Define Capital Improvements

Homeowners that are looking to increase their home’s value can consider making capital improvements to their home. Only certain jobs can be categorized as a capital improvement, such as installing solar panels replacing windows. Although these jobs are generally completed just in front of a homeowner wants to sell the home, they may be produced at any time with no intent to market.


A capital improvement includes any major enhancement that is made to your home. The Cooperator explains that so as to qualify as a capital improvement, the enhancement should either”add value to a property or substantially prolong its lifetime.” A few examples of a funding improvement include obtaining a new roof, installing a generator, including a porch or updating an electrical system. Minor interior layout changes, such as a fresh coat of paint, aren’t considered capital improvements.


The Homeowners Association indicates that homeowners decide to make capital improvements shortly before putting their property on the market. This not only raises the market value of the home, but also creates the chance for the homeowner to get a tax deduction. In fact, homeowners may find a worksheet from the IRS to monitor their capital improvement expenditures, which may subsequently be reported on Form 2119. Besides an increased home value and tax breaks, homeowners may also benefit from the enhanced living conditions made by these home enhancements.


There are two chief types of funding improvements: interior and exterior. The interior enhancements may include a remodeled kitchen, a new boiler or installing central air conditioning. Exterior improvements may consist of everything from adding on a garage to installing a swimming pool.


Homeowners should take caution when planning capital improvements. The American Homeowners Association warns that upkeep, repairs, wallpapering and painting don’t qualify as capital improvements. Homeowners should consult the IRS capital advances worksheet or speak with a tax preparation specialist if they are not sure about whether or not a job will qualify.

Expert Insight

The AHA advises homeowners to maintain all receipts linked to their own capital improvement projects. These ought to be saved not only to help with the tax planning process, but also in case the IRS should ever inquire concerning the homeowner’s improvement expenses. Homeowners should also consider whether to rely their jobs as a capital improvement or an expense. The Cooperator explains that an expense counts for only one year, even though a capital improvement for a depreciating asset, such as a roof, can count for several decades.

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Can a Mortgage Business Come After a Foreclosure After a Person?

By signing a mortgage contract, you agree to settle your lender the full amount of the loan no matter your circumstances. If the mortgage business forecloses on the home, it sells the home to offset its losses. In the event your property value decreases and your home is no longer worth what you owe on the loan, your lender will endure a reduction and, sometimes, pursue you to your balance.

Mortgage Deficiencies

Borrowers who owe money to their lenders following their homes are sold and foreclosed owe a”deficiency.” The deficiency is the difference between the debtor’s debt to the creditor and the amount the creditor received from selling the home. A mortgage company’s ability to lawfully pursue the debtor for the mortgage lack is dependent on the details of the first loan contract and the legislation in the debtor’s state of residence.

Lender Lawsuits

Before the housing bust from the mid-2000s, lenders rarely sued former homeowners to get mortgage deficiencies following foreclosure. However, as foreclosure rates rose, lenders began applying more pressure on borrowers to make good in their mortgage loanseven when the creditor no longer owned the home. According to”The Buffalo (N.Y.) News,” lenders evaluate a borrower’s ability to pay when deciding whether to file a lawsuit against him to get his mortgage lack. Therefore, people facing a true financial hardship are more likely to escape a lack lawsuit than individuals who command an income.

Non-Recourse States

Borrowers living in non-recourse states receive some protection from lack lawsuits following foreclosure. California State Civil Code, for example, dictates that mortgage lenders can’t legally pursue a mortgage shortage unless they utilize judicial foreclosure to seize the property. Given that judicial foreclosure is a much longer process than nonjudicial foreclosure, and the huge majority of California lenders opt for nonjudicial foreclosure–leaving taxpayers protected from paying any deficiencies left in their loans.

Second Mortgages

Although a primary mortgage lender’s ability to come after an individual following a foreclosure depends directly on the type of loan that the borrower needed and the laws in her state of residence, second mortgage lenders can always file a lawsuit following foreclosure. Lien priority order dictates that, after foreclosure, the principal lender receives payment first. Other lien holders get payment only in the event there is surplus money left over following the original mortgage loan is paid off. Second mortgage lenders, consequently, must often sue the debtor to obtain payment.

Debt Enforcement

A lawsuit to get a mortgage lack not only makes the debtor’s other assets subject to seizure by the mortgage business, but also the judgment looks on his credit report. Judgments are negative entrances and The Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates that credit bureaus may report them for seven years or the statute of limitations for judgment enforcement in the debtor’s state, whichever period is longer. Along with credit damage, many states allow lenders to garnish an individual’s paychecks and bank account following a lawsuit until the deficiency is paid in full.

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What Causes Foreclosures?

