Lofts That Inspire: From Industrial Spaces to Urban Homes

Lofts have come a long way since they were first used as makeshift living spaces decades ago. Today, they have become inspiring living spaces for those who want a more urban home. Lofts began when factories and industrial buildings were erected in the late 19th century for the purpose of mass-producing goods and wares in a time period that was not known for health and safety compliance. These spaces were built for their convenient proximity to other commercial buildings and transportation hubs.

Fast forward to the 1960s. Lofts were extremely cold or hot (not properly ventilated) open concept spaces with huge windows, exposed industrial fittings and an abundance of light that made them excellent work spaces for artists. These dusty and drafty places were often at the top of a very steep flight, or two, of wooden, dimly-lit stairs and were located on some typically non-residential street. However, they slowly evolved into more permanent living spaces when artists decided to camp out and live and work in these spaces that could accommodate large works of art.

Lofted spaces make the most of the room they have. Image: Coupdeville

Many of these occupants were illegal squatters, though they made these spaces habitable with ingenuity and style. Before long, large cities such as New York, London and Toronto passed laws to make it legal — if one was a certified artist — to live and work in these spaces. Galleries soon came to discover new artists, followed by cafes and restaurants. Landlords eventually realized that all this creativity was increasing property values. Today, most loft spaces have been fully renovated and are completely habitable. In large urban areas, loft spaces can sell for millions of dollars.

New York State of Mind

New York City is home to blocks and blocks of loft buildings and spaces. One of the best known is the “Little Singer” building at 561 Broadway, one of New York City’s finest architectural masterpieces.

lofts - singer

A loft in the Little Singer Building with a dynamic view of New York City. Image:

It was erected in 1903 and designed by Ernest Flagg, who later completed the 47-story Singer Tower office tower at 149 Broadway at Liberty Street in the Financial District. At the time of its completion, it was the world’s tallest building. It was demolished in 1967 to make way for the U.S. Steel Building. Flagg’s original, 12-story building would then become known as the “Little Singer” building.

Built to house the corporate offices and factory space for the Singer Manufacturing Company, it was converted in 1979. After conversion, it became a cooperative with a mix of residential and commercial uses including 20 offices and 15 live/work units for artists. It now has 22 cooperative apartments with remarkable views and outdoor spaces.

Six on a Wave

Toronto, also known as the “Six” for its area code 416, has many residential lofts. Gone are the days of late night rock ‘n’ roll parties in warehouse spaces with paper thin walls that doubled as musician’s apartments. Today, the commerce and business capital of Canada has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. That includes many loft spaces that have been updated and renovated. One of the best-known lofts in Toronto is The Tip Top Tailors Building, now known as the Tip Top Lofts. A former 1920s industrial building converted to condominium lofts, this landmark building is located on 637 Lake Shore Boulevard West. It’s just west of Bathurst Street, near the waterfront. It was the former headquarters of Tip Top Tailors Ltd., a Canadian menswear retailer.

lofts - tip top

Tip Top Lofts in Toronto, Canada is one of the country’s most recognizable loft buildings. Image: Natasha McColl.

Designed by Bishop and Miller architects using Art Deco design, the building was completed in 1929 and housed the manufacturing, warehousing, retail and office operations of Tip Top Tailors Ltd. Tip Top Tailors eventually became a part of clothing conglomerate Dylex Limited.

In 1972, the building was designated as a heritage structure by the City of Toronto. In spring 2002, Dylex sold the property to Context Development, which converted it into condominium lofts. The conversion was designed by the architects at Alliance of Toronto. The conversion included the addition of six stories on the roof. The neon ‘Tip Top Tailors’ rooftop sign was retained and given a slant. Today, it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the capital city.

The Big Easy

Big open spaces in the Big Easy aren’t very easy to come by. In a city with a limited amount of warehouse space that fits the loft criteria, finding a unique loft space can be challenging. However, there are some excellent choices in the Warehouse District of the city. At 747 Magazine (aptly named for its address), you’ll find multi-level homes with private elevators, interior staircases and wrap-around balconies overlooking the city.

Lofts at 747 Magazine come with an unobstructed view of downtown New Orleans. Image: Meaghan Clark.

Owner John Shoup has both a workspace and private residence at 747 Magazine. He has been in the building for over 20 years. Initially used as a secondary home in the city, the entrepreneur and business owner is transitioning to this urban setting full-time. Shoup enjoys the practicality of living in the city center, while still enjoying a residence that remains very private. His view of the downtown skyline from three different angles is enviable and is something he fully appreciates.

