Patio of the Week: Outdoor Rooms Transform a Backyard (14 photos)

These Southern California homeowners were living in the wonderfully warm climate of Orange County and had numerous doors opening up to their backyard. But their landscape design did not provide good structure for indoor-outdoor living, and it didn’t connect to the beautiful Craftsman-style architecture of their house. They searched Houzz and found landscape designer Sacha McCrae to help them transform their yard and check off every item on their must-have list. These included an outdoor fireplace, a shaded space, an outdoor lounge and dining area, a designated grilling area and the calming sound of trickling water. Here’s a look at how McCrae fit it all into the relatively compact backyard in a pleasing way.

Living Gardens Landscape Design
Photos by Brett Hilton Photography

Landscape at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple who likes to entertain
Location: San Clemente, California
Size: 1,600 square feet (149 square meters)
Designer: Sacha McCrae of Living Gardens Landscape Design

The front entry shows the home’s Craftsman architecture. “This is a beautiful Craftsman house, but the landscape didn’t connect. We really wanted to make it feel cohesive,” McCrae says. She refreshed the front yard as well but kept existing blue-gray pavers. These pavers and the stone on the home’s facade informed the palette she chose for the backyard.

Find a local landscape designer on Houzz

Before Photo

Continue reading
  419 Hits

Your Guide to a Simpler Turkey Day (13 photos)

What with cleaning, shopping, table setting and all those (many, many) dishes to cook, pulling off Thanksgiving dinner is a major accomplishment. If you’re planning to host the big meal this year, whether it’s your first time or your 20th, chances are you’d love to make it a bit easier — which is where this guide comes in. Pick and choose from an abundance of tips and tricks to make this Thanksgiving your smartest, most stress-free yet.

