A year of pandemic life has changed how we operate â literally! Our survey explores how smart home products are fitting into our homes in a world shaped by COVID-19.
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Recent events have made the spaces in our homes more important than ever—to our productivity, well-being, health and comfort. As we head into a new future, how can we make sure that our homes serve us better?
While homes have always been central in our lives, they have never had to shoulder as much of a load as they have this past year. Since the stay-at-home orders, our homes have had to provide us with everything we need, much of which they were not designed for—from office spaces to classrooms, gyms and sanctuaries.
Our relationships to our home environments have changed, and the psychological impact of being at home, becoming familiar with the new demands on our spaces, and being confronted with all of our “stuff” is not a minor thing.
The effects of this reassessment of our home spaces on our behaviors have been numerous: from making small changes, like seeking to repurpose the spaces in our homes for more practical use (work, recreation, quiet time), or removing various unneeded furniture or objects from our homes, to larger decisions like moving to a house that is more suitable for our own personal indoor-centric lifestyles.
Now, the number of vaccinated Americans is increasing, and a pinprick of light is growing stronger at the end of the COVID tunnel. Does this mean that we will return to pre-pandemic behaviors and forget the adjustments that we’ve made in our homes?
Sally Augustin, an environmental and design psychologist, uses the practice of science to inform design projects in both commercial and residential spaces. She believes that, while we will be glad to be out of our homes again when things become slightly more relaxed, we will also use what we’ve learned from the recent past to inform how our spaces should work for us moving forward.
“We’re a social species, so we like to mix with others,” Augustin says. “We’ll go back to work; we’ll start to see our families again. We’re all pretty sick of our own cooking and all the things we can get delivered, so we’ll go out to eat again. I think people will resume, to a large extent, their previous lives, but they won’t forget their current experiences.”
So, what does that mean for how we design and live within our existing homes, and what we should look for in future property purchases?
For those who are working within the confines of the spaces that they already have, there are small changes that can be made that will make a significant impact on quality of life at home.
Augustin is quick to list a few things that can make a big difference—noting that they’re not new design elements born out of the pandemic, but rather things that have always helped us to create healthy and happy living spaces, and that can be implemented to great effect in these changing times.
“For most of us, happily, all of our sensory systems are working at same time,” Augustin says. “Always think about the full range of sensory experiences you’ll have in a space.”
To create a more relaxed environment, Augustin recommends playing nature soundtracks at a very low volume in your office or living room. And she says that smell—yes, smell—can also play an important part in how comfortable you feel at home.
“There’s been a lot of rigorous research done on smell and how it affects what goes on in people’s heads,” she says. “You might consider making your home office smell like lemon, which has been linked to cognitive performance. Throughout the home, you might want a lavender scent, because the research shows that the smell of lavender is relaxing.”
Most of us default to sight as the primary sense when we evaluate a space for suitability, and there is plenty you can do to improve the visual impact of your home environment.
“Seeing wood grain is great at alleviating our stress—whether it’s on floors or other surfaces in our homes,” Augustin says. “Relatively light and unsaturated colors (which have always been good for use in a home) are still good. And natural light is like magic for us as humans. Being in natural light improves our cognitive performance—even our creative thinking. Plants were great inside before, and they’re great inside now, in terms of helping us refresh mentally and feel calmer.”
On top of color and light, Augustin notes that the way that we allow our belongings to dominate a space can have a big effect on our mindset.
“It’s really important to think about visual clutter in a space,” she says. “I think sometimes people let that get on top of them. I’m not talking about creating a place that’s stark—being in white box without much going on visually stresses us out—but you’re really looking for a middle ground.
“You want to think through the palette of colors that are in a space, make sure it’s well-managed, have only a couple of patterns in a space, have some personalizing objects on tabletops or hanging on walls, like photographs or art, but don’t let things get away from you.”
Rebecca West, interior designer and founder of Seriously Happy Homes, agrees, adding that clutter can take your space away from you.
“People used to have all these spare rooms, like the guest room or the home gym that wasn’t used much,” she says. “Now, that space has become so much more precious. The demands on the space have become a lot more profound, and people are thinking, ‘This is our reality now. How do we make it work?’
