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See How 7 Kitchens Added Color To Achieve That “Wow” Factor

These Sweeten renovators opted to add color to their kitchens, with head-turning results 

The use of color is perhaps the single most important ingredient when re-designing a space. It can add a point of interest that elevates the design and makes it stand out. But a “pop of color” doesn’t mean the color has to be overly bold. It can be a nicely balanced rich hue that helps define the look of the space. Here, we share examples of Sweeten renovators who added color to kitchens and turned up the overall design of their homes.

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

Blue kitchens for the win

The use of the color blue has seen an uptick in use in the last few years. As seen in these Sweeten renovations, the shade, placement, and amount of blue may vary, but each project uses the hue to its fullest potential. Laura and Walter’s renovation of their Park Slope apartment included a kitchen and bath remodel but it’s the kitchen where they made the most dramatic choice. They used Lucerne from Benjamin Moore to give style to their entire kitchen.

Conversely, Sweeten renovator Arnish wanted his kitchen to be more neutral for resale purposes but still wanted to add some personality. He did so by putting in white upper and base cabinets but using blue (almost black) cabinets in the peninsula.

These Sweeten homeowners wanted a “classic [kitchen] with flair.” To achieve this, Tracey and Brian incorporated blue when redoing their kitchen—a project that they had dreamed about since they moved into their Pelham Manor home 14 years ago. Blue is Tracey’s favorite color, so like Laura and Walter, they found a color from Benjamin Moore they liked. However, they were pleasantly surprised when they realized Omega had cabinets in almost that exact shade, eliminating the need for a custom paint color.

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A Modern Two-Bath Chicago Renovation To Entice Buyers

A two-decade-old condo undergoes a resale-focused renovation in Bucktown, Chicago 

“After” photos courtesy of Sweeten homeowner

Before: Making old bathrooms new again

For this Chicago homeowner, updating her bathrooms were important. Plus, time was of the essence: she was living in the 1,500-square-foot condo in Bucktown (located on the northwest side of the city) and wanted to sell. However, she knew that putting some money into refreshing the place with a renovation would increase the resale value. So, that’s exactly what she did! 

“BEFORE” of master bathroom

“DURING” of master bath

She turned her attention to the master and hall bathrooms since they were the biggest concern. They felt outdated, with an early 2000s brown-hued vibe. (A well-designed, new bathroom is one of the top aspects that appeal to potential homebuyers.)

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Should You Move, or Remodel? See What 6 Sweeten Renovators Did

What can homeowners do when they need more space at home—but don’t want to leave?

Many homeowners find themselves in a tough spot when their home’s space, design, or location stops working for them. Many wind up asking themselves: should I move, or remodel?  A Zillow study found that when given a choice between spending a fixed budget on a down payment or using the same amount to remodel, 76 percent would opt to renovate.

Between leaving their neighborhoods and staying put, these homeowners ultimately made the choice to reimagine their homes with Sweeten’s help. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free.

A big refresh for a beloved loft

Leah and Brian loved the Logan Square loft they had been calling home for several years. The Chicago neighborhood’s energy and the industrial brick warehouse added to the lifestyle they were enjoying. But with time the wear-and-tear takes a toll on materials and daily functioning. They decided to renovate and stay in the area. The couple posted their project on Sweeten to update the entire space including a new kitchen and floors. Without structural changes, Leah and Brian brought out the best of their 14-foot ceilings.

When you can’t go bigger, get creative

Surging prices in her Fort Greene co-op building made upgrading from a studio to a true one-bedroom out of the question for Mollie. She had to decide to either move elsewhere to get more space or remodel her cozy studio. Luckily, Mollie realized the market value of her apartment (and that she could borrow against her equity)! She came to Sweeten, was matched with a general contractor, and reconfigured the 500-square-foot apartment to suit her playful style.

