional kitchens, cabinets are usually a light or medium color in painted wood, wood grain or mixed materials. “Our report reveals that designers are using integrated storage with recessed panels, and doors are not as prevalent as drawers,” Zack says. Matte decorative hardware or integrated hardware are also traits of this design style.

Updraft hoods are a staple of transitional kitchens.

Updraft hoods are a staple of transitional kitchens. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Appliances

“White kitchens with stainless steel appliances are still king — with frequently contrasting island and perimeter cabinetry,” explains Starck. Also, expect to find fully-integrated French-door refrigerators in transitional kitchens. “Designers have told us there will either be an induction cooktop along with a wall oven and microwave, or a dual-fuel or gas range,” Zack says. Updraft hoods and standard-door dishwashers are other staples in this design.

Countertops with waterfall edges. I

Countertops with waterfall edges. Image: C Wood Photography/Shutterstock

Countertops and backsplashes

“Marble countertops and even marble backsplashes work beautifully for transitional kitchens,” Starck says. Other popular features that define transitional kitchens include quartz and quartzite. “Designers say countertops are thick (1¼ inch) and are either traditional or they have waterfall edges,” Zack explains.

“Subway tile for backsplashes is still a favorite, but mosaics and glass tile in a variety of sizes work great, too,” Starck explains.

The Elkay Circuit Chef Sink. Image courtesy of Elkay.

Sinks and faucets

Popular sinks styles among designers include stainless steel single bowl or apron sinks,” Zack says.

The Moen One-Handle Pulldown Faucet. Image courtesy of Moen.

Among faucets, brushed stainless steel finishes reign; matte, polished or satin finishes are also popular. However, there is no preference regarding faucet functionality. “Designers are selecting faucets that are motion-controlled, touch or even manual,” she says.

Dark wood floors provide contrast.

Dark wood floors provide contrast. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Flooring and lighting

“The flooring can be either tile or wood, typically high gloss, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Starck. Designers are using both hardwood and engineered wood plank, continuing the debate on using hardwood floors in kitchens and bathrooms. “The various types of large-format tile used in transitional kitchens include ceramic, porcelain and stone,” Zack says. “Some designers are also using luxury vinyl.”

Designers are incorporating a variety of lighting options in transitional kitchens. “This includes recessed lights and pendants and dimmer and traditional switches,” Zack says. Undercabinet lighting and interior cabinet lighting are also features of this kitchen style. And designers are more frequently adding motion sensors and keypads.

“Lighting, seating and hardware are areas where our clients have fun,” Starck says. “Contemporary, mid-century modern, industrial, glam and even traditional elements can blend successfully into a transitional kitchen.”

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Incorporating Dome Ceilings in Your Home’s Design

A dome ceiling adds beauty and architectural interest, while making the room look larger and more spacious.  Whether it is a recessed ceiling dome, a surface mount ceiling dome, or a combination of the two, this is one design element that becomes the obvious focus point in the room. Our team of experts reveal what you need to know if you’re considering a dome ceiling in your home

Incorporating Dome Ceilings

Dome Garret Michael Eakin

This dome ceiling brings the outdoors inside. Image courtesy of Garret Michael Eakin Architect

“A dome ceiling is classical by nature and symmetrical by design,” according to Garret Eakin of Garret Eakin Architect in Chicago, IL. “If you like the drama of symmetry, a domed ceiling is for you.”

This photo above shows one of Eakin’s dome ceiling projects. “We employed the form with the intent to integrate clear story windows above the countertops, washing the space with natural and artificial light,” he explains. “A dome integrates a functional roof with the aesthetics of great natural light.”

Dome ceiling define dining area

The dome ceiling helps to define the eating area in this open concept home. Image: James Brey/Getty Images

Domed ceilings are popular in entryways and living and dining areas, but they can also be used in other locations. “I like a domed ceiling above a breakfast nook or even a small reading room off the master bedroom,” says Nathan Outlaw, president at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA.

Dome ceiling entrance

The dome ceiling is the focal point in this grand entrance. Image: John M Lund Photography/Getty Images

When used in an entryway, Outlaw says it’s important to think about the type of impression you’re trying to make. “I think that they make a cool impression in a front entry, but can be off putting with how grand they feel,” Outlaw says. “You want a home to feel inviting and an ill placed dome ceiling could come across as pretentious.”

“A dome ceiling can take more planning in the construction and design and will take skilled tradesmen to pull off correctly,” Outlaw says. “If a homeowner wants a dome ceiling, I would suggest looking for a contractor who has done one before and to ask to see – in person – an example of their work.”

Dome center

The dome opens the lid of the ceiling in this room. Image courtesy of Leslie Saul.

