Category Archives: Home Builders

Rapper Lil Wayne Sails Away From Miami Mansion for $10M

Lil Wayne may have had enough Miami vice.

The musician (real name: Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.) is offloading his Miami Beach mansion to a new owner for a cool $10 million dollars. The waterfront home sits on a tiny, exclusive island just minutes away from world-famous South Beach.

Wayne’s estate features sleek, modern architecture, expansive windows, and a private boat dock. Dual balconies provide views of Biscayne Bay, while the roof boasts a custom-built skate park.

But the real mic drop may be an indoor shark pool.

Yes, that’s right. An indoor shark pool:

Photos courtesy of Spectrum Real Estate.

There’s no word on whether the 6-bedroom main house comes with sharks included, but a 3-bedroom guesthouse boasts a private recording studio.

There’s an outdoor infinity pool to cool off in during those hot South Florida summers, and 15,000 square feet of interior living space.

Photos courtesy of Spectrum Real Estate.

In related news, sharks appear to be having a pop culture moment this summer, with a “floating screening” of  “JAWS” in Texas (viewers sit in innertubes while watching the movie), while “Sharknado 5” has a planned release in August.

Ty Forkner of Sotheby’s International Realty carried the listing. 


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7 Off-the-Grid Homes That Will Make You Want to Unplug

The chaos of modern life – with the constant stream of emails, multitude of devices and keeping pace with modern technology – can be exhausting. If you’ve ever thought about throwing away all your electronics, living sustainably or finally ditching life in the city, these seven off-the-grid homes may have just what you need.

Ambajejus Lake, ME

Moreair Is, Ambajejus Lake, ME
For sale: $389,600

Photo from Zillow listing.

Unplugging from smart phones and the internet wouldn’t be difficult at this ultra-private island property off Ambajejus Lake. In addition to the beautiful lake and Mount Katahdin views, it features two structures: one that is more insulated for winter stays, and a larger cabin that would be more comfortable during the summers. You can enjoy complete solitude with this property – your nearest neighbor would be approximately one mile away.

Find more homes near Lake Ambajejus.

Boise, ID

50 Yellow Pine Ln, Boise, ID
For sale: $725,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This charming Idaho log cabin has floor-to-ceiling windows, a beautiful stone fireplace, a gourmet kitchen and a large bathroom with a clawfoot tub for soaking. The home comes with a large horse barn and complete-and-utter privacy on 40 acres of land. Hydro- and solar-powered, this home makes it very easy for you to enjoy a sustainable, off-the-grid lifestyle in the middle of the woods.

See more homes for sale in Boise.

Winthrop, WA

98 Sage Canyon Rd, Winthrop, MA
For sale: $497,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This home, with views of the North Cascades National Park and Methow Valley, makes going off the grid look luxurious. The house is set on 97 acres, featuring protected meadows, wildflowers and a pine forest. Inside, the home boasts 3,600 square feet of custom craftsmanship, including a spiral staircase, large rec room and a spa-like master bathroom.

See more homes in Winthrop.

Sierraville, CA

804 Fiberboard Rd, Sierraville, CA
For sale: $988,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

With such close proximity to Lake Tahoe and Reno, NV, this home is the perfect getaway for those wishing to unplug. The interior of the home is rustic yet modern with a chef’s kitchen, two-story ceilings in the living area and a large stone fireplace. The property is perfect for snowmobiling in the winter and fishing in the summer, and even includes its own helipad.

Check out more homes for sale in Sierraville.

Albuquerque, NM

20 Canoncito Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM
For sale: $612,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Steps from the Piedra Lisa and La Luz trailheads, this solar-powered home is made for exploring the high desert. It was also designed to bring the outdoors in with large windows, a deck spanning the width of the house and a cozy window seat.

See more Rio Rancho listings.

