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.

 

Where Should Buyers Shop For Homes in 2016?

By Tali Wee

Buying a home is even harder than just a year ago, as fewer homes are available and buyers in many desirable markets are falling subject to bidding wars and incredibly steep buying competition. The best way to locate your dream home is to begin shopping in areas where buyers have the most negotiating power. When inventory is high, shoppers have more options to choose from and sellers are more eager to accept offers.

Researchers at Zillow narrowed down a list of the top 10 buyers’ markets by evaluating locations with the most price cuts and the longest average number of days for-sale homes sit on the market. If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, you’ll have the most luck in the following markets.

The Top 10 Markets for Home Buyers

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

Across the U.S., the median home value is $187,000, making a standard 20% down payment around $37,400. Although buyers these days can finance homes with less than 20 percent down, acquiring a mortgage is a major financial decision. You want to make sure you’re buying a home at a price you feel confident matches its value.

Homes in Philadelphia cost a bit less than the national rate, with a median value of $121,800. Plus, homes in Philly are expected to rise in value throughout the year, appreciating an additional 2.7% – slightly faster than the expected national lift of 2.4%.

BurlingtonMeadows

Burlington Meadows

If you’re looking to buy in Chicago, values sit at $203,700 with an anticipated 2.8% appreciation by year’s end. Besides the obvious appeal of such a major city making the list, Chicago offers many small communities with new homes that may meet your shopping must-haves. Check out your new construction options in Sagebrook offering both townhomes ($185,990) and single family homes ($305,990) Lehigh Station ($249,990), Lakewood Prairie ($215,990) and Kearney Glen ($199,990).

HickoryRidge

Hickory Ridge

A little more than halfway down the list of ideal markets for buyers is Indianapolis. In seventh place, Indianapolis offers new construction communities such as, Mapleton at Wynne Farms ($195,990), Greenwood Station ($192,990) Cumberland Farms ($181,990) and Marlin Meadows ($176,990). Although these homes are priced above the state median home value of $116,000, the communities offer grand homes with accessible green spaces, clubhouses, and even schools. Plus, homes in Indiana are expected to appreciate another 2.8% within the year.

FawnLake

Fawn Lake

Virginia Beach can expect far less appreciation this year, just 0.7%, but home values already stand at $248,800 – more expensive than Philadelphia, Chicago, or Indiana properties. If you’re on the hunt for new constructions in the state of Virginia, check out townhomes at Overlook at Cascades ($539,990), the gated community of Fawn Lake ($371,990), or luxury urban residences at Majesty West ($1,189,000).

SummerlakeGroves

Summerlake Groves

Lastly, the city of Orlando squeaked in at the bottom of the list of top markets for home buyers. Home values ($150,700) are closest with properties in Philadelphia – much cheaper than in Virginia Beach. Additionally, Orlando homes should jump in value throughout the year by a huge 4.2%. If you’re shopping for new construction homes in Orlando, consider single-family homes in Econ Landing (216,990), Hickory Hammock featuring both single family homes ($287,990) and townhomes ($232,990) or Summerlake Groves featuring both single family homes ($266,990) and townhomes ($227,990)

Regardless of where you shop for homes, prepare beforehand by getting preapproved for a loan and finding a lender you trust. That way, when you find your dream property, you’re ready to buy without the added pressure of completing all the necessary paperwork in a few short days.

Homeowner’s Workbook: How to Remodel Your Kitchen

Remodeling the kitchen is a serious project, which requires a lot of preplanning and usually involves considerable investments. But any upgrade to the heart of your home means more joy and comfort for your family, so the effort is really worth it. And with these tips the whole process will be made easier.

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Rough-In Works First

If you are planning any demolitions and rough-in work, make sure to do them first. So, tear out old cabinets and appliances, replace the plumbing and electrical installations, install new doors and windows, and THEN finish the walls. Doing it the other way around would lead to duplicated effort and will cost you both time and money. When the walls are done, hang the wall cabinets, install new lighting fixtures, and move on to putting down new flooring. Regardless of the flooring material, be extra careful when placing base cabinets and appliances to avoid scratches.

