How to Buy a Prefab House

Prefabricated houses offer a number of benefits for anybody seeking to buy a new residence. The days of bloated, aesthetically boring prefab units are long over. Contemporary prefab houses are made from modular units that can be combined for floor plans and design tastes. Furthermore, prefab houses are considerably more affordable than conventional houses. Well-known prefab manufacturers like Clayton Homes are also highlighting”green” environmentally friendly features like solar panels and energy-efficient windows, according to Popular Mechanics.

Look at each one the measurements, not just the square footage. Square footage indicates floor space, but does not offer any signs of height. Some prefab houses have lower ceilings than conventional houses, therefore inspect the measurements thoroughly. It can be quite frustrating to buy a prefab unit just to learn that your favorite bookshelf or armoire is too tall for the ceiling.

Ensure that you understand what structural characteristics you’re getting for the money. When you’re shopping for a prefab house, be sure to leave room in your financial plan for plumbing, electrical wiring, kitchen hook-ups, appliances and some other amenities not included. MSN explains that prefab home”kits” can be little more than the exterior shell and inside walls of a home. Though some prefab retailers offer bath fixtures, kitchen and lighting appliances, most don’t provide these basic items. You have to plan for these extra expenses as you shop for a prefab home.

Consider the energy efficiency of the prefab units you’re considering. Even though Tiny House Design explains that prefab houses do use ecologically viable construction procedures, the last product is not always necessarily efficient. If you opt for a house with energy-efficient windows and insulated partitions, then you will save money with time on your electricity bills.

Compare guarantee choices. Since prefab houses are made at large production facilities, many come complete with manufacturer’s warranties. Some companies will only cover manufacturing flaws, while other prefab warranties cover accidental damage very similar to most homeowner’s insurance coverages. These warranties can save you money on automobile insurance, so factor this into your final decision as you navigate different prefab models.

Explore customization choices. Based on how the prefab home is constructed, it might be difficult for you to modify the home on your own. Check into the different stylistic choices provided by different high-street production businesses. Prefab houses are often quite stylish, but only if you buy from a manufacturer that offers the ideal choices for your own personal tastes and preferences.

Explore your financing choices. When you’ve researched the attributes, hidden prices and stylistic differences between distinct prefab models, start looking into financing options as part of the overall buying procedure. At most banks, prefab house buyers are usually qualified for the same loans as conventional home buyers.

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How do I Compute Real Estate Tax?

Property taxes, also known as property taxes, are taxes levied against the assessed value of a house on a yearly basis. Since the tax rates and assessed value varies small every year, it is possible to compute your likely property tax before getting your annual tax bill. Having an estimate of the tax due can be helpful when planning annual budgets. With advanced understanding, you are able to set aside funds throughout the year so that if the tax is due, you aren’t caught without necessary funds.

Obtain the most recent tax assessment made on your house by the county tax assessor. The tax collector calculates your annual property taxes according to official appraisal worth. These values may vary from current market values, so separate evaluations may not supply you with an accurate view of potential taxes. Contact your county tax assessor’s office and request a copy of your last property appraisal.

Locate the yearly tax rate that pertains to your property. Contact your county tax office to get a list of rates.

Look carefully at the tax code to your region to ascertain if there are any exemptions or special charges applicable to your tax situation. Exemptions lower your tax payable, while fees add on to the total tax owed. Contact your local county tax office to get a copy of the tax code pertaining to your house type.

Calculate your property tax by multiplying your property’s assessed value by the yearly tax rate. Subtract any applicable exemptions permitted by the tax code from this sum and add any special charges that you’re accountable for. The resulting quantity is the actual estate tax applicable to your premises.

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Contract for Deed Explained

A contract for deed can be referred to. Basically, it is a contract where a property name is transferred to a buyer after he has made a number of monthly payments. There are two way that the property can be funded. The first is that until the property has been paid in full, the buyer may agree to cover monthly payments to the seller. Or, the purchaser can agree to make payments to the seller for a set period of time, at the conclusion of which he should borrow money from a different source to make a final”balloon” payment to the seller.

Fundamental Function

A contract for deed is a hybrid between a lease arrangement and a mortgage. In this case, the purchaser will make a definite number of payments on a house and the seller will sign over the deed to the house once those payments have been satisfied. The seller acts as the mortgage company within this transaction. All 50 states require a contract for deed be in writing, but this kind of arrangement is rarely filed with the county, so it is very important that the contract be notarized to protect both parties.

Potential Benefits

To a purchaser that has had trouble with her or his credit is trying to purchase property when interest rates are high, a contract for deed can seem to be a quick, easy method to obtain real estate. Additionally, the final costs on a contract for deed are usually low, which will save the buyer money. For a seller who is having a difficult time selling her house, offering it up to all those buyers that are interest in a contract for deed can bring in an entirely new group of potential customers. In case a purchaser doesn’t meet her end of the contract, the seller retains title to the house and can opt to sell it again or maintain it, depending upon the market.

Possible Fact

When being propelled by a seller, A purchaser must realize that if he miss his monthly payments, the mortgage process can zip together. In consequence, the seller will be evicting the buyer, instead of going through the formal measures a mortgage company must go through because a house is foreclosed on by it. Whereas a mortgage company doesn’t want to own houses or possess property on its books, the seller is capable of just taking the property back and distributing of it he sees fit.


