The 5 Best Self-Learning Smart Home Devices

Self-learning home devices learn your habits and adjust themselves accordingly for an unprecedented level of convenience.

Guest post by Jon Snyder

Picture this: You’ve had an exhausting week — all you want to do is go home and relax. It’s hot outside, but you arrive to a perfectly cooled home. As dusk rolls in, your blinds follow suit, as if they’re chasing the sunset. You make your way to your bedroom and practically crumble into bed. The lights dim as the temperature dips and you drift off into a peaceful sleep.

This might sound like a futuristic dream, but actually, it’s a reality. In today’s world, millions of smart gadgets are available to make your home more intelligent. But these “smart” devices are limited to homeowner’s programming capabilities, which is usually turning on and off at certain times. Genius? Not so much. Self-learning home devices are different. They learn your habits and adjust themselves accordingly for an unprecedented level of convenience.  Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best connected devices and the ways they can observe patterns, interpret data, or use artificial intelligence to help make your life easier.

  1. Self-Learning Thermostats

Keeping your house at an ideal temperate can be pricey. About 50 percent of your energy bill can be attributed to running the heat or air conditioning. A manual thermostat can be programmed to adjust temps at certain times but if you leave for vacation and forget to turn it off, you’re out of luck.

Smart thermostats are a game-changer. They can learn your favorite temp and make sure you’re never too hot or too cold. If you’ve cranked the AC a few days in a row, your thermostat will pick up on this pattern and adjust the temperature settings accordingly. And when you leave for work or a week-long vacation, sensors and GPS will alert your thermostat to automatically save energy (and money).

2.    Self-Learning Blinds

There’s nothing worse than being woken up at the crack of dawn on a weekend to sun beams hitting you square in the face. Or the opposite — you can’t seem to roll out of bed because the room is so dark that it must still be nighttime, right?

Smart blinds can help address both of these issues. The latest intelligent shades connect to your compatible smart-home systems and adjust themselves automatically. Simply program your shades to move your window treatments to your preference. And to take it one step further, some smart blinds can follow the sun to maintain the same level of light as the season’s change, which saves energy and money (without any effort on your part).

3.    Self-Learning Beds

Even your bed can have brainpower. Tech-savvy mattresses covers sync up with your thermostat and bedroom lighting for a full sensory experience. As you begin to snooze, the temperature and lights of your room and bed adjust to your preference. When you doze off completely, they adjust again or turn off completely. These self-learning mattress protectors can also track your sleep patterns and help you achieve your best night’s rest.

4.    Self-Learning Surveillance

Being able to keep an eye on your home while you are away is the ultimate peace of mind, as one in 36 homes are burglarized each year. Smart surveillance systems employ innovative learning technology like facial recognition to keep your home safe from unfamiliar faces. Some cameras also have self-learning video analytics, which automatically adjust their settings based on the scene conditions to give you the clearest view possible. Plus, they connect to Wi-Fi for 24/7 footage, pinged right to your smartphone from anywhere with internet.

5.    Self-Learning Spectrometer  

This might not seem like an everyday item, but smart food spectrometers are making waves in the kitchen. This tool interprets algorithms to understand food freshness, sweetness and quality. In real-time, it can determine if your meat has gone bad, if your whiskey is the real deal or if that farmer’s market fruit is fresh.

Bonus: Self-Learning Home Controller

As seen at the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show, a self-learning home controller takes your smart home gadgets and make them smarter. It uses artificial intelligence to understand your home patterns, picking up data from your smart appliances, lighting and electricity. It automates mundane tasks without scheduling or hassle to better manage your home and save money. Although it’s not available for purchase yet, this home controller could help smart gadgets reach their full potential.


As smart home gadgets continue to get smarter and learn on their own, it’ll be fascinating to see how they will predict our behavior to save energy, slash bills, and most importantly, make our lives better.