“If you’ve got a space that has been storing stuff that you haven’t touched in five or 10 years, you really got to think, ‘Could I use that space better?’” she says. “This is very helpful for people who feel like they don’t have enough house. You’re just seeing it with blinders on, having lived there for so long that you can’t necessarily see any other way of using the space.”
West notes that, until recently, it’s been much easier to ignore the things in our homes that weren’t working.
“I think that a lot of people were able to ignore that psychological baggage in their home, because they always left the house for work, or they could go out with friends,” she says. “[Since the pandemic], they haven’t been able to escape those psychological cues anymore.”
To create a space that best serves your well-being, West recommends taking a look around your home,
and identifying the things that don’t make you feel good.
“You can take action on the stuff that has been nagging at you, but you weren’t really able to put your finger on,” she says. “Figure out what makes you happy and showcase it, because half the time we hide the stuff we love in a box in the garage. Get rid of the stuff that seems like it should be functional—maybe it was expensive, maybe you have guilt because it was given to you as a gift—but doesn’t make you happy. Who are you serving by holding on to all that?”
Once you have assessed the elements you can bring into your home for well-being, as well as those you should get rid of, the job is not done—you still need to keep on top of what’s coming into the house, and make sure you keep shifting things out, West says.
“A house is never done, because the people in it are always changing, and there’s always stuff flowing in—whether that’s junk mail or groceries or Amazon purchases,” she says. “If we don’t think about the house as this living, breathing organism—where things are breathed in, so they must be breathed out—then we either end up with a totally stale house, or we end up with too much stuff.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE
While there are several things that you can do to improve your space that don’t require remodeling or moving house, sometimes taking a big step and making those larger changes is necessary.
Both West and Augustin note the need, during times when we’re spending more time indoors in close proximity to others, for spaces that can be closed off for work or quiet, but that won’t make residents feel closed-in.
“There’s this competing priority of, ‘I need a door to close so that I can take whatever meeting, or find a mental quiet space,’” West says, “but also, ‘I don’t want to feel super isolated, or trapped in a lot of tiny, small spaces.’”
She says that we can have both space and sanctuary, through having large rooms that can be segmented if necessary—using things like barn doors, sliding doors and room dividers.
“A lot of people will have memories of this event that will guide their future actions. The next time they’re looking to buy a house, they’ll make sure it has some space where they can work effectively from home. People will perhaps be looking for spaces with a little more internal segmentation from one space to another, because they’ll remember how nice it was to be able to isolate a bit when they were confined to their home with all the members of their family for weeks on end.”
Aside from the practicalities of working and schooling from home, we should also look for spaces that prioritize our mental and physical health, West says.
“I certainly think that people will be looking beyond the footprint of their home. Walkable neighborhoods and outdoor spaces are more important than they were pre-pandemic. It’s about the home, but it’s also about what’s outside your home. Do you have an outside gazebo or some outdoor space where you could have friends over if you’re worried about social distancing?”
West also recommends thinking about the multigenerational living that many of us are now doing, and making sure that there are spaces that are useful to the different members of the household—things like study spaces for children, workout rooms for active people, hangout areas for the family, and comfortable quarters for elderly relatives.
“Then there’s privacy,” she says. “What do the windows look out onto? Are they looking into your neighbor’s home? Will that make you feel more trapped? And what kind of light are you going to be getting throughout the day, especially during the hours you want to be more alert or more rested?
“As you’re looking at a new house and trying to imagine your furniture in the space, really go through the exercise of thinking, ‘Where would I sit in this room? How would it feel for me to sit in this room while spending 12 hours working in this space?’”
For Augustin, the senses are again an important consideration when evaluating a home for suitability.
“When you first see a home that you might buy, often you’re looking at like an online listing, which is pictures. But make sure you read the words, too, because maybe you’ll find out that the house is next door to a preschool or something. Some people might love the sound of little kids laughing in the morning, but if you’re going to be up all night because you’re an emergency-room physician, maybe you don’t want to live next door to a preschool.
“There was a neighborhood in Chicago that for decades smelled like chocolate because it was right near the Brach’s Candy Factory. It was a perfectly nice neighborhood, but if you didn’t like chocolate or [had dietary health concerns], that probably wasn’t the place for you.
