Archive for Design

Make Your Home Feel Good with Color Psychology

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Pat Hansen

SunroomHome décor is often viewed as a matter of aesthetics or what looks attractive.

Proponents of color psychology believe that the colors you use to decorate your home can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of you and your family.

If you like the idea of using color to create an emotionally healthy home, color consultants say you should first consider the primary function of each room. Although it can’t be proven scientifically, color consultants say some hues work better than others at encouraging certain activities.

Gathering Room (Fairfield New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones HomesLiving Room and foyer paint colors: Warm tones like reds, yellows and earth tones like brown and beige work well in both the living room and foyer, because they are thought to stimulate conversation.

Kitchen paint colors: Color consultants say that if you have fond memories of spending time in the kitchen when you were a kid, it might make sense to create same color scheme in your grown-up kitchen.

Kitchen, Nook, Great Room (Lot 389 | Manors of Deerwood)If there is no particular paint scheme you remember fondly, reds and yellows can be great colors in the kitchen as well as in the living room and foyer. If you are watching your weight, however, you might want to keep red out of the kitchen. The restaurant industry has long recognized the appetite-stimulating power of red décor.

Dining RoomDining room paint colors: Because it is stimulating, red décor can be great for a formal dining room. In addition to encouraging conversation, it whets the appetites of your guests.

Bedroom paint colors: BedroomThe bedroom is where you go to relax. Cool colors like blues, greens and lavenders can be great choices here because they have a calming effect. The darker the hue, the more pronounced the effect is believed to be. Reds tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate; blue does just the opposite.

Bathroom paint colors: Whites and warm colors Bathroomhave always been popular choices for bathrooms, in large part because they connote cleanliness and purity. Today, the master bathroom is also used as a private retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation. Many people feel comfortable with blues, greens and turquoises because these colors give a sense of being clean, fresh and calm.

Home office paint colors: Productivity is the Home Officename of the game here. The faster you complete work-related tasks, the more time you’ll have to spend enjoying family and friends. Color consultants agree that green can be a great choice here. Green is the color of concentration; it’s one of the best colors to be surrounded by for long periods.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to consider making your home more appealing to buyers by repainting the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath with a warm, neutral color. Staging consultants will usually recommend this, especially, if you currently have white walls.

Make Your Home Feel Good with Color Psychology

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Home décor is often viewed as a matter of aesthetics or what looks attractive.

Proponents of color psychology believe that the colors you use to decorate your home can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of you and your family.

If you like the idea of using color to create an emotionally healthy home, color consultants say you should first consider the primary function of each room. Although it can’t be proven scientifically, color consultants say some hues work better than others at encouraging certain activities.

Living Room and foyer paint colors: Warm tones like reds, yellows and earth tones like brown and beige work well in both the living room and foyer, because they are thought to stimulate conversation.

Kitchen paint colors: Color consultants say that if you have fond memories of spending time in the kitchen when you were a kid, it might make sense to create same color scheme in your grown-up kitchen.

If there is no particular paint scheme you remember fondly, reds and yellows can be great colors in the kitchen as well as in the living room and foyer. If you are watching your weight, however, you might want to keep red out of the kitchen. The restaurant industry has long recognized the appetite-stimulating power of red décor.

Dining room paint colors: Because it is stimulating, red décor can be great for a formal dining room.  In addition to encouraging conversation, it whets the appetites of your guests.

Bedroom paint colors: The bedroom is where you go to relax. Cool colors like blues, greens and lavenders can be great choices here because they have a calming effect. The darker the hue, the more pronounced the effect is believed to be.  Reds tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate; blue does just the opposite.

Bathroom paint colors: Whites and warm colors have always been popular choices for bathrooms, in large part because they connote cleanliness and purity.  Today, the master bathroom is also used as a private retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation. Many people feel comfortable with blues, greens and turquoises because these colors give a sense of being clean, fresh and calm.

