Fire Prevention: Protect your Home & Family

October 7-13th is fire prevention and safety week. After talking with local fire fighters, I’ve put together these tips to help keep your home safe and fire-free.

Check smoke alarms at least every 6 months. 4 out of 5 fire related deaths are caused by house fires. Check that the smoke detectors work properly but if your smoke detector is more than 5 years old, consider replacement. Properly functioning smoke detectors will give you 1-2 minutes warning to be able to get out of the house safely in the event of a fire. Smoke alarms should be placed in every bedroom and on each level of the home. 

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Cooking left unattended is the leading cause of house fires. If you’re cooking, keep watch. If you’re roasting or baking be sure to check your food often. Even while watching, flareups can happen. Keeping a portable extinguisher in the kitchen can help prevent a disaster. 

Have a Fire Escape Plan. You should have two exit options from every room. If you have young children, have two routes for how you will evacuate them from the home. Have a meet up spot outside where everyone will meet after they exit the home. It also helps to practice your fire escape plan. 

Don’t forget the garage. Garages are often used as a multipurpose room. Storing gas, oil, paint and other flammable items near electrical items can be a fire hazard. Combining these fire hazards with Christmas decorations and old memorabilia can cause fire to spread rapidly from a single spark. Take caution by storing flammable items away from electrical outlets, hot water heaters, washers and dryers.

For more information or educational activities for kids visit the National Fire Prevention Association website.

This Design Trend is Making a Comeback!

What image conjures up in your mind when you think of wallpaper? Flashbacks to Grandma's house? Maybe, it reminds you of a time you spent hours and hours scraping floor to ceiling putrid yellow dated wallpaper that was busy enough to knock you off your step stool. 

Wallpaper used to be a turn off and decades went by where no one wanted to bother with it. However, with new creative options (besides the ole sponge and water bucket routine) wallpaper has made a glamorous comeback!

Feature walls have become a popular way to add texture and visual interest to any room. If you're hesitant about using wallpaper, try a feature wall. It requires less time and money; not to mention effort to remove it if you change your mind in couple of years. 

Bold patterns tend to look cleaner as a feature wall, paired with a wainscoting or chair-rail. No need for floor to ceiling busy patterns. 

If you're currently renting or not quite ready to commit to wallpaper, there are also some nice peel and stick or decal options. Check out Rocky Mountain Decals they have some really beautiful options with loads of feminine flair! 

My daughters room has a very odd shape, it contains a dormer and the ceiling is sloped. It makes the room feel small. However, I applied this wallpaper on the tallest wall in her nursery which draws the eye up and made the room feel bigger. This was the week we brought her home...she just turned ONE! Someone hold me!


This wallpaper is from Anthropologie. It's quite expensive which is one reason I only did a half wall, the lower half is board and batten....oh and I bought it when it was 20% off!

If you're growing tired of a space try sprucing it up with wallpaper. Below are examples of great uses from wallpaper. If you're thinking of selling and would like expert advice on how to prepare your home, drop me an email.  It would be my pleasure to serve you. I hope you've gained some inspiration, thank you for reading! 


4 Things Contractors Don't Want You to Know

By: David Seip

You’ve heard the horror stories about the contractor who takes your money and never shows up to do the work, or who does a poor job and then refuses to return phone calls.  There are a lot of good contractors out there, but finding them can be challenging.  We’ve put together a four-point checklist to help you gain confidence that you’ve found the right person before you sign the contract.  These are things you’ll have to search out for yourself because contractors won’t readily volunteer it.  You’ll need to know these things before you hire your contractor.


First: Watch How They Handle Their First Commitment.

This one you won’t have to dig too deeply to discover.  We even feel funny mentioning this step.  You’d think that anyone who owns a business would automatically pass this first test, but its far from a guarantee.  Contractors are notorious for not showing up for their scheduled first meeting with potential clients.  They may be excellent in what they do, but running a business and possessing common business sense and courtesy does not go hand-in-hand.  If your contractor does not show up for your first meeting or is significantly late don’t waste any time crossing him off your list.  If you hire this one, you’re sure to be sorry when you’re well into your project and it’s financially difficult to end the relationship.