Just three blocks away, one of Shoup’s employees, David Mahoney, also lives in a downtown loft with a great view of the city. St Joe’s Lofts is a building geared toward providing affordable living space for artists and musicians, something Mahoney appreciates. The lobby and hallways of this building is full of unique paintings, drawings and sculptures created by residents and available for purchase at any time. Mahoney enjoys living among other artists and says the creative environment helps to foster closer relationships and a neighborly attitude.

Loft living doesn’t mean you have to give up outdoor space. Image: Meaghan Clark.

Loft living benefits

Convenient access to shops, services and entertainment is one of the major benefits of loft living. Many loft residents also enjoy access to public transportation and the ability to cycle and walk. Those who take up residence in a loft gain the ability to make a unique living space that isn’t typical and that can be personalized. In short, lofts give those with vision and creativity an opportunity to create a home that inspires.

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Scrap Wood Outdoor Bench Seat | DIY garden bench plans

Add a little extra seating with this simple outdoor bench made from scrap 2x4s and deck boards. I built it in one night using nothing but leftover lumber from my DIY floating deck build.

Since I whipped this thing together as one of my hair-brained ideas at 9PM (please tell me I’m not the only one who does that???), I didn’t take a single picture while I built. So there aren’t any assembly photos. I DO, however, have some awesome gifs K helped me whip up to let you see it in action.

Leg assembly:

Then bring it all together:

And when you see those gifs, you might already know what that means: there are printable build plans, too! Click below to download them. Woodworking plans are available for FREE to all of my email subscribers (and same goes for my cross stitch patterns). So it’s really simple: if you already subscribe, you can just enter your name & email address for access on the library page (it should pass you right through; I just tested it again today to make sure it works). If not, you can sign up and have access to these plans and all the other free plans I publish.

How to build this outdoor bench seat / garden bench from scrap wood:

What you’ll need:

Here’s how to build it:

1. Cut deck boards to length – 25 1/2″ each. These will serve as the bench seat.

2. Cut 2×4 boards to length. These will serve as the tops and middle sections of each leg, respectively.

  • 8 boards – 13 1/4″ long
  • 4 boards – 11 1/2″ long

3. Use 2 of the 11 1/2″ boards to form the top and bottom of one leg. Sandwich 2 of the 13 1/4″ boards in between these two to form a box. Screw the 4 pieces together using exterior screws (I like GRX for this because it’s self-tapping and sinks into the wood, so no pre-drilling and it won’t stick out when people sit down).

4. Insert 2 more of the 13 1/4″ boards in the middle of the box-leg structure you created in step 3, spacing them equally. Screw together. I used another scrap 2×4 as a temporary spacer to wedge in between each board as I screwed them in.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make the second bench leg.

6. Fasten the two deck boards on top, keeping each board flush with the end of each leg. This will create a small gap in the middle of the seat between boards.

7. Finish however you like (stain or exterior paint).


Short & sweet posts aren’t exactly my M.O., but what can I say? I like storytelling. However, I had JUST enough energy to save these pieces from the burn pile, and I’m glad I did. This scrap wood bench has already come in handy on the new deck, so it’s kind of nice to have a quick and easy idea ready to share. I’m hoping to build a couple more as a set once the pub shed is finished and I have more scraps. Not too bad for about twenty minutes!

Don’t forget to pin it!

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Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style

Puff Pastry Pinwheels are a mouthwatering appetizer, yet they’re so easy to make. Just a few simple ingredients come together quickly for a treat that’s sure to impress your friends and family.

puff pastry pinwheels are perfect for your next partyWhat’s up everybody? Pam and Sara from Biscuits and Burlap here stopping by again with a yummy recipe for Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style. Have you noticed that everything we’ve brought to the Ugly Duckling House has been either a cocktail or an appetizer? That’s because we love a party, and so does Sarah! Slap a drink in one hand and a munchie in the other and we are happy campers!

But, the truth is, we’re also known to make a meal off appetizers (and cocktails) on any given night. It doesn’t have to be a true party. It can be a party for two. Apps and a drink just seem to make any evening feel special.

Other recipes brought to you by Biscuits and Burlap

In case you missed it you can catch up by visiting our previous posts:

  • Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Dip

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto

Puff pastry is one of those products that is so versatile. There are literally dozens of delicious treats you can make with them including desserts, side dishes, entrees and appetizers like these. If you do a search you can find lots of roll-up or pinwheel recipes, but we’ve come up with something unique with the addition of prosciutto.