Perhaps one day, there will be no snoozing through alarms (your phone will know to wake you up), no burnt banana bread (your oven will know it’s fully baked), and no parties after midnight (your lights know bedtime is at 10PM). But hopefully these self-learning devices will learn that sometimes humans like to break the rules.

Leslie Sells Houses



Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance, where he oversees countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and he writes about a variety of topics, including smart home technology, homeowners insurance and the intersection of the two. You can learn more about Esurance’s homeowners insurance options by visiting their website


8 Real Estate Documents to Keep—and What Happens If You Don’t

May 24, 2018


Which real estate documents should you keep after buying a home? After all, you don’t want to have to file all of it if you don’t have to; but you also don’t want to chuck something crucial.

Your closing company is required by law to keep a record of your closing documents, so that’s a good fallback in case you misplace yours. Still, it’s smart for you to keep important documents on hand—particularly if, later on, you need to file a claim against the seller or your professional representation team (i.e., your real estate agent, home inspector, or mortgage lender). Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but it’s wise to be prepared.

Full disclosure: I’m a real estate agent, but I’m not a naturally organized person. In fact, until a few months ago, I kept the documents from my home purchase in a folder in my closet labeled “Keep Docs.” (I’m not joking!) But the important thing is, I know what forms I have to hold onto.

So, of the hundreds of documents you’ll encounter during the home-buying process, here are the ones you should keep—and why.

1. Buyer’s agent agreement

When you choose a real estate agent, you sign a buyer’s agent agreement—a contract between you and the brokerage, stating that the agent represents you in the purchase of your home.

This agreement outlines the terms of the relationship with your agent—including who pays the agent’s commission (in most cases, the seller), the length of the agreement (90 to 120 days is standard in most markets), and the terms for terminating the agreement.

Why you should keep it: This contract spells out what services your agent agreed to provide you with—and it can come into play if you have an issue with your agent after the transaction closes.

2. Purchase agreement

Every home sale starts with a real estate purchase agreement—a legally binding contract signed by home buyers and sellers that confirms that they agree upon a certain purchase price, closing date, and other terms.

Why you should keep it: The provisions stated in this contract must be followed to the letter. If you or the seller fails to fulfill these duties, there could be legal ramifications.

3. Addenda, amendments, or riders

These types of documents alter or amend the terms of your purchase contract. For example, if a survey reveals that there’s an encroaching fence built by a neighbor, and you’d like the fence removed, the sales contract has to be formally amended.

Why you should keep them: Addenda, amendments, and riders are often related to home inspections or appraisals, and because they change the original terms of the signed contract, they’re worth holding onto.

For instance, if both parties signed a repair addendum, where the seller agreed to make certain repairs based on the home inspection, you’ll need this addendum if you find issues with the repairs down the road.

4. Seller disclosures

Sellers are required by law to disclose certain problems with the home, both present and past, that they’re aware of that could affect its value. While laws vary by state, these disclosures might include lead-based paint, pest infestations, and renovations done without a permit.

Why you should keep them: If major problems crop up with your home after you move in, these disclosures can be the basis for a future lawsuit against the seller. If you lose them, you might have trouble holding the seller accountable in a court of law.

5. Home inspection report

After your home inspection, your inspector should produce a report with detailed notes on the condition of the home and any potential problems.

Why you should keep it: This document is an extremely detailed list of everything that the home inspector finds, and it typically includes photos of problem areas. By keeping this report, you’ll have a record of any repairs that you may need to make to the property in the future.

6. Closing disclosure

Mortgage lenders must provide borrowers with a closing disclosure (also called a CD) at least three business days before settlement. This document spells out things such as your loan term (typically 15 or 30 years), loan type (a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage), the interest rate, and closing costs, among other financials.

Why you should keep it: Your CD is an itemized list of all the costs associated with closing and your mortgage, and it’s important to have for future reference. It’s also the document you’ll need when you go to file your taxes, since you can take deductions for things such as mortgage points.