“In general, keep in mind that your house is more than what it looks like.”
Beyond what a house can offer in terms of practical considerations, there’s the need for us to feel… well, at home. In a time when security and safety are top of mind for most people, familiarity can provide comfort. So how can you create that feeling in a brand-new home, which is—at least to begin with—unfamiliar?
Augustin recommends giving thought to what makes your house really feel like home to you. “If you can continue to use the same furniture, or look at the same art, that increases feelings of familiarity and safety,” she says. “Is your furniture or your art going to fit in the new home? If you’re coming from an apartment with lots of solid, interior walls, and you go to a home that’s open plan, with very few interior walls and lots of windows, you’re not going to be able to hang as many paintings. If that art is meaningful to you, a new home where you can’t put it up and see it is not going to be the best place for you to be.
“You have to think through where you were already, your good experiences there, and how many of those you’ll be able to carry through to the new space to make it familiar. If you’re going to make a big change, why? Is it likely that you will be happy after you make it, based on where you’ve been happy previously?”
Home is the most personal space that any of us have, and we need to make decisions according to what feeds our own individual sense of well-being. Identify the things that make you feel comfortable, make your home feel practical, and ensure that it serves you and your family in the best way possible. Then, make the necessary changes, or, if you need to, purchase a house with those things in mind. In a nutshell, create your space intentionally.
Or, as Augustin says, “Just manage things. Be active. Take control. Don’t let your house just happen to you.”
your financial details.
These days, bank accounts can do a lot. They make it easy for you to track your spending and receive transaction alerts, often in real-time. They allow you to transfer between accounts and even send money to others in just seconds, even from a smartphone. And many of these accounts also help you reach your savings goals with budgeting tools, automation and competitive interest rates. However, odds are that you won’t be able to achieve all of this with just one bank account. Here’s a look at how many bank accounts you should realistically have and why you truly do need more than one.
Consider working with a financial advisor as you fine-tune your personal finance strategies and priorities.
Why You Need a Checking Account
A checking account is intended to be an everyday transaction account. It allows for both deposits and withdrawals and can be used for a variety of day-to-day spending.
You’ll typically use your checking account as a landing pad for your paycheck, before re-allocating funds elsewhere. From your checking account, you can pay bills, make daily purchases, transfer funds and more. These funds are usually considered short- to medium-term in nature, as they are constantly being spent and replenished.
Money in a checking account can be accessed a number of different ways, depending on the financial institution and even the specific account type. Generally, though, checking accounts offer a combination of debit cards and paper checks, as well as online transfer options.
Why You Need Savings Accounts
Savings accounts, on the other hand, are better suited for medium- to long-term funds, rather than daily spending. The money you keep in a savings account can be tagged for a range of future savings goals, from next month’s vacation fund to your child’s college savings and beyond.
These accounts may be linked to other bank accounts you hold, such as checking. That way, you can easily transfer funds over and track your savings progress. Some banks also allow you to use a linked savings account as automatic overdraft protection on your checking account.
Additionally, most savings accounts offer interest on the balance held. This is often much greater than the interest offered on your checking account (if that account accrues interest at all). This can help amplify your savings and ensure that your money is always working for you.
While you are generally allowed to make as many deposits into a savings account as you’d like, you’re limited in the number of withdrawals you can make in a single statement cycle. Per Regulation D of the Federal Reserve, deposit accounts classified as “savings” are limited to no more than six withdrawals per month. If you exceed that limit, you may incur a fee or see your account closed.
How Many Bank Accounts Should You Have?
So, the question is, how many bank accounts do you actually need? And the answer really depends on your financial situation and your goals.
In general, you should aim to have at least the following bank accounts.
- One account for everyday spending: You need at least one checking account for day-to-day transactions. This account is typically where your paycheck will be deposited, and is what you use for small purchases and payments.
- One account for short-term savings: Short-term savings goals might include vacations, holiday spending, the down payment on a new car or other big purchases. Choosing a high-yield savings account can help boost your balance without extra effort.
- One account for long-term savings: Longer-term savings goals might include emergency savings, college expenses or the down payment on a future home. Since these funds don’t necessarily need to be immediately accessible, you can afford to choose a bank that offers competitive features and returns.
