Category Archives: Home Improvements

Green Your Space: 5 Tips for a Healthy Home

Healthy home

Every homeowner wants a healthy home for his or her family and pets. Making the right choices in your house isn’t always easy though. Keep reading to learn more about how you can create a healthy space and enjoy your home even more. These five tips should put you on the path.

Update Your Insulation

Individuals and families in older homes should consider the fact that they may have unhealthy types of insulation in the walls keeping them comfortable. If you’re not sure about your insulation, have the pros check it out first. In the case of asbestos or any other hazardous material, you don’t want to be digging around in the walls on your own.

Asbestos and hazardous insulation remediation can be a big job, but for a homeowner, it should be a top priority in terms of a healthy home. Updating your insulation will also be a major plus when and if you go to sell your home.

Get a Mold Check

Most homeowners never think about mold until they get an inspection related to selling their home. For others, mold isn’t even a consideration until damage to the home occurs and a mold issue more or less reveals itself. Getting a mold check for your home can help your family breathe easier in the house. While most recently built homes won’t have mold, getting a check isn’t going to hurt you.

Pick the Right Paint

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint, wood stain and other varieties of coatings account for about nine percent of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the country every year. For a healthy home, look for low-VOC paint. They are water-based, low or no odor and non-toxic. While it can be hard to identify low-VOC paint on store shelves, online searches and on-can labeling should make it easy to find this type of paint if you’re looking for it.

Take Your Shoes Off

Taking your shoes off every single time you come in your home might be a hard habit to get into, but for many people, it can lead to a healthier home environment. Your home might also require a little less cleaning, which is an added benefit. If you have a mudroom or a large entryway, removing your shoes should be easy. Tracking less outside germs from your shoes into your home can also help keep pets and children with a tendency to spend time on the floor healthier all year round.

Add Plants to Your Décor

Fresh, live plants can beautify almost any space. Live plants do more than just make your home look a little bit nicer though. Spider plants, lilies and aloe vera can help get rid of formaldehyde in the air, and English ivy, asparagus ferns and bamboo plants can work to clean indoor air as well. Whatever plant you choose, make sure they’re not toxic to your pets if they roam free around your home.

Making your home a healthier place isn’t exactly as glamorous as buying new furniture or adding a room to your house. Don’t take your home’s health for granted and you won’t have to worry as much about home-related hazards.

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Unexpected Benefits of a Kitchen Redo

Can a full-blown kitchen redo make you healthier? The answer, according to a recent survey, is yes.

Thirty-three percent of those surveyed by Houzz say they live a healthier lifestyle now that their kitchen has been renovated, with 76 percent cooking five or more meals at home each week—generally a healthier habit than dining out—and 34 percent eating takeout less as a result.

“With the growing trend of homeowners choosing to stay in their home for the long-term, the return on investment from a kitchen remodel is less tangible, measured in healthier habits and more face-time with family and friends instead of dollars,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, in a statement on the survey. The survey also explored the factors that inform the remodel.

The most popular features in kitchens overall include:

  • Custom Cabinets
  • Gray Walls
  • Island
  • Marble
  • Open Floor Plan (Great Room)
  • Pantry Cabinet
  • Stainless Steel Appliances
  • White Cabinets
  • White Countertop
  • Wood Flooring

In terms of style, however, generational divides exist, according to the survey. Though a contemporary style is most in-demand across the board (dethroning transitional), millennials are more likely to favor a farmhouse or modern look, while baby boomers are more likely to prefer a traditional aesthetic.

In addition, homeowners are spending more renovating their kitchens. Twenty percent of those surveyed spent between $50,000 and $100,000 on a kitchen redo in 2016; 9 percent spent more than $100,000. Hey—you can’t put a price on health!

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early | Keeping Current Matters

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true. If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the 4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

2017 Home Design Trends

Housing styles emerge slowly and typically appeal first to cutting-edge architects, builders, and interior designers. As a trend spreads and gains wider interest, it may go mainstream, become almost ubiquitous, and eventually lose its star power. Just look at once-favored granite, which now has been replaced by the equally durable and attractive options of quartz and quartzite.

2017

The economy, environment, and demographics always play a big role in trend spotting. But this year there are two additional triggers: a desire for greater healthfulness and a yearning for a sense of community.

