Doorways Magazine Inspiring Home Design Ideas and Healthy Living Tips Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:02:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Doorways Magazine 32 32 HARP 3.0 Mortgage Refinance Program Status Update Fri, 03 Jun 2016 16:57:17 +0000 When will HARP 3.0 be available? More than 2.7 million households have taken advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). Will you qualify?

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harp refinancing guide

When will HARP 3.0 be available? Keep reading to find out below.

So far more than 2.7 million households have taken advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – saving over $3,000 per year on their mortgage. Soon more homeowners will be able to refinance under the new HARP guidelines.

One of the main benefits of the current version of the HARP program is that homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed mortgages can refinance even if they were severely underwater.

Now the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is looking to expand the program into what many are calling HARP 3.0.

HARP 3.0: Home Affordable Refinance Program

Why is this program making such a stir even before it’s released? Well, it would allow non-Fannie Mae and non-Freddie Mac mortgages to be refinanced. That’s great news for anyone struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments.

It may also allow existing HARP mortgages to be refinanced as well. The program would also expand to include mortgages that were originated after May 31, 2009.

Rumor has it, there is a possibility that HARP 3.0 would allow first and second mortgages to be consolidated upon refinancing.

Even though there are countless homeowners waiting for the release the new refinance program, the good news is that FHFA has extended the current HARP program until December 31, 2016

While there is a bill in congress called “The Responsible Homeowners Act” that could become the backbone of HARP 3.0 – the FHFA does not need congressional approval to expand HARP.

Check back for more updates soon!

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What is a Lender Credit? Sat, 21 May 2016 19:44:23 +0000 Thinking about using a lender credit for closing costs? You might want to think again. If you are deciding whether to pay points or not there are a few things you need to know first. This is one area where homeowners make mistakes without realizing it. What is a lender credit and why is it …

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lender credit explainedThinking about using a lender credit for closing costs? You might want to think again.

If you are deciding whether to pay points or not there are a few things you need to know first. This is one area where homeowners make mistakes without realizing it.

What is a lender credit and why is it so important?

The answer to this question comes down to how your loan originator gets paid.

Will you pay the mortgage broker or will the lender pay them for their service?

This is important is because before the mortgage crisis loan originators were receiving commissions from both the borrower and lender. To make matters worse, they were getting the biggest commissions on the highest risk loans.

To put an end to these practices, the Federal Reserve Board set a rule that “prohibits a loan originator that receives compensation directly from the consumer from also receiving compensation from the lender or another party.”

Now when you take out a home loan from a mortgage broker they can only receive a commission from you or the lender – not both.

When you pay points on a home loan this covers the mortgage brokers fee for originating the loan. That’s how they make a profit.

On the other hand, if you choose a mortgage without points you will likely be paying a higher interest rate to cover these fees.

The interest rate you pay above the par rate (the current mortgage base rate) is called the Yield Spread Premium (YSP). For instance, if the current mortgage rate is 4% but your lender is offering you a rate of 4.25% then the Yield Spread Premium is .25%.

Now where does a lender credit fit into all of this?

Here’s where the new Federal Reserve rules come into play. If your lender charges an origination fee – such as a processing fee, underwriting fee, administration fee or application fee – the Yield Spread Premium must be given to the borrower as a credit.

Using a Lender Credit for Closing Costs

Using a lender credit towards closing costs is popular because many homeowners are cash strapped. After all, they put all of their savings into a 20 percent down payment, will need to pay moving costs and still save up for potential home repairs.

Asking them to pay another $8,000 in origination fees and closing costs is probably out of the question.

In exchange for not receiving an upfront commission, mortgage brokers will offer an interest rate above the par rate to cover their costs.

As I mentioned above, the brokers cannot charge an origination fee and take a Yield Spread Premium at the same time. However, they can raise the interest rate to cover their costs so homeowners don’t have to pay any out of pocket expenses.

Although you avoid paying any upfront fees or closing costs by taking a lender credit, it’s important to note that your mortgage payment will be higher each month. You will also be paying more in interest charges over the life of the loan.

If you plan to move again soon, a lender credit will help you save money in the short-run. However, if your next home purchase is hopefully your last, you might save more money by paying the closing costs out-of-pocket in exchange for a lower interest rate.