And then there’s the added fun challenge of pronouncing it: Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto. Try saying that three times really fast. To top it off, there’s also Parmesan cheese. While it may not exactly roll off your tongue, these little treats are promised to make your tongue (and the rest of you) happy.

Puff Pastry Pinwheels are easy – just follow these tips

  • Use your puff pastry as soon as it thaws, or straight out of the fridge. It’s much easier to work with when it’s cold
  • Use Mozarella cheese that’s finely grated. It will make them roll up more tightly.
  • Put the whole roll in the freezer for 20 minutes before you slice.
  • Cut with a serrated knife and use a sawing motion
  • Bake on parchment paper. This stuff is like heaven on a cardboard roll.

The ingredients are few and simple: besides the puff pastry, you just need pesto (another “P” word), thinly sliced prosciutto, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. That’s it!


Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style

An easy, but elegant appetizer. You can easily use two sheets of puff pastry and double the other ingredients to make enough for a crowd.

  • Author:Sara and Pam Brand – Biscsuits and Burlap


  • 1 sheet puff pastry (found in the freezer section)
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto
  • About 5 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 3/4 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. roll puff pastry on lightly floured surface to an approximate 10″ x 12″ rectangle
  2. Spread pastry with pesto, staying about 1/2″ away from one of the long edges
  3. Lay a single layer of prosciutto over the whole thing
  4. Top with mozzarella and then Parmesan cheeses, and then pat everything down with your hands.
  5. Starting with long edge (the one with pesto all the way to the edge) roll up, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
  6. Pinch the edges to seal.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  8. Unwrap, trim uneven ends and then slice into 18-20 slices, using a serrated knife.
  9. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

puff pastry pinwheels are perfect for your next party

Pop over to Biscuits and Burlap for a visit anytime

We would love to have you. Here are a few of our recipes that we think you’ll like, but there are plenty of others to browse around and check out!

Don’t forget to pin it!

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Patterned Tile: What the Portuguese Can Teach Us About Style

patterned tile

Look to the Portuguese for patterned tile that transforms a room. Image: CTI Kitchens

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During any renovation or new build, the designer – or design-minded property owner – is tasked with balancing functionality and style. Choices present themselves at every turn. Will you prioritize form or function? Blending your vision with the realities of a space is a major undertaking. If you’re in the thick of this process and feel overwhelmed, we’ve got good news. Patterned tile can deliver both high impact and high function. Your days of deliberating are over!

The patterned tile revival in the US leans into Mediterranean culture. If you’re looking for inspiration to turn a simple stretch of tile into a permanent art piece, go straight to the source. Portugal has been famous for its patterned tile – called azulejo – for centuries. That’s right, centuries. Did you know that Lisbon is older than Rome, Paris or London? Rich with history and endowed with natural beauty, this historical city uses stunning patterned tile to enchant its visitors at every turn. Bring the romance of Europe’s coastline and the significance of centuries-old design into your home for a style slam dunk. Here are a few examples of rooms that use patterned tile to make a splash em estilo português.

Patterned tile in the kitchen

Every kitchen needs a backsplash. Excessive use of subway tile and shiplap may have you poring over style guides and design magazines for a fresher option. Tile with interesting shapes and patterns delivers exactly that.

Maintain an airy feel in the kitchen while adding visual interest. Image: Kat Nelson Designs

Like we said, designing a room requires a careful balance of form and function. You want to choose pieces that are visually interesting. You also want the space to feel livable and comfortable. Too much design can overwhelm a room. Painted tiles grab the eye even as they invite it to take in the full space.

patterned tile - minimal kitchen

Minimal kitchens are trending. Adding tile can keep them from feeling too spartan. Image: The Stephen Neall Group

Do you love the clean, minimal lines of modern kitchens? If you want to give your kitchen a streamlined look but are worried it will feel austere, add a playful element through tile.

patterned tile - kitchen backsplash

Blend timeless and trendy with a patterned tile backsplash. Image: Savvy Interiors

Choosing a backsplash often feels daunting. There are so many options available. How do you choose one you’ll love long-term that still has a wow factor? Painted tile marries a classic, timeless look with a style that will elicit rave reviews from your guests.

If you want more help picking the perfect kitchen tile, we have six tips for you.

