Creating Your Dream Bathroom

Think Function First

A bathroom, like the kitchen, is one of the hardest-working spaces in the home. If it’s not functional, everybody suffers. Keep all of its functions in mind — it’s a workstation for preparing for the day ahead and a refuge for resting and recovering from the hectic day — when choosing the sink, tub, shower, toilet and other pieces. Consider what other functions you can incorporate into the bath with a little clever planning; perhaps you’d like a seat in the shower, a steam room or storage for linens.

contemporary bath with polished look

Map the Space

Plumbing considerations will impact where you place showers and tubs. Yet, you also need to think like an industrial engineer when making a bathroom floor plan. Walk the space with your contractor and imagine the tasks required to get ready for the day. Consider the length of your arm’s reach. How far away do you want the soap dishes to be? Do you want to store objects in a vanity and, if so, would you mind bending over to retrieve them? The objects used most often, as a rule of thumb, should be closest at hand.

Blue Bathroom Cabinets

Choose Color and Motif

How do you want to feel when you’re in the bathroom? Is it a formal space (consider a black-and-white scheme) or a casual area (try neutrals)? The motifs associated with baths often are water oriented. Seashells, boats, piers, blue colorations and sandy beach colors are frequently used. But it’s OK to think outside of the box. Choose a motif that relates to the area in which you live (city or country?), a style of architecture (classic 18th-century English or New England cottage?) or a style that you’re personally attached to (bohemian or Asian?). Remember: A bathroom motif doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) knock you over the head.


Know Your Surfaces

When selecting products for the bath, such as tile or marble, be sure that you know the inherent qualities and the drawbacks of each material. Will the marble or tile stand up to heavy wear? (Watch out for veins in marble, which often indicate weak points.) Do you want a polished marble floor or a natural marble? Shiny floors may not be very slip-resistant; natural materials may have a pitted surface that is more slip-resistant, but may also be more likely to collect residue. Also think about the difficulty to clean the surface, many home owners complain about how they wish they had chosen a surface that was easier to clean & maintain.

blue tiled bath gives watery appearance

Add Drama With Fixtures

Plumbing fixtures are the jewels of the bathroom because they’re metallic and can add a dramatic effect to any space, just as jewelry can to an outfit. There is a plethora of finishes and styles offered by today’s manufacturers, from brass to stainless and all metals in between. Keep in mind your motif and maintenance as you choose your bathroom fixtures. Elaborate gold fixtures probably won’t jive with a beach-inspired bathroom and may also require more cleaning than you’re up for.

Bath fixture    Sink fixture  Walk through, stacked stone, waterfall... this would save so many fights over the shower head lol!Contemporary Bathroom Fixtures | Modern bathroom faucets design


Choosing the correct lighting is critical in the bathroom, where mirrors are present and mood is important. Consider the appropriate task lighting for sink and shower areas. Keep in mind that fluorescent lighting casts a bluish light, as opposed to the yellowish radiance of incandescent bulbs. Combine blue wall paint and blue-hued fluorescent lighting and you may look like Frankenstein’s bride in the mirror.

love tis bathroom!  #lighting #Mirrors #bathroom  Splendid Sass: BATHROOM BLISS     The Best Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Naturally Aromatic Tablescape

Don’t forget to incorporate plants and greenery in the bathroom. The asymmetrical nature of growing things (in design lingo this is called fractal) will help offset the square edges of the tiles or marble.

ideias para aproveitar cada centímetro da sua casa Office&RegionID=0&SortColumn=Relevance  like the wood and wall colors -        bathroom

Other Quick-Fix Tips:

•Remove your shower curtain and have a nice glass shower door installed.
•If you don’t like the look of your current shower tiles, but can’t afford to have your entire shower re-tiled, why not install a one piece shower surround for a fresh clean look.
•Would you like the feel of a spa in the comfort of your own home? Have a walk in bathtub installed. You’ll have the benefit of the muscle relaxing jets without having to go any further than your bathroom.

This is stunning and has always been a dream bathroom design in my head.       Bathroom ♥ - Follow Me, Suzi M, on Pinterest - Interior Decorator Minneapolis, MN For more, see my Modern Country Board
•Replace your vanity / sink combo with a small linen closet. Then install a decorative pedestal sink. A linen closet, no matter how small, will come in handy, even if it’ll only hold your bath towels and some toiletries.
•Remove your medicine cabinet and replace it with some wall cavity storage compartments. These can be built in between the wall studs in the cavity of the wall. If you have enough space, you could even build one on each side of the mirror.
•Wood flooring is great, but unfortunately it doesn’t do well in wet areas. So why not install some vinyl that looks like wood flooring. There are many styles available that rival the real thing in the way they look and feel.
•Have you ever considered changing the hardware on your toilet? This is something most people never think about. However, a decorative toilet handle can really help add a nice touch to your bathroom.
•Do you need extra storage in your bathroom? If so, you can simply add a shelf over the door. This makes for a great place to store things you’ve purchased in bulk like your toilet paper, your paper towels or your cleaning supplies.
•Did you know that there’s a wallpaper that looks just like wainscoting? This makes for a great look and if you add some chair railing, you’ll never be able to tell that it’s not real.