Home office paint colors: Productivity is the name of the game here.  The faster you complete work-related tasks, the more time you’ll have to spend enjoying family and friends.  Color consultants agree that green can be a great choice here. Green is the color of concentration; it’s one of the best colors to be surrounded by for long periods.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to consider making your home more appealing to buyers by repainting the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath with a warm, neutral color. Staging consultants will usually recommend this, especially, if you currently have white walls.

Small is the New Big – Part II

Posted in Around Your Home, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on November 1, 2011 by Kevin Fox

As homes become smaller, the focus for buyers will become: “How does the house live?” instead of the more traditional view of how many rooms/bedrooms does it have.  Some of the factors that will come into play are:

Combining separate rooms into single rooms

  • The overall size can be reduced as each function can borrow space from the other
  • The space appears larger, even if the overall square footage has been reduced
  • It can often eliminate the need for hallways which can save square footage

Eliminating rooms that have single purpose or get limited use

  • Formal Living and Dining Rooms >>> GONE.  Few people entertain “Formally” any more.  Those that do can still afford the space to do it.  Most people entertain “Informally” which means the family dining area should be able to accommodate larger groups as needed.

Improving the relationship between inside and outside spaces:

  • Outdoor spaces are becoming more popular and useable, but only if they are covered.  Patios and decks have always served this purpose, but the addition of a roof increases their usability to nearly year-round, even in cold climates.  That grille doesn’t have to be relegated to the garage anymore.
  • Inside spaces adjacent to covered, outdoor living areas look and function larger because they are larger
  • The floor elevation of covered outdoor spaces should be as close to the main level of the house as possible.  It looks and functions better (the roof makes this possible)

Right-sizing rooms based on function

  • As rooms get smaller, more attention must be focused on function.  Extra square footage can hide numerous design flaws.  Placement of doors and windows and how the circulation is planned can make a smaller room work perfectly or render it virtually useless.
  • As spaces get smaller, it is critical to get them sized correctly.  A six-inch difference in the size of a family room is hardly noticeable, but if you make a shower six inches too small you will end up with a problem

Shift in focus from size to quality

  • This kind of change does not necessarily mean home prices will be lower
  • Thinking will change to: “if I can eliminate 3 doors, I will be able to afford a better grade of door and hardware on the remaining doors.”  The same thinking can apply to furniture.  As you reduce home size and room counts, the need for furniture reduces as well.  This will allow home owners to buy higher quality, longer lasting pieces.

Small is the New Big – Part I

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, The Drawing Board with tags , , on October 21, 2011 by Pat Hansen

The American dream is shrinking and the trend in new homes is changing to smaller homes.  A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that while consumer hesitation on home buying is decreasing, the recent housing downturn has changed what buyers are looking for in their next home.

Builders surveyed expect homes to average 2,152 square feet in 2015, 10 percent smaller than the average size of single family homes started in the first three quarters of 2010.

Good-bye living room.  The only area of new homes expected to be enlarged is the family room or great room.  The great room or family room will replace the living room and will encompass kitchen and dining room. Buyers are rethinking how much space they really need. With more of the population working from home, the home office is still a necessity and can easily be converted into a multi-purpose room.

The homes of tomorrow will be easy to move around in, taking into consideration the physical limitations experienced with aging. Special features such as wide hallways and other Aging in Place requirements will be designed to blend seamlessly into the design of smaller homes.

Even high-end buyers are showing more interest in smaller, better crafted and well appointed homes. The interest in over-sized master baths has waned with the decline in home values. Spiral staircases are no longer the main focal point of the home. With the downturn in the economy, the focus is more on what buyers really need than the status of owning a large, opulent home.