Patterned tile in the bathroom

Looking to make a big mark in a small space? Look no further.

patterned tile - bathroom floor

A patterned floor can help you take a compact bathroom from blah to beautiful. Image: Designs by Human

Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a spacious master bath, you’re probably working with some square footage constraints in your bathroom. Laying interesting tile for your floor allows you to add a design element that doesn’t take up any room.

patterned tile - bathroom wall

Tile doesn’t have to stop at the floor. Image: Joinery Group

Continue your pattern up the wall for a look that’s simultaneously clean and engaging. Tile walls are ideal for the high-humidity bathroom environment. Plus, they’re stylish enough that you don’t need to do much else to make your bathroom look finished.

patterned tile - bathroom shelf

Even a small amount of tile can make a big impact. Image: Ardesia Design

If you like the Portuguese tile trend but aren’t fully ready to commit, look for smaller spaces in which to incorporate it. The small insets in the photo above get a makeover with painted tile and provide just enough pop.

You can find more bathroom tile inspiration here.

Patterned tile outdoors

Life al fresco is synonymous with Mediterranean living. You don’t have to limit your use of patterned tile to the indoors. Use it in your outdoor spaces to give them a summery feel.

patterned tile - patio

A patterned patio invites you for shared meals and long twilight chats. Image: Studio Hus

Fun, colorful tile makes any patio feel party-ready. Pay homage to warm Portuguese evenings sipping porto and listening to Fado music with a patterned patio you won’t want to leave.

patterned tile - steps

Give your home’s entry a Mediterranean makeover. Image: Rollins Andrew Interiors

If you’ve been hunting for a way to amp up your curb appeal, patterned tile is perfect. Nestle some underneath the steps leading up to your home for a stylish way to greet your guests before they even reach your front door.

With so many ways to incorporate Portuguese patterned tile in and out of your home, you’re sure to find one that gives you that perfect blend of style and function. Did any of the images above inspire you?

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Floor Your Guests With These 2018 Rug Trends

2018 rug trends

These 2018 rug trends can help you pick the perfect addition to your floor. Image: Allison Lind Interiors

We hope you like the products we recommend. Just so you are aware, Freshome may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

Perhaps it was the Dude who said it best: A rug can really tie a room together. Laying down a single piece of fabric has the potential to completely transform a space. Rugs can take a room from cavernous to cozy, from disconnected to designed. Every decorator knows just how important a rug can be. Think of it as a huge piece of art.

That being said, it’s also something you’re going to walk on – and have to look at – every day. You want a rug that is visually interesting but won’t overwhelm a room. Picking the perfect rug can be quite the challenge. Fortunately, this year’s most popular rugs can serve as inspiration and guidance. Here are some 2018 rug trends that will help you choose a rug to suit your space and floor your guests.

2018 rug trends - tassels

Liven up your rug’s edges – and your space – with tassels. Image: Blissful Abode Interiors

1. Tassels and tufts

Tassels are everywhere, from party banners to key rings. The tassel has made its comeback and it’s here to stay. The only problem with the tassel trend is that it toes a very fine line between playful and childish. That is, until it comes to rugs. Because rugs have a long history of being tasseled, some additional texture on the edging of a rug looks decidedly in style. That gives you the freedom to explore differently textured tassels, interesting lengths, tufts and more.

In short, playing with tassels and tufts allows us to color outside the lines  – or even blur those lines altogether. If you’re looking to add some fun to your living spaces, this should be your favorite of the 2018 rug trends. A rug with an interesting edge will deliver.

2018 rug trends - multi-textured

Multi-textured rugs add interest to the room and to your feet. Image: Jay Jeffers

2. Multi-texture

2018 is all about texture. We’re bringing chunky blankets, rich fabric wall hangings and live edge furniture into our spaces. We want to give our eyes and hands something to latch onto, and texture delivers. Why not expand that to your feet? A multi-textured rug doesn’t just add intriguing design to your space, it also makes it more interesting to walk around.

A multi-textured rug can also come to the rescue when you’re torn between a plush rug and one that looks more refined. The different lengths of pile give the rug a sculptured look, so you don’t have to choose between something soft and something sleek.

2018 rug trends - geometric bohemian

Geometric shapes guide bohemian vibes for a trendy rug. Image: Kim Pearson

3. Geometric bohemian

Geometric bohemian is one of the biggest 2018 rug trends. Boho isn’t new to the rug scene by any means. But when it comes to flooring, the loose, flowy feel of bohemian decor needs to be reigned in. Geometric patterns provide the perfect opportunity to lean into the boho feel without putting down an overly complicated visual. This isn’t new, either. Kilim rugs embody this trend, and they date back to the fifth century.

Even if you don’t traditionally choose bohemian decor for your home, you shouldn’t overlook this trend. The geo-boho mashup lends any room an air of softness and invitation. It works well in a nursery, where you want everything to feel warm and gentle, but it’s also perfect in a guest room, where you want people to feel relaxed and comfortable. It even blends beautifully into office spaces.

