Color Psychology And Decor

Color personality tests are fun to take. Who doesn't enjoy being told that they're true blue or mellow yellow?

Color tests help you choose which shades to wear, which you may already know, but they may not help you when it comes to decorating your home.

You may look dynamic in red, but red might not be the right color to surround yourself at home, especially if you want to relax. Why? Red is a color that excites, not calms.

If you want your home to be a relaxing haven, soft blue or green may be more your style, even if you don't call those colors favorites in your wardrobe.

Color psychology and décor

Back in the 1940s, a Swiss psychiatrist named Dr. Max Lûscher found that colors impact your emotions and behavior. The Color Test Chart that he developed is still in wide use today in environmental psychology to help workers become more productive, students to concentrate better and so on.

From Dr. Lûscher's studies, we've learned that colors used in residential environments can also impact residents' moods and responses.

That means that red might not be so wrong for you after all. There are areas where using red in your décor will help you achieve the ambiance you want. Since red is exciting, dynamic, and energizing, it's often used in dining rooms to enhance appetites and to stimulate conversation.

Does that mean you should paint your dining room fire engine red? No, there are many shades of red that are a little calmer that can still supply the stimulating effect you want, such as reds that lean more brown or burgundy.

The important test when choosing color is what effect you want it to have on yourself or others:

  • If you're looking for drama, sophistication, colors that are oppose each other on the color wheel, like black and white, are excellent choices. Soften the effect with an infusion of calming light blue or green accents.
  • Whites, greys and beiges, for example, are quiet and conservative, which may lead you to be more introspective and thoughtful. When decorating with neutrals, jazz them up with jolts of strong secondary colors such as fuchsia or orange.
  • Both pinks and blues are tranquilizing, so they both make excellent colors for living areas and bedrooms.
  • Purples and greens are refreshing and relaxing, and send a subtle suggestion of wealth and opulence and luxury in darker shades.
  • It's counterintuitive, but yellow is optimistic and far from relaxing, so skip this color for babies' rooms and master suites. However, it's a good color for studies and kitchens, where concentration is essential.

If you're not sure what colors to put where, here's a simple rule that may help. The closer a color is to brown, the more neutral it is. If you like a certain color, you can always choose a ramped-up or tamped-down version of it for your home.

So go ahead -- make it red!

Mar 22, 2018 8:03:18 PM
Jump Start Your Organizing And Simplify Your Next Move

When you're selling your home, getting your belongings organized can seem like a low priority. You're dealing with finding the right real estate agent, the best time to list your home on the market, and maybe even house-hunting for a new place to live.

All of that can keep you quite busy considering many of us have to do those things while we work a full-time job. Organizing your home so that you can simplify your move just doesn't seem practical.

However, there is one main reason why getting organized can not only simplify your next move but also help improve your chances of selling your home faster and for more money.

When you go through the process of getting organized, you should be eliminating items from your home which helps to clear clutter. Clearing clutter is one of the first things agents and experts who stage homes for sale will tell you to do.

When the clutter is gone, the home can be shown much easier. Potential buyers can see what makes your house so special and different from others in the neighborhood.

If you're putting off the process of getting organized because you think you should wait until you accept an offer, let me encourage you to get motivated to do it sooner. I've seen it happen many times. The homeowner thinks there's plenty of time and then when an offer is accepted they're thrust into high gear because the buyer wants to close escrow fast.

Of course, your agent can negotiate the closing date but sometimes a faster closing is a must. Yes, you may be able to rent back from the new owners to give you more time to prepare to move but you can't avoid the fact that you'll need to move at some point.

Here are five tips that can help you jump start your organizing and simplify your next move. You will be glad you start before you get an offer to purchase your home.

1. Sort piles of belongings into groups: keep, giveaway, maybe, and trash. The "maybe" pile you box up and seal for six to 12 months. If you don't have a use for your items in the "maybe" box during the year then perhaps you can donate it.

2. Give yourself plenty of time. Be patient this process of getting organized takes time. Know that when it comes to sorting through personal papers and memorabilia it will take you much longer than reviewing other items. Leave some extra time for the expected reminiscing that will occur.