“Domes add a sense of space and a sense of place to a room,” according to Leslie Saul of Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Design in Cambridge, MA. “They add space because the higher ceiling opens up the lid of the ceiling,” she says. “They add place because the dome gives a centering, an identity, and a sense of comfort to those who sit or stand under it.” The photo above is of one of Saul’s dome ceiling designs.

Dome ceiling with handpainted details

Dome ceiling with handpainted details. Image: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

“A domed or rounded ceiling detail is a great custom feature that will set your room apart from others,” according to Terry Southwick of Southwick Construction in North Hampton, NH. “A foyer, over a dining table, or an office are the best applications in my opinion,” she says. “You can keep it light and white, or paint it with sky colors, or embellish with custom paint depending on your decor.”

Dome ceiling and chandelier

This dome design allows the chandelier to be several inches higher. Image courtesy of Southwick Construction

The photo above is one of Southwick’s dome designs. “A dome ceiling is really a statement feature that can set off a room – with a lighting fixture in the center,” Southwick says. “With LED lighting around the perimeter, it can make a great impression or be a subtle classic detail to your home,” she explains. “It is a specialty feature, and obviously adds some cost to your project, but should be reasonable with a good contractor.”

Dome Ceiling Kits

Small dome ceiling

Dome ceilings don’t have to be large. Image: TimAbramowitz/Getty Images

“There are kits available that can be mounted in the ceiling and trimmed out and painted,” Southwick says. “The nicest way would be to custom frame and plaster in with the addition of crown mouldings to finish off the entire room.” Archways & Ceilings is one company that makes dome ceiling kits. The company provides instructions on how to measure for a dome kit and determine if you want a light ring. The dome ceiling ships in boxes, and can arrive in 3 to 10 business days.

Resale Value

Dome ceiling sunlight

This dome ceiling creates a burst of sunlight. Image: Hoxton-Martin Barraud/Getty Images

If you incorporate a dome ceiling, how will it affect your home’s resale value? Will home buyers share your love of this unique design element?

“Dome ceilings should not be confined to museums, according to Nicole Durosko of Warburg Realty. “When found in a New York City apartment, an elaborate, classical charm is automatically added to the home.” But she admits that it’s not being asked for by popular demand.

Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty doesn’t think that dome ceilings are that popular in large, urban areas like New York City – at least not among her clients – but she says they’re very popular in homes commutable to the City.  “Buyers outside of the city like architecturally-designed ceilings in the master bedroom and great room,” Kostiw says. “You’re also likely to see this type of ceiling in dining and living rooms.

Dome ceiling ornate

The dome ceiling complements this ornately designed and decorated room. Image: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/GettyImages

However, Howard Margolis of Douglas Elliman says it’s hard to accurately predict which homebuyers will like this style or not. “When it comes to dome ceilings, it depends on an individual’s personal taste and the existing style of their residence,” he says. “I find dome ceilings more often on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue homes.” He says they’re most likely to be found in the entry foyer or rotunda. “But in general, I think they are a bit dated,” he concludes.

 

 

 

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Should You Rebuild After a Tornado?

The U.S. has more tornadoes than any other country in the world. According to the NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, there were 555 preliminary tornado reports just in the month of May. (Note: it takes several months to confirm preliminary tornadoes.) These storms have the potential to rip off roofs and doors, shatter windows, fell trees, and cause significant structural damage – including flattening a building. If a tornado damages your home, should you rebuild or move to another area?

There are several factors that could affect your decision.

You can also make upgrades while making repairs.

You can also make upgrades while making repairs. Image: Franck Boston/Shutterstock

Level of damage

Sometimes, homes are completely destroyed and must be rebuilt from the ground up. “However, in many cases, the entire structure does not need to be rebuilt,” says Andy Lindus, COO at Lindus Construction in Baldwin WI. “Depending on the quality of the home build and the material used, it is frequent to find that homes are primarily in need of the replacement of exterior features.”

Lindus defines these as repairs to the roof, gutters, windows, and decks. “At times, interior drywall repair may be necessary due to impact from large debris hitting a home during a tornado.”

His company has been in western Wisconsin and Minneapolis/St Paul for 40 years, and Lindus says most homeowners who experience tornado damage opt to make home repairs and continue living in the same space.  “In many cases, homeowners use a severe storm as an opportunity to make additional upgrades to their home that they had been contemplating, but had not yet opted to do.”

To accurately determine how much damage the house as sustained, Robert Himmaugh, manager at Acadian Windows and Siding, in Kenner, LA,  recommends having a registered design engineer assess the damage to see whether it can be rebuilt or if it’s better to move on.

