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Your Dream Home Awaits- Purchasing Pre-Made Plans

Embarking on the process of building your own home can be exciting, but daunting. Enlisting a professional architect to create custom plans and blueprints for your home ensures that you will receive exactly the home you want, but soon becomes expensive. Whether your home budget doesn’t allow for this expense, or if you’re trying to save money to put in some super-luxe features in your home, there are solutions to create a custom home without the extra cost and time.

Unless you have something truly wild and original in mind, any plan of your choosing can most likely be found through one of these online sources. If the plan you find is almost perfect, but missing a few things you want, alterations can be made to the chosen plans to create a home that is still uniquely yours, without the cost and stress of starting completely from scratch.

The process is simple- search around for one of the many companies offering pre-made home plans, with your needs in mind. No matter where you find your plans, the basic premise is the same. Each company has enlisted a roster of architects and designers to provide a variety of blueprints, which are available for purchase for you to use with your builder. On the majority of these websites, you can cater your search to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and floors you would like, or you can browse plans sorted by architectural style or designer. You can browse by regional-inspired styles, by exterior and interior features. There are plans for high-end luxury homes, or for environmentally-friendly “green” homes.

With purchase of the plans, you get the rights to use those blueprints for your home. Some services limit the number of usable plans you receive, while still others offer the option to receive electronic CAD files or PDF files to communicate your needs to the builder.

Once you’ve chosen your plans, most of these websites also offer resources and tips on building your home, from contact information for your chosen designer/architect, to a directory of suggested builders, to tips for finding the perfect piece of land. They also provide cost estimates for the basic plans and any modifications you’d like to make, and can guide you through the process.

You don’t have to be an expert to start building your own home! These services are designed to help even the most inexperienced of homeowners. There are plenty of resources online to find your perfect house plan, but here are a few to get you started:

House Plans

Home Plans

The House Designers

Dream Home Source


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Creative Solutions for Closet Doors!


It’s almost time for back to school- which means soon winter will come, and with it the switch-over to sweaters and coats from sundresses. The closet will become a battleground- what clothes to keep? How to fit new purchases into your already stocked wardrobe? Whether your own closet is cluttered or perfectly organized, a creative closet door can easily transform your bedroom and hide your closeted messy habits.



Small rooms can be made to feel even smaller with too many doors. With a door to the rest of the house, a closet door, and a door to your private bathroom, your bedroom starts to feel like a glorified hallway, rather than the sanctuary it should be. Real doors to the bathroom and hall are a necessity for privacy- leaving the closet doors an opportune place to step out of the box and give your room more space and  style.


Replacing your traditional closet door with curtains or drapes not only lessens the cramped feeling of the room, but offers an opportunity to add a pop of color and a unique texture to your otherwise solid walls. Depending on your tastes, you can either hang the curtains from a sturdy rod (better for closets with wider openings) or hang a flowing curtain straight down, with decorative ropes or tassels to tie the sides when you need to access the closet.

Photo courtesy of Homedit



Sliding Barn Doors

You can easily save space and add a creative, rustic touch by replacing your closet doors with a sliding barn door. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to do yourself (just check out this DIY tutorial)


Photo courtesy of HGTV


Room Dividers/Shoji Screens

CWI-shoji-screenIf your room has a tendency to get a little dark and gloomy, Japanese room dividers (or shoji screens) can help shed some light on the situation. A well-placed light inside the closet can offer soft mood lighting when filtered through the opaque panels of these screens. Stylized designs such as bamboo stalks or cherry trees add an exotic flair.

Photo courtesy of


If you can’t replace your closet doors completely, at least you can spruce them up a bit! Even a fresh coat of paint can do the trick, but if you want to go further, we have a few suggestions.  Try taking your existing bi-fold doors and panel them with mirrors or frosted glass. A sliding door could do with a little accent wallpaper- and if you have a wide, mirrored sliding door, you can leave one panel mirrored while decorating the other.


Photo courtesy of Nest Decorating

A well-executed closet door serves multiple purposes. It keeps your wardrobe contained and private, can hide clutter, and enhance the look and feel of your room. How would you go about transforming yours?