Master Bath – Top 8 Ideas

Posted in Around Your Home, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2011 by Kevin Fox

When it comes to Master Baths, luxury trumps square footage every time.  So here are our top 8 ideas for Luxury Master Baths:

8. Dual Vanities

  • Today this is almost a given, but the concept still makes the list in a cost conscious housing market

7. Whirlpool Tub

  • 2-person whirlpools have fallen off everybody’s list
  • Given the choice between a shower and a tub, today’s homeowner prefers the shower
  • The 1-person whirlpool remains on the list for those who have the necessary space

6. Linen/Towel Closet

  • Nothing like locating storage close to the point of use

5. Accent Tiles

  • A few words can hardly due justice to the renaissance in ceramic tile today.  Do not start a new home or remodeling project without a visit to a ceramic tile showroom to see everything that is available
  • Here are a few of the special tiles you can include in your project: Chair rail cap tiles, contrasting tiles, mosaics, decorative tiles, accent borders. Combine them to give your Master Bath the touch of elegance that built-up crown moldings  have done for the living areas of the home

4. Walk-in Closet

  • Concern about damage to clothing from tub/shower generated humidity has proven to be unfounded
  • Direct closet access from the Master Bath allows a person to get dressed and ready for work without having to disturb a spouse who may still be sleeping.

3. Separate Toilet Compartment

  • In a word, its all about privacy
  • If you don’t have room for a completely separate compartment a partial enclosure can still provide a measure of privacy

2. Heated Tile Floor

  • Programmable thermostats allow the pre-heating cycle to be completed so your bathroom is toasty warm for you in the morning
  • A true luxury if your bathroom floors are wall-to-wall tile or marble

1. Large Shower

Today’s dream showers have most of the following

  • Size – in small, tight areas nothing works like a few extra square feet. Make the floor of your new shower at least 4’ x 4’
  • Built-in Seat
  • Frame-less Euro-style glass enclosures
  • Multiple shower heads including a hand shower
  • Multiple shelves
  • Steam generator – this really belongs on the option list, but if you’ve found a way to include all of the above features in your project and still have room in your budget …

Incorporating these items into your new home or remodeling project doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  The wise consumer consults with a design profession for guidance before starting the project.

Kitchen Top 5 for Remodeling or New Homes

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, The Drawing Board with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2011 by Kevin Fox

Whether you are remodeling or building a new home, you will probably want to include the following top 5 Kitchen features:

5. Furniture Finish Cabinetry

Whether your taste runs to light, natural woods, to dark cherry and walnut or to something in between, most, so called, stock cabinet manufacturers offer high-end finishes that once were only available on custom cabinets. As oak has faded in popularity, cabinet manufacturers have introduced cherry, maple, birch, hickory and pine cabinets.  More choices in stain, available glaze finishes and concealed European style hinges allow homeowners the opportunity to give their kitchen cabinetry the look and finish of fine furniture.  Pair those finishes with the many styles of door hardware available today to provide the finishing touch for your new kitchen.

4. Islands

Kitchen islands have gained popularity over the last 15 years.  The reason for this popularity?  Partly because of appearance, but mostly because of function.  Islands allow multiple cooks to work efficiently, even in small kitchens, with a minimum of traffic conflicts.  They’ve become the center-piece of any new kitchen.

3. SS Appliances

Black, white and a variety of colors have come and gone, but stainless steel continues to be in demand for appliances. Always the choice of commercial restaurant kitchens because of durability, stainless steel has gained in popularity for the home kitchen, first with the availability of professional style ranges and cooktops, and now with refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens.

2. Granite Countertops

When it comes to countertops it starts and ends with granite.  No other material comes close in popularity in today’s market.  Granite offers a wide range of colors and price points, with the durability and time-less good looks that savvy homeowners demand.

1. Walk-in Pantry

With today’s big box stores, buying in bulk is the new norm.  A Walk-in Pantry is a must have to store all those items.  It also allows you to quickly see everything you have on hand.  If you are remodeling, find a way to include one.  A clever designer can find a way to put one in.  Everything can be stored in your walk-in pantry, including all those odd-sized cooking and serving pieces that don’t seem to fit in any cabinet.

Find a way to include these top 5 features and your new kitchen will provide you with functionality, good looks and durability for many years to come.

