Real Estate

Decor trends loving Africa

By Kim Cook Associated Press Trek through home decor stores these days and you’ll probably see goods from around the world — India, the Far East, South America. And Africa. Just as fashion houses like Celine, McQueen, Valentino and Missoni have referenced African prints and hues over ...

Ask A Designer: Rethinking the basement

By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press Basements can be cold and dark, and often get much less decorating attention than the rest of the house. But you can gain new, useful and stylish living space by upgrading that subterranean space. Step one is addressing any risk of flooding or water ...

The pros and cons of using a generator

Dear Jim: It’s inconvenient when the electric goes off during storms. I want to get a generator. Is it expensive to operate a whole-house generator during outages? If not, why not always use one? - Cindy H. Dear Cindy: Many homeowners install large whole-house emergency backup generators ...

Rooftop decks: Sky’s the limit for entertaining

By Kim Cook Associated Press Backyards and balconies are great places to enjoy an al fresco meal or a sun bath, but to really elevate your outdoor lifestyle, consider going up. To the roof. Rooftop decks were fairly common in early 20th century Craftsman and modernist homes, particularly ...

Right At Home: New nursery decor with style

By Kim Cook Associated Press When it comes to creating the perfect sleep space for little ones, there are more fun options than ever. Styles range from haute to homespun, vintage to vanguard. A look at some of the best: ——— BLURRING THE LINES Traditional parameters like ...

New home sales rise in sign of housing market health

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought more new homes in January after a steep fall-off the previous month, a sign the housing market is healthy despite higher mortgage rates. New home sales rose 3.7 percent to a seasonally-adjusted 555,000, the Commerce Department said. That is 5.5 percent ...

Bold, black kitchens serve up style

By Kim Cook Associated Press The kitchen’s often a room to experiment — with decor, as well as food and drink. Over the years we’ve seen yellow, turquoise, avocado green, greige and white take their turn as favored hues. But right now, black is back. “It makes perfect sense, ...

Ideas for a primp-perfect bathroom

By Kim Cook Associated Press What makes a great bathroom, one perfect for prepping and primping? A well-considered combination of fixtures, lighting and amenities — the kind we often first experience in a really nice hotel. “Bathrooms are the most private parts of our homes. ...

Simple ways to cheer up your home in winter

By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press During these chilly and gray days of mid-winter, many of us look to our homes as sanctuaries. The standard advice for cheering up your living space is to add a few splashes of bright, happy color, says designer Maxwell Ryan. But while that may seem ...

Pick efficient appliances

Dear Jim: I am looking for a new dishwasher. My very old one is noisy, has only two cycle settings and does not clean well. What features should I look for in a new efficient model? - Kathy K. Dear Kathy: Even the least expensive new dishwasher will be more efficient and quieter than your ...

Concrete gains ground as decorative material

By Kim Cook Associated Press The Pantheon. The Panama Canal. The Hoover Dam. When you think of concrete, you might imagine great feats of engineering, or at least highway overpasses and other sturdy, stolid structures. But concrete has become a stylish medium in the home, thanks to ...

New Traditional decor blends classic, modern

By Kim Cook Associated Press In decor, “traditional” tends to conjure up images of matched furniture sets, prim patterns and buttoned-up formality. But there’s been a revamp, and what’s now being called “new traditional” is a fresher, freer look that honors the classics. The ...

At $250M, LA home most expensive listed in US

LOS ANGELES (AP) — At $250 million, a new mega mansion in the exclusive Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles is the most expensive home listed in the United States. The passion project of developer and handbag tycoon Bruce Makowsky, the four-level, 38,000-square-foot mansion built on spec ...

Kitchens get high-tech features

By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press American kitchens have always served as more than cooking and eating spaces. Generations of kids have done homework at kitchen tables. Parents claim counter space to organize family miscellany, tap out work emails on laptops or install a ...

How to bring the hotel chic look home

By Katherine Roth Associated Press Inspired by the interiors of boutique hotels around the world, author Sara Bliss wanted to share easy and affordable tips on how to bring that style home. In “Hotel Chic at Home” (The Monacelli Press), she tries to capture the transformative power ...