1. Community Gathering Spaces

Why it’s happening: The combination of more time spent on social media and at work and the fact that fewer people live near their family members has caused many to feel isolated and crave face-to-face interactions.

How it will impact you as a real estate pro: Multifamily buildings and even single-family residential developments are rushing to offer an array of amenity spaces to serve this need. Some popular options include clubhouses with spiffy kitchens, outdoor decks with pools and movie screens, fitness centers with group classes, and drive-up areas for food-truck socials. At its Main+Stone building in Greenville, S.C., The Beach Co. began hosting free monthly events such as its “Bingo & Brews.” Make sure you know which buildings, communities, and neighborhoods offer these sought-after social events and gathering spaces so you can help clients connect.

2. Taupe Is the New Gray

Why it’s happening: White remains the top paint color choice due to its flexibility and the fact that it comes in so many variations (PPG Paints has 80 in its inventory, according to Dee Schlotter, senior color expert). Though white has been upstaged by gray in recent years, this year many will be searching for a warmer neutral, which is why paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams named “Poised Taupe” as its 2017 Color of the Year. “Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of a weathered, woodsy neutral and a sense of coziness and harmony that people seek,” says Sue Wadden, the company’s director of color marketing.

How it will impact you: Dallas-based designer Barbara Gilbert considers taupe a smart alternative since it still performs as a neutral with other colors, cool or warm. She expects to see taupe on more exteriors — blending well with roofs, doors, window frames, and surrounding landscape — but it also will turn up indoors on walls, ceilings, kitchen cabinets, furnishings, and molding. It might even work to help update a listing clad in gray, she says, as the two colors work well together.

3. More Playful Homes

Why it’s happening: Americans work harder now than ever, with many delaying retirement or starting second careers, so they want their homes to be a refuge and a place to unwind.

How it will impact you: Be sure you’re asking buyers how they like to spend their free time. Spaces that encourage play are trending higher on their wish lists, whether it’s a backyard bocce court (the latest outdoor amenity to show up in residential backyards) or a putting green. And sports don’t have to be relegated to the outdoors. says Gilbert; technological advances have allowed for rapid improvement in indoor golf simulators, for example. While some of her clients have installed modest models, she’s working on a dedicated golf room with software that gives homeowners virtual access to any golf course in the world. Though landscape architect Steve Chepurny of Beechwood Landscape Architecture in Southampton, N.J., designs putting greens with synthetic grass that range from $12,000 to $30,000, he also notes he’s seeing more playfulness outdoors in the form of non-sports amenities, such as pizza ovens.

4. Naturally Renewable, Warmer Surfaces

Why it’s happening: The pervasiveness of technology throughout homes has resulted in a corresponding yearning for more tactile surfaces and materials that convey warmth. Natural cork is a perfect expression of these needs, with the bonus of being low-maintenance.

How it will impact you: In recent years, cork, a renewable material harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, has resurfaced as a favorite for myriad uses, and for good reason. Some credit designer Ilse Crawford’s introduction of cool, edgy cork pieces in her “Sinnerlig” collection for IKEA for the resurgence. Aside from aesthetics, the material is appealing since it’s resistant to mold, mildew, water, termites, fire, cracking, and abrasions. Moreover, cork can be stained and finished with acrylic- or water-based polyurethane. Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange likes to incorporate cork to clad walls and floors. “It’s an especially effective and forgiving choice since dents bounce back and floors retain heat,” she says.

5. Surface-Deep Energy Conservation

Why it’s happening: As energy costs continue to increase, the search is on for ways to save. Incentives to do so only increase as states and municipalities enact new, stricter energy codes. While energy-wise appliances and more efficient HVAC systems are still appealing to homeowners looking to save on their utility bills, less costly surface upgrades are gaining in popularity.

How it will impact you: After New Jersey increased its requirements for insulation, architect Jason Kliwinski, principal at Designs for Life and current chair of New Jersey’s AIA Committee on the Environment, went looking for new options. He found new low-E window film that can double the performance of glass at one-fifth the cost of a full window replacement. Several options for this film are on the market now, and Kliwinski says manufacturers such as EnerLogic are producing versions that are invisible when installed. Other surface-change artists that lower energy use and that are cost-effective and relatively easy to apply include a ceramic insulating paint coating for walls and a thermal energy shield for attic interiors. Tesla, the innovative manufacturer of electric cars, is just debuting solar glass tiles that resemble traditional roof materials such as slate and terracotta, but provide passive heat gain.

