Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: 6 Beautiful Ways to Add the Color Black in Your Home

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It’s time to switch over to the dark side—at least in your home decor.

Yep, that’s right. When it comes to today’s hot trends in interior design, black is the new black. From bold accent walls to chic black-and-white living spaces to onyx kitchen cabinets, designers are increasingly turning to the darkest shade on the spectrum to create a dramatic statement.

Sure, using black can be a little intimidating. But just like a little black dress, it goes with everything.

“Black is a great choice for interiors because it never goes out of style, it goes with every other color, and it conveys a feeling of luxury,” says Val Malnar, principal designer at Orangetree Interiors.

Plus, black works seamlessly with most styles, no matter if your home is Hollywood glamour, Mid-Century Modern, or even industrial (farmhouse chic, anyone?).

Ready to go dark? We asked some top designers to show us the way.

1. On your cabinets

So your kitchen or bathroom needs a style upgrade, but you don’t want to spend a boatload of cash on a major renovation. What’s a homeowner to do?

Paint the cabinets black, says Cynthia Spence, an interior designer in San Francisco.

“It can be very grounding and the hardware can shine against it—be it brass, polished nickel, or even satin nickel,” she says. “It becomes a very different architectural element, and it’s also gender-neutral.”

2. On an accent wall

 

If you’re feeling brave, a black accent wall can hit all the right notes, says TC Chou, founding partner at Design Determination in New York City. In your bedroom, living room, or dining space, a brush of black can offer a classic look without feeling overwhelming.

“It gives the sense of a cozy, warm space, and is a great backdrop for artwork and statement furniture pieces to pop,” Chou says. “And it’s a less common wall color, so it gives the room a sense of uniqueness.”

3. In a hallway

If using black in a high-traffic area such as the living room or kitchen is a little too bold for your tastes, consider it in a hallway instead. You can go all-in and slather everything in black or pair it with other dark tones.

In a recent home project with a long vestibule, Spence painted all the doors a semigloss black (with brushed-nickel knobs), and kept the walls and trims a platinum gray.

“The result was quietly impactful and made space more of a destination rather than an eyesore,” Spence says.

In the past, Spence also painted a hallway ceiling black for extra flair.

“It literally made the ceiling disappear, and the light fixture and wall covering became the focal points,” she says.

4. On the ceiling

Speaking of a dramatic ceiling, don’t limit it to the hallway.

“A black ceiling can help emphasize architectural features in the room such as moldings,” Chou says.

It can also make kitchen fixtures pop and help define an area in an open floor plan, he notes. Plus, if you think about it, black is known in fashion for its ability to cover up any flaws—and the same goes for the home.

“For rooms like basements, it’s a great way to hide exposed ductwork or ceiling tile,” Chou says.

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8 Things You Must Do Before Renovating Your House—or Else

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1. Know what you like

Oh that part’s easy, right? You want a totally new kitchen. But what exactly does that mean? You have to narrow down whether that’s just cosmetic (e.g., new cupboards, counters, and appliances) or structural (e.g., reconfiguring your space or knocking down a wall).

“I suggest my clients spend time browsing Pinterest, flipping through home decorating magazines, and watching design shows on TV to assemble a ‘visual wish list,’ which helps them get a handle on their design direction,” says Barbara Mount of Barbara Mount Designs and Windermere Realty Group, in Lake Oswego, OR. This is a particularly crucial exercise to get couples, whose tastes could be wildly different, on the same design page.

2. Run the numbers

There’s a reason we call it a “dream house”: It might not exist in real life—at least within the parameters of our budget! So before you get too attached to single-slab counters or spendy light fixtures, take a stroll down the aisles of your local design center to start pricing materials and labor.

3. Do a reality check

You might be wildly off base on what’s feasible in home renovation. For example, a project that might seem simple, such as adding a laundry room upstairs, can easily become a budget buster when you realize you have to configure complicated plumbing because of the location you chose. Having a consultation with an architect or a contractor can give you some insight into which projects will be workable—and which you might want to abandon before you even get started.

4. Decide to DIY or go pro

For all but the simplest jobs—or if you’re extremely handy (and patient)—using a professional contractor is the way to go. And even if you want to do some of the work yourself, be realistic about what skills you have to complete it to your satisfaction. Also consider how much free time you have; no one wants to have to use the downstairs bathroom for a month because the convenient one in the master bedroom is all torn up.