Phillips | Collins Construction Group, Inc.
Kitchen Prep
Clear your kitchen counters of unnecessary items (including small appliances) before the big day. You’ll need all the counter space you can get.Make a master list of the dishes you will be preparing and track down the serving pieces that correspond to each dish. Put a sticky-note reminder on each one and keep them together in a cupboard.Look over your list and make note of what can be made ahead.For the dishes you won’t be making ahead, see if there is some small task that can be checked off early. For example: chop onions and store them in a big resealable plastic bag; make pie dough and freeze it; wash and trim green beans.
Elms Interior Design
Pre-Party Cleaning
Even if you don’t normally employ a housekeeper, consider hiring a service to clean house the weekend before Thanksgiving. It can really be worth it if cleaning for company stresses you out.If you’re the one doing the cleaning, focus on the areas guests will notice most: the living room, dining room and guest bath (don’t forget to stock the toilet paper).It’s perfectly acceptable to gather up your remaining clutter before guests arrive, toss it in an off-limits bedroom and shut the door.Find a cleaning service in the Houzz pro directory
Antique Exchange Interiors
Welcoming Guests
If you have a coat rack or a garment rack (in the laundry room, perhaps?), bring it to the entryway to handle coats and scarves.No coat rack or spare closet space? Clear off a chair or designate a bed for putting personal items.Adventurous apartment dwellers can even designate a sturdy shower rod as a coat-hanging spot.Designate an early-arriving guest to be the official greeter, so you can focus on not burning stuff in the kitchen.Shop for portable garment racks
Appetizers and DrinksGo with something that doesn’t require cooking or chopping, such as nuts, olives, cheese and grapes.Outsource the hors d’oeuvres. Ask a willing guest to bring an appetizer to share.Skip the fancy cocktails and pick up beverages you can just open and pour: sparkling cider, wine and beer.On Houzz TV, see how to assemble a delicious cheese platter
Kritsonis Lindor
TurkeyIf you need more oven space, consider cooking a whole bird on the grill. This, admittedly, takes finessing to get just right, but having a free oven for the side dishes can be a game changer. Bonus: This encourages some guests to hang out around the grill master, freeing up even more space indoors.
If you want to cook the turkey faster, either flatten (spatchcock) it or buy turkey pieces instead of a whole bird.If you’re hosting a small group or don’t want to cook a whole turkey, consider buying roast turkey from a local market instead. If you decide to go this route, be sure to phone in your order well ahead of time, as they can sell out.
MOSAIC [Design + Build]
When guests say they would like to contribute to the dinner, offer a choice of a few specific side dishes and let them choose which to bring. Just be sure to confirm what they are planning to cook before you hit the grocery store.Don’t feel that you must make everything from scratch if you don’t want to or are short on time. Plan to cook the dishes you enjoy most and pick up others from a good grocery store.Go ahead and skip a traditional side dish if it’s not your family’s favorite. It’s your Thanksgiving — do it your way.Share the work and fun with a reimagined potluck
RHC Construction & Management
If you’re planning to make pie from scratch, do yourself a favor and make the pie dough in advance. If making it more than a day in advance, store it in the freezer.Or go semihomemade by picking up ready-made pie dough or pie shells and making your own filling.Or let the pros take over and pick up desserts from your favorite bakery.
Studio Dearborn
Fridge Space
Start making room in your fridge a week or more ahead of time. Toss old stuff and use up as much of your produce and jars of nearly gone condiments as you can.Cook items from your freezer in the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving to make space.After shopping for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients, remove items from bulky outer packaging and prep the fresh vegetables. Washed and trimmed veggies take up less space.Move items that don’t absolutely need to be refrigerated (like potatoes and onions) to a cool, dry place.Learn how to thoroughly clean the fridge
EW Custom Woodworking LLC
Use an ice-filled cooler to hold chilled beverages. Place it outside the kitchen where guests have easy access — and won’t be tripping up the cooks every time they reach for a fresh drink.If fridge space is getting tight, use a cooler to stow ingredients like vegetables and butter.Or use a cooler to keep casseroles warm. Just line a cooler with a folded towel, place the covered casserole dish on top and cover with another towel before closing the lid.Stuck for dish-clearing space? You can even use a cooler filled with warm, soapy water to soak dishes and cutlery.Browse coolers and ice chests
Home Sweet Home Remodeling
TimingHave a written plan. Working backward from the time you want to sit down to dinner, figure out when each dish needs to go in the oven.Timers are your friend. Stick a Post-it note beside each timer, so you don’t forget what each one is for!Generally speaking, you can plan to reheat casseroles and other side dishes in the oven while the turkey rests.
Parallel design
Seating and Serving
If you don’t have enough chairs for your table, get creative by bringing in the piano bench, kitchen stools, front porch chairs or folding chairs.Short on serving space? Pull in a bar cart, ironing board or console table, or serve in the kitchen.Can’t seat everyone at the table? Go buffet-style instead, and let people dish up and then find their own seats around the house.Look on Houzz for extra seating
Outdoor Dreams
Setting the Table
Use what you have, whether that means formal china or everyday white dishes and jam jars for water.Short on dishes? Borrow from friends in advance, or scoop up extra dishes or cutlery (or whatever else you need) secondhand.Pick up easy centerpiece components at the grocery store or in the great outdoors. Mini pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, pomegranates, pears and seasonal flowers look lovely on the Thanksgiving table.No formal tablecloth? Buy a runner.
Mix plates for memorable table settings
BECKMANN ARCHITEKTEN Ingenieure + Sachverständige
  405 Hits

New This Week: 6 Attractive Front Entries (6 photos)

Nicole Forina Home
3. Inside Job

Designer: Nicole Forina Home
Location: Rumson, New Jersey
Size: 120 square feet (11 square meters); 10 by 12 feet

Homeowners’ request. “When we first met this client, they told us they liked neutrals, but we’ve certainly injected color into this house, and that was due to [interior designer] Nicole pushing color just a bit,” project manager Mike Forina says. “Once the scheme started coming together, the client was happy they went in that direction.”

Main feature. Stylish accessories. “The accessory phase of the project is very underrated by many,” Forina says. “Underrated in both price and time. It could easily require numerous shopping trips and online purchases from several different boutiques. In order to make a home feel curated and personalized, though, it’s essential to strike the perfect balance of new life with sentimental treasures.”

Other special features. Blue door (New Providence Navy by Benjamin Moore). Custom floating wall console. Mirror with frame made of 20 large iron disks. Flush-mount light fixture with banana bark shades.

