Monday, December 22, 2014

How To Choose An Electrical Contractor

Here's another "How to..." article from RenovatingNYC. The first was Why You Should Hire A Licensed Contractor on the importance of hiring a licensed professional. 

It’s tempting to let cost dictate your decision making but you might find that a contractor with a low estimate relative to other bidders may be unlicensed or uninsured. 

What are the first steps when choosing an electrical contractor? It’s important to determine your needs, verify potential bidders, and choose someone you can trust and feel will do the job well. It can feel a little overwhelming, but performing thorough due diligence is critical in all project hiring.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mike Blogs on FabNest: 15 Ways to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays

Today is the week before Christmas, which means if you haven’t decorated your home for the holidays, you are running out of time. We are here to help with some simple, last minute ways to make your home friendly to Santa Claus.

Continue reading on FabNest...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The 5 Hottest Home Design Trends For 2015

Business Insider's Elena Holodny tells us to expect these to be The 5 Hottest Home Design Trends For 2015:
  1. Gold Fixtures - "In 2015, homeowners will no longer be limited to silver or stainless steel fixtures, and will feel free to mix and max finish colors, or go bold with all gold," according to the Zillow Digs report.
  2. Cowhide - Without a doubt, there is nothing more "sophisticated" than the cowhide rug.
  3. Wallpaper - "Wallpaper is coming back in a big way," says Zillow Digs designer Jamie Beckwith of Beckwith Interiors.
  4. Blue Accent Colors - Blue will be the most popular accent color for interior decorating, and — believe it or not — it also happens to be the perfect complement to Marsala, the 2015 Pantone Color of the Year, according to the Zillow Digs designers.
  5. Modern/Mid-century Modern elements. - Last but not least, a throwback to modern design elements of the 1950s through the 1970s. So that couch you saw on that 1970s family-style sitcom is officially trendy today. 

100% Cowhide Rugs

Home Accents Today reveals that Zuo Modern will introduce 100% cowhide rugs in seven dramatic, geometric patterns. The rugs, from the Pure Collection, will be on display in Zuo’s Atlanta and Las Vegas showrooms.
From the line, the Nevada rug showcases a square patchwork pattern in contrasting colors ranging from dark coffee to a bunt caramel into creamy beige with a warm white center. The Alaska rug has slim, rectangular mosaic tile designs with variations from dark espresso to soft black to a burnt sienna and warm gray center. The Utah rug incorporates a classic parquet pattern with white, vanilla and peach colors mixed with espresso, chocolate and bronze.
All rugs are available in the standard 5x8 size.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2015: PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala

Pantone, an X-Rite company and the global color authority, today announced PANTONE® 18-1438 Marsala, a naturally robust and earthy wine red, as the Color of the Year for 2015.

"While PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, the captivating 2014 color of the year, encouraged creativity and innovation, Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

"Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors."

Marsala for Fashion

Marsala was a hit on the Spring 2015 runways with fashion designers featured in thePANTONE Fashion Color Report Spring 2015; Daniel Silverstain, Hervé Léger by Max Azria and Dennis Basso incorporated the hue into their collections. The impactful, full-bodied qualities of Marsala make for an elegant statement color when the color is used on its own or as a compelling accent when paired with many other colors.

With the ever-growing popularity of floral prints and striping, variations of this hue will undoubtedly carry into men’s and women’s clothing throughout next year. Marsala is also a popular choice for jewelry and fashion accessories, including handbags, hats, footwear and the burgeoning market of wearable technology.
This highly varietal shade combines dramatically with neutrals, including warmer taupes and grays. Because of its burnished undertones, sultry Marsala is highly compatible with amber, umber and golden yellows, greens in both turquoise and teal, and blues in the more vibrant range.

Marsala for Beauty

An incredibly versatile color for beauty, Marsala is an appealing and sophisticated shade that’s flattering against many skin tones.

Marsala pairs exquisitely with monochromatic mixes of peachy pinks, and sparkles against antiqued gold metallics, offering an assortment of lipstick and blush options. Marsala illuminates a range of smoky-neutral color combinations, making it a captivating eye shadow color that can be worn from morning until night. Add an overlay of bronze for a dramatic look that suits any eye color, or use Marsala as a go-to finishing touch on nails.

