10 Pro Tips for Home Photography That Makes an Impression - Guest Post by Houzz

So much living happens in a home that we can easily forget its beauty and character outside of daily routines. The house is nearly living too, as history and relationships are encoded in the personal world that those who live there have created. In photographing our homes, we’re invited to view the familiar with fresh eyes and capture the dynamics of our environment. We can observe color and texture, light and shadow, the flow of spaces and the way that people move, feel and express themselves in them to capture meaningful and lasting impressions. Whatever camera you’re using, you can take beautiful and compelling images that reflect the spirit and nature of your home and life. Here are 10 tips to help you take your photos to the next level. Related: Get More Pro Tips from Nearby Home Staging Companies

1. Read the light. Observe how the light changes in different rooms over the day and into the night. Highlights draw the eye, and shadows can reveal depth and dimension, but if either is too dominant, you might be missing details that are desirable. Adjust the blinds or curtains; look at the effect of lights on and off. Experiment with the camera’s settings to find an exposure and a look that feel good for you. Try mixed light sources — cool/warm, sunlight/tungsten or sunlight/flash. So much is possible, and there is no right or wrong.

2. Experiment with composition. Experiment with wider shots and closer shots. Look from a different angle. Consider visual harmonies and curiosities in color, lines and texture. Can you vary the focus to bring attention to different aspects? Depending on your objectives, you may settle on a consistent look and tone, or choose to vary it.

3. Move! Don’t be afraid to move around the space and subject to see things differently — crouch, lean, perch, lie down, stand closer or farther away. Think big, small and sideways.

4. Look through to a room and see around it. For a more documentary feel, try looking from outside the space you’re photographing — for instance, from a hallway or through a window. This can yield interesting results, creating frames within frames and greater dimensionality. Related: Top Strategies for Arranging Living Room Furniture

5. Don’t be a slave to symmetry. The mind naturally prefers symmetrical images, in which the elements are even and in balance. However, consciously working against symmetry or offsetting it, particularly in medium-distance or closer shots, can be interesting and bring more of your way of seeing to the home and pictures.

6. Think about image resolution. Consider what you would like the images to do. Do you want to print them? Frame or publish? Are they only for electronic and social media? The higher the initial photo resolution, the more options you will have for better image quality across a variety of media.

7. Consider the environment and people. What surrounds a subject in a photograph can express a lot about them; it is a kind of dialogue. Think about how the immediate environment or location relates to the person you’re photographing and what kind of background and detail would be most meaningful (or entertaining).

8. Create ease with portraits. One of the lovely aspects of photographing people in their own home is the familiarity they feel in their surroundings. Nevertheless, not everyone is comfortable with a camera fixed on them. Encouraging your subjects to talk about something of interest (camera in hand) can help minimize their self-consciousness in the case of a posed portrait. Often the more natural, personal moments come when someone’s attention is elsewhere for a moment. Be ready to capture those moments.

9. Observe things as they happen. Photographing people engaged in activities, movements or interactions can produce the most candid and telling portraits and stories. Whether people are working, playing, cooking or socializing, the stuff of daily life is rich and revealing. For greater depth and complexity, you can vary your perspectives to tell more of a story with a mix of wider establishing shots, observational portraits and closer shots and “cutaways” of particular details: a glass in the hand, vegetables being chopped, the fire burning brightly.

10. Remember the pets. If you have them, you already know: Animals are as much a part of the life in a home as people. It’s not easy to “direct” your pets, but you have a personal relationship with them and the benefit of their trust. And you know their routines and favorite places. There are many natural scenes between pets and people in the course of each day. And if your dog or cat (or pig or ferret) wanders unexpectedly through the frame, go with it. They are a part of it all. Related: Bring Nature into Your Photos With a Birdhouse

The post was written by Niobe Syme, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission


Renovation Spending Increases Among Younger Homeowners - Guest Post by Houzz

Renovation spending among younger homeowners is on the rise amid a strong renovation market, a new Houzz research report reveals. Among the report’s key findings: Younger homeowners and first-time buyers are driven at least in part by a desire to customize their homes. The 2017 Houzz & Home survey gathered information from close to 107,000 registered users of Houzz, including nearly 56,000 homeowners who renovated in 2016. Read on for more insight into how homeowners are renovating, how much they are spending and why they choose to renovate.

Millennial spending is up. Homeowners spent an average of $60,400 on their renovations in 2016, close to their average spend of $59,800 in 2015, the Houzz survey found. Notably, millennial homeowners (defined here as those ages 25 to 34) invested 7 percent more in their home in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing their average spending level to $26,200.

First-time buyer spending is up too. First-time buyers also bumped their spending level last year, averaging $33,800, up 22 percent from 2015. By contrast, long-term owners saw just a 3 percent rise in average spending year over year (YOY).