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Make a Small Kitchen Look Larger

If knocking down walls is not an option, there are simple visual tricks that can help you make your tiny kitchen appear larger. Light shades add a spacious feel to small spaces, so you can never go wrong with an all-white kitchen. If you have a lot of windows and natural light to reflect on the white surfaces, the effect will be even stronger. The biggest problem in small kitchens is the lack of storage space. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets might solve this problem, but they also make the space look cramped. There are two options here. One is to opt for open shelves instead of wall cabinets. They open up the room and provide display space. The other option is to put frosted glass on the cabinets’ doors. The glass will also visually open the space, but hide the clutter.

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Consider Current Layout

The biggest mistake most people make when remodeling their kitchens is that they stick to the existing kitchen footprint. Do not feel married to the traditional kitchen layout. The purpose of the remodeling process is to customize the space and make it more functional with regards to your own cooking routine. Ask yourself:

How much do you move around while cooking?

Is there anything that restricts your movement?

Can you easily reach the items you use the most?

Can more than one person cook at the same time?

Think carefully about every single detail, from the location of the sink to the direction in which the cabinet doors open, and see if there is anything you would change. Beware of bulky kitchen islands. They have become a sort of a commonplace in all kitchens, although they are not always an ideal solution. A peninsula does the same work, but takes up less space. It can also serve as a room divider, if you want to separate the kitchen from the dining room.

If you plan on selling the house any time soon, then sticking to a more universal layout will work better.

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Upgrade Appliances

New kitchen appliances are perhaps the biggest investment, but if you have already decided to replace them, add a few extra bucks and buy energy-efficient ones. They might cost more initially, but the savings on the utility bills will quickly make up for that initial difference in price. For a start, switch to an Energy Star-certified refrigerator and a water-saving dishwasher, since these are the biggest energy savers.

Refreshing on a Budget

If you do not want to break the bank, you can still freshen up your kitchen for a few hundred dollars and in a few hours of work. Just by changing cabinet handles and knobs, you can make a huge difference. Add a fresh coat of paint and your old cabinets will look as good as new. Replace the old faucets for the same effect. Or provoke interest with a classic white backsplash made of subway tiles arranged in a herringbone pattern.

 

**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.

 

 

Happy Homeowners: The Fenno Family

This “Happy Homeowners Interview” brings us to Megan Fenno, who recently purchased her new M/I home in Cincinnati with her husband and 5 year-old son. Megan has shared the experience of building her new home 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 over another builder?

Megan: This is our first M/I home. There were a lot of factors that contributed to our decision to move and build with M/I, but criteria that topped our list was location, a sense of community, a good school district, and a home builder that had a variety of options and floor plans to choose from. As my husband and I both work in creative fields, the last thing we wanted to do was build a uber traditional ‘cookie cutter’ home, which is often what is available when building new. Megan wrote more about how she chose her lot and what factors played a role in the decision here.

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

Megan: The home exceeded our expectations. The little things and attention to detail made us appreciate the experience that much more. For example, since our house is facing west, we wanted to add a covered porch off of the kitchen to help block some of the evening sun. We were very surprised when we started to see it being built and all it included — such as recessed lighting, metal rails, etc.

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

Megan: We originally were going to build the Sorrel, but after my husband modeled that floorplan and the floorplan for the Cooke, we decided the Cooke was a better option for us.

We liked that the plan was so open and had the ability to remove the fifth bedroom, which is what we decided to do.

The plan works for us because we are both able to have our own office space upstairs, a large master bedroom, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet for our 5 year-old son. Plus the open main floor is great for entertaining! Mean wrote more about how she chose her layout and floor plan on her blog here.

M/I Homes: 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?

Megan: Because we were one of the first to build in the neighborhood, we had a lot of options when it came to the selection of the lot and style of our home. Our experience was great, honestly.

When I’d tell people that we were building a home, I’d often get comments about how time consuming and hard it must be. While it can be time consuming up front, the process was smooth from start to finish.

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

Megan: On Christmas day, we took a photo to share on social media of the three of us standing in front of the new home captioned, “First Christmas in our new home.” I got a lot of laughs.

