Budgeting Your Project

FAQs on Property Taxes

Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but most people enjoy the benefits taxes provide: rescue services, decent roadways, schools and parks. Property taxes can be especially controversial, particularly when the county’s assessed value of a home is nowhere near what the homeowner thinks it to be. It may help to understand the way property taxes are figured and what can be done if you believe your invoice is wrong.

How is My Home Tax Determined?

Your home is evaluated by the county with its money or market value. That value is the foundation for how much your tax burden is likely to be. The less valuable the appraisal, the smaller the tax invoice. The higher the value, the higher your property taxes.

What If I Had With My Home Assessment?

If you disagree with the evaluated value, you can contact your regional Office of the Assessor to inquire how the value was established. If you do not find the explanation acceptable, ask them for a phone number so you can contact the county Assessment Appeals Board to appeal the findings. Even if you appeal the appraisal, you are still responsible for paying your entire property tax invoice by the deadlines. If you prevail together with the appeal, you will be given a refund of the tax overage paid.

What If My Bill is Paid Through My Mortgage Business?

A copy of your tax bill is sent to both you and your mortgage lender. However, if you owe a supplemental tax bill it’ll simply be sent for you. Call your creditor to learn who’ll cover the supplemental tax bill.

How Do I Read My Home Tax Assessment?

An annual tax invoice should incorporate the following: property location and description, assessed value, the number of taxes due, a breakdown of those taxes being collected, if there is an exemption and how much it is, and finally, a message telling you that you are tax-defaulted if you are delinquent in paying a prior year’s taxes.

How Did My Taxes Boost While the Value of My Home Has Remained Stagnant?

In the event your tax bill has grown while the value of your home has remained stagnant or even decreased, it is possible that the taxing authority has increased the rate of its earnings.

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Budgeting Your Project

What's the Use of an Underwriter at a Mortgage?

The most significant person in the mortgage approval process is that the person you’ll never see or meet. That man or woman is the underwriter. No lender closes or funds onto a loan without the acceptance of an underwriter. Occasionally her job is to just check over the amounts, make sure all paperwork is in order and provide her acceptance. Other times, she needs to look over all the paperwork and make a sound decision based on her expertise and decent judgment.

Loan Approval Requirements

Mortgage loan acceptance rests on a number of things: income, credit history, debt ratios and savings. A buyer has to be able to demonstrate the income needed to afford the obligations within a verifiable and stable job history. He should have a credit record which reveals a record of repaying duties and financial responsibility. His additional monthly debt has to fall within acceptable limits as determined by the loan application guidelines. Finally, he needs to be able to demonstrate that the money used for his downpayment is his rather than borrowed, in addition to the fact he has a few months of mortgage payments stashed away in the event of emergency.

Underwriter’s Role

It’s the job of underwriters to make sure all these factors meet specific loan guidelines. They make sure all the tax, title, insurance and closing documentation is set up. Underwriters also examine the appraisal to make sure that it’s accurate and thorough, so the home is really worth at least the purchase price. The underwriter has final acceptance and closing responsibility for the loan. Oftentimes an underwriter’s refusal can be appealed to the head underwriter or other superior, however, the truth must be set up to support any portion of an underwriter’s decision.

Automated Underwriting

There are automated underwriting systems set up that take data fed into a computer application, assess the risks based on formulation and provide an approval or denial. These programs need strict adherence to instructions and will not entertain any deviations or gray areas. An endorsement on those files requires an underwriter to look over all verifications and documents, along with the appraisal, to make sure that each of the data matches the information inputted into the automatic system that generated the acceptance. If the information does not match, the underwriter sends the file back to the processor with conditions that must be fulfilled prior to final acceptance. This usually involves getting additional information or verifications.

Manual Underwriting

Many times a loan file requires manual underwriting since it falls into a gray area that the automatic system cannot address. Manually underwritten FHA (Federal Housing Administration) files are quite common, since FHA loan guidelines permit for free history and troubled credit buyers, and much more flexible debt rules. The loan officer and loan processor carefully compile manual files to read almost like a narrative, with lots of detail. They provide not just the basic details about income, employment and savings along with a credit report, but they may also incorporate a credit history to get no-credit debtors, added details about charge blips in a purchaser’s previous or explanations for discrepancies in earnings or job history information. This documentation gives the underwriter that the”whys” which allow her to create a more informed decision about the purchaser’s situation in order to truly determine how strong a risk the buyer is.

Underwriter’s Significance

An underwriter who is conducting an investigation, especially a manual , has to take a calculated risk and do his best to ascertain whether a file adheres not to only the letter but the intent of the loan application guidelines. When he is incorrect and the loan defaults, it can lead to a hefty cost to the lender. When he works for a mortgage broker, too many defaults could cost his company its relationship with the lenders who finance their loans.

