Northwest Living

Category Archives: Around the Home

Top Interior Design Trends for 2016


 The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Here are 10 of the top design trends for 2016. 

1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.

2) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.

3) Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

4) Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

5) Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

6) Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

7) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.

8) Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.

9) Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.

10) Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. (Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection.) Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish. Article courtesy of


Easy Paint Projects That Don’t Include Walls

Jaymi Naciri
, Realty Times Feature Writer 04/27/2015

Who says you have to stop with paint on the walls? A can of paint can easily transform a number of areas in your home, turning boring into beautiful. It’s time to have fun with paint, all over your house (and outside too!).

Paint your cabinets

DIY paining your kitchen cabinets may not be a quick fix, but with a little time and patience, results can be well worth it. Make sure to review the steps and refrain from cutting corners, even when it feels like your arm is about to fall off (curse you, sanding!), for best results. See HGTV for a tutorial.

Paint your doors

And we don’t mean white. Go bright, dark, or coordinate with your décor. Either way, it will change your perspective every time you come and go.

Paint your furniture

See that ratty old dresser in your garage? Wouldn’t it look so much better in peacock blue (yes, it would? A fresh coat of paint can turn a old dusty relic into a showstopper.

Paint your moldings

Pick up a can of green/grey, glossy black, or even neon green to set off bright white walls, and turn those moldings into something that really frames the room.

Paint your trim

Painting your trim is one of the best ways to make a dramatic impact in your home’s appearance,” said Bob Vila. “For best results, start painting from the corners, using a brush to work your way into small or tight areas.

Paint your ceiling

If you have a unique architectural element in your room like interesting angles or a tray ceiling, showing it off with a contrasting paint color or finish is a great way to call attention to it and add allure to the space.

Paint your floor

Whitewashed and rustic finishes are all the rage in wood floors today. If you have midtone or dark wood floors, consider a trip to the paint store and a few (ok, a few more than a few) hours of sweat equity.

“Painting older solid wood floors can give them new life without the expense and mess of refinishing them,” said Houzz. “It can also make your floors a beautiful design element in their own right, particularly with interesting patterns.”

For a how-to, check out their site.
Paint your concrete

Gray is on trend as an interior and exterior paint color, but when it comes to your concrete, it just reads boring. “Three coats of latex porch and floor paint plus a concrete sealer are all it takes” to take your patio from blah to bold,” said Bob Vila.

Prepping Your Home for a Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax and escape from regular life. When you’re miles from home, the last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your home. If you plan on taking a vacation this summer (or any time this year), here are some simple tips on prepping your home for a vacation.

Stop Your Newspaper and Mail

Mailbox-istock - Copy

One sure sign of being absent from your home is a pile of newspapers in the driveway. Contact your newspaper delivery person and stop service while you’re gone. If you don’t have a locked mailbox, contact the post office and have them hold your mail. You can also ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail, newspapers and deliveries and have him/her hold them for you until you’re back.

Park Your Car in the Garage

The last thing you want is to get home from a vacation and have your car gone. If you can, park your car inside the garage, or have a family member park it at his/her house. You can also ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway, making it look like someone is leaving each morning.

Put a Light on a Timer

A dark house stands out in a neighborhood, especially when all the other homes are lit up. Before you leave, buy a timer and install it on a lamp in your home. It’s also a good idea to install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight that will be triggered should someone walk by it. You can also ask a neighbor to turn on the front porch light in the evening.

Mow Your Lawn

Grass can grow pretty fast in two or three days. If you have a lawn, make sure it’s trimmed before you embark on your trip. If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, ask a family member or neighbor to cut the grass in the front yard while you’re away.

Some of these items are easily overlooked, but could cause major issues when you’re away:

Unplug Small Appliances and Electronics

Small appliances and electronics can be energy vampires when plugged in, and some are still active even when they look like they’re turned off. Before you leave, unplug those items that won’t be used while you’re gone (coffee makers, toasters, espresso machines, etc.). It’s also a good time to make sure all smoke detectors work properly throughout your home.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Your thermostat makes sure your home maintains a specific temperature throughout the day. Before you leave, set the thermostat to a lower temperature if the house is going to be empty. This will help conserve energy while you’re gone. If you do turn down the thermostat, be sure to keep your home at a temperature that will still protect plants, pets and furniture.

