Can You Still Protect Your Home and Appliances with a Home Warranty?

With growing media reports about fraudulent home warranty practices, protecting your home and your expensive appliances and systems becomes challenging.

Is it really possible to get the protection you need through a home warranty? Yes, it is – you just need to choose the right warranty provider. 

No, all companies are not created equal. It’s important to work with a proven leader. With a quick glance at the home warranty industry, we find that AHS is still a public company, generating hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Below, we’ll dive into the story of AHS, but also help you determine where the overall industry is heading and whether buying a home warranty makes good financial sense for your fancy home.

A closer look at AHS

AHS, or American Home Shield, is one of the oldest and largest home warranty companies in the US. It’s also a public firm, unlike some other competitors. That means it answers to its customers and must remain aboveboard in its dealings. Here are a few other quick facts about AHS:

  • Owns 48% of all home warranty contracts in the US
  • Is owned by Frontdoor, which is a subsidiary of ServiceMaster
  • Has a B rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Offers flexible deductible costs to fit a range of budgets
  • Has been in business for over 50 years

As you can see, AHS is a large, well-established home warranty company that has served its customers well for over five decades. It continues to grow and evolve, and introduces new warranty coverage areas regularly.

SEE ALSO: 10 of the Most Stylish Minimalist Wall Clocks You Can Buy on Amazon

Where is the industry going

According to IBISWorld, the home warranty industry in the US continues to see significant growth. The industry is expected to generate $2 billion in revenue in 2019. It has also grown to offer 181 different businesses across the country, with an annual growth rate of 3.1% from 2014 through 2019.

What’s fueling this growth? You need to look no further than the expansion in new home construction and the increasing sales of existing homes. Real estate is in high demand in most areas of the country, with quite a few regions experiencing record shortfalls of available homes. It’s a seller’s market, in short, and home warranties are providing peace of mind for buyers and additional value for sellers.

Is a home warranty still worth your consideration?

The answer to the question posed above is a resounding yes. Take a quick look at your kitchen. Chances are good you’ve got a commercial-grade, double-door refrigerator there to keep your food cold and preserved. You probably have a chef’s oven that you love to use, too. That dishwasher? It’s super quiet and likely has a food disposal built into the bottom beneath the filter. You’ve got a large inverter-microwave for quick meals, too. 

These are all hallmarks of the fancy home. They’re also important assets that allow you to live the lifestyle you want and deserve. Now, imagine that something goes wrong with that refrigerator and it’s not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. What’s the first thing you’ll have to do? You’ll call a service professional and get ready to pay a steep repair bill.

However, if you had a home warranty from one of the industry’s reputable leaders, you could make a quick call to the warranty provider and then rest easy, knowing that you only need to pay your deductible and the warranty plan will handle the rest.

It doesn’t stop with your kitchen, either, although that’s arguably the room in the home with the highest concentration of sophisticated, expensive appliances. The right home warranty plan will also cover things like:

  • Your AC system
  • Your ductwork
  • Your plumbing
  • Your water heater
  • Your furnace
  • Your washer and dryer
  • Your ceiling fans

You’ll even find optional coverage for things like that expensive swimming pool pump or spa. It’s really all about peace of mind – you’re protected when things go wrong, which means you can feel free to live your life without worry.

Ultimately, working with a home warranty company like AHS ensures that you have the protection that you need. Your home’s appliances and systems offer comfort, convenience, and the ability to live the lifestyle that you’ve worked toward. It makes sense to protect them.

More tips for your fancy home

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Can You Sell a House and Buy Another at the Same Time? We Explore Your Options

When you are in the process of moving, the process of buying your new home and selling your old one usually involves choosing which one comes first—to buy or to sell. Selling your old home first is often a more sensible option, as this ensures you have the needed down payment to cover your new property. But if you sell and don’t have a new home waiting for you, you might end up scrambling for a place to stay and someplace to store your belongings. For a family with kids or with pets, that can be especially inconvenient.

Buying before selling is an alternative, but when market demand is low and you can’t sell your old home quickly, you might end up with a lot more obligations than you can handle. You now have two homes to maintain and two mortgages to pay. If you’re on a tight budget, this could put you in hot water. 

What if you decide to buy and sell at the same time? This strategy can work well if you have reserves or some investments to sell to come up with the needed amounts to buy your new home if that occurs before your sell your old one. But if you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of extra cash to spare, you need to develop some ideas to push through. 

Selling and buying simultaneously will require some ingenuity on your part as this strategy calls for thoughtful planning to time your sales and purchases. While you may not control the entire housing market, there are steps you can take to make sure you pull off both transactions. 

