How to Pull Together a Room With Symmetry


By: Laura Gaskill
 
Human faces, snowflakes, violins, the Eiffel Tower — so much of our world is symmetrical, it’s no wonder the eye is drawn to things with a mirror-image quality, including interiors. No matter your decor style, embracing symmetry can help your space look its best. Whether you’re bringing grandeur to a small space or doing more with your art collection, here are 10 reasons to work symmetry into your rooms.
 
1. Symmetry can make your dining room feel fancier. Formal symmetry (where two sides of a room are close to mirror images of each other) dresses up a space. In the dining room, try hanging framed artworks on either side of a large mirror for a classic, elegant look. Or place matching lamps, sculptures or vases at either end of a buffet table — the more objects repeated on each side of the room, the more formal the space will feel.
 

 
2. Symmetry makes mixing up the dining set easier. Mixing and matching dining chairs is simple when you stick with a symmetrical arrangement — a pair of slipcovered armchairs at the ends and wood chairs along the sides, for instance. Even though the chairs at the heads of table are completely different from the others, the look feels well balanced.
 

 
3. Symmetry can deliver a big statement on a small budget. If you want to make an impact without spending big, choose budget finds arranged symmetrically. Here, bold black stripes painted on the wall (a project you can do yourself) set the tone for a chic black and white scheme. A simply framed, blown-up black and white poster centered above a settee and flanked by matching end tables and lamps completes the picture in mirror-image style.
 

 
4. Symmetry can do wonders for your art collection. If you have a piece of art you love, but it’s too small to stand on its own, try surrounding it with smaller, identically framed art, as shown here. What could have been a canvas swallowed up by too much wall is instead into a focal point. Other sure bets in arranging include an evenly spaced grid or a vertical column of art in matching frames.
 

 
5. Symmetry help balance strong architectural features. If your room has a large or an especially striking architectural feature (like a fireplace or bay window), using it as the center of a symmetrical arrangement is a good way to bring balance to the room. Here a large fireplace is flanked by a pair of matching chests, lamps and mirrors.
 

6. Symmetry can turn a doorway into a passage with presence. Passing through a plain doorway becomes an event when a pair of sculptures on pedestals stands guard. And although the art around the doorway here is more salon style than a perfect grid, it still adds to the impression of balance.
 

 
7. Symmetry can make a small space feel important. Sneaking in symmetry where you can is a great way to bring a bit of grandeur to a compact space. Here a set of floor-sweeping drapes and a pair of artworks frame the window, while a pair of matching armchairs and matching pillows bring a pleasing sense of order to the seating area.
 

 
8. Symmetry can help downplay a tech feature. Surrounding the TV with pairs of identical items — in this case chairs, topiaries and graphic curtains — helps the eye travel around the space, instead of instantly settling on the “big, black box.”
 
9. Symmetry provides an anchor for eclectic collections. Keep vintage treasures and eclectic art looking good by starting with a base furniture arrangement with some symmetry. Even if you don’t have identical items, you can still approximate the look by using what you
have. In the space shown here, two sofas facing each other look balanced (even though they are not the same), matching lamps help nonmatching tables fit in, and identical shades on the windows help tie everything together.
 
10. Symmetry pulls together a living room like nobody’s business. If your living room seems to be missing something, have a look around and see how many pairs of identical items you can count. If everything is a one-off, the feeling of the room may be a bit scattered. Try adding a pair of matching table lamps, a set of matching pillows on the sofa or a pair of armchairs upholstered in the same fabric. Of course, having pairs is not enough — be sure to position your matching items across from each other to create symmetry that pleases the eye.

 

Related Links:

How to Make the Most of Your Mudroom


By: Shane Inman
 
Mudrooms help us transition from our adventures in the great outdoors to the comforts inside our homes. But when packed with clever built-ins, space-maximizing storage and nifty organizers, a mudroom can also become a high-functioning, double-duty space that can accommodate anything from folding laundry to making crafts.
 

Don’t believe me? Check out these fantastic mudrooms and my space-saving mudroom organization tips to see how you can make the entry to your home attractive, functional and clutter free.
 