•If you really want to add some luxury, why not install some radiant flooring to keep your toes nice and warm on those cold wintery nights.

It really doesn’t take much time or money, depending on your taste and style, to turn your existing bathroom into a luxury spa retreat. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes on how you feel about the time you spend there.

Updating your bathrooms really makes a difference in increasing the value of your home, ask your Realtor for more tips.


Pending home sales in U.S. drop to 10-month low in October

By Andrew Khouri| LA TIMES

 Signed contracts for existing homes fell nationwide in October for the fifth straight month, further evidence the housing market has slowed after a frenzied rebound earlier this year.

The National Assn. of Realtors said Monday that its pending sales index, adjusted for seasonal swings, dropped 0.6% from September and was down 1.6% from its October 2012 level. The trade group said the government shutdown in early October, declining affordability and limited inventory curbed sales.

The index, which reflects signed contracts whose sales haven’t yet closed, is at its lowest level since December of last year.

“We could rebound a bit from this level, but still face the head winds of limited inventory and falling affordability conditions,” Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement.

After strong home price gains early this year, the housing market has cooled while buyers step back, struggling with those higher prices and also higher mortgage rates or simply frustrated over what had become seemingly never-ending bidding wars.

Pending sales rose in the Northeast and Midwest, but fell in the South and West.

In the western U.S., tight inventory and falling affordability helped push sales down the furthest, the Realtors group said. Pending sales there fell 4.1% from September and 12.1% from last year.

Although pending sales have fallen steadily in recent months, the trade group said it forecasts closed sales of existing homes nationwide to be nearly 10% higher in 2013 than last year.

[Updated, 9:47 a.m. PST Nov. 25: California last month bucked the national and regional trend in pending sales. The Golden State posted a 2.5% increase in pending sales in October from September, the California Assn. of Realtors said Monday. But the state’s pending sales were down nearly 10% from October 2012.,0,3763216.story#ixzz2lhaciymx

How To Create An Amazing Outdoor Living Space

Have you considered designing an outdoor living space for you and your family? Outdoor living spaces are becoming more and more popular and could actually increase the value of your home.

Before you begin you’ll need to decide how you’ll be using your outdoor living space. Do you do a lot of entertaining? Or perhaps you would like a quiet little nook to relax and read. Here are some great ways to create a unique outdoor living space that will enhance whatever type of lifestyle you choose.

1. Lighting. Lighting will give you the ability to create just about any atmosphere you want. You can install some wall lighting, lights that hang from the ceiling, landscape lighting. And if you use LED lighting, you can even change the color.

I'm obsessed with this look! I main question many outlets do these people have!? We have one outdoor outlet.  Outdoor Lighting Ideas: mason jar lights, tin can lights, cupcake lights, glowing outdoor orbs, twine ball light garland, handing jar lanterns, wine bottle lights #DIY outdoor lighting ideas, #outdoor lightingCindy this looks like what you guys wanted to do... Outdoor lighting and firepit.

2. Water feature. How about putting in a water feature? You can have the soothing sound of water trickling through your garden. Additionally, you could add some Koi for a splash of color and a natural interactive feature to enjoy.

3. Backyard bar. If you do a lot of entertaining, perhaps you could put together an outdoor bar. Depending on your theme, you could design a tiki bar, a martini bar or perhaps something a little more sophisticated.

Like the thick, simple contrasting counter top to balance the naturally busy stone walls  Outdoor Kitchen, looks beautiful, have a look at this side!!

4. Deck. By installing a deck to your outdoor living space could bring you a 77% return on your investment. A deck could be the foundation for the rest of your design whether your design is an outdoor bar or just a simple reading nook. And why stop there, why not add a gazebo while you’re at it and increase the return on your investment even more.

5. Outdoor kitchen & Dining. Adding an outdoor kitchen is a universally useful feature. It can be used for entertaining, a family barbecue or a romantic evening in your new outdoor living space. And you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like.