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A Clinton Hill Full Home Renovation Scores Storage & Style

Renovate or buy a second home? A new layout in an apartment made all the difference

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

Homeowners: Courtney + Jim gave their home one more chance and posted their full home renovation in Clinton Hill on SweetenWhere: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New YorkPrimary renovation: Reconfiguring, more storage, and even a peninsula made 800 square feet work betterSweeten general contractorSweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Courtney

Wrestling with the idea of renovating

We moved to Clinton Hill over ten years ago, and always loved the neighborhood with its history of housing for returning servicemen who worked in the Navy Yard. On a total whim, we went to an open house in the Clinton Hill Co-ops and made an offer on the first apartment we saw: an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom that had been converted into a junior two-bedroom.

 

Once we had kids, we realized our place was dark, crowded, and lacking in functional storage. Paint was chipping everywhere, our ‘80s cabinets were falling off the walls, and it was just, aesthetically, a sad place to live. With two active little boys, Charlie and Wyatt, we suddenly felt like we had outgrown the place we initially loved.

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How Long Does an Apartment Renovation Take?

A step-by-step guide and timeline for a one-bedroom apartment renovation

We’ve covered the expected timelines for kitchen renovations and bath renovations, but how long does an entire apartment renovation take? Since bathrooms and kitchens are usually the most time-intensive spaces to redo, the timeline for renovating a one-bedroom apartment is not much longer. Another bonus: the more spaces there are, the more opportunity there is to implement economies of scale and to multi-task! This approach allows you to save both time and money.

If you’re considering spacing out several projects (for budgetary reasons), you should consider doing them all at once. While it’s a larger sum upfront, it’ll likely be a better value for your money. For example, while you’re waiting for your cabinets to arrive, your contractor can paint the bedroom or install baseboards. And while they are waiting for the paint to dry, they can install tile in the bathroom…you get the picture.

As always, size and complexity determine how long an entire apartment renovation will take. If you aren’t moving walls or changing electrical or plumbing, your apartment renovation will be on the shorter side. On average, you should allocate about two to four months for on-site work in a top-to-bottom one-bedroom apartment renovation. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free.

Apartment Renovation Timeline: Pre-Construction Phase

While the attention is usually on the most visible construction phase, there is a lot to be done before then. Here are the details on each box you’ll need to check before breaking ground on the project.

STEP 1: Close on your property (1-3 months)

Many homeowners are in-contract or preparing to close on a property when they begin the process of planning a renovation. If this is you, don’t worry: there’s a way to get it all done. As one Sweeten post explains, you should wait until you have closed on the property, with keys in hand, before doing anything. If you’re in a hurry—wait until you’ve at least signed the contract before beginning the design process.

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Phoenix Homeowners: Here’s How to Keep Your House Cool

You’re no stranger to extreme heat! Sweeten shares top tips to keep a house cool (and save money) during the summer

(Above) Design by Phoenix-based designer Ernesto Garcia

Phoenix is a favorite place to live because of the area’s favorable weather. Precipitation is low, the sun is strong, and temperatures are high. But sometimes, the temperatures run a bit too high for comfort.

Each year, on average, Phoenix’s temperature exceeds 100 degrees on 92 days. Knowing this, Sweeten wrote a homeowner’s guide on how to keep your house cool in those blazing months!

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

Choose the best HVAC system

Air-conditioning is a fact of life in Phoenix and the entire Valley of the Sun metro area. Passive cooling methods are crucial for maintaining a cooler home in Phoenix. But it is an inescapable fact that your home needs A/C. Choose the best possible A/C within your budget:

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Soundproofing & An Open Kitchen Complete a Kid-Friendly Apartment Renovation

Invisible improvements—like soundproofing—are worth as much as the splurges you see

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten

Who: Samantha and Jameson, seeking a kid-friendly apartment renovation, posted their project on SweetenWhere: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New YorkPrimary renovation: A kid-friendly, gut apartment renovation of the 1,000-square-foot layout to become ideal for entertaining guests of all agesSweeten general contractorSweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner, Samantha

We bought what was essentially a flip and closed on it the month before our oldest daughter, now almost seven, arrived. We finished the buildout that became her bedroom the night before her birth. The apartment’s finishes weren’t our favorite, but we had our own place, and were a family. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom (with a creative-industry résumé); Jameson is a partner and the digital director at Athletics, a Brooklyn-based creative studio.