 

Office space. Transform your mudroom into a double-function space with a built-in desk and file storage. One wall is all you need if you plan it right. The cubbies and hooks help keep outdoor gear and clutter separated from the desk area.

 

Helpful hooks. Turn an awkward or a dead space into something you’ll actually use. A row of simple hooks around the perimeter and a few well-placed wire baskets have turned this once-empty nook into a valuable drop zone near the home’s entry.
 

Neat and clean. Not all of us like to have our jackets and coats on display. These floor-to-ceiling cabinet doors keep clutter out of sight and add an architectural statement.
 
Laundry time. If you have a spacious mudroom at the back of your house, take advantage of all that room. Consider including a laundry section to make life a little easier. A washer, dryer and small sink mean you can throw dirty clothes right into the wash as soon as you get home.
 
Pet station. If you share your home with furry friends, your mudroom is the perfect place for a doggie stop. This pet-friendly mudroom’s special space for cleaning pets means the owners will never see a muddy paw print in their house again. A sophisticated palette of durable materials makes it feel sleek, despite its practical purpose.

 

 
Seasonal storage. Mudrooms can be the perfect place in which to store outdoor sports gear for all four seasons, with the right organizational techniques. This ski-loving family came up with a great solution to keep their winter gear under control: Cubbies for gloves and hats up top, spots for boots below the bench and custom ski racks keep everything neat and tidy.
 

Personalized. Clever and colorful solutions help bring this mudroom to life. Let your little ones choose a favorite color to make their special space in your mudroom more fun. Color-coordinated baskets add a little personality to an all-white space with minimal cost and effort.
 

 

Get crafty. If you have the room, incorporate a workstation into your mudroom. Wrap a gift, help your child with a school project or prepare a package for the mail on your way out the door. Having everything in one spot will make multitasking much easier.
 

Related Links:

Fix These 5 Things to Sell Your Home Faster


By: Kristie Barnett 
 
No one wants to spend money on the home they are getting ready to sell, but it can be crucial if you want to sell the house quickly and for the price you want. Beyond basic decluttering and cleaning, there are areas where some money may need to be spent. While there are some areas that aren’t necessary to spend money on, you may need to expend a little cash in order to get your property sold.
 

1. Paint
 
Painting the walls in update neutrals and on-trend colors will set your home apart and help home buyers remember each room. Open areas should all be painted the same color — maybe a light griege or muted-down color. You’ll want to skip the dark or intense colors in these areas.
 

Master and guest bedrooms are best painted in muted but distinct colors. Muted versions of blues, greens and yellows are good bets.
 

This lovely guest room painted by Warline Painting in Benjamin Moore’s Georgian Green will be remembered over a similar one painted Builder Beige.
 
2. Make Necessary Repairs
 
Go ahead and complete any repair work that you have left unfinished. Not only will the buyer’s home inspector find those issues anyway, but you are hindering offers if there are obvious repairs that need to be made.
 
Unfinished repairs or projects reflect badly on the overall maintenance of the home and send up a red flag to would-be buyers. Nothing will make a buyer pull out of a deal and run for the hills faster than a home inspection report riddled with needed repairs and safety concerns.
 

3. Replace Old Carpet
 
If you have old or stained carpet, you should consider replacing it before putting it on the market. Often a professional cleaning is enough to get it ready to show, but sometimes that just won’t do the trick. Stained or dated carpet is a huge turnoff to potential buyers, especially if you have pets. Even pet lovers are not interested in buying a home with carpet stained by other peoples’ pets.
 
And before you even mention it, “carpet allowances” really don’t work well anymore. Mortgage companies are increasingly reluctant to allow a contract with repair and update allowances. Besides that, most people don’t have the luxury to stay a few extra weeks in their previous home after the closing date while new carpet is being installed. Fresh, new carpet is even more crucial when selling an empty property, since that is all buyers will see in an empty room.
 

Same thing goes for vinyl flooring — you’re going to have a hard time selling if it’s old, torn or stained. Replace it with a clean, neutral vinyl or vinyl composite tile (VCT).
 

