• Budgets and Buzzkills: Our Remodel Emotional Roller Coaster

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    When we started planning our home remodel, we gathered our team to discuss design options and costs. This early collaboration is important even for smaller remodels, because you need to know what you can afford. It is also somewhat rare.

    From what we’ve seen, the general order of operations is: 1) hire an architect or designer and draft your plan, 2) submit those plans to your city or county for approval and permits, 3) choose two or three contractors to bid on your project, and 4) select your contractor and begin construction.

    The problem with this scenario is that bids are often higher than your expectations and budget. And by the time you realize this, you are hopelessly in love with the vaulted ceiling and skylights your designer has drawn. At that point, change is emotionally hard.

    Here are our suggestions for being able to afford your remodel:

    Hold a planning meeting with your designer and a potential contractor. You might pay a fee for this service, but we think it is better to invest $500-$1,000 up …read more  

  • Watch Your Wallet: How to Steer Clear of Holiday Hazards

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    ShutterstockCandles, trees and a fire in the hearth are among the potential dangers that can lead to insurance claims.

    By Arthur Murray

    Everyone loves the holidays — the smells, the turkey, the time with friends and family, and come Christmas, the gifts. Here’s a present for you and your family: the gift of avoiding holiday-related insurance claims. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, insurance concerns are usually an afterthought. But many enjoyable aspects of the season also can pose dangers. Consider the following elements — and their potential for trouble.

    Hunger pains

    Who doesn’t love holiday food? Turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas ham and New Year’s Day black-eyed peas and greens are a big part of the season’s fun.

    So what’s the problem? Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association. And the average home fire claim costs $34,306, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

    What’s the worst that could happen? Check out some common ways holiday cooking can go dreadfully wrong (and we’re not even …read more  

  • How to Make a Chic Centerpiece With Simple Objects

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    Source: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

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    Kerrie Kelly Design Lab via ZillowA perfect piece of fruit from the farmers market can become part of your tableau, and glass makes simple things sparkle.

    By Kerrie Kelly

    As the holidays approach and friends and family gather, we often are tasked with bringing together all the elements for the celebration. Luckily, when it comes to centerpieces, there are many ways to dress your table without splurging on new dishes and linens. Instead, you can look to items from nature, affordable finds and items you may already have to create a fresh and effortless look without a lot of shopping. Check out these five chic ideas that will make you “celebration ready” for the season.

    Get woodsy

    A single branch can be dramatic and sophisticated, setting the tone for your table scene. A more substantial branch can be laid down the center of the table and dressed with unscented votives to create some organic ambiance. Don’t hesitate to paint the branch white, gold or silver depending on your table’s palette. Alternatively, you can go vertical, filling a glass vase with one stunning …read more