On The Level - The Home Improvement Blog
About our bloggers
Contact our bloggers

Catching Up with the Latest Design Trends

While cutting-edge, luxury home design may seem quite irrelevant to the average homeowner, keeping up with the latest trends is actually a valuable tool in maintaining or increasing the value of one's current home regardless of the price range.

Just as those crazy, exaggerated fashion runway trends trickle down to the everyday consumer in a more subdued manner, so too do home trends set the standard for what will eventually become mainstream. Understanding these trends can help guide homeowners when it comes to basic repairs and renovations - keeping their home up-to-date, relevant and ultimately salable. And, if keeping your home for a lifetime is the plan, knowing the most up-to-date design and building trends can help increase the quality of everyday living by providing smart and often simple solutions to practical problems.

Boston real estate power duo Tom Matthews and Joanne Taranto share some of what they see happening in the world of home design and building on TomandJoanneteam.com and the range of ideas is rather impressive. From simple color schemes to high-tech advances, the following trends are sure to spark the imagination and offer-up some practical home design solutions.

Color Palettes:
We still have a few months to wait for Colors of the Year from the folks at Pantone and Sherwin Williams, but 2015 showed the continuation of a long trend of vibrant color. Sherwin Williams unveiled a stunning coral and Pantone named Marsala - a deep, rich coral brown as their choice of the year. If you're willing to lay out $750 for Pantone's color planner for 2016, you can get a preview of what's to come, but for the rest of us we will have to sit and wait.

Practical Solutions:
"Specialized storage" is an interior design trend to look for in the coming years. Losing ground are stuffed attics, basements and closets in favor of storage space that is built-in and in closer proximity to the actual living space where items can be more easily accessed. Mudroom bins for pet food and supplies are particularly hot and underseat storage may soon be standard fare.

High-tech Trends:
Smarthomes are dramatically increasing in popularity as the technology becomes more accessible. Features such as keyless entry, remote security, lighting on demand and temperature control are all finding their way into the average home by way of smartphone apps. Even technophobes are coming to understand the ways in which many of these trends can save time and money and increase quality of life. And, since wireless technology makes for easy retrofitting, many of these features are more affordable than ever before.

3D printing is perhaps the most new and enigmatic building trend out there, but it actually has very practical applications. It is best explained by imagining your home computer printer on a massive scale. And, instead of releasing ink onto paper, 3D printers release materials such as plastic or molten metals into whatever shape they were programmed to create. This process will enable builders to fabricate durable building materials on site with more precision, less waste and eventually at a lower cost.

The one trend for all homeowners to look out for, is solar conversion. On the fast track in development are solar shingles and solar glass windows - features that experts say will eventually become standard offerings. By converting solar energy into usable power in the home, these innovations have wide appeal not only to environmentally conscious homeowners, but to folks looking to save money in energy costs and see a higher return on their investments.

So, the next time you come across an article illustrating cutting-edge, luxury trends that appear to have no bearing on decisions you make for your home - take the time to check them out. As far-fetched or complicated as some may seem, most are grounded in practical solutions for better, more simple living.

Simple, Affordable Ways to Increase your Home's Resale Value

According to most sources, the housing market has still not fully rebounded from the 2008 recession although there are some positive trends (prices rising, low interest rates) as well as some negative ones (sales growth flat). That said, spring is traditionally a big season for real estate sales and the season is just revving up. Increasing the value of your home is always an advantage and thanks to a recent article by ConsumerReports.org, we discovered five ways to efficiently boost that value by 10%.

Consumer Reports conducted an online survey of 303 professionals across the country (from all areas and market sizes) and gathered some very eye-opening insights. Asking questions such as "What are the costliest mistakes sellers make?", Consumer Reports found that maximizing the value of your home is simpler than most people thought.

Get Thee to the Dump
According to the experts, nothing drives away potential buyers like clutter. The potential return on clearing out and cleaning up ranges from 3% to 5% and can cost you nothing if you do it yourself. Home buyers apparently have a difficult time imagining themselves in your home if it is filled with personal effects and piled high with junk - even if the junk is valuable. If the task is too daunting to go at it alone, think about hiring a professional organizer. It may cost upwards to $2000.00 to get the job done, but selling items online or at a swap meet can help offset that cost. Opening the blinds and permanently getting rid of any odors that may be lingering from years of cooking or pet ownership is also essential.