6. More Authentic, Personalized Use of Space

Why it’s happening: As home prices escalate — up 5.5 percent, according to CoreLogic Case-Shiller — and baby boomers downsize to retire or cut costs, every inch of available space counts more than ever. To make the best use of space for each resident, design professionals are zeroing in on how clients want to live rather than thinking about how people use space generically. “One size doesn’t fit all any longer,” says Mary Cook, whose eponymous Chicago-based design firm specializes in amenities, public spaces, and model home interiors.

How it will impact you: You and your clients are likely to see a greater variety in terms of layouts, building materials, home systems, color palettes, and furnishing choices, both in model homes and in houses staged for sale. Listing agents can take the cue from this trend by helping sellers highlight the flexibility of their spaces when putting a home on the market. Buyers’ reps should similarly showcase a range of living options in each home-shopping session.

7. The Walkable Suburb

Why it’s happening: Urban centers have long been a magnet for residents wanting to walk rather than drive to work, shopping, and entertainment. But the trend is now spreading to the suburbs where being close to a town center — and public transit into a larger city — offers similar appeal.

How it will impact you: A high walk score has become a recognized real estate marketing tool. Real estate salesperson Stephanie Mallios of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Short Hills, N.J., has seen a huge uptick in interest and value in single-family homes and townhouses close to town centers, especially those near a train station if residents commute to a large metropolitan area. “Most homes for sale in my area list the number of blocks and steps to public transit in their marketing materials. Homes far from everything have become less valuable,” Mallios says. The most appealing towns also incorporate individually owned shops rather than chain stores.

8. Healthier Homes

Why it’s happening: Consumers have been increasingly aware of hazardous indoor environments over the last few years, but news of the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich., raised awareness to a nationwide level in 2016. Homeowners are actively seeking out healthy water supplies, purifiers, and HVAC systems, along with nontoxic paints and adhesives. A newer element to this trend in 2017 will include enhanced environmental testing.

How it will impact you: A growing number of builders, remodelers, architects, and interior designers expect health to influence their business decisions due to consumer demand, according to studies from both the Urban Land Institute and McGraw-Hill Construction. You should expect to see more buyers hiring health experts to examine listings and requiring in-home contaminant removal prior to a sale. Your clients will also have greater access to additional home products that promote healthy sleep patterns, such as those featuring UV and LED circadian lighting.

9. Shifting Hearths

Why it’s happening: The traditional log-burning fireplace has lost some appeal as homeowners realize it’s less energy-efficient and can send more particulates into the air. But there are a number of replacement options waiting in the wings.

How it will impact you: Homeowners have been switching out their log-burning fireplaces with new gas models for many years. Newer on the market are the ventless alcohol-burning fireplaces that can be placed almost anywhere and without costly construction, says Los Angeles–based designer Sarah Barnard. Another increasingly popular solution is to build a fireplace outdoors, according to landscape architect Chepurny.

10. Counter Options

Why it’s happening: Much like granite did, quartz and quartzite are predicted to be kitchen favorites until another material comes along. But other green laminate options are gaining in popularity, and they’re no longer just for the budget-minded consumer.

How it will impact you: A new countertop can make a big difference in the appeal of a room. Sally Chavez, senior product designer at Wilsonart in Temple, Texas, which manufactures engineered surfaces, says laminate options that mimic stone, wood, distressed metal, and concrete are gaining in popularity. But she recommends avoiding designs that include the “spots and dots” or speckled patterns from decades past. Some newer countertop options offer an additional perk: They lessen the time and cost of installation and also eliminate the need to discard the old countertop. Trend Transformations, an Italian manufacturer with a U.S. manufacturing facility, incorporates recycled granite, glass, and even seashells in its surfaces, which are installed over an existing countertop. Installation can be finished within a day, and prices are competitive with quartz and quartzite. Because these countertops are less porous than traditional stone, they’re also more resistant to stains and scratches.

11. The Transforming Office

Why it’s happening: Regular work-from-home time among the non–self-employed population has grown by 103 percent since 2005, according to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego–based research and consulting group focused on workplace change. Her organization estimates that number will continue to grow at between 10 percent and 20 percent a year.