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Decorating Guides

Mediterranean Style Home Decorating Ideas

You can be transported by home decor. It doesn’t matter where your property is located, you can”create” the place that you would like to be through the use of color, fabric, accessories and furniture. Mediterranean design has its roots at the Moorish method of living, when the needs of these materials available ordered the way they decorated. Whether you buy a house in Southern Missouri or even Northern California, you can bring the Mediterranean fashion to you.


Mediterranean style walls are textured, providing them that aged look of a more rugged moment. You can apply sand paint to your present walls as a base and add color to them later, or consider one of those Venetian plaster paints on the market which coat the walls at an burnished wall texture. Mediterranean style is all about balance, so make sure your walls do not fight for attention with the colorful accessories you’re likely to be adding to this room. Creamy yellow , muted burnt-orange, rich sand and sea green are good options for wall colors.


White or natural washed pine floors and terracotta tiles make the ideal backdrop for colored rugs rugs.


Furniture in the Mediterranean fashion are often thick and low, inset with accents of timber, marble or iron. They’re pieces that seem like they have been around awhile and are likely to last another generation or two. Tables are made of iron, glass, wood and terracotta.


Gauzy curtains blend nicely with a Mediterranean design room since they do not compete with the rich colors on the walls, but do let breezes and plenty of light to the space. Throw pillows with beaded fringe and trims add a little authenticity, as do rich tapestries hung on the walls from elaborate iron hardware.


Accessories pick up the colors of the Mediterranean area. Cobalt blue glass, colorful hand painted tiles and pottery, and terracotta pots full of rich greenery bring life into any space. Sconces and wrought iron candelabras include a Moorish flavor of elegance.

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Eclectic Homes

How to Prepare for an Appraisal for Profession

A home appraisal is a survey of your home, performed by a professional appraiser who is trained to find out the worth of your premises. Unlike a home inspector, an appraiser will not check electric outlets or inspect the pipes to ascertain whether repairs are needed. Rather, an appraiser may check the general condition of your home to ascertain its comparable market value. This market value is important for a bank to understand before it will loan money on the house; for a potential home buyer, the appraisal is a sign of whether he is getting a reasonable deal on the property.

Prepare the home as if you're. You can find things on the appraiser's checklist which you can't alter, such as the dimensions and location of the home or the number of chambers, however you can help impact the exemptions 's overall impression of how well-maintained the residence is by introducing it in its cleanest condition. Thoroughly clean and declutter each room. Turn lights the house so the appraiser can see exactly what he's looking at.

Make any necessary repairs around the house. Obvious problems, such as broken windows, door knobs or cracked bits of tile, ought to be repaired. While the appraiser isn’t there to make certain everything is in working order, he’ll notice if they're not, and it will impact his reaction to the house, especially because he starts to compare it against similar homes in the region.

Update any obsolete fixtures. Spend as little money as possible to earn everything presentable, while still addressing the small problems that the appraiser is sure to make note of. Don't overlook he'll be taking copious images of the inside and exterior of your home for the lending organization. You don't need anything to stand out to the lender as a drawback.

Freshen up any paint that might be faded. This doesn't should become a full-house repaint, but you ought to start the windows, turn the lights in every area and honestly accessibility which walls could use a little attention. There is nothing like a fresh coat of paint to earn a home feel comfy and cared for.

Improve your curb appeal. Clean toys and debris out of the yard. Mow and trim the yard. Plant bright, colorful blossoms near your front entrance. Sweep the driveway and sidewalk. Wash the windows to provide a warm, welcoming appearance.

Create a list of upgrades you've created to the house. It’s important that the appraiser know about any upgrades you't created so that he can measure them against the amenities found in similar properties. Upgrades include new cabinets or counters, new flooring, decks and major landscaping additions.

Do your assignments. Learn what similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood. Even though the appraiser will do a comparative home worth study of his own, if you know that a home like yours has sold for less than what you think the worth of your house to be, allow him understand why your home differs.

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Budgeting Your Project

How Can You Refinance Your House?

Refinancing your house offers many benefits. It can lower the interest rate on the loan and reduced monthly payment. Some refinancing programs allow you to pull the equity out of the house to use for other purposes. You can change the loan program into some fixed-rate loan and prevent payments which change each year. No matter your reason, knowing the procedure protects you from creditors who wish to make the most of you.

Decide why you want to refinance. Know what your objective is together with the refinance. Don’t start the procedure hoping to lower your payment. Know exactly what your current loan terms are and determine what the minimum benefit must be. If your current rate is 6 percent, you may determine the new rate must be lower than 5.5 percent to proceed.

Ask friends, family and trusted business associates for referrals of loan officers. Obtain three to five loan officers to contact. The more companies you contact, the better picture you may have of your loan options. If you can’t find enough referrals, talk with your bank for a quote. Another source is your current mortgage business.

Request the loan officers send you quotes to your new mortgage in composing. Make sure they are provided on a good-faith-estimate, or GFE, as demanded by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA. This federal law requires mortgage lenders to disclose the costs of a mortgage by means of a GFE. This standardized form will let you compare the loans .