Marsala for Interiors

Complex and full-bodied without overpowering, Marsala provides a unifying element for interior spaces. Add elegance to any room by incorporating this rich and welcoming hue in accent pieces, accessories and paint. Marsala’s plush characteristics are enhanced when the color is applied to textured surfaces, making it an ideal choice for rugs and upholstered living room furniture.

Nurturing and fulfilling, Marsala is a natural fit for the kitchen and dining room – making it ideal for tabletop, small appliances and linens throughout the home. The hue will be especially prominent in striping and floral patterns found in printed placemats, dinnerware, bedding and throws.

Marsala for Graphic Design

A rich contrasting color, Marsala is ideal for use in graphic design and packaging. Eye-catching, but not overwhelming or bright, consumers are immediately drawn to the hue, making it an alluring shade at point-of-purchase. As packaging becomes increasingly more artistic, Marsala will be a natural fit for both high- and low-tech materials, including on-shelf periodicals as well as printed assets, like calendars and stationery.

Why PANTONE Marsala is the Color of 2015

Enjoy a chat with Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director,Pantone Color Institute and David Shah, Editorial Director as they discuss Marsala, the PANTONE Color of the Year 2015 and how this rich and enriching shade can be applied throughout all areas of design.

Watch the video 

Monday, December 08, 2014

RMLS Has Our Listing

Our house is up now for sale on RMLS: #14025421

Charming Alameda cottage with formal living and dining rooms. The gas fireplace is centered between original built-in book shelves. Hardwood floors on main floor. Upstairs is being used as office, but could be master suite by adding bath. Kitchen has been updated. Private back yard with decks and privacy. The neighborhood is wonderful and the homes and the street are beautiful. This is a treasure waiting for your buyer.

This is exciting!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Residential Architecture 101: Wood Veneer

Architect Bob Borson explains veneer terms:

Don’t know what a flitch is? Then this post is definitely for you. When talking wood veneer (a thin slice of wood), a flitch is a stack of sheets of veneer all cut in sequence. If you lay them up side by side with the same side up on all of them, this is a flitch match. If you flip every other sheet of a flitch, it is book matching … got it? Pretty clear isn’t it? No, it isn’t, and I think I just made it worse.
Let’s back up a bit and start with the different cuts of wood – how you cut the wood has everything to do with how the pattern of the wood appears in the finished product. In my world, there are three main cuts –
  • Plain Sawn,
  • Quarter Sawn, and
  • Rift Sawn
Read the rest at Life of an Architect

Friday, December 05, 2014

5 Great Interior Design Solutions for Small Spaces

RJ Diaz at RenovatingNYC excerpts this article that originally appeared on on August 29, 2014

No space? No problem! Keeping a smaller home looking spick and span while also maximising its functionality doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By following a few key rules for how to best utilise the space available to you, it is easy to get your home feeling cosy and comfortable. Whether you’re a cash-strapped student or a family of four hoping to transform the tiny extra room, these clever tricks for getting the most out of small space interiors will get you on your way.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Do People Buy Houses This Close to Christmas?

Do people buy houses this close to Christmas? We are about to find out. We have been told, "Yes they do!" Some people love to shop in December for a major purchase. That’s why you see TV car ads showing big red Christmas bows on expensive autos bought by romantic husbands hoping to surprise their wives with the best Christmas present ever. There’s no need to wait until after New Years or even spring if you are not in need to sell quickly.

Here are some things you can do to make your home more appealing during December and get that house sold by Christmas. These are some of the things we are doing:

1.    Be agile! You want to be ready at the drop of a hat to show your home to potential buyers. That means any holiday parties may be out so you don’t have to worry about post-party cleanup. Just say to friends and family that you are trying to sell your house. “Why not celebrate at your house?”
2.    Put up your decorations, if you want, but stay on the conservative side. You don’t want so many lights that the house can be seen from space. Potential buyers will experience a warm feeling with some decorations. You want them to get excited about spending holidays in their house. A huge Christmas tree could be wrong if it makes your house to appear small.
3.    Get the price right, maybe just a little under the market. The last thing you want is the house to sit on the market which could lead to a price reduction.
4.    Make sure to hire a knowledgeable agent who knows the area your house is in. Buyers like to know what the schools are like and how close; how close is shopping, parks and access to the freeway, etc.
5.    If you are looking to sell your home quickly and are not sure you have the time to look for an agent and prepare your home to be ready to show buyers you may want to consider an all cash offer. A reputable cash home buyer will offer you an all cash offer for your home as is. You can have your home sold before Christmas and close shortly after in some cases you may even be able to close before Christmas.