The foreclosure procedure permits a creditor to take back ownership of a property from a debtor. Foreclosure occurs when the debtor is no longer making the mortgage loan payments on time and in total. The lender may sell the home at public auction, and becomes the owner if there are no successful bidders.


Foreclosure processes vary by state. There are two distinct types of mortgage foreclosures. Non-judicial foreclosure generally occurs when a deed in trust, a type of legal tool used to demonstrate ownership of property, is utilized. The debtor deeds the property to the lender for the lender to maintain until the loan is paid in full. Deeds in trust typically include wording which permits the creditor to foreclose in your home without going to court. Judicial foreclosures happen when the creditor has to go through a court procedure and get a signed judgment so as to foreclose and publicly auction the home.

Mortgage Sort

The type of mortgage a debtor has can contribute to an eventual foreclosure. An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, is a loan which”resets” on a date noted from the mortgage documents. The rate of interest is adjusted to whatever is standard in the financial market at that moment. The reset may cause the loan obligations to go up unexpectedly, and if the borrower can’t afford the new payment amount, the loan may be foreclosed . A balloon mortgage is a loan where the total payments aren’t enough to cover the entire balance due on the mortgage. A huge portion of the principal of this loan is due at the end of the mortgage term. A borrower who cannot afford the balloon payment at the end of the loan may face foreclosure as a outcome.

Personal Situations

Events in a borrower’s life can result in foreclosure if the situations result in a drain in financial resources. These events include medical emergencies that result in unexpected debts, unemployment or other factors that drain a borrower’s funds. A borrower may file for bankruptcy in these types of situations to halt a foreclosure. The creditor may nevertheless proceed with a foreclosure if the insolvency court deems that foreclosure is the best course of action, such as when the debtor doesn’t have enough income to make the payments.


Some foreclosures are due to the debtor electing to not pay the mortgage. This is also known as”walking out” from the property. A borrower may drift away from the property when the balance of the mortgage is no longer in accordance with the true worth of the home due to decreasing property values in the area. The family of a deceased borrower might not wish to take on the mortgage debt if the home is in poor condition or of little value.


Alternatives are offered for a borrower who’s facing foreclosure. The creditor may agree to a short sale, which is when the borrower sells the home for less than the balance on the loan and the creditor cancels the debt. A creditor may accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, when the borrower deeds back the property to the creditor in return for getting the mortgage canceled. Some creditors will use a debtor who’s in financial distress, to be able to modify or refinance the existing loan to create the mortgage less expensive.

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What's That Smell? Things to Do About Stinky Furniture

I moved and was dismayed to discover that the smell that plagued me in my previous home had followed me to the new one. The culprit? My sofa.

Upholstery odors are insidious and incredibly difficult to eliminate. “Upholstery isn’t a consumer-friendly, cleanable item,” says Alec Houle, a 51-year veteran in the upholstery cleaning industry, who services the greater Boston area at Alec’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning in Abington, Massachusetts.

Despite this, there are steps you can take to assess the problem and decide whether professional intervention is required.

Diagnosing pet odors. If you have pets, an ammonia-based smell indicates the presence of urine, as do telltale yellowish stains. If you have a dog, start looking for staining round the furniture’s skirt. Cat urine is particularly tough to treat, both because it is smellier and because cats prefer to pee in the cracks of their furniture, where their injuries are not immediately detectable.

Should you smell the pee but can not locate the stain, try shining a dark light onto the piece in a darkened area. (Black lights are available from tool rental companies.)

Other odors from living sources. Another culprit might be dog drool, which contains bacteria that can cause odors or that might react with soil on the furniture to give off odors. (Millie and Gabrielle, shown here, are innocent of any wrongdoing, as are the other pets in those photos)

And do not rule out your two-legged friends and yourself: The origin may be human perspiration, which is most commonly found on the arms of the sofa and where the neck comes in contact with the fabric.

Tracery Interiors

Stain treatment. As soon as you detect a stain, do not delay. “The faster you reach it, the better,” states Mike Hiatt, general director of D.A. Burns & Sons in Seattle. An over-the-counter enzyme-based cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle can neutralize urine stains, and it doesn’t need to be rinsed out, unlike the typical treatments for odor-causing stains.

If the stain is restricted to the top layer of the furniture, you can try daubing it gently with a white cotton cloth dipped in warm to hot water and wrung out. You might also use a solution of 10% white vinegar and 90 percent water, or blend a teaspoon of mild liquid detergent with two cups of water.

McCroskey Interiors

Cleaning caveats. Be aware that even plain water can render a ring, based on the fabric. Consult the cleaning directions that came with your furniture before proceeding with any home treatment — even water.

Only water-based cleaning solutions are powerful on pet pee, because urine is water based. If the urine has soaked into the cushion, you might need to clean the upholstery and then replace the interior cushion.