Compare the quotes using the section labeled”Together with the shopping graph” located on page three of the GFE. This section allows comparison of up to four loans simultaneously. If you would rather fixed-rate loans, eliminate each of the adjustable-rate loans, or ARMs, or vice-versa. Find the loans with the lowest estimated payments.

Subtract the estimated payment from your existing payment. This may determine your monthly savings. Divide the estimated settlement fees by the monthly savings. This will determine how many months of savings are needed to pay for the refinance. If your loan requires settlement fees of $3,500 and conserves $250 a month, it takes 14 months to pay for the refinance until you realize any actual savings.

Estimate how long you’ll be at the house. If you know you’ll be at the house for five decades, or 60 months, then you’d save $250 per month for 46 weeks. Saving $11,500 over five decades probably is well worth the effort to refinance your home.

Negotiate with the creditors to get the best mortgage possible. Utilize the other GFEs to support the loan officers to lower their rates and fees. Informing the loan officers which there’s competition for your company encourages them to lower their prices and prices or risk losing your loan. Apply with the lender offering the very best loan for your situation. Work with this creditor before your loan closes.

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How to Select a Table and Chairs for Holiday Hosting

The holidays are coming. Are you prepared for the throngs of people you’re expecting to get a season’s worth of dinner parties? If not, it may be time to get a new dining table and chairs. But don’t go purchasing the first thing you see.

There are pros and cons to every table form. And then there are all those additional chairs you want to factor in. It’s enough to make your head spin!

What is ideal for your house is dependent on a few factors you might not have thought about. I spoke with inner designer Tineke Triggs of Artistic Designs for Living, with a great deal to say about finding a dining set that’s ideal for you.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Round tables are potentially the most space efficient in terms of creating a comfortable exchange involving diners. “Ovals,” Triggs says,”are the next most efficient in this respect.”

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

In the case of the round and oval table, no one need sit in a corner when the table is crowded beyond its ideal capacity. But oblong and round tables might be off-putting for people who prefer to match the clean lines found in the rest of the dining area.

Dwelling Designs

Square and rectangular tables use the form of a room to their benefit. Their 90-degree angles deliver clear, unencumbered walkways around the perimeter.

The drawback is that the longer a table (rectangular or oblong ) is, the more difficult it is for people sitting on the farthest ends to hear one another. Plus, when a rectangular or square table is overstuffed with guests, someone’s bound to get stuck straddling a corner.

Sandvold Blanda Architecture + Interiors LLC

If you’re lucky, you will find that one form accommodates both your functional requirements and aesthetic needs.

Mark English Architects, AIA

To seat six to eight people, Triggs suggests using a round table in order to best allow individuals to converse with and be heard by everybody in the table. Though, she warns, some more people than that and the essential circumference of a round table may prohibit not just conversation, but also its capacity to fit in an average dining room.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

For 10 to 12 people, an oval or rectangular table is best.

Holly Marder

Creating a long table more intimate. So perhaps a rectangular or oval is the better choice for your dining room’s configurations, your amount of guests along with your own style. To make it more intimate, Triggs suggests searching out a slimmer table, say one that’s about 36 inches wide, rather than the standard 42- to 48-inch wide table.

Even though it won’t draw the farthest ends closer together, it will significantly decrease the gap between people sitting across from one another.

Jim Burton Architects

The extendable dining table. Regardless of what form you opt for having the choice to extend the table length or circumference will allow you to accommodate a range of group sizes comfortably.

Triggs suggests obtaining a table with built-in leaves which fold from and back to the table. “If you don’t have to move the stand out from the center to include leaves,” she says,”it is generally easier — not just to extend and retract, but you also don’t have to locate somewhere to store those additional leaves. This is a great option if you’re continuously expanding and diminishing the table.”

Watch more on extendable dining tables

Whitney Lyons

Detachable leaves. Although detachable leaves can prove more clumsy than built-in leaves and need additional helping hands, this style of table might be a nice option for you if you don’t expand and retract your table often. “Center-leaved expandable tables have been around for centuries, and as a result there is a larger assortment of these at fair rates,” Triggs says.

KE Designs

Smart solution for keeping leaves. KE Designs created customized storage for this homeowner, designing a dedicated (and safe) area for dining table leaves.

Walton Architects

Regardless of whether the leaves are either detachable or built in, Triggs urges an extendable table with leaves measuring 12 to 18 inches, as this may open the table till a wide selection of sizes (assuming your dining area can accommodate the longest span ) without throwing off its equilibrium.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Custom tables. Haven’t found anything on the market that thrills you? Having a table custom made is an option, but one which Triggs cautions requires a skilled tradesperson if you’re talking about an extendable table. “This isn’t a task for any woodworker or cabinetmaker,” she warns. “You want to find somebody who understands overhangs, tipping ratios and foundation equilibrium. A good deal of thought must go into the making of an expandable table, so be sure you find someone that has a fantastic history.”