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Try One of These Kitchen Paint Colors with White Cabinets Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:21:57 +0000 Here you’ll find the best paint colors for kitchens with white cabinets and other great kitchen color schemes. Read these kitchen painting tips before you pick up that brush.

The post Try One of These Kitchen Paint Colors with White Cabinets appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

kitchen color ideas with white cabinets
Photo via Kitchens of Diablo
White kitchen cabinets are the most requested item my clients ask for during their kitchen remodel. But, your cabinets are just half the battle in the kitchen design process.

Below you’ll find out the best paint colors for kitchens with white cabinets and other great kitchen color schemes.

One advantage of choosing kitchen paint colors with white cabinets is that your options are wide open. Unfortunately, the amount of choices can become overwhelming for most homeowners.

The key is to choose a color that will go well with your cabinets, countertops, backsplash and flooring, all while matching your existing decor. Don’t worry it’s easier than it sounds.

Here are my recommendations of wall colors that go great with white cabinets.

It should be no surprise that the most popular colors that go with white cabinets are whites, tans and grays. These neutral colors will keep your kitchen looking fresh, clean and sophisticated for years to come.

Sherwin Williams Pavestone (SW7642)

Painting kitchen cabinets white
White Kitchen Cabinets – Photo

There are many variations of these colors that will go great with almost all white cabinets. But, for your reference I’ve included the wall colors shown in these photos in case you want to make this easy on yourself.

This traditional kitchen features white cabinets with white subway tile and dark granite countertops. If you’ve looked at other kitchen paint colors you’ll notice that white is a popular wall color. I realize that some of you may be looking for warmer palettes.

This kitchen does a great job balancing the white backsplash and cabinets with warm hues on the walls. The paint color on the walls in this kitchen is Sherwin Williams Pavestone (SW7642).

Benjamin Moore Danville Tan

kitchen color ideas with white cabinets
Photo via Kitchens of Diablo

We all know that the kitchen is the central hub for most families today. Why not add some energy to the space with a lighter color on the walls? With white marble countertops, this tan wall color helps brighten up the space, while giving it a warm feel.

The difference between these two photos may seem subtle, but there are a few design lessons to be learned.

For one, your kitchen countertops play a big role in your kitchen color schemes. Dark wall colors blend well with dark countertops and light wall colors compliment light countertop materials very well.

This kitchen features Benjamin Moore Danville Tan paint on the walls.

Chef’s Choice

kitchen paint colors with white cabinets
Photo via CliqStudios

For those of you that are more adventurous, here is a great example of how a bright wall color can completely transform your space. The great thing about painting your kitchen walls is that the color can be changed whenever you feel like it!

Although some may say that painting your kitchen is a time consuming and tedious process, it’s important to point out that paint is only temporary. Feel free to take a risk and go with an energetic color that matches your personality. Have some fun!

What are your favorite kitchen paint colors with white cabinets? Share with our community or leave us a message on our Facebook page. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

The post Try One of These Kitchen Paint Colors with White Cabinets appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

Why We Love the Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:35:36 +0000 The health benefits of matcha green tea are the same as those found in regular green tea. However, the benefits are much more potent in matcha tea.

The post Why We Love the Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

matcha green tea health benefits

For green tea aficionados, Matcha Green tea offers a unique alternative. The name itself means “powdered tea”.

This powdered green tea is popular because it is much more potent than regular green tea, and because it offers a higher does of caffeine while providing a calm and alert mind.

Benefits of Match Green Tea

The benefits of matcha green tea are the same as those found in regular green tea. These benefits, however, are much more potent in matcha tea.

Consider this, when steeping green tea you discard the leaves, while with matcha you are actually drink them.

The powder is so fine that it is easily mixed with near boiling water, providing a potent blend of nutrients, and antioxidants.

The antioxidants found in this tea help free radicals within the body, helping protect you from certain types of cancer, dyslplasia, and Parkinson’s disease. The tea also has a powerful effect on cholesterol.

Drinking matcha green tea daily has been show to lower cholesterol levels over the course of 24 weeks. Bone density has also been shown to increase when you drink 500 mg of matcha green tea over the same duration.

It can also be used as a weight loss supplement and mental alertness stimulant. Matcha green tea increases your energy expenditure and increases your fat oxidation rate. Drinking matcha green tea, or even regular green tea can decrease your waist circumference by 4.5% over the course of 3 months.

