How to Make Your Bathroom More Eco Friendly

by Greg Dodge 9. October 2014 12:45
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How to Make Your Bathroom More Eco Friendly

The bathrooms in your home can be a central location for overindulgent use of natural resources, excessive waste and the use of toxic chemicals. This is why building or transitioning to an eco-friendly home often begins with the bathroom. There are several approaches to achieving this goal and can range from the elements that make up the bathroom to cleaning methods and product selection. If you are ready to turn your bathroom into one of the most sustainable rooms in your home take some of the following tips and suggestions into consideration.


This strategy is likely the most effective way to enhance the eco-friendly quality of your bathroom while also cutting down on costs. While there are certain habits that can bring down water use, such as replacing leaky faucets and taking showers instead of baths, there are also changes you can make to your bathroom to conserve water as well. Some of these strategies include:


Installing a low-flow shower head
Doing this has the potential to reduce your water consumption by up to 50 percent.

Install motion sensor faucets
Water is often highly wasted at the bathroom sink. Most people tend to use more water than necessary when brushing their teeth or washing their face and hands. One way to reduce this waste is to install a motion sensor faucet. This type of faucet will track when you need water to flow to avoid water running unnecessarily.

Retrofit or retrofit your toilet
Toilets consume more water in the typical home than any other appliance including the washing machine and shower. High-efficiency toilets can save 20 percent more water than older toilets. If you don't want to invest in new toilet it is also possible to retrofit the existing one by installing a controllable flush handle that gives users the options to use different amounts of water for either liquid or solid waste.

By incorporating these items into your bathroom you will save a significant amount of water in addition to drastically decreasing your water bill.



The bathroom is often subjected to excess humidity, which can result in mold and cause allergies, asthma and other breathing and health problems. Since the bathroom is usually the most humid room in a house it is a good idea to install proper ventilation equipment. By allowing the moist air to be pulled out of the bathroom it will be difficult for mold to grow. This re

duces the need to use bleach or other harmful chemicals.

Placing oxygen-producing plants in the bathroom can also be beneficial for the bathroom. This strategy not only reduces humidity but also helps to absorb indoor air pollutants. Good plants for the bathroom should not need direct sunlight and only require light watering.


If you are considering remodeling or building a

new bathroom there are several eco-friendly options to choose from. They can be made from recycled products or other types of green flooring material such as:


This is one of the best-selling green flooring materials on the market. In addition to its pleasing appearance, this material is more durable than many hardwoods and is resistant to water and mildew.

This is an eco-friendly alternative to the more expensive store flooring. Concrete is considered to be a green material since it already exists under many bathroom floors. Homeowners who uncover and use this sub layer create less of a toll on the environment. If the concrete is restored and sealed properly, it is a relatively low-maintenance and green flooring option.

This flooring material is gaining popularity not only for design purposes but also for its eco-friendly properties. Linoleum is hypoallergenic and is biodegradable and easy to recycle. Additionally, it is a resilient material that requires minimal care, is water resistant and is available in a wide range of colors.


There are a whole host of options when it comes to purchasing green products for your bathroom. From hand soap to bath towels just about every object in your bathroom can be more eco-friendly. Some of these items include:

Recycled Toilet Paper
There is often no noticeable difference between toilet paper made from recycled products and virgin toilet paper.

Green Shower Curtain
The typical vinyl shower curtains may be resistant to mold but they also release more than 100 toxic chemicals into the air. For this reason it may be a good idea to trade in your old vinyl shower curtain for one that is less harmful to both you and the environment.

Natural Cleaning Products
Many popular bathroom cleaning products contain bleach and other harmful ingredients. Opt for a green cleaning brand or natural household cleaners such a
s vinegar instead.

The elements that make up your bathroom as well as the products you use within it can largely be made more eco friendly. By purchasing green and certified organic products you can ensure that your bathroom routine has a reduced impact on the environment and is a safer setting for your body. Buying green and sustainable products also supports more ethical business practices. Once you have completed the process of building or transforming your bathroom it will be a space that will contribute to the wellbeing of your home, health and the environment.