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

If you don’t know where to begin your search, read ‘s database of furniture makers. Or, if you’re already working with an interior designer, he or she can direct you to a respectable professional.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Chairs and spares. Once you decide the table you want, you are going to need chairs to seat your guests. “Many people buy dining chairs for appearances without sacrificing enough attention to relaxation,” says Triggs. “Make sure you’re purchasing comfortable chairs which guests may enjoy sitting for long intervals.”

How to Decide on a dining chair

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Chairs with arms are beautiful and can be very comfortable, but they are space hogs when it comes to a large crowd. In the event you want to have such chairs for big parties, Triggs suggests limiting them to the minds of a rectangular or oval table. Armless chairs, on the other hand, will allow you to squeeze more of them around a table of any contour.

Prull Custom Builders

But how many chairs does one family need for this handful of large scale dinner affairs annually? First buy the number of chairs which will obviously fit around your dining table during its regular size (probably its smallest size).

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

If you can afford the distance and the cost, Triggs proposes storing additional full-size chairs on both sides of the buffet, then alongside an entry door and possibly in a guest room if needed.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Should you not have sufficient space for such storage (or the desire to buy as many full-size chairs as your fully extended table can actually adapt ), attempt folding or stackable chairs. Yes, I know what you’re thinking:”Not those ugly things!” Nevertheless, the new versions are not the chairs you remember as a kid. “I have a collection of 111 Navy chairs from Design Within Reach that I use for both indoor and outside parties,” says Triggs; those stackable chairs are produced from recycled Coke bottles. “They are comfortable and don’t have a wide footprint, which makes them simple to store in my garage.”

The Kartell Lou Lou Ghost Chairs shown here are also an attractive stackable option which can be stored out of sight (or can be readily integrated into other chambers ) when they are not needed in the dining room.

Wanda Lozada Interior Designer

If seats are a more favorable seating option, Triggs recommends allowing at least 16 to 18 inches in diameter per grownup fanny. “And make sure any bench has cushions,” she implores. “No one wishes to be the one stuck on a hard bench for a long meal.”

As an alternative to this arrangement, you might also set your bench chairs from a wall to get back support.

SIR Development

Your turn: Please show us your dining table set which will easily fit your vacation guests.

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15 Home Ideas Fit for a Crowd

I grew up in a mixed family with four sisters plus me, and our house could get somewhat chaotic. Actually, it looks as though it was a minor miracle that all of us got out of the house more or less on time and well fed every day. In case you have a huge household, tasks that others take for granted (likelaundry) can become significant stumbling blocks to a smooth day. If I could go back and wave a magic wand to help out my parents, the next things are what I would change. Of course, smaller households might find some helpful takeaways here, also.

Below you’ll find 15 items every huge family should think about having at home.

Whitten Architects

1. A chaos-free entrance. Tame frustration at the mornings and some time by assembling an entryway organization system and sticking with it. Provide a hook, shelf and basket to each member of their family, and make certain all children and adults discard their stuff before coming into the house.

Think you don’t have enough space for lockers? Attempt to makeroom: The purchase a system like this creates is worth stealing space from an adjoining room. If there is any way you are able to create space, go for it. You won’t be sorry.

Lawrence and Gomez Architects

2. Double pantries. An excess pantry near the mudroom or garage can be a convenient place for storing heavy bulk items until you need them. This way your kitchen pantry will be freed up to get the food which you access daily, and you won’t have to lug hefty boxes quite so far when unloading the vehicle.

Organizing suggestion: Keep healthful snacks on lower shelves where children can reach them easily; stow treats (aka junk food) on top shelves, tucked inside opaque baskets.

Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design

3. A kitchen that fits a crowd. Everybody ends up hanging out at the kitchen. Adopt this reality and make room for the entire team in a spacious island or kitchen table. The one shown here is 15 feet long! For those who have younger kids, consider maintaining the island stove-free for safety. Keep a couple of step stools on hand so younger relatives may help out with dinner prep.

Design suggestion: Pick finishes that can easily be cared for. It seems easy, but it can be easy to get carried off by a gorgeous finish and forget about the drawbacks. An engineered quartz, like Caesarstone, includes a lavish look similar to marble and other stone, however you won’t need to worry about stains.

The Cousins

4. An open floor plan. There is a reason families favor open floor plans — you can keep a watch out for the entire brood from just about everywhere. If you are house hunting, you have the opportunity to seek out an open plan from the start. If you are settled into the house you live in now, you might nonetheless have the ability to knock down a wall or two to start the space up.

Design suggestion: Have a cue from the house and specify a comfortable family corner inside a larger space with a long, low shelving unit. The shelves even contain the TV, so nobody has to stare in the big black box from all over the house.