3. Store your items in clear plastic bins. Using clear boxes helps to let you have a quick view of what's inside. If you used cardboard boxes or colored bins, then use a pen to clearly label what's inside and which room it will go in at your new home. You might want to use a large piece of paper to write the label on so that you can reuse the bin again later for another purpose.

4. Get rid of the paper. A big problem in many homes is the paper trail they have from room to room. It could be magazines, newspapers, documents, advertisements, receipts, you name it. Most homeowners keep a lot of paper which creates a lot of clutter. Go through your files and reduce the paper by shredding or recycling documents you don't need. You'll find that a lot of what you're hanging on to, you just don't need.

5. Do it now! This is the most valuable tip. As soon as you finish reading this, go put a time on your calendar when you will begin to get organized. Placing it on your calendar should help you block off time to get started and prevent procrastination. If you take care of things right away, you'll find that life gets simpler. The same goes for your move. So, get organized and simplify your next move!

Mar 22, 2018 8:00:19 PM
12 Ways Buying New Construction Is Better, Worse, And Way Different From Other Homes

Buying a new home isn't the same as buying an existing home. The more you know going in, the more prepared you'll be to roll with the process - or run from the process.

Everything all bright, shiny, and new

No one else's taste, no one else's floorplan, no one else's germs. When you buy a brand - new home, it's built for you and hasn't been lived in by anyone but you.

Decisions, decision, decisions

There are those who love the idea of selecting the flooring, the cabinets, the kitchen countertops, the finishes, and the myriad other choices that need to be made when building a new home - and then there are those who get the shakes just thinking about it. If you're the latter, perhaps an already - built home is a better option for you.

What you see is not what you get

Model homes are typically decked out with beautiful upgrades and multiple options, and those upgrades and options can cost big bucks. If you want your home to look like the model, be prepared to shell out far more money than what the base price of the house indicates.

You'll have a warranty

"Warranties for newly built homes generally offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials relating to various components of the home, such as windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, and electrical systems for specific periods. Warranties also typically define how repairs will be made," according to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection site.

The duration of coverage varies depending on the component of the house. Coverage is provided for workmanship and materials on most components during the first year. For example, most warranties on new construction cover siding and stucco, doors and trim, and drywall and paint during the first year. Coverage for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems is generally two years. Some builders provide coverage for up to 10 years for ‘major structural defects,' sometimes defined as problems that make a home unsafe and put the owner in danger. For example, a roof that could collapse is a ‘major structural defect.'

Home warranties are typically extendable after that first year, although you'll be responsible for the cost.

You may have to buy sight unseen

In some cases, model homes may not be built - or only a few of the floorplans will be featured as models - and you won't have an opportunity to walk through the homes to get a feel for how they live. You should have pictures and floorplans to view, and maybe even a virtual tour, but if you're the type that needs to be in it to get it, you may be disappointed.

The noise - and the dust

When considering which home to buy, the location of the lot is obviously important. But have you asked about how construction is going to roll out in the neighborhoods? It could be that your home is on a street that serves as a main artery for trucks and other construction traffic. Or perhaps you're in a location where construction is going to be going on all around you for months. Yes, the noise and dust will disappear - eventually. But how long are you willing to wait?

Don't expect a price reduction

You may be used to negotiating on the price of an existing home for sale, but new home prices aren't typically negotiable. The builder or developer may be willing to throw in some upgrades as part of the negotiation, but, the hotter the community, the less likely you are to get anything for free.

You can still work with your real estate agent

Working with an agent who is savvy in new construction will help get you the home you want and any available extras. Keep in mind that many new - home communities today offer real estate agents a commission for bringing in a buyer, but they insist that the real estate agent register their buyer on the first visit. So don't show up alone to tour the community for the first time! You could cost your agent money and then have to navigate the purchase on your own.