Bathroom Design


by Greg Dodge 5. August 2014 15:21
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5 Modern Ways to Reduce Wasted Space in Your Floor Plan

by Greg Dodge 23. June 2014 07:34
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Part IV in our series - Avoiding Common Regrets When Building Your New Home.

5 Modern Ways to Reduce Wasted Space in Your Floor Plan


Building a home is exciting. You get to create your perfect space - a place where your family will make lots of wonderful memories. However, this can also be a stressful time, too. You don’t want to make decisions you will soon regret, and need to make sure the home comes together perfectly.


All the little design details in a home can be changed, but the floor plan will remain constant without some major renovation. So, before you get too worried about what paint color to choose and which light fixtures to buy, let’s focus on the layout of the house Whether you are building a 2,500 square foot home or one that’s over 12,000 square feet, you need to consider how to best use your space.


Not every square foot is created equal. Your floor plan can and should be created to make the most out of every single square foot. Many home designs can lead to a lot of wasted space, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take control of the floor plan and use every inch effectively.


Knock Down the Walls


Some home designs have multiple small rooms. If it is not imperative to your lifestyle, knock down a few walls and open up the area. Open floor plans are the way many modern home designs are leaning and are on the ‘must-have’ list for many homeowners.


Knocking down some walls can increase the size of high-traffic areas, so you use the space more effectively. If your family spends a lot of time in the family room, knock out the wall separating the family room and kitchen. It will open up the space and make the main room appear larger. If the house plans show two rooms where you only need one, take down the divider to make one room larger.


Ditch the Dining Room


Every older home has a dining room. It was part of the lifestyle of the time. Husbands were home from work at 5:00. Wives had the house clean and supper on the table. The children gathered ‘round and dinner was served in the dining room.


Modern families are more likely to have each parent working, kids with after-school activities and extra-curricular events and no one getting home until 7pm. Even then, family members are trickling in at different times. The days of eating in the dining room every night have come to an end for many families, and this large room is only being used two or three times a year for holiday dinners.


If the floor plan of your home

includes a dining room and your family lifestyle has no need for a formal place to eat your meals, Why not take this opportunity to rethink the entire room and dining experience. You can omit it completely or you can repurpose the space.


This room can be turned into an office, a playroom, a craft room or just about anything else you would actually use on a regular basis. The key to not wasting space is creating spaces that you will actually use.


Put Square Footage Where it Counts


In most modern families, a lot of time is spent in the kitchen and family room, so you should expand the available space. The kitchen is a natural gathering place, so feel free to add some square footage. Extend the wall in the kitchen a few feet, even if it makes the guest bathroom a little smaller. Widen the family room, even if it cuts into the entryway.


Most square footage should be used in the main living areas of the home. It is okay if your rear-entry foyer is just big enough for a bench and some lockers for coats and shoes. It is okay if your bathrooms don’t have enough space to host a fashion show. Cutting square footage from secondary spaces makes the high traffic areas more open and enjoyable.


Consider your Needs

Picture Courtesy Mother Nature Network

Every family’s needs are a little bit different, and certain requirements can result in specific changes. If you have young children running around, you may want to add a little width to your hallways. If you have teenagers you may want to add an additional room for watching TV and playing video games. If you are the king and queen of entertaining, you can add space to the family room or a guest bedroom.


The key to each room in your home is purpose. If a room serves no real purpose, it is a waste of space. If you think you will use a room, but aren’t sure what for, it may languish untouched for years. In order for space to be well-used, it must have a function.


Think Outside the Box


Many floor plans are strikingly similar. If there is something you’d like to change about the traditional layout, change it. Don’t be scared to step away from the norm. Just because a floor plan has a certain number of rooms or distribution of space does not mean it is set in stone.  Feel free to personalize it and make adjustments. After all, it is your home.


If your lifestyle doesn’t need a certain room, take it out. If you require more space to make an area more livable, add it. The biggest key to not wasting space is to cater your floor plan to the needs of your family. If a space has a purpose, keep it or increase it. If it doesn’t, kiss it goodbye and use the square footage elsewhere.


Decade of Change | Design Trends | Home Styles

The Home Office - Essential to the Modern Floor Plan

by Greg Dodge 5. May 2014 08:43
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Part III in our series - Avoiding Common Regrets When Building Your New Home.