Vicki Simon Interior Design

5. Self-help channels. Involve even the youngest family members by placing table placing supplies within reach in bins and baskets. Bonus: Labeled baskets help children learn how to put things away, so they can help out with cleanup, also.

MainStreet Design Build

6. Smart laundry positioning. Laundry in the basement? So not practical. Putting your washer and dryer near the bedrooms, or at the kitchen or mudroom, makes keeping up with laundry a lot simpler.

Savvy Decor

7. A second washer and dryer. Who says you have to stick with a single set? In case you have a massive family, using two washers and dryers can save you hours of precious time.

Design suggestion: when you have a huge laundry room, consider adding a spacious folding table with a shelf beneath. You can stow baskets of piled clothes below, and the top may double as a craft or sewing room when you aren’t folding clothes.

MAC Custom Homes

8. An excess sink. Cut down on squabbles over bath space with a double, or even triple, sink. And if your wee ones frequently come into the house dirty, also consider putting in an extra children’ sink or perhaps a shower at the mudroom.

9. Beds that maximize space. You can sleep two, four or six children in one room with a set of bunk beds. Whether you proceed with built in or freestanding, consider getting bunks with strong, closed-off headboards for more solitude.

As an alternate to bunks, consider placing daybeds end to end across a single wall. During the day the beds may be used as one long sofa when buddies come to play with.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

In shared rooms it’s important to give each child a feeling of ownership over his or her corner of the space. Recessed nooks to a top bunk offer a place for a small lamp and personal products. Wall-mounted shelves or brackets are another great option for this night glass of water and maternity story. Cabinets assist darken the room and supply privacy.

MAC Custom Homes

10. A shared study space that works. If your children share a space, space is most likely already tight. So where do you match that much-needed study region? Free up a wall by consolidating beds (using bunks or daybeds), then use that free wall to get one long, shared dining table. It might be beneficial to place a partition between each kid’s place … otherwise there may be some serious turf wars over desk area.

Produce a Study Space the Kids Will Love

Poss Architecture + Planning and Interior Design

11. A well-organized playroom. It’s too easy to allow the playroom eventually become a dumping ground for toys and kids’ stuff that you just don’t know what to do with. Make an inspiring area with fresh materials and open minded toys within reach rather, and you might find fewer promises of “I’m bored!” Use vibrant, branded bins and translucent baskets on shelves to store toys in. Supply a kid-size worktable with chairs and easy access to basic materials, like paper and crayons.

In case you don’t have a spare space to use as a playroom, consider giving your children the decision to share bedrooms and then flip one bedroom into a playspace.

Design suggestion: Pick a floor covering that is soft but horizontal — aim for something children can sit on comfortably and that will not create their obstruct and Lego creations trick over.

Poss Architecture + Planning and Interior Design

12. A spot where grown-ups can hang out while the children play with. One reason playrooms end up the way they do (read: a total disaster) could be that using nowhere to get grown-ups to sit they wind up becoming kid-only zones … and most of us know how fond children are of cleaning up.

Incorporate a love seat and table, and you’re able to hang out and talk, browse or (let’s be fair here) check email in your telephone while the kiddos play — and also be there to step in as needed.

Residents Understood

13. A lair for teens. Have a finished basement, attic or drop? In case you have teenage kids, you may want to consider converting the space into a teen hangout zone. Think sofas, TV and maybe a game table or two. If you’re really lucky, they may even let you in to play at a Ping-Pong or foosball tournament.

Jeff King & Company

14. Something joyful. A firefighter’s pole? Indoor swings? Why not? Having a big family is a great excuse to splurge on something totally enjoyable.

Home projects and household activities can be equally joyful, too: Have each child paint a stair riser, create a household to-do list at the beginning of each year or let your children select a cause and volunteer together.

Feldman Architecture, Inc..

15. A kid-free zone. All parents require a room to call their own, a relaxed, toy-free room decked out with no respect (well, maybe a little respect) for stain resistance and endurance. Think high-thread-count sheets, soft carpeting and glass doors to your own private patio. Guarding your personal space for a parent can be insanely difficult, however while you probably will still wish to create an exception for those sweet good-morning snuggles from the “big bed,” you will find some ground rules you can begin to lay out. “Knock before entering” are a good start.

Inform us have you got a huge family or come from one? Please share your tips and stories from the Remarks.

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Eclectic Homes

Everything You Need to Know About Dust and How to Fight It

There is no simple way to discuss dust. It is one of those things which makes even the toughest of individuals just a bit squeamish. But it’s important to understand what’s lurking inside your home even in a microscopic level, especially if you’re one of every five individuals who suffer from allergies. In any case, this info might finally get you dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis.

“House dust is a combination of substances, some possibly allergenic — distinct fibers; dander from cats, dogs and other animals; dust mites and bacteria; mould and fungus spores; and pollen,” says microbiologist Karen Hall, who works at Dyson, the company known for its high-powered cylindrical vacuums.