It might behoove you to work with their in - house lender

If you're already working with a lender, you obviously don't want to be disloyal. But, there may be financial benefits to working with the builder/developer's in - house lender. Many times, they offer a lower rate overall, will buy down your rate, or will offer you a "teaser" rate that keeps your payments lower for the first year or first few years.

Get familiar with this term: Standing inventory

If builders have pre - built homes that are waiting to be sold, this is the one place you may have wiggle room room on price. Another advantage of standing inventory is there is no construction wait, and these homes are often nicely amenitized with upgrades.

You might not be able to buy the lot you want

New homes are typically released in phases, and it might be that the lot you have your eye on gets snapped up by someone who was prequalified before you, or higher up on a waiting list if it's a really popular community. Or, perhaps you want a homesite that isn't set for release until later when you're ready to purchase now. Flexibility is the key to being able to get what you want.

Amenities might not be available or built right away

If a community's amenities are a draw for you, be sure to ask about when they will be built. It could be that the pool and community park you're so excited about are years out from being realized.

Mar 21, 2018 8:06:53 PM
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Media Room

Most households have a room where the main activity is watching television. We're well beyond needing simply an electrical outlet and a pair of rabbit ears to entertain ourselves at home -- now, game consoles, cables, satellites, computer networks, streaming systems and stereo components can all communicate with your television. Be prepared for new devices incorporating cable management and methods of communication that will become "standard" in the future. Whether you're renovating your media space, building a new one or considering a quick upgrade, here are the elements to consider so you can make the most of your media room.

Screen Space

The more invisible the technology, the more able you are to immerse yourself in the media experience, but the beauty of a media room is that you don't have to hide the TV. So, splurge on the screen that suits your fancy and feel free to make it the centerpiece of the room in this case. On the other hand, if you would like to create a space that's a little more understated, yet visually dramatic when viewing media, consider a projector with a retractable screen. The screen hardware mounts to the ceiling, and the screen rolls up when you're not watching. Be sure to get a TV system that will handle all your media interests--Internet access, gaming, DVD or Blu-ray, and the components of your particular home theater set-up.

Sounding It Out

Most of our clients who build media rooms enjoy their screen time so much that we recommend they invest in audio equipment that's on par with their video equipment. Technology has thankfully advanced enough that you don't have to fill the room with tiny speakers for a surround sound effect. Install them flush to the ceiling or walls so you can keep your attention focused where you want it. If you want speakers to be truly invisible, you can go wireless or actually install completely invisible speakers. The working parts of the speaker are attached to a panel that looks like drywall, and is installed directly into the wall and painted over to match the rest of the space. The speaker elements simply vibrate against the panel to create sound.

Command Center

Finally, you need to create a space where you can house all of the electronic components of your new media center. Hard drives, DVR and cable equipment, gaming consoles and stereo equipment need a space to live that won't clutter up the room. The best solution for cable management is to have a small cabinet installed in the most convenient space to your equipment, yet is easily accessible. You'll need ventilation, but can easily install a media cabinet with a panel door that's ventilated.

Bringing It All Together

Now that you've got all your technology worked out, it's time to bring in your people! Consider the other functions the room will serve. If the room will function as more than a media room, break up the space to accommodate your other pastimes. Will you need a simple game table with seating for four, or a pool table that converts to a ping pong table and crafting station? Create those spaces behind the seating in your home theater so the whole family can spend time together without everyone having to watch "Rambo" again or rock out to some "Guitar Hero."


A sectional sofa is a versatile choice for a multipurpose space. They seat a lot of people comfortably, or just a few when folks want to sack out or snuggle up. If, however, your home theater is going to be dedicated solely to showing your favorite films, individual seating can really up the experience. Consider something that reclines -- recliners have come a long way in terms of attractive design. You can even get them with wireless speakers built into the headrest, which makes for an unforgettable cinematic or gaming experience.

