When you want to get away from it all, without actually going that far, how about creating a themed retreat in your own home? From backyards to basements and everywhere in between, this is a fun home trend I’ve noticed gaining popularity lately where homeowners are creating their own unique and creative getaway zones in the comfort of their own home.
In today’s fast-paced world, getting away is a luxury that time often precludes us from taking. Packing, airline travel, rental cars, and navigating unfamiliar surroundings can take so much time that a weekend retreat really only means that you get a few hours treating yourself before its back to the daily grind.
While man caves and she sheds are nothing new, homeowners have taken the idea of creating a special place within the home to new levels by creating luxury retreats that cater to their particular interests and give them a place that feels like they are removed from the cares of the world, without extensive travel or reservations required.
Take for example, this “Art Barn” retreat created by a local McLean, Virginia couple. This 600-square-foot, century old barn was remodeled from floor to ceiling to create a separate 2-story work-and-play space on their 1/5-acre property that includes a working art studio with ample wall space for displaying the owner’s artwork, a sitting area, and lots of light-filled space for sitting, relaxing and watching their bee-filled apiary.
Another wonderful example I saw recently is from this Arlington, Virginia couple who built a luxury 280-square-foot Garden Studio that’s a short stroll from the main house. The tiny retreat is heated and cooled with a wall-mounted, ductless HVAC system. It has no kitchen or bathroom, but it is equipped with TV, Internet and a solid oak work desk.
From extravagant Mediterranean-themed day spas set in an unused corner of the home, to over-the-garage game or sports rooms to luxurious libraries, movie theaters and more, why not feel like you’re getting the royal treatment, all while in the comfort of your own home? Today’s homeowners love indulgence as much as anyone else – and creating these special places to spoil oneself can actually be a budget-friendly, low-stress solution to the high cost of luxury travel and 5-star retreats.
For people who are selling their homes, the home inspection process can often unveil some costly issues. As a licensed Realtor with more than 30 years of experience helping my clients buy and sell homes in the Arlington, Virginia area, I’ve seen thousands of home inspections and am familiar with what often comes up. While you might expect to hear about plumbing or roofing problems, there are a few other under-the-radar issues you might be surprised that often show up. I’ve shared a few of them here, along with some good news for home sellers: Most of these can be easily addressed with a little foresight and easy DIY maintenance:
When Gutter Covers Go Bad: According to a recent article in Arlington Now, when your neighborhood is “leafy” (as most neighborhoods in Arlington are), gutter covers may seem like a good idea for keeping leaves and debris from clogging exterior drainage. Think again. According to the article, they aren’t as maintenance-free as advertised and can actually increase roof runoff, especially on medium- to steep-pitched roofs, adding to moisture buildup around the foundation of the house and leaving basements vulnerable. Oh, and the debris you’re trying to keep out can still build up underneath those gutter guards, hiding a problem as it continually compounds itself. Whether you have gutter guards or not, regular cleaning and maintenance is the best policy.
Failing Sealant: Contrary to what the salespeople at your local home improvement store may say, silicone is not the answer to everything. It may seem like an easy fix to apply silicone sealant around leaky faucets, drafty windows or even to adhere loose tiles, but it’s not permanent and only serves as a temporary fix that will alert the suspicions of home inspectors for potential problems hiding beneath. A better choice is to use paintable caulk for easy home repairs like these.
Odor: It’s a good practice to pay attention when visitors mention any off-putting or suspicious smells, or if you notice anything usual in your home. Musty odors can signal wet basements, plumbing, mold, or problems with your HVAC. Also, when trying to sell a home, nothing is more off-putting than offensive odors from pets, smoking, cooking or damp. Scent sells, but stink can kill the sale, or at least really hurt your profit. If you have pets, past moisture issues, love to cook exotic foods, or even a hint of odors might be offensive to others, a thorough cleaning will go a long way to increasing the attractiveness of your home. For more ideas about how scent can help sell your home, check out THIS ARTICLE.
