Home Buying: Online Shopping

What’s great about the internet, is that you can do a lot of your shopping online. Did you know that almost 3 out of 4 home buyers actually do their home shopping online!?! What is great about these online searches is that a consumer is able to narrow their search by shopping for specifics, for example the number of bedrooms, number of baths, square footage, garage/parking, lot size, and so much more. They can even narrow down by price range. Homes can be located by ZIP code, price, special features, video tours, pictures. The neighborhoods can be explored via aerial maps, crime statistics, school ratings, and so on.

Shopping online is not as easy as it may sound. (1) There is no single online location with all the listings available in a certain area. (2) You are not always seeing the “freshest” data, it some times takes time for these listings to update to the most current/recent information.

The most and the most recent listings can be made available via a real estate professional. Even if you find a listing through your internet search, confirm with your agent that all of the information for that property is current and correct. With the agents ability to access the local Multiple Listing Service, they will be able to research the necessary information quickly.

The internet is a great place when conducting home research. You can gain information about neighborhoods, home features, and other pertinent factors. It can help in eliminating or adding certain homes and with that research in hand, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision when it comes time to purchase.

Home Buying: Wish List

We have been covering so much information over the past couple of days, that it can be a bit overwhelming. So, lets go ahead and move forward to the fun part – creating a property wish list.

You may find that your opinions may change over time the more you view and shop for a home, so here is a list to help in prioritizing and in making the shopping less time consuming:

  • How close do you need to be to the following: Public transportation, schools, airport, shopping, other
  • What neighborhoods do you prefer
  • What school systems do you want to be near
  • What architectural style(s) of home do you prefer
  • Do you want a one- or two-story house
  • How old of a home would you consider
  • How much repair or renovation are you willing to do
  • Do you have special facility needs that your home must have
  • Do you require a fenced yard or other amenities

Next you should create a priority list, with taking into consideration some of the following items (as either a must have or a would prefer):

  • Yard (size)
  • Garage (size)
  • Patio/deck
  • Pool
  • Bedrooms (number)
  • Bathrooms (number)
  • Family room
  • Formal living room
  • Formal dining room
  • Eat-in kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Fireplace
  • Spa in bath
  • Air-conditioning
  • Wall-to-wall carpet
  • Hardwood floors
  • View
  • Light – windows
  • Shade

A Purely White Bathroom

Whether your home boasts a series of large bathrooms or multiple small powder rooms, finding the right design scheme for such a high-use area can be a challenge. To keep these areas simple and clutter-free, some homeowners opt for an all-white bathroom theme. White bathrooms are synonymous with health, purity, and classic style. To create the perfect white room, it is often best to consult an interior design professional. If you decide to take on the project yourself, take note of the following ideas to help you avoid a stark and shocking room and instead achieve an elegant white space.

When choosing the color scheme for your bathroom, it is important to focus on visual appeal. What shade of white will best suit your home and your bathroom’s accessories? Blue-based whites are best for rooms where you would like to include cool-colored accessories. Yellow-based whites are complemented by warm colors and patterns. Use caution when selecting your appropriate shade or shades of white; warm and cool tones should not be mixed, and the use of pure white in any room can make it feel cold and uninviting.

Many design styles, textures, and accessories can be incorporated into an all-white bathroom. Warm lighting, lush rugs, and various textured embellishments are great ways to pull together the design. Just remember that your choices for accessories should match your style, as well as the multiple functions of your bathroom.

Designing a House the Hard Way


Written By: Karen Buscemi

Most interior designers begin with a project at the beginning – before the plans are drawn or the first scoop of dirt is removed from the land. But Jan Friedman and partner Traci Shields, owners of Friedman & Shields, took on a house project after the framing was finished – leaving the duo many design restrictions and making creativity more important than usual.

Nothing that bringing in a designer so late in the process is a more stressful and costly situation, Friedman says she had to play catch up, which included an education in design for the homeowners, a husband and wife, who wanted the look for their four-bedroom, five-bath, 6,000-square-foot home in a southeast suburb of Phoenix to be simple yet include bursts of bright colors.

The design process started for the homeowners with fabrics. They were instructed to pick out anything that they liked, whether it was the color, the texture, or the pattern.