There are a couple of problems than can arise in the course of a contract for deed, making life hard for the purchaser. In the event the seller goes missing throughout the contract or dies, the purchaser could be at risk. The purchaser includes a notarized copy of the agreement so that it will not be hard for him to prove he had a deal with the seller. But because that contract says he cannot obtain title until he has paid the mortgage in full, there will be questions about whom he gets the payments to in order to satisfy his end of the deal. Consider adding an arrangement to your contract in regards to what will happen in case of the death or disappearance of the seller.

Prevent Issues

The best approach to prevent potential problems is to hire an lawyer to check over your contract. A real estate purchase of any sort is a massive investment, and it will be worth the money to know that the seller and purchaser are equally protected against any eventuality.

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Ground Lease Benefits

Usually utilized in commercial property, a ground lease allows tenants to rent a parcel of land to use it. The landowner retains ownership to the home, but transfers control to the tenant, who will develop and make improvements to the land at the tenant’s expense. Ground leases have many benefits to both the landlord and the tenant.


1 floor lease advantage is that landlords have the safety of a long-term tenant and future appreciation of their property because of development. Buildings and improvements completed by the tenants become the home of the landlord unless otherwise stated in the contract. This helps the landlord increase the value of his property if he doesn’t have the experience or capital to do so on his own, based on commercial real estate lawyer Brett Slobin, composing for RealtyTimes. Leases are typically long and consequently, landlords have the financial security of a long-term tenant and may pass the land to heirs after death.

Financial Advantages

Earth leases can be a terrific way for tenants to develop a parcel of land without needing to finance or possess the property. By renting, tenants are able to use their capital for building or other expenses instead of putting it in the purchase of the property. Sometimes a ground lease allows tenants develop a choice piece of property that a landowner is reluctant to sell. The landlord benefits by receiving a steady income from the monthly rent paid by the tenant.

Security from Market Fluctuations

Tenants are shielded from the changes in property value that come with owning property in a changeable sector. Though the tenant won’t see any gains from appreciation, the worth of the property comes from the sustainability of the business, based on Ground leases can protect tenants from inflation as well.

Tax Advantages

Another floor lease benefit is the tax benefits for both the owner and the tenant. While the tenant doesn’t need to pay any taxes on the land, they’re also able to deduct monthly lease on their taxes as business operating expenses. In certain scenarios involving civil land, there may be little if any property taxes to the land owner, based on Phillip F. Himovitz, Certified Commercial Investment Member. Though landowners owe taxes to the rental income and property, some tax exemptions may be available.

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Bedroom Window Treatments to Block the Light

I’d like to live at a house with a bedroom that overlooked the water. Individuals often remarked it would be to wake up to that perspective. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I never did.

I like a dim bedroom. I keep as many layers as possible between sunlight and myself. I’ve been known to hang blankets on the windows at resorts, or when visiting those enemies of witches everywhere, the bed-and-breakfast.

If you sleep in darkness, there are plenty of alternatives to blankets (or, heaven forbid, aluminum foil). You have to know what to look for and how to install it.

Glenn Gissler Design

Draperies and Curtains

Draperies are a classic way to block the light in a bedroom. Blackout liners applied to the springs make them opaque, and they will not add significantly to the price.

Wheeler Kearns Architects

For greater flexibility contemplate pairing a curtain with a separate blackout curtain. That way it is possible to get either light or total darkness, based upon what you need.

The blackout curtain goes from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, assuring complete darkness whilst minimizing the existence of the sliding glass doors.

Michael Abrams Limited

Or pair drapes for several lines of protection, with colors.

Blackout Shades

Among the least expensive and best solutions is a roller color. For even greater darkness, mount the color so that it trails behind the roller and then combine it into the surface of the window frame, so light can’t seep between the color and both sides of the framework.

About Windows Inc

Blackout colors in their are not too appealing. If you are building a new house, consider installing a recessed pocket above the window to conceal the color when it is not in use. Or pair the shade with another treatment, such as shade that is decorative, valance or a curtain.

Some companies sell shades in pairs housed in one header, together with the decorative one in the front and also the blackout shade supporting it. Or create your own pair with a double shade bracket.

If you prefer the concept of a blackout shade but not the appearance, consider using a natural woven shade customized with a blackout liner.

Cellular Shades

If roller colors are not to your liking, then try blackout cellular shades, like the one shown here. They are made by A number of companies. Comfortex creates one called the SlumberShade; its sides operate up and down within a station, eliminating light seepage on either side.

amanda nisbet

Roman Shades

If you want the appearance of a Roman shade, try one made with a blackout lining.

Levolor Riviera One Mini Blinds – $41.28


“If you want to attain blackout, blinds are not the way to go,” states Mary Ann Gahafer, co-owner of About Windows in Charleston, South Carolina.

Despite that, you can still decrease the quantity of sun seeping through them. Aluminum blinds will block lighting better than vinyl blinds, as will routless dividers (trademark title: de-Light), where the series hole was eliminated.

The Wiseman Group Interior Design

The wider the slat at a blind, and the fewer breaks there are to admit light. Wood blinds commonly come with two- or two1/2-inch pliers, but wood can twist, which allows in light. For long-term shadow, select composite blinds, which look like wood and retain their shape forever.

Charmaine Werth


Like blinds, shutters offer limited protection from light. For optimum opacity, go with a wider slat — 41/2 inches instead of two1/2 inches.

Fenstermann LLC


Does your bedroom possess high windows or skylights? Frank Ford, owner of Delmarva Blinds & Shutters in Davidsonville, Maryland, recommends installing a motorized system.

A battery-powered device that can remotely open and close a blind or color will set you back only about $100. For numerous windows or greater management, consider a hardwired system.