The Home Office - Essential to the Modern Floor Plan



home office.jpg

Whether you work from home full time or just need a space to keep your personal finances in order, the home office has become an essential room in the home. Over 2 million people work from home at least part-time, changing our priorities in the way we design our homes.

Deemed more important than the traditional dining room, many people are ditching the dinner table for a desk, and saying goodbye to a formal eating space. Who can blame them? A room that is only used during the holidays is hardly worth keeping. From condo living to a 4000+ sq. foot home, there are endless possibilities to design your work space.


Make it practical

One very important aspect of designing a home office is location. Have kids? They may not do well with unseen boundary lines, so the living room is probably not the best place to get set up. What about frequent guests staying the night? You won't get much accomplished when visitors come into town if your office doubles as a guest bedroom. Privacy and a quiet atmosphere are essential to making your home office a success. It is also important to have a window that lets in a good amount of natural light due to the strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and your sleep, activity, and quality of life.


Make it useful

Perhaps you have the prettiest office on the block, but it won't do you much good if you don't have room to store all of your supplies. A home office must have plenty of storage space to be useful. Drawers, shelves, and filing cabinets are all great places to start maximizing space. For those in truly tight quarters, consider floating shelves above your desk for extra storage that doesn't take up unnecessary floor space.


Make it resourceful

There are certain items that every home office should have. When planning yours, you should definitely consider these:

·         Office desk - Every workspace needs a desk, and if your space can accommodate a larger desk, then it is worth the investment. The desk is where you will be doing all of your work, and it is important to have one large enough to spread your work in front of you.


·         Office chair - Finding the right office chair isn't as easy as it looks. Some elements to consider are a chair that swivels, has adequate padding, good lumbar support, and adjustable height.


·        Storage - Even if the majority of your work is done on a computer, there will always be some paperwork to keep in your office. If you don't have a lot of paperwork, then a small one- or two-drawer filing cabinet might be a good choice. It is always best to overestimate your needs so you do not run out of space.


Make it stylish

Functionality is always essential when designing any space; however, you should not sacrifice style for function. It is important to design a space that is visually appealing so you don't dread going to work. Brighten your office and your mood by:


·         Adding plants.

·         Personalizing your space with pictures.

·         Hanging an inspiration board to remember the goals you are working toward.


Condo Living


Perhaps you live in a small condo or townhome and a full-size home office does not fit in the space you have. Consider a "pocket office" for your small condo or otherwise cramped quarters. These spaces can fit into a large closet or even a spare corner of a room. You don't need a lot of room to create a workspace that is both useful and beautiful.


Larger Homes

There are many design and layout options to choose from when planning an office in a large home. To get away from the noise and distraction of the first floor, some two-story homeowners are opting to put their office on the top floor directly off the stairs. For that same reason, others choose to nestle their office in a corner next to a bedroom.

When choosing your layout, keep in mind your personal work style. Do you thrive on loud noise or music? Near the living room is a good possibility. Perhaps you prefer to work in absolute silence? Near the back of the house or by an older child's bedroom is better. Make your office tailor-fit to your own needs to make your work environment a success.


Libraries and Studies

Not everyone needs a large workspace in their home, and a library/personal study is an option for those who might be looking for a more relaxed environment for light work, without the business overtones.  

While we may not all be capable of installing an ornate study/library, there are many smaller scale options that would be just as satisfying. Built-in bookshelves might be expensive, but freestanding models come in a variety of sizes, colors and price points. Add a desk to turn your library into a study were you can write or take notes on your reading. Keeping your essential costs down allows you to splurge on one or two decorative pieces to give your library an elegant feel. Antique bookstands and globes are a good place to start, but consider a rolling library ladder for an old-timey, whimsical touch.


An Office that Fits


Not everyone is lucky enough to have the option of working full-time out of their home, but we can all use an organized space for paying the bills, working on the computer, and storing our personal or business paperwork. It doesn't need to be expensive or elaborate, but it should invite calmness and productivity. By critically thinking about your location, planning for enough storage space, and decorating it to look inviting, you can easily create a workspace you will enjoy every day.