The couple also had to agree on the style of the decor. While the wife was originally interested in a museum look – a colder contemporary that was extremely minimalist – the husband was against it, not wanting to be afraid to sit on the couch and put his feet up.

The most important room of the house was also the greatest challenge. A close family (the couple have a preteen daughter), who like to stay in close proximity of each other, the homeowners wanted only on public area where they could sit together, entertain occasionally, and watch TV. And they did not want a formal dining room. The way the house was framed, a formal dining room had already been constructed off the great room, with both spaces boasting 23-foot-high ceilings. In addition, the enormous great room had a large wall of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that caused problems with sound, glare, and heat.

To solve the issues of these areas, first the formal dining room was converted to a library, with plush, oversized facing chairs and non-traditional bookshelves. A ceiling was built, making the space more intimate while providing a loft area upstairs for extra space.

Sound issues were taken care of by acoustically upholstering the great room ceiling, adding the area rug – which also gave form to the seating area – and installed motorized window dressings that disappeared into custom pockets in the ceiling.

One large, mostly bare wall was broken up with a 75-inch TV that fit into a custom wood cutout. Extra interest was provided with a geometric cutout around the TV cabinetry.

The homeowners wanted the dining area close to the kitchen, so the dining table was placed just behind the seating area in the great room, filling in the space while solving the homeowners’ requirement.

Pops of color were working into the kitchen – the husband’s favorite room in the house – with the upholstery on the breakfast bar stools as well as the banquette located at the far wall of the room, where the family can enjoy casual meals or the daughter can do homework. Commissioned artwork of glass rectangles adds to the colorful nook. The rest of the room stays subtle yet modern with glass mosaic tiles behind the stove and highly lacquered wood cabinets.

With five bathrooms and designers who don’t believe in repeating a concept, each room has a look all its own.

The master bath, which was designed – along with the master bedroom – to look like a luxury hotel, had to be serene; a private retreat.

Having already been framed out, this room presented a couple of major challenges: It was very long and narrow, and the toilet area had no space for a door – and Friedman is not fan of a pocket door.

The issue of the long, narrow sink area was solved by installing two custom vanities down opposite walls. Artist-designed glass tiles cover much of the walls, adding visual interest while keeping the look muted.

The daughter’s bathroom, with magenta splashes of color, is age-appropriate without looking childish. The fun circles around the room are wood hoops that Traci found, painted, and hung around the room.

One of the upstairs guest bathrooms is Friedman’s favorite – a narrow space that required a long, custom cabinet and was set off with blue tiled walls with shelving that appears to float on light. Between the two shelves is a floor-to-ceiling mirror and medicine cabinet, with even the section below the vanity usable as storage.

Though the house took two years to finish – far more time than the homeowners originally anticipated – they say they are thrilled with the design.

Six Brilliant Bathroom Designs – #6 The Powder Room, Redefined

Written by Jan Walker

In some homes, a powder room is just a powder room. Often, it’s a small, dark, unremarkable space – a necessary convenience that is strictly utilitarian in function and design. But not the powder room in a luxurious Porto Vita condo in Aventura, Florida. This is a powder room that defies the stereotype and delights the senses.

Located near the front lobby, adjacent to the living area of the condominium, the powder room features a bold, contemporary design that is both impressive and welcoming.

Steve Zelman’s, president of FineDesign Interiors, inspiration for the design came from the clients themselves. Richly veined tiles of Emperador marble in dark chocolate brown line the walls of the powder room. The marble tiles alternate with stripes of cool smooth beige limestone, which adds a dimension of light and openness to the space.

A seamless marble countertop continues the dramatic theme across one wall of the room. A round, brown glass sink with contemporary nickel fixtures punctuates the gleaming countertop, which sits on an elegantly bowed cabinet. The mounted cabinetry, of warm cherry wood with a lacquered finish, is suspended above the floor and is lit from underneath, providing a soft ambiance to the room.

The beige limestone floor disperses the light from under the cabinetry, which enhances the sense of spaciousness and echoes the limestone flooring throughout the rest of the condo.

Small, unobtrusive recessed cans provide soft light just above the vanity on one side of the room and above the toilet on the other. A pair of satin stainless steel sconces, one one each side of the mirror, provides additional lighting, which bounces and reflects off the highly polished marble in the room. The ceiling is marbleized stucco with a soft sheen to disperse the light.