Our house goes on the market Monday for $449,000. Patsy McKelligon of (W)here Inc. is our realtor. Next stop Mexico!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Mike Discusses 8 Paver Ideas for the Patio on FabNest

Here are 8 paver ideas for your patio. What are pavers? Pavers are interlocking concrete stones that can be uniquely customized to fit your, walkway, patio, and pool deck design.

Read more at FabNest

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Buyer's Guide to Leather Sofas and the Questions to Ask When Buying One

Buying a new sofa can be an overwhelming process, especially with so many styles and colours available, where do you start? This article will assist you in purchasing the perfect leather sofa for your home.

Choosing the colour
One of the first considerations you should make is practicality. If you have pets or a young family, then you probably won’t fancy spending your spare time wiping finger marks or dogs fur from a cream or white leather sofa. Black is a very versatile option, easy to maintain and fits well with the majority of décor styles. A brown leather sofa made from aniline leather, brings an element of comfort and homeliness to a living room, and a red leather sofa can create a very striking counterpoint to neutral or light décor. You can accentuate polished wooden flooring with a cream leather sofa; this can be accessorized with a variety of colorful cushions. 
Choosing the style
It is worth remembering that you will have to live with your sofa for the next few years so choose a style that will age well and match any future trends, for example, in 3 years time are you still going to love that yellow low backed sofa? With a wealth of styles available it can complicated to choose a leather sofa that everyone in your home is happy with. If you prefer sofas with higher backs and elegant low back designs in beautiful two toned antique colors then a traditional leather sofa is for you. Chesterfield Leather Sofas are a great choice if you’re looking for a sofa that is both classic and timeless. If you like modern décor, a contemporary sofa might be a better choice, these are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. 

Choosing a leather type 
Full Grain

Full grain remains natural and is the most desirable of all leathers. The prominent markings from bug bites, a scar from a fence, or the usual little wrinkles that occur on the leather are evident. These natural markings provide the hide with a host of unique characteristics.

Top Grain

If you hear or see the words “top grain”, the reference is to where the leather was cut rather than its grade. Do not confuse full grain with top grain, which basically means that it has not been split. When shopping for your leather sofa, make sure that the back of the sofa, cushions and any large areas were cut from the top grain of the leather and not from vinyl fabrics.


Aniline leather has been labeled with various names such as naked aniline, true aniline, and aniline full grain, all of them being exactly same. Aniline is basically leather that has been dyed right the way through. The spongy feel of aniline leather allows it to breathe effectively, which in turn increases its durability. It’s worth remembering that: the softer the leather feels, the higher its grade.


When searching for a leather sofa that suits your unique needs you may hear the word “antiqued” this is a leather that has been dyed twice, first in a lighter shade of color, and then in a darker shade that will provide variation and a unique antique appearance. This process is also known as distressed leather.

Ask the following questions when shopping:
  1. Is the leather finished or unfinished?
  2. Is the leather top-grain? If it isn’t, it won’t be as durable as you think.
  3. Is the whole sofa made of leather, or is some of it vinyl? Don’t be fooled.
  4. How has the frame been constructed? Is it built to last?
Author byline:

This guide was contributed by David at Thomas Lloyd

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tidy Up Tired-Looking Furniture with These Top Tips

Found on

With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to clean your furniture so it’ll look good as new for gatherings with relatives and friends, not to mention, it’s good to have ready knowledge of how to clean your furniture when little elves with sticky fingers come to play! Fortunately, there’s no need to cut into your gift shopping budget and splurge on professional cleaning services. Keep reading to learn some easy ways to freshen up furniture without spending a fortune.

Survey the Stains

Most couches and soft armchairs naturally get stained during use. Although it’s ideal to handle a stain immediately after an accident happens, it’s also crucial to treat each stain appropriately. Oil-based stains will require chemical cleaning agents, but stains caused by food, beverages and dirt usually respond well if you use a portable steam cleaner on them.

Bring Out the Baking Soda

Baking soda is probably one of the cheapest cleaners you keep on hand at home, but it’s also one of the most versatile. There are a huge number of ways to use baking soda to clean surfaces ranging from stainless steel to walls that have been scribbled on with crayons.

