Create the Perfect Place for Kids to Dream and Play

Stylish light for kids room

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Not many rooms in your home have such a huge design potential as a children’s bedroom. While living rooms and kitchens, for example, have to meet certain functional criteria and more rigid interior design rules, when decorating this room, you can often allow yourself much more creativity and freedom. This is because you are creating a one-of-a-kind space that reflects your child’s interests and personality. So let your imagination loose and involve your kids in the process to get the perfect bedroom for them to play, learn, and dream. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Kids Room 4

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A Corner to Play

Kids will always be kids whose favorite activity is to play. Try to set up a play area for them that they will love to spend time in. It does not have to be anything pretentious. Just a few toys and a colourful rug and you have already provided them endless hours of fun. Since play is an essential part of a child’s cognitive and motor development, make sure to add those toys that promote this development, such as building blocks, puzzles, balls, or musical instruments. But limit the number of toys in order to limit the amount of mess. And put plenty of baskets and shelves in the room with labels that will help your children put the toys back to their designated place after the playing time is over. This will teach your children organization from an early age.

Kids Room 2

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A Corner to Learn

Setting up a cozy reading nook is the best way to encourage your little ones to read. Just like play, reading also improves imagination and other cognitive skills. And fostering the love for reading and learning in your kids will later make school a lot less stressful for all of you. Place a comfy chair in one corner of the room and install bookshelves at a hand’s reach, so your children could grab a book whenever they want to set out on a reading adventure. Don’t forget a good light! To reduce eyestrain, put the reading nook close to a window and install reading lamps for bedtime reading sessions.

Kids Room 5

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A Corner to Create

Playing is fun and beneficial, but creating is even more so. Let your kiddos’ creativity reach its full potential by providing them with an art station. Stack this station with crayons, markers, collage paper, watercolours, notepads, and other art supplies that will inspire them. It is also an excellent idea to exhibit their artworks on the walls. This will lend a more personal feel to the room and make them feel proud.

Kids Room 3

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Whimsical Decoration

As we have already mentioned, a child’s bedroom is not meant to impress, but rather to amuse. This gives you the freedom to incorporate colors and décor details that you would not dare to use in any other room in your home. Wall decals are also a very popular detail in children’s bedrooms, since they are both effective and practical. If you are not artistic enough to paint a mural on your own, decals will do the job and you can take them down easily once your kids outgrow them. Wallpapers have also made a comeback. The colors and patterns of kids wallpaper are entirely up to your child’s preferences. You can also use leftovers from other rooms to make wallpaper collages. If you have not tried washi tape, you have to do it now. The things you can achieve with just a few rolls will leave you speechless. Besides, the tape is usually made of natural and recyclable materials like bamboo, hemp, tree bark, and rice, so it is completely child-friendly.

Your children will love and appreciate their personal space however you arrange it. Just keep in mind that safety comes first. So taking all measures of precaution should be your primary concern, especially if your kids are still toddlers.

**Lana Hawkins is an architecture student from Sydney. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and renovation, which she does regularly for Smooth Decorator. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, as well as landscaping.

What You Need to Know About Building a Home!


Buying a home can be scary. Building one can be even scarier, but it doesn’t have to be if you have an idea of what you’re doing. We interviewed an expert on new home construction and came up with a few super helpful tips that anyone thinking about building should know. These are things like the construction timeline, stages of construction, how to deal with surprises after closing, and the best advice for people new to building a new home.

Construction Timeline & Building Stages

It’s important for anyone who is considering building a new home to understand the timeline as well as some of the main construction stages. According to Brent Holsinger, Vice President of Construction for M/I Homes of Central Ohio, the timeframe from purchasing a new home to start of construction is roughly 2-2.5 months and 4-6 months for the building process.

From Sale to Dig: The First 60 Days

The first 60 days set the stage for everything that is to come during the building process, and also sets you up for the home of your dreams. In the first 30 days you will get the chance to pick out all of your selections. This is when you, the customer, gets to choose what you would like to be in your home. Maybe you would like a beautiful bay window to allow more light into your elegant breakfast nook or you picture your kitchen having gorgeous stainless steel appliances with granite countertops. Maybe you would like both! At this time you get to make those decisions, as well as decide how to set up your home’s wiring including your outlets, TV hook-up, and even lighting location. The next 30 days is for the homebuilder to ensure all is ready for the Buyer Builder Conference and ensure permits go through.  We will touch on the Buyer Builder Conference later in this blog.