Get your lighting (and dark) right for a Wholesome sleep

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Needing Not at a New Portland House, Wasting Not

Shannon Quimby and Glenn Hoffinger tore a dilapidated 1920s house in the Sellwood area of Portland, Oregon, with a very specific vision: to build a sustainable house from the floor up without wasting any substance. They called their renovation job the R.E.X. — for “the Reuse Everything Experiment.”

“My grandmother was very bad,” says Quimby, a photo stylist and salvage decorator. “We used everything, and we saved everything. When it was broken, we fixed it. When it was broken, and we could not fix it, we would change it into something different.” She and Hoffinger worked tirelessly for seven months because their own general contractors, conserving everything out of the crumbling foundation to bottles located on the building site, nails in the walls and even floor grates.

“We saved trees, we encouraged local companies, we encouraged nonprofit businesses who came into assist deconstruct and we taught people how to do this for future jobs,” says Quimby. For the interior she decorated with secondhand, budget-friendly finds wherever possible. “Thrift stores and salvage yards are my Chocolate Property,” she states. “I like to discover things everybody passes by and figure out exactly what I can change them into.”

at a Glance
Who lives here: Shannon Quimby; Glenn Hoffinger; their son, Chase; and cats Plum and Bella
Location: Sellwood area of Portland, Oregon
Size: 3,100 square feet (like the garage); 3 bedrooms, 31/2 bathrooms
That’s intriguing: The couple hired as many as 350 subcontractors for its renovation; about average 20 per day labored on it. The most they had onsite was 67.

Whitney Lyons

The siding was the only job that cost more to refinish than replace with new. The shiplap needed to be dipped, sanded and primed to eliminate the lead-based paint.

“When we’d bought it new, it might have cost us $2,000 less,” Quimby says. “But we saved trees saved it from going to the landfill.”

Before Photo

Cridland Photo

Quimby and Hoffinger began deconstructing the house in 2007. They hired local company The Rebuilding Center to provide help. The project took seven months to finish.

Before Photo

Cridland Photo

After taking down the house, they organized the building materials to reuse but discovered an issue. “We made a big mistake,” Quimby says. “After putting everything in the lawn, we realized we had nowhere to build the house. We needed to lease two containers and shop everything in these.”

Whitney Lyons

AFTER: From the dining area, Quimby repurposed beer and wine bottles located on the house during reconstruction to create a dining room chandelier. She even took the bottles for her mason to get them cut using a wet saw and then added the lightbulbs.

Table: Fixing, Urban Timberworks

Whitney Lyons

A vintage map hides a mounted tv in the living area. “The map retains the union together,” Quimby says. She purchased the cupboard at a local garage sale for $55. The couple cut off the sides and turned it to a corner cabinet to maintain their electronics.

Before Photo

Cridland Photo

Everything in this space got a new life in the new house. The floor grate in the old living room is now the front door boot scraper. The floor was saved and utilized on a mini fridge as door paneling, as floor for two of the bathrooms and as bases for window beds in the upstairs playroom.

Whitney Lyons

They bought the sectional at an estate sale for $300. The back of the sofa, piping and buttons are all covered in burlap Quimby found for $4 at Goodwill. She found the rest of the cloth online at a discount.

Whitney Lyons

This set of cushioned chairs in the living area cost $35 at a neighbor’s real estate sale. Quimby reupholstered the seats together with old java bean sacks and jeans. She designed the fireplace hearth with bits of wood in the old sunporch.

Whitney Lyons

Quimby repurposed holly trees in the home for stools. “Holly trees are an invasive species, so you don’t need a license to cut down them,” she states. An old mailbox utilized as a side table sits with a sofa Quimby purchased for $20 at a garage sale.

Before Photo

Cridland Photo

The cabinetry and sink in the kitchen are presently being utilized in Quimby and Hoffinger’s workshop.

Whitney Lyons

AFTER: The kitchen island is created of a composite of 80-year-old framing by the previous house and leftover framing by the new construction. Above the island Quimby and Hoffinger utilized a window in the old home as decoration.

Knobs and hardware in the kitchen and throughout the house are made from insulators.

The couple found the large scale at an estate sale in Medford, Oregon. It was not a part of the sale, but Quimby’s eagle eye spotted the stone under 40 decades of sawdust. She paid $25 for this .

Whitney Lyons

Popcorn and brown sugar have been stored in jars attached to the bottom of the kitchen cabinet. Quimby’s grandfather Buzz was a bus driver with handyman abilities who maintained his nuts and bolts in jars that were similar in his workshop.

Most of the countertops in the house, including this one, are by Trinity. They’re created from recycled broken bottles and low-carbon concrete.

Whitney Lyons

Recycled chestnut floors make a beautiful hallway — and bowling alley.

Whitney Lyons

Quimby made this toilet pebble mat by gluing pebbles to a $4 mat out of Target. She bought the pedal faucet online with her son and his buddies in mind. The vanity is made of the old home’s back door.

Whitney Lyons

After the treads showed up for the stairs, they had been too brief. As opposed to taking the bits to the ditch and beginning from scratch, Quimby asked the builders to bulge the skirt out, put in a lip and make a toy-car monitor for her own son.

Numbers are attached at random by Velcro on each stair riser; they can easily be eliminated should the household need a switch.

Whitney Lyons

Quimby painted all the walls in the house using low-VOC paint from Yolo Colorhouse. This guest bedroom color is Water.02. The chandelier is an antique, purchased for $25.

Whitney Lyons

This armoire in the guest bedroom was Quimby’s first antique buy. A drum-clock garage sale locate decorates a repurposed lattice.