How it will impact you: More of your clients are likely to need a work-from-home space, but due to the diminished size and highly transient nature of technology tools, there’s less need for a dedicated, separate office. Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s chief economist, says almost any area of a house can become a workplace, but the most functional ones incorporate built-ins and furnishings that serve a dual purpose. That same desire for flexibility may someday translate to layouts that can easily change to a homeowner’s whim, such as the KB Home ProjeKt movable wall concept in its “Home of 2050” at the Greenbuild Conference and Expo this past October.

Men Are Having More Say in Kitchen Designs

Kitchens are getting a more masculine touch. Men increasingly are spending equal time in the kitchen as women and a growing number are reportedly becoming the main chef at home, The Washington Post reports. As such, they’re having a greater say in the kitchen design.

Gen X men – born between 1961 and 1981 – cook an average of about eight meals a week, which is nearly as often as women, according to a 2012 study by the University of Michigan.

So how are men influencing kitchen design? Men are bringing in more contemporary styles, such as flat-front cabinetry, bolder colors, contrasting-color palettes, and upgraded appliances, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. NKBA researchers find that men spend about 30 percent more on kitchen appliances than women.

“It used to be that the husband would attend early meetings about a kitchen remodel and be tough on the numbers, but otherwise the wife would take charge,” Nadia Subaran, co-founder of Aidan Design, told The Washington Post. “That’s really changed dramatically the last few years, and now in many cases the husband is the main cook and decision-maker.”

Blue Arnold, principal of Kitchens by Request in Jarrettsville, Md., told The Washington Post a big difference he sees between his male and female clients is that men want “experiential cooking like Bobby Flay, with big and bold kitchens and big and bold cooking that blends outdoor and indoor cooking techniques.” He’s noticed his male clients tend to go for things like six-inch thick chopping blocks and a special pizza oven and ask questions like how many BTUs the broiler has.

“For one couple I worked with, the husband wanted the kitchen to be like a showplace where his wife and their guests can watch him cook when they are entertaining,” says Arnold. “He wanted an island with seating for his guests, a butcher block section and a wire-scraped granite section and a glass-front fridge like he has seen on TV.”

Source: “A More Masculine Taste in Kitchens,” The Washington Post (Nov. 10, 2016)

So this leaves a big question, who cooks the most in your household?

Thinking of Selling? Don’t Overlook an Outdated Kitchen, Buyers Won’t

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If you are planning on listing your home for sale, make sure that you don’t overlook the condition of your kitchen. A recent article on realtor.com listed “7 Signs Your Kitchen Is Way Overdue for a Renovation,” in which they warned:

“Dated kitchens—just like bathrooms—are a major barrier for resale. Buyers want modern amenities and styling, and most aren’t interested in renovating post-purchase.”

Kitchen remodels can be pricey, with many complete remodels costing $20,000 or more. But not every kitchen needs a full remodel. There are many smaller projects that will help buyers see themselves trying their favorite Pinterest recipe in your home!

Here are a couple of project ideas that, if you’re handy or know someone who is, could end up boosting your home’s value without breaking the bank:

  • Are the cabinets in good shape but need an update? A new coat of paint and some updated hardware will instantly freshen up the space and drastically change the feel of the room all for under $300.
  • A new backsplash to match the freshly painted cabinets updates the space and adds some style while staying under $200, depending on the size of the room.
  • If the kitchen seems dark, consider adding LED under cabinet lighting for around $40.
  • If replacing the countertops in the kitchen isn’t within your budget, consider using a top coat to cover the current countertops.

If you decide to complete a full remodel of your outdated kitchen, you can expect a 67% return on a $30,000 upgrade (the national median cost). The benefits of a kitchen remodel aren’t purely financial, according to Houselogic:

“Eighty-two percent of homeowners said their updated kitchen gave them a greater desire to be at home, and 95% were happy or satisfied with the result.”

Bottom Line

Kitchens and bathrooms are often make or break for buyers when touring a home or searching through photo galleries online. Consult a local real estate professional who can help you identify which small projects could pay off big!

Clean, Declutter, Discard: Make a House Shine for Resale

Purging belongings can be an arduous task for sellers. Sentimentality can be a powerful disincentive to declutter. How could a loving daughter sell her family silver, even though she dislikes the pattern? How could parents ever discard a painting by their young budding Picasso, even though he’s now 30 and hasn’t picked up a paint brush in 20 years?