Tip: If you are shopping for furniture and own pets, think about buying pieces with washable slipcovers.

Smells from different resources. Mustiness is common with secondhand furniture and pieces kept in a cellar or storage facility. The humidity in those spaces can cause bacteria or mould to embed itself deep in the frame or stuffing.

“If it is a musty odor, typically you are not going to eliminate this,” says Houle. Cigarette odors are equally pernicious. Before calling a professional, make the furniture onto a porch onto a dry day to find out whether this helps.

Houle takes a dim view of the fabric deodorizers that are very popular in recent decades, claiming they just mask odors and do not reach the root of the problem. More effective are antimicrobials, such as those from Microban, but even people are most useful after a cleaning.

Calling the pros. There are two major kinds of professional upholstery cleaning: wet cleaning and dry cleaning. Houle estimates that 98 percent of upholstery cleaners use the wet process, as it’s normally more effective and less toxic, although it can cause fabric shrinkage, swelling or bleeding or even properly executed. “If all the proper steps are required, the outcomes can be superior,” he states.

Dry cleaning uses a solvent, so colors and fabrics are guarded. But the surroundings aren’t: respirators and venting are required, and steps need to be taken to minimize the chance of explosions.

For both kinds of therapy, the upholstery cleaner will come to a home. The average cost ranges from approximately $75 to $100 to get a sofa, $60 to $75 for a love seat and $40 to $50 to get a seat.

No warranties. Hiatt says professional cleaning will usually improve the circumstance. But there are no guarantees that it will solve that, so you’re always taking a risk that you could shell out the cash and the smell might still be there. Or your partner might not smell it but you will.

“The tricky thing about odor,” notes Hiatt, “is that it is in the nose of the beholder.”

More: Baking Soda: The Amazing All-Natural Cleaner You Already Own

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Parents' Places: Suggestions for Integrating an In-Law Suite

Lots of people leave the family nest, but sometimes parents fly in their children’s nests. With retirement facilities costing an arm and a leg, an increasing number of households are adding in-law units to their houses to cut down on costs and enjoy an integrated family life.

Sybil Jane Barrido, ASID, CID – SJVD DESIGN

A flat over. Sybil Jane Barrido remodeled this family beach home for a client who wanted to give Mom her house above the home’s present two-car garage.

Sybil Jane Barrido, ASID, CID – SJVD DESIGN

“Two significant basics to think about,” says Barrido, “are privacy and integration of spaces, both inside an present structure in addition to within the household.”

Sybil Jane Barrido, ASID, CID – SJVD DESIGN

Barrido made a garden space to ease a private entrance for the upstairs unit. This terrace space doubles as a gathering place for the family.

Sybil Jane Barrido, ASID, CID – SJVD DESIGN

Barrido suggests intending on about 1,000 square feet for a complete kitchen, bedroom, bath and living area, but a great deal of relaxation can be packaged into less square footage than that. For this limited space over the garage, she made an efficient kitchenette-office setup.

Armstead Construction Inc..

Transform a cellar. Armstead Construction created this 850-square-foot living area in a customer’s unfinished basement. The one-bedroom unit includes plenty of open area and natural light.

Watch more cellar conversions

Armstead Construction Inc..

Armstead additional a Heat & Glo gas-powered fireplace add which takes up no floor space. According to the builder, these brand new fireplaces are perfect for this sort of space since they can be installed at any height. As a bonus, consumers can select their preferred flame shade.

Armstead Construction Inc..

The kitchenette in the cellar unit spans 11 feet and comes complete with an undercounter pullout microwave and an integrated mini fridge. The entire kitchen upstairs is available to Mother anytime she needs it.

12 convenient kitchenettes

Metzler Home Builders

A package with a garage. This in-law package, constructed by Metzler Home Builders, comprises 550 square feet of private living space and a brand new garage which matches the present home’s details. The device connects to the remainder of the home by means of 225 square feet of shared space, which comprises an entrance and a foyer. The suite has one bedroom, one bath and a combined kitchen, living and dining area.

Nominal measures, large doorways and handrails create this distance easily accessible for numerous generations.