The focal point of the room is the massive round mirror with a silver leaf frame. Its convex shape surrounds an inset mirror, which – though mounted on the wall – gives it a recessed look.

The Hamways are avid art collectors and have considered adding an art piece to the space but are reluctant to interrupt the flow of the room’s design. It may be that the sculpted look of the mirror is the only art the room requires.

The biggest challenge of the project was reinforcing the walls to support the heavy marble tiles.

In the end, the extra effort paid off, and Zelman is pleased with the outcome.

Six Brilliant Bathroom Designs – #4 Old-World Warmth


Written by Ashley Griffin

The success of a truly luxurious bathroom design is often evidence by how much time the homeowners spend in their new space. Those who love their bathroom might fritter away hours soaking in the tub or relaxing on a cozy chaise. Or, they might use the space as a restful, spa-like retreat each morning, noon, or night. In the case of a 500-square-foot master bathroom there exists further evidence that the design was masterly executed: The homeowner’s guests have repeatedly mentioned they could almost envision attending dinner parties in this warm, inviting, romantic space.

It’s a lovely, if an unlikely, idea that speaks to the addictive appeal a well-designed and elegantly appointed bath can achieve. This large project began with a complete gutting and renovation before designer Camilla Forte of Forte Design Group graced it with her signature look – designs focused on old-world style. Her style was fitting for the home as well, which features an older Spanish-influenced design updated with walnut flooring, Spanish plaster, terra cotta, and wrought iron.

In order to create a bathroom design as warm and welcoming as the surrounding home, Forte made certain that several of these elements graced the bathroom design as well, In particular, the wrought iron touches and custom-made pieces help the bathroom blend with the home giving it an air of elegance.

Forte gave the spa-like room two freestanding focal points with a deep tub and a softer white chaise lounge she upholstered in terry cloth. Both pieces look lovely and inviting now but also hint at what the room originally could have been: a cold, austere, all-white bathroom.

Agreeing on the right color scheme was no easy task for this designer and client. The homeowner desired an entirely white bathroom; Forte believed her client would regret the decision to exclude color from the space.

Forte eventually persuaded the homeowner to adopt a more eye-pleasing marriage of white finishes and warmer hues within the room. Meeting in the middle, Forte and her client found yellow travertine tiles for the floor and onyx mosaic for the tile inserts. Both additions warm the room considerably and help the design come alive. The elements also proved to the homeowner that a yellow bathroom is not as bright and overwhelming in appearance as she had previously believed.

Further enhancing the room, Forte chose a number of custom-made pieces from Arte de Mexico, truly making it a one-of-a-kind design. The ornate mirror is one such piece, as is the splendid cabinetry that rests below. Both elements create that old-world charm in the bathroom, as do the room’s wrought iron wall sconces and the gorgeous chandelier.

Other touches in this sleek bathroom prove that some of the best design elements are often of the unexpected sort. Such was the case of the custom-crafted candleholder. When Forte and the homeowner were looking for a finishing touch, they both knew they wanted to find something beautiful, such as a wrought iron candleholder. to place near the chaise lounge. Fortunately, Forte had just purchased two such candleholders for her own house, and upon their arrival, she found she needed only one. Thus, Forte was able to use her extra purchase to perfect the bathroom’s design. And, perhaps, a nearly ideal setting for the dinner party the homeowner’s guests dream about – if only it were not a bathroom.

Six Brilliant Bathroom Designs – #3 Luxuriously Tasteful with a Twist


Written by Carolyn M. Runyon

The walk-in shower is enormous with an extravagant variety of shower and therapeutic fixtures. The homeowners were looking for an extremely open feel with a quiet elegance and a calm, almost Zen-like element.
The walk-in shower is enormous with an extravagant variety of shower and therapeutic fixtures. The homeowners were looking for an extremely open feel with a quiet elegance and a calm, almost Zen-like element.

In an upscale gated community near Phoenix sits a magnificent home with innumerable custom touches, lovely charming views of the Sonoran Desert, and probably the most unusual luxury master bath ever imagined.

When the owners o this home reached out to Friedman & Shields for an interior design, they were looking for an extremely open feel with a quiet elegance and a calm, almost Zen-like element.