Designer tip. “The open-concept prevalence often found in today’s homes lends itself to a more neutral color palette so that one can achieve cohesiveness throughout an entire design,” Forina says. “But older homes tend to have smaller rooms that are more compartmentalized, which makes it a lot easier to have a bit of a color theme for each specific room.”

Continue reading
  399 Hits

10 Things to Enhance Your Powder Room for the Holidays or Anytime (10 photos)

Holiday and party guests may never see your bedroom or home office, but they’ll likely make a stop in the powder room. With a little extra care, you can make this small but hardworking space welcoming, whether for a special occasion or drop-in visitors. Here are 10 touches to help dress up your powder room for company.

Salt Design Co
1. Orchids

Longer lasting than a bouquet of flowers and undeniably elegant, orchids make a smart choice for the powder room.

While rare varieties of orchids can be expensive, you can often find budget-friendly potted orchids right in your local grocery store.

Orchids like bright indirect light, so a sink by a shaded window would be ideal.

Find a designer on Houzz to help you make over your powder room

Continue reading
  388 Hits

My Sweeten Story: Neutrals Go Bold in a Hoboken Remodel

In this Hoboken home remodel, a kitchen and bathroom modernize with black, white, and wood

“After” photos by Jeffrey Rosenberg Photography for Sweeten

Homeowners: Danielle and Michelle Dobrusin found their general contractor by posting their Hoboken home remodel on SweetenWhere: Hoboken, New JerseyPrimary renovation: Gut redos of both kitchen and bath for their new condominium in a converted 19th-century schoolhouseSweeten general contractorSweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovators with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Written in partnership with homeowners Danielle and Michelle

Remodeling a converted condo in Hoboken, New Jersey

We purchased our home in June 2020, a 1,100-square-foot condominium in a former 1800s schoolhouse. The downtown Hoboken, NJ building was converted into condos 30 years ago, and we love its character—our apartment has 24-foot ceilings with original wood beams.

We are Danielle, an attorney, and Michelle, a human resources manager, and our plan was to move here with our two cats, Sylvia and Eleanor. We knew going into the purchase that we would renovate the kitchen and bath. Both needed a facelift. We posted our project on Sweeten, with accurate specs, and soon got responses from contractors interested in working with us. It wasn’t long before we found a contractor we felt was a great fit.

Our goals for the renovation were easy to convey, since the existing rooms’ shortcomings were obvious. The kitchen was closed off from the rest of the living area and outdated—we wanted to open it up and connect it to the living area. It was not only badly designed, but in poor condition, too. The cabinets were falling apart; we had to lift one of the doors with a foot to open or close the dishwasher. The bathroom was also in bad shape, with cracked tiles and water damage.

Continue reading
  596 Hits

Kitchen of the Week: A Masterful Blend of Modern and Classic (9 photos)

Designer Jules Duffy loves to work with her clients to make their dream homes a reality, but when it came time to renovate her own New Jersey kitchen, one perk to being her own boss was hard to beat. “I had free rein to do what I wanted,” Duffy says. “My husband has complete trust in my design, so I didn’t have to convince anyone about things other than myself.”

This design freedom led Duffy to utilize an assortment of materials and finishes she had long wanted to combine, to create her ideal family kitchen. It mixes modern and traditional elements, has a gorgeous custom island and packs in storage that keeps clutter at bay and countertops free and clear.

  374 Hits

12 Garden Tasks to Do Before the Holiday Rush (13 photos)

There’s plenty to do this time of year, with the holidays around the corner and gardens nearing the end of the growing season. There’s a case to be made for skipping any major fall garden cleanup, but there are a handful of end-of-year tasks to keep on your to-do list. After all, nobody wants to deal with an irrigation line breaking or downspouts clogging with leaves right when everyone’s sitting down to dinner. Avoid last-minute surprises by getting on top of the following garden tasks now and you’ll be able to cruise through the holidays with time and energy to spare.