Dig to Close: Four to Six Months

Finally, the construction starts—this is what you’ve been waiting for! But there are some things you should know going into this so that you have a good understanding of the progress being made on your home. Homes don’t just whimsically fall together, there are plenty of stages to building the home of your dreams and it all starts with the foundation!

The Foundation

The foundation stage includes a few things one might not think or know about but are very important. First, you have to lay and pour the footer.  The footer is what the foundation walls sit on and is what makes direct contact with the ground.  It is one of the most important parts of the foundation. After the footing has been properly prepared, the foundation walls are built. Some builders use more traditional block-style foundation, but M/I Homes uses poured walls providing you with an all together better foundation.  After this and some waterproofing of the foundation walls, the backfill takes place. The backfill is when the dirt from the dig is pushed back in around the foundation walls to settle it into the earth.  This can help prevent future foundational problems.

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Framing is when you start to see the home you envisioned actually take form. You begin to see the layout of the home and the shape. When it comes to new home construction in most places, framing materials include lumber, and/or cinder blocks, depending on the area. Depending on the size of the house this can take anywhere from around 10 days to a few weeks.



Rough Mechanicals

Rough mechanicals are one of the most important stages of the building process. It includes plumbing, HVAC, and electric. This stage is called “rough mechanicals” because finishes like toilets, lights, showers, and other user-facing appliances are not installed. Only the backend work is done.

The first step in rough mechanicals is plumbing. In this stage, the plumber runs pipes and tubing throughout the house. The tubing will be run to the areas where sinks, toilets, and showers will be. Generally, these are red tubes (signifying hot water) and blue tubes (signifying cold water). Next comes HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning). This is the stage where ductwork (vents and other pipes) are put in place for ventilation, heat, and air conditioning.  This is also the stage where you may see a furnace installed. Lastly comes electric, when all the wiring for outlets, lights, and TV hookups are run throughout the house. Remember when you picked their locations in the first 60 days?  You’ll now get to see these locations in real life!

Insulation and Dry Wall

Insulation comes first in this process. There are a few different types of insulation, but M/I Homes of Columbus uses fiberglass. This is the insulation that looks like pink cotton candy, and although you may not realize it, insulation is very important. It has a great deal to do with the energy efficiency of your home, how your home feels in the winter and summer months and can have a huge affect on your utility bills. Once the insulation has been set, the walls are sealed with dry wall. Then the spaces between the dry wall boards are mudded so they are no longer visible, and your walls start to look like actual walls.


Insulation & Drywall


Everything that’s left to do is regarded as a finish and this is the stage where the home starts to become habitable.  First, all three mechanical vendors (Plumbing, HVAC, Electric) come back and add their finishes. This includes toilets, lights, AC system, showers, sinks, appliances, etc. After these items are completed, a painter comes in and paints the house. Following the painter, flooring is installed throughout the house. Then comes a final walkthrough where the construction superintendent will go through and make sure your home is ready for you.


M/I goes the extra mile!

M/I Homes takes even more steps throughout this building process to ensure you have the home of your dreams! During the building process they allow their customers to have full access to their homes while in construction. Customers are given their own hard hats so they can come and check on the progress of their home as they see fit.  M/I Homes also takes the initiative to schedule three meetings with you throughout the building process to make sure everything is going as planned. The first is a Builder Buyer Conference, where you make sure all your selections are correct and review plans with your construction manager. Second is the pre drywall inspection, where you come see the progress of your home, and also let us know if everything (lighting, outlets, TV hookup, etc.) are where you would like them to be. The third meeting is a week before closing, to make sure the finished product is everything you expected as well as to show you how to use the items in your home (appliances, showers, electrical, etc.).

Thinking about building? Here’s our advice!

We went back to the Vice President of Construction for M/I Homes of Central Ohio, Brent Holsinger, and asked what other advice he might have for someone thinking about building. He said he would advise anyone who is thinking about building to do their research. Not every builder has standards as high as M/I Homes, so anyone who is thinking about building should research and compare the builders thoroughly from their integrity to their building materials.

We understand that the building process can be a little scary, especially when you know nothing about it. M/I Homes takes extra steps to make sure you are active and involved in the process so that this is one the greatest experiences of your life. The next time you’re looking for a home, make sure to consider all your options and do your research.



Seven Pointers for Picking the Perfect Paint Color


Dining room in a Estates at Shayler Ridge model home (Click here to see more pics of this model)

Painting is one of the easiest and least expensive DIY projects for your home. That’s what M/I Homes’ Design Center Manager, Jenny Entler, says. We have to believe her because she studies up on the latest design trends and she’s helped hundreds of home buyers over the years to create their dream spaces down to every last detail, including, yes… the paint colors.


