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Category Archives: Home Maintenance and Renovation

Information on home maintenance and renovation that will inform Frederick Home owners

Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space and Value – How to Get it Right

Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space and Value – How to Get it Right

😊Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space…Do They Add Value?

Outdoor living is important to today’s homeowners, no matter the climate they call home. Creating an inviting outdoor room is a great way to maximize living space, and add to the enjoyment of your home. Additionally, home buyers will appreciate the space when it’s time to sell your home. Outdoor rooms add value to a home, when done well. Although they may or may not add value in the eyes of an appraiser, they certainly do in the eyes of a potential home buyer!

🏡Decks and Patios Add Valuable Outdoor Living Room

Today’s buyers are looking for homes that maximize living space in a smaller, but smarter home. Buyers are looking for ample storage as well as livable floor plans. Outdoor rooms add living space without adding to the square footage, or the expense of an addition to the home. They are a “bonus” room that doesn’t need to be heated or cooled, and they don’t have to break the budget.

Fire Pit traditional-patio

If you are looking to maximize the appeal of your home before you sell, you might consider the addition of a deck or patio ( or a she-shed ūüôā ¬†If you already have a deck or patio, you can spruce it up easily, adding that outdoor appeal for today’s buyers.

📝Planning ¬†Outdoor Rooms and Spaces To Add Value

A properly planned deck or patio can add functionality as well as beauty to a home’s design. Equally important, it can expand the living area with the addition of charming and usable outdoor living spaces.

The first step to creating a deck is finding the perfect design to compliment the exterior of the home and meet the desired outdoor lifestyle of the homeowners. Large home supply stores have design software accessible on their websites allowing homeowners to create and print a customized 3-D deck design. Designs and materials can be changed with a click, and do-overs are definitely allowed.

Try Lowes, or Home Depot, for a start. Both sites have how-to videos and idea books to get started. Tip: Type into the search box, “design a deck” and you’ll get lots of great results.

Spending time envisioning the deck before putting pen to paper or mouse to hand will help. Ideas are everywhere ‚ÄĒ readily available in magazines and on-line. Houzz is a great website where you can find ideas, beautiful photos, products, and professionals in many home-related industries. You can open a free account, start saving ideas and plans to your “idea books” and do some great planning and dreaming. As you are envisioning your perfect outdoor room:

Some questions to consider include:

  • what will the deck be used for
  • how often will it be used
  • who will use it
  • and what time of the day or night will it be used

🤔Smart Deck and Patio Design will add Value

With these ideas in mind, a homeowner can create a variety of areas on and around the deck or patio for different uses, including food prep, eating, relaxing and entertaining. If a pool or hot tub is also part of the design, other issues will need to be addressed such as electrical supply, privacy and adequate safety measures.

Outdoor Rooms
Contemporary Patio design by San Francisco Architect Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

The location of the deck will be determined by the available yard space, accessibility to and from the home, and showcasing the best views. Enclosing part of the deck with a roof can make the use of the deck more flexible and can act as a transition from the home to the outside. You also may appreciate the weather resistance of a partially covered deck, adding areas to bring fabrics and other decor items that don’t survive the elements easily. Not only do¬†outdoor rooms add living space, they can add warmth and beauty to a plain old boring yard.

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Outdoor rooms
Contemporary Patio design¬†by¬†Tel Aviv Photographer¬†Yaniv Schwartz ‚Äď Photographer

👷Building Permits – Do a Proper Job

Getting a building permit is a must! When it’s time to sell the home, you don’t want any problems popping up because of unpermitted work done on the house. And it will pop up.

You also want to get a permit to make sure that your work is properly done. The location of the deck may also be dictated by local building and zoning ordinances. These ordinances will have guidance regarding the size and placement of the deck, height of privacy screens and the distance needed from property lines.

Home Owners Associations may have restrictions or guidelines on anything that is considered an outdoor room. A call to the utility company to check on the location of buried pipes and utility lines can prevent any loss of service, as well as save time, expense and trouble later.

Some of the requirements listed in building codes for an above-ground deck include the distance between support posts ‚Äď usually no more than 6 feet apart, and distance between railing spaces ‚Äď usually no larger than 4 inches apart.

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Outdoor rooms
Modern Exterior design by Chicago Architect Becker Architects Limited

The height, design and spacing of the railings is important, because they are the most repeated and most prominent visual element on the deck. Railings may be adhered to posts that are placed in the ground or attached to the decking itself. Material choices are many and include wood, metal, heavy cording or rope, stone or other building material, as long as code requirements are met.

😭Design Without Regrets

One of the complaints most often heard after a deck is built is that ‚Äúwe should have made it bigger.‚ÄĚ To make sure to get it right, stake the layout into the yard and tie string between the stakes at the height of the railing. Grouping lawn furniture in various areas can simulate the ways the deck might be used. This added planning step can help you visualize the results.

On the other hand, a deck that dwarfs a home will be awkward. To get the most out of the available space, multiple levels can add extra space without over-taking the home.

Making a deck blend in with a home’s decor can be done by incorporating and repeating design elements from the home. Paint the trim and posts in a similar or complementary shade. Turning a deck into an extension of the house is a great way to create an outdoor room with a comfortable vibe.

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Built-in benches, tables and planters add a feeling of stability and permanence to the deck and create the tie between deck and the landscape. Flowers, potted ornamental trees and other deck accessories can create a seamless transition between the deck itself and the natural surroundings. Homeowners with small lots are even finding space to grow herb and vegetable gardens. Outdoor rooms add living space for green thumbs to enjoy the product of their labor.

For more great ideas to increase the usability of your outdoor spaces, check out our Pinterest board, Outdoor Rooms


🌻Easy Projects to Add Outdoor Value and Living Space

Add a fire pit with surrounding seating for an inviting gathering area for family and friends. A fire pit will extend the season, making your back yard more usable for a longer time. Adding attractive seating around the pit will be a natural draw for family and friends to sit and relax.

You can buy a fire ready made fire pit in so may fun and decorative styles today, in many sizes, for a reasonable amount. You can also build your own quite easily. Here’s a short video from This Old House that shows just how easy it is:

Safety Tip: Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from your house or any combustible surface. Before you commit, make sure you check with any homeowners association documents or city ordinances.

Looking for inspiration for your backyard? Check out our Pinterest Board, Backyard Bliss:

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⛲Water Features Add Beauty

Adding a water feature to your yard adds beauty and ambiance, but it can also serve a practical function: to mask street noises, or noisy neighbors. You can add a simple DIY pond or bubbling fountain, or you can get as complicated and expensive as you like. (Just don’t over-improve if you want to get a good return on your investment.)

A water feature can be a koi pond, with rocks and foliage that make it appear like a natural occurrence, or it can be hardscaped to fit in with existing features. Whatever your design sense, make sure it is in keeping with the style and size of your home.

If you’re considering a pond, check with your local town or county about ordinances that may affect what you build. If you live in a community with a homeowners association, be sure to check the rules.

The simplest water feature you can create is a recirculating fountain. That can be anything from a popular bubbling vase, to a core-drilled boulder, to a formal fountain. In all of these water features, water collects in a basin at the bottom where a small pump sits, and is pumped back up to the top. These types of water features are generally the most economical choice for adding some kind of water feature to the backyard.

Here’s a simple DIY video about adding a simple water feature:

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🌺Beautiful and Functional Additions that Add Value

Build a Pergola. A pergola is an airy structure, usually wood, that creates definition for an outdoor room, without closing it off. You can determine how much shade you want by growing climbing vines, like wisteria, by adding a sail or screen to the top, or by slanting the wooden beams along the top. Pergolas can be added to a patio or a deck, or they can be freestanding out in the yard. They can be custom-built or kits, or even purchased ready-made. Here’s a handy buying guide:

Add a Gazebo. If your home and yard will be enhanced, a gazebo might be a great addition. Gazebos usually cost a bit more than pergolas and are a little more elaborate, with a roof. Gazebos can be rustic or polished, depending on the style of your house. They can also be screened in, which makes for a pleasant experience if you want to escape the bugs.