If your goal is to move load-bearing walls or tackle other more involved projects, it’s definitely time to bring in the pros. You might even want to consider enlisting design help in addition to a contractor, suggests Mount.

“A designer can go a long way in easing the pain of design decisions and decorating drama,” she says. There’s also the sizable discount a designer is often able to wrangle at building supply and furnishings markets.

5. Test run your colors and materials

Have you settled on the most amazing periwinkle for the powder room or aged oak for the cabinets? Order samples of absolutely everything you can, from carpet to fabrics, recommends Mount, and then take a few days to live with them.

“Color and pattern change with the light throughout the day, so walk by the room several times and get a feel for what you really want,” she says.

Also, don’t be shy about putting as many paint colors on the wall as possible. She suggests clients paint a sample on a board or piece of sturdy cardboard and move it around the rooms throughout the day and into night.

6. Vet your contractor

We’re not talking about doing just a cursory audit of online reviews or references, although those are helpful. You have to do a full-blown checkand get proof of the following:

  • Contractor’s license
  • Certificate of insurance for general liability and workers’ comp
  • Lien history
  • Bond number and certification

And remember, you are going to be spending a lot of time with your contractor, as well as parting with a lot of cash and potentially a good bit of your sanity over the duration of the renovation. Your contractor is soon to become an almost-roommate, so take the time to conduct in-person interviews to find both a personal and professional fit.

7. Insist on an airtight contract

Starting a project is the “honeymoon” phase, but you want to be prepared for the days that are less dreamy. That’s why your contract with an outside professional needs to be specific and include the following:

  • Payment schedule (make sure you never complete final payment until you are 100% satisfied)
  • Timeline
  • Potential penalties for missed milestones
  • Details on all the work, down to how many cabinets are being installed and how many square feet of which tile will be laid

Not only will the document protect you, it will also show your contractor you mean business, says Jody Costello, founder of ContractorsFromHell.com.

“Requiring a detailed written agreement with protective clauses for the consumer will certainly deter a smarmy contractor who prefers vague language and little detail—the very thing that destroys a homeowner’s chances of having a drama-free renovation,” Costello says.

8. Time your renovation right

Renovation projects are notorious for running over schedule, often through no one’s fault. Weather can delay projects; necessary materials can be on back order; subcontractors can get sick; tricky wiring can take longer than expected. It’s wise to just expect there will be delays, so plan the renovation with ample time if you have a “due date,” such as house guests coming or a special trip that will take you out of town.

 

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Best Renovations for Small Bathrooms

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Small bathrooms, or half-baths, present unique design challenges. You want functional storage without cramping an already tight space or a trendy design without being visually overwhelming. Whether your goal is to make your small bathroom more functional for everyday use, or just more aesthetically appealing, you have several options.

Luxe Materials on a Small Budget

With less square footage to cover, you can opt for those pricier materials. Go for a more expensive tile and give your bathroom a luxurious feel without breaking a budget. If you’re feeling adventurous, take advantage of the lower cost and hop on the one material trend, making its comeback this year.

You can also install high-quality countertops since material costs will be low. Quartz is a durable and trendy material that typically costs $70-$100 per square foot. A typical vanity size in a small bathroom is 3.5 square feet, meaning you could install a quartz countertop for about $300.

Maximizing Storage with Minimal Space

Even small bathrooms are full of stuff. Makeup, lotions, toothbrushes, cotton balls, curling irons—the list goes on. Where can you put all your daily items that is accessible without adding to the clutter?

  • Floating shelves give you storage room, while taking up less visual space than cabinets. To make the space look better, put items in matching jars or containers. This will make the space look cleaner and keep items within reach.
  • Floating vanities are a big trend in 2018. Lifting the vanity from the floor gives visual space without sacrificing cabinet storage.
  • Corner/over-the-toilet shelving units make use of under-utilized space. Using baskets and jars to store your items vertically will keep your bathroom spacious and functional.

Design and Functionality

Before deciding on a design for your bathroom, consider its use. Is it the main bathroom that you use every day, a guest bathroom, a powder room? Understanding its main function will help you decide on a bathroom design that works best for your needs.

  • Dark vs. Light: A small room should use light or neutral colors to visually maximize space. While this often holds true, if your bathroom has a natural light source, you can opt for something more dramatic.
  • Pocket doors maximize floor space by sliding directly into the wall. This will leave you more space for much-needed storage units. If pocket doors aren’t in your budget, consider trendy interior barn doors, which are often more affordable than pocket doors while still upping resale value.
  • Glass shower doors can make your bathroom seem larger, because you can see the entire square footage of the room. Shower curtains create a visual wall, cutting down your already small space. If privacy is a concern, consider frosted glass as an alternative.