Most home owners avoid those tough decisions and schlep possessions from house-to-house. But it’s far smarter to shed before moving. Not only does it clear out space to make a listing look its best, it also saves on moving costs to transport less stuff.

Here are 13 steps to help make the task of decluttering less daunting.

1. Study the entire house. Sellers shouldn’t tackle every room in one fell swoop. Go room-by-room, starting at the front door. Sellers should pretend they’re seeing each room for the first time, says Kammie Lisenby, CEO of The Organizing Experts in Seattle. The goal is to make rooms resemble those in a hotel, says professional organizer Katrina Teeple, owner of Operation Organization in Los Angeles.

2. Make piles. Sellers should organize piles as they clear each room — for example, stack items to keep, give to family or friends, donate to a charity, sell online, get hauled away, and consign. They should bear in mind the size of the home they’re moving to, their degree of sentimental attachment, and the financial value of each item. It’s best to put highly personal items aside in the keep pile, such as family photos so potential buyers don’t see them during showings, says Lisenby.

3. Create a spreadsheet. A master list of what rooms will require organizing tasks can be helpful. This will also aid in prioritizing expenses, such as home improvements, paint, and staging elements. To play it safe with finicky buyers, sellers should go neutral in paint and decor, says Teeple.

4. Empty closets. Often becoming a graveyard for all the belongings home owners don’t know what to do with, clean, spacious closets are a coveted feature among buyers. Izsak suggests eliminating anything not worn or used in the last two years. Aim to dispose of 50 percent of wardrobes since most people only wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time, he says. The remaining items should be stored on uniform rods, or in labeled, see-through bins, says Teeple.

5. Clear off counters and bookcases. Get rid of books that won’t be reread, particularly now that so many people read online. Add a few home decor items for sparkle. When in doubt, follow the “rule of three,” a mantra among home stagers, by clustering items into threes to create visual appeal. The final effect should reflect a neutral style.

6. Inspect the home’s exterior. Depending on the time of year, sellers may need to hire a professional to clear leaves, snow, or ice, so that they don’t hide a home’s features. Messiness and wear and tear on the outside indicates to buyers that the inside hasn’t been cared for well.

7. Check curb appeal all around. While the front yard is key to making a good first impression, more home owners spend time out back, so sellers should be sure lawns, shrubs, trees, and amenities like a fence and air conditioning condensers are maintained.

8. Spruce up the kitchen. This is the home’s most popular gathering spot and another place where everything gets dumped—backpacks, car keys, cell phones, etc. The rule of three applies here, too. Tell sellers not to stuff anything into a pantry or cabinets; get rid of it if it hasn’t been used in a few years. Also, clean out the refrigerator and freezer.

9. Make bathrooms spotless. Not every seller has a spa bathroom to unwind in, but clean grout, tiles, shower door, and vanity can make a big difference in an average bathroom. Clear out the prime real estate of a medicine cabinet, add crisp white or other neutral towels, fresh soaps, and a plant, Teeple suggests.

10. Purge basements, attics, and garages. These are a home’s purgatories—where stuff goes to never see the bright light of day, says Izsak. Anything that’s been moved at least twice and not opened needs to be reassessed, says Chris Seman, president of Caring Transitions in Cincinnati, a relocation service. Separate the items to be stored in see-through bins to reveal their contents; do so by categories, such as holiday decorations; and be sure bins are labeled clearly and have lids to keep out pests.

11. Professionalize an office. With more home owners working from home, a separate room or corner for an office can boost sales appeal. Have sellers clear up paper piles and file documents—but remember, most home owners only reference 5 percent of their files, says Seman. The work area should include good illumination, a comfortable chair, and clean equipment, says Izsak.

12. Get rid of belongings. Now it’s time to rethink what to do with everything in piles. Here are some upsides and downsides to these decisions:

  • Sell or auction through an online vendor like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace or at a flea market. Downside: It may take time to get the desired price.
  • Leave at a consignment shop to get stuff out of a house now. Downside: Proceeds get shared, and it may take a while to sell.
  • Give away to family, friends, or a nonprofit such as freecycle.org. Some communities let residents leave stuff outside their house with a sign, “Take it!” Upside: It gets rid of things fast.
  • Have a group haul it away such as 1-800-Got-Junk? Upside: This avoids driving it to a dumpster.
  • Donate to a charity. Upside: It gets out of a house, helps someone in need, and provides a deduction. Fill out IRS Form 8283 if total exceeds $500.
  • Organize a yard sale. If time is of the essence, the seller could hire a professional who sets up tables, takes money, and gets rid of what doesn’t sell. Downside: Proceeds get shared.