💰Hardscapes Add Permanent Value

Adding hardscapes to your outdoor spaces can be a beautiful addition to your yard, both front and back. As hardscapes are more expensive and more permanent than other enhancements, you’ll want to do a lot of planning, maybe even hire a professional, depending on how complicated you get. A design expert can help you keep in line with the overall look and style of your home and yard. You don’t want to find yourself at the end of a long expensive project and discover you’ve overdone it, or worse, created something that doesn’t add value to your property.

Hardscaping can be as simple as adding a stone or brick walkway, to an elaborate patio with built-in features. Whatever you choose, make sure it is in keeping with your home’s style and your lot size. Hardscapes are an area where it is easy to “over-do it”, which will obliterate any hope for a decent return on investment.

Get design inspiration and DIY tips on our Pinterest Board: Hardscaping to Add Value to Your Home:


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Additional Reading:

Do you live in another area and need a real estate agent? We’ll be happy to refer a top-notch agent! 

Thanks to David Goldberg for an informative guest post!

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David Goldberg¬†–¬†¬†Home Inspector

phone: 301-913-9213 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

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If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Find out What Your Central Maryland Home is Worth

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Add value with outdoor living rooms


Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Savvy home sellers are aware that they need to present their home in it’s absolutely best condition to get top dollar. This holds true for any real estate market, whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. Sellers often ask us¬†which improvements to tackle first. Equally important – There are some home improvements sellers to avoid when selling a house. Which home improvements don’t bring the return on investment as well as others?

As far as the most important updates, focus on Kitchens and Baths. They are what often sells a home. A typical buyer will go for the home with an updated kitchen and updated bathrooms, because those rooms are more expensive to renovate.

But, when making improvements, a home owner can go overboard. There are improvements that cost a lot of money but won’t necessarily increase your home’s value. Here are three home improvements sellers should avoid:

🌿1. Avoid Overdoing Your Landscaping

Those gorgeous stone hardscapes look fantastic on Pinterest! They certainly give a¬†home superb curb appeal. Landscaping always increases the appeal of a home, but the return on investment is another calculation. Hardscaping can be significantly more expensive than landscaping, so choose wisely. You’ll want to keep it at a minimum if you are going to put your home up for sale in the near future.

Inexpensive plantings will do the trick just as well as expensive ones. If a dead or overgrown shrub or tree needs to come out, replace it with something that is low maintenance and native to your area. Sometimes a pop of color is all that’s needed, and whatever you have planted just needs to be kept trim and neat.

Don't overdo your landscaping


Best rules of landscaping: Cut, Color and Fill. Many landscape designers will advise a home seller to simply do some¬†judicious pruning to get the best return on investment.¬†Too much unruly greenery can look like disrepair,¬†and shrubs that are overgrown to the point that windows are obscured or branches are hanging in walkways can visually ‘eat the house’.

💐A Fresh Look Goes a Long Way

Very often a fresh layer of mulch is the only finishing touch landscaping needs. Tired dull mulch will detract from all the work you’ve done. Like many small improvements around your house and yard, a simple fresh look can send the message that you really care about your house, which implies the same meaning for large items as well.

When considering your landscaping, make sure that it compliments your home rather than competes with it. There is no need for fancy formal gardens if you live in a contemporary home. Most would-be homeowners will want to “inherit” a yard that is attractive, yet easy to care for.

If you’re short on space, simple additions will give you the most bang for your buck.¬†A fresh coat of paint on the front door and a few planters of colorful flowers will do wonders and won’t break the bank. Be sure to bring some of those fresh flowers inside to add life to your staging.

Related Reading: Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal

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🏰2.¬† Avoid Overdoing Upgrades

If after cleaning, you determine that carpet needs to be replaced, get a mid-grade neutral shade. It will look great, and will meet wear expectations. Buying the top grade will be a waste of money, especially if the buyer decides to replace it anyway!

If the wood floors are dull or worn, try a good cleaning, buffing and new finish. If they still look worn they might require a refinishing. Replacing flooring should be a very last resort.

Minor rooms like laundry rooms or powder rooms don’t need expensive flooring. Some laminates look just as good as hardwoods, but for much less.

If you need to replace appliances, again, look for middle of the line appliances. Don’t get anything expensive or too stylized. In most cases, stainless steel appliances are still most popular, but you can find very affordable appliance packages in stainless steel. If you home warrants a different style, then be sure to keep with the style of your home.

Do you bathrooms need an upgrade? Most box stores have very affordable and stylish choices for vanities, sinks and faucets. Make sure to choose things that go with the overall style of your home. Be careful not to go to trendy. Sometimes we find that trendy items, like sinks, don’t appeal to a wide range of people.

Light fixtures are often an item that needs to be upgraded. You can find lots of moderately priced solutions that look contemporary and compliment the other decor in your home. Getting rid of old brass fixtures is one of the best things you can do with a great return on your investment. While you’re at it, add brighter light bulbs to all your fixtures. This is the most effective, yet inexpensive things you can do. Light up your space! Buyers will love it.

Related Reading: Small Home Improvements That Make a Big Impact

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3.  Avoid Over-Doing Rooms

If you make over a room for a very specific purpose – like a home office or a library – make your improvements as non-permanent as possible. That way a buyer will be able to easily convert the room back to the original purpose. If they are faced with too much work, they might just give your home a pass.

This also goes for rooms with too much…

Too much color, too much¬†wall paper, too much clutter, too much personality…

home improvements to avoid
Dining Room by Miami Beach Interior Designers & Decorators BROWN DAVIS INTERIORS, INC.
                               🤣"Where are my sunglasses?!"

It’s always best to neutralize before you put your home on the market. It’s best if buyers can “see their stuff” in your space.

If you have a passion, the temptation can be strong to showcase it.. like your love for the team. Just because you are a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan doesn’t mean that your collection of memorabilia will be appreciated by buyers touring your home. You’ll probably want to pack that stuff away…especially if you’re in Redskin territory!

Avoid over-doing your spaces to accommodate your hobby. Most buyers will only see a lot of work ahead of them when they see that your laundry room has been converted to an awesome¬†beer brewing station…even if they love beer themselves! If your dining room is being used for a craft room, covert it back to a dining room. You’re going to have to pack it all up for a move anyway.

Assume buyers have zero imagination.

⚜Avoid overdoing your decor.

This applies not just to color choices, but to dated styles. It may seem like a very personal thing that buyers can overlook, but many times we find they can’t. It’s always good advice to consider your decorating and make some changes to update the decor to something more contemporary, something that appeals to a broad set of people. A dated look can make buyers view your entire home as dated. This is why staging is an important part of getting your home ready for sale.

The best way to view it: assume that buyers have no imagination. Your staging should strongly suggest the best use of each room in your home. It should also suggest what their life could be like if they lived in YOUR home. Staging is where you get to add a little sizzle to the steak!

Related Reading: Avoid These Four Common Staging Mistakes

💰Which Improvements Give the Greatest ROI?

The answer to that question really depends on comparative homes in your market…what amenities are likely buyers for your home going to expect? What are the common features of similar homes in your area? You don’t want to overdo your renovations compared to your competition, at least if you want the best return on your investment. Neither do you want to underdo your improvements, not if you want to sell your home for top dollar.

Generally speaking, kitchens and baths should be considered first. Other than that, there are typical upgrades that will garner a better return. Most of the time, simply cleaning, repairing and making simple updates can go a long way in preparing your home for sale.

Consult a local real estate expert who has experience in your neighborhood. Consult them before you start the work, to make sure you’re investing your money, time and effort in the right places…the places that will give you the highest return on your investment.

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📰Additional Resources:

For more tips on Home Improvement ROI, see the¬†Remodeling Website.¬†This site compares average cost for 36 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. It covers 102 U.S. markets. Check out this year’s trends and how they compare to prior years.