Outdoor dining by Candleglow  Fun setting

6. Outdoor electronics. Buy an outdoor television and sound system. These are great for your outdoor parties and watching the big game with your friends. Keeping your parties outside is a great way to preserve the interior of your home. You’ll no longer have to worry about things being spilled, stained or broken.

7. Add a Fire Source. If you have a fireplace inside your house, you know it’s where you love to curl up with a good book on a quiet night or where larger groups gather on chilly days. The same is true in outdoor living spaces: A source of fire draws people. If you have the space and budget, consider a full-size version; if not, investigate fire pits, which provide flexibility and affordability. Just check your local building codes to verify fire-safety and placement rules regarding outdoor fireplaces and fire pits before you invest in one.


8. Include a Variety of Seating Options. Benches, chairs, even pint-size stools: As many choices as you can include in an outdoor living space will help family and friends enjoy it. Scaled-down kid versions allow little ones to seat themselves, while chairs are a more flexible option — pull two together for a quiet chat or add extras around the table for a big dinner. One tip: Don’t include so many that traffic patterns become cluttered.

Include a Variety of Seating Options  Sunken fire pit

9. Rely on Containers & Pillows for Color.  Pots and Pillows of all shapes and sizes are great options to add dashes of color and texture to outdoor living spaces. Place a few at corners of a deck or patio to establish borders, or use a rotating series of seasonal plants — pansies in spring, daisies in summer, mums in autumn — for an ever-changing color palette. Using Accessories with pops of color is a great freshen up your outdoor space according to the Season, without spending a lot of money.

10. Add Accents to Walls. When used as borders for outdoor living spaces, walls can quickly get boring. Wall containers, planted with trailing vines and blooms, or outdoor-suitable art, such as tin ceiling tiles or salvage outdoor signage letters found at flea markets, are good ways to dress up large stretches of siding or stone.

Add Accents to Walls

There are so many unique ways to create an outdoor living space. Once you’ve designed your space, you can then add the decor to finish it off with your own personal taste and style.

Kitchen Backsplash Designs

Once you’ve decided what materials and colors you want for your backsplash, it’s time to determine how to put it all together. If you choose tile, do you prefer a consistent pattern (say, square or diagonal) or will you mix it up in some way? Here are some kitchen backsplash ideas and designs to spark your imagination.

Range Backsplash Ideas

Breaking up the tile pattern behind the range is a great way to add interest and a focal point to the room. This can be done with a simple border tile to section off a rectangular area below the hood, or by changing the tiles altogether. Purchasing a tile mural or mosaic design is another way of highlighting this part of the kitchen.


Sink Backsplash Ideas

If your sink happens to be in front of a wall instead of a window, you will want to decide whether to keep the same tile pattern as the rest of the kitchen or to mix it up. The same general design principles apply behind a sink as they do behind a range, so you can change the backsplash here with an easy-to-clean stone slab or add a design feature with a border tile or mural if you wish


Kitchen Tile Murals

Depending on the style of your kitchen, an artistic mural can add both a point of focus and a conversation piece to the room. It’s one of the most popular kitchen backsplash ideas for Tuscancountry, and French country kitchens. With an appropriate period design, a tile mural can be used in Craftsman kitchens as well.


Abstract Tile Designs

An artistic mural is not always appropriate in a modern or luxury home, so to spice up the look, you might consider kitchen backsplash tile designs that are more abstract. These are often available pre-packaged from specialty tile stores, although it is possible for a creative artisan to design one from scratch for your home.

Abstract Tile Design Rectangular Backsplash Tile Pattern

Backsplash Tile Patterns

From a simple rectangular tile design to multi-tiered bands of varying shapes, the sheer number of backsplash tile patterns is staggering. For any given material, there are often dozens of possible sizes and shapes to choose from, and near infinite ways in which to combine them. While it’s easy to over-complicate things, I often recommend starting simple and then adding some variation as needed.

Mosaic Backsplash Tiles

Sometimes smaller is better. Mosaic backsplash tiles are usually 1-inch or smaller, and typically come in 12×12-inch pre-formed sheets to make installation much easier. The tiles can be all of the same material, or can be ordered in randomized patterns from specialized tile retailers. Arizona Tile’s Custom Blend Tool allows you to generate your own special-order mosaic pattern online.

Mosaic Backsplash Tiles

Other Decorative Backsplash Options

A growing trend in backsplash design is the customized look, be it with screen-printed tiles or photographic glass backsplashes. A number of companies now offer custom large-format printing on the back of glass panels that have been custom fit to your walls. The result is a unique design that is entirely your own.


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Things to Do After you Buy/Sell Your Home

The closing on your home can be an exciting but busy time. There are so many things you have to remember and it’s easy to forget some of the most basic but necessary tasks. Here are a few things you’ll need to do or have done immediately after you close on your new home.