You might also consider opening a separate bank account for:
- Monthly bill-paying or budgeting: If you use the envelope method for budgeting, or simply want to set cash aside for monthly bills, consider using a separate bank account. This can make it easier to track spending throughout the month. It also ensures that you always have enough money available for important bills.
- Specific savings goals: You may already have emergency savings, retirement savings and even college savings accounts. If you have smaller, specific savings goals, though, you may even want to open separate bank accounts for those. For example, this could be where you keep savings for this season’s Christmas gifts, so you aren’t bombarded with expenses at the end of the year.
- Separate/shared household funds: Yours, mine and ours — that’s how many of today’s couples choose to manage their finances. It may make sense for you and your partner to each have individual bank accounts (even if it’s just for your own guilt-free spending money) as well as one joint “household” account. In this case, you’ll need at least three bank accounts between you.
What to Keep in Mind
Whether you decide to have two bank accounts or 12, there are few things to keep in mind.
Some bank accounts have fees. Certain checking and even savings accounts may charge monthly maintenance fees. These fees are often waived if you meet certain deposit or average balance thresholds; if you don’t meet these requirements, though, the costs can really add up quickly.
Make sure you’re maximizing interest rates. Right now, according to the FDIC, the average savings account has an APY of just 0.06%. However, you may be able to earn much, much more than that by shopping around for a high-yield account, like those offered by many online institutions.
Keep good records of your accounts. The more accounts you have, the easier it is to mix them all up or even forget about some small savings you set aside. Make sure you keep good (but secure) records. You may also want to make a note of these accounts in an In Case of Emergency (ICE) folder, in case something were to happen to you and your spouse needed to manage the funds.
The Bottom Line
For most adults, a single bank account isn’t enough to juggle incoming funds, manage daily spending, and save for future financial goals. How many bank accounts you need really depends on how you manage your money and what your personal goals are, both short- and long-term. For some folks, two or three bank accounts might be perfect. Others could need 10 or more to meet all of their needs.
Tips on Banking
- A trusted financial advisor can help you determine which bank accounts are necessary and how they should best be managed. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you’re investing on your own, you should be prepared for what the investment markets can throw at you. SmartAsset is here to help you on your investment journey, with a number of free online resources. For example, check out our free investment calculator today.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Credit:AndreyPopov, ©iStock.com/Credit:sorrapong, ©iStock.com/Credit:NicoElNino
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your financial details.
If you have enough money, putting some kind of savings aside for both short- and long-term goals is important. After covering general expenses for your daily or monthly budget, an emergency fund could help you prepare for short-term costs such as unforeseen medical, auto, travel and other bills. Long-term savings can, of course, be used towards things that are less of an emergency, like planning for future vacations, buying a car or a home, and retirement. A financial advisor could help you create a financial plan for these goals. Let’s take a look at how you compare with the average savings by age group in 2021.
Savings Recommendations vs. Reality
The first thing to remember when thinking about savings is that the capacity to save is a very important factor. While the typical recommendation is to have three to six months’ worth, many Americans simply don’t have the ability to squirrel that much away. Recommendations can give you a good sense of a ballpark, but the reality for each person or household will by no means look the same as the others. Situations can vary based on factors that are individual (a life event or adjustment of one’s daily needs) and/or large-scale (such as national or world events).
Savings by Age Group
In the same way that spending broadly varies by generation and age group, average savings figures do too. The below data is based on the 2019 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances and figures reference what is referred to in the survey as “transaction accounts.”
|Age||Average Savings Account Balance|
|35 and younger||$11,200|
|35 – 44||$27,900|
|45 – 54||$48,200|
|55 – 64||$57,800|
|65 and older||$60,400|
The youngest and oldest age groups will of course have the most variation within them. The youngest cohort, after all, includes minors who are unlikely to have much savings at all, and the oldest includes retired folks who are working their way through their savings. A central habit to remember and perhaps start building at a younger age is to start an emergency fund and save as much as possible, before other responsibilities and expenses (such as rent and insurance) start to kick in.