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Search for Homes in Central Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland  with eXp Realty
Chris & Karen Highland      301-401-5119
eXp Realty Broker – 888-860-7369

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Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

🛀¬†Quick & Easy Bathroom Updates

If you’re thinking about updating your home, whether you want to sell in the future or not, the bathroom is a good place to start…it’s small. Whatever you¬†are considering in the way of projects¬†will cost less, and if the look isn’t quite right, you most likely can change it without great cost.¬†Starting with easy updates for a tired bath will most likely get you motivated to tackle larger projects that might also be a little tired.

If you are preparing your home for sale the most important rooms to give some love are your kitchen and bathrooms. Most buyers will scrutinize these rooms, looking for updated features. The majority of today’s home buyers tend to want move-in ready. They aren’t looking for too many projects to face to make the home there own. Here are some easy steps to get started in the bathroom.

🖌¬†Painting the Bathroom Walls

Painting the walls is inexpensive and will provide an immediate change in the look and style of a room. Faux techniques are great to try in a small room like the bath, and if they don’t work, can be repainted the next day.

If you’re trying a new color and are unsure, the bathroom is a good place to start.¬†A bathroom is a good place to try trendy paint colors this year, that go with your overall decor. A small dose of some colors goes a long way.

The “new neutrals” include subdued tones of many colors…neutrals go way beyond beige for today’s trends. Grey can serve as a neutral, allowing for bright-colored accents.

Important Note: Bathroom-formula paint should always be used to help prevent mold and mildew.

¬†🎨¬†Bathroom Ceilings

If you’re not¬†ready to replace the bathroom floor, there is the next best option to consider… divert attention upwards. To get the look of old fashioned tin ceilings, there are several ceiling tile wallpapers available which are paintable. This textured wallpaper gives the impression of embossed plaster and will keep visitors looking up.

Ceiling TilesAnother option is a ceiling-sized stencil, some paint and crown molding, to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling space. Ceiling tiles and panels are also an affordable way to add style and interest.

Staying at ceiling level, a space-saving addition to consider is a narrow shelf over the doorway, just wide enough to hold extra rolls of toilet paper. A six-inch deep shelf can be supported directly on the door frame, held in place by a small bracket. You can use wall shelves to house decorative items that take up too much space on the vanity.

👣¬†Bathroom Flooring

Even with a new ceiling, the bathroom floor can’t hide forever. Wood floors are a popular option in most homes today, but homeowners shy away from wood floors in a wet environment such as a bath. Fortunately, it’s possible to have both the warm look of wood and the durability of vinyl today. Vinyl planks are available from most home supply stores and come with textured finishes that¬†bathroom updates

Vinyl Planks – BobVila.comsimulate real wood. Finishes include oak, maple, bamboo and other exotic woods. Cost can range from $1 to $4 per sq. ft., and the small size of the room makes it possible to lay a new floor in a day or two.

If the vinyl floor is looking tired and worn out, a coat of paint and five to six applications of polyurethane can give a floor a whole new look. To do the job, first prime the floor with a specialty primer. You can use a stencil to mimic a tile pattern or to create a border.

One decorator has experimented with using brown paper bags to create the look of leather or stone on a bathroom floor. She suggests tearing off irregular pieces of bag, gluing them to the floor and topping with four to six coats of polyurethane.

If you have funds for something more, there are a number of manufactured wood products that are designed specifically for the bathroom. Ceramic, stone, porcelain and manufactured stone products are more affordable when you consider the square footage is small…it could be just the place to splurge!

See 2018 Bathroom Trends

📏¬†Small Changes in the Bathroom

Even a change as small as replacing hardware can give a bathroom a much needed lift. Toilet handles, cabinet handles, and door hardware Frederick Md Real Estateand towel racks can all shine brightly and give the bathroom some sparkle. Incidentally, If your bathroom is still sporting the 80’s brass look, you’ll certainly want to give it back to that decade!

You can even change the hardware and trim on a shower stall from gold to a trendier color, and without removing doors or other shower hardware. You can use 220-grit sandpaper, steel wool and elbow grease, for starters. Once the hardware has been thoroughly scraped, apply spray-on automobile primer. Metallic spray paint in black or another color goes on last. You can even use this technique for shower fixtures.

Simple things like a new toilet seat and faucets¬†are relatively easy and inexpensive fixes. Along the same line, a new or refinished bathroom mirror will add focal interest, reflect light and won’t flush the budget down the drain.

💡¬†Bathroom Lighting

Lighting is a quick and easy update to accomplish. Any big box store will have a lot of contemporary light fixtures to choose from, at an affordable price. Keep in mind the various task lighting that is necessary in the bathroom and don’t be afraid to “light it up”.

Today’s decorating trends emphasize creating a spa-like atmosphere in the bathroom. With that in mind, you can certainly add a touch of glamour with a lamp or even a chandelier, if it fits with your decor and style. A small touch of luxury goes a long way in a room like a bathroom.

🚰¬†Painting Your Vanity

If your vanity is in good shape, but just a little dated, you can try your hand at painting it to give the bathroom an update. There are many ways to paint a vanity, depending on the material.

Chalk Paint is all the rage, and many find that it’s ease of use and the lack of prep required make it a great alternative. It’s relatively easy to get exactly the look you want, whether its an antiqued look, a shabby chic style, or a modern finish. You just have to make sure you use the proper top coat to keep the moisture at bay.

Check out my Pinterest Board for Chalk Paint Tips and Tricks:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Chalk Paint Tricks and Tips on Pinterest.



🧖¬†Updated Decor and Accessories

Fresh new towels and bathroom decor can make a big difference for such a small investment. You can quickly and easily breath new life into a tired bathroom with some shiny and bright candles, small artworks for the walls, and a stylish new soap dispenser set. Even a beautiful new trash can will add to the aesthetic!


Thanks to our favorite home inspector, David Goldberg, for an excellent guest article. It’s great advice for some¬†easy updates for a tired bath.

David Goldberg –¬† Home Inspector

Reliable Home Services
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for Homes in Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

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quick and easy updates for the bathroom

Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds

Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds

Let’s face it dog-lovers…the fur children are part of the family. They need their space. Pet parent-homeowners have lots of options today with the latest home design trend – built in dog beds.¬†Architects are coming up with some creative and tasteful plans to incorporate the fur child’s bed into the cabinetry of the mud room, the laundry room or kitchen.


🐕Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds


For all the pet lovers who also love their homes, there is a new design trend you will appreciate: Built-ins for your dog’s bed.¬† Here are some beautiful images of the home-design trend – built-in dog beds from Houzz website:


Dog Bed traditional kitchen
traditional kitchen design by Minneapolis interior designer RLH Studio


Most dogs just love to be near their humans, but having them under your feet can be a nuisance, as well as dangerous. Wasted space can easily accommodate an out-of-the-way bed that is also near the family. There are many smart ways to incorporate your dog’s digs into your everyday life.




Staging Ideas kitchen

🐶Built-In Dog Beds in the Laundry Room


home design trend - built-in dog beds

These tile floors in a laundry room are great for a dog. This Los Angeles laundry room is equipped with a convenient cubby under the cabinet for Bubba.¬†♥ It is not only perfect for a pet, it’s still smart for resale. If you ever wanted to sell your home, a¬†potential buyer who doesn’t have pets could easily use this space for other purposes. It would work well for recycling bins, any other storage ideas, or for laundry hampers.


home design trend - built-in dog beds


This under-cabinet space in the white laundry room is certainly not under-foot. As a home design trend – built-in dog beds are a flexible and popular idea.

home design trend - built-in dog bedsGiving the furry family member his own door makes the space under the stairs not only convenient, but able to be out of sight when you want it to. It also adds just a bit of architectural interest. It may even be a conversation starter at dinner!

These pet spaces can easily be ignored, or used for another purpose. Again, if the home is ever on the market, it isn’t obtrusive. Any family with children will see this space as an instant play room. win-win!
Home improvements like these should never be so nuanced that they are a nuisance to potential buyers, if you should ever decide to sell your home.