Outgrowing a home they love

After having our second daughter nearly four years ago, we knew the apartment needed to change. We loved its location in the Clinton Hill Co-Ops and our hope was to extend our time in this place and the neighborhood. Our growing daughters needed room more than ever, and we wanted to overhaul our kitchen and bathroom. It was time to make this home more liveable for our family.

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White Kitchen Ideas for Modern & Timeless Style

Want to create your own crisp & timeless cook space? Get inspired by these immaculate white kitchen ideas from Sweeten renovators!

White cabinets have long been a staple in contemporary kitchens. They add a fresh, clean dimension to a space’s design that is versatile and enduring. Here, five different Sweeten kitchens that use white as their main color palette for a timeless look. We love that these white kitchen ideas were executed uniquely —but all still have a refreshing, crisp result.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

White Kitchen Idea 1: From outdated ’80s to modern-day, thanks to textures

The 80s-style cabinetry and tile just weren’t cutting it, so Erin and Jonathan turned to Sweeten to find a contractor who could help make their West Village apartment more “them.” The built-in island did the trick as did the white design scheme. From the white chevron backsplash to the white shaker cabinets to the marble-like quartz countertop, white is everywhere—a modern take on their decades-old space. “Now when we walk in the door, it’s a breath of fresh air,” Jonathan said.

White Kitchen Idea 2: White cabinets and more storage make for a happier home

It’s not an uncommon story: Couple moves into a place, they are excited, but not about their kitchen. For Elizabeth and Martin, this story rang true. They needed to improve the functionality and look of their small galley kitchen so they sought out a design-build firm through Sweeten. They wanted a clean and classic kitchen, free of clutter, and with plenty of prep space. And that’s exactly what they got.

Elizabeth and Martin worked with the designer to dream up practical storage solutions,  like the microwave cabinet and built-in paper towel holder. The peninsula breakfast bar seats four to six and offers additional storage, too. They also shopped with their designer to pick out materials. They chose copper cabinet hardware that pops against the white custom cabinets and a lava stone backsplash and quartz countertop.

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What to Know Before you Change the Layout in your NYC Co-op or Condo

Consider board approvals, permits, and costs involved during layout changes

One of Sweeten’s goals is to translate insight from NYC renovators and contractors into information you can use to make better decisions about improving your home. New Yorkers are no strangers to small spaces and close neighbors, but when you own your place, you might expect to have some control over how the interior looks and works. And you do… sort of.

If you live in a condo or a co-op, you can probably have a go at re-doing the kitchen and bath, but there are some major hurdles to making layout changes. Even for townhouse and brownstone owners, where changes to the walls and windows and roof are fair game, there are real cost implications to moving things around. Sweeten offers an outline to help you decide if a layout change is a feasible starting point for your project.

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

What constitutes a layout change?

New York City groups layout changes into two categories of work permits. The first group involves major structural modifications to the building. The second group indicates alterations that don’t change the building’s use or occupancy terms but necessitate work on the vital systems hidden behind the walls (re-routing plumbing lines, gas lines, electrical wiring, vertical piping, or ventilation ducts). NYC’s Department of Buildings classifies the first group as “Alteration Type-I” and the second group as “Alteration Type-II.”

If you live in a co-op or condo in NYC, there’s not much you can do to make structural modifications to the building, so you probably aren’t dealing with any Type-I alterations. But, if you are planning to expand or move a kitchen or bathroom, move fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom, add a new bathroom, or take down a load-bearing wall, these updates all require opening walls and may affect existing plumbing, gas, and electrical lines — the bread and butter of Type-II alterations. The bottom line: if your renovation goes beyond directly swapping out the surface components of a room, then you are probably dealing with a layout change.