When thinking about saving for more long-term financial goals such as retirement, average amounts also vary by age group. Based on the data from Federal Reserve report, retirement savings increase with each age group and can often become more aggressive as the traditional retirement age approaches (when it could also be time to think about catch-up contributions to an account). Average savings sometimes drops over time after age 65.
Multiple Income Streams Can Help You Save
If you have the capacity to do so, there are many ways to set aside some money for an emergency fund or other savings account – and it’s never too late. Depending on schedules and ability, a variety of other sources of income can be available to you. These include getting a part-time job or opening a business.
Saving is different from investing, which is another option to consider as an income stream. While investing is riskier than saving and serves a different purpose, it can help you grow some savings without having to actively work at a job to earn them.
Average savings account balances depend on many factors, including age. Age may sometimes affect how much experience you have, how much you make and what your expenses might be. Multiple income streams, including investing, can help you save more.
Tips for Navigating Your Savings
- Need help finding a financial advisor? SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Budgeting benefits everyone. Another way to make sure your money covers all your bases is to plan ahead. A good start is to take a good look at how you’re allocating your money. Our free budget calculator can help you spend just what you need in certain parts of your life and still feel like a million bucks.
Image credits: ©iStock.com/designer491, ©iStock.com/arthon meekodong, ©iStock.com/Khanisorn Chaokla
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When inviting new tenants into your rental property, the last thing you want are surprises. Knowing who you’re renting to, their criminal and eviction background, and their ability to pay rent on time is essential, which is why requesting a tenant screening report is effort well spent.
Not all tenant screening services are created equal, though. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows tenants to sue landlords if their applications are rejected due to inaccurate or illegally reported information, so it’s best to invest in a service that you trust to source information appropriately.
These are the best tenant screening services for landlords in 2021 and what each offers so you can make sure you’re getting the accurate information you want.
What Are the Best Tenant Screening Services for Landlords?
While many of the tenant screening services on this list provide similar basic screening reports, some offer more flexibility in cost, helpful tools, and added security than others. Here’s a breakdown of the six best tenant screening services for landlords:
If you want to keep track of all pieces of the property management puzzle, consider starting with Avail. You can use Avail just for tenant screening reports, or as a turn-key solution for the whole rental management process — including listing your property, drafting state-specific leases, collecting rent, and more.
More than other services on the list, Avail is designed to make your applicant your partner throughout the screening process, reducing your workload and increasing the likelihood you’ll end up with qualified leads whose interest is sincere. Tenant rental history, job history, and income verification are free, and you can decide which additional screening reports you want to add, along with who pays for the reports.
Applicants’ personal information, such as social security numbers, are secured on the platform so you don’t have to worry about being the keeper of sensitive information.
Differentiator: Includes reference checks from prior landlords and provides all the tools to easily move forward with a tenant you like, including leases and rent collection.
Like many services on this list, RentPrep offers a basic screening report package and a more robust version. Each package also comes with the option to add on extra reports a la carte style, including income verification.
Its basic version is the most affordable screening on the list at $18.95. At that price, you get a rental background check that includes identity verification, an evictions and bankruptcies report, and information on any judgments or liens against the applicant.
The information is pulled from databases, independently verified by RentPrep and does not require tenant involvement, and you’ll get results within an hour of your request.
However, for that rate, you sacrifice getting a credit report or a criminal history, both of which are standard in basic packages from other services on the list.
Differentiator: The lowest-cost basic option, but without full credit or criminal history reports.
3. National Tenant Network
If you’re a data wonk and want to be more hands-on with choosing your own slate of reports, National Tenant Network could be a good choice. The service is mostly a la carte, with a wide selection of reporting options including reports not offered by other services, like Business Credit Analysis and Retail Credit Analysis.
Although one-off reports are available, a membership (a one-time payment of $35) gives you access to screening resources, tenant management tools, and a slate of screening reports (individually priced) so you can tailor your screening and management process to your needs.
Differentiator: Most customizable reporting options (with a membership fee).
Cozy, now Apartments.com rental solutions, is designed to make the full tenant management process more transparent and efficient. The credit and background checks by both services are similarly detailed and shared with applicants and landlords alike, but there are two main differences:
- Apartments.com charges applicants for screening reports ($24.99 for a background check and credit report bundle), while Avail provides the option for applicants or landlords to foot the bill.
