Happy Homeowners: The Morlan Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features The Morlan Family, who recently built their new home in Orlando.  Read below to hear about Morlan’s homebuilding journey with M/I Homes!

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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?

Angelia Morlan: This is our second M/I home.  Our first home was an M/I Home.  It was about a year old when we bought it and we lived in it for 13 years.  We knew when we were ready for a new home, we wanted M/I Homes to build it again.  We never had any problems with our first home and knew that M/I Homes built a good, solid home.  We did not even consider another builder.

 

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

AM: Yes!  This is absolutely our dream home.  We decided to build from the ground up so we could get everything we wanted.  We have been in our new home for almost 2 months now and still can’t believe it is really ours.  You will hear the words “I love our house” several times a week as we arrive home from work or eating out.  We are taking our time decorating each room and enjoying every minute!

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

AM: The floorplan we chose is called the Essex.  It has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a bonus room on the second level.  We love the layout of the home and the great use of space utilized in this floorplan.  As far as features go, there are so many.  The one great thing we found with building with M/I Homes is that so many features that one may consider an upgrade are already included in the base model of any of the floorplans in our community.  We loved the brick pavers on the driveway and back patio, granite counter tops in the kitchen and master bath, the covered lanai, and the stone accent on the exterior.  These were not upgrades but came standard on the house.  Other features that we love include the master suite which is the size of a small apartment with a huge walk in closet and master bath.  We also love the large open living room, kitchen, and dining area with so many windows and a panoramic view of the golf course and tree line behind us.

 

M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes? Did you get to pick out your home site and the floorplan you wanted to build, or had the home already been started?

AM: This was not our first experience living in an M/I Home, but it was our first experience building from the ground up.  It really was one of the best experiences we have ever had when it comes to building and buying a home.  We loved that we got to pick out the floorplan and the home site.  We actually looked at several M/I Home communities in our area but we kept coming back to Serenity at Redtail because the views were amazing.  Honestly, every home in the community has no one behind them and a lovely view of either a common area filled with beautiful trees, a lake, or the golf course.  We picked a lot with a view of Redtail golf course.  The best part is we get to see the sunrise to our left and the sunset to our right from our back lanai.  I am addicted to sunset pictures and have already taken quite a few.

 

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

AM: We loved visiting the construction site every week.  We could really see the quality of the work going into the house from the inside out.  Several times my husband and I brought our lawn chairs and sat on the back patio, watched the sunset, and talked about how we would decorate our new home.  We also loved visiting with Linda, our M/I Homes Sales Associate.  It was also a lot of fun working with Julie at the Design Center.  She had great ideas in interior design and really helped to make our vision of our dream home a reality.

 

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

AM: The views are stunning.  A sense of peace fills you as soon as you drive in the neighborhood.  There is always a breeze and it just feels good to be there whether we are inside of our home or walking around the neighborhood.  We love seeing the wildlife almost on a daily basis.  We love that we can walk out of our back door and are steps away from the golf course.  We love that we feel like we are on vacation. We are away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city, but still close enough to entertainment and shopping.

 

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

AM: Really look at the community you are considering to buy a home in.  M/I Homes does a great job with not just the quality of the construction of the home, but also with what is around your new home. We have beautiful trees, a golf course, and beautiful common areas for everyone in the community to enjoy.

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

AM: We moved in the day before Thanksgiving.  Our neighbor, next door, invited us to spend the day with them since they knew we would be moving. It was great to enjoy a wonderful meal with them and to get to know them.  We feel very lucky that they are our neighbors.  We also will never forget spending our first Christmas in our new home.

 

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

AM: My husband and son would say the man cave, AKA bonus room, it’s their favorite room in the house.  My favorite space is the back patio because of the amazing view.  I sit out there every evening.  I also really love our master suite.

 

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

AM: I was surprised at how involved M/I Homes and our building superintendent allowed us to be.  We could come by and walk through the house anytime we wanted to and could ask questions and give input along the way.

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

AM: Take a lot of pictures during the building process.  It is so neat to go back and look through them once you are in your home.  It was also helpful to have the pictures as a resource when making decorating decisions.

 

M/I: Any additional items / stories you would like to share about your new home?

AM: Our English Bulldog Yeti, loves his new home too.  When we first moved in, he ran laps up and down the long foyer and hallway.  His favorite space is our living room.  He sits in the same spot each night and watches TV with us.  He also enjoys sitting on the patio and watching the golfers and the Sandhill Cranes walk by.

 

If Your Kids Could Have Their Way, Where Would They Move

Young professionals without kids have the freedom to move based on personal preference, financial reasons, and job opportunities. Often, high-paying jobs and seemingly endless amenities for entertainment, dining, and sightseeing draw people to bustling, costly cities on the coast. Parents, however, operate under a different must-have list where high priority is given to finding family-friendly neighborhoods with ample outdoor space.

To define the best areas for kids, Zillow analyzed 100 of the nation’s largest cities, grading them on commute times, child population, and kid-friendly amenities like theme parks and playgrounds. Consider the following four cities that made the top 10 kid-friendly cities list.