We’ll fill you in on some of the options to make sure you succeed in selling your current property and seal the deal to your new home at the same time. We’ll also cover some contingencies just in case you encounter a gap between selling and buying so that you won’t end up homeless at the very least.  

Options for Buying and Selling at the Same Time 

As mentioned, there are several options you can explore when you plan to buy and sell at the same time. These alternatives can help you manage not only the buying-while-selling process, but it can also keep your stress levels at a minimum.

#1 Find a Cash Buyer for Your Home 

Selling your house requires exact timing and demand from the market. Some markets, like the Florida housing market, are quite in demand right now, but others may not be, so plan out your timeline accordingly and take that extra time you may need to sell into account. You can sell your house fast in areas with high demand if you partner with an instant home buyer or a real estate investment company that offers to pay in cash rather than waiting for buyers to have their mortgages approved. 

This way, selling your house gives you the needed resources to fund your next move when you’ve already closed the deal. If ever you’re still looking, accessible funds ensure you can find temporary arrangements until you’re ready to find a new home.

#2 Talk to a Lender 

In case market demands are low and you can’t sell your house quickly, you would need to consider if owning two homes are feasible for your budget. While cash reserves can get you as far as a few months of the double mortgage, you may need to sell a few of your assets to maintain both properties. 

If you find your savings or income insufficient, you can consider talking to a lender to generate some funding. They can provide you with several loan offers that use your home’s equity as a down payment for your purchase. 

One of them is a bridging loan, short-term financing that can work great when you’ve already chosen your new property and acquiring it is in the works. You can even add a contingency clause that your purchase will only go through if your bridging loan gets approved so you can walk away without any additional obligations.

Another option is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that gives you greater flexibility to repay only the amount you use for buying your home. A HELOC uses your home’s equity as a basis to issue amounts you can use based on agreed terms that will help you get by until you sell your former home.

However, while these loans can give you access to immediate funds, they often come with considerable interests and lengths. It would be best to give it some careful thought before you take out any of these loans

#3 Make Attractive Offers 

Part of a successful strategy is to make attractive offers for the home that you want and the one you’re selling. Contingency offers help secure your intentions without you having to pay for unnecessary obligations. You can include a condition for the upcoming purchase if your current house sells. This can work to your advantage when you’re in a buyer’s market. It can also work if there is less demand for the home you desire. 

While having a contingency clause may at times weaken your offer, you counter this by offering a higher bid so the seller can wait until you’ve sold your house. You can even add in non-refundable earnest money to win the deal on your next dream home. 

#4 Make Gaps Work to Your Advantage

Sometimes circumstances do not work as planned, but don’t get disheartened. These are just momentary setbacks that may even give you time to improve your current home and increase its current market value. 

If you find yourself in your new home and stressing how to manage the former, you can consider renting it out to cover maintenance and mortgage costs. You can use Airbnb and other similar platforms to gain additional income from your property while the market is on a low. Once the conditions are right, you can sell your house for the price you want. 

If you take out a home equity loan, you can use it to renovate your old home and increase your home value. Some key features to spend on that have high ROIs include enhancing your curb appeal, taking care of house repairs early on, and updating your kitchen to give it a modern look. Spending considerable time and effort on your former property will surely enhance its chances of getting sold in the coming days. 


Selling and buying are some of the less-traveled paths for homeowners because of their inherent risks. Taking on two mortgages when you do not have sufficient funds can be too much to handle, and taking out loans can add stress. 

You can make this strategy work to your advantage if you find the right tools to help you pull off both transactions simultaneously. Partnering with an instant house buyer can give you cash for your next purchase, while loans can provide you enough leeway to facilitate your move. Adding contingency offers allows you to address gaps as they happen without having to take on additional burdens or leaving you homeless at the very least.

Keep reading

Do You Pay Taxes When Selling Your House?
Great Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home: the 3 Areas with the Biggest ROI
Considering Buying a Home with a Crawl Space? Here’s What You Need to Know
A Brief Guide to Buying Real Estate: The Main Players in Your Next Home Search


Assurance Financial Review: So Fast You Can Apply During Halftime

Posted on February 11th, 2021

Today we’ll check out a mortgage lender based in the south by the name “Assurance Financial,” which is headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Aside from being fans of LSU, they also say you can apply for a mortgage during halftime, which is handy if you’re a sports fan.

They’re able to get things done quickly because they’ve employed the latest cutting-edge technology, and they do everything in-house. Let’s learn more.

Assurance Financial Fast Facts

  • Direct mortgage lender that operates online
  • Offers home purchase financing, refinances, and construction loans
  • Founded in 2001, headquartered in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Licensed in 43 states and the District of Columbia
  • Funded more than $1 billion in home loans last year
  • Does most of their business in home state of Louisiana

Assurance Financial is an independent, direct-to-consumer full-service residential mortgage banker that offers home purchase financing, mortgage refinances, and construction loans.

