Real Estate

U.S. housing starts fall 0.8 pct., a second straight monthly drop

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homebuilders slowed their pace of construction by a sharp 0.8 percent in August, the second straight monthly decline. A steep drop in multifamily construction more than offset a gain in single-family-home building. The overall drop occurred even though would-be ...

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 might ...

‘Life-changing magic’ of decluttering

By Katherine Roth Associated Press Just when it seemed Marie Kondo had spread her gospel on the “life-changing magic” of decluttering as far is it could go, the author — whose two previous books remain international best-sellers — is back with a different audience in ...

‘Super kitchens’ have more than stove and fridge

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 television. But ...

New Traditional home decor blends classic, modern looks

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 ...

A look at durable roofing alternatives

Dear Jim: The old dark shingle roof is leaking again. I prefer to install a longer-lasting roof this time even if it costs a little more. Other than metal, what durable roofing is available and which is environment-friendly? - Ron F. Dear Ron: There are many nonmetal roofing options which ...

Courtyard ‘outdoor rooms’ get a new look

By Melissa Kossler Dutton Associated Press The trend toward outdoor living, which uses comfy seating, bright rugs and weatherproof art to extend the al fresco season at home, is bringing new attention to a centuries-old architectural feature: the courtyard. “It’s the original outdoor ...

Right at home: Stylish and savvy wastebaskets

By Kim Cook Associated Press When decorating a room, we don’t tend to give much thought to the waste receptacle. But the decorative details can be important. “They can make or break your best efforts,” says Diane Henkler, a decorator in Lake Murray, South Carolina. “The details are ...

Curtain’s up: Fall decor takes the style stage

By Kim Cook Associated Press Theatrical silhouettes. Stirring colors. Compelling patterns. This fall, we’re seeing decor that confidently takes the spotlight, and the story’s got something for everyone. “It’s like midcentury modern has met Sophia Loren,” laughs New York-based ...

Virtual tech helps plan landscaping

By Katherine Roth Associated Press Just as virtual technology has become a common tool for anyone planning to repaint or redecorate a home, a growing array of apps can make landscaping easier too. But know when to use them, and when it would be easier to pull out an old-fashioned pencil ...

Multipurpose furniture: When a couch isn’t just a couch

By Katherine Roth Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not always enough for a couch to be a couch. Sometimes, especially when space is tight, it helps if the couch can double as two armchairs and a coffee table, and even storage shelves, as is the case with one Japanese camping couch ...

Home for sale comes with mammoth bones

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A house that will soon be up for sale in southern Michigan may have mammoth or mastodon bones at the bottom of its backyard pond. Steve Dodge found the bones and ivory tusks of a giant elephant-like animal after excavating his backyard to build a pond 10 years ...

Pending home sales improve

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans signed more contracts to buy homes in June, snapping a three-month decline in pending sales. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its pending home sales index rose 1.5 percent in June to 110.2. The gain still puts the pace of contract signings ...

Home decorators embrace big, bold wall art

By Kim Cook Associated Press Not long ago, the only homes in which you’d see big, bold art hanging on the walls tended to be those of serious collectors. For everyone else, filling up a blank space meant going with something attractively innocuous that didn’t jangle with the sofa ...

Ready for home downsizing? Tips from the pros

By Katherine Roth Associated Press For empty nesters, seniors and others who find themselves moving into a smaller space, downsizing can feel emotionally and physically overwhelming. But careful planning and perspective can make it easier. It helps to keep your eyes on the prize, experts ...

Construction spending falls in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending declined in June for the second time in three months, as spending on government construction projects plunged by the largest amount in 15 years. Construction spending fell 1.3 percent in June, the biggest drop since a 1.8 decline in April, the ...

US home prices reach record high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices reached a new high in May for the sixth straight month, which may raise fears of another housing bubble roughly a decade after a previous one burst. The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic national home price index, released Tuesday, increased 5.6 percent in ...

Using solar ovens saves on cooling costs

Dear Jim: I want a solar cooker to help keep my kitchen cooler and save energy. It would also help in case of a power outage or emergency. Can I make one that really works or should I buy one? - Rhonda G. Dear Rhonda: It is wise to try to do some of your baking and cooking outdoors in a solar ...

A brand new look for the old breakfast nook

By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press The term “breakfast nook” sounds hopelessly trapped in the 1970s, but modern homeowners are embracing the style and practicality of built-in seating in the kitchen.† “The idea of the built-in, with the kids piled in it and the pillows” can ...

Coming up with a furniture plan that works

By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press Sometimes the way to improve a room isn’t to buy new furniture: It’s to rearrange pieces you already own. Interior designers can spend hours creating the best furniture plan for a room, balancing practical considerations and creative ...