Suite Luxury Tips For Your Bedroom

Question: Could you share a few budget-friendly ideas my clients can use to add value and comfort to their master bedrooms? John Spadaro, CENTURY 21 Universal Real Estate, Chicago, Illinois

One of the biggest influences on today’s master bedroom is the boutique hotel suite. I’ve designed many and can tell you that turning your bedroom into a five-star experience is easier than you might think. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

• Unburden walk-in closets with an armoire for “him.” He can place his suits there and keep the two of you from fighting to get dressed every morning.

• Lean a great mirror with a thick frame up against a wall. It can function as a full-length dressing mirror while adding architectural interest to your room. And of course, it visually expands the space as it bounces light from wall to wall.

• Add a beverage station and mini fridge. For a little money, you can get a coffeepot, bottled waters, and even a mini bar. Have that first cup of coffee or last glass of wine in private, away from household commotion.

• Consider replacing worn wall-to-wall carpet with hardwood flooring. It wears better and adds value to your home. Add area rugs for comfort—they’re investments you can take with you, should you sell your home. Remember how wonderful a fuzzy sheepskin or all-natural-fiber shag rug feels on bare toes?

CHRISTOPHER LOWELL, an Emmy Award-winning interior designer and TV host, is known for doable design advice that nets stunning results.


Recommended Reading:

-Ask Our Expert: Budget Friendly Bathroom Updates

-Small Changes, Big Differences: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Give Your Home a New Look

-5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great


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Money Matters: How to Decrease Your Energy Bill this Winter

Keeping your home warm during the winter months is essential, but your heating bills can add up quickly. You may think there is no hope when it comes to decreasing heating bills—you have to stay warm, so what are the alternatives? Think again and use these tips for helping to decrease your energy bill during the cold, winter months.

1. Change furnace filter: Furnace filters only cost a few dollars and can be installed easily. Over time, furnace filters can become clogged, making your furnace run less efficiently. Unclog the filter to save money. (

2. Replace light bulbs: Changing out your halogen or incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs is a great way to decrease costs. Fluorescent bulbs use 75% less energy than others, which won’t make you feel guilty about turning those lights on for the 5 pm sunset.

3. Attic insulation: Make sure that your insulation doesn’t just cover attic walls, but the floors as well. Uninsulated floors can cause heat to escape through the roof and make your home feel colder than it actually is. (

4. Adjust thermostat: You can save 10% on your yearly bill if you lower your thermostat 10-15 degrees for 8 hours. It’s best to do this during the day when it’s not as cold.

5. Humidifier: Investing in a humidifier can do wonders for your home. When your thermostat is turned down, a humidifier will keep the air moist and make the temperature feel warmer. (Daily Finance)

6. Use LED holiday lights: Keeping holiday lights running for a significant amount of time can really add up. Switch out regular lights for LED ones since they use 80-90% less energy. If you want to deck your halls for the holiday season, don’t rack up your energy bill in the process.

7. Raise the shades: The cheapest way to warm up your home? Pull open your blinds and curtains! Letting sunlight into a room is a good way to keep your house warm and energy bills low. (SF Gate)

Making your home more energy efficient can not only save you money and keep your home warm, but it can also reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Why not save money while making your home a better place to live?


Recommended Reading:

-Keep Your Home Cool Without Touching the Thermostat

-Summer Savings: 5 Ways to Decrease Your Energy Bill

-How To Decorate Your Home on a Budget

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Inspection Protection

You’ve found the ideal house in a great location. Before you start packing your moving boxes, make sure it’s a sound investment too. Most of us wouldn’t dream of buying a used car without a mechanical checkup. Yet with only a couple of 20-minute walk-throughs, we consider buying a home that’s much more expensive. That makes little sense to Joseph Zagone with CENTURY 21 Aspen Real Estate in Ruidoso, New Mexico. “An inspection is one of the best investments a buyer can make,” he says.

Here’s what you should know—and what not to ask.