Bright lighting is not only useful in a bathroom, it will make the space seem larger. Multiple light sources will help eliminate dramatic shadows, making your space seem more open and airy.

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How Many Homes Will It Take to Find ‘The One’?

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When you’re house hunting, you can start feeling like Goldilocks pretty quickly: This one’s too small, that one’s too big, and that other one has crazy wallpaper—the list of “not quite right” goes on and on.

The average home buyers will visit 10 homes over 10 weeks’ time before they find “the one”—that special place that inspires an offer. But that number can vary widely: Some may fall in love with the first place they see, while others feel compelled to check out several dozen.

To prove that the path to homeownership can take some wild turns, we got three home buyers to reveal how many houses it took to find the perfect place. Let their stories inspire you to find your dream home!

We bought the very first house we toured’

Becky Dacona and her husband toured only one house—one!—before buying it. Given they had so few reference points, how did they know there wasn’t something better out there?

The secret, says Dacona, was doing a thorough vetting job online.

“In reality we searched for about three years,” she says of her digital home-shopping saga. “We would first search the listings and find things in our price range, and that met our requirements. Then we would do extensive research online about the place like the taxes, and check out Google Earth to see how the home was situated in relation to the neighbors. Then, if we still liked what we saw, we’d compile a list and do a drive-by.”

At long last, they cruised by a house for sale in Fremont, NY, and they were persuaded to take a look inside.

This house is the first that inspired us to contact the real estate agent,” Dacona says of her current home. “It wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment or anything like that. We did our drive-by, and it really appealed to us. Then we drove by again, and again. Then we realized that we wanted to take that next step and see where it led. And it led to us buying this home.”

Take-home lesson: Doing thorough research online can really help you narrow your options—and save you time and effort. Make sure to vet the home and the neighborhood using Google Maps, and use tools such as realtor.com/local to get neighborhood info.

‘It took five years and 50 houses’

“I looked at houses for years,” admits Steven Eliades. “You name it, I looked at it. There was always something just not right. The yard was too big. The yard was too small. It was too far from town.”

It was an exhausting process, but when he saw the quaint yellow Victorian in Philadelphia, Eliades immediately knew it was perfect.

“I knew I wanted a Victorian house that wasn’t too big, that had a wraparound porch, that I could drive to the grocery store from in five or 10 minutes,” he says of his home since 2002. “And I wanted to be in a community. I wanted to have neighbors!”

He and his wife made an offer on the spot. “We didn’t even pull out of the driveway, didn’t think about it overnight,” he recalls.

Take-home lesson: Sometimes you have to shop around to get a firm handle on what you like—and dislike—and what your market has to offer. So don’t think of it as wasted time if it takes a while for the right house to appear; consider it time well spent honing your house hunting skills.

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What Is Your Property Really Worth?

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Question. Over the years, I have been involved in questions dealing with the value of certain property. This has involved such diverse issues as appealing the County’s assessment for tax purposes, obtaining a refinance mortgage to avoid private mortgage insurance, and recently challenging an IRS valuation of property we just inherited.

Is there a way to determine what our property is really worth. We have often obtained different appraisals on the same property and would like to determine our true net worth. How do the appraisal prices work?

Answer. The most commonly used method to determine the value of one’s property is to obtain an independent appraisal from an experienced appraiser. However, appraising market value of real estate is an art — and not a science. And at best, it is an inexact art. My own experience with appraisals and appraisers has led me to question the validity of a number of appraisals.

It should be understood that an appraisal is an estimate and an opinion of value. The appraisal will not determine or establish the value of your property, but it can only estimate what that value is. The Supreme Court of the United States has defined fair market value as “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having a reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.”

All too often, however, the appraiser does not understand — or even know — the neighborhood, and brings to bear his or her subconscious prejudices while considering the value of your house. This is even worse now since lenders often have to rely on appraisers who are not even in the locality of the property.

There are three methods used by appraisers. First, the cost approach. Under this method, the cost of reproducing the building is added to the value of the land, and a discount is applied for depreciation and deterioration that the buildings might have suffered.

A second approach is known as the capitalization of income. Since this is generally used in considering income-producing property and is complicated and controversial, this column will not enter into a discussion of this approach.