Liv4 Architecture
1. Deal With Fallen Leaves

Rake leaves off of pathways, ground cover plants and lawns (or you can mow them into the grass). Instead of adding them to the green bin, put the leaves to work in your garden. Try spreading leaves under trees and shrubs, keeping away from trunks, where they can decompose slowly over the winter, adding nutrients and organic matter back into the soil.

5 Ways to Put Fall Leaves to Work in Your Garden

Nordin Builders, Inc.
2. Mulch Beds

Spreading a layer of bark mulch is one of the easiest ways to make a garden look well-kept, and it’s great for the garden any time of year. Mulching in fall and winter helps prevent stormwater runoff and protects tender perennials, bulbs and shallow-growing roots from cold damage as temperatures drop. Spread a layer of mulch 2 to 4 inches deep (the deeper the better for cold protection) on top of any areas of bare soil in planting beds, making sure to keep the mulch 2 to 4 inches away from the trunks of trees or shrubs.

Need a pro for your landscape design project?
Let Houzz find the best pros for you

Continue reading
  367 Hits

Before and After: 4 Fantastic Fireplace Makeovers (8 photos)

A fireplace is a natural focal point in any room. Therefore, transforming it or simply updating it can have a dramatic impact on the overall look of a space. Check out the following before-and-after fireplace photos and let us know which ones spark inspiration for you.

Before Photo

Mia Rao Design
1. Art Over Entertainment

Before: The family room in this La Grange, Illinois, house had a brick fireplace with a large flat-screen TV mounted above the mantel. Bulky furniture, beige walls and a ceiling fan added to the dark and dated look.

Find an interior designer near you

Mia Rao Design
After:Mia Rao Designadded black porcelain tile arranged in a herringbone pattern on the fireplace surround, creating a sense of movement and visual interest. Lighter paint on the walls and new, streamlined furniture give the space a more contemporary look. The custom piece of art over the fireplace, created by a friend for the project, has glints of gold, as does the bold new light fixture.

Shop for ceiling lights on Houzz

Continue reading
  383 Hits

Houzz Call: Show Us Your Fall Decor (7 photos)

The Yellow Cape Cod

This front porch by The Yellow Cape Cod showcases versatile fall decor that works well for the entire season. Mums, a cairn composed of gourds, a special wreath and cornstalk-covered columns create autumnal curb appeal. Do you like to make your front entry more inviting with nods to the season? Show us a photo in the Comments!

  389 Hits

Bathroom of the Week: An Open Feeling in 125 Square Feet (10 photos)

Bad space planning can have a tremendously negative effect on how a room functions. That was the case for Stephen and Linda Bruner’s 125-square-foot bathroom in Edmond, Oklahoma. A large, rarely used jetted tub took up one corner, forcing an awkward angle that carried over to a narrow shower stall and L-shaped vanity. A separate tiny vanity was crammed into another corner and butted up against the entrance to the bathroom. The difficult layout wasted space and created dysfunctional circulation.

The Bruners wanted a more comfortable space and to update the 1990s-era finishes, which included 25-year-old striped wallpaper. They hired designer Kirby Foster Hurd and builder Eric Stewart, and gathered inspiration ideas on Houzz. Foster Hurd streamlined the layout by eliminating the tub, expanding the shower and adding a custom double vanity on one wall. A slim built-in linen cabinet replaced the former small corner vanity. And sandy walls, creamy shower tiles and a taupe vanity base deliver a warm, embracing style.

  379 Hits

Top Trends From Fall’s European Design Fairs (24 photos)

At Supersalone, plants were integrated into furniture, including in Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Oasi monoblock kitchen for Aran Cucine (pictured above). Biophilia was also part of the fair structure, with 200 trees planted around the venue. After the event, the trees will be replanted in the Parco Nord Milano as part of the Forestami urban-greening project.

  396 Hits

Smart Storage Ideas for Organizing Food Containers (23 photos)

Simply Baths & Kitchens

But you don’t have to get too fancy. Try playing with the number of dividers before committing to a solution to see what works for you. Here, one divider at the back of a drawer holds lids, while the larger front area provides space for stacking containers.

  393 Hits

10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Front Yard Redesign (12 photos)

Blue Sound Construction, Inc.
2. What Sort of Planting Would Work?