Soggy Basements: Many homes here in the Arlington area have basements. Some have been converted into useable spaces for everything from spirited family pool tournaments to dedicated oenophile’s wine cellars. Others are used simply for storage and extra space. No matter what you use your basement for, they are all susceptible to the damages that moisture seepage can cause. Everything from winter’s thaw to errant landscape irrigation systems to the gutter covers we mentioned earlier can cause mold, flooding, or damage to your foundation – all costly issues. Keep an eye out for any indication of these issues, and find licensed contractors experience in basement waterproofing to give you a bid on repairing minor issues and protecting your basement before moisture problems get out of control.
Homeowner Neglect: This may surprise you, but one of the biggest issues that home inspections spotlight is homeowner neglect. A poorly maintained home is the cause of many issues that home inspectors are looking for including dryer vents or air filters that have never been cleaned, wood rot that has been allowed to fester for years, overtaxed garbage disposals, HVAC systems that have never been serviced, and more.
Here’s a cold, hard fact for improving your profit potential when selling a home: All those little repairs you’ve been meaning to do will actually cost less if done BEFORE the sale. Once buyers notice that repairs are needed, or inspectors point them out in excruciating detail, it can start causing issues. Buyers might wonder “what else needs fixing that we didn’t find?” They might wonder if the home has been maintained properly, and it could affect their offer. Or they could even request extensive repairs as part of the negotiation process that will cost much more than if you’d done the simple repair earlier on. Regular maintenance and servicing is the key to keeping the repairman from your door – and increasing your profit potential when you decide to sell.
In this digital age, finding the right place for kids to do their homework has definitely changed. While kitchen tables are still a popular choice, with the need for easy access to computers and smart devices for even the youngest of children, parents are looking to new spaces and ideas for creating tech-friendly, creativity-boosting spaces that kids can thrive in.
Keeping kids close is still one of the main requirements when planning for homework space. Monitoring their progress and their internet usage, as well as being close at hand for assistance when needed means kids need to be near where mom or dad are hanging out too. Since the kitchen is still the central gathering point of most home, kitchen-adjacent areas such as corner cubbies, hallways, large closets and even dining rooms can become the perfect workspace.
Check out Pinterest and you’ll see thousands of pins pointing to blogs and websites with articles about designing and creating modern homework spaces for kids, showing the need for new ideas and direction when setting up and organizing a space in which kids can thrive.
Homebuilders are even adding new elements to new home construction floor plans that feature dedicated areas, such as a nook by the kitchen, a desk area in the mudroom, or an office near the family room, for children to focus on their homework.
If you’re thinking of creating a new space for your children’s homework activities, here are a few ideas that might inspire you:
Featured as the #1 home office space of 2016 on Houzz.com, this design from the Johnston Home blog shows how a space right off the kitchen that could have been used as a breakfast nook, study, TV room, or small dining room was instead cleverly converted to the perfect homework zone. For this 5-person family, each child was given storage for books and binders including flat cubbies for paper stacks and file drawers for long term storage. There are a couple of swivel lounge chairs for more cozy reading. Bonus: It features Pantone 2017 color of the year: “Greenery.” (top photo, courtesy ajohnstonhome.com)
If you’ve got a hallway with open wall space, you can create a workspace station for your kids, like they did on the Sand and Sisal blog (middle photo). Think mini-murphy bed and you’ll see how this easy-to-create and install compact solution works for storing homework supplies out of the way until they are needed. When kids are ready, just open, pull up a chair and let their creativity flow!
Even little-used closets can be transformed into fun homework spaces. Take the doors off, line the walls with a fun pattern wallpaper, add some shelves to create a desk-like surface and some storage and you’ve got a space that will offer big appeal to pint-size learners. (bottom photo, courtesy IPC)
No matter where you put it or how you decorate it, there’s just something about a designated space just for kids that gives them a sense of focus and opens up entire new levels of creativity. Designing a space that works well for today’s homework needs is a great way to support your child’s learning and keep them on track all year long.