We hear about dust mites all of the time, but since we can’t see them, most of us don’t actually give them too much thought. Out of sight out of mind, right? Well, perhaps knowing that dust mites are a part of the arachnid family, like spiders, and reside on your mattresses and pillows in such mass numbers that they really add weight to these things, should be enough to keep them in your mind for a very long time.

Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc..

I hate to be the one to break this to you, however when someone says they are allergic to dust mites, technically that’s not true. It is really their stool that folks are allergic to. “It is not the dust mites themselves, it’s their nasty temptations that cause an allergic response,” Hall says. “They contain highly allergenic proteins which cause asthma or other allergic problems.”

Allergist James Sublett, who’s chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Indoor Environment Committee, says colonies of dust mites and their excrement are concentrated in bedding and bedrooms, in addition to heavily upholstered furniture. “You can have a lot more dust absorbed in those configurations, which then gets stirred up into the air with activity,” Sublett says.

FJ Interior Design

That means that modernists might get an advantage over dust. Flat, solid surfaces, especially flooring, and slick leather upholstery tend to be more ideal for maintaining dust. A easy wipe-down manages a lot of settled dust. If anything, Sublett recommends eliminating wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms.

Here are more ways to keep dust in check:

Terrene Homes

Get a dust-tracking mat. Search for something that says “anti-microbial.” This will help eliminate some of the awful stuff you track in on your shoes. The ideal solution, however, is to remove your shoes prior to entering the home. “Otherwise you will be earning nasty chemicals, pollen, dirt and dust directly into your home,” says Hall.

Dunn Development, Inc..

Place small items in a plastic bag and freeze them. This is very good for things like children’s toys. You will want to freeze them for about two days, says Hall, then let them thaw naturally. This will kill off all of the dust mites.

Caden Design Group

Keep pets out of the sack. Sorry, but it’s ideal to keep animals from your bedroom and especially off your bed. Cats and dogs have a tendency to track in lots of dander and dust from the outdoors and shed it around your house. You might wish to also think about vacuuming your puppy often with special appliances like the Dyson Groom tool.

Dufner Heighes Inc

Wash your pillows. People remember to scrub pillow cases, but the pillow itself often gets neglected. Ever notice the way your pillow appears to get heavier? Congratulations, you’re harboring a colony of dust mites and their feces. Wash them every six to 12 months or substitute them.

Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

Here is a shocker: Do not make your bed. That is right, Hall recommends leaving the blankets off to allow the mattress cool. This can protect against dust mites from breeding so quickly.

Bryhn Design/Build

Safeguard your mattress. You will want to frequently vacuum your mattress to pick up skin tissues and dust mite feces. You might also consider encasing your mattress and pillows. Be certain to acquire a fine woven encasement with a sealed zipper, Sublett says.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

Get all the nooks and crannies. “It’s important to find the areas you don’t see as well — high shelving, air vents and mattresses,” Hall says. Also, vacuum intensively around beds and under beds when possible, since dust mites can be bothered and drop to the ground as covers are thrown back. “And don’t forget to vacuum under the sofa; the perfect hiding spot for dust mites,” Hall says.

Dust and vacuum cleaner one or two times a week. You will not ever be able to do away with all of the dust, Sublett says, and dusting and vacuuming kicks up some dust anyway, so doing these tasks one or two times each week is sufficient. Also, invest in a dust mask, like an N95 NIOSH, and that means you’re not breathing in most of the disturbed dust. (It takes just two hours for dust to settle, Sublett says.)

Get a vacuum cleaner that’s asthma and allergies and one with a HEPA air filter. A central vacuum system, like the one shown here, ought to be considered. They’re designed to deposit the vacuumed debris outside the living space, usually in containers in the garage or basement.

Keep out humidity. Humidity plays a major part in dust mite proliferation and other potential dust allergens like mold. Sublett urges you try and keep the humidity below 50 percent. Installing a dehumidifier might be perfect for many people.

Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC

Wash bedding weekly. This is a given. It does not have to be super hot, either. A warm water cycle will kill mature dust mites.

Also, purifying the air inside your home is among the greatest strategies to reduce dust buildup.

More: Guide to Indoor Air Purifiers

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Improving a Lease: Great Suggestions for Your Long and Short Haul

Living in a rental apartment is a temporary matter for some, and if you have a tendency to move every couple of years, you might not see the worth in doing much more than hanging curtains and putting up images. But renting has its own advantages, and lots of do wind up living in the same apartment for 10 decades, 20 decades or even more — that begs the question, isn’t it worth it to put a bit more to the house? And because the home crash, owning a house also looks less of a sure, permanent thing than it did. A long-term lease on a flat you adore, having an understanding landlord, will allow you to personalize your space in greater ways than you believed possible.

Here are far more- and less-permanent options to think about for your rental — also tips on talking to your landlord regarding updates and DIY projects.

