BUILDING OUR HOME: THE OVERWHELMING TRIP TO THE DESIGN CENTER

Reblogged from MeganFenno.com:
Ah, the trip to the design center. A test of your marriage, an immense feeling of being overwhelmed and hoping that what you decide on that long day will suit you for the rest of your time in your new home. 
Don’t get me wrong, it was also very exciting, but the choices. There were SO many.
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Well, we also had this going on. The first time we went just to take a look at the options one weekend before our official appointment. We made the mistake of bringing Myles. I get it, to a five year-old, this stuff can be kind of boring. Besides, if it were up to him, we’d have a rainbow-colored house. That could be cool, too.

Anyway, since we went out once to the design center before actually selecting our options, it helped us see what we were up against. And it’s true when they say you’ll be picking EVERYTHING. We chose our brick, floors, overall wall colors, knobs on cabinets, granite, siding, trim, doors … to even deciding the shelving in the master bath shower. It was intense. But with a little preparation beforehand and having John model the home out in his 3-D software, we were able to make the selections appointment a little less stressful.

Another thing that helped us immensely was browsing Pinterest to look at new home selections, model homes and color schemes. Because it’s one thing when you’re deciding paint colors — those can always be changed —  but you can’t just up and change an entire hardwood floor or large slab of granite.

But as said, with some careful planning and preparation, we made all of our selections in about five hours.

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For the kitchen, we chose to go with multi-colored granite. We had light-colored countertops in our old home, which stained easily. We’ve also experienced black granite at our last home downtown and it felt like the dark-colored countertops would show every little piece of dust or handprint. With that being said, we wanted something in the middle.

We chose to go with dark cabinets, only because we had white ones in our old home and they seemed to show every handprint or mark, which is never easy to clean when you have a kid opening cabinets just for the sake of opening cabinets. So, dark it was.

The hardwood selection was tricky, but we opted for something in the middle. Floors that are too light show everything, but so do floors that are too dark. Because again, we’ve had both. Picking a hardwood that would help disguise dust and compliment our other selections helped narrow down our options; leaving us choosing a medium colored flooring.

It sounds like I’m so worried about dirt showing, but seriously, no matter how much I cleaned light floors, dark countertops or vise-versa, it just never worked out. Maybe I was cleaning them the wrong way? Regardless, I am happy to say now that we love what we chose and it’s three months after we’ve moved in now.

I feel like we really focused on getting the colors and selecting the materials for the kitchen took priority, then it became easier to more or less ‘follow the theme’ and choose the rest of the house colors, brick, wall color, and everything else based on our initial kitchen selections.

As you can see from the image below, we stuck with a modern color palette, with various shades of browns, greys, and beige colors. Going with neutrals to start felt like a good idea until we can really start designing out the inside of the home.

Now that we’ve lived in the home for almost three months (where does time go?!), I can say we’re very happy with what we chose!

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**Megan Fenno is a Cincinnati blogger, an accessory designer and owner of FENNOfashion.com, a freelance writer, a Savannah College of Art & Design Alumni with a degree in fashion & accessory design, a wife to my high-school sweetheart,a girl that absolutely loves the city of Cincinnati, and a mother to a 5 year-old stud!  To read her full blog, visit her page today!

Why Should Homeowners Care About Conserving Energy?

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Have you heard the buzz about going green? Homeowners across the country have started to embrace a greener lifestyle, but what’s in it for them? Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners should be concerned with energy conservation!

Improves your quality of life.

Everyone wants to feel comfortable in his or her home, and energy efficiency can help homeowners reach a new level of comfort. Do you have to snuggle up under blankets to stay warm or turn on a ceiling fan for extra cooling? Do you have to wear socks around the house because of icy cold floors? These problems can easily be fixed with insulation, which will reduce your energy use and make you more comfortable. This is just one way energy efficiency can improve the quality of your life. The opportunities to make your home more comfortable are endless, which is why so many homeowners love tackling green home improvement projects.

Saves you money.

Perhaps the main reason why homeowners start to conserve energy is to save money. Most homeowners spend around $2,000 a year on home energy bills, but this can be reduced by 20-30% if you make energy efficient upgrades in the home. The less energy you consume, the less you will have to spend on water and electric bills every month. This means you will have more money in your pocket to allocate towards your mortgage, savings, or paying down student loan debt.

Helps the environment.

The less energy that is consumed by homeowners, the more society can save valuable natural resources. Energy conservation can also reduce air pollution. Everything from cars to power plants contribute to air pollution, so the less you rely on these things, the more you can help keep the air clean.

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Improves the economy.

Besides the benefits it can bring to you personally, becoming more energy efficient at home can also help the economy. Energy efficient projects, such as installing solar panels on the roof of a building for example, can build jobs. In fact, in 2010 alone, there were over 800,000 jobs in America related to energy efficiency. As more homeowners begin to conserve energy, manufacturers are forced to adjust to this new type of consumer demand, thus conserving energy sparks innovation. If every homeowner made an effort to be more energy efficient, the results would be huge and far-reaching.