Metzler Home Builders

Questions to ask about your in-law space. There is no one-size-fits-all alternative in regards to designing in-law spaces. Here are some questions Tim Zehr of Metzler Home Builders advises folks to ask before they proceed on an extra living unit:
Who is the choice maker in the process? This needs to be established early to avoid butting heads. “An experienced builder can aptly fill the role of a seasoned mediator should become necessary,” Zehr says. Which areas of the home will be shared spaces? “Some areas that can go either way would be the kitchen, laundry and entrances. This can be challenging for the various generations, particularly because most parents do not want to be an intrusion in their children’s lives,” he notes. Make sure everybody has a voice in the matter. Is a kitchen needed — or not permitted? “Make sure to research your local municipality’s requirements and zoning legislation for in-law suites or multifamily dwellings,” he says. “Early communicating with your municipality is always better.” More:
More Living Space: Making Room for Family
Hip Midcentury Style for a Mother’s Backyard Cottage
How to Generate a Full Nest Work Happily

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Basement of the Week: Mediterranean Wine Cellar Style at Michigan

This homeowner wanted the walk down into her condo’s basement to shoot her away — all the way to Europe. “The owner wished to create a comfy Mediterranean wine cellar appearance,” states Lisa Whelan of M.J. Whelan Construction. A string of elliptical archways different the spaces, and hot neutrals, tiles which resemble tumbled stone and Venetian plaster wall treatments give old-world style. Once a yucky concrete wasteland, the cellar is now a favorite spot for cozying up and entertaining.

Basement at a Glance
Who lives here: An interior designer
Location: Milford, Michigan
Size: Around 1,500 square feet
Maximum cost: $67,000

M.J. Whelan Construction

The homeowner is an interior designer, so that she had a good deal of the materials and finishes picked out before construction began. A ceramic tile flooring with a stone appearance, a French state–style dining table and chairs, along with a chandelier fashioned from green wine bottles increase the Southern European wine cellar look.

Chandelier: Pottery Barn

Before Photo

This cellar was a typical raw cellar space.

M.J. Whelan Construction

“The company has buddies over regularly such as cards, wine tastings and Bunko,” Whelan says. A bar with comfy bar stools between the dining area and kitchen provides a good perch for tastings.

M.J. Whelan Construction

There were two ugly egress windows in the cellar, so the group came up with a unique solution, which you may see on the wall on the left. “We created custom woodwork around them to make them look like double hutches and added stained glass windows, which the customer custom designed herself,” says Whelan. The natural light from the egress windows is enhanced by lights set behind them.

M.J. Whelan Construction

The space includes a kitchen. The top cupboards have LED lights indoors to highlight the glassware. Ceramic tile on the walls includes a tumbled-stone, Tuscan appearance.

Countertops: Corian

M.J. Whelan Construction

Elliptical archways increase the Mediterranean wine cellar appearance, create separate intimate areas and leave the general distance feeling spacious and large. In the press room, comfy overstuffed sofas confront the TV and fireplace.

M.J. Whelan Construction

The fireplace surround is limestone. Custom built-ins on each side offer space for media gear, books and display items. The once-unfinished underground distance now provides a comfortable haven for entertaining, wine tastings, games, meals and movie nights.

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Taste a Rainbow: 11 Top Home Decorating Colors and How to Use Them

Color might be loved by you. Beige may be the most used color in your flat, or even a stack of gray paint chips could make you cringe. However you feel about color, there are infinite ways to utilize it to make over a space, create a mood and solve design dilemmas.

Whether you like to go neutral or neon, ‘ guides to color are you covered to the spring painting period.

Sarah Greenman

Gray. It was touted as a fad at first, but the love for gray has yet to fade. Play dark charcoal for dramatic dining rooms and utilize foggy gray for relaxing bedrooms filled with natural light.

More: guides to decorating with gray

Dillard Pierce Design Associates

Red. Go beyond the classic red front door and bring this bold shade indoors. Make an impact with an incredible accent wall or keep things simple with a couple striped pillows.

More: guides to decorating with red

CWB Architects

Pink. Although it’s a favourite choice for little girls’ rooms, pink may feel grown up and sophisticated. This cheerful hue can brighten rooms of several styles.

More: guides to decorating with pink

Maria Killam

Orange. An often-forgotten color, orange can immediately warm up a space in the subtlest accents. From tangerine to coral, a shade of orange can work in your home.

More: guides to decorating with orange

Heather Knight

Yellow. Yellow is just one of these colors that immediately makes people content. Accent it with glowing blues for a palette that plays off the color wheel, or tone it down by pairing it with neutral and gray textiles.

More: guides to decorating with yellow

Elizabeth Dinkel

Green. Bring the outdoors inside with nature’s favourite color. Lively, refreshing and eye catching, the right tone of green may work in almost any home.

More: guides to decorating with green

Product Bureau LLC

Blue. Vibrant and striking in some spaces, subdued and soothing in others, blue may completely transform an area.

More: guides to decorating with gloomy

Mercedes Corbell Design + Architecture

Purple. Purple isn’t necessarily the first selection for interior decorating — out of children’s spaces — however if used smartly and sparingly, it may add an elegant element of surprise into modern or traditional spaces.

More: guides to decorating with purple

Joie Wilson

White. Sometimes sticking to the basics is your best option. Don’t dismiss white as boring — when used right, it can make an incredible statement.