When it comes to remodeling projects, one thing you can almost always depend on is that there will be delays. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, and be sure to leave room in your plans for the inevitable issues that come up during projects big or small.
No matter how experienced you are, or how much effort you put into planning, things can and will go wrong. But if you know what to watch for, and how to be ready for it, you’ll be better able to get your project back on track as soon as possible.
As a Real Estate Consultant with more than 30 years as a licensed Realtor in Arlington, Virginia, I’ve watched many of my clients remodeling and building projects and noticed a few issues that universally cause delays. Here they are:
When it’s time to remodel or make improvements to your home, one thing you must take into account right from the start is whether you need a permit. Permits are crucial to ensure changes to your home are on record with the county, and permits ensure inspectors will check for any problems along the way. (Check out “Do I need a permit for my remodeling project” to learn more).
If permit offices are understaffed or overwhelmed with a high number of requests (a likely possibility), getting the permits you need can take a while. Plus, if your contractor doesn’t have all the necessary materials on hand such as plans or documents, more delays can happen. Plan ahead and know what you need for your permits and you’ll hopefully head off this potential delay before it can happen.
Unplanned problems can happen if hidden problems reveal themselves during the project. Things like rot, mold, asbestos, insect damage, and poor construction, often can’t be seen until you’re in the middle of the project, and they will have to be addressed before the project can move on. These will add time and money to your project, but if you talk to your contractor, get a clear idea of the work needed and expected time frame, you can adjust your plans and continue on the right path.
Here in Arlington, Virginia, residents are able to enjoy all four seasons. However, this means that sometimes our weather can be unpredictable, and as much as you try to plan ahead and listen to your local forecaster, no one can predict the weather with 100 percent certainty. Rain, snow and windy days can all affect the work being done for your remodel project. Things like pouring concrete, painting, and working on a roof can be delayed by inclement weather. When this happens, ask your contractor if there are alternate tasks that can be addressed to maximize efficient use of their time. If not, take a mental break, and be prepared to get back to work as soon as the weather turns for the better.
Wait times and back orders
If your contractor asks you to start making decisions at the very beginning of the project on things like paint colors, plumbing fixtures, lighting and tilework, listen to him. Often these items must be ordered ahead of time and the wait until they are delivered can delay a project if ordering is put off too long. Back orders and delivery issues are often a problem as well, causing delays while waiting for the products to be fulfilled. When planning for your project, do your research and make your selections ahead of time and it’ll pay off in saved time.
Clear communication with your contractor through the life of the project should probably have been the very first thing I mentioned. Everyone will have certain expectations for the timing of the project. It’s important to sit down with your contractor and review the project in detail from start to end to avoid surprises. Understand what your responsibilities are throughout the project. Agree on the best method of communication for all parties, whether it’s email, texting, or phone calls, and stick to it.
Preparing for the inevitable is the best tactic to take for a successful remodeling project. It’s normal to expect the contractor you’re working with to provide and stick to a schedule. But it’s also important to be prepared for the possibility of speed bumps and how to navigate them for a successful experience overall.
During the annual consumer electronics tradeshow (CES 2017) last month in Las Vegas, a fun section to watch was the introduction of new technologies developed for the home. Forget drones and spyware; the kitchen, bathroom and even babies’ bedrooms are the hot spots to watch, with smart home technology and household robots taking center stage. Here are a few things that caught my eye:
Meet today’s version of “Rosie” the robot
Remember the Jetson’s cartoon robot, Rosie? Every kid wanted one of those (parents, too) and now it looks like we may finally be approaching the reality of helpful home robots with the debut of Kuri. One of the newest robot friends expected to enter households in 2017, Kuri (pictured here) is a 20-inch, 14-pound robot that features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 1080p camera, and full iOS/Android app control. Kuri can learn and navigate its surroundings, recognize specific people, follow homeowners around the house, play podcasts and music, and even read a bedtime story to the kids. At only $699, Kuri, available in the fall of this year, is expected to be be the first of its kind to become a truly affordable household resource. (Photo courtesy: heykuri.com)
Another bit of home tech that I think we’ll be seeing more of is smart mirrors that do much more than reflect your image. “Connected” mirrors can play music, TV shows, stream YouTube videos, display weather and news feeds, and even allow you to quickly scan calendars and emails. (Photo courtesy: Miliboo.com)
When Alexa debuted at CES last year, it created a popularity and ease of access for voice-controlled devices that has permeated new technology offerings this year. Voice-activation is entering practically every household device including things like vacuum cleaners, home security systems, retractable awnings, thermostats and lighting.