Whitney Lyons

The laundry area countertop is made from layers of paper out of Paperstone, bought at Green Depot. The colour is Gun Metal.

Quimby paid $10 for its white wall cupboards, which sat in storage for many years before the R.E.X. supplied the perfect chance to use them.

Whitney Lyons

The brass chandelier is an antique that Quimby upgraded with white paint using a toothbrush.

Friends gave them the letters utilized below the bathtub apron, which is lined with salvaged door and door trim.

Wall paint: Leaf.04, Yolo Colorhouse

Whitney Lyons

Quimby found this drain years ago in an old home’s scrap heap and turned it into a flowerpot.

Whitney Lyons

The main bedroom headboard is made from salvaged wood; it was the driveway gate of the first house. Quimby claims the gate was employed as an equestrian jump and as part of the decor in a Western-theme pub.

The foundation of the gate was discovered as it was featured in an article in The Oregonian. The creator realized his work and contacted Quimby.

Whitney Lyons

Ten years ago Quimby re-covered this chair in the main bedroom with burlap. “Burlap and java bean sacks are hot right now, and I’ve been doing this for decades,” she states. “Everybody told me how damaging it’d be — it’s not.”

Whitney Lyons

Among the biggest splurges was this beautiful armchair in the primary bedroom. “I really feel guilty about how much I spent on it. I despise spending money,” Quimby says. She found the bag at a garage sale and paid $45 for its antique lamp.

Whitney Lyons

Quimby designed the master bathroom vanity using the home’s unique groove and tongue Douglas fir flooring. The multiple colours are from years of paint layers. She scrubbed the old floor with water and soap and coated it with foam, subsequently added chrome-plated knobs in the hardware shop, personalizing them with rocks by a nearby creek.

The sconces are repurposed outdoor lighting fixtures out of a salvage yard. “They had been missing the glass panels, but I thought that looked great and decided not to replace them,” she states.

A vintage railroad sign over the mirror is a reminder of what things cost years ago.

Mirror: Goodwill; shower tiles: Fireclay Tile; counter: Home in Coal Grey, Eco-Cem

Whitney Lyons

The base of the upstairs window seats is made out of floors from the first living area. Quimby built them as wide as twin beds therefore the couple’s son and his buddies can have sleepovers.

Whitney Lyons

Intricate newel post caps in the former home adorn the new stairs.

Quimby is fascinated with old photos and decorated a wall in the upstairs hallway with old black and white photos of families from secondhand stores. “I always wonder exactly what those people were enjoy and ponder over their history,” she states.

Whitney Lyons

Chase designed this tree house, called Fort R.E.X., when he was 6. It is built with scrap wood.

Whitney Lyons

Once a year Quimby, shown here, has a massive garage sale.

She gives two to three tours of her house every year and occasionally shows it to interested folks who are passing by too.

“It’s a blessing, and I’m very proud of it. I enjoy discussing it,” she states.

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Kitchen Remodel Unifies a 1950s Texas Ranch House

Ryan and Erin McLaughlin are slow movers. When they bought their 1950s-era ranch home in 1998, they understood the kitchen would require renovating, but could not settle on a plan of action. “Our method of doing things involves 99 percent talk and one percentage action,” Ryan says.

“We tinkered together with our kitchen for 12 years, painting the plywood subfloor, changing out hardware,” Erin adds. ” We really tried to make it work.” Then, two decades ago, they decided to go for it and create an open-concept kitchen and living space. “We pretty much had it gutted and took down a wall between the family room and kitchen,” Erin says. They also built a mudroom entrance out of their garage and included a laundry room. The end result is a brand new, modern and compact space that makes more of their home’s square footage.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Ryan and Erin McLaughlin, their children Kate (10) and Owen (5) and their pets Lemon, a parakeet, and Scout, a terrier mix
Location: Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas
Size: 1,600 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Sarah Greenman

The formerly closed-off kitchen became a much more vibrant space as a result of white cupboards, bright windows, multiple lighting fixtures and modern metal seats. A kitchen wall has been removed to make room for a large island and breakfast bar.

“I have always wanted a breakfast bar, therefore when we made the kitchen, that has been a priority,” Erin says. “Having the children ingesting, coloring and doing homework right that makes me happy.”

Bar Condominiums:; overall contractor: Jeff Van Buskirk, Heritage Construction

Sarah Greenman

The McLaughlins had dwelt together with the previous kitchen for 12 years before remodeling, therefore they were quite clear about their needs for the new space. “It was such fun to make choices about where to put outlets and how to put out the cabinets and drawers,” Erin says. “Forget lower cabinet doors and proceed with drawers rather.”

The couple’s largest splurge from the kitchen has been the farmhouse style sink and lighting fixtures. “I knew I wanted light fixtures out of Schoolhouse Electric along with a farmhouse sink before we’d actually decided how we wanted the kitchen to seem,” Erin says.

Hardware: Nob Hill Hardware

Sarah Greenman

Erin created this makeshift Roman shade in the dining area employing a fabric remnant and thumb tacks. “I am drawn to antique items and antiques,” Erin says. “And I adore deals. I don’t think there’s any decor that I paid full price for in our house.” Erin is proud of this kitchen table, which she found at a neighborhood sale for $10.

Ceiling lighting: Otis, Schoolhouse Electric

Sarah Greenman

The kitchen currently shares space with an upgraded family room where relaxation reigns. “I only expect that everything I bring in the home will get used and played. I don’t find the importance of having things if they are off limits. This is something I have evolved into, but it makes for your comfortable, family-centered home life that we have now.”