Bathroom in an Estates at Shayler Ridge model home (click here to see more pics of this model)

She says the current, most popular colors are light, muted grays; “beachy” pastel blues and greens; soft shades of white. “It’s pretty typical for customers to say they want to do a bold color—but few follow through—most stick with a light neutral like gray and beige,” she explains.

Here are seven savvy tips that Entler offers to help you pick the perfect hue for you!

  1. Look at Lighting: When choosing a paint color, lighting is the key. Bring paint samples home and look at them in the room you will be painting. View them at different times of the day to see how natural and artificial lighting affect the shades and undertones of the colors you like. (click here for a great blog to see how to incorporate floor lamps into any style)

Living room in a Estates at Shayler Ridge model home (Click here to see more pics of this model)

2. Feeling Blue for Bedtime: Blue is the most popular color to paint a bedroom. People feel it is “relaxing”, “serene” and “restful”

3. Get with the Flow: When choosing paint colors for the different spaces in your home—be mindful of how each area flows into the adjacent areas, and select colors with the same tones and undertones. Your home should have an overall flow, and all paint colors should make sense together.

4. Hit the (Fifth) Wall: Don’t forget the “fifth wall” of your rooms! Painting the ceiling will give the room a more finished look. Consider using the same color as your walls, but adding white to it to take it a few shades lighter. Whatever you choose, keep it light and neutral.   Remember that darker colors tend to create the illusion of a lower ceiling; while white creates an airy, open feeling.


Bedroom in the Greenshire Commons model home (click here to view more pics of this model)

5. Have an Accent: Painting a room a dark or bold color can be risky. A popular and inexpensive way to add a “pop” of color to a room is to paint an “accent” color on one wall. The color you choose should be in the same shade family and have the same warm or cool undertone as the general paint color. You’re less likely to get tired of the color too soon and it’s much easier to keep up with color trends when you only have one wall to repaint!

6. Contrast your Trim: Contrast your wall color with your trim color. Even a light neutral color on your walls will look more interesting when it’s paired with bright white on your baseboards, crown molding and window sills. The bright white will bring out the “color” of your neutral.


Bedroom in the Greenshire Commons model home (click here to view more pics of this model)

7. Think Big Picture: When we work with a customer to select a general paint color for a brand new home, and we don’t have any idea what their furniture of décor looks like; our goal is to find a neutral color with the proper undertone to complement their cabinets, flooring, countertop and tile choices. All components should be considered as a whole and the general paint color needs to look good with everything they’ve chosen.

If you’re interested in talking with someone at M/I Homes, call Laura at (513) 268-8460 or email her at


Happy Homeowners: The Wedemeyer Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Blog” is about Rebeca Wedemeyer, who purchased her new home in our Crown community in Maryland over a year and a half ago. Rebeca’s shared with us some of her thoughts and experiences with M/I’s building process!


Rebeca and Maxi

M/I HomesIs this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Rebeca: This is my first M/I home. The floorplan and layout are what sold me – hands down. It was creative and current and struck the right balance of relaxed and sophisticated.

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

RebecaI have the Picasso plan. There are several features I love. Unlike many townhome layouts, the front door (which is on the ground floor) opens to a spacious and well-lit family room. It’s perfect for inviting neighbors in for a glass of wine at the spur of the moment – which I do often!  Also, the main level has an open floorplan with plenty of windows that are perfect for entertaining and just as perfect for a relaxed night at home. And of course, the rooftop terrace and loft are delightful. Finally, I absolutely love the windows. They are virtually floor to ceiling and there are plenty of them!


Plenty of windows in this fabulous living room!

M/I HomesOverall, 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?

RebecaI had a great experience. I moved from across the street and had had my eye on this development and the specific lot I picked. I got to start from scratch and select features to my taste.

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

RebecaLike most of us, I’m busy so I was glad the process was smooth and hassle-free. That said, some of the guys on the job got a big kick of me and Maxi (my 5-pound fox terrier) visiting the site often. I guess that’s the hazard of living across the street. They always seemed to enjoy the break!

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

RebecaThe community itself is very well-designed. But when I saw the M/I Picasso model, I was sold!

M/I HomesWhat do you like about your neighborhood / community?

RebecaThere are several things I like about the community. First, there is plenty of space between homes. We have two-car garages and driveways which means there’s quite a bit of space between you and the neighbors behind you. It’s quite spacious in the front as well which is very unique in a townhome community. Also, they’ve done a great job creating green spaces and meeting places throughout the community. I have an end unit which overlooks a large landscaped brick pathway which leads right downtown. Neighbors and I will often meet on the benches to chat.

