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17 Mar 2018

Secret Rooms and Spaces For Your Home

Everyone needs a little privacy, and today’s homeowners are finding creative ways to get it. From hidden passageways to covert safes and stealth walls, it seems homeowners have some intriguing requests for their builders and architects.

Are you interested in adding a secluded space to your home? Here are some of the most popular ones to consider:

Bookcase Doorways: Made popular by the movies, bookcase doorways are more common among homeowners than you might think. Since bookcases are a highly functional element in any room, they’re a great way to hide extra hallways without detracting from the room’s design.

Hidden Wine Cellars: Imagine a door in the floor that leads to a spiral staircase and walls full of your favorite vino. What could be more exciting? All you need is the right rug to conceal it, and the secret’s all yours.

Surprise Slides: Want something fun for the kiddos? Add a slide that goes from the second floor to the ground floor. You can hide it behind a wall panel, faux cabinet door or even a closet shelf.

Secret Safes: A safe can undoubtedly offer security. But a safe that’s concealed? It doesn’t get more secure than that. Many homeowners are adding hidden safes under floor hatches, behind fireplaces and even underneath staircases.

Obscure Screening Rooms: Have private movie screenings in a spacious, soundproof theater room that’s hiding behind a stone wall or swinging shelving unit.

Hidden rooms and passageways are a great way to add a little mystery, fun and function to your property. If you’re interested in financing a home remodel or planning to build a new property with some fun and functional hideaway spaces, get in touch today to discuss your options.

04 Feb 2018

Professional Design Principles: Wabi-Sabi

Minimalism, boho and art deco had their moments, but it seems the luxury market is shifting to a new design principle. The trend that professional designers love for posh interiors? Wabi-sabi.

With a focus on embracing nature, randomness and imperfections, wabi-sabi is the ideal style for anyone who wants to steer clear of a perfectly curated, pristine look. Instead, a wabi-sabi home is abstract, authentic and livable.

Are you interested in how you can incorporate wabi-sabi into your home? Here are the design principles you should know:

Keep it simple. Wabi-sabi avoids lavish and highly ornamented decor. Instead, it makes use of organic materials like plants, unpolished crystals and unstained wood. Functional furniture and negative space give a simple, elegant feel.

Don’t pursue perfection. Unlike other design styles, wabi-sabi doesn’t emphasize straight edges, crystal-clear china or throw pillows with matching patterns. Rather, live-edge wood tables and handwoven textiles introduce asymmetry while handmade pottery shows an appreciation for imperfection.

Embrace history. Wabi-sabi embraces the history of your home and forgoes unnecessary updates to original structural elements. Treat old wood beams, fading limestone and naturally veined marble as focal points for design.

Watch out for clutter. Celebrate one-of-a-kind items and small collections by avoiding crowded shelves of knickknacks or filling each room to the brim. Every piece in the space should have a unique purpose and meaning to create a simple, pleasing environment.

Peaceful, beautiful and uncluttered — it’s no surprise wabi-sabi is gaining ground with designers worldwide.

If you’re considering a professional wabi-sabi makeover for your home or contemplating a renovation, get in touch today to discuss what options will give you the best results for your decor and your investment.

04 Jan 2018

It’s A Great Time To Finance An Investment Property

If purchasing a weekend home, vacation house or investment property has ever been on your radar, now could be a great time to act. With historically low mortgage rates and high demand for short-term vacation rentals and long-term rental properties, conditions are prime for second-home purchases.

Here are four reasons why a second home would be a solid financial investment in today’s real estate market:

Mortgage rates are historically low.
While they may fluctuate from week to week, today’s rates are still significantly more affordable than in years past. In fact, they’re the most affordable they’ve been in 40 years.

The rental market is hot.
A second property can add a consistent stream of income no matter what your intentions for the home may be. Rent it out full time for year-round cash flow, or list it as a short-term rental for some bonus cash when you’re not using it. Demand is high for both types of rentals, so your opportunities are endless.

There are tons of financing options.
There are dozens of ways to finance your second property without jeopardizing your financial stability. Cash-out refinances and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) allow you to leverage your current home equity to cover the costs of your new property, or renting out the home can give you reliable income to afford a new mortgage. You can also tap into your IRA or 401(k) to help.

The new tax law can help
.
The latest tax reform has led to decreased demand for vacation homes, which means prices on investment properties could be on the decline. The result? More house for less cash. Additionally, interest on HELOCs and second mortgages will still be deductible under the new tax law, so there’s even more saved cash on the horizon.

Are you ready to make the leap and buy that second property you’ve been wanting? Get in touch today to discuss the opportunities available.

18 Dec 2017

High-End Countertop Materials

Today’s top home designers are mixing materials, finishes and styles like never before — and high-end countertops are the new benchmark in luxury design. Gone are the days of granite as the pinnacle of countertop design. These are the materials you’ll want to set your sights on:

Quartz. Quartz countertops are one of 2018’s top kitchen trends. Available in dozens of tones and colors and resistant to stains, scratches and spills, it’s one of the most versatile materials on the market. It’s also incredibly durable, so it will last you for the long haul — making your investment worth it.

