Tips for creating a multi-purpose home office space

July 19th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

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(BPT) – Many Americans feel working from home would be a dream job, and more than one-third are already living that dream; 37 percent of U.S. workers telecommute, according to Gallup. However, unless you’re a full-time telecommuter or an entrepreneur running a business from your home, it may be hard to justify dedicating an entire room in your house for home office space.

Today’s home offices must be able to multi-task as efficiently and effectively as the people who work in them — and that’s something you should keep in mind when making renovation plans.

“We see fewer and fewer buyers requiring a dedicated home office when setting their search criteria for buying a new home,” writes Gwen Daubenmeyer, a real estate professional who recently blogged about home offices on the Integrity Real Estate Team blog. Daubenmeyer notes that laptops, cloud storage and online filing services have made it possible to work from virtually any room in the house, so it’s no longer necessary to have a room dedicated solely as office space.

Instead of turning that spare bedroom into a space strictly used for work, why not consider improvements that will help the room multi-task?  With a few smart upgrades, spaces such as attics, basements, spare bedrooms and other smaller areas can serve as multi-functional spaces for work, play, working out and socializing.

Tips for multi-tasking offices

* Good lighting is essential for any home office, but if you want to avoid the institutional look of traditional office lights, consider increasing the amount of natural light that enters your multi-purpose office space. Adding Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights, like those from Velux America, is a cost-effective way to bring natural light, as well as passive ventilation, into any home office space. Solar-powered blinds in designer colors and patterns enhance the blended decor of a multi-use room, while allowing you to control the amount of light entering the room with a programmable touchpad remote control. Plus, a 30 percent federal tax credit is available to homeowners on solar-powered skylights, blinds and installation costs. Roof windows, which are very similar to skylights but are in-reach and operated by hand, are another popular option, especially in attics. For home offices without direct roof access, a Sun Tunnel tubular skylight with an optional light kit can provide light 24/7. Visit to learn more.

* Divide the room visually to define functional areas. You can do this in several ways, including using a folding screen to partition off the room’s work area, or hanging curtains to conceal lesser-used sections of the room when they’re not in use. You can also use the room’s layout to create a natural flow. For example, tuck a desk and shelving into an attic dormer area as office space.

* Many home offices need to double as a guest bedroom. If working beside an inviting bed all day makes it difficult to resist the temptation of a nap, consider alternative bed styles. A daybed can be dressed up with pillows to serve as a sofa where you can comfortably read reports. Or, completely hide the sleeping area by adding a Murphy bed to available wall space.

* Make it easy to rearrange furnishings in the room by putting your desk on coasters just like your office chair. Whenever you need the room to function as a workout space, home theater or social center, just roll the office furniture out of the way.

* If you’re turning a bedroom into a multi-purpose office, no one should need the closet for hanging clothes. Instead, convert the closet into a cozy spot for a workspace. You can place a small desk inside, or hang wide shelving that can function as a workspace for your laptop, printer and files. When you’re not working, simply close the closet doors!

* Whenever a room has to serve more than one purpose, organization is critical. If you don’t have the space for filing cabinets, or simply don’t like the way they look, bookcases and shelving can be a great alternative. Don’t overlook the possibilities presented by extra wall space; you can layer shelves to maximize storage space above your desk/work area.

Daubenmeyer says that following the housing bubble, homeowners are smarter and want more functional space. The multi-function home office is one solution that is gaining popularity.


Relocating in 2016? 6 tips for a stress free move

July 17th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Does the prospect of moving have you buzzing with excitement? Or are you left with worries about packing and clutter? This moving season, an estimated 40 million Americans will move or relocate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Moving is an exciting time, creating opportunities to start fresh and reinvent your life. But whether you’re moving by yourself or uprooting your entire family, moving presents a number of stress-causing challenges. Staying organized and planning ahead will be your best armor against the moving blues. Ease your transition with some of these professional organization tips:

Make a plan

Your calendar will be your best friend throughout the moving process. As soon as you know your moving date, schedule moving help and/or a truck rental. Then, block out time in your calendar for each step of the move, including packing, payment due dates and paperwork. Schedule a day or several to walk through your home, opening every cabinet and drawer, to get rid of what you don’t need or use. There’s no sense in paying to move items you don’t want in your new home.

Clear the clutter

Did you know that 91 percent of Americans say they have kept an item because they feel guilty getting rid of it? That’s a lot of leftover gifts, family heirlooms, greeting cards and rarely worn clothing just lying around. And when you have a home filled with disorganized clutter, you can spend hours searching for misplaced items. A move is a great opportunity to go through that stuff and make the tough decisions about what to keep and what to toss. 