In all seriousness though, our son probably enjoyed the process just as much as us, if not more. He loved seeing all of the changes each time we went on weekends to see the progress. I know it will be something he’ll remember the rest of his life, like the first time he was able to walk into HIS room!

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

Megan: All of the space! This isn’t our first home, but before deciding to build, we tried out the urban living scene and had lived in a small apartment in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. While it was a LOT of fun, we missed having space to spread out. The next thing I thought about was all of the DIY projects I could do with extra space and places to spread out. Needless to say, I’ve been busy!

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

Megan: The neighborhood is unique to Cincinnati’s westside and there isn’t anything quite like it anywhere else. I like that there won’t be any through-traffic and that most of the people that are moving in tend to have a lot in common. Most have one or two young children, so I can see a lot of new friends and playdates galore in the near future!

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

Megan:  It’s not something you want to jump into. It’s one of the biggest purchases of your life, and just as you would do research before buying a larger item, such as reading reviews, doing the same when looking for a new home is important.

Here’s what we did: We sat down with a pen and notebook and made a list of what we’d want if we could have any home. From there we prioritized the list and decided on what’s most important. For us it was finding a home we could stay in long term with the ability to build equity. Other things that topped our list were being in a good school district and having a sense of community in the neighborhood.

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

Megan: The day we moved. It was means to a fresh and new beginning and I will always remember walking in shortly after closing and thinking, “I can’t believe this day is FINALLY here!” After planning and daydreaming for so many months, it’s surreal to finally move in.

M/I Homes:  What is your favorite space in your new home?

Megan: Our favorite space is probably the back deck. The sunsets are spectacular!

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

Megan: All of the options to customize our home. I mean, we had the ability to pick everything from bigger aspects, like the brick color, to even the tiniest of details, like the knobs on the bathroom vanities.

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

Megan: Have an idea of what you’re looking for prior to starting the process. I think that helped us a lot when picking the floorplan and during our design center trip. Pinterest is a really helpful tool when looking for design inspiration!

**Megan lives in the Cincinnati area with her husband John and her 5 year-old son. She is a blogger at meganfenno.com and also works as an accessory designer. She and her family have moved from downtown Cincinnati to their new M/I home in the city’s suburbs.

Happy Homeowners: The Zeis Family

This month’s “Happy Homeowner Interview” brings us to Lauren Zeis, who bought her new home in Cincinnati with her husband, Mike, in March of 2012.  Lauren shared with us some of her favorite memories of choosing and living in her home.

 

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

Lauren: This is our first M/I Home. We bought a house that was already built. We liked the house, the neighborhood and the location.

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

Lauren: Overall, the experience with M/I was great! We choose a home that was already built. As first time home buyers, it was a great initial experience.

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

Lauren: We loved the set up of the house, the neighborhood, and the location.

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

Lauren: I like the quiet neighborhood, sidewalks, and neighborhood parks.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory so far in your M/I Home?

Lauren: We have had so many great memories in our new home already!  We loved bringing home our first Christmas tree, enjoying summer cookouts with friends and family, and bringing home our baby girl!

M/I Homes: Would you purchase another M/I Home if you had the opportunity?

Lauren: Absolutely. We would love to build our next home and would choose M/I Homes if it was in the right location.

M/I Homes: What were some of your “must haves” when you were looking for a new home?

Lauren: We were looking for a good neighborhood and a home with a large yard for a dog.  We needed extra bedrooms, plenty of space for entertaining and a garage.

M/I Homes: Is there anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Lauren: Enjoy the experience of looking for a new home and take it all in!  Make sure to choose something that will work for you and your family on a day to day basis!

M/I Homes: What features of your home do you especially love?

Lauren: We love the bonus room upstairs and the upstairs laundry!  It’s really convenient for us with a one year old!

**Lauren Zeis and her family live in the Cincinnati area. She is a kindergarten teacher and her husband Mike is a print service specialist. They have lived in their home since March of 2012 and have a beautiful baby girl, Peyton, and a fun and energetic dog named Marino.  We love having them as a part of the M/I Homes Family!

 

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