“Even if you have a postage stamp-sized front [yard], there’s always room for a few plant pots or window boxes, which will brighten up the space, attract the odd butterfly and, hopefully, put a smile on the face of a passerby,” Orchard says.

As front yards tend to be smaller than backyards, landscape designer Terrey Maufe of Outerspace Creative Landscaping highlights that trees, shrubs and planting need to be proportionate. Trees in particular can be structurally problematic if they’re too large or planted too close to the house or boundaries.

The aspect of your front yard will also influence your choices. “If you have a north-facing [backyard], you may want to make the most of the sunny aspect of your front [yard],” Maufe says. “There’s nothing to stop a front plot being the primary garden if the aspect is favorable and the design requirements can be met. It can also be a productive space, with herbs, fruit or even vegetables being grown there.”

“Tradition has it that front [yards] tend to be more formal and ordered — keeping up appearances and all that,” Orchard says. “But the great thing about gardening is you can be free to experiment and choose plants that will give you the most pleasure. So if you’d prefer to turn your nose up at a double row of lavender either side of your path or topiary balls in planters by your front door in favor of a rambling cottage garden or a lush tropical oasis — go for it!” he says.

“The most important thing is, doing something in your front [yard] rather than nothing,” he adds. “What better way to strike up pleasant conversations with neighbors than spending more time in there pottering about?”

Continue reading
  374 Hits

10 Ways to Dress Up Your Kitchen Island (11 photos)

The kitchen island or peninsula is often the home’s hub, where family and friends gather to help with the cooking (or just the eating). This central position makes it an important design feature and a great place to add personality to your kitchen. Re-dressing the island can provide a dramatic face-lift on any budget. Here are 10 of my favorite ideas you can use to give the heart of the house a little love.

LDa Architecture & Interiors
1. Color

Looking to expand your palette but hesitant to make a big splash? Repainting just the island (or even only one side) adds a dash of drama without the effect of visually shrinking the space that can come from dark or vivid cabinetry. Pair the island with contrasting bar stools for even more life.

2. Wood

Another way to lighten an island visually is to simply match its faces to the flooring material so the two blend together. Letting wood or laminate wrap around the island is unexpected but warm and inviting without being heavy.

If you have leftover flooring after a renovation (most often there would be enough for at least one face of the island), consider using it to wrap an island.

3. Wainscoting

To soften a chunky island, consider classic wainscoting. It suits cottage-inspired traditional kitchens well, but as you can see here, it also works beautifully in transitional or contemporary kitchens by adding texture with a simple geometric sensibility.

Continue reading
  374 Hits

Houzz Tour: Industrial Modern Farmhouse Rises From the Ashes (24 photos)

Interior designer Jane Ellison had worked with this Tiburon, California-based couple for eight years as they remodeled their Napa Valley vacation home over time. Unfortunately, soon after the renovations were finally completed, the home burned down in the 2017 wildfires. When the couple decided to rebuild, one small silver lining was that they already had a designer on board with whom they had a great working relationship.

The couple have adult children and grandchildren who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and family gatherings here are frequent. Ellison was ready to create a home that would accommodate the large group comfortably day and night. She also added elements that would help the couple age in place at the residence. “Lately they have been spending about as much time in Napa as they do in their primary home and have made lots of friends here,” she says. A special beverage bar, a refrigerated wine room, a large kitchen island, an open floor plan and several outdoor areas make the home a wonderful spot to gather with extended family and to entertain large groups.

  371 Hits

12 Living and Family Rooms With Beautiful Built-Ins (15 photos)

One great way to give your living or family room a relatively small but impactful makeover is to add built-ins. Before you meet with a designer, think about what you want to hide from view but keep handy, such as toys, media equipment or CDs you’ll never part with, to put in closed cabinetry. Then think about what you want to display — books, favorite photos, collections and artwork. Including these things in the conversation with your designer will be important in customizing the design to function for your needs. As for style, check out these 12 examples of beautiful built-ins to see if they inspire ideas for your home.