- Avail includes prior landlord references in the background check, while Apartments.com does not.
Cozy used to directly offer renters insurance policies, but tenants will now need to find a new provider for renters insurance on Apartments.com. These tenant screening services are currently not offered to landlords with commercial properties in their portfolio. .
Differentiator: Landlords that previously used Cozy to manage their residential properties can access more tools on Apartments.com.
If you’re the kind of landlord who wishes you could poll an audience of your peers, MyRental might be a helpful platform. The site’s screening reports focus on presenting applicant analysis, which can help take some of the guesswork out of evaluating leads.
In addition to providing the applicant’s TransUnion credit score, MyRental’s premium report takes data from credit checks and background checks for your applicant and assigns them a SafeRent Score between 200 and 800. The higher the score, the stronger the applicant. The site also shows you how that applicant’s score compares to other renters in the area and the percentage of landlords who have accepted applicants with similar scores.
Note that landlords submit applicant info and pay for the basic package. The premium report asks applicants to submit details themselves and the landlord can choose who pays.
Differentiator: Uses a proprietary risk-assessment model to help you evaluate applicants quickly, but only the premium package offers credit report and SafeRent Score.
6. SmartMove (via TransUnion)
SmartMove offers the same level of detailed credit, criminal, and eviction checks as other sites on the list, but it goes a step further on the financial side with an Income Insights Report.
As a service by TransUnion, SmartMove emphasizes getting an accurate understanding of your applicant’s financial picture — including analysis to determine whether their self-reported income is accurate, or if you should collect more information.
Similar to Avail, a tenant initiates SmartMove screening reports themselves, adding an extra level of security by not passing sensitive information (like their social security number) to the landlord.
Differentiator: Can alert you to an applicant who may be less than truthful about income.
Start Screening Tenants With Avail
Thorough tenant screening is the first and most important step in finding a tenant who will take good care of your unit. Learn more about important things to look out for when screening tenants or create an account with Avail to start the free tenant screening process today.
We get it, HGTV has got us all thinking maybe the idea of a fixer-upper might just be something we want to do. If you can handle living through a renovation we are here to show you just what you can do with a fixer-upper of your own. These before and afters might just have you thinking you too should jump on this trend, and build some immediate equity into your new home. Let’s start out simple and move into the slightly more complicated renovations…
Modern Farmhouse Powder Room
Purple people eaters might have lived here before we got started! This space was a slight color shock but nothing that some paint and statement wallpaper cannot fix. We also changed the floor stain throughout the space, swapped the vanity, and installed new lighting and all the fixtures to have another complete transformation.
Modern Neutral Master Bedroom Retreat
The before photo on this one has you feeling like your walking into an early 90s dream bedroom with the custom wallpaper and dark burgundy walls low ceiling fan. For this fixer-upper, we started by swapping out the dated and dirty carpet with new hardwoods. We then removed the wallpaper, primed the walls for paint, and added a neutral color palette with whites, grays, and tans. Instead of a wallpaper accent wall, we added a custom textured wall and installed built-ins and artwork from travel to add a more personal touch. To elongate the room we ran a faux wood beam and brought in a modern ceiling fan to continue to have air circulation without distracting from the overall ascetics of the space.
Modern Farmhouse Entryway/Laundry Room
A green haven was presented to you as you stepped into this entryway/laundry room! We truly believe everyone needs a dumping ground in their home. A place where all of your things can live without feeling as if you made a complete mess of your home. Mudroom built-ins have quickly become one of our absolute favorite solutions to a space that is not being utilized to its fullest potential. Talk about the best way to use every single inch of your space. Many homes have rooms with dual purposes and this one isn’t short on that! The laundry room directly across needed a facelift with storage options and functionality! Adding uppers, creating a custom folding table, and building two side cabinets for storage and sorting completed this space.
Modern Boho Basement Bathroom
This fixer-upper took some dreaming to get to! Can you see it with the before photo? We mapped out the space with tape to help you see what we see. All new everything. For this space, we created a bathroom where one never existed, leaving a ton of space for relaxation and play for both kids and adults. Knowing we were working in a basement lead us to a light and airy palette.