Previous Posts in this series


6 Master Tips for the Master Bedroom - Part II in our series Avoiding Common Regrets When Building Your New Home

by Greg Dodge 24. March 2014 14:27
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Part II in our series - Avoiding Common Regrets When Building Your New Home


In case you missed our first post about what to consider when designing your kitchen you won't want to miss it. Read it here.



6 Master Tips for the Master Bedroom

When you begin looking over the plans to build your brand new home, you will experience a lot of emotions, and excitement is probably one of the big ones. You (and your significant other in many cases) get to help create a home to match your wants and needs, how could you not be!?! 


If you are like most, you will probably begin to feel a little overwhelmed as well. With all the decisions you get to make, your builder will be looking for direction on this room and that. Which upgrades do you want? Where should you place your vents? What kind of lighting do you want in your master bedroom?

Understanding what is available to you before you have to make these decisions will help you when it comes time to make decide. Not only will this help you avoid that overwhelmed feeling, but it will decrease the stress and make the whole experience more enjoyable.

With that said, lets get into what you are all here for:

Six Masterful Tips for Your Master Bedroom!


The master bedroom is yours! Its your space to retreat, sleep, relax and feel at home. Taking the time to make it a place you will enjoy and find comfort in will go a long way in helping you love your home. So, what should you consider when putting your master suite together? How about we start with the following six areas:


1.   Focal Point

2.   Comfort

3.   Lighting

4.   Color

5.   Ceiling

6.   Storage

Focal Point


Deciding where (and what) your focal point will be before hand, will help you create a master bedroom you will be able to enjoy for years to come. You may have a number of options to choose from, fireplace, large window, doors leading outside, but no matter what the options may be youll want to begin by looking at the layout of the room.


Where will you place your bed, dressers and any additional furniture you may be planning to add? Having this in mind will help you visualize what you ultimately want out of your master suite. Once you have an idea of what will be going into the room, you will be able to determine where you focal point will be.

Depending on the builder and house plan, you may have a few add-on options to choose from, the fireplace, double doors leading to your deck or maybe even a large bay window. Any of these options would make for a beautiful focal point. If these arent available to you, you may want to consider the placement of your bed and/or the inclusion of the large painting.



As you settle in and begin to discuss the layout of your new bedroom, I recommend keeping comfort in mind. As I stated earlier, this is your room! Make it a sanctuary to yourself (and significant other.) Make it a place where you will be able to getaway, when you cant getaway.


This could include simple things like the placement of your bed to enjoy the beautiful view outside to which upgrades will help you feel more at home. Imagine how the setup will help calm you, and provide a relaxing space to get the rest you need.


If you do have a significant other, make sure that both of your voices are being heard. This should be a room you can enjoy together.



You've probably already been thinking about this, you may have thought about wall sconces, chandelier or how the natural light will come into play. If so you are on the right track!


Not only can you look at how the lighting will brighten your sanctuary, but you can add a touch of you with the style in the fixtures. You may want to take a look at a site like for ideas.


As you explore windows and the benefits of natural light.   Transom windows are usually smaller and placed high in a wall allowing daylight and at the same time, privacy.  When set atop other windows, they extend views and sight-lines.  Where appropriate, you may also want to include a blackout liner for when you need to rest during daylight hours. Additionally, I would recommend adding a dimmer, so you can adjust the brightness during the evening and late night hours.



Similar to the lighting, you may already have a few ideas in your head. If you already have bedding, furniture or even art picked out, I recommend taking the time to understand how it will look with the color schemes you have in mind.


If you are struggling to choose the colors, check out these tips from the Decorating Files. Remember the colors we choose will affect our modes.




Will the master bedroom be on the 1st floor? Will the ceilings be angled because of the roof? How will the ceiling compliment the walls? As you can see this is only skimming the surface of choices you will have when deciding how to ensure the ceiling will compliment the goals you have for this important room.


Far too often I see new home builders skimp over the ceiling, and miss out on a tremendous opportunity to add some character to a room where they will be spending so much time on their backs. Spend a little extra time to add a little bit of yourself to the ceiling. Check out these fun ideas from HGTV to get started to get your creative juices flowing.



Maybe you have planned for a large closet or have a few dressers youll be counting on and feel youll have plenty of storage. If so you could be missing out on a great opportunity to get creative and ad some additional storage you may want or need in the future.