Older homeowners spend more. While younger and first-time buyers are trending upward in their spending, older homeowners still spend far more on their home renovations than the younger group. In fact, those ages 55 and older spend about three times the amount of those ages 25 to 34.

Recent buyers renovate more rooms. Recent home buyers tend to renovate more rooms in their new homes, on average, than long-term homeowners do.

Why people decide to renovate. The top triggers for starting a renovation project in 2016 were finally having the time, cited by 37 percent of homeowners who renovated, and finally having the money, cited by 36 percent. Another big motivator was purchasing a new home and wanting to customize it, cited by 27 percent of participants.

Buyers want to customize. The survey data shows that both first-time and repeat home buyers are very likely to start a renovation out of the desire to customize their home. Long-term owners, by contrast, are more likely to start a project because they discover damage.

Plastic gains popularity. Slightly more homeowners used credit cards to fund their renovation projects compared with the year before. Overall, 23 percent of homeowners used credit cards for renovation work in 2016, compared with 21 percent the year before. Among first-time home buyers, credit card funding is especially popular — 39 percent used plastic to pay for their projects.

Kitchen remodels average $19,100. Remodeling a kitchen is among the most popular renovation projects, and the average homeowner spend for doing so stayed steady year over year, at $19,100 for renovations in 2016, compared with $18,900 in 2015. Related: Kitchen Remodels for Different Budgets

Master bathroom remodels average $11,700. Similarly, the average price tag for master bathroom renovations rose to $11,700, a small uptick from the prior year’s average of $11,300. Related: Find the Best Kitchen and Bath Remodelers in Your Area

A year from start to finish. Planning an interior remodel takes an average of four to eight months, according to the survey, with kitchen planning being the most lengthy process, at an average of 7.7 months. Construction averages 2.5 to five months. In total, an interior remodel project averages about a year from planning to completion.

Kitchen, bathrooms and living rooms top the list. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms remain the top priorities for homeowners who are renovating, the survey found. For first-time buyers, master bedroom remodels are particularly important. Master bedrooms are their third most frequent renovation, and twice as likely to be tackled by first-time buyers compared with long-term owners.

Three rooms at a time. Three in four of renovating homeowners tackle interior rooms, and on average they address three rooms at a time. More than half of renovators take on home systems such as HVAC.

One-fifth choose home automation. Home automation systems, such as smart thermostats and lights, and security upgrades, such as alarm systems and cameras, increased in popularity relative to 2015. One-fifth of renovating homeowners choose these changes, with recent buyers twice as likely to install these systems as long-term owners.

Beds and borders, decks, and lighting are popular. In terms of outdoor upgrades, one-third of renovating homeowners choose to upgrade beds and borders. Decks are the most popular outdoor structures, chosen by 14 percent of renovating homeowners. Lighting upgrades are chosen by 16 percent of renovating homeowners, with repeat buyers the most likely to prioritize outdoor lighting.

We all need a little help sometimes. Renovating homeowners are increasingly turning to pros for help, with 87 percent hiring a pro during the course of their renovation in 2016, up from 85 percent in 2015. Repeat home buyers hire pros in the greatest numbers.

Budgetary matters. The No. 1 renovation challenge, cited by 36 percent of homeowners who renovate, is staying on budget. Finding the right products and materials was the second most common challenge, followed by finding the right service providers. The Houzz & Home survey was fielded from February to April 2017 and gathered responses from 106,678 registered Houzz users. The report relies on the subset of responses from 95,920 U.S. homeowners, and 55,687 U.S. homeowners on Houzz who renovated in 2016.

The Post was written by Erin Carlyle, Houzz and posted to RealBird with permission


House Hunting Checklist for Those Who Love to Entertain - Guest Post By Houzz

Feeling overwhelmed by the home-buying process? Don’t get swamped, get focused. Beyond the basics of location, price and condition, what do you really want from your home? In this series, we’re zeroing in on the top items to look for in a house based on your personal passions and lifestyle. Consider adding these 10 items to your home-buying wish list if you love entertaining.

 

1. Welcoming entry. Greeting guests is easier when you can usher them into a spacious entryway. Look for one with room to maneuver and good lighting. On the exterior, look for a covering over the entry to keep visitors dry during inclement weather. 2. Coat closet. A coat closet near the main entrance is helpful for stashing guests’ coats and bags, and it keeps these items out of sight. If the house has a spacious entry, you can fill this need with wall hooks or a coat tree, but if the entry is more compact, a closet will really help keep things tidy.

 

3. Kitchen counter seating. Inviting friends and family to pull up a seat and chat while you cook is a fun way to start a casual gathering. Look for a kitchen counter with plenty of space to prep, plus one side with room for guests to pull up a stool. Related: Pull Up Some New Counter Stools 4. Walk-in pantry. You need space to keep your ingredients and entertaining essentials like serving platters organized and accessible. Look for a walk-in or butler’s pantry with deep shelving and good light.