🐾Other Built-In’s to Accommodate Pets

What about further enhancements for pet owners? Here is a great idea for a dog-wash! Save the bathtub for the humans and save yourself from an aching back. The tiles can easily be stensled for a fun design touch.
home design trend - built-in dog beds
This laundry room has it all covered, the built-in dog bed, which could easily be a cubby to hold a laundry basket, and the dog wash. Any future homeowner without pets would appreciate a place to wash off muddy boots or shoes, or sports equipment. A gardener would love this cleanup area. Garden equipment or boots can be stored in place of the dog bed.
home design trend - built-in dog beds
The great thing about this laundry room dog wash is the height, which would save a lot of bending over to wash a large dog. It’s large enough to be used to clean a lot of household items.
home design trend - built-in dog beds

🐩¬†Additional Articles for Pet-Lovers:

Check out Houzz for more Real Estate design tips like the home design trend – built-in dog beds.

Chris Highland 
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21701
TEXT US: 301-401-5119

🖼Enjoy Some Pet Art

I’ve added some adorable Pet Art from some talented artists on Sketchport. (A wonderful site to support budding artists) Enjoy!

home design trend - built-in dog beds
Image credit: Ichiban Yada on Sketchport, Breakfast in Bed


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds

Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for Homes in Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2018?

Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2018?

Is Stainless Steel Still Popular?

Stainless Steel appliances have been a long-lasting trend in home appliance choices. For more than 2 decades homeowners have loved appliances and fixtures in stainless. But will the trend continue? Are stainless steel appliances still popular, and more importantly, will they be popular in the future? We’re seeing a wave of new finishes that rival stainless in their appeal. Here are a few that are trending in 2018. But first, there are two housing design trends that are setting the stage, Integrated kitchens in open floor plans, and Personalization

A. Integrated Kitchens

House plans have increasingly opened up over the recent years, allowing the kitchen to be integrated into the other living spaces. Modern cooks prefer to be part of the party, rather than be shut away behind the walls of a separated kitchen.

What this has done for the decor of the kitchen is integrate it with the rest of the home. Now we see many different choices in appliances, from colored refrigerators and stoves, to a variety of metals and finishes.

According to a recent study from Houzz,¬†nearly two-thirds of homeowners in the survey spent more than three hours in their kitchens. Kitchens are now places to watch TV, entertain and read, as well as cook and bake. Today’s kitchens are styled and furnished with the rest of the living spaces of the house in mind.

B. Personalization in the Kitchen

As¬†kitchens keep¬†shifting¬†to look more like the living rooms, they are more posh, less utilitarian. Homeowners are personalizing¬†kitchens with bold appliances, cozy seating, stone surfaces¬†and cool fixtures¬†‚ÄĒ from sculptural faucets to interesting pendant lights.

As kitchens become more and more our living spaces, homeowners are making them more comfortable. Personalizing the kitchen adds to the comfort of the room. Comfortable upholstered chairs, cozy reading nooks and even a small couch are right at home in today’s kitchen.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular? Yes.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

The Houzz study reported that 3/4 of the respondents still planned to have stainless steel appliances. Their popularity continues, even though more homeowners are opening up to other styles and finishes. People like stainless steel. It matches every wood tone and finish. Dark wood, light wood and white cabinets all look good with stainless steel.

Appliances with Other Metals

Most major manufacturers have been trying out many different metals over the last 5 years, trying to be the first to find that “next big thing”. Think of Jen-air “oiled bronze”, Whirlpool’s “sunset bronze”, Miele’s “truffle brown”, or Viking’s “graphite”. In the right kitchen, all of these finishes will look great. But none have really taken off like stainless steel…not yet.

Appliances with Mixed Metals

As the kitchen becomes more integrated, many homeowners are personalizing with greater boldness. As brass and gold have made a comeback, as well as bronze and other metals, there is less reason to stick with just one finish. Mixing metals, although it must be done carefully, is a growing option in design. In high-end homes, look for designers to play with metals more than in the past. “It’s all good” is the motto.

Appliances with Satin and Matte Finishes

Appliances that have a satin or matte finish, whether in steel or other metals, are appearing in showrooms. Matte is used to describe something that lacks shine, so it looks more dull and flat. The appeal is two-fold, they are easier to keep clean, and they easily blend in with other finishes.

Black Stainless Steel

Black is an exciting newer color and finish that we’re seeing more often. After using the KitchenAid black stainless appliances in the¬†2015 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year, their popularity has increased. Now other manufacturers are making them, including LG and Samsung.

Black is becoming popular in all rooms of the house, not just the kitchen. Black is the new Neutral in 2018. The PPG Porter Paints color of the year 2018 is a faded black called¬†Black Flame. ¬†A more elegant version of black, I think we’ll be seeing it more in appliances.

Appliances with Matching Panels

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Since the kitchen is more integrated into the rest of the home in modern floor plans, adding panels to the appliances that match the cabinets is becoming popular.

The appliances are hidden behind, so other features of the kitchen can shine. This is a great way to create a focal point somewhere else.

This uniform look creates a less fussy style, which blends into the living spaces well. In the right home, this is the perfect solution to a more “livable” kitchen.

To Paint or Not to Paint?

Thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets? Check out (The Flooring Girl) Debbie Gartner’s series of useful articles on the topic:

Colored Appliances

Smeg is one of the manufacturers who have come out with a lot of colors, from pastels, to bright shades to black and white.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Colored appliances in an open kitchen add design and style that help it match the rest of the house. Viking has had a line of colored appliances for several years. They look great in a mid-century modern home, or an eclectic, ultra niche home. They are perfect for the homeowner who loves to have fun with their decor.

Slate Appliances

Slate appliances are on trend this year.Are stainless steel appliances still popular  GE is the first to make them. A matte slate finish is easy to keep clean and resists the dreaded fingerprints that make stainless steel difficult. Like stainless, slate matches any cabinet or countertop finish, and is style-neutral. The brushed stainless handles add a pop of shine, complimenting other appliances. [Kitchen by Southington Appliances Kathy from Connecticut Appliance]

What Appliances Should I Choose?

If you’re asking are stainless steel appliances still popular…My opinion as a homeowner…choose what you like. You live with it. As with most things concerning the home, do your research and read all the pros and cons of each style and finish. Then choose what you will love to see and work with and clean every day.

Personal Story: We just bought a slate appliance package for our kitchen...I love them! We have an open floor plan (you can see from the front  door all the way to the back of the house where the kitchen is...they look beautiful.)

My opinion as a REALTOR¬ģ…it depends on your home. If you have a traditional home, choose something that goes with your traditional home’s style. If you have a modern, contemporary, or mid-century modern home, choose what compliments it.

Of course, all this depends on whether you’re considering selling soon, or if you plan to stay put for a while. The average life expectancy of appliances should be taken into consideration. If you’re going to sell before your appliances wear out, then you’ll want to keep resale in mind.

Average life expectancy of appliances:

  • Refrigerator – 9 – 14 years
  • Oven/ranges – electric: 13 – 15, gas: 15 – 17 years
  • Dishwashers – 7 – 10 years

If your home has a broad appeal, and if you want to appeal to the broadest group of buyers, the studies are still showing that stainless steel has the most popularity. Stainless appliances will be a safe choice for at least another 5 or 10 years. If you want to play it safe, choose stainless.

If you like to live bold…choose whatever your heart desires!

Related Articles:

Stainless-Steel Still Shines

Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Increase Your Home’s Value – Maintain and Repair

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Thinking about selling your home in Central Maryland? Use our free online valuation to instantly

Find out what your home is worth.

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Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Considering a kitchen remodel but want to keep costs low? Here are some of today’s kitchen remodeling and decorating trends for homeowners that emphasize options and high-tech features at affordable prices.