What to Expect: The inspector will check all components in your house, leaving termite, septic system, and well inspections to specialists. (Here is a list of checkpoints.) A typical inspection costs $300–$400 and takes about three hours. Even if you’re an out of state buyer, arrange to tag along, Zagone says. You can see problems firsthand and you may learn valuable things such as where to find the water shutoffs.

Why it Pays: Experienced do-it-yourselfer Rebecca Anderson didn’t think an inspection would find anything she hadn’t noticed—until the inspector opened up the furnace and discovered a cracked heat exchanger. The upshot? The sellers threw in half the cost of a new furnace.

The Forbidden Question: Only one question I off-limits: “Should I buy this house or not?” That decision is yours alone. “I tell them to read the report completely and call me with questions,” says Gary Havens, owner of Good Havens Home Inspections in greater Minneapolis/St. Paul. “If I feel real comfortable about it, I’ll say I’d feel good about my kids buying it.”

The Seller’s Role: There is nothing to keep a seller from being present for the inspection too, though Zagone doesn’t encourage it. He prefers to help his potential seller line up a handyman beforehand to repair any existing problems. It’s also wise to initiate a separate inspection of your own. Learn more on under the “Selling Advice” tab.

Joe Zagone CENTURY 21 Aspen Real Estate, Ruidoso, New Mexico;

HIS CODE: “I want to know about any problems and have them remedied before I place a house on the market. My goal is win-win negotiating, to sell a sound house with no surprises at the correct price.”

OFF-HOURS: In the winter Joe serves as a certified ski instructor on nearby slopes. In warmer weather—even in winter—he makes good use of the seven golf courses in his area.

WHAT GOT HIM INTO REAL ESTATE: “My dad wasan engineer and later a real estate agent in this area. I took economics and marketing in college and worked as a carpenter’s helper in the summers. It all added up to a great background for becoming an agent. I love it.” He’s been in real estate 30 years and has been the top-producing CENTURY 21® Professional Champion in New Mexico for seven of the last eight years. He and his wife, Joan—also a Sales Professional—have five children.


Recommended Reading:

-Bring on the Patterns: How to Combine Designs with Confidence

-Ask Our Expert: First Things First

-We Asked, You Answered: Advice for First Time Homeowners


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Let the Games Begin: Which District Should You Live In?

May the odds be ever in your favor!

It’s the time of the year when your favorite movie franchises hit the big screen. Whether it’s vampires, wizards, or victors, you can always identify with one of your favorite characters (even if you don’t agree with their personal aspirations). In this case, you may be able to identify with a particular district because each one is different and unique in its own way.

We’re not saying we’d want to participate in the ever famous Games, but take the quiz and keep track of your answers to figure out which district of Panem you belong to!

1. Which material do you prefer to have in your home?

  1. Marble
  2. Wood
  3. Water
  4. Stone

2. If you could decorate with only one color, which would you choose?

  1. Pink
  2. Brown
  3. Blue
  4. Black

3. What is your favorite food to make?

  1. Caviar
  2. Fish
  3. Chili
  4. Bread

4. What is your favorite activity?

  1. Interior Design
  2. Swimming
  3. Camping
  4. Hunting


Now it’s time for your results…

If you chose mostly As, you belong in The Capitol!

You enjoy the finer things in life and are more creative than most of your contemporaries. You love being in control, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

If you chose mostly Bs, you belong in District 4!

District 4 is the fishing district so if you love the water, you belong here! Your parents were helping you achieve their your dream career path since you could walk. You follow along (for the most part) but you have rebellious side that comes out when tested.

If you chose mostly C, you belong in District 7!

You’ve had an ax to grind with people for as long as you can remember. You may have been the tree in your school play every single year. This is the district responsible for lumber and wood. If you adore being outdoors and love nature, District 7 is the place for you.

If you chose mostly D, you belong in District 12!

Well aren’t you a regular Katniss Everdeen! District 12 is the coal mining district but also home to the girl on fire. You may not have had a lot of money growing up, but you know how to make do. You’re decisive and you’re never on the fence (partially because it is an electric fence…).

For entertainment purposes only.