Now that you know why you should care about conserving energy, are you ready to start living green? Here are a few easy ways you can get started:

  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, which use 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
  • Install a power strip. Leaving devices on can waste energy, but did you know that devices plugged directly into the wall can still waste energy while they’re off? Plug as many devices as you can into a power strip, and then turn the entire strip off when it’s not in use to cut energy off at the source.
  • Install a programmable thermostat, which can help you make sure you are not unnecessarily heating or cooling your home and wasting energy when no one is there.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to start conserving energy in your home, so why not start today?

M/I Homes takes many steps to ensure that your new home is energy efficient. We build all of our homes to our Whole Home Building Standards, and always work to make sure that our homes are up to the best energy ratings.

** Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design.@Umajcampbell www.umajcampbell.wordpress.com

Happy Homeowners: The Van Dusen Family

Our newest “Happy Homeowners” blog brings us to Scott and Donna Van Dusen, who recently built their new home in Tampa. Scott and Donna began their journey by choosing their lot and plan, and have shared with us their experience of the whole building process and living in their new M/I home.

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Scott and DonnaThis is our first M/I home.  When we moved to Tampa, FL, we knew we had certain things we were looking for in the home we plan to retire in.  Our list wasn’t extensive, but we knew the specifics we had as requirements for our home.  With all of the builders we visited and all of the floorplans we looked at, M/I Homes was the only one that didn’t require any compromise with our needs and wants.  Right down to the lot we chose.

M/I: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

S/D: Yes!!!  Our home is everything we dreamed of.  After 6 months of living in our home, we both look around in disbelief that it is really ours. M/I was able to make this our dream home.

M/I: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

S/D: The Artilla.  The kitchen is everything we wanted, and the addition of the Butler’s Pantry was a really nice touch.  For me, the shower room was a big seller, and for my wife the bathtub.  The beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking our lake is picturesque.  I could list every item in our home and tell you it is something we especially love.

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M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

S/D: We had a fantastic experience with M/I Homes, and the experience started with Vicki.  She helped us picture every part of our home, right down to the view from the previously mentioned bay window. She helped us visualize what our home would become. Everything from the view to the endless possibilities we could have in our home. Vicki helped us not only detail all of the things we desired, but helped us discover some of the extras we now can’t live without.  Although she hoped we would buy one of the inventory homes, she led us to the perfect lot, and guided us through the design process, listening to all of the things we knew we wanted in our dream home.

M/I: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

S/D: Coming to the lot every weekend to see the progress of the week. Seeing all of our plans coming together, and imagining what would be when it was complete.  Of course, stopping by to see Vicki was fun as well.  Many laughs and long chats.

M/I: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

S/D: The Artilla met all of our requirements in a home.  Not a single compromise, which was a first in our search.  The things swaying us the most was the lake front lot, the beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking the lake, and the shower in the Master Bathroom.

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

S/D: Our home is in Estates at South Cove, a small gated community with just 47 homes and no CDD. All very important things we liked about our neighborhood.

M/IAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

S/D: Look at several builders, and make sure M/I is one of the builders you look at.  In our experience, no other builder compared.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

S/D: Our favorite memory was sharing the excitement of moving in with our parents.  All of their help with the move, and their love of our new home was a special memory for us.  They were so proud and happy for us and the home we chose.

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

S/D: Our favorite space is the lanai and the pool.  We watch all of the wildlife on the lake, cool off in the pool, and watch beautiful sunsets.

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M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

S/D: We were most surprised by how involved we could be with the construction and how reactive Vicki and our Construction Superintendent, Charlie, were to our ideas.  They were happy to work with us to make these details part of the build.  They made some great suggestions too, making our home even more fantastic.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

S/D: Make a list of everything you want and expect in your home.  For us, M/I offered the only floorplan with no compromises.  If your list is anything like ours and our neighbors’, chances are M/I will have everything you want in a home.

M/I: Anything else you would like to add?

S/D: We thank Vicki, Charlie, and M/I Homes with heartfelt sincerity.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This has been a great experience building our dream home, and we now have some great new friends.

** Scott and Donna live in the Tampa area. They love to take in their pool and to watch the beautiful sunsets from the backyard of their new M/I home.

How to Stay Organized When Downsizing Your Home for Retirement

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We all know that moving is tough. Not only do you have to sort, pack and haul your items to their new destinations, but you have to let go of objects that hold sentimental value.

Staying organized through this process can seem close to impossible, but the key to a smooth transition into retirement is preparation.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Downsizing does not happen overnight. You will need plenty of time to sort, pack, and move your belongings. If you wait until the last minute, you are more likely to throw everything in boxes and have a huge mess to sort out in your new home.

Write a list of everything you cannot live without—all the things you really need, everything you love, and things that are irreplaceable. The list will help you stay organized and on track.

Enlist Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That could be physical help with moving boxes or emotional help with making the hard decisions. Sharing memories with your loved ones can make sorting and organizing less overwhelming.