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The Best Home Design Apps to Create Your Luxurious Home

Designing your home can be frustrating. Between measuring all your rooms and furniture, to moving heavy pieces back and forth to try and make everything fit just right, it can be an overwhelming process. Luckily, technology is starting to make this process easier. From apps on your iPhone to software you can delve into on your desktop, there is a wide array of fantastic technology for home designers to use.

Home Stratosphere

Home Stratosphere is a website that covers interior design, architecture, furnishings, decor, exteriors, landscape design and gardening. The company released its own, free interior design software that does not require a download. You can develop and design one room, or your entire home, through this software.

Color Capture

Created by Benjamin Moore Paint, the Color Capture app enables you to identify any color at any time. The app is available for download on your iPhone 6, where you can take a snapshot of an item and have the app connect the color in the photo with one of the paint color varieties. This way you can discover a range of hues you never new existed for your newly designed home.

Mark On Call

Mark On Call claims its app is “home design in the palm of your hand.” The app was created by Mark Lewison, a renowned interior designer and current faculty instructor in the Interior Design Department at the Art Institute of California, Hollywood. The app can be downloaded on your iPhone or iPad and lets you design and plan the various rooms in your house. The app provides preloaded sample floor plans, or you can publish or import your rooms through email or from a different iOS device.

Space Designer 3D

This software allows you to visualize and experiment with elements of your interior design. The program takes you through the steps of composition from a 2-D plan, where you build and arrange your projects, to 3-D global volumetrics and interior walk-through. The software contains samples of modern furniture and decor that you can integrate into your design as well. Then, you can print your 2-D plans and 3-D outdoor or indoor perspectives of your designed space to share with your family and friends.

Home Hardware

The design center at Home Hardware gives you options of cabinetry, flooring, countertops, paint and accessory styles to integrate into your home. The program enables you to design from sample projects, or you can upload your own photo. With your uploaded photo, you can visually integrate materials and products to get an idea of how they will look in your home.

Planner 5D

Planner 5D helps you create your dream home within minutes with three easy steps:

  1. Find your inspiration through its collection of interior design ideas.
  2. Create your own project with items you’ve collected in your design library.
  3. Visualize your project with a realistic 3-D snapshot.

This software is multifaceted and allows you to design your dream house in 2-D or 3-D. The app also lists its highest-rated planners so you can draw inspiration from their floor plans and designs.

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3 Productivity-Enhancing Principles for Decorating Your Home Office

(BPT) It’s a common piece of advice from effective home-based workers: start each day as if you were going to work in an office outside your home (translation- take a shower and don’t work in your pajamas). The philosophy behind this tidbit is easy to understand. By dressing professionally, you’ll feel more professional and your productivity and quality of work will keep pace.

The same axiom can apply to your home office. Is it tucked in a dark corner of the spare bedroom? Is your desk beside a bed covered in old toys? Is your filing cabinet stuffed in the closet under clothes that no one has worn since the first Bush presidency? If your home office doesn’t feel professional and uplifting, how productive and happy will you be spending eight or more hours a day there?

Decorating your home office isn’t an art, but following some basic principles of office design can help create an organized, effective and productivity-enhancing space.

Choose a wall color that facilitates focus.

Even if your home office will be in the guest room that you just painted last year, it may be a good idea to repaint. Not only does a fresh coat of paint make a room feel energized and new, repainting gives you the opportunity to put a color on the wall that’s office-appropriate.

In an interview by Chris Bailey of the blog “A Life of Productivity,” color psychologist and author Angela Wright suggests that your home office color scheme needs to match the type of work you do because different colors create different effects. For example, Wright says, blue might be stimulating if you do a lot of mental work in your home office. Additionally, yellow could encourage creativity, and green might be soothing if your work is particularly stressful and balance is important.

Luxuriate in light.