Recommended Reading:

-The Ultimate Home Personality Quiz

-Carrie, Seinfeld, and Friends: NYC Apartments Straight from the Screen

-10 Real Houses Where Your Favorite Scary Movie May Have Occurred


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Open House Advice for Buyers

You may fall in love with a home based upon it’s online listing but don’t forget to visit it in person before you make the commitment. Visiting an open house is a great way to get a feel for the property and see if it will work for you and your family.

Keep these things in mind during the open house to ensure that you get the most out of your visit.

1. Keep a poker face: Don’t be overly enthusiastic. It is best to remain calm, cool, and collected. Dull your emotions, whether good or bad, so you don’t compromise your position as a buyer. (

2. Pay close attention: Pay attention to everything. Keep a look out for cracks in walls and ceilings, damages to the floors, and the windows. Watch the other attendee’s reactions to certain things. If you see people abruptly leaving, there may be something wrong with the home. If people are mingling and taking their time it may be a sign that it will be a home with a lot of offers. (AOL)

3. Ask before taking photos: While looking at homes, it’s helpful to take photos to help you remember specific features of the home. During an open house, or any showing, it’s best to ask the homeowner before you start snapping pictures. (Frontdoor)

4. Look but don’t snoop: Storage can be a deal breaker when it comes to buying a home. If there isn’t enough room in closets and cabinets, it may sway your opinion. Look through storage spaces but don’t go rummaging through people’s belongings. Respect their home and their space. (Frontdoor)

5. Don’t bad mouth the home: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at the open house. You may walk into a house and dislike it, but try to keep harsh opinions to yourself. Wait until you leave the open house to voice your opinion. You never know who may be listening and how it could work against you in the future. (Frontdoor)

6. Ask questions: Ask the owner, your real estate agent, and the listing real estate agent any question you might have.

Use these tips at every open house to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your home buying experience.


Recommended Reading:

-We Asked, You Answered: Advice for First-Time Homeowners

-Open House Oops: Don’t Make These Mistakes

-Benefits of Working With a Real Estate Agent

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On the Road Again: The Ultimate Moving Checklist

Congratulations! Buying a home is an exciting time for every family. The next step is packing up your current home and moving into your new one. Moving can be overwhelming but, luckily, we have a checklist to help you make your move efficient and organized.

The Ultimate Moving Checklist:

1. Disconnect all utilities: Before you move schedule for your cable, internet, electricity, etc. to be turned off. Call your provider about a month before the move to let them know the date that you want to stop the service.

2. Schedule new utilities: Let there be light! A month before your move, call all your providers to schedule to have your utilities setup.

3. Measure doorways and furniture: Take the extra precaution of measuring all your furniture and doorways in both your new and old home. Inform the movers of the measurements and make sure they have a backup plan in case some pieces can’t fit.

4. Change mailing address: Don’t let your mail get lost in the shuffle. Call your post office five weeks before the big move and let them know of your change in address.

5. Leave a change of address: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Leave a note for the new residents, informing them of your new address. If any stray mail gets through the postal system, they’ll be able to send it your way.

6. Get covered: It seems like a tedious task but it’s important. If you’re moving outside of your current neighborhood, it’s best to call your old pharmacy and transfer all your current prescriptions to a local pharmacy closer to your new home. Tell your doctors that you are moving and ask for referrals and record transfers. If you have children, make sure to register them for school in your new school district.

7. Notify accounts of your move: Whether it’s your newspaper and magazine subscriptions or your credit cards, don’t miss anything. Call all the important companies and providers in your life to give them your new address. Don’t forget to get your homeowners insurance changed to your new address!

8. Tag your furniture for placement: You get to your new home, furniture is all moved in, and it just so happens that everything is in the wrong place. Prevent that by sticking notes on larger pieces of furniture, signifying where they belong in the home.

9. Create a “just in case” kit: If the movers are late or get lost on the way, it’s best to be prepared. Fill a box with cash, a first aid kit, toilet paper, snacks, and any other daily essentials you may need to get yourself through moving day.

10. Get a new driver’s license, voter’s registration, etc.: Changing your address through the postal service and other accounts are important, but don’t forget to take care of personal documents as well. Change your address on your driver’s license, insurance policies, and voter’s registration.