Do you have so many belongings that you don’t know where to begin? Time to bring in the experts. Senior move managers are specially trained to help older adults through the process of downsizing. These professionals can help you develop your move plan, organize and sort your belongings, arrange the removal of unwanted items, and even unpack and set up your new home.

Measure Your New Space

Before you start to move, measure your new home. See exactly how much space you have to work with. Will your current furniture fit, or will you need to buy something new?

You have the opportunity to start fresh. Make organization a priority before you even move. Resist the urge to fill every corner with furniture—it will only create more places for clutter to pile up. Invest in organizational shelving and make sure everything has a place.

Divide into Piles

Go through each room of the house and methodically sort your items. Make large piles of items you don’t want to keep and then subdivide these into giveaway, throwaway, and sell piles.

Sorting can be the most difficult part of downsizing. It forces us to confront our own bad spending habits. Be realistic when deciding what you need. Those pants you bought five years ago with the price tag still on? The designer rug rolled up in the corner that you got on discount? What about the bread maker you got for Christmas one year? If you haven’t used these items yet, chances are you never will.

Don’t Forget Sentimental Value

You may not use it regularly, but does it bring you joy to own? Does it have a history that you can’t bear to part with? While you need to be strict with yourself when downsizing, you shouldn’t forget about sentimental value.  Don’t throw away anything you would regret later.

Create a separate pile for sentimental items and don’t let it get too big. Set the pile aside for a while, return to it later, and ask yourself again if you truly need it. To create lasting memories, you can always take a picture and then pass the item along to someone else.

Label Your Boxes

After you’ve given or thrown away what you’ve decided not to keep, you are left with what you want to bring. Do not try to fill all the empty space in your new home. Leave some room for future purchases—and to breathe.

With less stuff, it should be easier to sort your belongings and put them into labeled boxes. Try sorting by location—when you unpack, you can bring the boxes labeled ‘kitchen supplies’ right to where they need to be.

Keep Essentials Close

When moving, the last thing you want to discover is your medications got lost in the shuffle or that your favorite pillow got sorted into the donate pile.

Pack a bag of essentials like toiletries, reading glasses, medications, pajamas, and a change of clothing. Keep it separate from your moving boxes where you can easily get to it. You don’t want to be running to the store the first night in your new home because you can’t find anything you need.

Live with Less Stress

Downsizing into a new home can be a breath of fresh air. After all of the hard work, you can settle into your new place with just what you need, and no more.

Downsizing means less stuff to unpack when you arrive and less to clean once you get settled. It is easier to stay organized when you have designed your new home to be organized from the start. Be free from clutter and live your golden retirement years with ease.

 

**Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Get Creative With Floor Tiling

Too often floor tiling is used as a purely functional covering for floors and walls. Rarely is tiling used to add visual interest with fun and complex patterns, configurations, colors, and combinations. Whether you’re looking to spice up a current space or want to create a brand new bathroom, using tile and matching accessories can take your home’s style from 0 to 60 in no time at all. Here are some of our favorite ways to display tile in a bathroom space.

Use Tile as a Boundary

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One of our favorite creative uses for bathroom tiling is as an underfoot partition. Separate a standalone shower from the rest of the bathroom using a pebble tile to outline the entrance of the space and add texture. Take it further and delineate each particular section of the bathroom, like the bathtub and vanity area. Not only does using tile as a boundary help frame each space in the bathroom, it also adds dimension, breaking up the larger space while also unifying it with repeated materials and designs.

Use Tile as a BorderImage 2As a simpler approach, instead of framing each element in the bathroom, use tile to frame the entire perimeter. In smaller spaces, a border can help draw the eye toward a certain object or furnishing, like a beautiful claw-foot tub or dramatic vanity. In a bathroom with more square footage, borders can follow the walls, jump into showers or toilet rooms, and skip around the front of vanities.

Use Tile as a “Rug”

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We often see tile being used in backsplashes and configurations in showers as a focal point with fun patterns like herringbones and check prints. The same framework can be done for tiling on the floor, too. Arrange tiles on the floor in the center of the bathroom to create a design that mimics the look of a rug. Position mosaic floor tiles as a border and fill the space with more field tile. To kick things up a notch, fill the inside of the mosaic border with a secondary tile pattern, adding even more interest and texture.

Use Tile as a Focal Point

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Using tile as a focal point adds an extra element to any bathroom without having to alter the space. Use a combination of tiles, a fun pattern or interesting color scheme to create a focal point in the center of the bathroom and anchor the space. Some of our favorite patterns include anything geometric, like diamonds and squares, as well as combinations that mimic organic elements, like flowers, stars or scenery. Our favorite part about using tile as a focal point is that most designs come on a 12×12 mesh, so they are super affordable and easy to install—a win-win!

Have you tried using tile in an interesting and unique way in your bathroom?

Interior designer Kerrie Kelly is the founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California. Kerrie writes about her knowledge of floor tiling designs, materials and styles, for The Home Depot. To research a large selection of floor tiles for your own home, you can go online at Home Depot.

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