Stainless steel. Sleek, shiny and easy to clean, there are few materials as stunning as stainless steel. It’s also a very hygienic choice, cutting down on bacteria build-up, mold and mildew.

Concrete. Perfect for spaces with that minimalist, high-rise feel, concrete offers both a modern and industrial edge to a room. It goes great with just about any palette, from bright and colorful to muted and neutral.

Butcher block. Both practical and statement-making, butcher block countertops are perfect for the home chef who enjoys lots of prep space. You can cut, chop and knead right on the counter. Dark woods like cherry, walnut or hickory add rustic charm to mountain homes while lighter-toned woods like beech and ash lend an organic feel that suits waterfront homes.

There’s no doubt your counters play an essential role in your home’s aesthetic. Whether entertaining a crowd or hosting an intimate dinner party, the kitchen counter is often where lively conversations begin. It should be eye-catching and inviting for you and your guests. Private and guest bath counters need to optimize space while offering a luxurious feel. No matter your style, you can enhance your next bath or kitchen remodel with these luxe materials.

23 Nov 2017

3 Pitfalls That Can Impact Your Retirement Savings

A long-term savings strategy like planning for retirement relies on small steps taken over an extended period. Make sure you’re on track by avoiding these common mistakes.

Underfunding Retirement Accounts
Are you among the 71 percent of Americans who aren’t putting enough away for retirement? The most effective determining factors of a well-funded retirement are how early you start and how much you save. Aim to contribute the maximum amount allowable into your retirement accounts each year. If that’s a stretch, commit to increasing contributions to retirement accounts any time your income climbs, whether it’s from annual raises or salary boosts when you change jobs.

Ignoring Tax Ramifications
If you’re early in your wealth-building journey or you anticipate a lower-than-usual income this year, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of your lower tax rate and make Roth contributions in your retirement accounts. Just make sure your employer-sponsored retirement plan has a Roth option. If your income disqualifies you from making Roth IRA contributions, consider Roth conversions.

Concentrating Your Investments Too Narrowly
Many Americans who held most of their funds in a single company or sector of stocks learned this harsh lesson during the dot-com bubble. When the bubble burst between 1999 and 2001, so did a portion of those portfolios. And the same concern goes for tying up the bulk of your wealth in your principal residence. Not only is it time-consuming and costly to convert a home to cash, but you’ll also have the added stress of finding a new place to live. Diversification is key to avoiding this mistake.

Whether retirement is a few decades away or just around the corner, the goal is to make steady progress in the right direction as you prepare for life after work.

03 Oct 2017

Where to Take Your Next Luxury Vacation

Vacations allow you to escape the routine of your everyday life. Making the most of your time away from home is up to you. If you’re interested in springing for once-in-a-lifetime hotel accommodations, here are a few unique options.

Relax in Luxury
Looking to indulge beyond the traditional hotel and continental breakfast? A well-appointed retreat that makes you the focus can help you recharge your mind, body and spirit. One option: the art-centric Hotel Marques de Riscal in northern Spain, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and sits on an established vineyard of the same name.

Or you can add a little adventure to your luxury getaway. At Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, India, guests can sip champagne from the observation tower and spot royal Bengal tigers at a nearby watering hole, along with other indigenous wildlife.

Travel Off the Beaten Path
If an escape sounds like music to your ears, consider a remote destination where you can avoid real-world interruptions. How about a quiet island hideaway off the eastern coast of Africa? The Manta Resort on Zanzibar’s Pemba Island offers privacy, romance and the option to stay in an underwater room surrounded by untouched coral reefs and their inhabitants.

If that’s not remote enough, consider White Desert’s Whichaway Camp in Antarctica. From November through January, travelers can experience the South Pole and all of its beauty in comfort and style.

Go With What Speaks to You
Finding a one-of-a-kind stay isn’t as hard as you may imagine; just give some thought to your personal interests. Car enthusiast? The 4.5-star, auto-themed V8 Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, may speak to you. Nature lover? Sleep among the clouds in one of the treetop rooms in Sweden’s aptly named Treehotel. Your options for unconventional lodging across the globe are nearly limitless.

17 Sep 2017

Are You Ready for a Vacation Home?

Are you considering investing in a home away from home? Vacation home sales remained high in 2015, indicating that many Americans feel drawn to get away. Before deciding on a second property, be sure to ask yourself these questions first.

How will you use it?
Whether it’s a seasonal home, future retirement spot or a vacation home you’ll also rent out, pick a place you love. Some experts say the sweet spot is a destination that’s no more than a three-hour drive from a major metro area. The proximity can help with resale, plus it usually draws a larger pool of potential renters. If rental income is important, ensure local laws or association bylaws allow short-term rentals before making a purchase.