 

5. Open floor plan. Open-plan spaces are ideal for encouraging mixing and mingling during parties. Look for a spacious living area where you can put flexible seating to fit a big group and for good flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. 6. Formal dining room. If you prefer hosting cozy sit-down dinners, a formal dining room is a must. Look for one with distinctive architectural features and enough space to fit your dining table and chairs, plus a buffet. A fireplace in the dining room can be the ultimate in coziness, but remember that a wood-burning fireplace requires more upkeep (and prep) than a gas fireplace.

 

7. Main-level powder room. A petite powder room is a big help when entertaining: It’s typically easy for guests to get to, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up your main bathroom each time you have people over. Look for a powder room (also called a half bath) on the main level but preferably not directly off the dining room. 8. Basement rec room. A finished basement can be a big plus, especially for those in areas with cold winters. A fully finished and heated basement offers bonus living space for extras like a bar, pool table or big-screen TV. If you’re considering a home with a finished basement, be sure to find out if the ceilings are regulation-height, and ask your home inspector to check for signs of leaks or excess moisture.

 

9. Deck, porch or patio. Vast lawns are gorgeous to look at, but a deck or patio is where friends tend to gather. Look for one that’s next to the house with enough room to set up an outdoor living space or dining area. A covered porch can protect your gathering from bright sun and inclement weather. Privacy from neighbors, in the form of hedges or fencing, will make the area more appealing to use. And if mosquitoes are a concern, a screened-in porch makes it possible for you and your guests to enjoy the outdoors without getting eaten alive. 10. Indoor-outdoor flow. Encourage mingling both indoors and out with sliding glass or French doors. The visual connection helps groups feel connected and makes it obvious to guests where they are supposed to go. Look for large glass doors leading from the living room, dining room or kitchen (in an open-plan space) to a back deck or patio.

The post was written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


6 Perfect Paint Colors for Staging a Home - Guest Post By Houzz

When prepping your home for sale, one of the most important tasks is giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. The standard advice from most real estate professionals is to keep them neutral with shades of white. But as a home stager and an interior designer, I prefer to take a more stylish approach. Remember, the overall goal of home staging is to make each room feel fresh, inviting and neutral enough so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. That doesn’t have to translate, however, to bland, boring and devoid of style. Sometimes white can work, but a greater concern is making sure the room doesn’t look too stark. These elegant, crowd-pleasing neutral paint colors can help you stage your home to perfection.

As you consider these choices, keep in mind that to present your home in the right light, you’ll want to select a neutral paint color that coordinates with your furnishings and finishes. The following warm or dark neutrals can add style and while maintaining a mainstream look. Gorgeous ‘Greige’ Gray has been the new white for years now. But not all grays are created equal. “Greige,” a pale gray with a beige undertone, is one of the most versatile colors for staging. Essentially a pale taupe, greige is a cool, sophisticated hue that can elegantly complement and add depth to a mostly white room. It’s great in both large and smaller spaces.

Bird’s Egg Blue I always refer to this type of blue as a grown-up turquoise. A warm medium blue with sunny undertones, bird’s egg blue is an elegant choice for living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, particularly when the rest of the room is white, beige or gray. A pale serene turquoise works well with both traditional and modern decor to create a soothing feeling in this room. This calm environment can have a positive emotional effect on potential buyers and allow them to appreciate the beauty of the space.

Dramatic Charcoal A darker color can also be a surprising neutral. Many people might be hesitant to use a dark paint color, thinking it will make the room look smaller or darker. A dark color can, however, add depth on an accent wall. In a dark room it can conceal any shadows and replace an overall dark feeling with a serene and stylish one. Charcoal, a deep gray, is a perfect dark neutral that can raise the style factor in a room as well as add a refreshing cool tone that complements beige and orange wood hues. Adding subdued drama, it works well in light-filled rooms or on an accent wall, especially in smaller rooms or on walls where you want to feature an architectural element. For a stylish contrast, coordinate charcoal walls with accessories and furniture in lighter colors, such as whites and pale beiges.

Golden Yellow Let the sunshine in with a little golden yellow on your walls or fixed elements such as cabinets. This photo shows how a cheerful yellow can add warmth to a mostly white kitchen; it works well with white or stainless steel appliances. Related: Pro Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets In other rooms, such as a cozy bedroom or living room, this color’s sunny disposition can add a layer of charm to an otherwise blah color palette. It’s especially helpful in rooms that have low light, no view, or architectural features that cast dark shadows. The golden hues help eliminate a darker feeling and can distract from a bleak view. Look for a yellow that has a slight wheat or creamy undertone and that isn’t overly bright or garish. A mellow yellow coordinates with most wood hues, earth tones, blues and pastel colors.