As far as furniture though, use equal parts of water and baking soda toothpaste to scrub water rings off of wooden coffee tables. The trick also works well for brightening dull wood cabinets. If you don’t get the desired results after the first attempt, do two treatments.

Make Your Own Furniture Polish

Give wood a gorgeous gleam by polishing it with a homemade mixture created from a cup of cold pressed olive oil and a half cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Put the ingredients in a glass jar, then shake it gently to combine them. Apply a small bit to wood furniture using a very soft cloth.

Wipe the Right Way

When wiping furniture, always go in the direction of the grain, using the softest lint-free cloth you can find. If tackling a new spill on upholstery, resist the urge to scrub it frantically. That could cause the substance to sink deeper into the fibers. Instead, blot it carefully to soak up the excess.

Remove Residue

Hard furniture can look dingy if it’s covered with grease and grime. Residue build-up can happen over time, but it’s easy to remove. Mix two parts white vinegar with one part water and get to work.

If you notice white rings appearing on the surface, they’re grease remnants. Get rid of them by grabbing the jar of mayonnaise from your fridge and dab the condiment lightly on the affected portions. Then, cover them with a soft cloth for a few hours, and finally wipe them away.

Get Rid of Spots on Leather Furniture

Leather furniture is a great investment, but it’s no more immune to getting stained and spotted than furniture covered with fabric. Remove ink stains from leather by using a cotton swab that’s been dipped in alcohol. You may need to leave the surface damp overnight, then wipe it with a soft cloth in the morning.

Handle other types of spots on leather by mixing equal parts cream of tartar and lemon juice. You’ll create a paste that can be gently worked into the soiled leather. If a stain is severe, let the paste sit on the material for a couple hours before cleaning it away.

The holiday season is traditionally a time when people invite others into their homes to share good times. If you’re planning on doing the same, there’s no need to stress about the condition of your furniture. The tips you’ve just read could help you fix it in a flash.

BIO: James works in construction and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Mike: 5 Tips to Rock Your Sofa

Mike writes at Fabnest:

How many times have you been corrected when asked, “How is your day and you say good?” And there reply is, “You mean well.” I know, proper from improper can be a real pain.
This diction analogy is similar when talking about couch vs sofa.  One word that is never used by interior designers is “couch.” A couch is a sofa. Sofas have gone by many names: Chesterfield, divan, settee, davenport, daveno, couch, but now only sofa.

Read the rest at Fabnest:

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Mike Interviews Classic Woodwork Inc.

Classic Woodwork Inc is a high-end residential woodwork contractor based in Montreal. Recently, Simon Lacroix reached out to me via LinkedIn and introduced himself and his company to let me know about their work in NYC. I thought an introduction to his company was worthy of a post here on RenovatingNYC.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Uttermost Rugs

Estelle, Red
Rugs Collection
By Uttermost

Mike Published On FabNest

These Towels You Wouldn’t Dare Throw on the Floor


What is one of the nicest parts of staying at a resort in the vacation spot you love? Some may say it’s the sunsets glinting off the water. Some may say it is the relaxation you feel when you fall asleep in a hammock to the sound of the surf. Some may say it’s the chance of finding exotic dining places. For me it’s the luxurious towels found in fine resorts. They are big, fluffy, super absorbent and smell like a sun filled meadow. When you have finished drying your naked body, you don’t just toss them on the floor in the corner for the maid, but hang them carefully on the hook located on the bathroom door.

Read More at FabNest

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gardening Advice For Halloween

The Fresh Dirt on Perking Up Your Garden

Psst! What’s the dish, the dirt, the down low, the buzz? You know the chit chat, the chin music, the scuttlebutt on perking up my garden?

When you ask that way, I remember my antenna twitching, my ears tuned in. I tumbled to the news that boiling water kills weeds. Kills weeds I say better than any poisonous product bought off the shells. Douse a weed with boiling water and the weed falls harder than a dame for George Clooney on s moonlit night in Italy.

What else?

I hear, from sources, sources that remain in the shadows. Darker than sleeping in the coffin, that keeping mud off the rugs that Jimmy heisted requires little booties on your shoes, when you step inside from the garden. Mud inside? Fuhgeddaboudit.

You are not shortchanging me, are you? I got some pull, I can dish the dirt, too.

Yeah, give me some.