What are all of the costs involved?
The price of a second house goes beyond the initial purchase price. Also factor in property taxes and insurance, potential homeowners or condo association fees, and the cost of utilities and maintenance. Your tax implications will vary, too, depending on how you decide to use the home. If you rent it out for more than 15 days a year, for instance, the IRS requires that you declare the income.

What’s the plan for when you’re gone?
If you live more than a couple of hours away, a local property manager may be helpful for dealing with maintenance issues and overseeing tenants if you choose to rent it out. You’ll also want to take measures to protect your home when no one’s there. A security system is a no-brainer, and it might even reduce insurance costs. Other good bets include motion-sensitive exterior lights, timers for indoor lighting, and a car parked in the drive every so often.

09 Aug 2017

High-End Kitchen Features of the Future

When it comes to luxury kitchens, some features have become commonplace, like full-size professional appliances and expansive stone-topped islands that double as prep stations and seating areas. So what are upscale kitchen designers predicting as the biggest must-haves in the coming years? Here are a few developments to keep an eye on.

Emphasizing a Personal Touch
High net worth households appreciate options that offer customization to suit their tastes. Bright pops of color in cabinets, appliances and tile as well as other specific modifications tailored to unique lifestyles let homeowners highlight individuality with less commitment.

Those who enjoy recreating haute cuisine in the comfort of their home can explore the idea of an expanded kitchen featuring multiple zones. The trend of several cooking stations not only caters to those with differing dietary concerns but also makes special occasion meals with friends and family that much easier.

High-End Meets High-Tech
Modern technology evolves rapidly, making a homeowner’s dream kitchen closer and smarter than ever. More interconnected systems are on the horizon, including refrigerators that take inventory, create shopping lists and order food deliveries, and faucets that detect chemicals and bacteria as they rinse produce.

For foodies who love to entertain, luxury outdoor kitchens are already high on the list of wants, and that’s not expected to change. These exterior spaces will advance beyond today’s wood-fired pizza ovens, beer taps and cast-iron flat-top grills. Kitchens equipped with 3-D printers may become a more familiar sight, allowing hosts to create kitchen accoutrements on demand.

The kitchen is often the heart of a home. How will this important gathering space in your home change and adapt as the future unfolds?

12 Jul 2017

Should You Buy or Rent a Vacation Home?

Whether you’ve always dreamed of a mountaintop chalet or long to spend more time on the beach, your perfect vacation home awaits. But once you find it, is it better to rent or buy? There are several questions you should ask before you make the commitment to purchase a vacation home.

Where should you buy?
How much time will you spend in your vacation home? How easy will it be for you to travel there? Besides these logistical concerns, also consider areas where buying a second home could be a more profitable investment.

What kind of property should you buy?
Are you looking for a getaway where you’ll spend most of your time indoors, or do you just need a place to stash your stuff before an all-day outdoor expedition? A larger property might suit the first approach, whereas the second might find a condo perfectly adequate. You may also not want the hassle of yard work in your vacation home.

Why do you want to buy?
Are you looking to expand your portfolio with an investment property? Do you hope to generate passive income with a rental? Whether you’re viewing your vacation home as an entrepreneurial move or want to leave a legacy for future generations, be sure to review potential tax ramifications with your team of trusted professionals. Their insights could help you make the right choice for your circumstances.

Who will manage your property?
Will you hire a property management company, or will you try to manage it all yourself? Knowing how you will handle maintenance and security issues — and if you want to — will help you make the right choice when it comes to renting or buying.

21 Jun 2017

The Latest in Smart Home Technology

Most Americans are familiar with the idea of smart home technology, which offers connected, optimized comfort and convenience via smartphone apps. But the emergence of whole-house hubs like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which use a simple interface to connect separate features through Wi-Fi networks, has broadened the appeal.

Smart Home Tech for All Ages
Smart homes are desirable to every generation, from millennials to baby boomers, and homebuilders and high-end condo and apartment communities have taken note. Many buyers are opting for move-in ready smart systems with voice control, and some buildings now come with apps that allow unit owners to schedule classes, reserve event spaces and notify staff of arriving guests.

High-tech smart features also make it easier to monitor secondary residences. Weekenders and rental property owners can set desired thermostat and pool temperatures based on arrival times. Parents can monitor electricity use and security cameras at their college student’s condo. And aging adults can live independently for longer thanks to automated lighting, security features and wearable tech that allows relatives and caregivers to check on them from afar.

Current Trends
Smart homes can optimize security and increase energy efficiency with options like smartphone-controlled doorbell cameras and ever-improving thermostats and plugs that monitor energy use. Upscale homes offer smart touches in more places, including air filtration, window coverings, wine cellars and radiant floor heating.

What’s on the Horizon
Watch for further hub integration, such as GPS that works with door sensors to inform parents when children come and go, and appliances that tell you when to order more groceries. You can also expect home Wi-Fi networks to become increasingly more secure, providing additional peace of mind.