KitchenLab Interiors
1. Family-Friendly

This vacation home in Coconut Grove, Florida, is shared by an extended family that includes six children. Interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff of KitchenLab Interiors replaced a modern bar with some much-needed cabinetry and shelving that better suited the family. “The house had zero other shelving or built-ins, and we wanted to make this space cozy and library-like,” she says. The cerused rift-cut white oak shelves suit the tropical site without screaming “beachy.” And while she gave the shelves a jump-start with vintage pieces, the family anticipates filling them with books over time.

Find a local interior designer on Houzz

Tamara Rene Designs
2. Warmed by Textures

In a room with a TV, built-ins are a great way to conceal unsightly media equipment. Interior designer Tamara Rene balanced this imposing fireplace surround with lovely built-ins on one side.

Tamara Rene Designs
Here’s a closer look at Rene’s design. Grilles on the cabinet doors lend a lighter look, while wide shiplap planks add texture behind the shelves.

Browse vases in the Houzz Shop

Continue reading
  382 Hits

7 Reasons Not to Clean Up Your Fall Garden (8 photos)

My belief in leaving the garden alone in fall was cemented on a December morning, when a robin landed on a garden chest where I keep my tools. It balanced on the edge where some snow was melting and dripping to the deck below. The robin arched its head downward and pecked at each droplet. Soon a bluebird landed right behind the robin on the edge of the chest. Then another bluebird. All three were now lined up, ready to take their turn at the melting snow.

I have little doubt that if I hadn’t left the garden up, creating a welcoming space, I’d never have seen them. And I have little doubt that winter wouldn’t have meant so much, or been easier to get through, without the living beauty outside my door in a “dead” season so many of us gardeners unnecessarily loathe. Here are seven of the many reasons to leave your fall garden standing.

  357 Hits

Porch of the Week: Room for Lounging and Socializing (6 photos)

Before Photo

Before: From this view, standing on the path that leads to the backyard, you can see how the porch abruptly ended before the remodel — with no connection to the yard beyond. Additionally, the window in the foreground is the reading room, which Calmes hoped a porch addition would be able to shade.

  286 Hits

My Sweeten Story: A Mint Bathtub Leads a Vintage Bathroom Remodel

A Hudson County vintage bathroom remodel highlights a mint green palette and higher ceilings

“After” photos by Curious Lens for Sweeten

Homeowners: Homeowners posted their vintage bathroom remodel on SweetenWhere: Hudson County, New JerseyPrimary renovation: Revamping the main bathroom in their 150-year-old home, inspired by a bygone eraSweeten general contractorSweeten’s role: Sweeten matches residential renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering know-how, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Written in partnership with the Sweeten homeowner

Bathroom remodel “must-haves”

Our home is a wood-frame row house in Hudson County, New Jersey. It’s 150 years old, has three floors, and 1,000 square feet. When we first visited the house more than five years ago, I fell in love with the main bathroom’s vintage mint-green bathtub. I knew I wanted to preserve it. 

Our home is historic, but over the years and through many renovations, most of its charm had been lost. The house’s two bathrooms are “newer”—added at some point onto the back of the house. The one we wanted to update is on the second floor, off of the primary bedroom. It’s our only full bathroom. We didn’t want to change the floor plan, but had a goal of modernizing while injecting a vintage feel. We planned to do this by keeping the original tub and adding a period medicine cabinet we’d found.

Our second goal was to make the room warmer. We suspected it wasn’t properly insulated because it got so cold in winter. We’d lived in this house for five long winters, but there was never a good time to improve on it.

Continue reading
  311 Hits

My contractor asked for a 33% deposit—is this normal?

Providing deposits for contractors is a crucial—and normal—step in starting a renovation

Short answer: Yes.

But there are exceptions, and your contractor may have some flexibility. Below, Sweeten outlines the reasons behind upfront payment amounts, and some options for negotiating your deposit for a contractor.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Why do contractors require a deposit?

Deposits for contractors are critical because they essentially allow your project to begin! Your general contractor needs to secure a crew and begin ordering materials right away. They may also need to rent equipment. And your contractor can’t take on all the financial liability for these commitments themself.

Continue reading
  305 Hits