Moving to a new home is the start of a new chapter. Be prepared in all aspects to ensure that you have the best moving experience ever!


Recommended Reading:

-We Asked, You Answered: Advice for First-Time Homeowners

-How to Make a House a Home: Creating Memories

-The 5 Biggest Seller Mistakes


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Things Your Inspector Missed That You Can Still Catch

Home inspections are an important part of the home buying process. Before finalizing an offer, hire a home inspector who will check the condition of the home. A home inspector will check things such as the electrical system, roof, and ventilation. Although a home inspector will thoroughly review a home, his or her main concern is the actual house, not the surrounding areas. It is possible that your home inspector may miss problems around the home.

Evaluate these things before you make an offer.

1. Fences and outdoor buildings: Your inspector may skip the outside portion of your house, so make sure you double check the condition of fences and anything else outside the home. If these features are damaged, they can be an expensive hassle to repair. Make sure your fences, sheds are in top shape before you purchase your home. If they aren’t, you can negotiate your offer. (Credit)

2. Roofing: Inspectors don’t usually go on the roof. They inspect from ground level and may miss a lot of problems. Inspectors will take note of missing shingles or panels but if there is a deeper problem, like a leak, it can be more difficult to identify. Consider hiring a roof contractor to go up on the roof and make sure everything is in excellent condition. (Credit)

3. Drains: This is a little problem that can become a major one if it’s not taken care of. Inspectors may overlook the drainage system or go over it quickly, not giving sinks and tubs enough time to show an issue. Fill up your tubs, showers, and sinks to see if there is a drainage problem. This may be a quick fix with a drain clog remover, or you may need to seek a specialist. (Credit)

4. Air conditioning and heating systems: An inspector might not want to run the air conditioning in freezing temperatures or the heat in 90 degree weather, at risk for ruining the system. For this reason, there may be a bigger problem at hand and you won’t know it. Do your own test of the A/C and heat to determine if there is a problem. (Credit)

5. Fireplaces: A fireplace is a common mistake when it comes to home inspections. Home inspectors may glance at a fireplace and chimney but not make it a priority. Light a fire in the fireplace to make sure it’s safe and that the chimney is in working condition. Hire a professional to clean the chimney if needed. (Credit)

If you think that your home inspector may have missed a few issues, look at them yourself and then make the decision to hire a specialist. This will help you ensure that your home is up to code and is the best home for you!


Recommended Reading:

-Home Safety Tips for the Elderly

-Benefits of Working with a Real Estate Agent

-5 Biggest Seller Mistakes


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From Pullover to Pillow

Create cozy fall decor from old favorites in your wardrobe. If you can’t bear to discard favorite old sweaters that are too small, too big, or too worn, recycle them into beautiful felted-wool pillows.


1. Gather several wool sweaters or scarves that you no longer wear. Mix textures and colors for contrast.

2. Wash each color of wool separately in hot—not warm—water. Dry each color separately at the hottest setting. The heat of the dryer will shrink the wool into tight felt that won’t fray, even when you cut it.

3. Using a purchased pillow form as your guide, cut one large square or overlap two rectangles for the pillow’s back. Pin together rectangles, squares, strips, or circles for the front, adding ribbing, buttons, zippers, or pocket details.

4. Sew the pieces together by hand or machine, or bind them to each other with fusible interfacing. Join the front to the back around the edges, and insert the pillow form. Slip-stitch the opening closed, or make holes for coordinating buttons.

This DIY project is fun and easy, plus it is much less expensive than similar store-bought pillows. Now just curl up with a good book or movie and a hot cup of tea.

Recommended Reading:

-5 DIY Projects You Can Do With Wallpaper

-Just DIY It: 5 Natural Cleaning Products

-Done in One Hour: How to Install a Faucet

-Double Agents: New Uses for Everyday Things

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Which Seinfeld Character Are You?

One of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time may soon be coming to the most popular on demand streaming service in the world!  We can’t wait to be “Masters of our domain,” when we binge watch old Seinfeld episodes on Netflix.