This means you can apply for a home loan directly from their website so you don’t need to leave your couch.

But while the company mostly operates online, they do have physical branches in eight states nationwide to serve customers locally.

They’ve been around since the turn of the century, which is a lifetime in the mortgage biz, and funded more than $1 billion in home loans last year.

At present, they’re licensed in 43 states and the District of Columbia, but not currently available in Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, or Utah.

Much of their business came from their home state of Louisiana, along with Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia.

About 70% of total volume comes from home purchase loans, with the remainder mostly refinances and some HELOCs.

How to Apply for a Mortgage with Assurance Financial


  • You can call them, have them call you, get in touch with a loan officer, or use their digital assistant Abby
  • Their digital mortgage offering is powered by leading fintech company Blend
  • It allows you to complete most of the process electronically from any device
  • They handle the entire loan process from start to finish in-house to ensure turn times are quick

One great thing about Assurance Financial is the ability to apply for a home loan from any device using the latest technology.

They’ve turned to Blend to get that done, and go a step further in simplifying things by bringing in their digital assistant Abby.

The character is actually based on their “very real” Post Closing Manager Abby Widmer.

You can apply with “Abby” in as little as 15 minutes and get helpful tips and guidance along the way so you know what you’re getting into and what to expect.

But if you want a real human to help you right off the bat, you’re also able to peruse the online loan officer directory on their website.

There you can enter your location to see which loan officers are licensed in your state, then get access to their contact information if you want to discuss pricing and loan options first.

Regardless of how you apply, a licensed loan officer will step in at some point to get you approved and help you fund your loan.

Either way, it’ll be super simple because you can complete the app online and link your financial accounts and tax returns using your credentials instead of having to scan or fax paperwork.

Additionally, you can eSign all those pesky disclosures and manage your loan from their online portal 24/7. You’ll also get status updates and a to-do list to stay on track.

As mentioned, they also have branches in eight states if you prefer to do business in-person, including Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Loan Programs Offered by Assurance Financial

  • Home purchase loans
  • Refinance loans: rate and term and cash out
  • Construction loans (one and two-time close options)
  • Conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • FHA loans
  • VA loans
  • USDA loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • Non-QM loans
  • Down payment assistance programs
  • Manufactured home loans
  • HELOCs
  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options available

Assurance Financial has a very wide range of loan programs available, and lends on all property types, including single-family homes, condos/townhomes, and even manufactured homes.

You can get financing for a primary residence, vacation home, 1-4 investment property, or even a new build if you’re constructing your dream home.

If you’re an existing homeowner, you can take advantage of a rate and term refinance or a cash out refinance if you want to take advantage of a lower rate and/or your accrued equity.

With regard to loan types, you can get a conforming loan backed by Fannie/Freddie, a government-backed loan such as an FHA or VA loan, or even a jumbo loan.

They say they also offer non-QM options and down payment assistance programs for first-time home buyers, along with home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage options are available in a variety of loan terms.

Assurance Financial Mortgage Rates

One drawback to Assurance Financial is the fact that they don’t list their mortgage rates online or elsewhere.

As such, it’s unclear where they stand in the loan pricing department. It is recommended that you speak to a loan officer to get pricing first before diving into an application.

That way you can be assured that they’re competitively priced relative to other lenders out there so you don’t waste your time.

Also be sure to inquire about any lender fees they may charge, such as an application fee or loan origination fee.

Once you know these things, which together make up the mortgage APR, you can accurately shop your home loan with other lenders to ensure they’re good on price.

Assurance Financial Reviews

They seem to really excel when it comes to customer service, so much so that someone living far away from their corporate headquarters might be tempted to use them.

On SocialSurvey, they have a 4.94-star rating out of 5 from nearly 15,000 customer reviews, which is impressive for both the rating and sheer volume.

Similarly, they’ve got a 5-star rating out of 5 from more than 7,000 reviews on LendingTree, with a 100% recommended score.

They are rated excellent in every category, including interest rates, closing costs, responsiveness, and customer service.

On Zillow, it’s the same deal, a 4.99-star rating out of a possible 5 from almost 100 reviews, which while a smaller sample size is on point with their other ratings.

Lastly, they are a Better Business Bureau accredited company (since 2003) and currently hold an ‘A+’ rating based on customer complaint history.

In summary, Assurance Financial has incredible customer satisfaction ratings, the latest technology, an excellent website, and tons of loan programs to choose from.