4. Install Solid-Surface Countertops
 
You’ve probably heard that kitchens and baths sell houses. If you are interested in getting your house sold quickly, replacing laminate countertops in the kitchen will help make that happen. We can argue the particulars, but solid-surface, natural stone or quartz countertops will help sell your home.
 
When a property is above the $350,000 range, I highly recommend the upgrade. If it’s below that, there is absolutely nothing that will sell a home faster and for more money. Buyers on the lower end will value them and will always choose a home with solid-surface countertops over other homes in their price range that don’t have them.
 

5. Find a Stager
Investing a few hundred dollars with a really good home stager can help you make tens of thousands when selling your home. Not all stagers are created equal. Do your homework and find a stager with a good track record and a great portfolio so you can see the work before investing in a consultation.
 
Spread out the cost — and enjoy some fixes yourself. If you are considering moving within the next couple of years, don’t wait until the last minute to improve your home to make it more marketable. Do a little at a time so that you can spread out the cost. Why not enjoy the improvements yourself before your house goes on the market?
 
Related Links:
Greet Potential Buyers With a Welcoming Doormat
New Neutral Colors to Use in Your Home
How to Arrange Your Living Room Furniture to Sell Your Home

9 Heartfelt Gestures to Create a Welcoming Community


By: Laura Gaskill
 
Being part of a welcoming community makes daily life so much more pleasant. Whether you are already friends with your neighbors or want to get to know them better, these ideas for simple parties and heartfelt gestures will help strengthen those bonds.
 

 
Welcome a neighbor with a thoughtful gift. Make the new arrivals feel at home with a small but thoughtful gift, hand delivered to their door. It doesn’t need to be store bought — bring cut flowers from your yard, homemade cookies or a jar of pickles or jam. The old-fashioned feel will be sure to charm them.
 
Help a neighbor in need. Whether you help an elderly neighbor carry in heavy groceries or bring a home-cooked meal to a family with a newborn, gestures of support mean a lot.
 

 
Host an open house or a potluck. If you’d like to throw a party and invite the neighbors, consider doing an open house or a potluck. Having several hours with people drifting in and out puts less pressure on you, and asking folks to bring a dish to share is a great way to get to know people (and avoid lots of cooking).
 

 
Host a backyard movie night. Some of the new mini projectors that connect to a smart phone are more reasonably priced than the full-size models. With a projector and a big white sheet or blank wall, you can be up and running in no time. Ask people to bring their own blankets or chairs to sit on and snacks to share — it’s more fun that way.
 

 

Sit on the porch. Hanging out on the front porch, whether first thing in the morning with a mug of coffee or after work with a cold drink, is a great way to bond with neighbors. If you are new to the neighborhood, hanging out on your porch is a low-key way of making yourself approachable to neighbors who might want to introduce themselves, but aren’t likely to come knocking on your door. Smile, wave and say hi to those who pass your door.
 

 
Share the bounty from your fruit tree or vegetable patch. Have a windfall of lemons? A bounty of zucchini? Pack up a basketful and carry it to your next-door neighbors for them to enjoy. Maybe they will surprise you later with a few juicy tomatoes or sweet strawberries of their own.
 
Organize a block party or yard sale. Or both! Neighborhood yard sales can pull in a lot of traffic, boosting sales all around. Pick a date and make up some flyers inviting your neighbors to participate. When the big day approaches, list the sale on Craigslist and get help putting up signs on nearby streets. And since you’re all going to be outside anyway, why not cap off the yard-sale day with a big block party? Drag the barbecue into the front yard, put some music on and share a meal together.
 

 
Have a progressive dinner party. Another fun way to connect with neighbors is by organizing a progressive dinner party, where you start at one house (say, for appetizers), then move to another house for soup, a third for the entrée and so on. That way each person is responsible for only one dish — and moving from house to house makes it a really memorable experience.

 

 
Work together to improve your neighborhood. If there are things you wish could be better about your neighborhood, get involved with your neighborhood association and talk with neighbors to see what you can do about it. Good communities are made, not born.
 