Wolcott, VT

1858 Town Hill Rd, Wolcott, VT
For sale: $399,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Whether you’re craving a cozy spot to finally draft that novel, or you simply want to enjoy the privacy and tranquility of rural Vermont, this custom-built, modern home fits the bill. Completely self-sufficient with propane radiant-floor heat, it’s made for those harsh Northeastern winters. It also has an apple orchard and a permanent tree blind for a homeowner who wishes to hunt on the land.

Find more homes in Wolcott.

Black Mountain, NC

60 Bucks Walk, Black Mountain, NC
For sale: $949,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sweeping mountain and forest views, a custom-crafted interior and a separate, spacious guest cottage are just a few of this home’s selling points. Though the home has the capability to be completely off the grid with solar paneling, a diesel generator and cistern water storage, you won’t be roughing it with an updated kitchen, tranquil bathrooms and a library.

See more Black Mountain homes for sale.


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Mortgage Rates Start Summer Near 2017 Lows … Will It Hold?

This month the Federal Reserve hiked rates for the third time in seven months. Does this mean the end of low mortgage rates? Let’s take a closer look to see how it impacts your home-buying and refinancing plans.

What is a Fed rate hike, anyway?

The Fed Funds Rate is an overnight bank-to-bank lending rate. While this rate isn’t available to consumers, the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) uses it to help influence overall rate levels in the economy.

When times are tough, the Fed lowers the Fed Funds Rate to stimulate the economy. In the heat of the 2008 financial crisis, it cut the Fed Funds Rate all they way down to .25 percent, and kept it there until December 2015, when it felt the  economic recovery had solidified.

Then it started hiking in increments of .25 percent, and have done so four times: December 2015, December 2016, March 2017, and June 2017.

Even though the Fed Funds Rate has now risen to 1.25 percent, traditional mortgage rates haven’t risen much – and, in fact, are near 2017 lows as summer kicks off.

Certain mortgages are already up 1%

When we say “traditional mortgage rates” are holding near 2017 lows, we mean rates on primary mortgages that most people get on their homes.

However, one mortgage product that’s directly impacted by these Fed hikes is the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

HELOC rates are based on two components: a set base rate called a “margin,” plus a fluctuating rate called an “index.”

The index for HELOCs is the Prime Rate, which is a rate that is directly tied to Fed Funds. In fact, the Prime Rate is the Fed Funds Rate plus 3 percent.

We know that the Fed Funds Rate is now 1.25 percent after recent hikes. This means that the Prime Rate is now 4.25 percent.

Therefore anyone with a HELOC now has a rate of 4.25 percent plus whatever their margin is. Margins are typically somewhere between zero and three percent in addition to Prime, and your margin is based on your credit quality and how much or little you’re borrowing relative to the price of your home.

HELOC rates rising 1 percent because of recent with Fed hikes means that your monthly interest cost on a $100,000 HELOC is now $83 more per month.

If have or need a HELOC to get cash out of your home but don’t want to risk your rate rising further, here’s how to evaluate the difference between a HELOC, home equity loan, and a cash out mortgage.

Traditional mortgages are holding at 2017 lows

The reason rates on primary mortgages most people get haven’t spiked like HELOC rates is because primary mortgage rates are tied to trading in mortgage bonds, not the Fed Funds Rate.

Most U.S. mortgage loans up to $424,100 are packaged into mortgage bonds, and these bonds trade daily in global markets. Mortgage rates fall when prices of these bonds rise on economic uncertainty, and vice versa.

Rates have been holding near 2017 lows as demand for mortgage bonds remains strong. The reason for this demand is that these bonds are considered a safe investment when policy initiatives in Washington and global economic growth looks uncertain (like it does now).

Where do mortgage rates go from here?

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates on loans up to $424,100 are currently at or just below 4 percent as of  this writing – please note mortgage rates change throughout each day.

The Mortgage Bankers Association updates its rate forecasts monthly, and the June forecast calls for rates to rise very slightly – about .125 percent to .25 percent – from current levels as we move through the summer. And they call for rates to be around 4.375 percent as we move into the holidays.

These projections can change monthly as the economic and political environment evolves in the U.S. and globally, but for now you can see that rates might rise by about .375 percent by year end.