Assuming they also offer great pricing, they could be an excellent choice for your home loan needs, whether you’re a first-time buyer or an existing homeowner.

Assurance Financial Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Can apply for a home loan directly from their website
  • Offer a digital mortgage application powered by Blend
  • Also have a digital assistant to help you along the way
  • Their website is very modern and easy to navigate
  • Lots of programs to choose from including jumbos and non-QMs
  • Excellent customer reviews from past customers
  • A+ BBB rating, accredited company
  • Physical branches in some states
  • Free mortgage calculators and mortgage guides online

The Cons

  • Not licensed in all states
  • Do not list mortgage rates or lender fees on their website

(photo: Stuart Seeger)


3 Big Reasons Your Home Offer Was Rejected—and How To Play It Right Next Time

For first-time home buyers, finding the perfect place to settle down is hard enough. But then to have the offer you’ve made on it rejected? You might be tempted to start reconsidering this whole homeownership thing altogether.

But hold on! Having your home offer rejected doesn’t have to mean it’s back to renting. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might just be able to turn that rejection around—or at least learn from the experience and come back a stronger candidate the next time.

The most important aspect of a rejected offer is understanding why it was rejected, and for that we turned to the experts. Here are a few common reasons your home offer might have been rejected, and a few helpful tips on what you can do about it.

3 common reasons sellers reject home offers

Home offers are rejected for myriad reasons. Here are some of the most common ones, as explained by the experts.

1. Your offer was too low

The first and most obvious reason your home offer could have been rejected is if the dollar amount didn’t meet the seller’s expectations. This might mean your offer was insultingly low, or that it was just low compared with other offers.

Often, buyers “believe the best way to start a negotiation is with an offer that’s lower than what they’re willing to pay,” says Colby Hager, owner of CapstoneHomebuyers. “This can work, but it can also backfire. When a seller is considering multiple offers, the low offer seems less serious and could indicate further negotiating headaches down the road.”

Keep in mind that sellers are looking for a good deal just as much as you are, and you should plan on working with your real estate agent to make sure the sellers at least feel like they’re getting one.

2. Your earnest money deposit was too ‘cheap’

If there’s one part of the offer you shouldn’t cheap out on, it’s the earnest money deposit. This deposit (also called an EMD or “good faith” deposit) basically signifies how interested you are in the home and that you plan on moving forward with the deal, all the way to its closing.

“Believe it or not, there are buyers who get cold feet and walk away from a transaction days before closing,” says Shannon Hall, broker and owner of Dwellings by Rudy & Hall. “The EMD should be enough to let a seller know you’re very interested, and also uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it on the table.”

Since many contracts stipulate that a seller can keep the earnest money deposit when a buyer walks at the last minute, you should feel certain about the house—and then convey this certainty by leaving a significant deposit.

Hager recommends putting down at least 1% of the purchase price to show sellers you mean business.

3. You asked for too many contingencies

Sellers don’t just want the best price for their home; they also want the easiest deal—which means no complications.

“Sellers like the least number of contingencies,” stresses Hall.

“But that’s not to say that a buyer should waive the due diligence period,” she adds. “Make it shorter, but don’t waive it. And if you need multiple contingencies, that’s fine; but look for a home that’s been on the market for at least 30 days.”

Since sellers are generally more willing to make concessions on a home they’ve been trying to sell for several weeks, this is a good approach to take if you’re a picky buyer with multiple contingencies.

“Sellers also don’t like to give away their money to help someone get into a home,” says Hall.

Make your deal an easier and more appealing one for sellers by sticking to the fewest number of contingencies possible, getting due diligence done quickly, or targeting homes that have been on the market for longer.


Watch: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Buying a Home


What to do if your home offer is rejected

The first step is understanding why the offer was rejected in the first place.

“If an offer was rejected, a buyer can try again, depending on the reason it was rejected,” explains Karen Parnes, broker and owner of NextHome Your Way.

“If you need a certain home sale contingency, for instance, and can’t remove it, then move on,” Parnes says. “But if you can pay more and the market warrants it, resubmit a better offer.”

How to avoid future home offer rejections

Although rejection is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to increase your chances of making a successful home offer.

For instance, “a buyer should come into the market already aware that he or she will have competition,” Hall says.

In addition to putting your best foot forward, you should be sure you’re working with an agent who has the skills to close the deal.

“A good real estate agent can help by guiding the buyer on the expected norms of offers in their area,” says Hager.  “A real estate agent will also know the market and help you figure out if starting with a lower offer is advisable—or if a strong offer out of the gate will get the best results.”

One final bit of advice: Work with an agent who understands seller interests.

“The buyer’s agents who most often win the day are the ones who reach out to sellers before submitting an offer,” says Hager. “They have the best chance of not being rejected because they took the time to understand the seller’s situation.”