The windows are numerous and enormous, and the views are spectacular. There is a towering glass and water art form in front of the corner windows that is etched with gentle rounded shapes to reflect the desert dunes and practically becomes a part of the landscape because of its translucency. Interestingly, this object d’ art performs an extremely functional use and, in reality, becomes a part of nature indoors. The 11-foot-high, 32-inch-wide, custom-created glass-paneled waterfall serves as the urinal.

Friedman and her partner, Traci Shields, were intrigued with this novel solution to a very practical need.

Beams researched what was needed to make the idea work, and the team hired a fabricator to create the finished product. The sensor can be overridden by a wall switch to ensure proper use. The two pieces of glass switch to ensure proper use. The two pieces of glass needed special support because of their weight, so Beams suspended them from a cutout in the ceiling and then set them above the tray, holding large chunks of mined glass, which leads to the floor drain.

A urinal with a view, this fully functional water feature became the focal point of the master bath.

The huge indoor tub is the largest indoor round tub available and fills from the ceiling down. The lavish tub is partially enclosed in a rounded windowed shelter, and the steps are encased in onyx. The onyx offers a dramatic contrast to the simple stone floors and the subtle caramel creme color of the Venetian plaster walls throughout this beautiful master retreat.

The huge indoor tub is the largest indoor round tub available and fills from the ceiling down.
The huge indoor tub is the largest indoor round tub available and fills from the ceiling down.

The walk-in shower is enormous with an extravagant variety of shower and therapeutic fixtures. There are built in storage nooks and a built-in bench with a handheld shower head. Again, the lush patterned onyx tiles offer drama against the understated floor tiles. A glass door, again etched for privacy, leads from the indoor shower to an outdoor shower and the pool area.

The sink cabinets were custom done with a painted surface that was dry brushed with stain to create an exceptional richness and depth. The overhead lighting fixture sits in front of the mirror over the sink cabinets, and its reflection and the reflection of the corner windows in this large mirror contribute to the openness and light of the room. There are two toilet rooms with extraordinary glass doors etched in an Asian grid pattern – again offering privacy, yet openness.

Despite the drama and sumptuousness of this bath, however, there is a simplicity and a soothing quality to the room because of the integration of the nature outdoors with the subtle colors, textures, and natural components indoors. The quarried stone floor; the onyx, the use of flowing water in the urinal, tub, and shower; the glass etchings – all combine to mimic nature and bring a feeling of peace and unity with the earth.

Six Brilliant Bathroom Designs – #2 Wallflowers


Written by Jeanine Matlow

As Los Angeles-based designer Felicia Bushman demonstrates, without daring designs such as hers, life could become rather boring.

Fortunately for Bushman, owner of Felicia Bushman Interior Design Inc., her clients this time around were willing take some risks with regard to their powder room. Now, they are clearly reaping the rewards.

Before bending the rules, Bushman begins with a plan.

For the renovation of this 1930s Mediterranean-style home in Glandale, California, inspiration came from across the pond. That’s because the project happened to coincide with a trip to London, where Bushman found just the right wallpaper for the powder room.

The blended designs of the wallpaper were also in tune with what her clients were after all along.

Bushman pulled a showstopper of a wallpaper for her client’s powder room and designed the entire space around it.

The homeowner’s, described by their designer as “a young hip couple,” also agreed to go along with the idea of painting the powder room wainscoting, vanity, moldings, and cabinetry black. The existing cabinets, which were original to the home, may have needed work, but they had good bones.

What turned out to be the first room Bushman had her design team tackled is their favorite room in the house.

The dazzling design is a welcome departure from what was there before the designer worked her magic. Now, a pendant lamp with a blue silk shade casts a lovely light in the small space while sconces designed by Bushman sparkle above the pedestal sink.

A perfectly proportioned reproduction chair sports a French blue antique painted finish with gold accents.

Wood floors that tie into the rest of the home replaced old, worn tiles. The window, which was intentionally left bare, allows the outdoor views to blend with the naturally beautiful space.

This dramatic decor of the powder room is also one-of-a-kind. Bushman, who appeared on Bravo’s Top Design, is always up to the challenge of trying somehting new.

When it come to the bathrooms, Bushman suggests going bold.