Second: Check Their History and Qualifications.

A young general contractor with a fairly new company is not a bad thing, but it makes it a little harder to gauge his track record.  Unless you personally know him or he comes enthusiastically recommended by someone you trust it’s better to go with a more established company.  Ask the contractor to show proof that he is licensed to do work in your municipality (or, in some cases the state).  If he is he will likely to have had to show proof of insurance in order to work there.  Have him show you proof of insurance anyway.  No contractor should work for you without this protection.  Check with the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Protection Agency to see if there have been any complaints against his company.  Also check with the state to see how long his company has been in business.  He may have been around a long time but that doesn’t mean that is true of his company.  Some contractors are notorious for filing bankruptcy and starting companies with new names to avoid the law.


Third: Read the Contract Carefully.

We’ve seen lots of general contractor contracts and the one thing that is common to many of them is that they lack “specificity.”  Be certain you clearly understand what the contractor is obligating himself to do for you.  One of the biggest areas of confusion is over the finishes you choose for your project.  There are “builder grade” items that the contractor will install, such as lighting, faucets, flooring and trim. Ask to see samples if you agree to allow him to install those builder grade items — and be certain that the model numbers and manufacturers are specifically called out.  If you don’t like what he’s proposing to install, your option is to ask for an “allowance” for those items whereby he gives you a credit amount for you to select your own.  This option doesn’t work very well.  The most effective option is for you to agree to buy finishes yourself.  If he’s an honest guy he’ll help you out by extending to you his contractor discounts.  Also, be certain that you hold a portion of your contractor payments (at least ten percent) until he has gone through and corrected all the little things (called a “punch list”) that need to be corrected or touched-up at the end of the construction process.


Fourth: Understand Clearly Who’s Doing the Work.

You might be thinking that if you hire a general contractor he’ll be performing all the work except for things like electrical, HVAC and plumbing, but that’s a false assumption.  Many general contractors do very little of the work themselves.  They might perform as little as the demolition and rough framing.  All the other portions of the job are hired separately through subs.  That’s where things can get a little unpredictable.  The subs prably have multiple jobs they are working on simultaneously.  That often means manpower is stretched pretty thin.  They may start your job and them not show up for a few days while they spend time getting caught up at another project.  One sure way to avoid this it to build into your contract a stipulation that the contractor agrees to meet with you on a weekly basis to provide updates on progress and to inform you as to his expectations for what is to be accomplished during the current week.  It won’t take you long to realize whether he’s living up to his stipulated schedule, and give you plenty of time to impress upon him your expectations.

What’s my home worth? Click here to get a free Custom Report.


About the Author

Architect, David Seip, has over 33 years of experience and is licensed in 5 states (including Florida). He has completed more than 300 projects both residential & commercial. Please visit The Seip Group for more information or to schedule a design consultation.

Kitchen & Bath Trends to Watch in 2018

If you're considering a home improvement project, you'll want to keep a few things in mind that will help you get the biggest bang for your buck. The return on your investment depends on the value of your home and the value of homes in your neighborhood. For example, if your home value and the houses in your neighborhood are in the 200's, it's unwise (if you plan to sell in the near future) to put in a $15k subzero refrigerator. You'll end up losing money on that investment when you sell. 

Adding expensive features like a $50k pool doesn't mean that your home will increase by $50k in value. Look at the comparable homes with pools in your neighborhood to see how much more they sell for. That will give you a true value of the special features your home has to offer.  

If you do spring for home improvements, aside from regular maintenance, kitchen and bath renovations have one of the highest returns on investment. If you plan to sell soon, here are some tips that will help your home stand out.



While white kitchens will remain popular in 2018, expect to see more color this year in everything from cabinets to tile to appliances.