You may want to consider adding some shelving, built in doors or maybe even an alcove for a little more creative storage space. Dont limit yourself just the traditional, get creative and check these storage ideas from DigsDigs for more ways to add to your storage needs.


Whatever your needs (or wants) are, we can all get a little creative and make our master bedroom a place we can truly enjoy with a little bit of planning and preparation.


What ideas and tips do you have? I would love to hear about how youve made your master bedroom a room that reflects who you are and what you need.



Design Trends | Master Bedroom Design

Avoiding Common Regrets When Building Your New Home

by Greg Dodge 25. February 2014 09:51
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The moment you’ve waited for has arrived, keys are in hand and your builder is eager to show off the finished product. You are flooded with a mixture of emotions, relief, joy, exhaustion and you can’t wait to finally move into you brand new home!


Three months later, and for the most part you couldn’t be happier…well except for…


We’ve all been there, whether it is our first car or picking a major in school; we wish we would have done something a little different. When it comes to building a new home, what we thought we wanted doesn’t always end up meeting our needs.


So, whether you’re building your first home or you are a recent empty nester looking to downsize, join us as we take a look at how to avoid making some common regrets in your dream home.


First up we take a look at the kitchen.



5 Areas to Consider When Designing Your Kitchen


Depending on where you are in life, can make a big difference not only with what you need in the kitchen but what you want as well. If you love to cook and you have a large family, you might want to double up on the ovens. Or you may be recent empty-nesters, and you are downsizing your collection of bowls and plates. Whatever the case, here are the 5 most important things to evaluate and pay close attention too.

1.  Size: Storage space, cabinetry, pantry
2.  Placement Sink & Appliances
3.  Appliances
4.  Flooring
5.  Colors, lighting (Not enough light)


As you begin reviewing options for your kitchen, keep in mind the following 5 areas to avoid any major regrets.


Kitchen Size & Storage Space (Cabinets & Pantry)


Scholz Design's Siena Manor B 135, Home Plan 56139 Kitchen


Getting the kitchen size right can go a long way to avoiding any potential regrets lurking around the corner. Nobody wants to start cooking in a kitchen and feel cramped, nor do you want to look around at your massive room and feel as though you missed out on an opportunity because of your gargantuan kitchen space.


Take some time before you sit down with you builder to discuss with your spouse what each of you is expecting out of your kitchen. You’ll be deciding the overall size as well as storage space (cabinets and a pantry.) Getting the size and space right is key to feeling happy with your finished kitchen. 


How many dishes will you need? How often will you be entertaining? How many meals will you be preparing each week? Although it can be hard to hit the sweet spot when it comes to storage space, it is usually better to err on the side of too much storage space.




Design 42057 Kitchen. As built by Sam Bradley Homes in Springfield, MO.


We all want to get the most out of the kitchen. One thing I hear often about building your own home is,


“You don’t always get what you want but you get what you ask for.”


I think there is nothing in the house more applicable to that as you are considering the size of this space you’ll want to think about the layout as well. Addressing simple questions such as functionality, design and placement of appliances, can help you get the most out of your kitchen. Especially if you are looking at one story home plans, this decision is even more important.


Take some time to really understand what you like and don’t like in the kitchen. If you’re like me and enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you’ve probably already been making mental notes of what you do and don’t like about your current kitchen. Don’t stop there! Write down any ideas you have, spend some time in your family and friend’s kitchens, and consult with your builder.


Sinks & Appliances


Design 42048.  A kitchen with a view.  Extra storage in the enlarged island compensates for the loss of cabinets on the outside wall.  Lots of windows allow for tons of natural light!


Sink location and the number of sinks in a kitchen has evolved considerably the last couple of years. As the beautiful sink above illustrates.


While you’re deciding on what type of sink to get, you may not be spending as much time thinking about where to place it. We recommend giving a lot of thought into where your sink will go. Deciding on the type of sink and placement of that sink should be a joint decision. Look at the positives and negatives of the positions you are considering and talk to family and friends about what they like and don’t like about their sink.


Ditto for your appliances! Getting placement right the first time will help you avoid possible headaches down the road and help you enjoy your kitchen to its fullest.