On a $300,000 loan, this would mean your payment rising by $66.

Not that $66 is small, but in the context of the global rate market, this is a relatively small increase that shouldn’t fundamentally alter how much home many people qualify for.

Looking for more information about mortgages? Check out our Mortgage Learning Center.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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5 Facts Home Buyers and Sellers Should Know About Credits

After months of searching for the perfect home, making some offers, and maybe even competing with other buyers, you finally have a deal on your dream home. It took some negotiations, but you and the seller have come to terms.

Or have you?

Too often, getting a signed contract and putting your money into escrow is the beginning of what can become yet another round of negotiations. Here are five things every home buyer and seller should know about last-minute negotiations or credits.

Buyers may ask for credits based on property inspections.

Usually, a real estate contract either provides for a property inspection, or buyers inspect before signing. Depending on the property and the issues, a buyer might also have a particular type of inspection for the sewer line, septic, pool or roof.

These inspections can bring to light issues that the buyer couldn’t possibly have known about before making an offer. Once inspected, the buyer may still be interested in pursuing the sale. But given the needed repairs they will probably want to re-negotiate the price by asking for credits or a reduction in the purchase price.

Sellers should consider having a property inspection before listing.

The goal is to avoid negotiations once you’re under contract, because they’re not going to be in your favor. If you know the roof is near the end of its life or the furnace breaks from time to time, let it be known upfront, because rarely can you “sneak” something past the buyer.

You might even go as far as having your property inspected before listing the home. This way, you can address any issues, and make the inspection report available to buyers. They can come up with their best offer upfront, knowing what they’re getting.

If you have an inspection report or are otherwise assured your property is in great shape, you could even ask for an “as-is” clause in the contract. Although it’s not necessarily enforceable, it will send a strong message to the buyers that you aren’t open to more negotiation.

Sellers may try to avoid giving credits by having work done before escrow closes.

After inspections, the seller might agree to have work done before the closing. Or the seller may require that a payment is given directly to a contractor for the purpose of performing the specific, required work and nothing else.

These agreements help protect the seller, because buyers sometimes ask for credits just to help offset the closing costs – and never intends to do the repair work.

It also protects the seller if initial estimates for needed work turn out to have been overstated.

Buyers who ask for credits just to get the price down may be taking a chance.

Sometimes the buyer concedes on the purchase price thinking they can come back after the property inspection and ask for an additional concession.

The buyer may even feel empowered now that they’ve completed a series of inspections and are just weeks away from closing. The seller isn’t going to go back to the drawing board with a new buyer over a few more dollars, right?

Actually, they might. If it’s a strong buyer’s market, there’s a good chance the buyer can pull it off, but if it’s more of a neutral or a seller’s market, the seller may call your bluff. They’re assuming that you’re the one who, having invested all this time and money on inspections and an appraisal, isn’t going to walk away over a few dollars.

Buyers nearly always ask for credits, so sellers should give themselves some cushion.

You should also leave some additional room for negotiation when you’re in escrow. Always assume the buyer will ask for minor repair work – they nearly always do, even if there are no major issues. If you leave some cushion for yourself, you’ll feel better about the deal, and you’ll have protected yourself against the inevitable.

Conversely, the last thing you want is to be blindsided by a buyer asking for a few thousand dollars credit – just when you think the deal is finally done.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published March 8, 2012.

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Buying Art Like a Grownup (for Investment or Inspiration)

Bare, white walls are usually the reality when you first move into a new home. But if you want to show off your personality, there’s no better way to do it than with original art. A one-of-a-kind piece transforms a space, makes you feel more at home, and expresses your personal interests.

Diving into the art world can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. To help you get started, here are six tips for purchasing art you’ll want to grow old with.

Work within your budget

To find pieces you like without breaking your budget, visit flea or craft markets, where affordable options are plentiful. While you’re there, keep an eye out for posters that aren’t limited edition but are still interestingly designed.