The third formula is known as the market comparison. Here, the appraiser must consider the value of comparable properties, and once again, this is a highly subjective task. For example, your next door neighbor’s house recently sold for $410,000. Your house looks identical to your neighbor’s from the outside.

But inside your house, there are major differences. You have a finished basement; your neighbor does not. You have wall-to-wall carpets; your neighbor does not. You have recently installed a very modern kitchen; your neighbor’s kitchen is from the l940’s.

Needless to say, unless the appraiser actually visits and inspects both houses, the comparable method may adversely affect you.

Nevertheless, this market comparison method is widely utilized by appraisers in determining property values for mortgage lenders.

This does not mean to imply that you must take the appraisal without question. Here are some tips for dealing with your appraiser:

  1. 1. Insist on obtaining a written report from the appraiser. Obtain the appraiser’s name and address, and inquire as to the methods used to determine the value of your property.
  2. 2. If the appraisal was obtained by a mortgage lender, appeal that appraisal through that lender. Advise the lender you are dissatisfied with the value placed on the property, and that you will insist on a second appraisal being done, by an appraiser of your selection.

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February home to-do’s

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You started off the new year with resolutions for yourself and goals for the home. As you now begin to settle into your new lifestyle, it’s important to clean up clutter at home and look forward to the months ahead. Winter is slowly coming to an end, and your house maintenance needs to reflect a fresh spring feel. Take a look at five chores to help give your home a boost of spring.

Clean up indoor paint

Unless your wall needs a fresh coat of paint, go through them with a sponge and freshen up the paint on your doors and cabinets. Take a deeper look and spot the smudges and dust that builds up in these areas. An easy run through will freshen the paint in the house and reduce the need for a new paint job.

Clean under the heavy stuff

It took time and lot of energy to put the fridge where it currently stands, the oven in its place, and the dresser in its corner. It’s understandable not to want to move them again. Though, there is dust and trash that can slip into these areas. These are not everyday chores, but it is important to clean under these untouched spots to prevent bad build up over time.

Raid the Fridge

A common trend that tends to happen during the new year is putting more food in the fridge than we take out. With our new diets or eating styles we outlined in the new year, eventually, there are a few of those items we just don’t get around too as much as we had hoped. Take some time to dispose of those items that got pushed to the back of the fridge.

Mattress and Bedding

Clean up the mattress by vacuuming and laying it on its side to fully air itself out. Replace the current sheets you have to give the bed a fresh new feel. It might be a good time to start packing up the winter weather bedding and start replacing it with a springtime vibe.

Windows/Screens

There are a few windows that get all the attention while the rest get none. The dust and grime that gets into the surface of your windows will make them look old and cloudy. Take a look at the windows around the house and grab some window-cleaner to take the cloudiness right off.

Shades of Gray: Selecting Design’s Most Neutral Color Is Trickier Than You Think

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Choosing a gray paint can feel like a monumental task—dare we say, right up there with selecting a career or deciding whether to have kids.

OK, maybe it’s not quite that monumental. But if you’re in a decorating mode, a sea of choices—from brown-gray to blue-gray and everything in between—might make you feel like you’re drowning in a smoky, slate- and gunmetal-hued ocean.

Don’t despair! You can go gray without turning your hair the same shade in the process. You just have to follow some simple design rules.

Find the undertone

Before jumping into the world of gray, it’s important to figure out which shade will complement the furniture and textiles you already have. To do this, you need to determine whether the undertone in your room is on the warm or cool side.

“If there are warm tones in the home, such as brown or taupe upholstery and flooring, or there’s a lot of red, orange, or yellow accents, then it’s imperative to use a gray with warm (tan or beige) undertones,” explains Dessie Sliekers of Slick Designs.

But if details in the rooms favor blues and purples, you’ll need a gray with cool undertones, which will have a bluish or greenish cast.

Look to your lighting

 

To narrow your gray choices, gauge the light your space receives, recommends Sara McLean, color expert and designer at Dunn-Edwards.

“North-facing rooms get little natural light, so a cool gray (green-gray, blue-gray) will only make it feel chilly or cold,” she says. “Instead, choose a warm gray or grays with brownish undertones.”

West-facing rooms also show better with warmer grays, while south-facing views, which get more sunshine, look great with cool grays. East-facing rooms tend to have little bluer natural light, so green- and blue-grays can also work nicely here, pairing beautifully with turquoise and cobalt accents.

A word of caution before you commit, though: Paint a swatch on your wall in your chosen shade, and see how it looks in the light.