For your remodeling needs or if you are planning to build a new home, visit our web site for more information or to schedule a free consultation: www.RRJH.com

It’s all in the Details

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on March 8, 2011 by Kevin Fox

Whether you are building new or just remodeling, here are a few ideas worth considering.  These fall into the category of quality over quantity, a new and much needed trend in home building today.

  • Shutters

In most parts of the country shutters are simply decoration.  They are commonly used, but unfortunately have suffered from ‘track building syndrome’ or the application of ‘cheap and uninformed’.  To function properly, shutters must be sized correctly – a pair should cover the window, and be hinged.  Assuming your home has properly sized shutters, why not consider installing them with hinges and shutter dogs (to hold them in the open position).  Shutters mounted in this fashion just look right.  They add shadows to your elevation because they aren’t nailed solid to the building.  A small touch, but worth the small extra expense.

  • Tile rugs

This idea is just a detail to break up large areas of tile flooring.  Typically you might do in a bathroom.  They can be elaborate with special tiles or just executed with tiles of a contrasting color.

  • Shower recesses

This idea is an alternative to the typical corner shower shelf.  Install these in a shower wall stud space backed with plywood.  This works better in a 2×6 wall.  Don’t try this in an exterior wall, however.  If you make the recess tall enough you can create intermediate, 12” high shelves with scrap pieces of marble or solid surfacing material.

  • Pocket offices

Busy homeowners need a spot to keep mail, bills, records, and etc. all in one central location.  Traditionally a Kitchen or Library desk has fulfilled this need, all be it poorly.  A desk usually doesn’t have enough storage and who wants to look at a metal 4-drawer file cabinet?  The answer is the pocket office.  A tiny space adjacent to one of the living areas in the home with enough space for a small desk and a file cabinet.  Ideally, there is room enough for a computer.  Another must have feature is a wall cabinet with mail cubbies for storing supplies, sorting and prioritizing mail and bills.  A small window would be a nice addition but not necessary.  A must-have feature for the pocket office to work properly is a door; if possible it should be a pocket door.  You must be able to close it off as they tend to be messy and unsightly.

  • Drop lockers

Kids, backpacks, boots; the list goes on. You only need about a 12” x 48” space to make this detail happen.

  • Master closet islands

These make sense if combined with smaller Master Bedrooms because they reduce the need for bedroom furniture and help consolidate most of the clothing in a single location.

  • Master Bath Book Niche

You know you need this.  Why live with a pile of books or magazines on the floor when you can organize!  These can be recessed or carved out of a thickened wall.  They can also be built with storage for toilet paper or extra reading material.

New Home Design Trends for 2011

Posted in Housing News, The Drawing Board with tags , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Kevin Fox

What are homebuyers looking for today?  The answer is a mixed picture and, as expected, varies depending on the local market.  Some new trends are emerging, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 potential homebuyers conducted in October 2010 by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

Homebuyers want their homes to come equipped with the newest technology.  Most often they will find this available in the new home market.  This trend will make it difficult for sellers of existing homes and foreclosures unless they are willing to remodel to include high-tech features.

Homebuyers surveyed indicated they want the following features and were willing to pay extra to get them

  • Dark cabinetry
  • A separate tub and shower in the Master Bath
  • A fireplace in a Living Room rather than in a Family Room
  • Homes with an indoor / outdoor connection
  • Storage, storage, storage … Big box shopping means walk-in Pantries.  Walk-in closets with fully equipped closet systems.

Potential homebuyers also were looking for:

  • Bigger secondary bedrooms
  • An open space concept for the basic layout – this was especially true for warm weather climates
  • A large single living area, the Kitchen, Dining and Living areas combined into a single Great Room, was preferred over traditional, separate formal rooms

What motivates homebuyers?  What are they actually buying or not buying?