Kitchen Trends 2018

The way that we live in our homes has changed over the decades. Homeowners have moved from formal living rooms to open floor plans. Great rooms that open to the kitchen have increased in popularity since the 90’s, demonstrating the desire for more gathering and connecting in our living spaces. Here are the latest kitchen trends to consider when selling your home to help you get the most return on your investment.

Many designers are predicting that the kitchen spaces, as we have always known them, will disappear with even more “open-concept” designs.

The need for dedicated rooms has switched from living spaces to rooms with specialized purposes, like offices, craft rooms, exercise rooms and music. Even pets are receiving the attention of specialized spaces in our homes. The trend for smaller, but smarter homes also continues, including the kitchen.

Trend #1: Remodeling has Scaled Back

A new focus on moderation and value has entered the remodeling mind-set. Trends that are showing up in kitchens lately include:

  • Repairing existing items instead of replacing them. More homeowners are extending their life with good maintenance and care. When replacing cabinets, they‚Äôre more likely to build around current appliances rather than choosing new models.
  • Scaling back cabinetry purchases, with an increased emphasis on kitchen storage and functionality over elaborate decoration. For example, rather than stacked crown moldings throughout the kitchen, more homeowners are putting their money into practical roll-out trays and drawer organizers. Function trumps appearance in today’s kitchens, but that doesn’t mean it has to look inferior.
  • Small-scale kitchen projects are big news. Changing out cabinet hardware, replacing a faucet, and refacing your cabinets upgrades your kitchen without major expense. As more homes today have some form of open floor plan, kitchens are outfitted to flow with the other living areas nearby. This includes light fixtures and window treatments, as well as the small details like oven mitts and tea towels.
  • Appliance Trends. Stainless steel appliances have been popular for 2 decades, longer than most design trends. They are still very popular, but we’re beginning to see other popular options in growing demand, like brushed nickle, pewter, copper, polished chrome and oil rubbed bronze. French door refrigerators, and bottom freezer drawers are still most popular.¬†Professional-style appliances such as free-standing stainless steel gas ranges, the trend for years, are being outpaced¬†by sleek induction cook tops paired with double wall ovens. Under-counter options are a growing trend, with drawers that double as refrigerators, wine storage or¬†a pull out microwave.

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Be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for design inspiration!

Trend #2: Simpler, warmer styles are popular

Fussiness and excess have faded away in favor of pared-back looks that present a more timeless, value-conscious style.

  • Cabinet decoration continues to streamline. For example, massive corbels, once fashionable as undercounter supports, are giving way to sleeker countertop supports and cantelivered countertop edges. Stacked moldings have pared back or disappeared entirely. Elaborately glazed finishes have yielded to simpler paints and stains. Bottom cabinets or islands are often a different color that upper cabinets, but in a toned down matte finish.
  • Streamlined Looks. Minimalist and uncluttered. Cabinetry is following the “less-is-more” trend with clean lines and simple moldings and finishes, which are easier to maintain as well. Flat-panel and Shaker doors are popular. People are also mixing it up with horizontal cabinets. Hiding appliances behind cabinet doors is a continuing trend, in keeping with the minimalist trend.¬†Open shelving is becoming more popular, with fewer cabinets and easy access to items.
  • Streamlined Looks. Minimalist and uncluttered. Cabinetry is following kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeownersthe “less-is-more” trend with clean lines and simple moldings and finishes, which are easier to maintain as well. Flat-panel and Shaker doors are popular. People are also mixing it up with horizontal cabinets. Hiding appliances behind cabinet doors is a continuing trend, in keeping with the minimalist trend.¬†Open shelving is becoming more popular, with fewer cabinets and easy access to items.
  • Kitchen finishes have gotten warmer and darker, and feature natural and stained woods. Walnut especially is growing in popularity. Although stainless-steel appliances are still popular, various other metals with toned down finishes are becoming popular.
  • Appliance Trends. Stainless steel appliances have been popular for 2 decades, longer than most design trends. They are still very popular, but we’re beginning to see other popular options in growing demand, like brushed nickle, pewter, copper, polished chrome and oil rubbed bronze. French door refrigerators, and bottom freezer drawers are still most popular. Expensive professional-style appliances such as free-standing stainless steel gas ranges, the trend for years, are losing popularity. They are being replaced¬†by sleek induction cook tops paired with double wall ovens. Under-counter options are a growing trend, with drawers that double as refrigerators, wine storage or¬†a pull out microwave.
  • kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeowners

Related: 12 Hot Kitchen Appliance Trends

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Trend #3: Technology expands its kitchen presence

Many of the techno products and trends that relate to your smartphones and tablets are not only making their way into your local showrooms and home centers, they are an everyday occurrence in homes we show.

  • Appliances are equipped with USB ports and digital screens so you can display your family photographs and kids‚Äô artwork.
  • Smart, induction built-in cooktops ($500-$3,000) remember your temperature settings as you move your pans across their entire surface.
  • One light finger touch is all it takes to open the electronically controlled sliding doors of your kitchen cabinets ‚ÄĒ a boon to people with limited mobility. You‚Äôll pay 40% to 70% more for cabinets with electronically controlled doors than standard models.
  • Use your smart phones and tablets to control lights and appliance settings from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection. Shop for appliances from major manufacturers right from your device.
  • Technology in the Kitchen is increasing, with Wi-Fi enabled appliances, Energy Star rated appliances, and low-E windows. This app —> goes with the above coffee system, an example of smarter appliances! Look for more home-centered technologies in the next few years, as the “internet of things” increases, and more and more new tech products receive crowd-funding.
  • Many are opting for LEDs for recessed lights, under-cabinet task lighting and color-changing accent lighting. We see more LED-powered pendants and chandeliers from major manufacturers as inefficient incandescent bulbs continue their march toward extinction.
  • A wide selection of affordable microwave ovens with convection and even steam features gives owners of smaller kitchen spaces more high-end cooking power.

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Trend #4: Eco-Friendly Kitchens

  • Eco-Friendly Design. Glass walls, French and sliding doors, and large windows are desirable in today’s kitchens, to bring the outdoors in. Patios, decks and “outdoor rooms” are ideally suited directly off the kitchen. Reclaimed wood is hot, and bamboo is growing in popularity for more than just floors. Bamboo countertops are showing up in kitchens.
  • Repurpose and Upcycle¬†works just as well in the kitchen as the rest of the house. The big trend is the industrial look. Using industrial light fixtures works well in the kitchen. Repurposing large industrial pieces like shelves or cabinets for use in a kitchen is also very trendy.

Trend #5: Universal Design

  • Aging in place is becoming important to boomers. We’re also seeing many more families living multiple generation households. Design trends include fixtures and features that are ideal for aging in place, like touch-activated and pull-out faucets,¬†widened door and hallways, multi-level cabinets and non-slip flooring.
  • While many homeowners are planning to stay in their homes longer, they are thinking about selecting a style they¬†like today, and will still like in the future. Classic looks are in.