Along the back wall, a classic credenza provides extra storage. They maintain art supplies in trays for simple access.

Paint: Mega Greige, Sherwin Williams; carpeting: Ikea

Sarah Greenman

Erin created the “Home Sweet Home” wall with mismatched letters. “A few of the letters, such as two of the Es, are made of old books cut with a jig saw,” she says.

Slipper seat: Home Goods

Sarah Greenman

An upcycled beverage crate tucked close to the hearth keeps children books clean and convenient.

Sarah Greenman

The family room remodel included adding a built-in amusement center and shelving unit onto the back wall. The new installation matches the kitchen cabinetry to get a cohesive flow between the two spaces.

Sarah Greenman

The laundry area, which was formerly from the garage, was also part of this remodel. It features a laundry sorting channel, magnet board, chalk wall, clothing rack and overhead cabinets. “Although the kitchen has been the major attention, that small bit of additional square footage included so much work to our little space,” Erin says.

Sarah Greenman

The back door opens into a mudroom that lies opposite the laundry area. Hooks, baskets, shoe cubbies and drawers keep everyone organized. “That is my favourite area of the home,” Erin says. “It serves as our dropping zone also helps to keep all the stuff corralled.”

Sarah Greenman

The McLaughlins utilize their formal dining room as a shared office space. Erin is the owner of Perfect Sentiment, a custom made paper goods firm, which she runs out of home. “My husband and I really like our ‘dueling’ computers,” she says. A black shelving and desk unit produce a sensible and striking background for your couple’s classic green vinyl seats.

The most recent addition to the office is a wooden postcard carousel Erin utilizes to inventory her supplies. “I discovered it at a roadside flea market somewhere between Commanche and Stephenville, Texas for $10,” she says.

Sarah Greenman

Another half of this dining room is used as a conventional parlor. The spinet piano, a family room, lies opposite a painted black table flanked by two classic seats waiting to be reupholstered. Gold letters, symbolizing each member of their family, hang together from the foyer.

Paint: Library Pewter, Sherwin Williams

Sarah Greenman

The principal bedroom combines a calm taupe and yellowish color palette with warm hardwood flooring. A gallery wall of frames that are open, photographs, heirlooms and jewelry hangs by the back door, which opens onto the backyard.

Paint: Mega Greige, Sherwin Williams

Sarah Greenman

A wood desk serves dual duty as a bedside table and vanity.

Sarah Greenman

The furniture in daughter Kate’s bedroom is hand-me-downs or classic finds from local garage sales. A buddy gave her the pouf covered in a geometric print. A cascading gallery wall of art, frames, mirrors and ephemera hangs above her headboard.

Paint: Reflecting Pool, Sherwin Williams

Sarah Greenman

Kate, an avid reader, enjoys spending quiet time in her bright bedroom. Festive paper pompoms float above the parakeet cage.

Make your own paper pompoms

Sarah Greenman

Owen’s journey themed corner bedroom appreciates lots of natural lighting. His bedroom has been cleverly divided into areas for sleeping, playing and reading. A map of the planet hangs above his headboard.

Paint: Hopsack, Sherwin Williams

Sarah Greenman

Owen enjoys his well-appointed bedroom almost as much as he enjoys jumping on the bed. Erin hung magnet boards and license plates above Owen’s Trofast storage system out of Ikea.

Initially, “There clearly was ’80s country blue and mauve wallpaper with floral borders in each room,” Erin says. “After we shot down the wallpaper and painted, it started feeling like home.”

Sarah Greenman

Homeowners Ryan and Erin with their children, Owen and Kate on their Dallas porch.

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Honoring the Past in an 1891 Queen Anne

It requires a specific mix of skill and compromise to turn a really old house to something warm and inviting while preserving the original charm and character. Jean-Marc Bourgouin and Kathleen McCormack have just this particular talent. On top of being built in 1891, their Queen Anne–style home in Astoria, Oregon, came with bamboo flooring from the 1920s or 1930s, a 1950s stove and original windows that appeared to allow all of the warmth out and invite each of the chilly in.

Bourgouin and McComack, that are both in the restaurant industry, kept the house mostly undamaged, adding furniture in the late 1800s, an exterior paint colour that matches the original and vibrant interior paint. The end result is a lively house brimming with both modern character and old-world allure.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Kathleen McCormack and Jean-Marc Bourgouin, plus cats Brian and Isabelle
Location: Astoria, Oregon
Size: 1,350 square feet plus basement; 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
That is intriguing: This home was built with planks. In late-1800s and early-1900s Astoria, only the wealthy built their homes with plaster.

Kimberley Bryan

Like most homes in Astoria, Bourgouin and McCormack’s Queen Anne–style home perches on a sloped hill while nestling to the bottom of yet another hill, affording them a theater-seating perspective toward the majestic Columbia River.

“Astoria was always a functioning town. Being on the lake, it was a fish-processing town,” Bourgouin states. It was a hardworking location that, after World War II, was seriously economically depressed. “After the war, homeowners didn’t have the money to work in their homes or rip them down and build new,” he continues. “That is why so many homes, like ours, have kept so a lot of their original components.”

Paint: Rematch B30.5 Cly22 E2y9.5 Ky7y33, Pratt & Lambert

Kimberley Bryan

The majority of the couple’s artwork came from local artists or garage or estate sales. “There is no subject,” says McCormack. “We have artwork piled up, waiting to get on the wall. It’s our own way of expressing what speaks to us”

Sofa: Ethan Allen; bench: Scan House; coffee table: Rosewood, Scan Design

Kimberley Bryan

A glass-front cupboard displays enamel and silver–Russian Revolution pieces McCormack has accumulated since childhood.