More: guides to decorating with white

Mark Newman Design

Brown. Though beige tends to have a bad rap, there’s a reason this color is so popular: It’s hard to get wrong. Use a lighter shade for more soothing spaces and venture into dark chocolate browns to mix things up.

More: guides to decorating with brownish

Design Line Construction, Inc..

Black. Black doesn’t need to be used sparingly. Although it’s dark, it may often be utilised in the same way as a neutral but with a dramatic flair.

More: guides to decorating with black | Research all the color guides

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13 Home Design and Decor Trends to Watch in 2013

Just once you’ve gotten used to celebrating this year’s trends, notions new and old for 2013 have shown up on the horizon. Designer Abigail Ahern claims a good way to remain sane amid the fashion forecasts is to think about how — or if — each forecasted fashion somehow resonates with your own life. “If it doesn’t reflect you, do not follow the masses,” she says. “It’s nice to know that more and more folks are becoming braver within their spaces and really using their home decor and design as an extension of the individuality.”

The need for a more private, individualized house is a design ethos that interior designer Estee Stanley additionally sees as gaining popularity. “People want to live a more relaxed lifestyle, or so the trend is going to be to produce each and every room in the house a space which you may actually live in,” she says.

Here are pros’ predictions concerning how the change toward a more personal and meaningful space will interpret into designs and house decorating in 2013.

Melanie Turner Interiors

1. Verre églomisé (“gilded glass”). Interior designer Melanie Turner is searching for a design trend that offers something different from what is in showrooms. “I’m looking for what is hard to discover. I believe verre églomisé is merely that particular treatment annually,” she says. In this procedure, glass is gilded with gold or metal leaf on the back side.

Though Turner acknowledges that individuals are craving simplicity in their own lives, she says that many of her customers still want to surround themselves with meaningful and beautiful things ” Verre églomisé is jewelry for the space — particularly for rooms which are becoming smaller, where customers want more of a stone box end,” says Turner.


2. Antique brass. The coming year will see more brass being integrated into the house, forecasts Stanley. “I believe antique brass is making a comeback in structural components, hardware and other antiques,” she says.

Bruce Palmer Interior Design

3. Bleached floors. Stanley also thinks people will start using lighter woods for floors and cabinetry again. “I see an increase in methods like waxing, lyming and painting woods to attain a lighter tone in flooring and cabinetry,” she says.

Crane & Canopy

4. More luxe design for the masses. Companies like Crane & Canopy and Thrive Furniture have cut out the middlemen and are promoting their house decor and furnishings directly to customers, thereby doubling costs appreciably. Luxurious bedding with a thread count of 300-plus, as an example, can now be had for under $100.

While interior designer Jennifer Jones doesn’t believe the entire future of home decor is located at the slashed supply-chain model, she acknowledges that companies selling luxe home goods directly to customers have a rightful place at the house design market, especially in 2013.

“I enjoy the concept of companies like Crane & Canopy,” she says. “They have more flexibility to change designs based on customer feedback and need — and that’s a fantastic thing.”

Carla Aston | Interior Designer

5. Authentic blues. Interior designer Kyle Schuneman is visiting lots of punchy blues onto the sets of advertisements and home decor catalog shoots. From ceramic fittings to upholstery to throw pillows, Schuneman says blue will be a massive color in 2013.

“The punchiest, on-trend blue I’ve seen is a combination between a navy blue and royal blue. It’s a true blue without any green traces,” he says.

Interior designer Greg Natale claims that though blue is going to be a huge color in 2013, emerald green (recently named Shade of the Year by Pantone, which makes naming color trends an annual event), Dior gray and salmon pink will also be throughout the fashion runways and style showrooms.

Read more photos of blue spaces

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

6. Downsizing. Designer Jessica Helgerson looks at downsizing as a long-term trend. “New-development homes are becoming smaller again,” she says. “People are interested in residing in smaller spaces which are nearer to downtowns rather than bigger houses where they’re dependent on their automobiles.” The designer has already gotten a few requests for the design for her 540-square-foot residence, among the most popular on in 2012, which she says is a testament to a change in the way people are looking at and designing their own homes.

Take a look within Jessica Helgerson’s house

Lamps Plus

Taupe Faux Shagreen Leather Accent Table – $499.91

7. Faux shagreen. Faux shagreen (that is, not from seals, snakes or other animals) is the brand new on-trend hide. It’s a uniform, textured and organic appearance that ups the glamour and sophistication level of any interior. “Nearly every showroom at High Point Market this season had faux shagreen,” says interior designer Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice of Christopher Patrick Interiors. She cautions that faux shagreen functions just in natural colours and tiny doses. “Regrettably, we watched a few showrooms with very odd shagreen colours. Shagreen desks, cocktail tables and chests seem best when the color is nearer to grays, taupes, creams and neutrals,” she says.