Cynthia Lynn Photography

Strategies for starting the dialogue:
Be courteous when requesting your landlord to get a favor, and respect the response even if it’s not exactly what you wanted to hear. Don’t say judgmental things concerning the device. Use words like “worn out” or “damaged,” not “ugly.”
Be an Superb tenant. Pay your rent on time every month, sign a long lease and take care of the property. Familiarize yourself with the legislation as best you can. Most regions require landlords to replace or update flooring, paint, fixtures and more, based on a set schedule.
Research added value. Some modifications will mean your landlord can ask for more lease or can make the apartment more appealing to renters in the long run; additional modifications that are according to your individual preferences might not. It is important to understand the difference before asking your landlord to approve or assist finance your project.If you are asking for permission to do DIY work, show examples of apartment updates you have done in the past. Proof of good taste can go a long way!

Terracotta Design Build


Longer-term changes: Placing in overhead lights where none existed or installing fresh sconces can make a major difference in how you experience your distance. If you are a “eternally renter” you may be able to a) convince your landlord to pay for an electrician to put in new lighting fixtures and sconces, or b) decide it’s worth it to spend your money to hire an electrician.

Shorter-term changes: Get consent to swap out the existing lighting fixtures for your own, then exchange them back when you leave. You might also avoid calling an electrician by putting up plug sconces with cable covers.

Brian Watford Interiors


Longer-term changes: You only need to imagine a set of flexed and ill-fitting miniblinds to understand that crummy window treatments really can drag a room down. New window treatments (at a neutral colour) are a cost a landlord may be willing to spring for. But even if not, covering the price yourself might be well worth it if you would like to stay in the same apartment for the foreseeable future. Try Roman shades or simple roller blinds for a crisp, tailored look.

Shorter-term affects: If your landlord won’t cover new window treatments, and you don’t want to foot the bill for something that you can not take with you whenever you move, consider using adjustable curtain rods and curtains hemmed with (removable) iron-on tape rather than

Cynthia Lynn Photography


Longer-term changes: In my novel paint is well worth doing in a rental, whether or not your landlord will cover it. Landlords are likely to cover painting if you want a fresh coat of white or anything neutral colour is already on the walls. But you may also have the ability to get permission to choose your own colors or perhaps put up wallpaper or decorative molding — especially if you are eager to do the work yourself and cover it up (if asked to) when you move out.

Shorter-term affects: Removable wallpaper might be an alternative, although some landlords might not permit it. Try hanging cloth on your own walls as faux wallpaper, put lengths of wallpaper in large frames or fill your walls with framed artwork.

Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors


Longer-term affects: If your flooring is wall-to-wall carpets or linoleum, your landlord may be asked to have it replaced after a specific number of years. Whether there are hardwood flooring, you may be able to have them refinished.

Shorter-term affects: Big area rugs and carpet tiles are a tenant’s best friends.

Sarah Phipps Design


Longer-term changes: At a worn rental kitchen, painting the walls and cabinets can do wonders — and will add value to the unit, so do your best to convince the landlord to, at minimum, allow you deduct materials costs from your rent. If you’ve been living in the same lease for years and intend to stay, but your landlord refuses to update appliances, see if you can buy your nicer appliances and take them with you or sell them when you move.

Shorter-term changes: Replace cabinet hardware (you can swap back before moving) and cover awful linoleum using a rug.


Longer-term changes: Consider removing an outdated and filthy vanity and including a simple wall mirror. Current your idea by pricing a couple of decent mirrors to share with your landlord and display images (like the one here) of how it may look installed.

Shorter-term changes: Upgrade bathroom hardware and fit the window using a pretty shade. Also see if you can repaint.

Josephine Design LLC


Longer-term affects: If the hookups are not there, but there is no washer or dryer (and your landlord won’t buy them), think about buying your own. Doing laundry without leaving the house is just one of these small things that makes life so much easier — and, you can always choose the appliances along with you when you depart, or even sell them.

If there are no hookups, and you’ve got your heart set on a washer and dryer, think about offering to split the costs with your landlord to have the hookups put in. There is in factn’t an in-between choice here, so if you’ve got your heart set on laundry, do everything you could to have it installed, or look for a rental that already has it.

Shorter-term affects: In case your place has an outdated washer and dryer, you can wash the hoses out to help them operate more efficiently, and perhaps even use appliance paint to touch up worn surfaces.

Harry Braswell Inc..

Closets and Built-ins

Longer-term changes: Adequate storage space is a major selling point, so it might be on your landlord’s attention to heed your call for extra closet room or built-in storage features. Or you might have the ability to work out a compromise in which you pitch on your labor to put in a closet organizing system that will stay together with the apartment.

Shorter-term changes: Search for modular closet systems that can be fitted to your space and removed when the time comes to depart.

Chicago Specialty Gardens, Inc..