Color and Texture

For designers, this really is a case of saving the best for last. This space is your retreat from the world, and an indulgence you've earned. Make sure you love the way it looks. In terms of color, go deep and bold for the best cinematic effect. If you can't handle deep navy on all four walls, consider adding it as an accent color on the wall behind the screen for maximum viewing effect. Add some texture and theatrical flair with draperies that block the light and add to that sense of indulgence. If soundproofing is an issue, make those draperies wall to wall, and have some fun with the fabric. Remember, more than any other room in the house, this is room where you should feel free to make it your own.

Now, hit the lights and pass that popcorn!

Mar 21, 2018 8:04:59 PM
HOA Meetings By Design

Meetings are the venues wherein homeowner association business decisions are made. Since these meetings are usually infrequent, the importance of the decisions made cannot be understated. However, some HOAs are decision challenged because:

The meetings rarely begin on time and often run late.

Discussions are endless and often inconclusive.

Issues decided at a previous meeting continue to be revisited.

Disagreements frequently turn ugly.

Meetings end when members are exhausted, not because they have completed the business at hand.

Many boards manage to conduct their business with a minimum of fuss and a measure of efficiency. These meetings don't happen by chance; they happen by design, and that design begins with an agenda.

If you don't have a destination in mind, any path will do. If a meeting lacks an agenda, it will go anywhere and everywhere and end up going nowhere. The agenda provides a road map for the meeting, identifying the issues to be discussed and establishing the order in which business will be transacted.

Knowing what is on the agenda allows board members to begin formulating their views before the meeting begins. It helps, of course, if board members actually review the agenda and any accompanying information in advance. But it takes more than advance preparation and an agenda to produce a successful meeting; boards also need a set of rules to guide their discussions.

Meetings don't have to be rigid or overly formal, but they do have to be orderly. Some boards use a simplified version of Robert's Rules of Order which includes such concepts like:

  • When a topic is brought up, a formal motion is required before it is discussed. This will ensure that more than one person thinks the issue is worth discussing.
  • Only one person is recognized to speak at a time by the chair.
  • Standards of civility (no personal attacks or interrupting).

A time limit for the meeting and for each speaker on each issue. Otherwise, boards end up spending too much time on relatively minor issues and not enough time on mores significant ones. If a majority of the board members think a topic requires more time, they can always vote to extend the discussion.

A reasonable agenda, advance preparation and rules of order provide the foundation for an effective meeting, like the tracks on which a train runs. But like a train, a meeting needs a steady hand on the throttle to keep it moving forward. Conducting both a train and a meeting require a certain amount of skill. The person in charge needs to control with a firm but not a heavy hand. In HOA meetings, this means giving all board members a chance to express their views, but also requiring them to stick to the topic and the time limits.

Some owners think they have an absolute right to participate in board meetings and some boards think it is best to hold their meetings behind closed doors. Both are wrong. Many states have specific requirements for most board meetings to be open to members (to audit not participate). Some have exceptions for "executive session", or a closed door session, which may exclude members which include:

  1. Employment issues
  2. Contract negotiations
  3. Consultation with counsel or review of information provided by counsel.
  4. Constitutionally or legally protected topics (such as medical records and attorney-client privileged information)
  5. Privacy issues

If a board discussion item does not fall under one of these exceptions, it must be discussed at an open board meeting.

As far as member participation in board meetings, state laws vary. However, regardless of state statute, it's good policy to set aside time for an open forum so members can ask questions and express their views.

Homeowner associations are required to hold annual meetings, but many governing documents are silent on how often the board must meet. The board is generally free to meet as often as it chooses. The size and complexity of the community and the personal commitments of board members will typically dictate the meeting schedule. Another consideration is that managers typically charge for their time to attend board meetings. Since it's important for the manager to be present at board meetings, the board needs to weigh the cost and benefit of more or fewer meetings.

When properly organized, smaller HOAs can usually suffice with quarterly board meetings while larger ones may need bi-monthly or monthly meetings. The more the meetings, the more important it is to have those meeting organized and efficiently executed. Volunteer time can only be stretched so far.