7. Title insurance policy

Title insurance offers protection against any competing claims to a home. As part of the process, the insurer will run a title search of public records, seeking loose ends such as liens against the property or fraudulent signatures on ownership documents.

Why you should keep it: You’ll need this document in the event another party, such as a previous owner, tries to claim the property. Note that there is separate title insurance to cover lenders versus buyers, and you would do well to get a policy for yourself.

8. Property deed

When you take title and become the sole owner of the property, you’ll receive a deed—a legal document that confirms or conveys the ownership rights to the home, says Anne Rizzo, associate vice president of Detroit-based title insurance company Amrock.

“It must be a physical document signed by both the buyer and the seller,” Rizzo says.

Typically, the property deed is mailed to you after the title transfer documents are recorded in your county’s public records office.

Why you should keep it: Presenting a property deed is the only way to show someone you legally own the home you’re residing in. Because the deed is sent to you directly, neither your mortgage lender nor title company is required to keep a copy of it.


Leslie Swindahl


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Build Your Dream Home

Port Orchard, $95,000 - Image 1

Land listing in Port Orchard,WA

SE Lund Ave Port Orchard, WA 98366
MLS# 1297330

Build your dream home & bring your fishing pole for you have your own creek (Black Jack Creek) where the Salmon run through it. Lots of evergreens to sell if needed to offset your development cost. Appd driveway by City of Port Orchard . Appd water & sewer by the City of Port Orchard. PSE will extend electric Service to the site has been appd. GeoTech has been done on this property for building site. Buyer to verify to own satisfaction. Close to shops,schools, Highway16 & WA State Ferries.

Port Orchard, $95,000 - Image 2

Additional Information

Port Orchard, $95,000 - Image 5

  • Taxes$182
  • Lot Size4.91 Acres (213,880 SqFt)
  • Port Orchard, $95,000 - Image 6

School Information

  • ElementaryEast Port Orchard El
  • Junior HighMadrona Heights Sch
  • HighSo. Kitsap High

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What to Expect During a Home Inspection

Image result for pictures of home inspections

From finding an inspector to dealing with surprises — this is your guide to getting a house checked out.

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: You’ll feel all the feels.

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks: To:

  1. Identify problems with the house
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Estimate how much repairs might cost

He or she produces a written report, usually including photos, that details any issues with the property. This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Explore More Topics:

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Buy a Home: Step-by-Step

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can rely on online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool, which lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? The average home inspection costs about $315. For condos and homes under 1,000 square feet, the average cost is $200. Homes over 2,000 square feet can run $400 or more. (Figures are according to
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find {{ start_tip 84 }}online reviews{{ end_tip}} of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and Water: A Home’s #1 EnemyBesides drainage, ask the inspector about any signs of water damage. Water can destroy the integrity of the home’s structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.

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Gig Harbor Gondola A romantic interlude

BY RUTH KINGSLAND Northwest Guardian Published:

01:53PM May 3rd, 2018


Imagine this — gliding across the water in an authentic Venetian gondola, sipping a cool refreshing drink, tasting a few appetizers and looking into your beloved’s eyes as a tenor gondolier rows and guides the boat and soulfully sings: “Che bella cosa na jurnata ‘e sole; N’aria serena doppo na tempesta,” of the classic Italian love song, “O Sole Mio.”

No, people from Joint Base Lewis-McChord don’t to have to travel across the globe for this amazing, romantic interlude. It’s available in the nearby waters of Gig Harbor.

Gondolier John Synco has been offering authentic gondola cruises at the Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard since 2015. A one-hour cruise is $85 for two people and $20 for each additional person, up to six. Appetizers are provided. An extended, 90-minute, cruise also is available for $30 more. Children 5 years old and younger are free. Synco recently added a 10 percent discount for service members and veterans.

Although the cruise is an obvious choice for a romantic excursion, it’s also a great way to celebrate just about anything for a small group of family or friends.

“We bring a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the harbor and celebrate life’s special occasions on the water,” Synco said.