Kimberley Bryan

An early-1950s O’Keefe & Merritt stove takes centre stage in the kitchen.

Kimberley Bryan

Nearby an English walnut washstand in the late 1800s sits under a wall of vintage pictures and needlepoint. The large, framed news article over the washstand is signed by Julia Child, who spent a day at the French Culinary Institute while McCormack was a pupil.

Kimberley Bryan

An 1880s walnut and burled maple hutch commands one facet of the kitchen and provides a stark contrast to the modern appliances in the laundry area, which was originally a sunporch added on the home in the early 1900s.

Kimberley Bryan

Bourgouin built the bathtub and shower surround to help divide the space within the small bathroom. Care was taken to match the look and texture of the house’s molding. The vibrant turquoise at the bathroom “is a color we made up,” says McCormack.

Kimberley Bryan

Painted fir stairs decorated with glass jars lead to the house’s second-story hallway plus a 1920s English Victrola cupboard. Original windows offer generous doses of mild “but no heating,” states Bourgouin. “The original windows are all beautiful, but they do allow in the cold”

Rug: Paulsons Fine Floor Coverings

Kimberley Bryan

Bourgouin removed the door of the principal bedroom cupboard to expand the room and make a sitting space. The vanity is made from birdseye maple. The molding on the slanted ceilings is original.

Chairs: J.L. Moller, Scan Design

Kimberley Bryan

Even though the measurements of the rooms are comparatively small, architectural treats such as this view of diminishing rectangles created by the bedroom, sitting area and bathroom doorways help pull the eye through the spaces.

Kimberley Bryan

The enclosed front entry is a protected spot for enjoying the views.

Kimberley Bryan

Built with the help of a friend, the back deck benefit from one of the sunniest areas of the property. The very clear roofing lets the light while providing much-needed protection from the rain, where Astoria receives 100 inches a year. Alongside the deck, a salvaged bathtub provides a raised bed for vegetable and herb starters.

Kimberley Bryan

Bourgouin and McCormack, shown here, made a collection of small, intimate outdoor spaces. This patio is just one of many areas nestled in the yard; the patio was created by Bourgouin of vintage brick.

Kimberley Bryan

When removing a false wall for a cupboard, the couple discovered a photo of the house’s background: seven layers of background and an original square-head nail. The ninth or eighth owners of the house, they keep the piece in storage.

“It’s fascinating to learn the background of your own home … the way that it had been home to others before you, also,” McCormack says. “It’s a means of sharing one another’s personal histories”

Kimberley Bryan

A year following the homeowners moved, they purchased the adjacent 15,000-square-foot lot. Once a dumping ground of sorts for both previous homeowners and many others, the yard is now a serene space full of towering deciduous trees and a garden. “I grow chamomile, parsley, chives, mint, strawberries, potatoes and fava beans,” says McCormack. “We get too many herbs and just enough potatoes and fava beans for us”

Kimberley Bryan

The couple created a meditation space with a rustic bench made from salvaged timber from the dockworks at the riverfront.

Kimberley Bryan

This chair, painted by artist Karen Bain, seems to hold a towering rustic birdhouse.

See more photographs of this dwelling | Show us your diverse home!

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Guest Picks: Beautiful Wire

Wirework has a lengthy history in homewares. From the humble beginnings as a means to repair precious broken pottery in 17th-century Slovakia, it gradually spread through Europe, thanks to itinerant tinkers whose clever hands created a massive collection of household items from the very simple material. Nowadays, the flexibility and strength of wire attracts modern designers who reveal the same imagination in their work as those drifting craftsmen from long ago. Here are a few inspiring vintage and modern examples of wonderful wire.
— Lori from automatism

John Lyle Design

Vestal Fire Screen

I adore the hip midcentury vibe of the Vestal fire screen by John Lyle. An intricately designed bronze sculpture instead of wire work, its great style would work well with any modern space.

Cox & Cox

Wire Mail Box – GBP 15.50

Even bills would look good in this pretty mail box from Cox & Cox. Use it in your front door to catch the mail when it is delivered, or on your desk to arrange the paperwork.


Moooi Carbon Chair – CAD 1,102

Produced in 2004 by Bertjan Pot and Marcel Wanders for Moooi, the Carbon Chair’s utilization of carbon fiber emptied in epoxy resin not only makes it strong and light, but convenient for both indoor and outdoor usage.

Cox & Cox

Bird Cages – GBP 65

This pair of birdcages would look equally as good with a little felt bird or plant indoors because it might with the real thing. Though I believe I enjoy it even more as a way to display art, as shown here.

Herman Miller

Eames Wire Side Chair – $1,399

The classic Wire Side Chair, designed in 1951 by Charles and Ray Eames, is a showcase for the versatility of cable. Both strong and lightweight, it seems as good now as it did back then. It’s offered in a choice of seat and back cushions.


Petra Pendant Lamp – $449

Add a warm glow to your dining or living room using all the Petra Pendant Lamp, handmade from iron wire finished with an antiqued copper patina. I adore its organic modern layout.

Cox & Cox

Wire Wall Rack – GBP 60

I adore the prettiness of this wall stand from Cox & Cox. And its size makes it perfect for adding storage to a strange corner in the kitchen, bathroom or home office.


Vintage Four Bottle Wine Carrier By Vintage French Linens – $75

This charming French classic wine bottle carrier will tote four bottles of classic bubbly in style — a good housewarming party gift.