Fort Worth

Out of the top 10 cities for kids, Fort Worth holds the highest percentage of youngsters at 16.1% of the total population. In addition, 13.8% of homes listed for sale in Fort Worth include kid-friendly terms such as “playroom” and “custom treehouse,” which helps relocating parents narrow their scope. Fort Worth holds four parks and 0.02 theme parks per 10,000 residents, while the median yard size is a comfortable 5,742 square feet. M/I Homes’ Creekwood community in Saginaw, located just north of the city, is representative of Fort Worth family living. Creekwood holds recreational fields, lake access, and green space. Various amenities, including a duck pond, fishing pond, biking trails, playgrounds, and swimming pools, are fundamental for families with children. Plus, close access to I-35W minimizes driving time to and from work for employed parents.

 San Antonio

At no. 4 on the best kid-friendly cities list, San Antonio kids make up 14.6% of the city’s population. House hunters with kids might have an easier time finding the perfect place given 14.3% of listings depict kid-friendly amenities. What San Antonio lacks in accessible public parks – two per 10,000 people – it makes up in yard size at a median 6,211 square feet. San Antonio also holds one of the higher theme park proportions of the top 10 cities at 0.04 per 10,000 residents. If you’re searching for family-friendly homes near San Antonio, consider the Waterford Park community. Waterford Park includes a community pool, playscape, open space and cabana for both adults and children to enjoy. This Alamo Ranch new construction community is located within the highly-rated Northside Independent School District, which feeds into several distinguished elementary, middle, and high school public facilities.

 Charlotte

Charlotte is the sixth best city for child rearing, based on its large kid population (14.3%) and numerous tot-approved listings (8%). With four parks and 0.03 theme parks per 10,000 people, Charlotte doesn’t lack profuse amusement. Still, Charlotte’s distinct attribute is the city’s sizable backyards at a median 10,549 square feet. Avery Park, a new home site in Cornelius, is a prime example of kid-friendly living near Charlotte. Avery Park offers easy access to Lake Norman, parks, playgrounds, a community garden, and dog park. Residents benefit from a convenient location, just 20 minutes north of Uptown Charlotte, facilitating faster commute times throughout the work week.

 Dallas

Dallas comes in no. 10 of the best cities for kids with 15.7% kids and 7.6% of homes listed with kid-friendly terms. Dallas offers three public parks and 0.02 theme parks per 10,000 residents. The median yard size of 7,133 square feet designed to satisfy any energetic toddler proves everything truly is bigger in Texas. Castle Point is a prime community for single-family house hunters. Located in Garland, northeast of downtown Dallas, Castle Point is a few miles away from George Bush Turnpike and minutes from major highways. In addition, Castle Point is within walking distance of Springfield Park and the Rowlett Creek Preserve, while the greater Garland area holds thousands of acres of green space and nature trails.

While kids are destined to enjoy green space and neighborhood amenities, parents are wise to weigh job opportunities, local schools and real estate prices alongside family must-haves. Luckily, many of these major cities fit everybody’s best interest – regardless of age.

**Jennifer Riner writes about rentals, home improvement and design for Zillow Blog.

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!

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

Lighted Mirrors: Get Ready for Your Close-Up

By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

Though not traditionally viewed as the most glamorous room in the home, the bathroom has become a personal oasis—a haven for health, beauty and general rejuvenation. A lighted mirror is a small addition to the bathroom that instantly elevates its functionality and style. Whether your intended purpose is added safety or a dose of glamour, a lighted mirror provides ample luminosity and tons of style. Here are a few reasons why we love this bathroom addition.

  1. Decorative Lighting

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If you’re a non-traditionalist, look at a standard mirror paired with sconces on either side. This decorative option leaves you plenty of room to personalize your bathroom with accent lighting. Incorporate additional task lighting by installing a magnifier with lighting to get up close for daily details like applying makeup or shaving. Opting for an additional magnifying mirror may also serve as a helpful aid to any guests with limited vision.

  1. Extra Storage

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One of our favorite aspects of a lighted mirror is that, more often than not, it is accompanied by extra storage. Mirrors with added lighting are typically also medicine cabinets, with hidden shelving tucked behind a beautifully lit mirror. That extra storage can go a long way. If you have kids, keep medicine and things they shouldn’t get into on the top shelf of your cabinet. Use the shelving for toiletries and your favorite beauty products to keep all your bathroom needs in one safe place.

  1. Electrical Access

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With interior design and furniture companies diving into the innovative world of technology, we’re seeing more and more sleek electrical elements being worked into our favorite bathroom furnishings. With an outlet tucked just to the side of the mirror, you can charge your phone and plug in your styling tools in the morning and switch a nightlight on when you’re ready to turn in for the evening. Some lighted mirrors also come with dimming effects for customizable ambiance and de-fogging mechanisms that help keep your mirrors clear of shower steam.

  1. Integrated Lighting

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Another fabulous aspect of lighted mirrors is a feature known as integrated lighting. Often comprised of LED light strips, integrated lighting in the bathroom means that you can easily control the size, style and shape of the lighted mirror. Homeowners can create a mirror that is uniquely theirs and touches on all of their bathroom needs, like extra lighting around the border of the mirror, more storage or a bigger mirror.

When looking into adding a lighted mirror to your bathroom, make sure to measure your space to see just how much room you have to work with. Next, identify your needs. Is this strictly decorative? Will you need extra storage space or hidden shelving? After choosing a mirror that fits your style and function needs, accessorize the rest of your space to match your new piece. Keep accessories to a minimum and let your lighted mirror truly shine.

**Kerrie Kelly is the driving force behind her California interior design firm, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. Kerrie is a renovation and decor expert who writes for The Home Depot. To view a selection of mirrors, including styles that Kerrie mentions, you can visit the Home Depot website here.

 

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