And if your home offer still gets dismissed, don’t be too disappointed. In a seller’s market, “buyers are bound to have their offers rejected,” says Parnes. “Homes are coming off the market quickly, and sellers’ expectations are high.”

If your offer gets rejected, work with an agent to fix it or simply move on to the next home. Then make an offer the seller can’t resist.


The Pros of Hiring an Interior Designer for Your Next Home Renovation

designer paints a modern sketch of the apartment

No matter how skilled you are at any particular task or pastime, there’s a good chance your skills are going to pale in comparison to those of a professional. Sure, you might be a good guitarist, but next to Tom Morello or John Frusciante, you’d struggle just to keep up. Your painting chops might be next level, but can you go toe to toe with the likes of Goya or Monet? 

The point is, even a particularly skilled amateur isn’t going to be able to compare to a person who makes a living from their craft. For those interested in renovating a home, this rings exceptionally true. While you may be able to do a half-decent job with the construction, do you trust yourself to redecorate? 

If you don’t, you’re going to want to get in touch with an interior designer. By getting in touch with one of these professional masters of decor, you’ll take your interior design game to the next level, assuring that your remodel will be accompanied by the decor it deserves. With their help, you can make sure that your home looks way, way better after the remodel. 

But what are the advantages of hiring an interior designer, more specifically? What can you expect when working with an interior designer, and how can you best equip them to ensure that you get your money’s worth out of their work? These are the questions we’re going to be asking today; let’s begin! 

The benefits of hiring an interior designer

Of course, you might not be convinced by our intro. Why hire an interior designer? If you’ve got a decent sense of style, you can just as well decorate the place yourself essentially at cost. This is a good argument, and if you’re comfortable with the work involved, it’s a viable option. Nevertheless, there are a lot of upsides to hiring an interior designer; let’s take a look at a few.

Less work 

Despite the apparent ease with which interior design can be done, the process of renovating a living space can be time consuming and tiring. Choosing decor, coordinating the colors of furniture and other similar tasks can be arduous and infuriating, leaving you feeling clueless and frustrated without so much as an idea of how to go on. 

By hiring an experienced interior designer, you can circumvent these problems almost entirely. While you’ll still have discretionary control over all decisions regarding the interior design of your newly remodeled home, your interior designer will do all the legwork and leave you free to focus on your remodel. Whether you’re going with a contemporary design aesthetic or a traditional one, you’re sure to be thankful they’re in your corner! 


Another salient benefit of hiring an interior designer to oversee your remodel is efficiency. No matter how good you think yourself to be when it comes to interior design, you’re not going to be able to match the efficiency with which a professional interior designer will be able to work. If you want to make your remodel go as fast as possible, you’ll definitely want to hire one. 

An interior designer will all but completely eliminate the headaches associated with this type of work, getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. They’ve got the connections and the resources to purchase materials and decor with as little hassle as possible, and they’ll be able to move the process along smoothly without any hassle.

The professional touch 

Perhaps the most attractive upside of hiring a professional interior designer is the assurance that your remodel will end up looking as good as it possibly can, with a well coordinated, professional appearance. You may be a great amateur interior designer, but experience comes with time and if you want your design aesthetic to be on the cutting edge, this is one of the best reasons to hire an interior design professional. 

By hiring a professional interior designer, you’ll be making sure that every facet of your remodel is seen to in such a way that you’ll be happy with it well into the future. From the color of the interior to the choice of wood grain on the furniture, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that the way things look is well thought out and professionally planned, without the inclusion of outdated interior design elements. Such is the value of the professional touch!  

A trove of knowledge 

Finally, hiring a professional interior designer will grant you an all but inexhaustible wealth of knowledge regarding interior design choices. Your interior designer will advise you on questions such as whether or not you’d like to incorporate exposed brick into your remodel, or even something avant garde like a wall mural. 

Your interior designer will also advise you on incorporating the latest interior design trends into your remodel, giving you an idea of what’s likely to catch on and what will be left behind. If you ask them to, they might even help you adopt a more minimalistic approach to interior design, opting for simplicity over spectacle. 

Finding an interior designer

Of course, before you hire an interior designer, you’ve got to find one that fits your remodel and can be counted on to do good work. If you’ve never worked with one before, this might seem like a somewhat daunting task, but rest assured, you’ve got nothing to fear. With a bit of searching, you’ll find one that’s perfect for you. 

The best place to start is with a simple online search; find some interior designers in your area and get some estimates. Share your remodel’s scope and scale with them, and let them know what you’re expecting from an interior design point of view. After speaking to a couple interior designers, you should have a good idea of what it will probably cost you. 