West Elm

Wire Lanterns – $19

I adore the simple clean lines of these outside lanterns from West Elm. They create a pretty way to add light to a day on the patio or a midnight dip in the pool.


Alessi Nuvem Round Wire Basket – CAD 110

I really like the loose, scribbly look of this wire basket, with its playful relaxed vibe. Great for showing fruit onto a modern table.


Vintage Wire Basket By Experimental Vintage

Here is a vintage wire egg basket which would look equally as fine storing veggies, fruit or a small assortment of, say, classic wooden spools.

Design Within Reach

Bertoia Asymmetric Chaise With Seat Pad – $6,689

Produced by Harry Bertoia over 50 years ago for Knoll, the Bertoia Asymmetric Chaise remained a prototype before 2005, when Knoll introduced it into production. I really like the free form sculptural shape of this piece; it is a work of art as much as it is chairs.


Vintage Wire Frame Lampshade Photo Screen By Crimson Truck Designs – $25

That is such a clever way to use a classic lampshade frame — though its pretty shape would look equally as good covered with fabric.


Wire Hanger From Areaware – $49

Inspired by the form of the timeless hanger, the Wire Hanger by Areaware is a fantastic way to organize odds and ends from the hallway, office or other areas where space is at a premium.


Vintage Wire Magazine Rack From msmichiganroux – $32

I adore the simplicity of this midcentury wire magazine rack, along with its own golden tone adds a touch of glam. It would be a fantastic choice for exhibiting your prettiest inside design magazines.

MoMA Store

Photo Mobile – $14

Produced by Will van den Bos in 2003, the Photo Mobile is a lively way to display favorite photos, postcards and art by the youngsters. I really like how it’s an ever-changing cosmetic element.

Clayton Gray Home

Entrelace Modern Hanging Chandelier Light – $265

Made in the intertwined nest of aluminum cable, the Entrelace Chandelier includes a beautiful scribbly quality to it rather like a Ronald Searle drawing.

Contemporary Storage And Organization – CAD 395

Add a touch of country chic to your home with all the Three-Tier Chicken Weave Rack from Black Rooster Decor. Not only can it be pretty, but it is also a clever way to add storage to a space without the majority.

Haus Interior

Wire Book Holder – $12

Display your funniest novels or photos on this very simple book holder out of Haus Interior. I adore its industrial, handmade look.

The Conran Shop

Baffling Wire Puzzles Game – GBP 11.95

Give family game night a twist and take turns learning the secret of this traditional disentanglement game. A charming reproduction of a classic set, the collection includes 12 cable puzzles in a gorgeous retro packaging.

Next: 18 Great Midcentury Modern Chairs

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What All About?

How do you tell the difference between homes that look environmentally friendly and ones who actually are? Home certifications can help. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is just one certification that aids all sectors of the home-building sector use a few of the best methods of sustainable construction and design.

Your first two concerns about certification are likely to be, “What’s in it for me? And “How much is this going to cost?” Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals.

Butler Armsden Architects

Advantages of LEED Certification

The advantages touch everyone involved. For the homeowner a voluntary certification like LEED for homes increases accountability for quality checks on the building site, therefore decreasing the frequency of costly mistakes. Additionally, as stated by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified homes use on typical 20 to 30 percent less electricity and water, with a few homes consumed to 60 percent less energy use than a house built to meet code minimums.

In addition to the decrease in monthly utility bills, many cities and states have tax breaks and incentives for environmentally friendly construction. While the LEED rating itself doesn’t address individual incentives, the requirements often predominate. In Reality, the U.S. Department of Energy includes a searchable Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. You and your project team can appear federal and state incentives to present your budget a little boost.

Finally, if you ever need to sell your house, you can request a higher price to get a LEED house than comparable homes on the marketplace. 1 study in California, for example, revealed an 8 to 9 percent increase in the market value of green-certified homes.

Meanwhile, any builders wanting to put themselves apart should consider learning how to construct based on LEED requirements. Most agree that there is a steep learning curve, however using over 100,000 home units certified from the U.S. (and a lot more from the pipeline), it could set an experienced business even farther apart from the audience or help a new company jump ahead. The same holds for designers who wish to show clients that they may be creative even in environmental parameters.

Prices of LEED Certification

It is hard to pinpoint an exact percentage increase in building costs that you will probably see with a LEED house. It depends on what you’re comparing it to. Within an apples-to-apples comparison using a high quality, uncertified construction that follows best-practice guidelines, the cost difference is hardly noticeable: maybe 2 to 5% higher).

In a comparison with the normal house on the marketplace that just meets the minimum construction codes (apples to apples in this little fruit metaphor), the percentage would be far higher: maybe 20 percent.

By earning points in eight classes, the finished house can reach these ratings:
Platinum (90 into 136 points)Gold (75 to 89 points)Silver (60 to 74 points)Certified (45 to 59 points)Whether you’re in the market for a LEED house or trying to build yourself, understanding what goes into these scoring categories can help you formulate your queries for your real estate agent or home builder.

1. Innovation and Design Process (ID)

Points available: 11

Points earned for: making certain that the residence is sustainable, durable and cost efficient, using a well-rounded approach into the layout.

Items to keep in mind: This category of credits is meant to see if you truly mean it if you truly wish to create a sustainable house or if you are just searching for a quick certification. The lesson: Plan early and strategy often. You need to get your project team to the same webpage when possible and make sure that every professional involved is willing to use the best approaches, instead of the easiest methods.

The design of your house should be integrated with the choice of your group. It should take into consideration the path of the sun and the use of solar heat to reduce intake. The house also needs to be durable and high quality, not only to continue you through time, but also to offer a good foundation for all of the future of construction technology may hold.