Photo from ShutterStock

“It’s important to think broadly about what art means,” says Bettina Huang, head of consignment at Artsy. “Combine plants with some of the flat, light objects you may have collected in your travels, and mix those in with posters or things typically thought of as art.”

Another option: Hang framed versions of your own drawings, doodles, or sketches to give your walls customized style. “If you frame them and hang them like a salon wall, that’s a budget-friendly solution that feels personal,” says Huang.

Know your goals

“It’s important to have an honest conversation with yourself,” says Huang. “Do you want to decorate your entire home? Do you need to fill a certain space? Or are you looking for bigger statement pieces for a salon wall? If you’re interested in art investing, do you want to buy works by emerging artists in the hopes they’ll dramatically increase in value?” These answers will help determine your spending.

Photo from Zillow listing

For example, if you have $1,000 and want to invest, you can probably only afford to purchase one piece. If you’re looking to decorate, Huang suggests buying several less-expensive works. The kind of art you select and your budget will dictate your options.

Hit the art circuit

“Art fairs can be really great, because you get to talk to gallery owners in person,” says Huang, noting that this helps you sharpen your tastes and investing instincts. “Practice gives you more confidence and a reference point, so you can compare pricing and really start to understand the kinds of works that are available.”

Art school exhibitions are another great way to meet emerging artists whose careers you may want to follow.

If you’re looking for more established artists, works on paper, including drawings, prints and editions, or multiple copies of a given work, are an affordable way to begin your art collection.

Photo from ShutterStock

“It’s nice to go that route, because it means other pieces from that artist have likely been sold, so there’s a precedent for the price you’ve been asked to pay,” says Huang.

Consider auctions

Whether you have $1,000 or $10,000 to spend, auctions, which are open to the public, give you a sense of what’s out there and expand your artistic horizons. “Research in advance to see what similar works have sold for,” says Huang, because the price a work sells for is closer to its actual market value. “There’s something reassuring about that level of transparency.”

As an aside, more auctions are being held partially or totally online, and sites such as Artsy play a big part in this. “A lot of times, online auctions are used to sell works that are somewhat more affordable,” notes Huang.

Do your homework

When buying secondary-market or previously owned work, Huang strongly suggests doing your research. Investigate the prices of comparable works, keeping factors like medium, size, rarity, and date in mind. “As much as possible, ask for a condition report, so you know if the work is pristine or if it’s been damaged.” The price will reflect this, too.

For high-end works by notable artists, check for a certificate of authenticity, and ask about the work’s provenance or history of ownership. With more transactions being done online, it’s particularly important to ask for the condition reports if you can’t view a work in advance.

Sell it if you outgrow it

“No matter what your budget is, your art collection should reflect your personality and interests, which will evolve over time,” says Huang. That means that buying goes hand-in-hand with selling when works no longer feel like they make sense for you.

When you sell, work with reputable establishments, and budget for (and ideally minimize) the commission and fees you pay for an auction house or gallery to take your work on consignment. “Services like Artsy get you proposals from networks of vetted partners, which makes the process easier, faster, and more transparent,” says Huang.

See inspiration for your art collection on Zillow Digs.

Top photo courtesy of Lukas Machnik


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Designer Lookbook: Rebecca Van't Hull's Colorful Weekend Retreat

A room with a view is always inviting, but you can’t overlook its interior. That’s what one family learned after rebuilding a weekend getaway on the West Arm Bay of Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. They felt the new property lacked character, so they brought in designer Rebecca Van’t Hull. Her solution: more color – and lots of it.

Situated in Shorewood Lane, about 45 minutes west of Minneapolis, the weekend home struck Van’t Hull as a place where the owners could push design boundaries. The property’s sizable layout and stunning lakeside views also made it ideal for entertaining.

“In addition to a gorgeous master suite, the home features three bedrooms upstairs, with twin-over-full bunk beds in each, allowing up to 11 people to sleep on the top floor,” says Van’t Hull. “The lower level features 10 bunk beds and two trundle beds. The entire house can sleep 23 people easily.”