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Today’s Kitchen Design is Full of Choices

  • Lighting is another aspect of kitchen design that has changed over the last few years. There is no longer a sense of “right and wrong” lighting.¬†As our kitchens are on display from several living areas, people are choosing light fixtures that are not traditional kitchen choices. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you have adequate lighting for three types of needs: overall lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. As with appliances and cabinets, there are a plethora of colors and metallics to choose from in the coming years.
  • Kitchen Sinks are no longer one of two choices, stainless or white. Colors are coming back into style in today’s sinks. Colors that will blend with the rest of the decor are being considered. ¬†The latest kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for homeowners include a variety of color-friendly choices.
  • Natural flooring materials such as ceramic, stone, hardwood and cork are favorites, along with reclaimed and distressed wood finishes in wider, hand scraped planks.
  • Backsplashes of glossy ceramic, porcelain or glass tile in either subtle or bold color combinations ‚Ästsometimes even a combination of both¬†are in demand.¬†Again, kitchens are increasingly “on display”, so more thought is put into the design of each aspect.Here are some great tips on creating a backsplash that will make your kitchen a show stopper: 20 Neutral Backsplash Tiles for Kitchens, by Debbie Gartner.
  • Task specialization is a growing consideration in kitchen design, withthought to smarter, if smaller spaces. Pot fillers, built-in cutting boards, coffee and drink stations, appliance “garage” storage spaces, pull-out drawers instead of traditional cabinet doors, warming drawers, and specialized home management spaces are examples.Kitchen Color Trends. Modern kitchens are open to the living spaces of the home, and have a need to blend in with the rest of the decor. Kitchen colors are moving away from stark whites and more toward creamy neutrals, with pops of color. Nature is a strong influence on color choices today, with greens, blues and browns popular. Gray is still the hottest neutral, and is showing up in kitchen cabinets.
  • Cabinet color choices include painted, stained and matte finishes, with muted earth tones and pastels as popular choices. When cabinets are on display¬†from the other living spaces, color choices open up from the usual wood finishes, although still popular and with more choices than ever, to colors that are in keeping with the whole design. So it’s not surprising that darker cabinets are becoming popular. Mixing uppers and lowers is also a trend.With quality paints, updating your cabinets by painting them is a viable option. What colors to choose? Here’s some great advice from our expert Debbie Gartner: Best Paint Choices for Kitchen Cabinets

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Helpful Resources for Kitchen Design and Decorating:

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Why You Should Care About Decorating Trends

If you are thinking about selling your home in the near future, making updates, kitchen and decorating trends matter when selling your homewhether small touches or renovations, you will want to research kitchen trends to consider when selling your home. There are several reasons kitchen decorating and remodeling trends are important for homeowners to stay on top of. There are several reasons why updating your kitchen is worth the effort:

  • A home that is outdated will be less appealing to today’s buyers. There are sure to be other homes on the market in competition with yours. Presenting your home in the best possible condition will give you a competitive edge.
  • An home that is outdated is judged more harshly by buyers. Buyers tend to draw the conclusion that other items in the home have not been kept up either, like maintenance and care.
  • Even small updates and decorating choices can send a subliminal message to buyers…that the home is up-to-date and¬†well-kept.
  • Staging a home for sale can help the home’s presentation, allowing buyers to “see” themselves living in the spaces in the home.
  • Kitchens and baths are important rooms in a home, often requiring the most money to update. When a buyer sees an outdated kitchen, if they aren’t deterred, they start to subtract from the offering price.
  • It can be amazing to see a home be transformed by a little bit of decorating and staging, that is in otherwise great condition!

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Plan Your Kitchen Design or Redesign Carefully

Remember the basics in kitchen design. While kitchen trends come and go, some things will always need to be considered. Design specialists refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as the kitchen triangle, the area of greatest activity which requires careful planning and lots of access. When in doubt, it may be worth it to consult a professional designer. Botching a kitchen design or renovation can be a very costly mistake. Many of the large home improvement stores have design services and software that could prove to be very helpful.

Are You Designing a Kitchen for A New Home?

Lucky you! Here are some helpful tips on Kitchen Design from National Home Builders Association.

  • Home Buyers want multi-functional islands
  • Multiple seating and wrap-around seating is popular
  • The island is the focal point
  • Pantries are in demand
  • People want decorative light fixtures in the kitchen that are also functional
  • Recessed lighting is still popular
  • Layered lighting is desired to achieve the previous two¬†‚ÜĎ
  • Consumers are not stuck on stainless-steel appliances anymore.
  • Color is back in the kitchen
  • Mixed Metals is a big trend

Read more at: So much cooking in the latest kitchen designs.



For more Design Inspiration all Over the House:

Home Design Trends

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kitchen design trends

Virtual Remodeling and Decorating

Virtual Remodeling and Decorating

Want a better way to decorate, renovate, or prepare your Frederick home for sale? Rather than running to every store to check out every possible combination of paint, flooring materials, countertops, fixtures, appliances and furniture, it’s now possible to do all of the leg-work virtually. Virtual remodeling and redecorating is no longer a future promise. You can view a large¬†number of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites, as well as other cloud-based tools and apps for homeowners.

⌨¬†Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Home Improvement? Thanks to today’s technologies, you can do so from your desktop, laptop or your tablet or your smartphone. Most likely…¬†There’s an app for that!¬†

virtual remodeling and redecorating
     [Photo by Concept Candie Interiors ]

Big Brand Stores

It is now possible to view an amazing selection of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites. Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA and other major retailers offer on-line visitors the opportunity to experiment with virtual remodeling and redecorating tools without ever leaving the comfort of their home or office chair.

1. On the¬†Home Depot website, DIY¬†designers can virtually remodel every room of a home, from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen.¬† While in the kitchen, homeowners can use the “Kitchen Visualizer”, with the ability to choose by brand, kitchen layout, or style. With this tool one can combine paint colors with cabinet and flooring options.¬† Appliances can be added in white, black or stainless, with a choice of several kinds of¬†cabinets. ¬†You can finish it off with multiple types and shades of countertops…you might have a beautiful end product, or you might find that your imagination is a nightmare! In that¬†case, you simply direct your mouse to start over again.

The Home Depot Mobile App is a great tool to use “augmented reality” to see how a new door, or faucet, or appliance…¬†or practically anything, will look like on or in your home. And of course, you can snap a picture and share it with friends and family. The same principle applies when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.¬† The software provides opportunities to create color palettes, save design schemes and even order paint, floor coverings and other products on-line.

2. On the IKEA website, several helpful tools are available for planning your rooms as well as your storage solutions. With most of the design groups and with major rooms, there is a “plan your storage” solution.

IKEA’s¬†Kitchen Planner Tool allows a kitchen to be created from dimensions the user supplies.¬† This kitchen remodeling software also allows users to add and remove cabinets, change drawer fronts and handles, replace the work tops and appliances.¬† Once the design is complete, the final plans can be emailed to IKEA‚Äôs Home Shopping Kitchen Consultants who will review the plan and provide information on appliances, sink, faucets, countertop and interior fittings.

3. Using Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer, reinventing a home on-line is made simple.  Users have the choice of redesigning a room from scratch or using one of the room templates that is available through the software.  The redesigned rooms can be viewed from a variety of angles and perspectives.  The final designs can be saved and printed.


Our 8 Favorite Decorating Apps

💻¬†Home Improvement Websites

4. On the General Electric website, do-it-yourselfers can choose a kitchen that most closely resembles their own from a variety of kitchen design photos.  The kitchen can be reassembled from the floor up, and colors and product options are many.  Clicking on a appliance or other kitchen feature brings up information about each model.

5. House Beautiful website has a Custom 3-D Design tool for designing your dream kitchen (with Tyler Florence, no less!) You can try out new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and accessories with a drag-and-drop feature to create a custom, 3D design.

virtual remodeling and redecorating Virtual Tools

6. Google offers a free design tool that allows users to create 3D virtual models of any room in a home, including the bathroom, kitchen and living area. The level of technical savvy is a bit more complicated with Google SketchUp, but the rewards are many.

The tool projects rooms from different angles and the angles can be changed at any point.  A home can even be viewed from the outside looking in. The elements library provides templates for couches, beds and kitchen tables to see how they look within the layout.  Other features of Google SketchUp include creating blueprints of the designs, and printing out layouts to take to a contractor or hardware store.

7.¬†I just read about a new app, called TapMeasure, that you can use to easily measure spaces and objects. You can create 2D floor plans and simple measurements, as well as use it for ‚Äúsmart leveling,‚ÄĚ to make sure your pictures are perfectly straight. The service also features something called 3D Room Builder which basically lets you create a 3D model of your space quickly, where it can then be uploaded to 3D modeling software, SketchUp. ‚áϬ†You can add doors, windows, whatever you might have in the space, and generate accurate models of your room because TapMeasure is constantly measuring everything for accurate representations.

