Posted in kitchen remodel

A Narnia-Inspired Design, on Long Island

This article is part of our latest Design special report, which is about taking creative leaps in challenging times.

It is not unheard of for ambitious homeowners to imbue a mere building with narrative dazzle.

But rarely is the mythologizing as specific and literary as it is for the Long Island guesthouse of Betsy and Bryan H. Lawrence: They call it the Narnia House.

Yes, it has a surprising installation, as in the classic C.S. Lewis novel “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Stepping through a French armoire at the top of a back stair leads to a second-floor passage and toward a Narnia-themed bedroom.

That fanciful concept — Ms. Lawrence’s idea, stemming from her love of the children’s book series — is only part of the charm of the red brick, five-bedroom home, originally built in the 1990s and acquired by the couple about three years ago

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Posted in home repair

Long Beach’s New Home Permit Rate Lags Behind Nation

LONG BEACH, CA — A report released Monday by the home improvement company Porch stated the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim metropolitan region received the 10th fewest new home building permits per capita among large U.S. metros in the first six months of the year.

Researchers at Seattle-based Porch ranked metros according to the number of new housing units authorized per 100,000 residents, based on U.S. Census Bureau data for monthly permits received.

In the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim metropolitan region, 12,176 new housing units were authorized, which is 91.6 units for every 100,000 residents. The region that includes the three cities’ data together was established by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Porch reported new housing units authorized per 100,000 residents nationally in the first six months of the year was 201.2 units.

Among large metros, the Austin, Round Rock and Georgetown, Texas, region ranked at the top

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Posted in home remodeling

Home Depot Has Long Dominated America’s Newest Pastime: Home Improvement Projects

It all started with a firing—a very foolish one.

In 1978, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were executives at Handy Dan, a home improvement chain based in Southern California. Despite the business being very profitable, the pair had begun to tinker with a new idea. By lowering prices, they found, the stores’ volume shot up, making Handy Dan even more money. The executives had planned to implement that strategy systemwide, but they never got the chance. Corporate raider Sanford C. Sigoloff—who liked to call himself the “Skillful Scalpel”—took over the company, and deciding to save himself two salaries, got rid of Marcus and Blank.

That one decision probably prevented Handy Dan from becoming America’s home improvement leader. Instead, that honor would go to a place called The Home Depot.

Recruiting investment banker Ken Langone and retailer Pat Farrah, who’d run National Lumber and Supply Company, Marcus and Blank opened up

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Posted in kitchen remodel cost

Doubling Down on a Modern Farmhouse Design on Long Island

A quick decision to relocate turned into an epic renovation for Ted and Loren Kobus.

Moving to the New York City area from Greater Philadelphia in 2012 for Mr. Kobus’s work, the couple bought a 1960s split-level home on the North Shore of Long Island, then radically changed the house—twice.

Last year, after an art- and furniture-buying spree, they finally considered the project finished. They ended up with a two-story modern farmhouse that bears little resemblance to the original.

The two, now in their early 50s, live there with their three children, now all teenagers.

The couple paid $839,000 for the 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom original home on 2 acres, situated not far from Huntington Bay. They then spent the first few years, and some $900,000, to add 1,500 square feet to the house, including the second story, a new kitchen and new bathrooms. Starting in 2016, they spent $100,000 to re-landscape

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Posted in home improvement loans

August New Home Sales Confirm That The Long Leading Housing Sector Has Been Surging

Introduction

Housing is a long leading indicator for the economy overall; i.e., it typically peaks over a year before the economy does as a whole, and is also usually one of the first sectors to rebound during a recession.

Thursday morning’s report on August new home sales certainly fit that mold.

Near-15-year high in new home sales is strong confirmation that the long leading housing sector has been surging

As I wrote last week, when housing starts and permits were reported, historically, interest rates have led housing sales and starts, which in turn lead prices, which in turn lead inventory.

Here’s the updated look at mortgage interest rates since the beginning of 2011, measured YoY, vs. single-family housing permits (the least volatile metric), also measured YoY:

Thursday morning the Census Bureau reported new home sales for August. There are two important facts about new home sales:

1. They are the

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Posted in improvements

Road to Recovery Is Long, but Powell and Mnuchin Laud Improvements

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell share an elbow bump greeting Tuesday, prior to testifying before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s coronavirus disease pandemic. (Pool photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Over half of all jobs lost in pandemic-hit America have yet to return, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell offered hopeful analysis on the state of economic recovery Tuesday amid stalled relief talks in Congress.

Powell told members of the House Financial Services Committee that 11 million of 22 million Americans laid off thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic have already gone back to work.

“That’s really good progress. We’ve put, fully, half of those people back to work,” he said, adding that full recovery will still require getting a handle on the virus. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Posted in fireplace remodel

Sustainability and Nature Inform the Design of This Long, Slanted House

<div class="caption"> Set beside a nature reserve, the house is deliberately camouflaged among the greenery. </div> <cite class="credit"><a href="http://www.tesskelly.net/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tess Kelly" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tess Kelly</a></cite>

Set beside a nature reserve, the house is deliberately camouflaged among the greenery.

Tess Kelly

In the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, there lies a rare, sought-after pocket that’s full of trees, wildlife, and a winding stretch of a local waterway. Far more lush than other neighborhoods with equal proximity to the city center, the Gardiners Creek area is a unicorn of a locale that residents rarely want to leave. So when a young family somehow secured a lot, it called Clare Cousins Architects to imagine a new house on their prized property.

Associate architect Brett Wittingslow worked closely with Clare herself to create a forever home for the clients, who requested that sustainability and a connection to the abundant vegetation take priority in the plans. “They were quite specific in the views they wanted to capture,” Brett recounts. “There are high treetops towards the west, where the sun sets,

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Posted in remodeling

Remodeling activity rebounds, but for how long?

Even though a large portion of homeowners are undertaking do-it-yourself home repair and improvement projects, demand for professional remodeling services rebounded in the second quarter. Business conditions appeared to be improving further in the first half of the third quarter as well.

Come the fourth quarter, however, business may very well begin to taper off, initiating a downward trend that will stretch into the middle of next year and possibly longer.

Like most home professionals, remodelers saw a sudden and severe drop in demand for their services toward the end of the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the United States. But demand renewed once restrictions began to relax in late May.

Analysis of user data by Houzz revealed a near-60% increase in U.S. project leads for home professionals on its platform in the month June compared to June of the previous year. Most of these were for

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