Attic to Master Suite Retreat
Taking an attic space from a bedroom to a master suite involved many rounds of edits to land on the best space planning option without actually tearing the roof off! In this attic, we ripped down all of the walls, then added one new one to create a much-needed master bathroom space. We then extended the floor a foot and a half over the staircase, allowing for more space on both sides of the king bed. All new HVAC, electrical, plumbing, drywall, flooring, paint, railing, and a massive custom built-in wardrobe brought this space from drab to fab!
Open Floor Plan Modern Farmhouse
Let’s walk into your typical 1980s kitchen complete with more golden oak that you know what to do with! We are thinking of an open-concept floorplan with this one. To make these dreams a reality we needed structural support, rounds of design edits and six weeks of in-progress hard work and dedication from our team! But this space couldn’t look more opposite of the one we started with…now we just need to recreate it in our home!
Important things to note about each of the above renovations. We are a design-to-build team which means we come into people’s homes and help to make their dreams a reality! Months and months of planning were involved before we ever started demo on each and every one of these projects. Prior to any renovation begins we have all material, product and design elements sourced, purchased and ready on site. All the little details matter to keep a project moving in a timely fashion! It’s what we do for a living!
If you’re in the market to find your next fixer-upper, check out Homes.com where you can search for homes the simply smarter way!
Creating a safe home for the elderly people in your life is crucial. Household places and items that used to pose no problem may now be difficult or, worse, dangerous. These tips will help you ensure that your home is as safe as possible.
1. Fall-proof your home: Falls are the number one cause of injury among the elderly, so preventing falls should be the first priority. Install non-slip strips on floors, steps, and showers or tubs. Arrange your furniture in a way that will open up walkways, and make sure staircases have handrails on both sides.
2. Intercoms and alert systems: Having a medical alert system along and intercoms around the home will ensure a higher degree of safety. Having access to other forms of communication is valuable If there is an emergency and someone can’t get to the phone.
3. Double locked doors: Having doors that lock both from the inside and outside is very smart, especially on bathroom doors. If someone falls while in the bathroom or bedroom, and the door is locked, it can pose a dangerous situation. When you have a door that can be opened from the outside as well other people can come in to help.
4. Well-lit areas: It’s important to keep your home as well-lit as possible. Having light in areas such as staircases, hallways, and on the front porch is essential to safety. Being able to see exactly where you’re walking and what you’re doing can prevent falls and other injuries. Additionally, make sure bedrooms and bathrooms have automatic night lights.
5. Shower chairs: Install shower chairs, bath benches, and grab handles in the bathroom. Unfortunately, bathing increases the risk of slipping and falling but this precaution greatly minimizes the potential for injury.
6. Prevent accidental scalding: People over age 65 are four to five times greater to experience a fatal injury from a burn or scald. Turn back the water heater to 120 degrees F to help ensure that there is no way anyone can get burned.
These small changes can make a big difference in creating a safe and comfortable environment for elders.
“House Party” is the official Realtor.com® podcast about the overlapping worlds of real estate and pop culture, hosted by Natalie Way and Rachel Stults. Click the player above to hear our take on this week’s hot topics.
Christina Haack (formerly Christina Anstead, formerly Christina el Moussa) is famous for her HGTV show “Christina on the Coast”—but she’s arguably more famous for her ever-changing relationship status.
Now, she’s set the internet aflame once again with something of a scandal—involving a photo of her, her brand-new beau, and what looks suspiciously like a diamond sparkler on her left hand. The photo was quickly deleted and replaced, which left everyone wondering what the design guru might be trying to hide.
Tune in to this episode of “House Party” as we discuss the gossip—and get a first look at Haack’s brand-new $10 million mansion in Dana Point, CA.
Also on this episode:
- Are Chip and Joanna Gaines moving to Montecito, CA? We review everything we know so far.
- We’ve finally reached the end of HGTV’s “Battle on the Beach,” and while we’re so sad it’s over, we were delighted to sit down with winners Kerry and David Kersh (Team Taniya Nayek) this week. Tune in to hear the interview and our recap of the season finale. Then email us at [email protected] and let us know what you think of how it ended!