Sadly, it doesn’t work on my iPhone 6…it’s too old. ūüôĀ

Here’s a video demonstration on TapMeasure:


8. Magic Plan takes photos of your space and converts them into floor plans with accurate measurements. This tool is perfect for virtual remodeling and redecorating. For an added fee, these plans can be exported in PDF, JPG, and DXF formats to share with contractors, designers, or realtors.  Available for iOS; free

9.  Home Design 3D Gold A new interior or exterior design plan is as easy to devise as dragging and dropping. This architectural app lets you import floorplans and change the space itself. You can visualize new openings, raise ceilings, or take out entire walls. Then add in the furniture and other amenities of your choice. Work in either 2-D or 3-D, and share projects with collaborators who can make modifications with you in real time. $9.99 for Android and iOS

🌿¬†Virtual Landscaping

10. On the Better Homes and Garden website, free software is available not just for¬†room planning, but to help sculpt the landscape of front and back yards.¬† The software,¬†Plan-a-Garden, allows the homeowner to design anything from a patio-side container garden to the entire yard.¬† Utilizing the ‚Äúdrag-and-drop‚ÄĚ method, users can select and view more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers for their landscape.¬† Dozens of structures like buildings, sheds, fences, decks ‚ÄĒ even a pond can also be added to the picture. The software then allows the designs to be printed to take to home centers and garden stores.

All of these sites are full of how-to’s and tutorials, videos, and blog articles, as well as photos galore for inspiration.

As you can see, the choices are many for virtual design tools. Any DIY homeowner can get a good start on updating or personalizing their home. Even if you plan on hiring a professional, these tools can be very useful for initial planning and visualizing what you want to accomplish. And they can be fun to use!

🛋¬†Design Inspiration

11.¬†My favorite site for inspiration, planning, organizing, saving and even buying, is You can set up your own “ideabooks” and save images, designs and products you like. You can follow your friends and find professionals in your area. If you sign up for Houzz, be sure to find me there and follow me! I’m always interested in anything concerning decorating and home improvement.

And be sure to join me on Pinterest! I’m looking forward to receiving and¬†sharing all the good ideas!

Follow The Highland Group’s board Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

🎨¬†Choosing a Paint Color

12. Color Capture: Benjamin Moore’s cool app allows you to snap a picture of any color inspiration you see. It will match you to the most exact paint available to purchase from its collection of 3,300 color options.

13. Color911 Create and save color palettes for your next decorating project with the Color911 app. Color specialist Amy Wax has generated more than 80 downloadable color themes. Additionally, you can create a palette based on a photograph taken on your device and organize favorite colors into folders, then share by email.  Available for iOS; $4

14.¬†ColorSnap¬†¬†Sherman-Williams has solved your desire to splash the palette of your favorite landscape‚ÄĒor textile, or work of art, or any other source of inspiration‚ÄĒonto your interior. The app can analyze the colors of any photo on your smartphone and let you know which shade of Sherman-Williams paint it matches.¬† A 1,500-shade inventory makes it very handy.¬†Free for Android and iOS

🛍¬†Shopping Appsvirtual remodeling and redecorating

15. LikeThat Decor: When you see a piece of furniture you like, take a picture on your phone, and the app will instantly match you with similar pieces available to purchase. It makes shopping super easy.

16. Rooomy Visualizing how new furniture will look in a space can be a challenge. This app has the ability to convert 2-D photos into 3-D renderings. Rooomy allows homeowners and designers to envision different configurations of art and furnishings in a specific space, with direct links to retailers when they settle on the perfect pieces. Available for iOS; free

📐¬†Bonus App!

17. iHandy Level –¬†a must when it comes to hanging shelves or art, iHandy level is a super-sensitive digital device to ensure that everything in your home hangs straight.¬†Free, available for¬†iOS¬†and¬†Android

Here’s to more doing!¬†If You have a remodeling project in mind,¬†contact us¬†for a list of professionals we‚Äôre proud to recommend.

Thanks to David Goldberg for contributing to portion of this article on virtual remodeling and redecorating.  David Goldberg is our home inspector of choice, we’ve been referring our buyer clients to David for over 25 years.  He’s the best:)

David Goldberg –¬† Home Inspector
phone: 301-913-9213
fax:  301-774-4554
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

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Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Bathroom Trends for Best ROI

If you’re considering a remodel, or even a sprucing up your home, it’s always a good idea to check out the latest design and decor trends. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to update, and they often can make or break a home sale. A little research into what’s on trend is always wise if you plan to sell your home in the near future. Bathroom design trends 2018 are eclectic and broad so you’ll be sure to find something that fits your home.

My search around the world wide web has brought me several sources of reliable information…Elle Decor, Huffinton Post, House Beautiful and DIY Network, and, of course Pinterest, are faithful stand-by’s. Angie’s List has some great information about bathroom design trends for the coming year, and its’ a great resource to find¬†contractors.

Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Trend #1:  Conservation Rules

In many areas around the country, water reserves are stressed. In response, regional governments are implementing conservation measures. As a result, there are likely to be new regulations that’ll affect your construction or remodeling plans. Here’s what to watch for:

Environmentally Friendly

Water-saving toilets are more in demand. The flush that used to be 7 gallons a decade ago is now 1.2 gallons. Consider a dual-flush version, or any low-flow toilet coming on the market that meets your style preferences. You’ll find them at home improvement centers from $100 to luxury showroom models for thousands more.

The WaterSense label,¬†launched in 2006 by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote water conservation by plumbing manufacturers and home owners, is becoming as well-known as Energy Star. We’re seeing more low-flow shower heads and faucets with the WaterSense symbol on the box. Just as with Energy Star appliances, there is no cost premium associated with WaterSense savings ‚ÄĒ there are faucets in every price range.

Water-saving shower heads are the norm. Low-flow shower heads of today have beautiful designs, especially rain shower models. A typical shower head will use anywhere between 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute, while a low-flow head lowers that to 2.5 gallons or less with the same amount of water pressure. By adding air, not water to the mix, these shower heads put out strong water pressure. They’re available in every price range, from ultra-affordable standard heads to luxury rain showers.

Modern motion sensor faucets are increasingly available to homeowners. Most major bathroom fixture manufacturers have them.

Trend # 2: Technology

The increased use of technology in our homes over the last few years is a well-known fact. Now we’re seeing it in the bathroom.¬†According to the¬†2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, demand for bathroom technologies increased from 19 percent in 2016 to 26 percent in 2017.

Hand showers, high-tech faucets, LED lighting, and advanced electronics are in demand, but not just for the sake of the technology. Homeowners are looking for more control and convenience. You can create a custom showering experience more affordably.

Consider a Digital Showering System…with smart features like a warm-up mode, a timer, and a way to pause water flow. Remote control is becoming common in the bathroom…TV, stereo, windows and window treatments are easily controlled. There are smartphone apps for everything.

For $300 for simple controllers to $3,500 or more for a complete luxury installation, programmable showers let you digitally set your preferred water temperature, volume, and even massage settings before you step in. To achieve a personalized showering experience, you‚Äôll need a 120-volt power source, and a thermostatic valve and controller in addition to your standard shower head or heads. Luxury models may include a steam system, a wi-fi source for music, multiple body spray outlets, tankless water heater, and a secondary controller to start the system from another room. I don’t even want to find out how much these systems might cost, ha.

bathroom trends 2018

Heated floors are common these days. It is actually more cost-effective that most methods of heating.

Many home shows across the country offered the smart toilet, from several major brands. The smart toilet features include luxury conveniences such as hands-free flushing, automated lid opening and closing, and seat heating. (no more middle-of-the-night surprises when someone left the lid up;)

Dock your iPhone or MP3 player directly with your speaker-equipped, high-tech toilet so you can entertain yourself on the commode. While you’re not likely to invest $4,000 for a Kohler Numi toilet using this technology today, start looking for competitive models with lower prices as this technology becomes more available and in demand.

Catch up on news and weather while you brush your teeth. Television screens are being integrated into medicine cabinets and vanity mirrors. The cost is still at a premium: $2,200 to $2,400 price tag.