8. On-demand printing. “I predict a rise in DIY on-demand printing for cloth, paper and backgrounds,” says manufacturer and crafter Bonnie Forkner of the blog Going Home to Roost. She says companies like Spoonflower and Fabric on Demand are enabling a growing number of individuals to produce their own custom upholstery fabrics, detachable backgrounds and custom stickers, which makes it easy to design, print and sell or buy custom made designs with a click of their mouse.

9. Fanciful, artful furniture design. A huge trend that designer-stylist Cassidy Hughes is seeing in design shows is a more fun approach to furniture and product design. She says, “I visit the melding of art in furniture and decor really progressing and becoming more available for individuals to literally take home into their living rooms next year.”

Greg Natale

10. Stripes and geometrics. If 2012 was about blossoms about the runway and in design showrooms, next season will see a return to stripes, angles and diagonals. Greg Natale says, “We’re seeing more angled shapes like triangles and trapezoids, as well as diagonals and zigzags. They’re not merely on walls on ceilings, too.”

International Views and Studio A Home

Wrapped furniture. “Whether it’s linen, leather, raffia or grass cloth, the textured impact of wrapped furniture instantly grabs your attention,” says interior designer Kim Hendrickson-Radovich.

Shannon Malone

Weathered kitchen countertops. Increasingly more of kitchen and bathroom designer Lance Stratton’s customers want countertops which may take the daily wear and tear of family life; there is a movement away from show kitchens with precious countertops that customers are afraid to prep on for fear of scratches and dings. “They request countertops which already come a bit weathered,” he says, “ones who have that banged-up appearance.”

Lauren Liess Interiors

Hello, neutrals. Goodbye, neon. Forkner claims that although natural fibers like jute and raffia will always have a timeless quality, she thinks that there will be a noticeable celebration of natural, organic-looking spaces along with a conscious move away from splashy neons because the go-to pop of color in the house. “I see a change to the use of more solids and neutrals with warm brassy tones and whites,” she says.

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Regional Design: Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry

If there’s one thing designers and builders in South Carolina’s Lowcountry agree, it’s the hot and humid weather has always been a major influence on design, no matter what the style. “Conventional South Carolina Lowcountry houses were developed to buffer the harsh, hot, humid climate,” states Jane Frederick of Frederick + Frederick Architects. “To take advantage of the summertime Southern breezes, the houses had tall ceilings for the heat to grow and porches on the south to color the inside and generate a place of respite from the heat.”

While “Lowcountry” calls to mind double-stacked porches shaded by live oaks dripping in Spanish moss, facing side yards in downtown Charleston, these gorgeous traditional houses are not the only way around. “The beauty of the Lowcountry is that it allows a number of styles to flourish authentically,” states Amy Luff of Margaret Donaldson Interiors. So, Luff declares, “The Lowcountry is a fantastic place to call home.”

Christopher A Rose AIA

“Something which produces a design clearly Lowcountry is the use of piazzas or porches,” says architect Chris Rose. “These make the most of our light seasons to enjoy the view or garden and color the house from sunlight.”

Frederick + Frederick Architects

1 distinctive Lowcountry design move that never goes out of design is a raised first floor. “The first floors were lifted off the floor to keep the floodwaters and allowing breezes to circulate beneath the home,” explains Frederick.

Frederick + Frederick Architects

“They were just one area wide to maximize the flow of air and to increase the quantity of lighting to cut down on mould and mildew,” says Frederick.

Other identifying Lowcountry architectural styles include the Charleston- style home with all the narrow end facing the road and the porch on the south, as well as the Beaufort-style T-shaped home: one area thick, using a porch wrap three sides.

Frederick + Frederick Architects

Frederick has looked to the past to inspire green design today. “As people are more interested in sustainable design, we are turning into the lessons learned from the vernacular traditions. A few years ago we started exploring other Southern vernacular types, particularly the dogtrot, which will be two legends with an open breezeway between,” she states.

The area above occupies the breezeway of a dogtrot home. Frederick finds that “dogtrot” is one of the most popular search phrases that leads potential clients to the business’s website.

Alix Bragg Interior Design

Lowcountry design is in the smaller details. “There are many things which produce a house clearly Charleston, but the shutters are exactly what does it on this house,” says interior designer Alix Bragg. “The old-school style of the louvered shutters (painted Charleston green) is a staple in the Lowcountry. Of course, the palm trees and metal roof give it away also!”

Watch the rest of this home

Walsh Krowka & Associates

Tom Krowka of Walsh Krowka and Associates makes notice of another identifying Lowcountry porch detail: “Big porches and overhangs shield living or windows areas from the harsh sun.”