“Know that the color will change slightly throughout the day,” says Justin Riordan of Space and Archer Design Agency.

Assess the room

Yup, the function of your room is a factor, too. Unless you have an ultracontemporary home, beach-front property, or an industrial loft (these styles look amazing painted a blue-toned, cool gray) look to warmer tones, says Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions in Tampa,FL.

In particular, gray with warmer brown undertones is lovely in living rooms and master bedrooms, she says.

Riordan sticks with cooler grays when designing around sources of water, like in the bathroom. A cool, light gray, like Benjamin Moore Winter Solstice(1605), above, is a solid pick for a spa atmosphere.

Split the difference with ‘greige’

Want a paint shade that’ll work both ways? “Greiges (gray and beige) are the perfect neutral because of its versatility—you can pair it with warm or cool tones,” says Liz Toombs, president of PDR Interiors.

Amazing Gray (Sherwin-Williams 7044), above, is her pick.

“It’s also a wonderful transition color for those who aren’t sure about painting a whole room gray,” she adds.

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Tips on getting the home tax deductions you’re entitled to

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Taxes can be difficult for even seasoned homeowners to understand. With new tax legislation that was passed on December 22, 2017, there may be changes to the taxes you file this year. The following tips can help ensure you’re filing for and receiving all of the home-related tax deductions you’re entitled to.

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

The Mortgage Interest Deduction can be used by itemizing using Schedule A. To qualify, the mortgage must be secured by either your primary or secondary home; homes, trailers, boats, and RVs can all qualify as long as they have a sleeping area, cooking area, and bathroom.

Interest on mortgages up to $1 million, or up to $500,000 for married couples filing separately, can be deducted. Likewise, if you have an additional loan such as a second mortgage, home equity line of credit, or home equity loan, the additional interest is still deductible up to a total amount of $1 million on all home loans.

While it will not affect your filing this year, beginning in tax year 2018 the mortgage interest deduction cap will be $750,000. The accompanying increase in the standard deduction may make it more worthwhile for homeowners not to itemize in the future.

2. Prepaid Interest Deduction

If you bought a home during 2017, the interest – or points – you prepaid may be 100% deductible along with the mortgage interest deduction. Prepaid interest deductions are also reported using Schedule A; your lender will provide you with a form 1098 that details the amount paid either when closing the mortgage or after refinancing.

 

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5 DIY projects that will reinvent your bathroom in a weekend

(BPT) – Ready to tackle your next home remodeling project and showcase your Do-It-Yourself (DIY) skills? Or maybe you’re an aspiring DIYer, hoping to channel your creative spirit and try your hand at the next home improvement project? Now is the time to get started.

According to experts from the National Association of Home Builders, the amount of money homeowners spend on remodeling projects is predicted to grow nearly 5 percent in 2018. Some of these dollars will be spent on large comprehensive rebuilds and others will be spent on smaller fix-it-up projects. No matter the spend, it’s a good bet much of this money will go to fund DIYers in their home improvement efforts, and many of them will be taking on projects for the first time.

Here are five bathroom upgrade projects that can be completed in a weekend. So now you can reinvent your bathroom and employ your DIY skills at the same time. Go ahead, pick the project that appeals most to you, and let’s get this project underway:

* Upgrade your bathroom fixtures. The focal points of your bathroom can easily be replaced, making a big overall impact with little outlay of effort. Tapered design lines and modern styling, like those in the American Standard Townsend bathroom fixtures, can beautifully enhance your bathroom. Consider replacing an old vanity with a new smoked gray vanity or washstand. It can be accented with a softly angular sink displaying generously sized side ledges to conveniently accommodate toiletries. Finish the room with matching accessories – towel bars, toilet paper holder, robe hook – and you’re on your way to a whole new level of style, all done with your DIY expertise.

* Install a new shower door. A shower door replacement can be made for cosmetic reasons; plus, there are very real potential benefits behind it as well, provided you pay attention to the details. Follow the process to install your door and be sure to apply silicone caulk at the end along the edges of the base track – both inside and out – and along the jams. This will make your new door water tight and keep your whole bathroom cleaner and drier.

* Replace your sink faucet. The faucet in your bathroom gets used every single day, so why not make it one you love? American Standard Studio S bathroom faucets showcase a fashion-forward geometric silhouette with minimalistic surface details. You can choose an easy-to-operate single handle model, or distinctive two-handle configurations, depending on what works for your home and family. These faucets are easy to install, and the WaterSense-certified 1.2 gallons per minute flow rate will save you water – up to 45 percent over conventional models – and money without compromising your experience.