Put the Water Heater in Vacation Mode

Traditional water heaters heat water throughout the day, even when you’re not using water. Before you head out on a vacation, put the heater in vacation mode. Check to see if your water heater has a VAC setting — which is for vacations. If it doesn’t, you can turn down the thermostat to the lowest setting. But don’t stop at the water heater: turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and any sinks. The last thing you want to come home to is a flood in your house because a pipe broke or a hose burst.

Tidy Up the Kitchen

Before you leave it’s always a good idea to clean out the fridge and dispose of anything that will go bad while you’re gone. The sink can harbor things that cause bad smells — run a half cup of vinegar and some water through the garbage disposal to alleviate any potential buildups, and make sure to take out any trash and recycling so you don’t come home to a smelly house. If you have a trusted neighbor, ask them to put your garbage, recycling or yard debris bins out on pickup day.

Leave Emergency Contact Info with Neighbors

You may tell your family that you’re heading out, but you should also let a neighbor know. Neighbors live near you and can be your first point of contact should something happen to your home while you’re away. Let a trusted neighbor know you’re going to be out of town — provide them with information on where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and contact information for yourself and for family members in case of an emergency.

It’s Time To Winterize!


With the arrival of the cold season, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing, which is a task you want to get done before it starts getting extremely cold. If you do your prep work now, you’ll be warm and cozy all winter.

Concrete fixes

Concrete often has a tough time in the winter, as all that freezing, warming, and water infiltration creates cracks and expands existing ones. Get in ahead of the game: fill existing cracks with concrete sealant and repair larger ones to even out the surface. Not only will you prevent further damage, you’ll also reduce the risk of painful slips and falls.


For small cracks, you can use caulk. For larger ones, get a concrete patching compound. In both cases, you need a clean, dry day (which is why you need to do this now, not later!) and you should plan on avoiding the cracks for a few days to let them cure completely.


Check that weather stripping

For starters, good weather stripping makes your home more efficient, saving you on both heating and cooling costs. In the winter, it will prevent unpleasant drafts while keeping heat inside the home so you don’t run the furnace endlessly, only to pump heat right out through your windows. Manually inspect all your weatherstripping and replace any that’s aging or weathered now, rather than in the winter, when you really won’t want to be opening windows to mess around with insulation.


While you’re at it, make sure any loose sashes are secured, and consider adding a door sweep for added draft control and insulation in your home. If you don’t like the look of a door sweep on interior doors, consider a draft stopper: here’s a cool guide to making your own!


Inspect your roof

Your roof is your best friend during the winter season, and you don’t want to be calling for a Houston emergency roofer in a panic because something’s gone horribly wrong. Head upstairs on a bright day to look for shafts of sunlight that indicate sites of potential leaks, and pay especially close attention around the flashing, one of the most common leak locations. Contact a roofer to get an estimate on a fix to make sure your roof will be dry this winter — and to stop leaks before they create problems like mold, mildew, and insect infestations.

Gutter time

We’ve been reminding you to take care of your gutters for a while, but seriously, you need to do it! Take a gander on a ladder to see if the gutters are clear, and get them cleaned out if they aren’t. This is also the time to check all gutter fasteners to make sure they’re secure, and to replace any damaged or sagging gutter components. There’s still time to hang new gutters if you need to, and you’ll want to do it now rather than in the rainy season.


In addition, you should check your downspouts or rain chains. Make sure they’re clear too, and look to see where they’re draining. Are they just dumping water around your foundation? That’s a no-no, and you need to create better drainage so they’ll flow into a rainwater recovery pool, storm drain, rain garden, or other area.


Your furnace needs a checkup

Before you start firing it up, make sure your furnace is ready to roll. A heating and cooling professional can inspect it, replace any damaged components, and clean the system to confirm it’s in good working order. If anything needs to be fixed, now is the time to do it, not in the middle of winter when you’re shivering under 16 layers of blankets. If you have a wood-fired heating system, check out our fall chimney safety guide.


Insulate your pipes

If you haven’t done this already, get on it! Insulating your pipes increases efficiency for greater energy savings, and it will also prevent frozen and burst pipes in the winter months. This is basically a win-win for your wallet and your house. Hardware suppliers sell pipe insulation materials, including convenient pre-cut insulation that’s a cinch to use.


Storm door and window o’clock

If you live somewhere with heavy weather, you probably already know about this, but just in case you don’t, or you’ve recently relocated to a region known for winter storms, get your storm doors and window shutters on now. That way, when a warning is issued, all you have to do is close and secure them, so you can focus on more immediate storm prep needs with the assurance that your home is safe and sound.


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