Walsh Krowka & Associates, Inc

A lot of the structure responds to sinking cool atmosphere and rising hot air. “Tall ceilings and spaces allow for air flow and maintain the warmest air farthest away from people in the ground level,” states Krowka. “Many old houses had double-hung windows — the aim was to open the floor and top partway. Cool air comes in at the base; warm air goes out the surface.”

Wayne Windham Architect, P.A.

“A misconception is that Lowcountry design is all the same,” says Courtney Windham of Wayne Windham Architects. “There are lots of variations of Lowcountry architecture — formal, relaxed, farmhouse design, Barbados/tropical, modern and more.”

Wayne Windham Architect, P.A.

No matter what the design, South Carolina Lowcountry design has a strong connection to the outdoors and ample outdoor living spaces, states Windham.

Wayne Windham Architect, P.A.

“Porches are becoming bigger and wider to expand outdoor living. Roll-down screens and mosquito misting systems are also being integrated to produce these spaces [more] flexible/enjoyable,” she states.

The way to banish the bugs from your porch

Allison Ramsey Architects

Cooter Ramsey of Allison Ramsey Architects concurs. “Even through the holidays, grillin’ and chillin’ is a frequent event in the Lowcountry. Our outdoor spaces are essential for your quality of life we like to reside in the South, therefore a fantastic home in the Lowcountry has got the capability to maneuver outside at every chance.”

Allison Ramsey Architects

Allison Ramsey Architects

“Sometimes we need our rooms to feel as the exterior so much, we will fill in a porch to reach it,” says Ramsey. “This is a picture of a good keeping room that’s a kitchen off. The windows and ceiling have been treated similar to those on a converted porch.”

Allison Ramsey Architects

“This also works nicely on the exterior of the home, giving it an appearance that the home has evolved over time,” explains Ramsey. “It’s a great trick to use to break down the bulk of a home and to make it fit better on its own site.”

Bill Huey + Associates

Architect Bill Huey looks to the past and the future when designing for the Lowcountry today. “A current fad, and the new norm, would be to wed the traditional Southern details which have historically been built using timber with more contemporary materials. A good instance of this would be the use of HardieShingle, HardieBoard and HardieTrim (pictured on the home), since its life is a lot longer than traditional materials when exposed to the harsh, polluted atmosphere of the South Carolina Lowcountry.”

WaterMark Coastal Homes, LLC

Many of double-stacked porches include a distinguishing detail you are going to have to look around see. “Another traditional Lowcountry detail is your haint blue ceiling, which has a rich background here and remains found on the majority of porches,” states Jeff Thomas of WaterMark Coastal Homes.

WaterMark Coastal Homes, LLC

“We are also seeing a trend of more modern twists on the standard Lowcountry home, where clean, simple lines replace the more traditional details,” states Thomas. “They still have the classic Lowcountry features of deep porches and overhangs, but they have been stripped into their more fundamental elements. I think most men and women think contemporary and Lowcountry don’t necessarily go together, but we are definitely beginning to see otherwise.”

WaterMark Coastal Homes, LLC

Here is a good example of a modern spin on the Lowcountry tradition. “It still has the double porch and deep overhangs, but spins the traditional particulars. The arches around the second-floor porch are a reference back into the arches often found on historical houses throughout Charleston and the Lowcountry,” states Thomas.

Sandra Ericksen Design

Taking a closer look inside, interior designers allow us know what makes a space distinctly Lowcountry and also let us know about the most recent trends. “I enjoy the interplay of traditional, often formal antiques utilised in casual, even beachy rooms,” says interior designer Sandra Ericksen. “You often see Chippendale pieces which are whitewashed or worn and still working beautifully alongside slipcovered upholstery.”

“Style is so important in the South,” states Ericksen, “and having your house work in the most appropriate and casual situation is a must. We throw parties frequently! By using formal pieces alongside furnishings which are not as precious, you make your house more versatile.”

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

A misconception about design in the Lowcountry is the fact that it’s stuffy and traditional. “The Lowcountry because we know it in Charleston, South Carolina, is exciting and moving forward while respecting the past,” says Luff. “We are not afraid to throw in some midcentury pieces or a contemporary coffee table.”

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

“A fashion, along with the remainder of the nation, is your idea of repurposing, whether it’s repurposing old barn wood to develop into a dining table or recovering your grandma’s wingback in a wild fabric to update the design,” Luff states.

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

Luff describes several types of homes found in the Lowcountry. “Barefoot beach houses are observed on Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach, and hark back to the glory days where life was slower. Frequently one-story with a large front porch, these houses are the epitome of a Lowcountry summer retreat. With simpler furnishings, relaxed finishes and maybe a whitewashed floor, your blood pressure drops as soon as you kick off your shoes in the door.”