4. Responsibly sourced

Part decor trend, part social movement, people have started thinking about where their rugs are coming from and the impact they’re having on the environment. West Elm even rolled out a line of Fair Trade rugs because it wanted to take the guesswork out of the ethical rug buying process.

Thinking about the supply chain that brought your rug to your home is multi-faceted. Beyond ensuring that every person involved in the creation of the rug was justly compensated, there are also environmental factors to consider. This eco-friendly rug buying guide can help. You’ll feel that much prouder when you find the perfect rug because you’ll know it was responsibly sourced.

In short, we want to help you find the perfect rug for your space. Armed with these 2018 rug trends, you’re ready to head out and start exploring options. Happy hunting!

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Boring Garage? Turn It Into a Showstopper

garage red car

A garage is no longer an afterthought. Image: Stonecreek Building Company

Garages used to be (there’s no other way to say this) boring enclosures for your car: functional and practical, but plain and bare. Some homeowners also used them as storage areas for all the junk they didn’t want cluttering the house. But times have changed. Now, garages are so stylish that you’ll be tempted to spend more time there than in the house.

garage entertainment

“These are a few of my favorite things…” Image: Architectural Photographer Ron Rosenzweig

With a pool table, a poker table, a TV and a fabulous view, the addition of an entertainment room ensures you’re never far from your favorite activities.

garage farmhouse

Barn doors and a tin roof add a touch of Americana. Image: 3North Architecture

The farmhouse look – updated. This classic farmhouse-style enclosure holds three cars, and the main space has barn doors that open on both sides.

garage tools

Who says garages can’t be sleek and stylish? Image: California Closets

This garage has custom-designed cabinets and drawers, along with specialty racks and a work area. The clear storage bins can hold screws, nails and other small items.

garage two-level

A toy chest for adults. Image: Murphy&Co Design

Want to keep all of your toys together? A direct lift system moves your car to the second “floor” to help maximize your space.

garage accent

This stain-resistant, clutter-resistant garage is irresistible.  Image: Closet Factory

With more storage than the average walk-in closet, these gray melamine cabinets are contrasted against a bright blue accent wall. Also, the polyaspartic flooring is stain-resistant.

garage laundry

A place for everything (including laundry) and everything in its place. Image: Kay Wade, Closet Factory

Laundry is usually a tedious chore, but not in this espresso and textured stainless steel garage.

smart garage

A smart home should start at the garage door. Image: Projects General Construction

According to John Villanueva, Vice President and General Manager of Residential Access Solutions at Chamberlain, a leader in garage door openers, another trend in garages is the rise of the smart garage. This new technology gives homeowners a hub-connected device and smartphone app that lets them open, close and monitor their garage door from anywhere in the world using their smartphones.

garage office

With these computers and chairs, your garage can double as your home office.  Image: Kay Wade, Closet Factory

So many choices: Should you work on your car, reminisce about the glory days with your favorite jerseys and other memorabilia, do some work at one of the two desks or just look out of the window?

garage outdoor

Cool garages don’t have to store cars. Image: The Home Index

Another trend is to convert your garage into additional living space. This one has a concrete conference table and uses a radiant heat mat to keep the space warm in the winter.

Which of these ideas will you be using to update your garage?

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11 Sneaky New Build Budget Busters (and How to Avoid Them)

You’ve painstakingly picked out your paint color and chosen the perfect bathroom tile. Now it’s time to let your builder take over the details, right? Some production builders utilize a fixed price model after the estimating phase, but it’s not always the case. Building a home yourself or using an individual contractor could leave you on the hook for extra costs. After all, there are some things you just can’t plan. Whether it’s a weather delay or inaccurate plans, incidentals can really blow your budget. Knowing what areas to plan for and leaving a little padding in your new build budget can keep you on track.

Keep an eye out for these common new build budget busters and talk to your contractor or builder about the game plan.

Land costs

Your land costs could affect your budget before you build. Image: Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association

Some of the sneakiest budget busters can drain your budget before you even pour a foundation. Land development and improvement costs aren’t always factored in when estimating a build budget, so ask your builder about these costs:

  • Lot improvements. If you’re building on an unimproved lot (without sewer and electrical already stubbed), you’ll need to add improvement costs to your overall budget. Depending on how far you are from the closest sewer line (or if you’re going with a septic system), you might be looking at a few thousand dollars before your lot is buildable.
  • Soil conditions. The type of soil that fills your building lot dictates the weight of what can be built there. You (or your builder) will need to procure a soil report and your home will be structurally engineered for what your soil can bear. Ignore the report or skip it altogether and you could end up with pricey repairs or requiring further excavation before your home is ready.
  • Site plan changes. An architect creates a site plan for your home, but you can still change your mind. If you decide you’d like your home in a different spot, however, be prepared to take a chunk out of your budget. Even if you haven’t started building, the new plan will cost you. If building has already started, it’ll cost you even more.