What happens after board meetings can be almost as important as what happens during the meetings. Some board members take votes against their proposals personally rather than of the suggestions they have made. They sometimes take their disappointment and anger outside of the meeting room, complaining publicly about the decision and even encouraging owners to overturn it. This behavior undermines the decision-making process, exacerbates tension, and erodes trust. As long as the board action is legal and in compliance with the governing documents, board members should accept that "majority rules" applies to votes they don't like as well as to those with which they agree.

All board decisions won't be unanimous, nor should they be. Honest differences of opinion are healthy, encouraging an exchange of ideas that improves the decision-making process and contributes to the successful meetings boards want to have. While board meetings won't always produce good decisions, they will almost certainly reduce the number of bad ones. To produce the likelihood of more good decisions, design your meetings for success.

Excerpts from an article by For more on effective meetings, see

Mar 20, 2018 8:01:20 PM
Condominium Mailing Lists Are Public Documents

Question. I live in a large condominium complex. Many of the owners are becoming increasingly upset with the practices and the conduct of our Board of Directors. Our annual meeting is coming up in about three months, at which time we will be able to elect several new Board members. We have asked our management company for a copy of the mailing list of all unit owners, so we can send a position paper to everyone. However, we have just been informed that our Board has instructed management not to make this list available to anyone. What can we do?

Answer. Whenever a condominium owner has a legal question regarding the operations of the Association, you must first look to your basic legal documents. In most associations throughout the country, there are generally four sets of documents governing a condominium association, although in some states, they have different names.

The "Declaration" is the document that actually created (declared) the condominium. This document is recorded among the land records where the condominium is located. The Declaration, among lots of other things,defines what constitutes common and limited elements, as compared to units. The Declaration also spells out the percentage interests and voting rigohts that each unit owner holds within the Association.

The "Bylaws" of the condominium outline the basic operating procedures as to how the Association functions. In effect, it is the "bible" of the association. For example, Bylaws generally define such matters as the number and role of the Board of Directors, what constitutes a quorum for voting at annual or special meetings, and what unit owners can and cannot do within their specific unit.

The third set of documents are the "plats and plans" of the complex. If they were prepared properly and by a licensed architect, they are very valuable because the define and show -- right on the appropriate location on the plans -- what is a common element, and what is a limited common element. This is extremely important to give guidance as to whether –for example -- the condo or the unit owner is responsible and has to pay for certain repairs, such as a pipe burst.

The last set of documents are the "Rules and Regulations" of the Association. These are promulgated by the Board of Directors, and should be circulated to all owners prior to final implementation. Usually, these Rules deal with such issues as trash collection, keeping pets, use of the swimming pool and health club, and similar housekeeping matters.

There is a legal heirarchy in connection with these legal condominium documents. Absolute priority must be given to the condominium law in your jurisdiction. Every state has a separate condominium law. Although most of the laws are substantially the same, there are some differences which must be carefully looked at when considering a legal issue.

The next level of priority goes to the Declaration. If there is something specifically spelled out in that document, it must be followed, unless the Condominium law states otherwise. It takes a very large majority of the owners to amend the Declaration.

The third level of priority is found in the Bylaws, which also requires amendment by a large majority, usually 66 2/3 of the percentage interests. Finally, we get to the lowest priority level -- namely the Rules and Regulations.

The specific answer to your question probably lies in your Bylaws. Of all of the various condominium documents which I have reviewed, I cannot recall a single condominium association that does not contain language permitting unit owners (and their mortgage lenders) access to the books and records of the Association. Clearly, the mailing list of unit owners falls within the category of "books and records."

The Board of Directors -- or the management company -- may charge you for copying this information. This is, in my opinion, fair and equitable, and you should be prepared to pay a reasonable copying fee. However, if the Board refuses to give you the current names and addresses of all the owners, you should bring this matter to the attention of the full membership at the next annual meeting.

You should also consult your attorney -- as well as contact the attorney for the Condominium Association. You have the legal right to this information, and the Courts will enforce this right if you ultimately have to bring a lawsuit against your Association.