1. Call a locksmith to have the locks changed on your new home. Don’t forget to have him change the locks on all the exterior doors as well. If you’re going to change the locks yourself, you’ll need to count all the doors so you know how many you’ll need. This is something that can be done ahead of time so you’ll be ready to change those locks just as soon as you arrive at your new home.

2. Does your new home have any storage buildings or any other type of exterior building that’ll need a lock? If so, you’ll need to buy new locks for those as well. Additionally, if they’re already locked and you weren’t given a key at closing, you’ll need to have some bolt cutters on hand so you can get them open.

3. Make sure you’re given the garage door openers at closing. It’s a good idea to change the code as soon as you arrive at your new home. You may need to contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to change the code if you don’t know how. If they were not provided, you may have to talk with your local home improvement store or the manufacturer to obtain new ones.

4. If your new home has an alarm, you’ll need to change the alarm code. Contact the alarm company for assistance.

5. Change the batteries in all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors then test them.

6. Buy new fire extinguishers to place around the house and in the garage.

7. Prepare a box of move-in supplies to take with you such as toilet paper, paper towels, soap, wipes, trash bags, drinks, snacks, etc. so you won’t need to dig through boxes or have to do without.

8. Don’t forget to have the chargers for your mobile devices handy.

9. Put together a move-in toolkit and include items such as nails, a flashlight, a drill, etc.

10. Hire a clean up crew. There’s nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hadn’t had the place cleaned.

11. Set up the Utilities. The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well before closing. If they haven’t received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that.

Things to Do after You Sell:

  • Keep copies of all the paperwork related to closing and settlement. Although it might be tempting to run the mountain of paperwork through the shredder or tuck it away in storage, you’ll want to have it handy for April 15. When you file your taxes you’ll need documentation for the expenses and proceeds of the sale. And once you file your return, you’ll want to keep the paperwork in case you’re audited.
  • Keep proof of improvements and prior purchases. This is for tax purposes, too. The IRS allows you to add the cost of improvements to your home’s cost basis during the time you own the home, which is nice if you have a sizable capital gain. But to use this tax provision, you need to keep receipts of everything spent on home improvement.
  • Put your cash in a money market fund. If you sell and then don’t immediately buy, you’ll need a safe place to put your money. A money market mutual fund offers safety and a reasonable rate of return. Money market funds offer daily access to your money and check-writing privileges.
  • Stay on top of tax laws. A recently passed law allows you to exclude from tax a significant portion of the profits from the sale of your primary residence. Because tax laws are constantly changing, you’ll want to stay on top of tax laws to avoid losing a lot of money.
  • Remember to send change of address notices. The U.S. Postal Service recommends you complete and mail your Change of Address Order Card or Internet form 30 days before you move.

Kitchen Backsplash Material Ideas

Choosing from a variety of kitchen back splash ideas can be an enjoyable and visually rewarding experience. From natural stone tile to mosaic marvels to photo-printed glass, the possibilities for your kitchen are virtually endless.

A mosaic tile backsplash featuring 5/8-inch square Michelangelo marble tiles

Miles of Tile

From man-made ceramic tile to quarried natural stone tiles such as travertine, marble, limestone, and slate, tile back-splashes are by far the most popular option for today’s kitchens. For extra character and dimension, consider a tumbled travertine or tumbled marble backsplash in which the tiles are worn down with sand to create a softened, less uniform appearance.


Stone Slab Fab

For a perfectly smooth surface that can practically be hosed down when cleaning, a full granite backsplash is a top choice. In this case, the backsplash is cut from the same slab as the countertop so the pattern flows continuously from the counter on up. Silestone and quartz are also common, while slabs of marble, soapstone, and onyx are more exotic backsplash choices.


Classy Glass

If you’re looking for fresh, cutting-edge kitchen backsplash ideas, look no further. Glass tile and glass mosaic backsplashes have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, either as accents in a mixed-material backsplash or occasionally as the entire surface. For modern kitchens, an easy-to-clean solid glass backsplash can be custom shaped to the wall. The pane can be mirrored or back-painted glass, or even printed with a photo or mural!