  • Buyers are looking for smaller homes with less rooms, but they want those rooms larger
  • Universal design has not caught on. The ‘look’ is viewed as a negative and not flexible enough.  An ageing-in-place strategy seems to be a better solution
  • Buyers move because of a change in life: marriage, divorce, children moving from the family home, a death in the family or retirement.
  • New home buyers are looking for low maintenance features
  • Dual master bedrooms are an important feature for multi-generational homes, which in itself is a growing trend
  • Buyers expect green, but also expect it will save them money on a monthly basis (think energy savings and paybacks)
  • Granite continues to be the countertop material of choice
  • Private outdoor living, with both covered and open areas is a trend that started several years ago and continues even stronger now, especially with overall home square footage trending lower.  This outdoor living trend works for all parts of the country. Adding an outdoor fireplace allows 9 month usage in even the coldest climates.

Many of the features these homebuyers were looking for are not available in the re-sale market. Savvy homeowners looking to sell their existing homes should consider remodeling to incorporate some of these features.

8 Reasons to Invest in Your Home

Posted in Around Your Home, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Kevin Fox

(from MONEY Magazine, By Josh Garskof) — Not long ago, you could have your big remodeling project and get your money back too. Owners recouped an average of 87% of home improvement costs at resale in 2005, according to Remodeling magazine.

But by 2010 the magazine had pegged the typical payback at just 60%. Hardly the right time to tackle the new kitchen or master bathroom you’ve been dreaming of, right?

Not so fast, says Kermit Baker, senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“In many cases, these projects make more sense now than they did at the height of the market,” he said.

Assuming you like what you can’t change about your home — the neighborhood, the school district, the proximity to things that matter to you — and you’re planning on staying for five or more years, improving your home is a smart move. Here’s why.

1. Funding is cheap

The current economic climate sweetens the pot for people on solid financial footing.

Should I spend $60,000 to renovate my house?

“The Fed doesn’t want you to save — it wants you to put your dollars into circulation,” said Keith Gumbinger, mortgage market analyst at HSH.com.

Today’s historically low interest rates mean that most home-equity lines of credit are charging their floor rates (your HELOC’s probably is around 3% if you’ve held it for a couple of years, 4% or 5% if the loan is more recent).

And with the typical bank account and money fund paying far less than 1%, drawing down your savings barely costs you anything in lost income — just don’t jeopardize your safety cushion.

2. Eager contractors are discounting

Although the construction industry rebounded somewhat last year, business is still slow. Remember when getting a contractor to call you back was a challenge?

Now the best pros in town will happily bid on your job — and they’ll probably offer you prices that are 10% to 20% below what you would have paid when real estate was going gangbusters, according to Bernard Markstein, senior economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

3. Materials have come down

The cost of building supplies has tumbled too. Plywood is down 23% since its peak in the mid-2000s. Drywall is off 29%, framing lumber 35%.

Not all raw materials prices have fallen that much: Asphalt roofing, which is made from a petroleum byproduct, is down only 7% over the past two years. Insulation — which has been in high demand because of energy rebates and high fuel prices — is down a mere 2% since 2006. Still, on the whole, construction supplies are bargains right now.

4. You’ll cut your energy costs

You don’t have to hire a green builder to see energy savings from a renovation. In a prewar house in the high-energy-cost Northeast, for example, a standard kitchen remodel could cut your utility expenses by $400 a year thanks to new insulation, windows, and appliances.

Even years of such savings will never come close to covering the project’s price tag, but think of your lower electric and heating bills as an annual dividend.

5. Fixing up costs less than trading up

With the median home price down 22% since 2006, you might think this is an opportune time to trade up for the new master bathroom or other modern feature you want. After all, why not buy somebody else’s remodeling headache at a discount.

But you can’t assume that you’ll easily sell your house in this tough market and then find a new place that has the exact features you want (and not a bunch of stuff you don’t want). And moving remains far costlier than improving, said John Ranco, past president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.

For starters, commissions and fees to sell a $400,000 home could run $25,000.

“You can get a lot of remodeling done for that kind of money,” said Ranco. “And that doesn’t even include the higher price you’re paying for the new house, the moving costs, or the inevitable painting and window treatments the new place will need.”