“You are stuck in your office – albeit at home – all day, working and slaving away, staring at the same wall and some bland office furniture you got at a garage sale,” writes Herman Chan in Home Business Magazine. “Spending all those hours in the same spot, it would behoove you to splurge on one luxury piece.” Chan suggests an inspiring piece of furniture, but you can also create a luxe effect – with only a modest “splurge” – by decorating with lighting elements such as a skylight.

“The mental and physical health benefits of natural light and fresh air are well documented,” says Ross Vandermark of VELUX America, makers of Energy Star-qualified skylights. “Energy efficient venting skylights not only make your home and your home office feel more open, airy, bright and productive, they can help you control heating, cooling and lighting costs, too.”

Add a solar-powered fresh air skylight and an energy-efficient solar-powered blind to your home office and the products, as well as the installation, can be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit as a green home improvement. Ground-floor offices can benefit from SUN TUNNEL tubular skylights. Visit or to learn more about energy-efficient skylights.

If your home office happens to be located in a renovated attic space, roof windows, which are very much like skylights but are in-reach, can offer natural light and fresh air plus access to the roof for debris removal, maintenance or for emergency egress.


Organize with attractive storage.

If your idea of home office storage includes the cardboard boxes you used to transport files from the last job you had outside your home, it’s time to revisit your organizational plan. A cluttered, disorganized home office can cause you to misplace important documents and can make you feel overwhelmed.

As more people have begun working from home, office furniture manufacturers have branched out from the sterile-looking metal storage units ubiquitous in workplaces across the country. Today, it’s easy to find attractive storage options that fit with virtually any home office decor.

If you just can’t find a file cabinet that speaks to your soul, why not try some alternative storage options? Move that beautiful sideboard you inherited from grandma – that just never fit anywhere else in your house – into your home office and use it for filing. Not in love with any of the desk options available at your local office store? Hit an antique shop and find an antique desk or even a dining table that you adore. Remember to keep furnishings and storage solutions size-appropriate for the room so your home office doesn’t feel crowded.

Working from home offers many advantages, including the opportunity to decorate your home office the way you want. By following some basic steps and incorporating your own personality, you can create a home office where you’ll be productive and happy throughout the work day.


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The Bold and the Beautiful: Patterns and Prints

Look around you. Most of the surfaces in your home can be resurfaced or revamped to make them seem fresher, newer, and more visually stimulating. The tried and true method of redecorating your space is varying the sizes, colors, and textures of your wallpaper, fabrics, rugs, curtains, or accessories. But most people tend to shy away from switching up patterns or incorporating new prints…. why is that?

Patterns and prints are not to be feared! They can be an exciting and unique touch to incorporate into any part of the home, as long as they are thoughtfully aligned with the existing design.


Think about your everyday living space- where can you add a little visual pizzazz? Don’t think you have to go big and bold- this actually can be a little intimidating.  Instead, incorporate a simple pattern, with colors that blend well with those already used in the space. Neutral stripes in a subtle variation of your pre-existing wall color, or a muted version of other accent colors in the room can add height and space to a small room. Whether the stripes are chevron, vertical, or horizontal, these will add length or height to your space. Striped fabric in an accent color can also be a great choice for any chairs or rugs in the space, just make sure the pattern complements the larger stripes on the wall!



For those willing to try something with a little more “risk-factor”: explore the possibilities of a pattern such a paisley, polka-dot, or floral, for an eye-catching addition to any aspect of the room. Since these are patterns that can come off as “busy”, they can enhance accent pillows or cushions, small chairs, or rugs, without overwhelming the room. Use colors that will compliment the rest of the design scheme, and the prints will stand out on their own, yet still remain subtle enough to blend in with your overarching aesthetic.



Vacation homes may be the best places to experiment with thematic design.  You are only there for a few weeks every year, and the separation from the constraints of everyday life means you can be bold with your choices! For a vacation home by the sea, an obvious choice would be fabrics, colors, and patterns inspired by the ocean. Navy blues and crisp whites may be your go-to choices, but don’t be afraid to incorporate a few nautical patterns and prints to draw some visual interest . Seaside inspiration can be pulled from prints using anchors, ropes and more. Natural themes include waves or shells- just watch out for “kitschiness”. Or don’t! It’s your vacation home, and it is yours to enjoy.