Flooring & Countertops


Home Plan 2174 the Cordeaux


We all have preconceived ideas on what we like and want. When it comes to flooring and counters, most of us probably have a preference, whether it is hard wood floors and marble countertops or bamboo floors and soapstone countertops.


Whatever your preference or preconceived ideas are, you should take some time to understand what options are available to you and fit your budget. In most cases this will help you avoid regretting your floors and countertops.


Lighting & Colors


unexpected color!


Far too often lighting is one of the last things new home builders worry about, especially in the kitchen. Invest additional time and research into understanding how the light fixtures will play in your space. You’ll find that most experts recommend using a mixture of fixtures to layer the light in the kitchen.


As you make your lighting decisions don’t forget to factor in the color of your walls, floors, cabinets and countertops. How will these colors affect the overall look and feel of your kitchen? How will they appear in each layer of lighting? While you can change the colors of our walls and cabinets on a whim, it can be more of a challenge when it comes to your floors and countertops.


Prepare Now to Avoid Any Possible Regrets

As you begin planning your kitchen, come prepared with your ideas. Know what you want and need. Don’t leave the decisions up to the builder.


Spend some time looking at the kitchens of your family and friends, and keep track of what you like and don’t like. You are building a home for you and your family, and the time you spend investing in understanding what you want and need, will pay off in limiting if not eliminating regrets and making you a happy new home owner!


Sooner or later after building a home you will say “I wish I had thought of that!” Sign up to our HER Home Thought of the Day to make sure you don’t say that (as often) after building your next home.





Decade of Change | Design Trends | Kitchen Design | Products for the Home

President's Day!

by Greg Dodge 17. February 2014 10:33
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Happy Presidents' Day


Over the weekend, my family talked about the different Presidential homes we have visited. These pictures were taken on one of our trips to D.C.   All the homes are with day trips from D.C.  Can you identify them?







We are are curious to know if you have visited any presidential homes. If so which ones? Which is your favorite?

Thank you MelD (my wife) for the idea!


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Garage Design | History

Doubling up in the kitchen

by Greg Dodge 28. January 2014 06:44
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Designing the perfect kitchen is a matter of personal style. Everything from your household size to meal preferences to how you like to entertain needs to be considered.  



If your new kitchen has sufficient cabinet space, many people are eliminating a base cabinet and adding a second dishwasher. You may be surprised how little the difference in price is. And for individuals who set the table right out of the dishwasher (hey, they're clean dishes!) it's almost like you didn't give up any storage!




Design Trends | Destressing | Kitchen Design

The Kitchen Pantry is Evolving

by Greg Dodge 6. January 2014 16:46
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Pantries got bigger reflecting our appetite for prepared foods. Then they got bigger again as we filled them with mixers, crock pots and small appliances. Now many pantries are being designed as food prep areas.  Women challenged and inspired our designers to create a food prep area separate from the kitchen to keep the kitchen's aesthetic appeal during entertaining. Practical considerations meant it had to be  close to the kitchen with easy access to everything you need. We dubbed the solution the "work-in" pantry! Pantries have not only gotten larger, they're often becoming more discrete. Increasingly popular are kitchen pantry designs where the storage is not visually open to the kitchen. The layout may have a door from the kitchen with storage around the corner, or locate the pantry door itself around the corner from the kitchen. The pantry may even have dual access, with a door from the rear foyer meaning groceries can be stored in the pantry without having to first unload them in the kitchen before putting them away!

Example Floor Plans




Design Trends | Kitchen Design | Storage

HER Home Thought of the Day - Best of 2013

by Greg Dodge 30. December 2013 07:40
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Published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, HER Home’s Thought of the Day is derived from our audience feedback as well as real-life experiences of the Her Home staff. This email series is designed to answer the question -- "I wish I had known about that!" This Monday, Wednesday, Friday email places in your inbox, solutions to common home building questions, design ideas, and insights into products to put into your new home or remodel project.


We had some great responses to our topics in 2013.  Here is the 'Best of" for 2013.  


Enjoy.  Be safe. See you in 2014.


Subscribe to HER Home at Thought of the Day here

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Decade of Change | Design Trends | General