City costs

City impact fees give you access to public services. Image: Platinum Landscape and Pools

Wherever you build, the city, town, or county takes a cut. If you’re new to building, you might not have planned for budget busters that are paid to the city rather than your builder.

  • Impact fees. Impact fees are basically a tax paid to the city for the privilege of building there. Impact fees usually go toward things like parks, road maintenance, and other public services you’ll use. They can be anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to $10k+, so ask your builder about the fees and whether or not they’re included in the build price.
  • Permits. Every time you submit a permit to the county, you’ll pay a fee. You’ll definitely need a building permit, but you might also have to get permits throughout the process. Each county is different, so it pays to understand the permit process upfront or risk expensive fines.
  • Code infractions. Stick to the code! Each city has rules for home design and building and ignoring them could leave you with a fine and an expensive redo. Your designer and builder know the code, so don’t push them to create a home that doesn’t adhere.

Home costs

Cosmetic touches make your house a home, so budget your new build accordingly. Image: DM Interiors

You’ve navigated the pre-build process and stayed on budget, but the build process can be just as unpredictable. Always clear your budget and estimate with your builder beforehand, but know that these costs can still drive up the final price tag.

  • Sealing. You love your new bathroom tile, so you want it to last. Unfortunately, the cost of sealing tile and flooring isn’t always included in the bid. Budget anywhere from $0.75 to $1.25 per square foot for all of your sealing (and labor).
  • Window treatments. Local looky-loos might want to peer in your windows, so don’t forget your window treatments. Whether you go with drapes, blinds, shutters or another treatment, covering all of your windows can be a pricey afterthought.
  • Cosmetic fixtures. Your bathroom is exactly how you’d dreamed it would be – except for the lack of mirrors and towel racks. Don’t forget to budget for all the little functional fixtures that make your home livable.
  • Builder upgrades. Maybe you thought you could get away with starter-level appliances but changed your mind. Perhaps you made a last-minute choice to opt for the jetted tub instead of the standard shower. When you make upgrades during the build process, expect your final price to increase.

Budgeting your new build

Building a custom home can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be a gamble. Whether you choose to use a builder or contract the home yourself, it’s up to you to manage the budget for your new build. Knowing the process inside and out helps you watch for budget busters that balloon your final price. As long as you keep some padding for issues, upgrades, and incidentals, you won’t be left with sticker shock on your move-in date.

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Take a Look Inside Ben Affleck’s Plantation House Full of Southern Charm Before It Sells

Ben Affleck is selling his gorgeous southern antebellum Greek-revival Georgia plantation for $8.9 million through Engel & Volkers. It’s nicknamed “The Big House” and here’s why:

  • It’s situated on 87 acres on Hampton Island.
  • The main “Big House” is 6,000 square feet and has several stately fireplaces and 15-foot ceilings.
  • There’s also a 10,000-square-foot guest house for 20 featuring five bedrooms and three master suites.
  • The property includes a cottage.
ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

The antebellum-style main house has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms.

Located just 35 miles from Savannah, the historic-looking home is perfectly polished. Here’s a look inside:

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

The living room is elegant yet relaxed and inviting, thanks to the slipcovered sofas. The grand fireplace has a mirror hung over it that reflects the centerpiece of the room: the chandelier.

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

Reclaimed brick adds a historical feel to the home.

The open, airy kitchen has a relaxed feel. Large armoires and an island provide storage for pots, pans and china.

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

Large 25-foot columns and plenty of veranda area leads out to scenic views of the North Newport River.

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

A proper southern antebellum home isn’t complete without a collection of rocking chairs on the porch.

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

One of the bathrooms of the main house features a clawfoot tub and antique lighting.

Oyster House, the 10,000-square-foot guesthouse

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

The open floor plan guest house can sleep at least 20 guests. There are three master bedrooms and five bedrooms furnished with bunk beds.

Around the property

ben affleck georgia mansion celebrity homes

The boat dock on the property is next to the cottage.

The property sits on 87 acres for the ultimate private nature experience.

The lucky buyer also has a billiards room, library, horse stable and golf privileges on the island golf club.