Patterns and prints can be incorporated anywhere in the home, from the bedroom, living room, or kitchen, to furniture, accessories, or even appliances. To perfectly match your existing decor, you can design your own fabric or wallpaper at You can also shop for upholstery fabric at, or even buy some patterned appliances at Target.

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Bring New Life to Old Furniture: Reupholster

thumbHave pets, family, overnight guests, and life in general brought some severe wear and tear to your furniture? The solution doesn’t always have to be to pour thousands of dollars into redecorating a room. Consider reupholstering your furniture.

Reupholstering furniture can be the perfect way to liven up and change a room you’ve grown tired of, all while keeping the shape and lines of the furniture you had originally fallen in love with upon purchasing.

Most companies, such as Dr. Sofa, offer free online estimates to what your costs will look like depending on the piece of furniture. You are also free to look at their online selection of hundreds of fabrics, or look into fabrics that you have taken interest in from other sources, and purchase enough to cover the pieces of furniture you have selected.

Remember, not all furniture has to be the same pattern. Matching in color schemes or choosing complimentary colors is sure to give you a vibrant and chic look, like you had an interior designer come in and design your home. That old furniture will look brand new with new stuffing and new life added to it.

With any extra fabric, you can make accessory throw pillows to go around the room to further make the fabric and pattern of the furniture pop.

It is the perfect solution for any antiques purchased, any hand-me-downs through the family, or any hand-offs to college students or kids setting out for their first time.

Reupholstering furniture may be your first step in revamping your home, and in saving money.


Photos Courtesy of


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9 Artful Tips for an Easter Makeover

Easter is a moveable feast. It is an ancient holiday celebrating Spring, fertility, Passover, or all of the above. This year, however you choose to honor Easter, use it is an opportunity to transition your home for spring and prepare for a stylish Easter dinner. Spring colors aren’t limited to just feminine pastels. Bold colors — including black and white — accented with greens and yellows, can easily be incorporated into a sophisticated and modern Easter makeover for your home. Refresh with these springtime design tips a few weeks before guests arrive:

floral canvas

Framed Fabrics

Add a boost of color to walls by swapping photos or artwork in the hallway for framed fabric swatches in Easter-inspired prints. For a sophisticated look, select understated spring textiles like black and white floral’s or geometric patterns in seasonal colors that pop. Short on picture frames? Better Homes and Gardens suggests clustering the prints together on a gallery wall using different-sized canvases covered with fabric.

Full Bloom

Nothing adds brightness and cheer to a home like a vibrant display of flowers. Take advantage of the seasons floral abundance with beautiful spring flower bouquets that can be used as dinner table centerpieces or to dress up an entryway.

Bouquet of Branches

For a grand dinner table centerpiece, arrange a bouquet of blooming branches in a tall glass vase. Look for branches with small, elegant blooms like pussy willow or forsythia. Finish the look with a slender chartreuse ribbon tied around the vase.


cake stand


Domed Displays

Use a glass cake stand with a domed cover to display limes, lemons and clementines, or arrange a cluster of restful succulents. Shop at Williams-Sonoma for a cake stand that can also double as a punch bowl.

Spring Mantel

Decorate a fireplace mantel for spring by draping it with a eucalyptus garland. Alternatively, bring the outdoors in by displaying all-natural elements atop the mantle. For example, in addition to greenery, a driftwood candle holder creates a breezy springtime ambiance.

Decorative Hardware

Exchange metal knobs and drawer pulls on dining room furniture for vintage green, pink, yellow or white porcelain hardware. Make the look more organic by varying the textures and colors.

rainbootsBud Vases

Sprinkle miniature white ceramic pitchers and vases throughout the house and fill them with spring blooms like hydrangeas or simple sprigs of baby’;s breath. For a grouped display, stack hardcover books in varying heights and place vases on top and in front for added depth. For a more antique look, use teacups or depression glassware.