If it can be rebuilt, the next step involves your insurance.

Your home may be uninhabitable.

Your home may be uninhabitable for a while. Image: J Bicking/Shutterstock

Insurance

Your insurance coverage may play a significant role in whether you rebuild or move on. Heather Sims at Ebby Halliday Realtors in Dallas TX, helps buyers purchase fixer-uppers, and she says there are 2 essential insurance questions that need to be answered. “Do you have enough insurance to rebuild your home to the standard that you would want? If this answer is yes, then you have the financial freedom to make decisions without too much financial concern.” In this scenario, Sims agrees with Himmaugh that you could rebuild the home and make it even better than before.

However, if you don’t have enough insurance to rebuild to the pre-tornado level, Sims has another question. “Do you have enough insurance to sell the remainder of the property, take the insurance money, and then rebuild or buy a home elsewhere with those combined funds?” Again, if the answer if ‘yes,’ she says you have more freedom to decide. But if the answer is ‘no,’ Sims says rebuilding is probably your best choice. Keep in mind that unlike buying a fixer-upper, you won’t be fixing the home at your own pace. You’ll need to get it to a livable status in a short period of time.

Not all storms are covered by insurance.

Not all storms are covered by insurance. Image: Terry Alexander/Shutterstock

Coverage and cash settlements

According to Stefan Tirschler, Product + Underwriting Manager at Square One Insurance Services, in Vancouver BC, which specializes in home and renters insurance in Canada and the U.S., you should always select a limit of coverage that will be sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding your home after a total loss.

“Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage caused by wind. However, most home insurance policies don’t include coverage for inland or coastal flooding,” Tirschler explains. “If you live in a region where flooding may occur, it’s important to purchase a flood insurance policy.”

Your mortgage payments are still due after a tornado.

Your mortgage payments are still due after a tornado. Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

Also, if you’re considering accepting a cash settlement from your insurance provider, Tirschler says it’s important to carefully consider how much you’ll receive. “If you choose to ‘cash out’ instead of rebuilding the home, many home insurance providers will offer a settlement equivalent to the value of your home less depreciation, which can vary significantly depending on the age and condition of your home.” As a result, he says you might receive far less in a cash settlement than you would if you rebuilt the home instead.

And here’s something else to consider: “The mortgage company doesn’t absolve you from the debt because the home is destroyed,” warns Christi Houser, agency manager with Country Financial in Clackamas, OR. “You will need to continue to pay your mortgage even if your home is uninhabitable.” Fortunately most policies include a benefit for additional living expenses, and Houser says this will cover the cost of a place to live while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

“This coverage generally includes the extra cost of other living expenses -such as eating out at restaurants or having laundry done – that you would not have incurred had you not had the covered loss. Insurance is designed to make you whole again,” Houser says.

Don’t make rash decisions.

Don’t make rash decisions. Image: Vizual Studio/Shutterstock

Emotional considerations

But level of damage and insurance aren’t the only factors that Sims believes you should consider. There are also emotional considerations. “Do you have time to avoid making a quick decision? This would be the case if you have insurance that provides money for you to rent a living space somewhere while you decide what to do.” Your house is a safe haven, and when it’s been damaged in a storm, you need time to absorb that emotional impact. Sims says this is an important step before making a final decision regarding rebuilding or walking away.

“What do you want in your core?” Sims says this is what she also asks buyers when they walk into a home.  “If it’s ‘the one’ for you, there will be an immediate gut feeling and sense of belonging.  “Will you be able to feel safe, secure, and ultimately happy in the same location and home, or is it best for your emotional health to walk away and make your home in another space that doesn’t have any sort of negative feelings attached to it?”

Understand all of the costs. Image: Vizual Studio/Shutterstock

Understand all of the costs. Image: Vizual Studio/Shutterstock

Next steps

If you decide to rebuild, and you’ve received estimates from your insurance company, Himmaugh says there are other steps you also need to take. For example, building code upgrades should be reviewed. “Don’t go into a project blindly and expect to stay in your budget. Talk with your local building department, and contractors so you can properly plan before you consider rebuilding.”

The right contractor makes all the difference.

The right contractor makes all the difference. Image: Pu kibin/Shutterstock

Choosing a contractor

“It’s important that you choose a contractor you trust because when rebuilding your home, you, the contractor, and the insurance company will all have to work together,” Himmaugh says.

“The cost of building materials can become expensive, so you’ll want to talk with both your contractor and insurance company to see what will be covered in your policy.” For example, if your roof has completely caved in, he says the amount of money you’ll need to fix it often isn’t worth the amount you’ll get in coverage.  “Talk to your contractor and assess the damages to see if you can save more money by moving on to a new home.”

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