Plug your smart phone or MP3 player into your medicine cabinet so you won’t miss a call or song while getting ready for work or bed. A built-in jack keeps your unit charged (and away from wet countertops) and linked into a built-in speaker system.

Trend # 3:  Aging Demographics Emphasize Safety in the Bathroom

It‚Äôs not just high-tech that‚Äôs bringing an ‚Äúexperience‚ÄĚ to the bathroom. Trends in universal design features add comfort, convenience, and safety. But that doesn‚Äôt mean your bathroom has to look institutional. Here are some universal design innovations that can fit into your bathroom remodeling plans:

Sleek, low-profile linear drains¬†are ideal for creating safe, zero-threshold shower designs. Unlike standard round drain covers that are typically mounted near the front end of a shower, these long, straight drains can be installed in different locations to minimize the slope of the shower floor. One popular location is at the outside edge of the shower, creating a wheelchair-friendly curbless shower. More offerings in more finishes ‚ÄĒ including nearly invisible tile-in channel models that are largely covered by shower floor tile ‚ÄĒ are becoming the standard for upscale spaces. You‚Äôll spend $500 to $900 for a quality linear drain.

The accessible tub is no longer limited to the high-walled, narrow-door format that dominated the market in the last decade. Newer models, such as Kohler’s Elevance, employ rising panels in front that give more of a traditional tub look with easier entry and exit. Others use standard hinged, sealed doors, but are increasing door width by several inches for better accessibility and appearance.

Touch-free faucets are making their way into the bathroom. The prices have come down substantially from their first appearance, making them an affordable option for most budgets.

The rapidly-expanding selection of porcelain, glass, and ceramic tiles makes it easy to find slip-resistant, low-maintenance floors that don’t skimp on style. Expect to see faux wood, linen, and uniquely-textured looks for tiled bathroom floors and walls. The texture adds both visual impact and better traction for wet feet.

Trend #4: Overall Decor… Old Rules are Out… Zen is In!

Modern bathroom design trends are moving towards a bathroom that fits in with the decor in the rest of the home. The color combinations, architectural designs, and a blend of luxury and comfort are more personal and individual.

Today’s homeowners are demanding more style choices, more elegance and more choices in lighting and fixtures. Personal style reigns in the bathroom.¬†A lot of the old rules are out, so go ahead and hang a chandelier over the tub. A touch of elegance adds to the luxury feel. Artwork is showing up in the bathroom…you might as well have something to gaze upon as you luxuriate in your own home spa!

Industrial Decor bathroom design trends 2018

Like the design trends in the main living spaces of the home, the bathroom can easily be treated to industrial decor. Light fixtures, shower rods, exposed pipes and re-purposed industrial pieces are at home in the bathroom. A variety of metals can mix comfortably with industrial design.


We are more in tune to the experience we have in our homes, how our rooms make us feel. More than before, people want to have a spa-like experience at home. As life becomes more stressful, the ability to have a relaxing retreat in our own bathroom is in demand. Look for:

  • Expansive Walk-In showers, with various shower heads and spray systems. Multi-head showers are the epitome of luxury in a large shower. Doorless and curb-less showers are really hot. And they are great for seniors. As we see more multi-generational housing, we see¬†universal design features like¬†no threshold showers¬†on the rise.
  • More frequently, people are opting out of a bathtub.¬†Or, to save space, more stand-alone tubs are being purchased. In the past, free-standing tubs have been very expensive designer features, but as demand goes up, generally prices come down. Hopefully this will be true for these gorgeous bathroom features.
  • Steam showers are reported to have many health benefits. More people looking for a spa getaway at home are incorporating steam showers.
  • For new homes, we’ll be seeing a fireplace in the bathroom for the ultimate luxury and comfort experience.


Natural and organic materials like natural stone, concrete, timber and timber veneers are increasing in popularity. Timber paneling reminiscent of the 70s sauna, but in an updated version, is making a quiet comeback. On trend with the rest of the home, designers are bringing plants, wicker, baskets and natural materials into the bathroom to enhance the spa-like feel.

Form and Function Meet


Bathroom Design Trends 2018Along with the need for Zen in a complicated world, the bathroom styles are becoming more streamlined, hiding hardware and pipes, for a cleaner look. Lines are simple, materials are less fussy.

In case you haven’t had a chance to get one of those trendy bowl-shaped sinks, they are going out of style. People are opting for under-mounted sinks. Pedestal sinks and sinks with legs are becoming popular.

Dedicated Spaces

There will be more individual spaces, zones‚ÄĒdedicated dressing and makeup areas and water closets.

Colors for 2018

Colors seem to fall in and out of favor quickly these days. Every paint company comes out with the “color-of-the-year”…and every new year you’re out of style! According to House Beautiful, the overall trend for several years has been moving to bolder and richer colors. The bathroom seems like a great place to play with color. You can try Benjamin Moore’s Caliente, or Behr’s In the Moment, or Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside. It’s easy to change out curtains, towels and accessories in a bathroom without committing long term to colors that might end up dating your bathroom in a couple of years.


While the style is becoming more minimalist and streamlined, many bathroom designers are balancing the clean lines with warmth, texture and furniture. The bathroom is being treated as one of the “heart of the home” spaces, just like the kitchen. You’ll find glossy wood, fabrics, and wallpaper.

Mirrors are more than just functional, they can be of different shapes, full length, and backlighted, an addition to the overall design.

Quartz countertops are the new thing. Marble is also showing up in the newest designs. Granite is not as popular as it has been in the past, but still demand. Other innovative countertop materials that have been showing up in the kitchen are now showing up in bathrooms… like manufactured products, bamboo, concrete and recycled glass.

Glass tile is still very popular. The colors are many and can fit in with any design concept. Subway tile is also very trendy and compliments any design or color scheme.


Bathroom Design Trends 2018

    Farmhouse Bathroom by Kohler Kitchen & Bath Fixtures Kohler


Bathrooms Matter

According to Remodeling Magazine, kitchens and baths sell homes. In the hottest housing markets, updating a kitchen or bath is often a good idea, with a return on investment nearing 100%.  Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas are one of those hot markets. Keep bathroom design trends 2018 in mind.

For More Ideas and Eye Candy, Enjoy Karen’s Pinterest Board: Kitchen Trends:


For further reading:

Decorating Trends 

Kitchen Trends

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Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life

Home Safety Tips from the Home Inspector:
A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life


What is Carbon Monoxide and why do I need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and potentially dangerous gas produced when fuel burns without enough air for complete combustion. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, paleness and cherry red lips and ears.If symptoms are noticed, it is advised that you immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the home or structure, call 911 and get outside into fresh air. Later, have appliances checked carefully by a qualified heating contractor.

Purchase and install a¬†carbon monoxide detector¬†on each level of your home and near sleeping areas, in rooms over or near a garage, in the basement or other isolated area, and in rooms where space heaters are used. Detectors that have been verified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and have been manufactured after October 1995 conform to minimum alarm requirements. Those marked UL 2034 or IAS 6‚Äď96 have met the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. Follow the directions for installing and using the detector carefully.

As you can see the prices and types vary:

carbon monoxide detector saves lives

To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Have your chimney and flue cleaned every year.
  • Get a qualified inspector to check appliances and heating systems each year.
  • Be sure all home appliances have adequate ventilation.
  • Don‚Äôt rely on carbon monoxide detectors as a substitute for maintaining appliances, furnaces or chimneys.
  • Be sure burner flames in appliances and heating systems are blue, not orange.
  • Never use a gas range for space heating.
  • Never run an automobile or gasoline engine in an enclosed space.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.

Thanks for this helpful guest post from our favorite home inspector!

David Goldberg¬† –¬†¬†Home Inspector
phone:  301-913-9213
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
ASHI Member #101584 
MD License #29322

a carbon monoxide detector could save your life

Chris & Karen Highland 
eXp Realty ‚Äď 301-401-5119

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