If you’re downsizing or staying at a smaller place mid-move, you might need a temporary storage solution to keep some of your belongings. You can easily find and compare prices on storage units, as well as full-service storage services, at

Stock up on supplies

From cleaning supplies to boxes, to labels, packing tape and scissors, you’ll want to make sure you have all the tools you need. Set up a “moving station” somewhere in your current home where you store all your moving necessities. Be sure to select the right boxes for moving your different types of belongings. For example, you can find kitchen packing boxes that have double-wall construction which is better suited for breakables, like dishes, china, crystal and glassware.

Create a moving binder

A three-ring binder is an organization staple for any area of your life. Store and file moving company brochures or business cards, important paperwork like leases or closing documents and use a pouch for holding pens and sticky notes. If you’re someone who likes to store everything digitally, use an organization app so you don’t forget any important information, photos, websites or notes about your move.

Pack like a pro

Assign a color to each area or room of your home. Use colored pens, tape and stickers so you can easily see your color code from across the room or from inside a moving truck. Label all sides of your boxes so you can easily see where a box belongs even when they’re all jumbled together. If you’re hiring professional movers, this will help them know where each box should end up on moving day. Unpacking will be a breeze.

Prepare for moving day

Leading up to your move, make sure to hydrate, rest and eat well. Take care of yourself so that you’ll be completely ready to take on the tasks at hand. Don’t forget to pack a survival box with the essentials you need for the first night in your new home. Toilet paper, sheets, towels, soap and a coffee pot are just a few of the items that you want to be sure you can easily access.

Instead of worrying about the endless moving logistics and details, focus on the exciting adventure ahead of you. Follow these tips to simplify your move for an easy, stress-free process. For more moving tips and advice, visit


Simple summer home improvement: Upgrade your curb appeal

July 10th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Summer is a great time to complete your home improvement projects, but deciding which ones to tackle can be overwhelming. Here are a few simple curb appeal projects you can tackle this summer to welcome your family and friends into your home with style.

Start fresh with a new front door

For a dramatic refresh replace your front door. From single doors, to double-door options, to those accented with decorative glass or sidelights, it’s easy to find a door that fits your budget and your style. Once you have a panel design selected, pick a material such as wood, fiberglass or steel. Don’t forget to look for an ENERGY STAR qualified option to help keep your home comfortable.

Pick a standout color for your front door

Nothing adds to your curb appeal like bold, vibrant color. Pick a front door color that shows your personality and makes your home different from your neighbors. From red to blue and green to orange, color can instantly refresh the front of your home. A good place to find inspiration and the perfect color is from the limited-edition Vibrancy Collection from Pella. 

Sticking with your current door? A fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Pick a color that coordinates with your home’s exterior, but dare to be bold with color contrast to add eye appeal. Take a look at this Favorite Front Doors board on Pinterest for ideas.

Update your hardware

Refresh your existing front door with new hardware. New hardware can be a quick update and add beauty to the entrance to your home’s exterior design. Hardware is available in a variety of finishes including satin nickels as well as unique designs including modern and traditional. Look for inspiration at this Baldwin Reserve board on Pinterest.

Replace broken or damaged items

Replace broken light fixtures, burned out bulbs, and worn out weather-stripping on exterior doors. Pitch that faded wreath, worn out mat, and dead plants, and instead, add a bright new welcome mat and eye-catching seasonal decorations.

Lay a new path

From the moment your guest step off the sidewalk, the path to your front door showcases your home. Flagstone, gravel, or pavers — any of these materials can be used to create a new, inviting walkway in a weekend or less.

Illuminate your walkway

Make it easy for others to see the way to your front door at night. Transform and illuminate walkways with easy-to-install solar lights. Stake them in the ground positioned so solar cells get enough southern exposure for sunlight to recharge nightlights during the day.  

Trim bushes, create great container gardens

Landscaping should accent your home, not dominate it. Keep bushes below the bottom sill of your windows to improve your view. Trim or replace overgrown shrubs and trees. Keep plant material trimmed several feet away from your home to minimize damage from wind or insects. Fill decorative containers with plants that accent your home’s color scheme, front door, and landscape design.

Visit Pella on Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram for more design inspiration and to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.


5 interest rate terms every first-time homebuyer should know

July 10th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – You’ve saved enough for a down payment, your budget is looking good and you’re earning steady income. You’re at the point in your life where you feel confident you’re ready to buy that first home. Congratulations! Buying a home is one of the most exciting and rewarding purchases you’ll ever make. However, if it’s your first time shopping for a mortgage, you may not be super knowledgeable about some of the financing terms you’ll hear, including “interest rates.”

If you’ve used any kind of credit before, you probably have a basic understanding of interest — it’s the money lenders charge in exchange for allowing you to use their funds to make a purchase. While the basic concept is simple, mortgage interest rates can be complex and differing.