Classic Navy Navy blue is an excellent paint color to add sophistication, drama and a feeling of refined maturity to a room. Similar to charcoal gray, navy works well in a light-filled room or on a featured accent wall, particularly in smaller rooms or walls with architectural details like a fireplace. Related: Freshen Up an Old Fireplace With Contemporary Fireplace Screens Coordinate navy with contrasting pale hues like whites, silver or beiges. A navy accent wall gives an ordinary room a more designed and notable look. This is a clever design trick to help a room feel a bit larger or appropriately functional to a prospective buyer.

Creamy Whites If your walls are already a shade of white and adding a new color isn’t in your comfort zone, look to neutral creamy whites to give the room a warm and refreshing look. Creamy white has an undertone of pale beige or greige, without being too yellow. The added warmth can give a stark room a welcoming glow without adding color. Pair your creamy white walls with a whiter color on the trim, ceiling and fixtures.

This post was written by Neila Deen, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


House-Hunting Help: Which Home Style Is Right for You? - Guest Post By Houzz

When you are shopping for a house to buy or rent, how much does house style play into your decision-making process? Knowing the features (and drawbacks) of a handful of main house styles can help you search smarter, and help you find a home that works not only for your style but for your life.

What is available on the market depends on what region you live in, as well as whether you are focusing on an urban, a suburban or a rural community. Even specific neighborhoods within a town can be more heavily concentrated with a certain house style — just think of the "painted lady" Victorians in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.

Once you have a house style in mind, take a drive around your area to see if there is a neighborhood you should focus your search on. Learn more here about eight common house styles in the United States to see if one of them is right for you.

White Colonial House

Colonial. This traditional East Coast U.S. style tends to have a symmetrical facade, two stories and a formal entrance front and center. Is it for you? Colonial homes have classic curb appeal in spades and a nice separation between public rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen) on the first floor and bedrooms upstairs. Small, separate first-floor rooms can feel quite formal and sometimes dark — the polar opposite of an open floor plan.

Craftsman bungalow. Influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, American Craftsman houses are known for their solid, quality construction, low-slung profile and use of natural materials like stone and shingles made of wood. Most common in California, Craftsman homes can also be found across the country. Similar in style, Prairie homes dominate in the Midwest. Related: What Defines a Craftsman Style House?

Is it for you? With an open floor plan and plenty of built-in details like desks, china cabinets and shelves, Craftsman homes make excellent use of a compact space. Repairing and replacing period details can be costly.

Home Renovation and Addition in Decatur

Cape Cod. A popular East Coast U.S. style, the Cape Cod house is a small, usually shingled cottage with a pitched roof and dormers.

Is it for you? With its petite footprint and charming cottage style, Cape Cod style is great for smaller households. It's also a natural choice for vacation homes and can be found across the country. As with many older house styles, Cape Cods tend to have little storage space.

Traditional Exterior

Victorian. Fancy gingerbread trim, towers and wraparound porches are hallmarks of this unmistakable style. Inside you will find lots of cozy, private rooms and nooks.

Is it for you? The warren of small rooms can be either a help or a hindrance, depending on your lifestyle. If having a separate library, den, music room and office appeals more than one large space, the layout of a Victorian home could be a great fit. Historic Victorians can be costly to repair and maintain.

Colombatto Oceano

Spanish style. Especially popular in warmer regions of the country, Spanish revival–style homes tend to feature arches, tile work and white stucco. Some may have balconies or a central courtyard.

Is it for you? Thick stucco walls and tile floors are naturally cool, which is ideal for warm climates. The charming gardens, courtyards and balconies are perfect for outdoor entertaining. In older Spanish revival homes, bedrooms and closets tend to be small.

Chimney Corners

Ranch. These sprawling, single-level homes can be found all across the country. Key features include open floor plans, patios and an attached garage. Related: Thousands of Design Ideas and Inspiration for Your Patio

Is it for you? With big yards, open floor plans and plenty of storage, ranch homes are a natural choice for families. With their single-story layout and low maintenance requirements, smaller ranches are ideal for retirees and empty-nesters as well.

Brooklyn Heights Addition

Row house. This urban housing style takes on a different look depending on the city, from the brownstones of New York to the Victorian row houses of San Francisco. All feature long, narrow floor plans and can be either divided into flats or kept as single-family homes.

Is it for you? Newly constructed lofts and townhouses have more spacious floor plans, but a classic old row house has character to spare and may feature hand-crafted built-in details.

front landscape

Modern. While "modern" covers pretty wide ground, you can count on modern homes to feature large expanses of glass, crisp architectural lines and open plans. Related: Fill a Modern Home With Contemporary Furniture

Is it for you? Lovers of modern design will surely gravitate toward this home style. The wide-open spaces also make modern homes ideal for entertaining.

This post was written by Laura Gaskill, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.