Ben Affleck is known to be a no-frills, down-to-earth guy. What do you think of his statesmanly southern property? Photography by Engel and Volkers.

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Here’s What You Need to Look for in a Real Estate Agent

Picking a real estate agent is a huge step toward becoming a homeowner. However, sometimes that’s easier said than done. There are often more than enough agents in your area to choose from, but how do you know when you’ve found the right one?

If you’re about to enter the real estate market, this post is for you. We’ve outlined four crucial qualities to look for in your real estate agent. When you land on the right combination, you’ll have found your perfect match.

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Ask questions of your potential real estate agent to gauge experience levels. Image: Norris Architecture

Overall experience

Buying a home, especially for the first time, can be a nerve-wracking experience. After all, you’re about to make a huge purchase, one that requires managing several timelines and signing legal documents. If you’ve never done it before, you’re going to want someone to lead you through the process. You need a real estate agent with experience to help make sure everything goes smoothly.

Before hiring anyone for the job, make sure to interview them. Ask how many years they’ve been in the business, as well as how many transactions they complete per year, on average. Their comfort level in answering these questions should give you a sense of how well they’ll be able to lead you through househunting.

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Focus on someone who knows your new area. Image: Rawpixel

Familiarity with the area

Whether you’re moving from afar or from just around the corner, make sure you hire someone who’s familiar with the area where you’re looking to end up. Put simply, your agent is there to be a resource for you. Though they’re legally not allowed to give an opinion of the quality of the area, they can guide your search toward neighborhoods that meet your needs.

If you’re moving from far away, we recommend that you look for a referral from an agent where you currently live. They can put you in touch with a reputable agent in your new area. However, always be sure to research on your own as well. Search for the top real estate agents in the area where you intend to move.

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real estate personality

Trust your gut when interviewing a potential real estate agent. Image: Sharratt Design Company

A compatible personality

This one’s a bit subjective, but you should absolutely choose a real estate agent with whom you get along well. The reality is that you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time with this person, and they’re going to help you make one of your biggest decisions to date. Your agent should be someone you trust, someone who you feel has your best interests at heart.

As you interview the agent, ask yourself: How do you feel about their responses? Were they informative enough? Were they too brusque or too timid for your tastes? Do you think you would get along well together or butt heads? Do you feel comfortable trusting them with your financials? All of these are important concerns that you’ll need to sort out on a case-by-case basis.

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real estate reviews

Be sure to read online reviews. Image: Laura Hursthouse Design

Good reviews

While you’re conducting research, look up reviews for any agents that are at the top of your list. These days, people will review everything from movies to pet stores. Any real estate agent worth their salt is going to have at least a handful of recommendations on home search websites like Trulia and Zillow.

Reviews are key because they offer a unique point of view, one that is very similar to your own. They let you know what the agent was like to work with on a day-to-day basis, how they handled problems and if you’re in good hands.

Choosing a real estate agent may feel like a daunting task, but with the right research, you can find one that suits both your needs and your comfort level. What has your experience been like working with real estate agents? Did you find your perfect match? We’d love to hear about it below!


Prime Day 2018: The Best Home Deals From Amazon’s Big Day

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Amazon Prime Day 2018 is here! Image: Amazon

We hope you like the products we recommend. Just so you are aware, Freshome may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. 

It’s here! Prime Day is basically Christmas for online shoppers who live for two-day shipping. It starts today at 3 p.m. ET, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to get in on some great deals. Amazon is already rolling out discounts and stocking its digital shelves with a huge range of products.

What is Prime Day?

If you haven’t already heard, Prime Day is a big deal in the online shopping world. It’s the biggest sale of the year for Amazon, arguably the top player in e-commerce. It offers Black Friday-esque deals on a huge range of products. Essentially, if you were planning on buying something from Amazon, now’s the time. Prime Day continues through tomorrow, July 17. It’s 36 hours of sweet deals from the store that sells just about everything.

Keep in mind that not all Prime Day deals roll out at once. Some will be available right at the 3 p.m. ET kickoff today, while others require more patience. Under upcoming Prime Day items, you’ll see a button that says, “Watch This Deal!” Click it and Amazon will keep you updated on the pricing.

What should I buy on Prime Day?

The short answer is: just about anything. Prime Day includes discounts on nearly all of Amazon’s product categories. Major highlights come from Amazon’s own product line (think the Echo Dot or Kindle Paperwhite). The savings don’t stop with tech, though. If you’ve been looking to freshen up your home this summer, Prime Day is a prime opportunity to do exactly that. Amazon is already rolling out some great deals and exciting previews. Let’s take a look.