“Many factors go into determining the interest rate your lender will offer you,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “By understanding the factors that influence your interest rate, you can obtain the best possible mortgage plan and get into the home of your dreams quicker.”

A variety of factors determines your interest rate, including:

* Down payment — Just as you put money down on a new car, mortgage lenders like to see down payments from homebuyers. A down payment not only reduces the total amount you need to borrow, but it also shows the lender you are able to manage money. Different lenders require different amounts for a down payment, but most would likely view 10-20 percent of the home’s purchase price to be a good down payment.

* Collateral — This is the property you agree to “put up” in exchange for the loan and serves to protect the lender against a borrower’s default. If you’re buying a manufactured home, you can collateralize the loan with either the home itself or with the home and a piece of land together. For site-built homes, the loan would be collateralized with the home and land together always.

* Loan amount — The amount you need to borrow is calculated by taking the purchase price of the home, less your down payment, and adding any other expenses that will be financed as part of the loan, which could include closing costs, discount points and third party fees.

* Credit score — Lenders will want to review the credit reports and scores for everyone who is listed as a borrower on the mortgage application. With your written permission, the lender will obtain your credit report from a credit reporting agency. Generally, the better your credit score is the more likely you will be approved, plus qualify for the best available interest rate from the lender you choose.

* Origination cost — This is the amount the lender charges to process the loan application, which includes gathering and reviewing all loan application documents, underwriting and closing your home loan. This expense typically appears on your loan documents as a “loan origination fee.”

“After you apply for a mortgage, the lender should be able to give you an idea of the interest rate you’ll likely qualify for,” Hamilton says. “With that information, you can use a monthly mortgage payment calculator to estimate just how much the mortgage payment will be each month. Knowing the monthly payment can help homebuyers make better decisions about budgeting, savings, spending and investing.”

To learn more about mortgages for manufactured homes, visit

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (, AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.


Get unhinged: 3 ways to create visually striking doors in your home

July 10th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Think of a door opening and closing.

Chances are you pictured it swinging on hinges, since that’s how most doors operate. But, more homeowners are choosing other door hanging hardware for a unique look with their interior and exterior doors.

If you’re looking for a way to make visitors to your home say “wow,” consider alternatives to hinged doors for an unexpected twist.

“Once you’ve chosen the door that’s perfect for you, it can be hung in a number of distinctive ways,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Door Company. “A pocket door, sliding barn door or a pivot door can add some personality and pizzazz to your home.”

Pocket doors

Similar to closet doors hung on a track, pocket doors slide open and closed, but disappear into the wall when closed. Popular in home offices, bathrooms and utility rooms, pocket doors save space and can make a room feel more open. Using a pocket door in place of a hinged door saves about 10 square feet of floor space, notes home improvement expert Tim Carter.

Depending on the width of the opening, you can use either a single pocket door, or double pocket doors that slide into opposite walls and meet in the middle when closed. Because they don’t seal as tightly as hinged doors, pocket doors are largely limited to use inside the home, instead of as entry doors.

Sliding barn doors

Barn doors are a bit like pocket doors in that they slide open and closed, but they’re hung on tracks that are visible. When opened, the doors are located on one side of the wall, instead of disappearing into the wall. For large openings, such as between dining rooms and living rooms, you can even hang multiple barn doors on tracks in order to divide the spaces.

A number of companies offer high-end barn door track hardware, in a range of styles and colors. “People like the unexpected look of a barn door,” says John Golesh, president of door hardware manufacturer Goldberg Brothers. “They’re a great way to add a rustic, yet elegant look to your home. And with the wide variety of door hangers and handles, a barn door can complement any interior décor.”

In addition to the chic look barn doors offer, homes for sale with “barn door” in their listing sold for 13 percent more than expected and 57 days faster, according to research by Zillow Diggs.

Pivot doors

Common in ancient buildings, pivot mounted doors are virtually unseen in North American homes. For homeowners who want an element of surprise, a pivot door is a good choice. In place of hinges or overhead sliders and tracks, pivot doors rotate open and closed around pins installed in the top and bottom of the door frame. The pins are set several inches in from the door frame, depending on the door’s size.

“For high-end homes with extra-wide doors, pivots are a great way to handle the additional weight, and will be unlike anything your visitors have seen before,” Loveless says. “We are making many different super-sized doors for this exact application.”

Some of these doors are huge — measuring up to four feet wide or more. As “large, simple rectangles,” pivot doors can be designed to look like the surrounding wall, so fit well in modern style homes, notes architect Bud Dietrich. Unlike pocket doors and barn doors, pivot doors can seal tightly to their frame when closed, so can be used as entry doors.