Bright ideas

Once the family agreed on a casual and coastal look – “Minnesota lake life is all about a casual and playful environment,” says Van’t Hull – the designer went full throttle on color.

She chose Benjamin Moore’s Bunker Hill Green, a muted take on the traditionally bright Kelly green, for the sleek kitchen cabinets. “It’s a natural choice, especially since the kitchen wasn’t the family’s everyday kitchen,” says the designer.

Planning the kitchen was easy, but maximizing the sleeping quarters and creating a user-friendly space that could accommodate several children at once proved to be more of a challenge. After gathering inspirational images, Van’t Hull to her problem to her brother, a custom cabinet- and furniture-maker based in New Orleans.

“We worked together to finalize the design for the space, which includes a cubby inside each bed for a light fixture and room to set down a glass of water or plug in a phone,” she says. The result is one of the most inviting – and incredibly stylish – bunk beds we’ve ever seen.

Van’t Hull went similarly bold in the bathrooms, installing a trough-style sink from Kohler in one of the larger spaces, which she expects will get plenty of use in the summertime.

She fashioned the upstairs powder room in a “preppy Americana look,” with a lipstick-red cabinet and white-and-navy striped wallpaper. With its classic white marble countertop, the cabinet feels unexpected, yet it somehow ties it all together.

“Often good design employs an eclectic mix of things both modern and old,” Van’t Hull notes. In the end, she says it’s all about balance.

Take the full home tour:

Get the look at home

Van’t Hull shares her tips to get an eye-catching look in your own home.

  • Be bold. That is, if you have the guts to follow through with your vision. “This will keep your home from looking mundane or typical,” the designer says, and in the end, it will be what stands out most. Van’t Hull says one of the touches she’s most proud of is adding several vibrant rugs throughout the home.
  • Get inspired. “Look for inspirational images to either emulate or share with your designer,” says Van’t Hull. It’ll help you define your vision and better explain your goals.
  • Have fun. “Acquire things that make you happy and tell a piece of your story,” says Van’t Hull. The Fay + Belle rug was rescued, bleached, cleaned, then overdyed in an eye-catching turquoise color. Now, the authentic accessory has a new lease on life, far from its origins in Nepal and Turkey.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Troy Thies Photography


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Quiz: What Type of Bar Should You Build in Your Home?

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.

Top image courtesy of Martha O’Hara Interiors
Quiz images from ShutterStock, except: opening image (from Zillow listing); backyard images – beach from Zillow listing, putting green from Zillow listing , outdoor kitchen from Zillow listing, woods from Zillow listing; extra room images – billards room from Zillow listing, gym from Zillow listing, theater from Zillow listing, library courtesy of Archia Homes; pool images – hot tub from Zillow listing, grotto courtesy of All Oregon Landscaping, infinity edge from Zillow listing, indoor from Zillow listing.


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Belly Up to Your Own Home Bar: Our How-to Guide

A home bar can up your entertaining game and transform your social life, making your abode the coolest one on the block. Of course, a home bar can also be where you mix yourself a nice drink after a long day at work.

From a small wet bar tucked into a nook to an oversized freestanding bar, there are plenty of options for creating a watering hole in your home. Here’s how to get started.

Consider the placement

First, consider your floor plan. Determine if you have the space, and consider the rooms you entertain in. Do friends and family congregate in the living room? Or are the kitchen and dining room the social hubs?

If you want to install an ice maker or sink in your wet bar, you want to build it where there’s existing plumbing – perhaps on the backside of your kitchen or near a powder room.

“I say skip the sink, because it limits your counter space and makes the project more expensive,” says Richmond, VA, interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. She notes that not many homeowners use wet-bar sinks for washing hands and glassware, and the space can be put to better use.

Glotzl, who has rehabbed several clients’ wet bars, suggests maximizing your counter space, and in lieu of a sink, use plumbing for an ice maker. If you are a cocktail connoisseur, an ice maker will be more useful than a sink.