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

RebecaWell, I would say the old adage – location, location, location – holds true. It’s worth your time to ensure that the location itself meets your lifestyle. Not only the general community but also the lot itself. I chose a “premium” lot with extra charges that were hefty. My friends thought I was nuts! Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, they all get it. I’ve got the most beautiful views of green spaces and because I’m located literally in the center of the community on the walkway, I know all of my neighbors. I think sometimes people can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to buying a house but living space and community are very important to me and there are few investments as reliable as real-estate. So why not live where you want.

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

RebecaI have organized three block parties since I’ve lived here. Without a doubt meeting all my wonderful neighbors and helping to build a positive community has been a real blessing.

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

RebecaThat’s a tricky one. I have several “favorite spaces” which is one thing I love so much about the home. In the mornings, I love sitting downstairs on the first floor with my morning cup of coffee. The paint colors look beautiful in the morning sun and unlike many ground floors, it is always cozy. On most evenings, I like curling up on the couch in the living room. I can see the entire community and often passing neighbors will look up to see if I’m around and want to come walk dogs together. In the winters, Maxi and I love the family room fireplace (off the kitchen) and we tend to spend a lot of time there. I also often work from home and have built my office right into the main living area. It’s beautiful. Finally, the kitchen is one of my favorite spots. It’s both beautiful and well-designed. I often use the expansive island as my “standup office,” and of course, when I have people over, we rarely make it to any other part of the house!


Rebeca’s spacious kitchen and large island

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

RebecaI’m fairly decisive and have had a new home built before so I didn’t have any surprises. No surprises is a good thing!

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

RebecaI’d suggest asking to meet a homeowner or two with your same home plan. Most people are happy to show off their new home and they can often answer simple questions for you and also let you know what they’d do differently, if anything. Also, and this applies to any builder, take a risk and upgrade some features that are important to you. You’d be surprised how much a few key aspects can change the entire feel of your home. For me, I wanted the top of the line hardwood, kitchen cabinets, and iron pickets for my stairs but was just fine with the basics on other options.

**Rebeca lives in the DC area. When she’s not relaxing in her lovely M/I home with her dog Maxi, she can be found socializing with her neighbors.

Thinking About Buying in Chicago?

By Tali Wee

If you’re considering moving to Chicago anytime soon, you’ll be glad to know that it’s ranked one of the top buyers markets and best places for first-time buyers.

The housing market across the country is still highly competitive, outpricing first-time buyers who typically have smaller down payments than other shoppers or investors. Zillow evaluated major metros nationwide to determine markets with the most opportunity for first-time buyers, looking at home values, affordability, inventory and the amount of competition from all-cash buyers. Chicago was ranked fifth, with a median home value of $203,700. Homeowners in Chicago spend 14 percent of their income on their mortgages.

Homes move so quickly in many markets that shoppers must make snap decisions to compete, leading to a stressful or regretful experience. Fortunately, inventory is high in Chicago, allowing buyers time to shop around before making the serious decision to purchase. Chicago ranks second in the country as the best buyers’ market for 2016. The extensive inventory grants buyers more negotiating power with sellers. Plus, sellers offer more price cuts to prevent homes from sitting on the market too long.

If you’re less interested in available properties and more drawn to custom homes, the city also offers several new construction developments. Burlington Meadows is a small community in North Naperville offering single-family homes, wooded views, and spacious backyards. Lehigh Station is also in Dupage County, in Aurora, offering more contemporary townhomes surrounded by walking paths and quick access to retail and restaurants.

The Lakewood Prairie community is located in Joliet, about 45 miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, offering single-family homes along with a club house including a pool, tennis court, sand volleyball area, and playground. Kearney Glen, near Lakewood Prairie, is a new development of single-family homes with open floorplans, offering community attractions such as a pond and playground. Depending on what you’re looking for, you should be able to actualize your dream home in one of the many communities near Chicago.

Whether you’re customizing a new home, landing a move-in-ready property or adding your own touch to a fixer-upper, you’re likely to have some of the best buying luck in Chicago this year. 

For reference:

Top Buyers’ Markets

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Chicago
  3. Baltimore
  4. Hartford, CT
  5. New York/Northern New Jersey
  6. Miami
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Orlando, FL

Best Places for First-Time Home Buyers

  1. Indianapolis, IN
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Louis, MO
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Tampa, FL
  • Birmingham, AL


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