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How Renovators Used Open Shelving in Their Kitchens

Making a stylish storage statement one shelf at a time

Upper cabinets have long been a mainstay in kitchen design and frankly, always will be. But there’s something to be said for open shelves: they make a kitchen feel lighter, more effortless, and more open. Plus, they pretty much force you to stay organized because there’s nothing for clutter to hide behind. See how Sweeten renovators incorporated the look into their own culinary spaces.

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

A touch of Scandinavian

This homeowner wanted a “mid-century Scandi meets ’70s Italian modern” kitchen. Clean lines and leaving the space as open as possible achieved this look. Custom-made floating shelves behind the peninsula, and all along the sink wall, do the trick. They provide plenty of storage for everyday items and decorative accessories without overwhelming the kitchen.

Topping the backsplash

Custom wood shelves run along one wall of Sheilaja and Sergio’s galley kitchen. They provide a nice contrast to the all-white palette. Plus, they hold books and artwork that bring a personal touch to the cook space.

Storage for space and air

This tiny kitchen looks much bigger than it is thanks to the exposed back wall anchored with white oak shelves. Upper cabinets have suffocated the space; instead, light from the living area streams in filling.

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DIY Kwanzaa Kinara 

As we countdown to Kwanzaa, The Home Depot and Amber Kemp-Gerstel of Damask Love are excited to share an easy-to-make kinara that can be customized to you and your family’s Kwanzaa traditions!  No worries! Check out Amber’s blog below for some other great family craft ideas, tips and tricks!

Kwanzaa is an African American holiday celebrating African American history, heritage and culture. The week-long celebration is observed from December 26th to January 1 and culminates with gift giving and a big dinner. Each night of Kwanzaa, families light the kinara – a seven candle holder. Each night of Kwanzaa is centered around one of the seven principles: Umoja (Unity) , Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), Imani (Faith).

In the spirit of Kuumba, I’m excited to share an easy-to-make kinara that you can customize for your own family’s Kwanzaa celebration.

Unexpected Materials Make an Awesome Impact

I love using materials in unexpected ways and this project is no exception. Here’s a look at what you’ll need:

Hampton 4 in. x 4 in. Pressure-treated Wood Pyramid Post Cap

4 in. x 4 in. Pressure-Treated Unfinished Pine Ball Top Finial

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What to Know About Homeowners Insurance in Fire-Prone Areas 

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If you’re struggling to find homeowners insurance in a fire-prone area, consider looking into surplus line carriers, private carriers, or your state’s plan. 

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Finding homeowners insurance in fire-prone areas can be tricky—and it’s getting trickier. Some insurers are canceling policies in fire-prone areas of the West Coast or simply not renewing them. Homeowners insurance is getting harder to find, but you don’t want to be caught without it and on the hook for hundreds of thousands in repair, rebuild, and replacement costs.

There are a few options for homeowners who can’t get home insurance from a typical provider due to their region, and the This Old House Reviews team has rounded up the options available to you when standard insurance isn’t accessible. Surplus line carriers are one choice, and homes with a value of over $1 million may be eligible for coverage under AIG or Chubb. As a last resort, homeowners can turn to their state’s insurance safety net.

Unfortunately, the options are few and generally more expensive than traditional homeowners insurance policies. But to protect your largest investment, it can be worth it.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wildfire Damage?

For most home insurance companies, fires are a covered peril. If your home is destroyed by a fire from arson, electrical issues, or a wildfire, your insurance company will help cover the cost of rebuilding your home and other structures, replacing your personal property, and helping you with the costs of temporarily living outside of your home.

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Is Earthquake Insurance Worth It? 

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Earthquake insurance has its trade-offs, depending on your personal risk and how much it costs. Weigh the pros and cons here. 