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

“With the abundance of neighboring islands (Johns Island, Wadmalaw and down into the Ace Basin), the Lowcountry is evenly distinguished by marsh houses and country houses. These houses nestle into the encompassing live oak trees and collaborate with their environment in colour and feel,” says Luff. “The interior colors are pulled from character with soft neutrals, greens, blues and grays. Frequently you will find custom-made case merchandise from reclaimed wood. These homes tend to focus on the idea of filling the home with friends and family — relaxation and a quiet elegance”

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

“The coastal house is your very trend-oriented yet timeless type of home. Charleston and the Lowcountry possessed the concept of the coastal home before the publications took the trend nationwide,” Luff states. She includes elements of this look as “all-white living rooms, turquoise and blue, driftwood and glass lamps.”

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Guest Picks: Pretty Cake Stands

What is it about cake stands that I find so irresistible? Innately fairly, filled with whimsy, they’re perhaps not the most practical item in your own kitchen, but you do not buy a cake stand for practicality. Cake stands are intended to be frivolous and enjoyable, and they certainly know how to gussy up a sandwich.
— Stephanie from Lick My Spoon


Rustic Wood Cake Stand by Roxy Heart Vintage – $45

Time to go back to nature. I am in love with this rustic”tree slit” cake stand. The manufacturer will also hand-carve and burn off any personal message, initials or dates on the stand.

West Elm

Beehive Cake Stand – $39

I love this beehive lid. It looks like something straight out of Winnie the Pooh.


Woodland Keepers Cake Stand by Patina Vie – $58

What a shabby chic find. It’s a vintage, distressed wood appearance with a touch of gold, which soda of robin’s egg whites is simply lovely.

Modern Serveware – $70

Tea party, anyone? Using upside-down tea cups as the pedestals is an example of great detailing.


5-Tiered Cake Stand in Pink Flowers by Elves n Elements – GBP 150.88

Pretty in pink, this petal-colored, five-tiered, flower-inspired stand could be just the thing to flaunt several cupcakes or sugar cookies.


Eyelet Cake Plates with Ribbons by Jeanette Zeis Ceramics – $330

This tiered stand reminds me of ribbon and lace. Pretty and sweet, it’s the typical prerequisites for a good cake stand.


Janice Minor Cake Stand – $480

This cake stand belongs in a fairy story. I really like the way the twig stand is natural and delicate looking, drawing the eye directly to the yummy cake prize below the glass dome.

Farmhouse Wares

Enamel Cake Stands – $24.95

Vintage white scalloped edges make this miniature cake stand one of my favorites.

Cordelia Dumpling

Small Beaded Edge Cake Stand With Domed Lid – GBP 27

This is a little miniature man. It is just the thing to dress up some mignardises or snacks. The beaded edge is simply adorable.


Petite Treat Mini Pedestal – $14

These pastel, ceramic miniature pedestals make a darling demonstration for cupcakes or alternative doll-size treats.


Milk Glass Cake Stand by The Roche Studio – $110

With its romantic, classic milk glass with hobnail detail and ruffle edging, this is like everything I really like all in one!


Julia Knight Peony Cake Stand – $99

These cake stands have beautifully scalloped edging and are hand-painted using a mix of enamel infused with crushed mother of pearl. I really like the combination of colors too; they’re fresh, modern and feminine, but not overly frilly.


Noir Pedestal Stand – $59

Noir. Sleek. Chic.


Shannon Cake Plate by Delightfully Lovely – $34

These yellow baubles are overly enjoyable.


Kristin Cupcake Tree by Delightfully Lovely – $50

I’ve been on a huge lime green kick lately. This vibrant color would look great against some vanilla buttercream–frosted goodies. I also dig out the playful garland design on this.

Farmhouse Wares

Galvanized Tin Pedestal – $32.99

This galvanized tin base brings a kind of rustic, farmhouse texture to the table. I know this ideabook is all about cake stands, but I’d just as easily slap a cherry pie with this baby.

Fancy Flours

Iron Tree Stand for Cupcakes, 2-Tier – $160

A whimsical tree dessert stand is just what I want. Obviously.

Fancy Flours

Jeweled Vintage French White Cake Stands – $150

Um yes, I’d enjoy my fancy cake stands dripping with stones, please. Merci beaucoup.


Etagere 3 Tiers of Chintz Cake Stand by Sip & Savor – $125

If you were trying to find a reason to throw a backyard party or host large tea with the ladies, this is it. When not in use for delicate yummy bites, I’d use this to hold my jewelry.


Cable Cupcake Stand – $34.95

This is a versatile serving piece for sweets, hors d’oeuvres or even fruit. The elegant wirework reminds me of doilies. I enjoy this.

Next: You are Invited to High Tea

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