13. Don’t repeat collector mania. Once a seller moves into their new home with fewer possessions, purchase carefully. After all that work, you wouldn’t want to have to go through it all again!

Cost-Saving Perks to Upgrading to a Smart Home

More insurance companies are offering discounts on home insurance policies for owners with Internet-connected devices. Companies are seeing the perks of smart home tech in helping to prevent leaks or burglaries.

Insurance companies nationwide are offering incentives to install one of numerous connected devices. The devices may include everything from moisture sensors, smart thermostats to video doorbells or home security monitoring systems.

State Farm is offering a discount for installing a Canary home security monitor system. American Family offers a discount for customers who install the Ring video doorbell, which they believe serves as a deterrent to burglary.

Liberty Mutual is offering to send a Nest Protect smoke detector (retailing for $99) free of charge and also cut premiums on the cost of fire coverage for its subscribers.

Smart home devices in a home help create something like a “check-engine light for the home,” says Jon-Michael Kowall, assistant vice president of innovation at USAA. For example, the connected devices may help insurers warn home owners, based off data from their installed moisture sensors, that a pipe may fail soon.

“In the near future, you’ll give us a mailing address and we will send a box of technology to you,” says Kowall. “What’s in the box will prevent claims and also offer a better service to policy holders.”

Source: “Why Insurance Companies Want to Subsidize Your Smart Home,” MIT Technology Review (Oct. 12, 2016)

Now Trending: The Multifunctional Kitchen

Nothing can kill a sale faster than a dated, closed-in kitchen area. Many of today’s buyers see the kitchen as the home’s command center, and not just a place for cooking and eating. They want the kitchen to be many things at once, hence the rise in popularity of what is known as the multifunctional open-concept kitchen.

If your clients are looking to renovate an existing kitchen, or you need to advise them on building one that’s brand-new, the Washington Post shared some background on how they can design a kitchen space so that it’s functional in many different way.

Whether you are renovating existing structure or building new, architects fully recognize the need for space that is designed for movement and flow,” says Stephanie Brick, senior designer at Sustainable Design Group, in Gaithersburg, Md. “There are still rules and important elemental guidelines — you do not want to just delete all of the walls on your first floor. But by being selective in the design, materials and professionals you work with, you can easily achieve a space that does not merely react to, but anticipates, your bustling lifestyle.”

The two main considerations when designing a multifunctional space are wall placement and storage. While it may seem like an easy solution to knock down walls, Brick says there are other architectural solutions, like open doorways, that can give a similar effect while keeping the space architecturally interesting.

Being as honest as possible about individual organizational and storage needs is key when creating a multifunctional kitchen. For some owners who want to use the kitchen as a makeshift homework area or as a place to handle their bills, adding storage for these needs will be necessary. If your clients do a lot of cooking and entertaining for large groups, they will want to make sure the kitchen has space and storage to accommodate that process. If the family has small children, the kitchen can be designed with their safety in mind.

Brick has one final piece of advice when designing this type of kitchen space. “Honesty with your architect is key to creating a strong working relationship and delivering an equally beautiful and functional space in your home.”

12 Home Decor and Design Trends You Might Not Know About

Simply put, designer, author and TV personality Nate Berkus says your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.

But since each of us has a unique story to tell, that story unfolds in myriad ways. One person’s collection of cherished family photos is another person’s collection of 19th century French antiques; one person’s penchant for mid-century modern style is another person’s passion for the farmhouse look.

Home decor and design is a matter of personal taste. However, plenty of style watchers keep their pulse on what’s hot and what’s not in design and decor to help you fine-tune that taste.

Sure, you’ve probably heard that shades of gray are big in home decorating and that fireplaces are on fire as an outdoor living feature. But have you heard about peacocks? In this infographic, LawnStarter taps into the insights of decor and design observers to bring you 12 trends, like peacocks, that you might not know about.

12 Home Decor and Design Trends That You Might Not Know About