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Earthquakes can cause serious damage, putting your home in jeopardy and putting you at risk of expensive rebuild costs. Unfortunately, earthquake insurance isn’t covered by your standard homeowners insurance policy. Earthquake insurance isn’t required by states or most mortgage lenders, but if you live in an area where there’s lots of seismic activity, whether due to proximity to a fault line or hydraulic fracturing, you might want to consider it. The major drawback is the cost, so you have to weigh whether earthquake insurance is worth it.

All it takes is one catastrophic event to destroy your home and personal belongings, leaving you with nowhere to stay. But if you live in a state that experiences little to no earthquakes, earthquake insurance might not be worth it.

To help you make your decision, the This Old House Reviews team has rounded up everything you need to know to determine if earthquake insurance is worth it. We examine coverage, costs, and more.

What is Earthquake Insurance?

Earthquake insurance can either be bought as an endorsement to your standard homeowners insurance policy or purchased individually from a statewide private agency. Many states that have frequent earthquakes have government resources available, like the California Earthquake Authority.

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Arlo Home Security Review (2020)

Courtesy Arlo

Arlo offers DIY camera-based security solutions that give you a view into what’s happening inside and outside your home. In this Arlo home security review, we provide an overview of the company’s offerings to help you determine if Arlo is right for you.

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This Old House Rating: 9.3/10

Arlo takes a starkly different approach to home security than many of its competitors. Offering just surveillance-based security solutions like cameras, spotlights, and video doorbells, Arlo home security provides customers the opportunity to receive high-definition video and view live updates directly from their phones.

Through its offering of home security camera systems and subscription-based cloud storage options, Arlo gives a basic video surveillance system to customers who aren’t looking for a traditional professional monitoring security service. Keep reading to learn if Arlo is the best home security system for you.

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Ring Security System Review (2020)

Courtesy Ring

A home security system can give you confidence that your home is protected. In this Ring security system review, we evaluate the company and its offerings to help you decide if it’s right for you. 

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Founded in 2012, Ring was one of the first home security companies to sell doorbell cameras. The company started with a straightforward, no-frills approach to home security. Over the years, it has expanded to include a variety of home security products and several monitoring plans at reasonable prices. Ring stands out with 24-hour emergency support and a 30-second average call response time.

Keep reading this Ring security system review to learn more about the easy-to-use, streamlined products and packages the company offers and determine if this is the best home security company for you.

Our Take on Ring

The This Old House Reviews team rated Ring home security a 9.5 out of 10. It’s a brand name in the home security industry, with smart home integration, no contract requirements, and affordable prices for both packages and products.

Ring Home Security Packages and Equipment

Ring offers two home security protection packages at varying levels of comprehensiveness: Basic and Plus.

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PODS Reviews

Courtesy PODS

In this PODS review, we detail the moving and storage company’s services, cost, and reputation.

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When you’re moving to a new location, do you pack up and move all by yourself? Or do you prefer to seek professional assistance? Because each method for moving has its own benefits and drawbacks, it’s up to the homeowner to determine their personal preferences and make a decision based on those qualities.

If you decide to hire a moving company to help with your packing, transporting, and storage needs, it’s important to find one whose reputation you can trust. The This Old House Reviews team researched some of the top moving companies to give you our best recommendation. Check out our PODS review and decide if it’s the right company for you.

Our Take on PODS

PODS is a well-known name in moving services and storage solutions around North America. The company was founded in 1998, creating a name that stands for “Portable On-Demand Storage.” Its goal is to provide flexible moving solutions and do-it-yourself options for homeowners, renters, and businesses. You can rent its portable containers to load up your belongings and control your own moving timeline. Although the company offers convenience and ease, it does not have widely available discounts.

Pros & Cons

Learn about some of the advantages and disadvantages of PODS:

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Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring: Which Is Best for Your Home?

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Vinyl flooring and laminate flooring are both affordable, durable, and customizable. However, they also have many differences. Discover which is best for your next flooring project.