Related Links:
 
Porch Inspiration for Summer
Outdoor Rocking Chairs for Backyard Movie Night
Dining Room Sets for Your Next Dinner Party

Top 10 Tips for Staging Your Home and Selling it Fast


By: Susan C. Kim
 
A real estate slump is a real drag, especially if you’re trying to sell your abode. So stage your pad to beat out the competition and draw in more prospective buyers. Most buyers have a hard time looking past pink walls and green shag carpet, so do the legwork for them and present their “new home” on a silver platter. If done smartly, the money spent staging will be made up tenfold in the house sale — and you keep all the hot accessories for yourself afterwards (or unload them on Craigslist).
 
Here are some tips I used when staging my San Francisco condo. This unit sold within a month and a half for just below asking price. The exact same (un-staged) unit, located one floor down, never even got an offer. So there you have it.
 

 
1. Clear it all out. Move every single thing out of your place. That goes for your beloved troll doll collection, leopard skin rug, and the couch your mom claims you were born on. As sentimental as these things might seem to you, buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space; seeing clothes in the closet, family photos, and random tchotchkes prevents them from doing so. Then place back in only necessary furniture, keeping in mind that you want the space to look big, clean, spacious, and uncluttered. This isn’t supposed to be a functional room. Nope. As I did in this living area, you can lose the TV, stereo, side tables, and ottomans if it creates more room.
 

 
2. Freshen up the style. You may be a diehard Shabby Chic follower, but even Rachel Ashwell would agree that not everyone is. Aim for a style that most buyers would like, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Furnishings that seem homey and comforting — yet fresh and contemporary — give an aura that your home is updated and well cared for. Neutrals work best; just add colorful touches here and there. For this home office, I used a bright rug to punch in some color and pattern to an otherwise boxy white room. The clear console stands in for a desk (if buyers saw my real desk stacked with papers and dirty coffee mugs, they’d run for the hills). Curtains hide the closet doors and soften the hard walls. Stick-on mirrors from IKEA reflect light and space.

 


 
3. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest one of all? Your room, that’s who. Use mirrors liberally to make your area look bigger, lighter, brighter, and encourage sunlight to bounce all over the walls. In this small dining area, the mirror even adds color by reflecting the painting that’s hanging in the living area. How’s that for working double duty?
 
4. Don’t forget the details. Set the table. It’s easy to do and makes a big impact. Buyers walk in and instantly feel welcome, like as if they’re coming over for dinner. Light clean- or non-scented candles, place plush towels and fancy soap in the bathrooms, a breakfast tray on the bed, and a pretty book on the coffee table. If all goes as planned, they’ll want to stay over forever.
 

 
5. Play with texture. Wallpaper, pillows, rugs, blankets, baskets, and other tactile accessories can play up texture in a room. It’s an easy way for anyone, even my colorblind husband, to add warmth to a blah room. Try grass cloth wallpaper on plain walls that need a little oomph, such as in this master bedroom, where buyers expect to see a little more luxury and style.
 

 
6. Smart accessories. I cleared this kitchen counter of appliances, spice racks, towels, and cooking utensils and left only a few things: a couple of cookbooks and a shiny tea kettle. Random? Not at all. The gourmet cookbooks give the impression that this kitchen is built for serious cooking. It’s called “branding” — and it’s what advertisers bombard you with every day. You’re advertising your home, so buyers need not know that your cooking skills are actually a fire hazard to your own kitchen. The cookbooks here say culinary creations might have been whipped up here.
 

 
7. Small furniture, big space. It’s the trick of the trade: downsize your furnishings to upsize the room. Here, I got rid of the king-size bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and a bookcase; can you imagine what this room looked like with all that stuff crammed in there? I replaced it with a queen-size bed, a mirror, and two tiny lamps placed on footstools. That’s it. The one thing I regret is not ironing those sheets very well; it would have looked so much neater.
 