1. Two-toned Cabinets

Two-toned cabinets are quickly overtaking the white-on-white look that has dominated kitchen design for the past few years. While white remains a classic, grey and bleached-wood cabinet variations are surging in popularity, along with darker neutrals like navy and green.



2. Quartz Countertops

Granite reigned as the top countertop choice for many years, but quartz is now king. It’s highly durable, low-maintenance and comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s also heat resistant, scratch resistant and non-porous (unlike granite and marble) so it doesn’t need to be sealed.


3. Bold Backsplashes

After years of dominating backsplash design, white subway while still a classic look, will become less common. Expect to see it replaced with more elaborate shapes, patterns, colors and textures. Tile that mimics the appearance of wood, concrete and wallpaper is also gaining in popularity.


4. Statement Sinks

While stainless steel and white porcelain are always safe bets, the trend is moving toward sinks that make more of a statement. Look for unexpected pops of color and materials like natural stone and copper. Touch-free faucets are expected to gain favor with homeowners this year, too.

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5. Brass is (Still) Back

Brass fixtures came back in a big way over the past couple of years and will continue to be a popular choice in 2018 along with matte black, black nickel, polished chrome and brushed nickel.


6. Multi-purpose Islands

Kitchen islands have evolved from simple prep-stations into the “workhorse” of the kitchen. Many feature sinks, built-in appliances and under-counter storage while also serving as a casual dining area. They have become the focal point of the kitchen, and we expect to see more of them in 2018 and beyond.



7. Black Stainless Steel

Black stainless steel is the hot new finish option for appliances, and it’s hitting the market in a big way. It offers a cutting-edge look and is easier to keep clean than traditional stainless steel. However, it’s harder to match finishes amongst different brands, so it’s probably only feasible as part of a complete appliance package.


8. Appliance Garages

Appliance garages are counter-level compartments designed to house small appliances like blenders, toasters and stand mixers. They make it convenient to have these items readily accessible, without the look of a cluttered counter.

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Expect to see many of the same kitchen design preferences carry over into bathrooms this year, including two-tone cabinets, quartz countertops and brass fixtures.


1. Neutral Tones

Neutral shades will continue to dominate in the master bathroom as homeowners seek a soothing and relaxing retreat atmosphere. But expect to see more options than just white. Shades of brown, grey, blue, green and tan will help to warm things up.


2. Natural Elements

Natural materials are particularly hot right now in bathroom design. This includes the use of wood and stone on walls, cabinets, counters and backsplashes, as well as the incorporation of botanical design elements.

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3. Large Tiles

We expect to see a lot more large and slab-sized tiles in bathrooms, which have less grout so they are easier to clean and maintain. Wood-look porcelain tiles are also a favorite in wet areas, as they offer the warmth and rustic appeal of wood with the durability of tile.


4. Stone Sinks

Sinks will continue to be an area where homeowners like to exhibit creativity, and hand-carved stone sinks are especially fashionable right now. These may be more suited to powder rooms, where functionality isn’t as crucial.

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5. Freestanding Tubs

There’s been a tub resurgence in bathroom design after years of preference for stand-alone showers. Modern tastes are gravitating toward freestanding tubs that serve as a showpiece for the bathroom. Read about our massive freestanding tub here. I loooooove it!



6. Smart Features

Smart technology has entered the bathroom with the addition of features like wireless shower speakers and high-tech toilets, as well as digital shower controls that automatically adjust to your preferences in temperature and spray intensity.



Style trends come and go, so don’t invest in the latest look unless you love it. That said, highly- personalized or outdated style choices can limit the appeal of your property for resale.

For major renovation projects, it’s always a good idea to stick to neutral colors and classic styles. It will give your remodel longevity and appeal to the greatest number of buyers when it comes time to sell. It will also give you flexibility to update your look in a few years without a total overhaul. Use non-permanent fixtures – like paint, furniture and accent pieces – to personalize the space and incorporate trendier choices.