A Mini-Makeover in the Kitchen
The kitchen has always been reported to be the single most important room in the house when it comes to selling - even for folks who aren't particularly interested in cooking or entertaining extensively. Whether meals are painstakingly prepared or nuked on the way out the door, the kitchen is a convening place - a place that needs to appear efficient, comfortable and, of course, good looking. If the kitchen is painfully outdated, it is probably a good idea to do some major renovations, but simple solutions can often reap returns ranging from 3% to 7%. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware on cabinets, an interesting light fixture and even just a fancy new faucet can draw the buyer toward the good points and diminish the not-so-good.

Give your Bathroom a Day at the Spa
If we consider how most if us think of bathrooms, we see them at once as spaces of cleansing, renewal and relaxation - but also as veritable Petri dishes of every germ imaginable. When showing and selling a home, this is a paradox, however, that is very easily overcome. An excellent tip from the folks at Consumer Reports, is to apply fresh caulk around all of the relevant places. People don't want to just know that the bathroom is clean on the day of their visit, they want to know that it has been well-maintained all along. Maintenance is vital throughout the entire home, but sometimes folks can be more forgiving of a leaky roof than they can a leaky faucet. The way a property is kept over the years is a personal reflection of the previous homeowner, but there is a difference between not having the money to fix certain things - and just not having the desire. If a home is perceived to have been impeccably maintained, they feel more confident in the integrity of the seller and this goes a long way in increasing the value of your home. New fixtures on the bath and sink are pretty much a no-brainer, but creating a relaxing feel is also of vital importance. For many people - especially those with children - the bathroom is elevated to the level of sanctuary and achieving this effect couldn't be easier. Removing as much cloth-clutter as possible - especially layers of brightly-colored towels - is a great way to lighten the space . Rolling white towels in a yard-sale basket lends to the look of a spa and hanging one clean, white or neutral towel on each bar screams tidy, clean and best of all - sanitary. Bamboo accessories finish the spa-effect and these can now be purchased a places like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods for very little money.

Selective Painting
When it comes to interior painting, the Consumer Reports survey indicates that re-painting the entire home is not always necessary. Kitchens and baths are the priority second only to brightly-colored walls. Colors are extremely influential on people's moods and are very much a matter of taste. Not everyone will think that your burnt-orange phase was charming, nor will many find the custom periwinkle in the nursery as pleasing as you do. Let the buyer's imagination run wild by painting with clean neutrals - and for rooms that are already quite neutral - leave them be. Leave artwork to a minimum and as universally pleasing as possible. And, for all of the holes left by taking down the clutter - a little spackle and touch-up paint should do the trick. If you do not have back-up of matching paint, most hardware stores have sample sizes for just a few bucks. Selective painting does not yield the highest in terms of resale value (between 1%-3%) but in relation to cost, it is very much worth it.

How Does Your House Say Hello?
It goes without saying the exterior of your home is the ultimate first impression. Over the years, many of us begin to take the exterior for granted as we busily live our lives inside. We also tend to overlook certain things like dirt build-up because it is something that develops almost imperceptibly. A good power wash is almost always in order and never, ever show a home with dirty windows. A great bit of advice from Consumer Reports is a fresh coating of mulch around the trees to make the landscape pop and with all of the new colors now available, you can really coordinate the look with the rest of your exterior. Many real estate professionals advocate a new front door to heighten the curb appeal and to further instill confidence that the home has been well-maintained. The great news about all of the above suggestions, is that the entire cost - when taking a middle-of-the-road approach - can be implemented for less than $2500.00. And, who knows, perhaps once you give your home this easy min-makeover, you won't mind waiting until it sells!

It's Finally in! Pantone's 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid

Pantone's color system has informed and inspired countless industries for generations. From clothing designers, to home improvement experts to cosmetic manufacturers, Pantone's singular approach to mixing and matching color has been the most influential in the world since the 1960's. And so, in 2014 don't be surprised if everything from tea pots to tank tops appear in their color choice of the year: Radiant Orchid.

Pantone's deep-rooted influence begs the question: How do they go about choosing each year's reigning color? According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the colors are intended to be both a reflection and expression of a global "Zeitgeist" (directly translated from German as "the ghost of the times"). Depending on what the color gurus see as the current state of affairs in the world is how they decide what color to promote. Coming on the heels of last year's Emerald pick that was reportedly meant to symbolized growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid "...inspires great joy, love and health." Eiseman tells us. While some (especially economists) may argue that the need to continue on with last year's principles is stronger than ever, few can deny that there is ever a bad time to affirm the qualities Radiant Orchid embodies.