There is, of course, a privacy issue involved. Clearly, unit owners do not want their names and addresses circulated for commercial or solicitation purposes. I do not think it appropriate for the mailing list to be used for such purposes. All too often, unit owners -- under the ruse of condominium business -- will obtain these mailing lists, only to use them for their own personal or professional reasons. Although living in a condominium subjects the unit owner to the concepts of democracy, the concept of privacy is -- or should be -- an important aspect of this democracy. Thus, if an owner does not wish to have his or her telephone number released, the Association must honor that request.

However, the name and address of each unit owner is a matter of public record in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for the jurisdiction in which the property is situated. Since this is public information -- and since the law (the highest priority) as well as your legal documents allows each owner access to all books and records -- there is no excuse for not giving you this important information.

Often, however, in order to preserve privacy, on behalf of client association, I have negotiated with owners seeking the mailing list that if they submit in a closed envelope the information they want to circulate, and submit enough envelopes for all owners, and if they pay the mailing costs, the board –through management– will address the envelopes and mail them. I believe this is an appropriate solution.

Mar 20, 2018 7:59:39 PM
No Such Thing As Real Estate Ethics?

A delightful little book by John Maxwell is provocatively titled, There's No Such Thing as Business Ethics. Now some might simply think, "no kidding." But for the curious, or those inclined to disagree, Maxwell's book makes an interesting argument. His point is not that all of business is unethical. Rather, he disagrees with the point of view that the operative ethical principles of business are somehow specialized and different from (occasionally, contrary to) the ethical principles that govern our everyday lives.

According to Maxwell, the test of what is ethically acceptable or unacceptable in the business context is exactly the same as that which applies in our everyday, non-work circumstances. For him, it is all summed up in one principle, The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you follow that, your behavior will be ethical; if you depart from it, it won't be. At work or at home, in the office or in the neighborhood.

I believe that Maxwell is correct that ethics in the context of business is simply an extension of ethics in general. There aren't special exceptions for business. It's as wrong to lie to your competitor as it is to lie to your neighbor. All of us, of course, have encountered different attitudes. We have heard "But this is business" said as if it meant "Anything goes". Certainly, some people feel that way. People who would never cheat in a neighborhood card game can be perfectly content to deceive their customers or rip off their suppliers. But this doesn't show that such people are operating according to a special "business ethic"; rather, it simply reveals that, in the context of business, they have made the decision to be unethical.

If it is true that ethics in business and ethics in everyday life are the same, it is legitimate to ask, why are codes of professional ethics sometimes so complicated?

The National Association of REALTORS® is rightfully proud of its Code of Ethics, a document first formulated in 1913, and amended at more that 30 different national conventions since then. With 17 articles, supplemented by over 70 Standards of Practice and more than 140 official Case Interpretations, it presents a complex set of documents.

Nor is the NAR® Code of Ethics a unique phenomenon. There are hundreds of professional and trade group codes of ethics. Physicians, lawyers, funeral directors, and wedding planners -- to name just a few -- all have professional codes of ethics. So also do many individual companies and corporations. They vary, of course, in range and complexity. How is it that professional codes can become so complicated? People need to understand that there are various purposes served by professional codes, although not every code serves them all.

(1)They bring to our attention and provide direction with respect to issues that might not otherwise even have been identified as matters for an ethical concern. While ethical principles may remain the same, frequently the circumstances encountered in business are quite different than anything we experience in the non-business world. A professional code can help us to decipher those situations.

(2) In many situations they provide us with the wisdom and insight of those who have preceded us. Quite simply, they save us the trouble of reinventing the wheel.

(3) Professional ethics codes sometimes also cover matters that are not so much ethical as they are issues of professional etiquette or proper procedure. They help to keep professionals "on the same page" when they are interacting with each other.

(4) Professional ethical codes are also sometimes used for the purposes of "drawing lines" in order to remove any unclarity about what may be considered acceptable or unacceptable. They help to remove the "shades of grey" that can be found in so many situations.

Professional codes, such as that of the Realtors', are based on everyday ethical principles. Their value resides in the fact that they show us how those principles apply to specific business contexts that well may not be "everyday".

Mar 19, 2018 8:18:06 PM