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Over the years, flooring manufacturers have innovated and upgraded the materials they use to create great options for homeowners. Laminate and vinyl flooring are both ideal if you’re looking for durable and affordable flooring. They also both come in a variety of styles to mimic authentic wood, tile, and stone. So how do you decide which is best for your home?

While vinyl and laminate flooring have a lot in common, there are a handful of important contrasts. When you’re deciding which to install in your home, it’s best to consider the needs of your home and the room you’re renovating. Qualities like being waterproof or comfortable to stand on can make or break your decision.

Learn about the differences between vinyl flooring and laminate flooring, as well as the pros and cons of each.

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is made of a number of layers that build a durable and waterproof floor. Its solid vinyl core is topped with a printed vinyl layer and a wear layer. These synthetic materials work to enhance your floor’s moisture resistance, as water can sit for long periods of time without causing damage. Homeowners can choose from many types of vinyl flooring like vinyl planks, WPC vinyl, and Rigid Core vinyl flooring.

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Best Vinyl Flooring for Bathrooms

LL Flooring

When you’re searching for the best vinyl flooring for bathrooms, consider your style preferences and the amount of traffic it gets. Learn about these waterproof flooring options.

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If you’re planning to renovate your home, one of the best places to start is the bathroom! Although it can be a small area of your home, it’s a place where you spend time on self-care. It should be efficiently designed to support relaxation and cleanliness. If your bathroom has had the same flooring for the years, or if it’s no longer your style, it may be time to consider replacing your bathroom flooring.

One of the best flooring options for bathrooms is vinyl. Manufacturers provide this budget-friendly, water-resistant, and durable flooring type to fit your home’s needs. Read on to decide which direction to go with your bathroom and learn about the benefits of vinyl.

What to Look for in Bathroom Flooring

When you’re shopping for new bathroom flooring, you want to make sure you’re getting the best materials for your home. Water is prevalent in the bathroom, and spills are often inevitable, especially if you have children. This means, if you choose the wrong type of flooring, this moisture can greatly damage your home.

First, it’s important to choose bathroom flooring that is waterproof. Your bathroom will often fall victim to spills and splashes from the sink, tub, and, unfortunately, the toilet. You need a flooring surface that will not become damaged after being exposed to lots of moisture.

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Best Flooring for Kitchens

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If you’re searching for the best flooring for your kitchen, consider what your family needs most. From durability to eco-friendliness, there are great options for kitchen flooring.

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For many families, the kitchen is a huge focal point in their homes. It’s not only a place where you cook meals, but it’s also a gathering spot for your loved ones and guests to spend time and make memories.

To give your kitchen a new look, remodeling with new flooring can be a fun project. Or maybe it’s just time to repair some wear and tear after decades of using the same floors. But how do you find the best flooring for your kitchen?

From farmhouse styles to more contemporary materials, homeowners have endless options for customizing the looks of their kitchens. When you’re trying to decide on the best flooring for the kitchen, consider factors like the amount of traffic it has, your family’s risk of messes, and your style preferences.

Read on to learn about the best flooring for kitchens.

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Top Real Estate Agents in Silver Lake (2020)

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Top real estate agents in Silver Lake have years of experience and a track record of successful transactions in the Los Angeles neighborhood. Discover your next great realtor from our list.

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Silver Lake is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It’s known to be a diverse area, full of young creatives. You can find great homes in Silver Lake with price points averaging around $1.3M. And, across many real estate listing sites, homes are appreciating in value each year.

The neighborhood of Silver Lake has a balanced real estate market, with a pretty even supply and demand for homes in the area. So, no matter if you’re buying or selling a house, you’ll need to work with an experienced realtor to stay competitive.

Read on to discover some of the top real estate agents in Silver Lake to guide you through your home buying or selling experience.

Benefits of Working with a Top Real Estate Agent in Silver Lake

When it comes to a competitive, booming real estate market like the one in Los Angeles, you need an experienced realtor by your side. No matter if it’s your first time buying a home or if you’re a longtime homeowner, a professional real estate agent can support you in many ways.

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