Even technology for the baby’s room is moving forward at light speed. Hailing itself as the “safest baby bed ever made,” SNOO debuted a few months ago with a smart crib developed in collaboration with pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp that rocks babies to sleep by mimicking the rhythms of the womb. There’s also Ray, a sleep and health monitor for the digitally savvy parent that is being billed as “the first and only non-contact health and sleep monitor” for babies and toddlers. The Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled monitor measures a baby’s respiratory rate, uses thermal sensors to keep track of sleep cycles, and notifies parents, via the Ray app, if the baby has a fever or shows signs of other illnesses. For those expecting, or wanting to lock in the title of Best Grandparents Ever, the Ray monitor is available for preorder via its Kickstarter page, and expected to be ready for delivery (no pun intended) in September of 2017. (Photo courtesy: Designboom)
One of the newest trends for 2017 in home design isn’t about what you see, but what you can’t see. Hidden appliances that easily blend into design schemes while offering a greater degree of functionality are giving us an unexpected peek into the future of home design, and the way that homeowners want to use their kitchens.
Appliance design for the most-used room in the house has generally been about providing bigger, better and bolder choices by adding size, space, color and even new technology for each new line. Homeowners today, however, are shifting their priorities to reducing the size of their home while increasing the ease of use and functionality of each piece in the home.
With this demand for appliances that provide high performance in smaller, more versatile sizes, homeowners have new opportunities for transforming kitchens into high-functioning hotspots of the home that merge the best of design, technology, and old-fashioned warmth and appeal.
Microwaves, refrigerators and dishwashers can now be installed in homes where they look like drawers. Vertical freezers and dishwashers can be had that are taller, narrower, and have more than two racks. Undercounter beverage coolers, warming drawers and freezer drawers, and even mini fridges that are at children’s eye level are seen more and more in kitchen design. And manufacturers are paying attention.
Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, known for giant refrigerators and red-knobbed ranges that span up to 60 inches, introduced late last year a line of 24-inches-or-less appliances for compact spaces “from luxury high-rises and city homes to beachfront bungalows and cozy mountain cabins,” according to its website. Several 15-inch “transitional multifunction modules” let users customize their small cooktops into a fryer, steamer or grill, among other functions. And for urban dwellers, the 24-inch Wolf oven is slim enough to fit in a small apartment.
Bosch last year also began rolling out more small options after noting rising demand in cities across the U.S. including Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. And on their blog, Lifestyle expert Danny Seo has addressed small space design and small kitchen functionality in several articles, showcasing Bosch’s small-space friendly options along the way. LG and Thermador as also designing for this trend, as small refrigerators are seen more and more outside the kitchen in places like bedrooms, libraries, offices, exercise rooms and home offices.
As Millennials are buying their first homes and Baby Boomers are downsizing for retirement, I’m predicting that this trend is here to stay. If you’re interested in the Arlington and surrounding Northern Virginia are for your next home – no matter what size – give me a call at 703-593-6320 and I’ll be happy to get you started. (email’s good too: email@example.com)
If you’re renovating, redecorating, or even building a new home in the Arlington, Virginia area, I’ve gathered up a quick list of a few trends for 2017 that you can work into your plans, as well design ideas that have run their course. Don’t worry that you’ve got to throw everything out and start from scratch, though. A lot of what was popular last year is still fresh and worth keeping.