For a burst of color in the entryway, fill two or three tall, galvanized buckets with daffodils or display show-stopping red tulips in a pair of sunny yellow rain boots. If you are so fortunate, you could even showcase newly blossomed flowers from your own garden!

Floral Textiles

Infuse your home with ornate floral prints on cushions, throws, tablecloths or tea towels. Use vibrant, nature-inspired colors and designs like lilacs, peonies and wildflowers. Don’t be afraid to mix and match prints, as long as at least one color threads through them all to unite the design. Look to Architectural Digest’s Pinterest board for beautiful floral inspiration.

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7 Ideas for Decorating Under the Stairs

For homes with unused space under a stairway, it can be a challenge find a way to actually use that space. Leaving it bare makes that awkward angular area distracting, but you probably couldn’t do anything functional with that space either, right?

On the contrary! There are numerous ways to make that odd-shaped void beneath your stairs functional and useful, and perhaps even a focal area in your foyer, entryway, basement, or wherever else your stairway leads. Read on for seven decorating ideas for utilizing that untapped resource under your stairs.


One way to make the space under your stairway useful is to create storage by building drawers and shelves. It can be a place for guests to hang jackets or purses, where you put discarded or dirty shoes, and an accessible place for hats and umbrellas on rainy days. In the home pictured above, the shelves look very deliberate and at-home as if they have always been there rather than being added later. The space’s utility also makes it much more attractive. Image via Houzz.


Hidden Closet
stairs02The owner of this home chose to install a hidden closet under the stairway. When closed, none of your guests would ever know that you have storage space beneath the stairs. It could be used as a coat closet and to store seasonal items like holiday decorations, or for things like your vacuum and broom. Not only does having secret storage prevent guests from accidentally finding your cleaning supplies and Christmas decorations, but it’s also just plain fun. Image via Houzz.


Wet Bar


Depending on the room in which you have your stairway, it could be appropriate and useful to build a wet bar or a butler’s bar in the space beneath your stairs. This would be a great way to not only fill that awkward space, but to put something functional and useful there that’s also a great focal area and conversation piece. By installing a wine fridge and a sink, you’ll have everything you need for entertaining guests in what used to be empty, distracting space. Image via Houzz.


Cozy Reading Nook


Another great use for the space under your stairs is to make it a picturesque reading nook. This home features a bench containing drawers for storage and covered with a plush cushion and pillows. The space is incredibly cozy and inviting, any bookworm’s dream retreat. Image via Houzz.


Child’s Play

stairs05If your stairway leads into a basement or playroom, you could turn the space under your stairway into a fun, playful space for kids. The owner of this home turned the wasted space under the basement stairway into a playroom that looks like a little house. With a window, Dutch door, and even a little roof, the space is now unique, functional, and sure to delight any child. Image via Houzz.


Powder Room

stairs06If you can access the space beneath your stairs from the rear rather than the side, there’s nothing more functional than a half-bath or powder room. Although you may think there’s not enough space, you’d be surprised; you need only enough space for a toilet and small sink such as in this modern homeImage via Houzz.


Office Enclave


Another great use for the space beneath your main stairway is making a miniature office space. Having a desk there, like an accessible and convenient satellite of your main home office, allows you to work without being isolated in your office. If your home can’t accommodate an office, this allows you to use the space beneath your stairs and have a desk for work, writing, or other important tasks at the same time. Image via Houzz.

For more inspiration for your home, go to Modernize.

Text by Jane Blanchard  

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Time to Spruce Up Your Walls: Wallpaper is Making a Comeback!


While it’s no doubt that the days of fully wallpapered homes are far behind us, wallpaper has not entirely gone out of style. In fact, in recent years, wallpaper sales have been going up!

And with good reason: adding wallpaper to a room enhances depth, texture, pattern, color, and, of course, style. Whether it’s one wall or all four, wallpaper adds a unique flair to any room that may be otherwise lacking some visual stimulation. With all this in mind, here are four different avenues to explore the use of wallpaper in your home.