* Lay the tile. Whether you’re motivated by structural needs or an outlet for your own artistic expression, laying new bathroom tile is a project that immediately ups the wow factor. Tile is incredibly impervious to water and stains, making it perfect for the bathroom. But it won’t lay properly unless you thoroughly clean the surface beforehand. Fill those backboard seams with mortar, apply a fiberglass mesh and then you’re ready to lay a tile design that matches your unique look.

* A spot for the perfect seat. If you’ve ever wished your time on the toilet seat was a little more luxurious, now is the perfect time to upgrade to an American Standard SpaLet bidet seat. It’s easy to install and provides the ultimate personal experience with a wide array of features like heated seat, water temperature control, spray strength, nozzle position, and even a deodorizer. Now, you can bring a spa-like environment right to the comfort of your own bathroom, without much time or cost invested.

Start reimagining your bathroom today

As one of the most used rooms in your home, the bathroom is the perfect place to start your weekend warrior home improvement projects. Simple upgrades to the elements in a bustling family bathroom, cozy master bath or heavy-use powder room can often be done with DIY know-how and enjoyed for many years to come.

IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: The focal points of your bathroom can easily be replaced to make a big overall impact with little outlay of effort, as shown here with the American Standard Townsend collection of bathroom fixtures and faucets.

Caption 2: Sleek design-lines and modern styling, like those highlighted in the American Standard StudioS faucets and Studio line of fixtures shown here, can beautifully enhance your bathroom to make it ideal for your family's needs.

2018 remodeling trends that boost your home’s value

(BPT) – A strong housing market is giving homeowners the confidence to invest in remodeling. In fact, homeowner spending on improvements and repairs will approach $340 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.5 percent from estimated 2017 spending, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Remodeling can add value to your home while also making it more livable, but not all remodeling projects are created equal. While the choice to remodel is individual, there are many studies that show some projects return more on your investment than others. Fortunately, some of 2018’s leading remodeling trends also have great ROI.

Trend 1: Bathroom additions

Adding a bathroom can add comfort and convenience for current homeowners, plus catch the eye of potential buyers. A bathroom addition recoups about 60 percent of the cost, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report.

A top trend in 2018 is adding bathrooms to unique spaces, meaning not letting existing plumbing limit your options. This might include adding a small powder room on the main floor or adding a full bathroom to the basement where there is no current drainage.

Homeowners can get the valuable bathroom addition they want without cutting concrete or undermining the structural integrity of the home by opting for above-floor plumbing features such as a macerating toilet and drain pumps from Saniflo. The Saniaccess3 is a smart choice for full baths, and the Saniaccess2 is ideal for powder rooms.

These compact systems can fit into a closet, beneath a stairway or even be built into the wall. When the project is complete, it will look like any conventional bathroom, but above-ground plumbing options make it possible to put a bathroom virtually anywhere – even in the garage or outside. Learn more at www.saniflo.com.

Trend 2: Home exterior updates

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this is true for houses as well. With this in mind, homeowners are focusing their efforts on the house exterior in 2018.

Some exterior remodeling projects can be costly and time-consuming, such as replacing siding and windows or redoing landscaping. To get a big visual bang for your buck with great ROI, consider replacing your garage door. The average garage door replacement job cost is $3,470, according to the Cost vs. Value report, plus it has a whopping 98 percent cost recouped at resale.

Want to take exterior upgrades one step further? Consider replacing your existing entry door with a new steel option that matches your new garage door. Your house’s facade will be completely refreshed, plus that door recoups 91 percent of the cost.

Trend 3: Smart home upgrades

You have a smartphone, smart watch and smart TV; it only makes sense that you also want to bring the convenience of technology into your remodeling projects with a smart home.

Smart homes have been trending for some time, but in 2018 this trend could reach a tipping point thanks to wider availability and more affordable options. What used to cost thousands may now only cost hundreds, and you might be surprised how many DIY options you can now find at your local home improvement store.

Some of the most popular technological enhancements for the home include smart lighting controls that save energy and let you customize lighting in every room of your home. Smart door locks and security systems are also valuable additions.

If you’re looking for an affordable way to enter into the smart home market, consider a smart thermostat or smart smoke detector. Technology is bound to make your home more comfortable and safe while boosting the bottom line come sale time.