Between you and me, we got to be careful. Careful when we bury stuff. Take that hydrangea, the blue flowers means the soil is acidic. That’s where we buried all that aluminum. The heist. You remember?

Yeah, my mind is a safe! The pink one. What’s wrong there? 

No aluminum! Pine needles would work, they’re acid. 

My head. My head is pounding, from all this talk. 

You need an aspirin. By the way, pal, did you know that aspirin will strengthen plants, like garlic strengthens the breath of Louie the mouth? Just add 1 ½ aspirins to two gallons of water. Every three weeks, you do this, you got them plants fighting off disease like Jimmy the rope fought off marriage with Lucille.  

Did you hear about Monty the twitch? Yeah, Monty the twitch is now Monty the pause. He got the garden. First thing you know, he’s not twitching anymore. He’s relaxed. He pauses like an old dog with a bad nose sniffing trees. Nothing. Nothing bothers the guy, I tell you.

Did you hear about my girl, Theresa? Theresa. Sixteen year-old Theresa. I caught her and her boyfriend lip-locking the other night. You know how dark it is back there behind the house. Lip locking. Yeah we both used to do it, but not my daughter. Anyways, I nipped that in the bud. Hung up some lights. Now after Theresa is in bed, me and Martha sit out there by the garden. No, not lip locking!

We got the place fixed up real nice. We added some of those wind chimes we see at the beach. No, not the big booming kind. The kind that are quiet-like.

What do you want with wind chimes that are quiet? Makes no sense.

To you maybe. We can hear them. These would be nice for Monty the pause. Calm.

The wife, Martha, brought home some bird houses and a bird feeder, Year a bird feeder. That ok with you? Al right. We put them up in the garden. We sit out in the evening and just watch the birds. It’s cheap entertainment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

10 Reasons to Love Big, Comfy Sectionals

Laura Gaskill at Houzz shares information about sectionals:

Monday, October 20, 2014

New From Uttermost

Ardusin, Hobby Cupboard

Furniture Collection
By Uttermost

Cat: 25589
Size: 47" w x 15" d x 34" h;

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Staci Byers: Selling Your House Quickly and Profitably

You can learn a lot about selling your house by having lunch with a woman whose specialty is home staging. I had that opportunity recently when Staci Byers agreed to an interview. Staci Byers owns Ready to Sell PDX and operates her home staging business in the greater Portland/Vancouver area.

Staci, why do homeowners and realtors call you?
Staci: They both call for the same reason – there is a home about to go on the market and they want to make sure it is well presented to ensure a quick sale and the highest price the market can support.

What’s the first step?
Staci: An on-site consultation is the first thing I do. I conduct a full assessment of the home both inside and out. I cover things such as furniture and accessory placement, cosmetic repairs, color recommendations and curb appeal suggestions.
My recommendations, as well as tips for a successful Open House are presented in a  home staging report that is sent to the homeowner and agent. After this initial consultation the homeowners will know just what is needed to get the home ready for the market. 

Often the homeowners are able to take care of the items themselves based on the report I provide, but if they would like additional help, the services offered following the consultation are a la carte and can be tailored to suite the homeowners needs.

You work with a lot of real estate agents. What’s in it for them?

Staci: The most valuable thing is probably that the house spends less time on the market. A house that looks its best will sell quicker and higher turnover translates into higher profits for the brokers. But it also often it sells for a higher price which translates into happy customers, more referrals, and repeat business – and of course also a higher commission. Partnering with a professional home stager frees up the agent to do what they do best--- Sell more homes !

What other kinds of things are important?
Staci: The house should be clean, clean clean! You vastly improve your house’s wow factor if you de-clutter and get many of your personal items out of the house. Only 10% of  people touring a home can visualize their items in the space, so stage each room relevant for the function. A bedroom should be a bedroom, and the dining room should be just that, not your craft room.

What about minor repairs?
Staci: Minor repairs, should be fixed, your home's presentation needs to shine from the moment it is seen on-line and every day it is on the market.
Broken boards on the deck, ripped carpet and broken lights give a not so taken care of feeling to potential buyers. Be aware of the cost/benefit ratio: spending $50 on paint touch-ups is probably a better investment than refinishing all your hardwood floors. It pays to take the extra time to ensure all minor and inexpensive repairs are complete and the home is at its absolute best at the time of listing.

Staci, thanks so much for your time. This has been very helpful.

Staci's contact information:

Staci Byers
Portland, OR