If you haven’t yet found one that fits the bill, you can do some more searching. Find a real estate agent in your area and ask for a recommendation or use tools like craigslist and Facebook marketplace. If it’s a lower price you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it using these methods. These interior designers are likely to be just as if not more experienced than their more well-established counterparts, and you’ll likely get a great deal too. 

Whichever route you choose, be sure to get a copy of the interior designer’s portfolio and previous work, so you know their unique preferences and style. This will give a better idea of what to expect, and how to get your ideal look for your living space. It will also help you feel more in touch with them, so communication is easier. 

Meeting with the designer

Once you’ve chosen an interior designer, you can go forward by setting up an in-person meeting with them to establish your terms for your remodel. You can discuss pricing, materials and what you want from the new interior design of your freshly remodeled home. Just give your interior designer a call and set up a meet in a place you both agree upon.     

Meeting with your designer will allow you to discuss important things to you in a remodel and settle on a coherent theme and aesthetic for your remodel. You’ll be able to propose ideas for interior decor, and your interior designer can help you choose which ideas to keep and which to discard. They’ll assist you in choosing the right colors for each different space in your home, so your aesthetic remains coherent and attractive. 

This meeting will also allow you to discuss pricing and cost estimates, both for materials and labor. While the cost of hiring an interior designer might seem a bit steep, the savings coupled with the value added by their timely work and professional touch are well worth the cost. 

Finally, meeting with your interior designer will help you get a feel for whether or not they’re a good fit for you. While it’s essential to be familiar with their portfolio and body of work, it’s also important that you feel a connection with your interior designer. If you meet and feel uncomfortable or apathetic about them, you might want to resume your search for the perfect interior designer.

Working with your interior designer

Once you’ve found an interior designer who is knowledgeable, experienced and easy to work with, you’re well on your way to having the most well decorated interior of any house on the block. Things are going to start moving now, and before you know it, your house will look like something from an interior design magazine. 

Your interior designer will advise you on a lot of things, from choosing materials that mesh well with each other, to adding the master’s touch to the aesthetics of the interior of your home. They’ll speed up the process of remodeling with the wealth of information and resources they possess, and ultimately prove themselves to be an invaluable asset. 

With this article, we hope we’ve convinced you of the benefits of hiring an interior designer and giving you some helpful tips on finding and working with one. This isn’t a comprehensive guide to finding and working with an interior designer, but it is a good place to start; we hope that we’ve been of some help! 

Did you enjoy this article? Want to ask a question or provide us with some feedback? Leave us a comment in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Our readers are our top priority,and making sure you have the best experience possible is of great importance to us. We look forward to hearing from you!



When you live in a rental home, investing valuable time and money into making it your own may seem pointless, especially if you aren’t sure how long you’ll be living there or where you’ll be moving next. Regardless of if you plan on staying in your temporary home for a few months or a few years, putting your own personal mark on it is important. After all, you deserve to relax and entertain in a place that you’re proud of. Check out these helpful tips from the design team at Ashley Homestore to make decorating your rental home a breeze.

Walk into any standard apartment or rental property and you’re sure to notice one thing: boring light fixtures. The way you choose to illuminate your living spaces can make all the difference in helping a plain, bare apartment feel homey and inviting. Fortunately, replacing dull light fixtures with contemporary ones is easy enough for just about anyone to accomplish. If you’re intimidated by the process, however, incorporating alternative light sources is a simple way to elevate a dull room in an instant. To keep every corner of your home well-lit while making a statement, be sure to use a combination of accent, task, and ambient light sources. The result will be a well-balanced space that reflects your own personal style. 

It’s probably safe to say that whatever home you’re renting, for the time being, won’t be the place you live forever. Because of this, it’s wise to choose furniture and decor that can easily transition from one home to the next. After all, who wants to buy all-new furniture when it’s time to move to a new house? By choosing versatile pieces that can serve multiple purposes or seamlessly transition with you through different phases of life, you’ll be able to save yourself valuable time, effort, and money when the time comes to move on from your rental home. Need ideas for a few fabulous multi-functional pieces? You can’t go wrong with a sleeper sofa, storage ottoman, or dining room table with removable leaves. Pro tip: when you go to shop for furniture, always think of how well the pieces you’re attracted to will serve you in the future.

Along with light fixtures, the window treatments that come with apartments and rental houses tend to be plain and inexpensive. In other words, they can be pretty “blah.” The good news is that bringing life to your home through fresh window dressings is simple, fast, and doesn’t have to break the bank. If your windows are bare, wooden blinds or Roman shades can give them a clean, modern vibe without overwhelming the space. On the other hand, curtain panels can add a pop of color and texture to a room that’s lacking personality. Whichever option you choose, be sure to optimize the natural light in the room as much as possible to make it feel spacious, bright, and homey.