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Accent your space with this sleek Rivet chair. Image: Amazon

Home furnishings

If you’ve historically shied away from buying furniture on Amazon, it’s time to warm up to the idea. The e-tail giant has a pretty impressive selection of home furnishings. And that selection gets even bigger with Prime Day 2018, thanks to a rollout of new products from its Rivet%20Furniture%20Line” target=_blank rel=noopener>Rivet line and major discounts on furniture and decor from Amazon’s in-house lines.

If you’ve been looking for an accent chair to spice up your living room, its new Revolve Modern Accent Chair is a sleek piece that’s already 10 percent off for Prime members. You can grab the chair today for $225.

Hunting for a high-impact piece to take your bedroom to the next level while saving a pretty penny? The Stone & Beam Ainsley Geometric Queen Bed is a whopping 32 percent off right now. Not impressed by the discount? You should be – when it brings the price for this bed to just $169.

Or maybe you’ve been looking for just the right furnishing to tie your living space together, blending functionality with modern form. Look no further than the Rivet Allyson Coffee Table. You can grab it for $143 today – that’s a handsome 28 percent discount.

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Prime Day 2018 showcases a whole new line of throw pillows. Image: Throw%20Pillows” target=_blank rel=noopener>Amazon

Bed and bath

You don’t have to make room for new furniture to use Prime Day as an opportunity to freshen up your space. Rivet’s new products include a range of attractive, versatile throw pillows that can help you transform your bed or sofa. Whether you’re looking for a luxe, mod or boho vibe, these pillows have you covered. Pricing ranges from $35 to $45.

If you’re looking for a similarly affordable but higher impact way to upgrade your bed, look no further than this $35 Hypoallergenic Microfiber King Duvet Cover. Its Prime Day deal starts at 3:40 p.m. ET. Want something a little more eye-catching? Check out these fun patterns in the cotton PinkMemory Duvet Cover. Most patterns in King are currently $75, but this duvet cover is also part of Prime Day. You can look for its deal to roll out at 4:05 p.m. ET. 

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Freshen up an old chair or bench with this trendy sheepskin cover. Image: Amazon


Prime Day is the perfect opportunity to add decorative pieces to your home that give it a fresh feel without emptying your wallet. For example, if you have a chair or bench that you’ve fallen out of love with, grab this Carvapet Luxury Soft Faux Sheepskin Chair Cover. It comes in a wide range of colors, all for under $20 with additional Prime Deals coming at 5 p.m. ET.

Want to elevate your wall decor? Grab some of these MELANNCO Floating Wood Shelves. They’re available in black or white for under $18, with additional Prime Day savings at 3:10 p.m. ET.

If you’re looking for decor that blends beauty and utility, you may want to grab the Mydethun Moon Lamp Moon Light. This 3D printed lamp brings ethereal, lunar vibes to your space for just $17, with an additional deal starting right with the kickoff of Prime Day at 3 p.m. ET.

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Prime Day could be your perfect opportunity to finally justify buying yourself a Vitamix. Image: Amazon

Home tech

If you haven’t already brought artificial intelligence into your home, today’s the day. The Echo Dot is selling for just $30. It’s a tiny price to pay for a gadget that packs a powerful punch. You’ll be amazed at how often you find yourself talking with Alexa for things like tomorrow’s weather, the latest news, recipe conversions and more.

The Coleman RoadTrip portable grill is another Prime Day product launch that helps you capitalize on summer. It’s an easy way to add grilling capabilities to even the smallest patio – or your nearby park. Plus, it’s $227 today, even before Prime Day starts.

Like Black Friday, Prime Day could be the perfect opportunity to grab that pricey item you’ve been eyeing. Stop wrestling with your old blender! Grab the Vitamix E310 Explorian blender, another Prime Day launch for $350.

How to get in on Prime Day

Prime Day is aptly named because – you guessed it! – it’s for people with Amazon Prime. If you don’t have a Prime account, you may still be able to swing some discounts. If you’ve never signed up for a Prime account before, you can start a 30-day trial for free. There’s no better time to get yourself that $0 Prime membership than right now, when you’ll be perfectly poised to score during the upcoming sale.

Which Prime Day deals are you hoping to find? Are there any pieces for your home that you’ve been waiting until today to buy? Do you have any tips for making the most of this major sale? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear how you’re getting involved in Prime Day. And if you come across any great deals on items for the home, feel free to share them below. We want all Freshome readers to score big during Prime Day 2018!

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