Ever wonder what Seinfeld character you would be? Take the quiz below, and keep track of the numbered answer you choose. (The numbers will determine your score!)

Which style home would you prefer to live in?

1.        A clean and tidy bachelor pad in the city.
2.        The same house that I grew up in.
3.        A beautiful one-bedroom apartment.
4.        A chaotic state of disarray.


Do you like to entertain guests?

1.        Yes, all the time.
2.        No, because I live with my parents.
3.        Yes, but only people I am dating.
4.        No, no one would want to come over.


We’re would you park your car?
1.        Only in a garage.
2.        On the street, but I wait for the perfect spot.
3.        Car? What car?
4.        I’d rather you just drive.


What kind of neighbors do you have?
1.        Nosey. They are always getting into my personal space.
2.        I’ve never cared to meet them.
3.        I’ve developed a bad reputation with them.
4.        Fun to be around. The life of the party.


Where is the perfect weekend getaway?
1.        A bed and breakfast in the suburbs.
2.        Del Boca Vista, Florida.
3.        The Hamptons, of course.
4.        New York Yankees Fantasy Camp.


What afternoon snack would you prefer?
1.        A big bowl of cereal.
2.        Pastrami on rye.
3.        A big salad.
4.        A Mackinaw peach.


How would you describe your job?
1.        It’s fun, but I’m usually working nights.
2.        I basically sleep under my desk at work.
3.        I have an office job, with a crazy boss.
4.        Job? I get by just fine.


Answer Key


If you score between:

7-12: You’re Jerry!

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”


13-18: You’re George!

“I invented ‘It’s not you, it’s me’! No one tells me it’s them. If it’s anyone, it’s me!”

19-24: You’re Elaine!

“Yada, yada, yada.”


25+: You’re Kramer!

“These pretzels are making me thirsty!”


Recommended Reading:

-If Houses Had #Hashtags

-7 Reasons That You’re Secretly Jealous of YOur DollHouse Family

-90′s Nostalgia: Doppelgängers to our Favorite ’90s Television Homes


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6 Natural Home Decor Ideas

Contribution by Andrea Davis, HomeAdvisor

Can’t get enough of the outdoors? If you want more of it in your home without maintaining a jungle, then consider alternatives. Here are some top ideas for homeowners wanting that extra touch:

1. Add natural elements: One of the easiest ways to incorporate the outdoors indoors is literally to add it to your home decor. It might be pebbles, wood, straw, leaves and other pieces in smaller amounts throughout your home. You could also add photographs, paintings and framed pieces of wood or leaves to the walls of your home.

2. Assemble flowers and plants in pots: If you are willing to do the maintenance and manage the upkeep, you can add potted plants to your home. This adds elements of color and natural fragrance to your home. You might avoid real plants if you have severe allergies and do plastic versions to be safe. You should also be aware of any plant varieties that are poisonous to your pets.

3. Install natural flooring: If you have tile, laminate or vinyl floors, you can have a flooring installer replace them with hardwood, cork, bamboo or other natural flooring materials. They feel warmer underneath your feet, and they are organic and biodegradable compared to what might have been in your home before.

4. Make the most of your windows: Your windows are for more than a beautiful view. You can let in natural light by opening them or replacing heavy curtains with light, see-through drapes. You can also let in fresh air and the scents of the outdoors. If you’re worried about pests or debris, install new screens.

5. Use outdoorsy colors: Another option is painting parts of your home with naturally-inspired colors. Some color options include green, blue, yellow and brown. There are also neutral tones like white, tan and beige to evoke cleanliness. Whether you paint an entire room or just a wall, you can complement the room with elements like plants to make it seem more outdoorsy.

6. Consider stenciling: You can also stencil outdoor-related images onto your walls. Maybe it’s trees, leaves, the sun, moon, stars or an entire landscape. You can do random stenciling or theme it by room. The end result will be a design that attracts visitors and complements the outdoor landscape.

Your interior can get closer to the outdoors depending on how much money or time you want to spend bringing the elements indoors. The end result will be a natural, seamless transition from the beautiful landscape outside to the same relaxing feel inside.


Photos courtesy of DesignMine

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