For many renters, painting the walls of their temporary home is not an option. If this is the case for you, don’t think that means you must resign to living in a stark home for the foreseeable future. When it comes to bringing color and charm to the walls of your home, wallpaper is your friend. With an array of different options available in countless colors, styles, and prices, changing up the look of your home has never been easier. Best of all, many types are removable and reusable, making them an ideal decorating option for folks living in rental homes.

Another great way to make your apartment your own without putting color on the walls is painting a few pieces of furniture instead. A dark blue bookshelf or bright yellow coffee table would look gorgeous and bring in an unexpected pop of color against the stark white walls in your rental house. Likewise, painting furniture is an easy way to make a room look new without spending a lot of money. Looking for interesting items on resale sites, in consignment stores, or even in your own garage to cover with a splash of paint is a wonderful way to keep your rental home decor interesting while pinching pennies. All you need is a little creativity! 

The walls, windows, and light fixtures aren’t the only apartment feature that tends to err on the boring side. The floors in rental homes usually leave a lot to be desired as well. Whether your rental house boasts cheap laminate flooring or drab carpet, they’re nothing an interesting area rug or two can’t fix in an instant. Area rugs are the perfect solution to effortlessly incorporate much-needed color, pattern, and texture into virtually any space of your home. With this in mind, be sure to choose rugs that will not only keep your toes warm but will pull your home together with warmth and charm.

Regardless of the size or style of your rental house, every home looks and feels better when plants are present. Not only can they add a gorgeous splash of color in spaces that lack depth, but houseplants are also great at keeping the air in your home fresh and clean by removing toxins and releasing oxygen. If you think you must have a green thumb to have plants in your home, think again. Many houseplants, such as snake plants or succulents, are relatively low maintenance and will serve you well for years without much fuss. On the other hand, you can’t go wrong with artificial plants that nowadays look as supple and realistic as their living counterparts without the trouble of keeping them alive.

No matter how quaint or spacious your rental home may be, the friendly team at Ashley Homestore can help you every step of the way in making it your own. Contact us or stop by our two showroom locations in Green Valley or Tucson today to see how easy and enjoyable decorating your temporary home can be!


How to Turn a Finished Attic Into a Nice Living Space

A home’s attic may just be the most overlooked space of the house. Often used simply for storage, this space has the potential of turning into a sleek living space, hobby room, home office or even a guest bedroom, if given a good amount of tender love and care.

Most people don’t consider using their attic space due to the absence of finished walls and proper lighting. But with the right knowledge and some fairly small additions, you can convert your attic into an elegant getaway that not only adds value to your property but that can also be used as a place to relax and unwind.  

Wondering what it takes? We thought we’d give you a hand by looking at some of the most crucial elements you need to consider if you’re thinking about turning your attic into a living space.

Turning your attic into a livable area

Now, while there are quite a few elements involved when converting an attic, taking them one step at a time — maybe even spacing out the work and giving yourself lots of time to get it done — will make the whole process seem less daunting. Here are some of the major improvements you need to account for:

Wire your attic for electricity

While this isn’t an extensive project, you will need to hire a professional to help you out and get this one out of the way. Whether or not your attic is already wired, you’ll need to hire an electrician to check your wiring and make sure it’s up to par; and if it’s not, they’ll have to wire it altogether. Either way, get this one out of the way well before you start working on the walls or floors, otherwise you might find yourself in a position to ruin your freshly redone walls to set up wiring.

Strengthen the attic’s floors

If you plan on adding furniture to the space, especially larger pieces like a bed or an armoire, you’ll have to account for the extra weight and strengthen the floors. This is another aspect you might want to contract out to a professional, given that you need to make sure both your floors and your home’s foundation and framing can handle the extra weight.

Insulate the attic

Since all the walls (along with the roof) are exposed to the outside, your attic is likely the hottest and coldest room of the house, depending on the season. That’s why you’ll want to take extra steps to insulate it properly, and depending on the area you’re in and how cold/hot it gets, fix the space up with PTACs (package terminal air conditioners) to maintain the right temperature. You might also want to consider adding drywall or add extra wood or shiplap to the exterior walls.

Install plumbing

If your attic conversion also involves adding a bathroom to your newly created living space, you’ll need to account for plumbing. This part might add up and bring your expenses up considerably (especially considering all the other elements you’ll have to purchase and install in your bathroom, from the toilet to vanity, fixtures etc.) so think it through before adding it to your wish list. Especially since you can’t really space them out very much, and you’ll need to buy the toilet/bathtub and all the other elements before plumbing starts — as you’ll need to connect them. Also, remember we were talking about strengthening the floors of your attic? Water adds tons of weight, so you’ll have to plan your structure reinforcement accordingly if you’re gonna move forward with the addition of a bathroom. For more info on what it entails to install a bathroom in your attic, here’s a handy guide.