“What’s fun about a home bar is you can do it very affordably,” says Glotzl. She recommends building a wet bar when doing a kitchen or bath renovation, because it’s more cost-effective and an easy project to tack on when you already have someone designing cabinets and countertops.

Photo from Zillow listing

Fine-tune the details

A wet bar can be as simple as a piece of cabinetry with a countertop, upper cabinets, or shelves. If you want to get fancy, add appliances like an ice maker and refrigerator.

Cabinetry below hides plumbing and tucks away bar tools, while open shelving above the bar is a fun option for showing off fancy cocktail glasses and a collection of spirits.

Glotzl notes that a mirrored backsplash is worth considering, because it makes a wet-bar nook seem larger, while reflecting light back into the room. Glotzl recommends textured vinyl wallpapers by companies like Osborne & Little or Thibaut as another fun backsplash option. “The wallpapers are durable, and give the bar a little pop,” she says.

Don’t be afraid to get adventurous and creative. Add drama by painting cabinetry a bright color, or add a high-gloss lacquer finish. You can make a bold statement in a small space.

Hang a funky pendant light or mount two sconces to showcase your small saloon. Glotzl notes that lighting is essential, because it helps to highlight and frame the space.

Photo courtesy of Martha O’Hara Interiors

Get fancy

If you’re looking to up your game, you can add specialty appliances like dual-zone refrigerators. “What’s nice about ice makers, wine coolers, and beverage refrigerators is that they are a standard size,” says Glotzl. “You can just pop it into place like a cabinet.” So, no need to worry about installation –  just move it into place and plug it in.

For a small-scale wet bar, go straight to a kitchen design company, or coordinate it yourself by hiring a handyperson, electrician, and plumber.

On the other hand, if you want to go big and turn an entire room into a bar, or create a custom wet bar with unique appliances and restaurant-grade equipment like beer and wine taps, that’s another story. For a high-end bar with modern accouterments, you’ll need to call on a company like Wallace & Hinz, which specializes in custom bars for restaurants, clubs, and residences.

Photo from Zillow listing

“When you really look at the home bar, it’s much more difficult to create than a commercial bar, because it’s usually for a smaller space, and you want as much as you can get packed into that little space,” says Tom Tellez, CEO at Wallace & Hinz. “They can be far more complicated, and there’s room for error.”

For homeowners who request high-end dishwashers, refrigerators, and ice machines that all need to be tucked under the bar, Tellez recommends appliances from Perlick Corporation, because they specialize in beverage equipment like wine reserves, dual-zone refrigerators, and beer dispensers.

If space is tight, Tellez says the company sometimes sources tiny appliances that are traditionally used on yachts or in motorhomes. Companies like Furrion or Westland manufacture pint-sized appliances that will save your bar some inches.

“There’s the architectural side of what it looks like and feels like, then there’s how you’re going to fit everything in so that it’s seamless and operates efficiently with all your plumbing and electricity,” says Tellez.

Along with the functional aspect of bars, Tellez’s company designs the look of them, too, taking into account millwork and details like shelving and foot rails.

Photo from Zillow listing

Get inspired

Rick Magnuson called on Wallace & Hinz to transform the front parlor of his Los Altos, CA, home into a bar. After living in the 1920s farmhouse for three decades and only using the parlor a handful of times, he and his wife, Amy, decided the room was wasted space. The couple wanted a place where they could spend time with friends and family, and Amy had a lightbulb moment to add a bar in their home. “We didn’t want to put a bar in the room; we wanted to make the room a bar,” Magnuson notes.

The Magnusons got in touch with Tellez and requested a custom mahogany bar with carved details, shelves to display glassware and bottles, a handful of barstools, a mirrored backsplash, LED lights, a dishwasher, refrigerator, ice maker, and two beer taps that are now kegged with Sierra Nevada and Trumer Pilsner. They wanted their entire 16-by-20-foot front room to be transformed into a pub.

Tellez took detailed measurements of the room and discussed its layout with the Magnusons. A CAD drawing was created, and after several back-and-forths, the Magnusons finalized the design. Tellez took two to three months to build the entire room and bar in his Blue Lake, CA, workshop, then disassembled it and drove it to the Magnusons’ home, where he installed the bar, which took around a week of 10- to 12-hour shifts.