8. Create vignettes. Set up little scenes that help buyers visualize their potential life in this home. For the nursery, I wanted the buyer to walk in and say, “How lovely, I could totally see my future baby sitting in that chair nicely reading a book.” Now, if I can just get my own baby to do that….
 

 
9. Don’t forget the outdoor areas. Those spaces add as much interest for the buyer as the interior rooms. For this unsightly roof deck, I added inexpensive bamboo sheeting to the rail, an outdoor rug, small table and bistro chairs, and a few plants. Now the buyers will see this formerly blank space as an additional living area. Bonus.
 

 
10. White is nice. When in doubt, use white in the bathroom. It spells clean, and that’s what buyers want in a bathroom. Plus, it matches the toilet. (Note the absence of bath rugs, toothbrushes, and fuzzy toilet covers).

 

For more tips on organizing or selling your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for the Home


Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and we can feel the love in the air. To spread the love, we’re publishing a blog post each day until Feb. 14 on a different Valentine’s Day-themed topic. To start the series, here’s our Valentine’s Day gift guide for the home. Stay tuned!

VDayGiftGuide
Drawing a blank on what to get your friends or family this Valentine’s Day? Here are a few gift ideas that are perfect for the homebody. Plus, you can expedite shipping to make sure everything is here in time for the special day.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide1. Faux Hydrangeas – $49.99
While fresh flowers are always a good idea, faux flowers aren’t a bad alternative. The more you spend, the more realistic they will look, too. These hydrangeas add a pop of pink to any room.
2. Velvet Pillow – $29
Much to our pleasure, velvet is no longer just a winter fabric. Now, you can find this fuzzy fabric year-round in a variety of colors. This soft pink adds a hint of Valentine’s spirit to any home décor.
3. Diptyque Candle – $68
This limited-edition candle not only comes in beautiful packaging, but also releases the scent of two roses: Damascena and Centifolia. These roses offer rich scents, while currant and bergamot provide freshness on top. Other notes include lychee and geranium.
4. Amazon Echo – $179.99
Know someone hoping to make his or her home smarter? Amazon’s Echo is a hands-free, voice-controlled speaker that allows you to play music, control smart home devices, set alarms, and more.
5. Pink Wine Glasses – $7.95
These light pink glasses are a fresh twist on a classic glass.
6. Tassel Blanket – $250
This delightful black and white-striped tassel blanket is 100 percent wool and the perfect complement to year-round décor.
7. Apple Watch – From $299
While technically not a gift for the home, Apple watches give you the ability to turn smart lightbulbs on or off all from your wrist.
8. Cheese Knives – $35
There’s something romantic about wine and cheese, and these twig cheese knives are perfect for any pairing.

OTD: 7 Bathroom Remodeling Trends


OTD

Houzz recently released a 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends Study that found the top bathroom remodeling preferences of more than 7,500 homeowners in the U.S. and Canada. It revealed 7 major trends that we think you need be in the loop on. If you’re planning on remodeling soon, or if you just love to look at beautiful bathrooms, this Of The Day post should help!

7 Bathroom Trends

1. Bye Bye, Bathtub: 43% of respondents are leaving a tub out of the master bathroom

 

7 Bathroom Trends

2. Go Frameless: Frameless glass is the clear choice for shower surrounds, glass block is out

 

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3. Feel The Rain: Young homeowners prefer rain showers, multiple shower heads, and all ages are into hand showers.

 

7 Bathroom Trends

4. Lighten Up: Adding skylights and new windows for natural light in bathrooms is key

 

7 Bathroom Trends

5. White Hot: White cabinets are the finish of choice, followed by medium wood and then dark wood.

 

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6. Double Up: Two sinks are better than one.

 

7 Bathroom Trends

7. Silver’s For The Win: Silver finishes on faucets remain popular, with brushed nickel topping the list

 

Homes (from top to bottom): 8654 Angora St., Dallas ; 4442 Nashwood Lame, Dallas ; 14205 Hughes Lane, Dallas9525 Alva Court, Dallas ; 3408 Purdue, Dallas ; 9030 Church Road, Dallas6941 Hunters Ridge Drive, Dallas