2. Location and Linkages (LL)

Points available: 10

Points earned for: Selecting a sustainable place for your house. To be really green, you must try to use an present infrastructure.

Items to keep in mind: Urban infill projects located near transport, services and public parks are the perfect candidates for this. This doesn’t mean that your countryside cabin can not be LEED certified; you might need to work harder in different areas to acquire enough points.

The simplest way to earn points within this class is by buying land in an already certified LEED neighborhood.

Natural Balance Home Builders

3. Sustainable Sites (SS)

Factors available:
25 (minimum of 5 required)
Points earned for: Managing the impact of the building process and landscaping on your bit of property and neighboring surroundings.

Items to keep in mind: There is a 5-point minimum necessity for this section, because the sustainability of a house doesn’t stop at the walls. To reduce your environmental footprint, you’ll need to check out your whole parcel of property and even beyond. Your building team will need to correctly control erosion and storm water runoff to reduce the down the stream impact of construction activities. Additionally, your landscaping can’t include any crops that are considered invasive in your area.

To earn points in this class, your layout needs to consider everything from landscaping to pest control. As an example, you can earn points by employing drought-tolerant plants and using permeable paving methods to allow rainwater to filter naturally through the ground. You can also use innovative technologies like green roofs (sometimes called living roofs) to raise the amount of green area on a small lot.

Feldman Architecture, Inc..

4. Water Efficiency (WE)

Points available:
15 (minimum of 3 required)

Points earned for: Conserving and using less water in and about the house.

Items to keep in mind: This class is rather straightforward. However, you do need to reach three or more points. There are numerous easy fixes you can pursue, such as low-flow bathrooms and energy-rated appliances. Harvesting rainwater and with different sources of recycled water are rewarded, as is landscaping that has low irrigation demands (for example, it uses native plants adapted to your climate).

For a comprehensive list of products that meet the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for water efficiency, such as fittings like taps and showerheads, check out its Water Sense site.

South Park Design Build

5. Energy and Atmosphere (EA)

Points available: 38

Points earned for: Building a more efficient residence, which absorbs cleaner and less energy.

Items to keep in mind: This really is one of the most complex classes, using a number of options for pursuing credit points and many mandatory measures. By way of example, all homes must meet the minimal requirements of Energy Star. Beyond this your project group can assess the energy efficiency of your designed home in a number of ways, such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) or Title 24 Energy Code if you’re located in California.

The objective of the section is basically to predict how energy efficient your house will be, based on factors such as insulation, air filtration, windows, heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, refrigerants and renewables.

The major question here is cost. Designing for exceptional energy performance requires an increase in building costs relative to a ordinary home. More insulation and higher-quality windows may take their toll on the total budget. Many LEED-certified homes achieve their evaluations by picking up points in different categories and skimping on this one. The added costs of the class are also highly determined by your local climate. By way of example, in hot and humid locations, good dehumidification can lessen the cost of cooling your home.

Keep this in mind whenever you’re interviewing builders or looking at licensed houses. On completed constructions, it could be worth it to look at the individual score from 38 points within such a credits. The long-term impact of an efficient house could be more significant to the utility-paying homeowner compared to cost-cutting builder. But keep in mind that no two homes are the same, and no two builders. So it’s always best to have a full understanding of the pros and cons of investing in your home’s energy efficiency given that your particular climate.

KW Designs

6. Materials and Resources (MR)

Points available: 16 (minimum of 2 required)

Points earned for: Reducing the demand of fresh materials and minimizing waste.

Items to keep in mind: This group of credits often gets a whole lot of attention from homeowners interested in recycled rugs and sustainably harvested wood flooring. While environmentally preferable products are surely part of the section, there is also a strong focus on resources and materials utilized in the practice of construction.

Two from the 3 main categories of credits in this class address building waste. From the standard American construction industry, one of the largest waste elements is discarded framing material. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the financial motivation to reduce wasted framing substance is notable, even on an individual-home basis.

South Park Design Build

7. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)

Factors available: 21 (minimum of 6 required)

Points earned for: developing a healthy and comfortable indoor environment whilst managing pollutants correctly.

Items to keep in mind: That is another big category, covering the general sustainability of the job. The way that you manage the air you breathe in your house can have enormous effects on your general health and comfort. This implies, for example, choosing a fireplace that seals closed and paying special attention to bathroom and kitchen exhaust systems. Some other simple fixes to help improve indoor air quality are to maintain garages detached and to install shoe-scrubbing mats at entryways.

Like other classes, this set of credits can be addressed by participating in a parallel program — in this instance the EPA’s airPLUS program.

We often inquire about natural venting: “When I open up my windows, won’t I’ve healthy indoor atmosphere” Well, it depends on where you reside. Naturally occurring pollens, levels of humidity in certain climates and pollutants out of neighboring constructions may still affect your health. Mechanical ventilation and filtration may be a good means to ensure high quality indoor atmosphere.

Ltd, Camery Hensley Construction

8. Awareness and Education (AE)

Factors available: 3

Points earned for: Educating the homeowners and passing knowledge about sustainable house construction.

Items to keep in mind: A sustainably designed house has limited effect in case you don’t know how to use it. As with any other product, your house should include a user’s manual. Responsible owners of LEED-certified homes know how the path of the sun affects the heat advantage in their house, understand the significance of a durability checklist and also understand the need to be familiarized with their house’s systems.

For another credit, you may then “pay it forward” by passing that knowledge and information on to other people.

Are you considering building an LEED-certified house? Please tell us in the Comments.

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