Nelly — Synco’s gondola — was built in Venice, Italy, in the 1980s and shipped to Southern California in 2008. It’s one of 30 authentic gondolas in America and the only one in the Northwest, according to Greg Mohr, president of the Gondola Society of America and a gondolier in Newport Beach, Calif.

Mohr said he’s happy for his friend of more than a decade in not only succeeding in the gondola business but also in being the owner of Nelly.

“John Synco is a wonderful guy and everyone loves him; he’s just the right kind of person to be in this job, he really loves what he does and it shows,” Mohr said. “I know it’s a boat, not a person, but this kind of boat is almost like a person — it’s like a beloved pet. And, Nelly is a really great boat.”

His degree in communications has served him well as a gondolier, since he uses his gift of gab to share the history of an area and chat with people from all walks of life about a plethora of subjects.

“I love chatting with people,” he said. “Through the years, I’ve learned a lot of history of Gig Harbor from people who take the cruise, and I’m able to share those stories with people now.”

His love of all things nautical began as a child when he’d paddle canoes and kayaks.

“Any time I could learn another watercraft, I’d jump at it,” he said.

He says he “fell into” a job with a gondola business in Long Beach, Calif., where he learned basic Venetian rowing.

“I fell in love with the job; I obsessed and it became a passion of mine,” he said.

He began watching videos, which is how he learned to row. He also traveled to Europe and improved his skills through observation of Italy’s gondoliers. That’s also where he picked up the craft of singing to his passengers.

“I’m not a singer, but people like what I do, and, in America, a gondolier has to sing,” he said.

Summer is Synco’s busy season, so if anyone has a specific date they want to book, it’s best to contact him two to three weeks in advance. However, most times, weekdays can be booked a couple days ahead of time, he said.

For more information or to book a cruise, visit or call 253-432-0052.


9 Surprising Things You Should Never Leave in the Bathroom


Just because you spend a lot of time in your bathroom—showering, shaving, putting on makeup, or even catching up on a good book—it doesn’t mean you need to store all your belongings in there.
Not only will that clutter a small space, but it can quicken the demise of certain possessions (best-case scenario) and potentially even mess with your health (worst case scenario).
Here are the unexpected items you need to move out of your bathroom, post haste.

1. Medicine

Let’s start with the category you know you should secure away, but probably store in your bathroom cabinets anyway: medications.

While it’s convenient to stash them above your sink, “it’s actually the last place you want to keep them,” says Morgan Statt, a health and safety investigator at “High heat and humidity from showers and baths can mess with their effectiveness.” And let’s not even talk about keeping them away from the prying eyes of visitors or the grabby hands of kids.

You’re better off storing any Rx you use in a bedroom nightstand. Temps will be cooler there and, unless you live with SpongeBob, it should be free of moisture. If you have kids around, you may want to keep them in a small lockbox or other secure location. If you’ve been faithfully keeping prescription or OTC meds in your bathroom and notice their texture, smell or appearance has changed, don’t continue to use them—they could make you sick. Contact your doctor instead.

2. Extra razors

Buying razor blades in bulk isn’t a bad idea. Just don’t store the extras in your bathroom. “Shower steam and the build-up of humidity can rust or dull the blades before you even get the chance to use them,” Statt says.

Can’t come up with a better place to store them? At the very least, put them in a tightly sealed plastic bag to try to keep out the moisture.

3. Makeup and makeup brushes

The best lighting to put on your makeup may be in your bathroom, but you really shouldn’t stash your products—or even your brushes—in there.

Thank the usual culprits: Higher temps. Steam. Humidity. All of these “encourage mold growth and make your products expire faster,” Statt says. “Not to mention your makeup brushes will be picking up germs that you then apply right to your face.” Gross.

4. Your toothbrush

OK, this one might be a shocker: “If you store your toothbrush in a holder on your sink, you can put it at risk for bacteria growth,” Statt says.