And if you’re as downcast as we are that it’s over, make sure you tune in to HGTV or Discovery+ on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT for two bonus episodes containing behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers, drama, and more.
Want more “House Party”? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please: Throw us a five-star rating if you like what you hear. The more good ratings and reviews we have, the easier it is for people to find us.
Want to chime in? Have your own crazy home-related story you’re dying to share? We’re all ears, eagerly waiting to discuss all of your burning real estate questions on “The Mailbox” segment. Email us at [email protected], follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or tweet us @housepartypod on Twitter.
It might still be the dog days of summer, but fall will be here before you know it! Seasonal home maintenance is crucial for keeping you safe, dry and comfortable and can prevent the need for unnecessary (and costly!) repairs. With lingering warm temperatures and daylight, the end of summer is the perfect time to prep your home for the cooler, and often more harsh, months to come. Add these six tasks to your end of summer maintenance for a smooth seasonal transition!
Get Pests Under Control
Whether you’re hiring a company to treat your home and yard or doing it yourself, creepy crawlers are one of the top nuisances that come with the summer months. Especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of rain during the summer, you can expect these critters to make themselves welcome in your home, as they look for a dry refuge. Before you hunker down for colder months, here are a few ways to get and keep pests out of your home:
- Check weather stripping and seal up entryway cracks
- Set out bait or traps
- Deep clean indoor and outdoor trash cans that’ve had a full summer to accumulate smelly, pest-attracting residue
- Check nooks and crannies in and around the home for any nests or signs of infestations
Finally, if you find signs of infestations from termites, roaches or ants that are beyond the scope of simple traps or bait from the hardware store, don’t wait! You don’t want to give them time to cause any more damage, so call your local pest control company for advice or to schedule an appointment.
Check Your HVAC
To keep this big-ticket item from causing big-ticket problems, a technician should come out once or twice a year to check that your HVAC system is functioning properly. Sure, your AC unit is blowing cold air like a champ, but is there a crack in your furnace that’s developed since you last checked?
Hire a reputable technician to take a look at your unit, measuring its capacity and checking for any leaks. When your unit is running at optimal performance, it’s more energy efficient, can save your overall costs, and protect against dangers like fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. This is also a great time to clean out your vents, which improves the efficiency of your unit and reduces the allergens in the air.
Address Any Yard Drainage Issues
If you’re in an area that receives a lot of rainfall during the summer, this is an especially important part of your end of summer maintenance checklist. Summer storms can cause minor flooding or create cracks in home exteriors over time. If you live in a climate where it snows in the colder months, water seepage into foundation cracks can experience cycles of freezing and thawing; over time, this can cause extensive damage that’s quite costly to repair.
If you’ve noticed any standing water in your yard the past few months, chances are that it will only get worse if left unaddressed. Here are some treatment options:
- Clear your gutters and downspouts
- Plant a rain garden, or add a catch basin in areas that consistently puddle
- Construct a creek bed or insert a French drain to channel water away from any low points in your yard.
If you have a serious issue with drainage seeping into your home or causing foundational issues, call your local landscaper to see if adjusting your property grade is in order.
Check Your Weatherproofing
Summer is notorious for rolling thunderstorms, and depending on where you live, tropical weather systems. End of summer maintenance is a perfect way to check for areas vulnerable to extreme weather before issues like water leaks happen. Focus on these items:
- Check the roof for leaks or loose shingles
- Inspect the weather stripping around doors and windows
- Check your insulation for any areas that could use some some replenishing
- If you don’t have one already, consider installing a storm door
Tend to Your Yard and Landscaping
Early fall is a perfect time to plant for spring gardens, making end of summer maintenance a crucial prep step. But even if you don’t care to garden, your yard still needs the occasional maintenance deep dive. To keep your home’s exterior protected and your curb appeal at its best, add these items to your to-dos:
- Trim back any large tree branches hanging over your home.
- Clean up your landscaping — pull weeds, uproot dead plants, etc.
- Aerate and/or fertilize your soil and add new grass seed
- Power wash hardscapes like your driveway or walkway
Seasonal maintenance can certainly be a chore, but when done regularly it can save you time, money and stress down the road. For even more fall prep ideas, print out this detailed checklist, and don’t forget to check back for more fall-centric content!