Before the bar installation, Magnuson had the parlor drywall demolished, so Tellez could install not just the bar, but custom millwork throughout the room, too, from the wainscoting to the window trim and the bar back cabinetry and shelving.

The Magnusons’ home bar is now dubbed “The Wasted Space,” a nod to their unused parlor and the drinking that now happens in their transformed space.

Do it yourself: How to hack the home bar

If you fancy yourself a skilled DIYer and don’t want to break the bank, consider these options:

$ Bookshelf bar
An existing built-in bookshelf is an easy and affordable route for creating a bar. Add cabinet doors to the bottom as a place to tuck away bar tools. Adjust shelving to create plenty of space for a tray, ice bucket, and spirits.

If you feel adventurous, apply an adhesive wallpaper to the backside for a pop of color or pattern. If you need lighting, simply add Light Tape or adhesive battery-operated LED lights. Use existing shelving to display pretty glassware. And finally, style your bookshelf with any other accessories that pull your bar together.

$$ Repurposed furniture bar

In lieu of a bar cart, repurpose an unused console, record cabinet, or secretary desk into a bar. Bring the piece of furniture back to life with a coat of paint or a fun finish. Above the bar, add wall-mounted shelving from Restoration Hardware or CB2 to display your stockpile of spirits, along with sculptural glasses like coupes, highballs, and whiskey tumblers.

Photo courtesy of Michele Safra Interiors

$$$ Salvaged cabinetry bar

Glotzl recommends salvaging a cabinet from a kitchen renovation company or a place like Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Give the cabinet a fresh coat of paint, and for a custom look, top it off with a countertop remnant from a stone company.

$$$$ Cloistered bar

A closet is the perfect place to tuck away a bar. Glotzl recommends removing the door and molding, along with the drywall from the doorway to the ceiling, to create a seamless notch in the room.

“The problem with using the closet is, it’s going to be deep and not a standard size,” says Glotzl. For this, you need precise measurements to ensure that your cabinetry and countertops fit snuggly. From there, you can accessorize the space with bracketed shelving and a fun pendant light to illuminate your new favorite drinking spot.

See more bar design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Top image from Zillow listing


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Sell Your Flip Faster With These Expert Tips

If you’ve been flipping for a while, you know that selling a flipped house takes patience, and that some houses sell faster than others. While many factors affect how quickly a house sells, Success Path has three tips to help you sell your flipped houses faster.

Make a good first impression

Like a job interview, your house needs to make a good first impression. Regardless of how great it is on the inside, the outside appearance matters, and it can be the deciding factor for whether or not the potential buyer bothers to inquire further about the house.

Photo from Zillow listing

There are many ways to give your house a quick facelift:

  • Start with the house itself – add new paint to the shutters, trim, and front door for a quick and inexpensive fix.
  • If possible and necessary, replace windows and the front door, or add trim and shutters.
  • Make sure the roof, porch, and yard are clean and tidy.
  • Use an eye-catching and sophisticated mailbox that matches the style of the house.
  • Repair the driveway if necessary, filling in cracks and removing any weeds.
  • Add edging to create clean landscaping lines.
  • Keep the grass tidy and mowed, filling in any bare spots and removing weeds.
  • If you have a garden, consider adding an arbor as a focal point. If you don’t have a garden, place flower pots strategically on the edge of the driveway or the porch.

Use the reach of social media

Social media is no longer just a place to keep in touch with distant friends and family. It’s a powerful marketing tool for companies and a platform for connecting with customers – both current and potential.

Most social media platforms have special tools for connecting with specific target markets, narrowing the demographics to match your product or service. Use these tools to your advantage! People spend a fair amount of time on social media, so why not put your house right in front of the people looking for a house?

Start by posting on local real estate pages, or even create your own house-flipping page where you can create ads to show specifically to the demographic of your choice. Don’t wait for the right buyers to find your ad – let your ad find the right buyers.