Colors of the Year: The Pantone color “Greenery” was announced this week as the Pantone Color of the Year selection for 2017. According to their announcement, Greenery is “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore, and renew.” Designers and retailers immediately started working this fresh springy color into home design and you’re sure to see it as a theme throughout next year, such as with this fun collection of Greenery-inspired home décor items curated by the Design Milk blog to celebrate Pantone’s announcement.
Don’t worry, your street won’t be going too green this year with a row of Kermit-colored homes, because Pantone also announced their home and interior color trend forecast for 2017 that includes rich floral hues, citrus paired with grays, nostalgic blues, and Native American pottery-inspired neutrals.
Terracotta: All-white kitchens and cool-colored tiles have enjoyed their time in the spotlight, according to design gurus, who are predicting that warm, rustic materials such as terracotta tiles will be coming back. Unlike the shiny orangey-brown floors of the 80’s, modern terracotta tiles with natural matte finishes will be used more as feature walls or to frame fireplaces to add character and warmth to interiors.
What’s Still Fresh
Nooks and crannies for technology, and for escaping from technology, are still popular and functional for the modern world we live in. No-tech Living Rooms where you can ditch the matrix and spend quality time with friends, family or pursuing other interests still holds true. But when you need to plug back in, Smart Spaces cleverly arranged throughout a home, such as in kitchens, entries, bedrooms and man caves are perfect for storing, charging and using smart phones, tablets, TVs and more.
Understated Luxury: Luxury is in, excess is out. That’s why décor and styling elements such as glamorous statement lighting, luxurious upholstered headboards, and statement furniture that anchors a room are a good way to treat yourself without going overboard.
Shiny Copper: As a material, copper will always be a classic. But the overuse of super-shiny copper in kitchens and bathrooms for everything from fixtures to appliances to décor is done. Instead, design pros say that we’ll see a turn toward either industrial (think black steel and burnished metals) or understated rustics.
Quote Artwork: After years of popularity and countless Etsy shops, consumers are finally moving away from using quote artworks as design elements throughout their homes. So “Keep calm and…” take a look at these trends and others as you plan for your next home design adventure. And remember, staying true to your personal aesthetics and functional needs is a trend that will never go away.
Sooner than you know, temperatures will be dropping here in Arlington, Virginia. Snow will start falling, and people will start looking forward to quiet evenings in front of their fireplaces with festive lights, hot cocoa and hot toddies. This all sounds warm and cozy, but add in just one clogged chimney, frozen pipe or broken window, and things can turn from cozy to chaotic in the drop of a hat (or a tree limb). To avoid winter’s little danger zones, here are eight ways to keep your home and family happy and safe throughout the season:
- Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts. Before winter weather sets in, take a quick visual inspection around the exterior of your home. Note any loose or missing shingles, then schedule a professional inspection to see if repairs are needed. Downspouts and gutters also need a thorough check, clean out leaves and dirt, tighten loose fastenings.
- Trim your trees. No, not with lights and décor. Rather, check if there are any broken tree limbs or ones that have grown during the summer and need to be trimmed back. Check with a professional if you think you need extensive work.
- Dig out winter gear such as snow shovels, window scrapers, or snow blowers. Make sure they are serviced and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Seal windows and doors to keep cold where it belongs – outside. Loose seals and drafty areas can often be taken care of with simple window insulation kits from your local home improvement store.
- If you have a fireplace, schedule a professional chimney inspection or cleaning. Weather damage, creosote buildup, and other issues such as foundation settling can cause serious problems that won’t show up until you light your first fire and it’s too late.
- Service your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Changing your filters is a good first step, but it’s also a good idea to hire a professional for a full-system inspection including pipe, wiring and thermostat tests.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. (Many people use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder for this task).
- And finally, for both your home and your car (aka: many people’s second home!) create or restock a winter emergency supply kit. Storms, power outages, and other emergencies are more common this time of year. Make sure you have the right supplies on hand to weather any emergencies including blankets, candles, matches, flashlights, flares, first aid kits, water, nutrition bars, and necessary medications. For a list of recommendations, check out this page on The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA website.