(Now’s a good time to also mention the aerosol effect of flushing toilets.)

“If you flush the toilet with the lid up, it causes germs and bacteria from the waste to spray throughout the air and right towards your toothbrush,” Statt explains. “Toothbrushes stored in a holder on the sink are also in the direct line of fire for germs that come from people washing their hands.”

Although it’s inconvenient (and maybe a little strange), consider storing your toothbrush in an open, dry space in your bedroom, like the corner of your dresser. Or just make a habit of putting the toilet seat down before you flush. On second thought, do that no matter what.

5. Paintings and antique painted wooden objects

Of course you want to decorate your bathroom. You spend a lot of time in there, so why not?

Still, “American folk art and painted furniture, such as your New England chest of drawers, Japanned mirror, or your Hitchcock side chair from the 18th and 19th centuries, are perfect examples of items that should not be stored in your bathroom,” says Kelly Juhasz, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers based in Chicago.

The No. 1 sign you’ve already got a problem? Cracking paint.

Fluctuations in humidity cause wood to expand or shrink, stressing the paint on such objects, which doesn’t have that plasticity. Instead, “it breaks and blisters, which causes the painted areas to crack, and the paint to lift off,” Juhasz says.

The only way it’s (mostly) OK to display this type of art in your bathroom? If your bathroom’s so large that mirrors don’t fog up when you shower.

Still, that’s no guarantee that humidity won’t affect your stuff. “It will just take longer for the effects to show,” Juhasz says.

6. Photos

Even under glass, photographs and limited-edition prints can get seriously compromised in a steamy bathroom. Humidity gets trapped between the photo and the glass, causing mold to grow, Juhasz explains. The result is brown spots on the paper (called “foxing”) or haziness on the underside of the glass. The paper can also start to cockle, which appears as ripples across the artwork.

If humidity builds up on the outside of the glass, you may also see water droplets dripping between the frame and glass—resulting in water stains and damage. Not how you want to treat your priceless family photos.

A safer way to decorate: Choose objects made of stone, ceramics, and glass.

“These are some of the most durable forms of art, and decorative objects not easily affected by humidity,” notes Juhasz.

7. Jewelry

The bathroom ain’t the place to store your favorite bangles. Honest.

“Unless your jewelry is pure gold, objects composed of various metals will react faster in humidity,” Juhasz says. That causes corrosion on less valuable objects, while silver-based objects tarnish. Plus, you run the risk of dropping your favorite pieces down the sink drain.

8. Books

No to your copy of “A Higher Loyalty.” And no, no, NO! to your copy of Shakespeare’s first folio.

“Humidity will cause paper to cockle, swell, and stick together,” Juhasz warns. It will also cause mold to start growing. Talk about reading the dirt!

9. Damp towels, mats, and laundry

Clean towels in the bathroom? Yes, please. Damp towels or dirty laundry on the bathroom floor? Please, no.

“They can trap in moisture and lead to a mold problem,” says Peter Duncanson, resident restoration expert for ServiceMaster Restore.

You should also pick up your bathmats after each use and put them somewhere to dry. Don’t forget to wash them regularly and dry them completely before returning them.

“This reduces a mold growth source, or potential damage to flooring from moisture,” Duncanson says.

To keep all your belongings as fresh as possible, do your best to keep your bathroom well-ventilated, Duncanson advises. Run the exhaust fan for at least 30 minutes after showering, to ensure the space has ample time to dry out.

If you don’t have a fan, open some windows or doors on opposite sides of your home to create cross-ventilation.

Leslie Sells Houses


Sun Salutation: 6 Sunroom Ideas to Help You Design a Haven for Relaxation




Looking for sunroom ideas to transform yours into an in-home oasis that rivals a resort? A sunroom can become an escape from life’s stresses, a haven for true relaxation. Sunrooms are typically spaces with windows or screens on three sides that, as the name suggests, let the sun shine through. Whether you want to shake up your current sunroom or create one from scratch, here are the questions you need to ponder to make sure you get it right.