Don’t skimp on major improvements

The ultimate goal may be making a profit, but you’ll quickly learn the hard way that cutting corners or trying to skip major improvements altogether will cost you more in the long run – and may ultimately put you in the red.

If you’re flipping a house that needs a new roof, but you don’t have roofing experience, don’t ignore the roof or attempt to do it yourself. These things take time and money, and doing it yourself will likely result in costly mistakes. Buyers will look at the bones of the house, so if they see a shoddy roof job, poor plumbing, or major renovations done haphazardly, they’ll be turned off.

Before you even buy a house to flip, budget for hiring out major renovations or projects. Even if the house you want to flip seems manageable for your skill set, always assume that you’ll discover hidden costs and jobs that require a professional.

Don’t give your potential buyers any red flags. Be upfront about the renovations, particularly the ones done by a professional. Squashing their concerns will leave a good impression and ease their minds as they explore the rest of the house.

Top photo from Zillow listing


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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House of the Week: A 120-Year-Old Gem With a Greenhouse

Talk with Sylvia Matlock and Ross Johnson, and it’s easy to see how their legacy has taken root.

The duo – owners of a longtime nursery on Vashon Island, just outside Seattle – will mention driving around their small town and spotting large, leafy, fully grown trees they remember being planted as saplings.

It’s a fitting image for a couple who lives in the Evergreen State.

“It happens every day. We will be working for someone who has been a customer for 20 years, and we walk around their yard and see all these things they’ve purchased from us,” Matlock says. “We’ve seen some of the customers move on and have kids, and their kids are having kids. We’re now seeing three generations come through.”

The Vashon Island home is currently listed for $1.195 million.

So perhaps it is bittersweet for the pair to put their historic home and working nursery on the market. The new owners will not only be getting a 120-year-old house with 4 bedrooms and 2.25 bathrooms, but also a guest suite that doubles as a vacation rental. They’ll also have a lush greenhouse often used for special events – and the option to keep the nursery going after more than 20 years in business.

Homeowners Sylvia Matlock and Ross Johnson enjoy a morning coffee.

The couple did extensive renovations on the house before moving into it four years ago. (It had previously been an art gallery and a work space for a wine label designer.)

Hanging plants frame the remodeled kitchen.

Bathrooms got trendy subway tiles, while the kitchen picked up modern stainless steel appliances. Light fixtures have a mid-century modern feel, and greenery is incorporated throughout the home via hanging planters and natural light.

The couple also upgraded the antique electrical system – replacing the knob-and-tube wiring – and repaired the roof. In the process, they unexpectedly uncovered some hidden gems, including a 1930s Seattle Times newspaper buried in the walls.

“It was clear the last person put it in there for someone to see it,” Matlock says. “This particular one – you could actually turn the page and read it.”

Remodeling the home revealed layers of paint from earlier generations.

While making improvements, the couple kept some original touches intact. Opening up the ceiling to the rafters allowed them to save and restore some of the old wood. They also decided to keep the layers of paint in the guest suite sunroom, showing the generations of people who’ve lived there previously.

“The blue overhead – that’s years of people painting over it in different colors,” Johnson says.

“Seeing the original patina of the place, the original woodwoork in the rafters – you just feel the history of it,” Matlock adds.

One of the couple’s dogs enjoying a sunny day in the nursery.

Johnson and Matlock are sad to part with the property, listed at $1.195 million, but are ready for another adventure. They hope to semi-retire in Southern Oregon by doing light nursery work, while continuing to rent properties to vacationers and guests.

The guest suite, often rented out to visitors and tourists, also incorporates plants and greenery.

Before they do that, they made sure to leave one more legacy behind: putting a modern newspaper in the walls for the next owners to find.

“I remember my feeling about it was I wanted to keep it a secret for some reason,” Matlock says. “I didn’t even tell the construction guys. I just kind of hid it away.”

David Knight of John L. Scott has the listing.

Photos by Erik Hecht


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