Get proper lighting

If you’re going all out with your attic conversion (and have the funds to back it up), you’ll want to consider adding some nice skylights or windows. But this can ramp up your costs considerably, and make the whole process far more complicated. So instead, why not flood the place with light through some good old light fixtures? Mix things up with a combination of LED lights, overhead lighting, and tall lamps — and pick bright bulbs to get as much light in as possible.

Paint the walls and ceiling

You’re almost done with your DIY attic remodel, so now it’s time to start making it look pretty. Even if your attic has finished walls and ceilings, you’ll want to add a fresh coat of paint to make the space look brand new and inviting. To make the space appear more airy and to compensate for the lack of windows, choose bright colors for most of the walls (though an accent wall that stands at the opposite end of the entrance is always a stylish addition).

Add furniture, appliances & décor elements

The next step in setting up your attic living space is to make it practical and beautiful. This entails adding furniture, design elements, and whatever appliances you think you might need for the space. Think TVs, a mini fridge, a nice stereo system, low, sleek A/C units, whatever you find most practical depending on how you want to use the newly-created room of the house.

Maybe you want to have it ready as a guest bedroom, or a teen kid’s room, a hobby room, a much-needed home office or a place to relax and meditate in. Each potential use comes with its own individual needs, so it’s up to you to get creative from this point forward (though here are some great tips if you’re setting up a meditation room).

Last but not least…

If you’re seriously considering turning your attic into a living space, there’s one hurdle you need to get out of the way before embarking on any of the above changes: checking with your local permitting office to see whether or not you’ll need a building permit for converting your attic space. Not all cities require their residents to pull out a permit for this, but it’s better to know for sure instead of winging it. Your home insurance and later property valuation might take a hit if you don’t account for this aspect.

Keep reading

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8 Money-Saving Tips for Improving Your Bathroom’s Design
How To Set Up a Killer Smoking Room at Home
What Your Home Office Would Look Like If They Were Designed by David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Other Iconic Movie Directors


12 Diseases That Are Common in Seniors Who Get COVID-19

Senior lying in a hospital bed
Photo by Pressmaster /

Seniors with 12 chronic conditions are especially vulnerable to ending up hospitalized for COVID-19, according to newly updated data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS says that more than 1.9 million Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, between the start of last year and Nov. 21. Of those beneficiaries, more than 493,000 were hospitalized as inpatients with a COVID-19 diagnosis during that period.

Those numbers, released in mid-January, reflect cases and hospitalizations that CMS knew about as of Dec. 18. The federal agency notes that all data in its latest report will continue to change as CMS processes more Medicare health insurance claims.

The data reveals that 12 chronic conditions are most common among the Medicare beneficiaries who have been hospitalized:

  • Hypertension: 79%
  • Hyperlipidemia: 61%
  • Chronic kidney disease: 49%
  • Diabetes: 49%
  • Rheumatoid arthritis/osteoarthritis: 46%
  • Ischemic heart disease: 45%
  • Anemia: 44%
  • Heart failure: 33%
  • Depression: 33%
  • Alzheimer’s disease/dementia: 32%
  • Obesity: 32%
  • Peripheral vascular disease: 31%

Of the beneficiaries who were hospitalized, 19% died and 35% were discharged to their homes. The others moved from the hospital to skilled nursing facilities (20%), home health care (15%), hospice (5%) or another health care facility (4%), CMS says.

About half of the hospital stays lasted for fewer than eight days, while 11% percent of the stays were at least 21 days.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 and older or who have disabilities or certain medical conditions.

People of color, the elderly and the poor more often affected

The coronavirus disease appears to be affecting people of color, older adults and the poor in greater numbers, and that disparity also shows up in the Medicare data.

CMS says COVID-19 hospitalization rates are especially high for:

  • Black beneficiaries (1,569 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
  • Hispanic beneficiaries (1,258 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
  • Beneficiaries who are age 85 or older (1,436 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
  • Beneficiaries who are age 75 to 84 (917 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
  • Beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance program for people with low incomes (1,794 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)

By comparison, the overall rate for all Medicare-only beneficiaries was 527 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

Regardless of your race, ethnicity, age or financial standing, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Some measures are obvious or have gotten a lot of media attention. You can find helpful tips in the following stories:

Other ways to keep the coronavirus at bay might be less obvious. You can learn more about them in:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.