Majestic Metal

For the pro chef, nothing tops a stainless steel backsplash behind the range. It’s fireproof, sanitary, and easy-to-clean. Decorative metal is also a growing trend in today’s backsplashes, with copper, tin, and metal tile picking up steam. Decorative metal backsplashes often come with pressed patterns or in a dramatic patina, so it’s advisable to step back and consider the overall effect to keep them from visually overpowering the room.
Stainless Steel Backsplash                                          Wallpaper or Laminate Backsplash

Plastic Perfection

For kitchens with solid surface countertops (Corian) or laminate (Formica), a matching Corian or laminate backsplash is an option. Vinyl tiles, available at home stores, mimic the look of stone and ceramic tiles and are often self-adhesive for DIY installations. For a faux metal backsplash, look for thermoplastic products that resemble pressed tin and copper.

Knock on Wood

While wood is not fire safe to use behind a cooking surface, there are often other areas in a kitchen where a wood backsplash can provide a warmer appearance. For country and cottage style kitchens, a beadboard backsplash looks terrific behind a built-in hutch or open cabinetry. Even a painted backsplash can work for any area away from sinks or cooktops.


Rustic Renaissance

In a timber frame, log home, or rustic kitchen, sometimes a “normal” backsplash just won’t cut it. Depending on the desired look, a brick or stone kitchen backsplash can add serious impact. For an “outdoor” ambiance, a cobblestone or stacked stone backsplash can be installed on an entire wall or along the back of a kitchen island or peninsula.

Key federal tax aid for homeowners in danger of expiration

Homeowner's tax aid

By Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON — Haven’t we seen this movie before? On Capitol Hill for the second year in a row, key federal tax assistance for homeowners is heading for expiration within weeks. And there’s no sign that Congress plans — or has the minimal political will — to do anything about it.

In fact, the prospects for extension of popular mortgage-forgiveness debt relief and deductions for mortgage insurance payments and home energy efficiency improvements appear to be more dire than they were last year at this time, when at least there was a formal bill pending to extend them.

This year there is none at the moment. The House and Senate are trying to figure out a budget but are also considering overhauling the entire federal tax system, which could mean that a long list of special-interest tax preferences — including for housing — might be sucked into the tax overhaul vortex and not revived if they expire as scheduled Dec. 31.

Robert Dietz, vice president for tax policy issues at the National Assn. of Home Builders, says the name of the movie is “Groundhog Day” — the Bill Murray classic about deja vu all over again. Remember last year’s New Year’s Eve “fiscal cliff” game of chicken that wasn’t resolved until the wee hours of Jan. 1? The tax benefits for homeowners were ultimately extended, but only for a year. Whether that’s possible again in late December is in doubt.

What’s at stake here? Begin with tax treatment of mortgage debt relief. Before Congress changed the law in 2007, any borrower who had a debt canceled by a creditor would have to report the amount forgiven as ordinary income, subject to federal taxation. If a mortgage lender chose to reduce a homeowner’s principal balance as part of a loan modification — say by cutting $50,000 off the mortgage balance — theIRS would treat that $50,000 as fully taxable income.

That’s despite the fact that the owner never actually received $50,000 in cash, and despite the fact that it was highly likely the owner was already in distress on the loan, facing financial challenges that made payments on the previous balance difficult.

Congress carved out a special exception for owner-occupied housing for five years, and that exception was later extended through Dec. 31. What happens if it expires? It would mean that thousands of people who are in the process of doing short sales on their homes but won’t close until 2014 may be subject to income taxes on the amounts their lenders cancel as part of the transaction. Underwater owners who sign up for short sales in 2014 — or owners who receive cancellation of debt as part of loan modifications — would all be subject to harsh taxes on their phantom “income.”

In California, however, owners waiting for short sales to close appear to be in the clear.

A recent advice letter from the IRS clarified that California homeowners who sell their houses in lender-approved short sales won’t be subject to a tax bill on the canceled mortgage debt even after the Congressional exemption ends. That’s because of a 2011 California law that exempts forgiven mortgage debt in a short sale from being counted as income in the state.

But mortgage debt relief is hardly the only real estate tax benefit set to disappear at the end of December. Also scheduled to terminate unless extended:

•The 10% credit currently allowable for energy-saving improvements you make to your house, including qualified insulation, high-performance windows, doors and roofs. The credits have a lifetime cap of $500.

•The $2,000 credit for newly constructed homes that meet federal standards for energy efficiency.

•The mortgage insurance premium write-off for anyone who takes out a home loan with a down payment below 20%. This includes conventional Fannie MaeFreddie Mac loans, Federal Housing Administration-insured loans and VA guaranty fees. This may be particularly important next year for new buyers who use FHA loans because that agency has recently raised its insurance premiums significantly and withdrawn its previous rule that allowed borrowers to cancel their insurance premiums, as is standard in private mortgage insurance.

Best advice for anyone counting on one or more of these tax benefits in early 2014: Don’t. This time around, it’s possible that some of them may not come back.

Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group