Question No. 1: How can you optimize your area’s sunniness?

Your home’s location—or more correctly, the weather in that location—is the first piece to consider, since it plays a central role in sunroom design. Florida homeowners concentrate on heat and how to avoid sweltering temperatures, while in New Hampshire, the focus is more about avoiding cold, according to interior decor expert Kerry Spears, who has lived in both states.


Spears says Southern homeowners often use plants that enjoy hot and humid climates, brighter colors, and window treatments and blinds to block out the sun. Northern homeowners tend to prefer muted colors and plants that can withstand colder temperatures. They also need to winterize their sunrooms if they want to enjoy them between November and March.

Question No. 2: What’s the purpose of your sunroom?

If you’re looking to redesign a sunroom, you should figure out what you really want out of the room, says Linda Holt at Linda Holt Creative in Burlington, MA. Once you figure out its use, you can start designing your interior space.

Homeowners commonly use sunrooms as a:

  • Primary living room
  • Secondary living room
  • Dining room
  • Reading room
  • Craft room
  • Gym
  • Family game room
  • Music room

Question No. 3: Furniture and furnishings?

Sunrooms usually get a lot of direct light, so outdoor furniture is a wise choice. Holt says indoor wood furniture can crack if it’s left right in the brightest spot. Plus, the sun fades items, so consider outside performance fabric that is UV-resistant.

“A sunroom feels like an extension of the outdoors, so enhance that with your decor,” Spears says. She likes to go for furnishings and accessories in natural finishes like rattan, grasscloth, or exposed wood.

Other decorating must-do’s? Find an indoor/outdoor rug that fits the space. If you plan on using your sunroom as a dining room, window treatments are especially important. After all, you don’t want the setting sun shining in your dinner guests’ eyes.

Question No. 4: What colors should you choose?

Holt says color selection depends on the sunroom’s orientation. North-facing rooms are typically darker because they don’t get as much sunlight, so you’ll want to choose brighter colors that will reflect light better.

Of course, colors aren’t just what you put on your walls. Furniture, rugs, and accessories contribute to the room’s color palette.

Sunrooms typically have more windows than wall space, so the furnishings will play a large part in how colorful or muted your room looks.

“If you want to really connect with the nature just outside that sunroom, blues and greens blend well,” says Spears. “When done in lighter tones, those colors are also very soothing A sunroom, to me, always seems like a little slice of vacation in your home, so with that you want calm and relaxing tones.”

Question No. 5: How green is your thumb?

Holt says no matter what type of furniture and furnishings you add to your sunroom, there is one element that should be a part of every design—plants. Not faux flowers or fake trees. Real plants.

Holt says homeowners should figure out what plants will withstand the sunroom’s environment. Maybe your sunroom gets constant sunshine from 7 AM to 7 PM. In that case, you’ll want to choose plants that love the sun and heat. If the sunroom is in the shade for part or most of the day, then go with a plant that thrives in that environment.

“A good tip is to choose the same plants for your sunroom as you would for your garden,” Holt says.

Spears says some of her favorite sunroom plants are:

  • Fiddleleaf figs
  • Ficus trees
  • Orchids
  • Succulents
  • Ferns

Some of her favorites require indirect sunlight, but thrive in high humidity so place them in the room to avoid direct sunlight. For those in colder climates, you’ll need to make sure plants get enough heat in the cooler months.

Question No. 6: To TV or not to TV?

Whether to include electronics in your sunroom depends on what you want from the room. If you want a place to get away from the world, meditate and read books, then TVs and electronics don’t make sense.

Spears says sunrooms are typically a second living space, a place to relax. However, if you plan to use your sunroom as the main living area, you’ll likely want a TV. Spears says you can make them less conspicuous by mounting the TV and removing the console so it’s not the focal point of the room. “I also try and blend it in by having art or other interesting pieces surround it,” she says.

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