For those afraid of commitment:
Still not sold on the whole idea of a long-term change to the walls of your home? Not a problem! Try this not-so-permanent removable wallpaper out for a try. With various colors and patterns to choose from, you are sure to find something you’ll love, without having to make a lasting commitment.

See how this feels:
Perhaps a colored or patterned wallpaper isn’t something you’re interested in, and you prefer the cooler and monochromatic tones. You can still add interest with wallpaper in a more tactile way by using texture. From faux-stone to even roll on beadboard, you can maintain visual elegance and simplicity, without sacrificing your unique style.

Stencil-wallpaperEverybody loves an accent:
Committing to a fully wallpapered room sounds too intimidating? If that’s the case, try a new pattern or color out on an accent wall. By using complimentary hues that align with the room’s existing paint, furniture, and accessories, this wallpaper will both make its own statement and pull the room together overall. Since you will just be using the wallpaper on one surface, you can make bolder choices in color and pattern, with less risk of overwhelming the room. Use it on the wall with the most square footage or with the most unique aspects to make the room seem bigger and to create the most drama.

Fake it ’til you make it:
Flashbacks from the 70s may be keeping your urge to try wallpaper at bay, and that’s okay. By using a stencil, you can create a faux-wallpaper affect on any wall you desire. By using a high-gloss or shiny paint, create a stencil pattern on your desired walls to fill in. The room will be instantly enhanced and you have the ease-of-mind of knowing: it’s just paint. Try this for a fully-wallpapered look, and accent wall, or even as a border.


Photos courtesy of Graham & Brown, Cutting Edge Stencils

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Dividing Open Space into Separate Living Areas

Has an open floor plan got you stumped on ways to distinguish your space? Perhaps your open living area is just a little too open-  so much so that you wish to “split” it into both living and dining areas,  while still having room for a flow of traffic and a clear line to the kitchen area. Or, perhaps, you live in a studio or open loft where the only walls within your space happen to surround your bathroom. Here are some useful tricks to help define your space without stopping the flow of light or vision.

1) Define a space with an area rug:

Yes, sometimes feeling like you’re entering a new space can be as simple as changing up the texture beneath your feet. Area rugs give the visual appearance of a distinct space by simply defining a specific area. Using these under a dining room table or between furniture in a living arrangement can do a wonderful job of breaking up the space visually.

2) Carefully arrange your furniture:

Seemingly obvious, right? It can be tricky sometimes to achieve the perfect layout for a room without blocking the flow of traffic or making a  comfortable arrangement for living, eating, talking, or watching TV. When arranging a living space, be sure that the furniture all has comfortable viewing access to the TV (or other visual focal point if you’re not a TV person), but more importantly, make sure that the entire space keeps a smooth conversational layout so that guests are more able to enjoy each others’ company. Create a single walkway by arranging all of the furniture more to one side of the room, as to allow the most basic line on vision and a visual break in furniture. This will allow for a smooth traffic flow and minimal stubbed toes.

3) Purchase a divider:

Especially in studios or lofts, dividers may be a crucial part of ensuring some privacy in a bedroom area, or creating a more intimate dining experience. Dividers can be found in most furniture retailers, and pricing and style options all depend on the atmosphere you are trying to achieve. There are also some wonderful DIY tricks online for creating a custom divider, which will ensure that your unique taste and style is fully represented. Having this divider will create an obvious visual block and make it seem like there are more separate spaces in your home than there really are, making your place seem at the same time larger and cozier.

4) Use different color schemes:

Separating a space can be as easy as playing a little trick on the human eye. By painting the different sections of the walls different colors where your spaces change, and of course by accessorizing to fit those colors, a visual difference in said spaces will create visual “rooms” without the need for dividing walls. This strategy will also bring more visual interest into your home and allow you to have a lot more fun decorating by bringing in more opportunities for colorful accessorizing.

So take a deep breath and let your inner Feng-shui guru/interior designer out. Your open space doesn’t all have to be one large room, and separating it can be as easy as purchasing a rug and a few cans of paint. Don’t be afraid to experiment visually and most of all, let your personality shine through the design choices you make.

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