If you’d like advice on a specific remodeling or design project, give me a call! I'd be happy to offer my insights and suggestions on how to maximize your return on investment and recommend local shops and service providers who may be able to assist you.


  1. Country Living –


  2. Elle Decor –


  3. Gates Interior Design –



  4. HGTV.com –


  5. House Beautiful –



  6. Realty Times –                                  http://realtytimes.com/advicefromagents/item/1007993-kitchen-design-trends-in-2018?rtmpage=MattLawler

  7. Sebring Design Build –                                                          https://sebringdesignbuild.com/top-trends-in-bathroom-design/

2018 Design Trends

I've had questions from clients who are taking on decorating and remodeling projects and want to ensure their dollars are invested wisely...especially if they want to sell soon.


Which looks will last for years to come, and which ones will feel dated quickly? What colors and styles are most popular among buyers in our area? Should I remodel my kitchen? How can I add the most value to my home?


So, I've rounded up some of the hottest trends in home design to help guide you through the process. Whether you’ve planned a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, making smart and informed design choices will help you maximize your return on investment … and minimize the chance of “remodeler’s remorse” down the road.





While 2017 was all about the farmhouse look, brass fixtures and bright white kitchens, this year we expect to see a move toward warmer, cozier elements throughout the home.


1. Warm Colors

A cool color scheme has dominated home design in recent years, but this year warm neutrals like brown and tan are back, along with rich jewel tones. While the pastel craze of last year is still hanging on, expect to see alternative color palettes featuring deep, saturated shades of red, yellow, green and navy. Grey will remain popular, but in warmer tones, often referred to as “greige.”

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2. Cozy Elements

Along with warmer colors, we can expect to see a shift from stark, modern design to cozier looks. Velvet upholstery, woven textures and natural elements, like wood and stone, will heat things up this year.


3. Mixed Metals

It used to be considered gauche to mix finishes, however the look of mixed metals will be very big in 2018. Brass will continue to trend, along with matte black and classics like polished chrome and brushed nickel.



4. Bold Patterns

Expect to see a lot of bright, bold patterns in the form of geometric shapes and graphic floral prints. These will be featured on everything from furniture to throw pillows to tile. 

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5. Natural Elements

Look for the use of natural elements throughout the home, including wood, stone, plants, flowers and grass. Botanical patterns will also be seen in prints, wallpaper and upholstery. Concrete accents will complement these additions in an effort to bring the essence of the outdoors inside the home.



6. Feature Walls

Also called an accent wall, a feature wall is one that exhibits a different color or design than the other walls in the room. Expect to see an increased use of feature walls showcasing rich paint colors, bold patterned wallpaper, and textures brought in through millwork and shiplap.

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7. Statement Lighting

Lighting will take center stage with distinctive fixtures, including local artisan and vintage pendants and chandeliers. And smart lighting technology will enable homeowners to customize their lighting experience based on time of day, activity and mood.



8. Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors will continue to dominate the market. The trend is toward either very dark stains paired with light-colored walls or light stains with darker walls. Greyish tones will remain popular, as will matte finishes, which are easier to maintain than high gloss. Expect to see frequent use of wider and longer wood planks, as well as distressed and wire-brushed finishes, which add texture and dimension.



9. Smart Homes

Everything is getting “smarter” in homes, from locks and lights to thermostats and appliances. And with devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, you can control many of these with voice activation from a central hub. We will see continued integration of and advancements in smart-home technology in 2018.



Ultimately, trends come and go. If you're looking to do a major remodel, I recommend picking items you will be happy with for the years to come. If you'd like to have fun with some trendy materials start with items you can change easily: paint, wallpaper, accent furniture, pillows and other textiles. 

I don't consider myself a trendy person (I prefer a classic look) which is why I'm satisfied with my neutral colors and subway tile regardless of the trends. 


Which of the 2018 trends do you like? 



Gates Interior Design –
House Beautiful –
Houzz –
Huffington Post –
MSN.com –
Realtor.com –
 The Flooring Girl –
 Vogue –