While Radiant Orchid may, at first blush, appear to be a hue far too bold to be considered as anything more than an accent color - especially when part of a more traditional home decor scheme - it's cool undertones makes it more versatile than one may think. The experts at Pantone recommend pairing it with neutrals like grey, beige and taupe to create a soothing, earthy atmosphere, and for a more vibrant look consider certain greens like olive and a deep hunter.

If you're not a fan of this year's pick, the next 365 days may be difficult, but as it always goes with color, it is best to try and keep an open mind. If you think you would never wear such a color, for example, try it just for fun. Radiant Orchid supposedly matches a wide range of skin tones, so it may be more flattering that you think. Likewise, if you are a color-phobe and have a home with wall-to-wall neutrals - especially those that coordinate and complement Radiant Orchid - grab a few throw pillows and see what happens. If you suddenly find your home full of joy and love, you will know why, when it comes to color, Pantone continues to be unmatched.

A customer customization.

Moveable Wallpaper

There's a reason wallpaper went out of style. It's messy, a pain to hang and an even bigger pain to remove. But a company called Murals Your Way wants to bring wallpaper back by eliminating those headaches long associated with wallpaper.

The company's "repositionable" wallpaper is removable and can be "reused hundreds of times" without losing its ability to adhere to walls. The product comes in vinyl, "smartstick" and canvas materials. The smartstick material comes with a backing that gets removed to expose the adhering side, while the vinyl and canvas versions do require a wall covering adhesive or paste for installation. (Which makes one wonder truly about the ease of removing the product at all.

In truth, the product is meant to be more of a mural than an extended pattern to cover an entire wall or room. (Take a look at their Example Page for an idea of what customers have done with the stuff.) There are some cool ideas there, without a doubt.

Would you put up a Mural Your Way?

Is this a step backward in lead paint safety?

Putting a Price on Lead Paint Safety

The Huffington Post reported today that the EPA has chosen to drop their proposal to toughen the lead paint rules in existing schools, day care facilities and homes. Faced with agitated opposition in the form of construction groups and organized business, the EPA abandoned the rule, which required strict regulations on businesses and contractors doing work to structures that contained lead.

Those opposed to the rule claimed it would "cost an extra $100 to $500 per project and hurt business."

Obviously these companies and contractors want to keep their costs to a minimum. But can we really put a price on lead paint safety?

What are your thoughts on the development?

The Color Sense Game asks you: "What color do you FEEL?"

A New Way to Pick Paint Colors

If you're anything like me, picking a paint color for a room is like buying a car or choosing a college. It's a decision that speaks to who I am and who I want to be. Sure, it's reversible, but it doesn't feel that way, probably because of the work involved in the reversal process.

For those indecisive would-be room painters, I give you the Voice of Color. The brain child of Pittsburgh Paints and Porter Paints -- two premium architectural paint brands -- the Voice of Color provides homeowners with an innovative color selection program that gets to the heart of who you are and which colors will best suit your lifestyle.

A key component of the Voice of Color program is the Color Sense Game, which asks not "what color do you like?" but "what color do you feel?" Deep stuff.

The Color Sense Game is about much more than color and paint. You're asked to select your favorite from among a dozen different decors, decorating pieces, and even inspirational words. (I chose "optimistic.) It's a refreshing new method to discovering tastes I didn't even know I had. Definitely worth the time, although I have to question if my personal color palette REALLY is "Pop Art."

Having just watched Dan Gilbert's TED talk on synthesizing happiness, I cannot help but wonder if my own satisfaction with any color selected would be enhanced if I was told there was no going back.

What are your feelings on paint selection?

Work on homes built before 1978 must comply with the EPA's new lead paint regulations.

EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Regulation Now Enforced

As of Friday, the EPA's new Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule--which took effect this past April--will now be enforced. The new regulation covers work done on homes built before 1978 and is in place to protect against lead paint.

For those of you who missed the announcement on the rule, you can find a quick primer here or take a look at the EPA site for the new regulation.

Failure to comply with the new regulations can earn a contractor a whopping $37,500 fine. Work performed on homes, schools and day-care center built before 1978 must comply with the new regulations.

Homeowners would do well to know the new regulations and to ensure that a hired contractor is in compliance.

Next Page

About  | FAQ  | Contact  | Sitemap  | Privacy Policy  | Terms of Use  | Help

© 2017 Renovate Your World LLC