US home prices rise 5.3 pct. amid solid demand

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices marched steadily higher in November, pushed up by healthy demand for homes and a shrinking supply of available properties. The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home index rose 5.3 percent, slightly faster than October’s gain of ...

Existing US home sales decline

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans retreated from purchasing homes in December, as the number of properties listed for sale sank to its lowest level since 1999. The National Association of Realtors said that sales of existing homes fell 2.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate ...

Home construction jumps, led by more apartment building

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders ramped up home construction in December, led by a surge of apartment building, while single-family houses lagged. Housing starts jumped 11.3 percent last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million, the Commerce Department said. The figures ...

By Katherine Roth Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — “By the People: Designing a Better America” is not your typical design show. There is no posh furniture, and any glitz comes intertwined with grit. The show is a paean to local ingenuity and “can do” spirit. These are designs intended to save lives or improve the quality of life for communities in need. The show, on view at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum here through Feb. 26, features 60 design projects from across the country. Some aim to expand access to education, food, health care and affordable housing. Others are meant to increase social and economic inclusion or improve alternative transportation. The vast exhibit was organized by Cynthia E. Smith, the museum’s curator of socially responsible design, who logged over 50,000 miles and devoted over two years to exploring shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metropolitan areas, struggling rural towns, and places hit by disasters or poverty, in search of inspiring design projects. “I traveled to places of persistent poverty, to Indian reservations. One big takeaway is that poverty is often hidden, but it is all around us,” Smith says. “I hope people going through the exhibit begin to see that the causes of poverty are old and complex, and so the design solutions to various aspects are also complex.” For instance, the exhibit features Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives, meant to build wealth for low-income residents while reducing the area’s carbon footprint. The cooperatives, which include a green laundry, an alternative-energy enterprise and a hydroponic greenhouse, provide training and create jobs, while also serving area hospitals and businesses. Also in Cleveland, the Collinwood Community Center, built on the site of a sprawling former K-mart store, has turned a blighted eyesore into a colorful community hub with pools, gyms and other facilities. Around the country, Smith says, abandoned strip malls are being redesigned and converted by communities into libraries, schools, museums, day care centers and flea markets. In Texas, the Rapido Rapid Recovery Housing program rethinks the model for large-scale rebuilding after natural disasters. Instead of bringing in temporary mobile homes for displaced families — and later building homes that might not suit their needs — Rapido quickly deploys a 400-square-foot “core” housing unit containing a living space, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom on a family’s property. While the disaster-relief application process gets underway, architects and contractors work with families to expand and customize the unit. This allows families to live on their own property — and in their own home — during reconstruction, and quickly find themselves with a completed house that they helped design. The show also includes futuristic, fuel-efficient commuter vehicles made of aluminum and steel, with tiny moped motors. The vehicles were created by a Michigan design team called “The Future People” to get people around cities and suburbs at minimal cost, with room for groceries or other supplies. In farming communities across the United States and in Canada and Britain, a coalition of makers, engineers and farmers builds “Farm Hack Tools,” including pedal-powered tractors with features like customizable, 3D-printed seeder wheels. The show begins with a section on design solutions to improve interactions between police officers and the communities they serve. In Chicago, for instance, a basketball court was built on a vacant lot attached to a police station to encourage interaction. As the exhibit continues up a side staircase, charts show housing costs and the salaries required to afford them in various parts of New York City. In the museum’s Process Lab, visitors of all ages can try coming up with their own design solutions to different community challenges. Organized into thematic sections — Act, Save, Share, Live, Learn and Make — the show is the third in a series devoted to socially responsible design, but the first of the series to focus on communities in the United States. Design show features projects meant to lift their communities

By Katherine Roth Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — “By the People: Designing a Better America” is not your typical design show. There is no posh furniture, and any glitz comes intertwined with grit. The show is a paean to local ingenuity and “can do” spirit. These are designs ...

Right At Home: From scrap heap to style file

By Kim Cook Associated Press Recycling has become the norm in many communities. The detritus of our daily lives — plastic, glass, metal and paper — makes its weekly trek to processing plants across the country. Much of it gets made into new versions of itself: Your empty corn tin ...