6. You can keep that sub-5% mortgage

As long as you’re not underwater and haven’t wrecked your credit, you’ve been able to take advantage of recent rock-bottom interest rates to lock in a fixed-rate mortgage below 5%.

Move several years from now, and you’ll have to give up that loan, probably for something in the sixes or sevens, said Harvard’s Baker. That’s not bad, but it could mean hundreds a month in added interest costs.

“If you can remodel your way into staying put long term, you can hold on to that once-in-a-lifetime rate,” says Baker.

7. Smart projects still add value

In the post-boom era, the rule of thumb for gauging the potential payback from a home improvement is simple: If you’re bringing your house in line with similar homes in the area, you’ll most likely earn back the lion’s share of the cost when you sell. If you’re surpassing the neighborhood, you probably won’t.

“Remodeling a 10-year-old kitchen because you don’t like its style doesn’t pay anymore,” says Thomas Collimore, director of investor education for the CFA Institute. “But replacing a 1960s kitchen is a different story.”

At least for the foreseeable future, buyers will either lowball their bids or pass on your house entirely unless you’ve already tackled this kind of deferred renovation.

8. You get to enjoy the results

When it comes time to sell your place, chances are you’ll probably wind up having to do the sorely needed renovations you didn’t take care of earlier. Not only does that add a huge amount of stress to the process of putting a house on the market, but you still end up spending the money (quite possibly when contractor, materials, and borrowing costs are higher).

Why not get the benefits of a new furnace or an updated powder room for you and your family instead of buying them for the house’s next owners? And why not do the projects soon so you get as much time as possible to enjoy the results?

Unlike vacations, luxury cars, or other discretionary expenditures, your remodeling project might recoup a significant chunk of its cost someday.

Even so, home improvements aren’t purely investment decisions — you shouldn’t redo a kitchen or bathroom in the hopes of making a profit. But if you want to upgrade the quality of your home life and you can afford the cost, it’s money well spent.

All in the Family (Home)

Posted in Around Your Home, Housing News, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, Renovation with tags , , on February 15, 2011 by Pat Hansen

The pressing need for Multigenerational Housing is apparent as you drive through suburban neighborhoods and notice the number of cars in the garage and on the driveway. Many young adults are back home after graduating from college and find that high paying jobs are non-existent. Young adults who have served in the military find it necessary to move back in with their parents as do single parents who cannot afford to live on their own. In light of today’s challenging job market, they do not plan on leaving home anytime soon. In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of parents with grown children reported that at least one of their adult offspring had moved back home in the past year. Roughly half of the 18 to 24 age demographic, still live with their parents.

What about Grandma and Grandpa, who thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, are living longer than ever? If Grandma or Grandpa has reached the age of 65, he or she can expect to live another 20 years. They may not be able to afford the $4,000 to $5,000 a month expense of a quality retirement facility for the next 20 years.

Nationally and locally, homebuilders and remodelers are taking note of the need for accommodating multigenerational families.  They don’t necessarily need to build larger homes, but rather homes that address the need for a separate living space. This can be accomplished by providing an In-Law suite on the first floor that would give grandparents the privacy and solitude they may require, yet at the same time allow care-givers the ability to monitor their activities. The In-Law suite may include a separate entrance and wider doorways to accommodate a wheelchair or walker.  It may also include a small Kitchen depending on the level of independence of the grandparents.

Those who are considering building a new home may opt to utilize the space above the garage for an apartment to provide living space for young adults returning home. This would also serve as a provision for guests who plan to stay for an extended period of time.  Another solution is to include a Master Bedroom suite on both the first and second floors.  This arrangement allows grandparents to occupy the first floor Master suite or for married children to occupy the second floor Master suite, depending on individual family needs.

The economic crisis that is transforming America is also changing the way we live. The outcome will change the way America views its housing needs well into the future. As is often the case, we can more clearly see the future by looking into our past. That is because time and time again, America has reverted to its roots when confronting a challenge. The root of the American family is the home.

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