Outdoor Space

Longer-term affects: Love your place and want to stay forever? It may be well worth it to provide your own labor, and even some of your own money, to fix the outside areas. If you wind up living in your apartment for 10-plus decades, wouldn’t it be better using an great roof terrace garden instead of bland concrete and a couple of sad potted plants? Fixing the outside space can definitely add value to a house, so run your plans by your landlord — and attempt to get reimbursed for materials and labor.

Shorter-term changes: Believe larger — larger plant pots, large planters with large trellises and sturdy furniture. You can still move it all together with you, but it will seem more durable and finished than dinky chairs and small pots.

Lori Smyth Design

Bigger Remodeling Jobs

Wish you can get rid of a wall, add French doors or build a deck? Obviously it’s a long shot, but don’t assume it’s out of the question. You never know; it might be something that your landlord has been contemplating doing anyhow, and hearing you bring it up might be what convinces him or her to go for it. If you are in your place for the long haul and have signed up a long-term lease, you may even think about offering to put in a little bit of your money to help cover costs.

Tell us How do you really feel about putting your money or labor in to fixing a rental? Have you ever made alterations to past flats that you feel were worth it?

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Dry Minimalism from the Arizona Desert

“Sitting lightly on the landscape” is an expression that can be supposed literally and metaphorically; in the prior case it describes how a building physically touches the earth, and in the latter case it is all about reducing a building’s negative influence on the earth through energy use, water use and other factors.

The house of Alan and Mary Levin near Tucson sits lightly on the landscape in both regards. This is very important in the desert Southwest, where water is scarce and the warmth may make air conditioning a necessity 24 hours every day for much of the year.

The design, by Ibarra Rosano Design Architects, sensitively inserted the house into the landscape to respect natural attributes, minimize energy use and provide the Levins everything they asked for and much more.

at a Glance
Location: Close Tucson
3,500 square feet
That is intriguing:
A open metal box frames that the desert landscape from the patio adjacent to the pool.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

We are going to begin the tour at the conclusion — the pool and deck to illustrate the method by which the house sits on the landscape, and to develop anticipation about your house. The deck and spacious frame from the pool hover above the desert landscape, permitting water to flow and animals to pass, and giving the Levins a vantage point above the scrub and sand.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

They wanted the whole house on one level, also Ibarra Rosano realized this in a manner that incorporates the house amazingly well with the landscape. The integration results from the way the architects worked together with the height restrictions.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

This perspective of the house illustrates how it is literally lifted above the landscape at a few points to let the desert leak beneath. The site is split roughly in half with a tributary valley, which had been the driving force behind the architects’ decision to lift the house and divide it into smaller volumes.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The architects’ study model is useful for understanding how the house is laid out in three volumes. From the trunk (to the south) are the carport and garage, linked by a bridge to the living and master bedroom areas in the middle. A library connects that bar to the parallel bar in the foreground, containing the bedrooms to the Levins’ kids: two married daughters with kids of their own. (This quantity can be shut off from the rest of the house if they aren’t visiting, cutting down on electricity use.) The pool is in the front-right corner, adjacent to both inhabited areas.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The front of the house. The driveway results in a car courtroom on the right; on one side is your garage, and on the other is a carport for guests. From here residents and visitors walk to a covered bridge resulting in the house.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The bridge traverses the valley, allowing the movement of water across the site to be maintained — as if the house didn’t even exist, in this regard.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

Looking north, in the exact same way as our perspective of the covered walkway, we can sense the narrow quantity of the first bar, together with the open frame in the distance.

This south face has a bit of an overhang to cut down on the high sun. The expansive glass capitalizes on views toward town — perspectives that the clients were not aware of initially and today particularly like at night.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

We enter the house into the spacious living, kitchen and dining areas, immediately seeing through the pool and deck.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

Along one side of the living area is a long fireplace, under a wood wall where the TV is mounted. This wall overlooks.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

From the dining area we may observe the kitchen’s white oak cabinets and island.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The core of the interior is your kitchen, designed to provide perspectives of both the entry and the outdoor space, and to align with the library that leads to your guest and children’s wing. The Levins wanted a kitchen that has been open without being distracting during cooking; the wood cabinets onto the island aid in this regard.

The painting on the far wall, along with the rest of the artwork in the house, comes from the Library Street Collective in Detroit, a gallery that one of the Levins’ daughters runs with her husband.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The master bath shows much of the exact same minimalist design as the rest of the house, however the blue tile wall and skylight create the space unique.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

This shelf in the master bath’s shower, highlighted by more blue tiles, is a nice touch.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The cube defines a space for dining and loungingroom, but it is flexible enough to allow for a lot of things. The cantilever projects the deck into the landscape whilst still being above it. The architects call it a way to frame the perspective of the distant city lights.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

The cube was created to accept a shade, however, Mary Levin likes the view so much through the frame that she didn’t wish to alter it. Of course it helps that the house itself blocks some of the strong western sunlight, allowing the Levins to appreciate the space and the newfound perspective as is.

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