The caffeine content is 3 times higher in matcha green tea than regular tea and provides a gradual/stable source of energy unlike the high peak and rapid drop observed with the consumption of coffee.


Matcha green tea contains all of the nutrients seen in green tea but in higher proportions. It contains antioxidants including polyphenols and catechins. Drinking this tea also provides you with vitamins such as Vitamin A, B-complex, C, E, and K.

The powder is mixed with almost boiling water and then whisked to create a frothy dark green tea with a very vegetal, grassy taste.

Though the caffeine content of matcha green tea is less than that found it coffee, pregnant and nursing women may need to limit their consumption of this drink. Likewise, it is not recommended for children.

Another health warning is the lead content of the tea. While the tea leaves are growing, they naturally absorb lead from the soil and environment. When you drink regular green tea, you steep the leaves and remove them, and 90% of the lead remains in the leaves which are then thrown out. In matcha, the leaves are ground and you consume them leading to a higher consumption of lead.

Some studies have shown that a cup of match can contain 30 times more lead than a cup cup of green tea. As such, limit matcha tea to one cup a day and do not serve it to children.


The green tea leaves from which matcha is made originally originated in China. Today its leaves are harvested all throughout Asia. It comes from the Camellia saneness plant. Unlike green tea however, the leaves cultivated for matcha are covered with shade clothes prior to harvest. This helps grow leaves of better texture and taste.

They are then hand selected, steamed, dried, and aged. Then the leaves are ground into a fine powder for your enjoyment. There are a couple varieties on them market but these differences are based on location and cultivation method rather than the plant itself.

Where to Buy

The phrase you get what you pay for certainly applies to matcha green tea. The better the quality the higher the price. Ten ounces of organic Matcha will cost around $25 while cheaper brands average around $10 per 8 oz.

Most grocery stores carry this type of green tea either in store or on their online. For high quality matcha tea, you will find a wider selection of companies and prices online.

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Kitchen Craft Cabinets: Too Good to Be True? Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:31:07 +0000 Kitchen Kraft has a very high reputation, affordable pricing, and wonderful selection of kitchen cabinets. Read our complete review to find out more.

The post Kitchen Craft Cabinets: Too Good to Be True? appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

kitchen craft cabinet styles
A wide variety of styles available – Photo via

Kitchen Craft offers its customers European style, fashion-forward modern cabinets tailored to their specific needs and tastes. These cabinets are designed with both quality and versatility in mind.

The company offers the following styles:

  • Casual
  • Contemporary
  • Rustic
  • Traditional

Their cabinets can only be purchased from authorized dealers. This ensures that the measurements and design assistance are professional and the level of attentiveness is individualized to your specific needs. Their website has a Where To Buy search where you can locate the dealer nearest to you.

Company Background

Kitchen Craft has been providing its innovative designs for over 40 years. The company was founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since been selling in both the Canadian and American market. In 2002 Kitchen Craft became a subsidiary of MasterBrand Cabinets.

Within Kitchen Craft there are two lines of cabinetry called Integra and Aurora. The products are manufactured in Canada and feature recycled materials and hardwoods from certified sustainable foresters.

Construction Quality

Kitchen Craft cabinets are much cheaper than brands such as KraftMaid. The company offers every type of construction. One of these types is known as Frameless Construction. This style uses a thicker box construction, full overlay doors, and adjustable shelves.

Kitchen Craft uses several types of materials in their construction. These include; particle board, plywood, veneer, and Therma-Foil. The Thermafoil compound is only used on cabinet doors.

On feature that sets Kitchen Craft apart from other cabinet builders is the fully customizable cabinet interiors. So if you love bulk shopping or love roll trays for organization, Kitchen Craft provides you with customized storage solutions.

The standard cabinet features 6-way adjustable hinges, 5/8” thick furniture board cabinet sides, and melamine interiors. The standard cabinet features a thick horizontal crosspiece brace for stabilization. The shelves are fully adjustable. Customers can also choose to upgrade to a plywood construction for increased durability.

Cabinet drawers come in melamine, metal, or wood options. The hardwood drawers use solid hardwood, dovetailed joints, and soft-closing drawer guides. The metal drawers also feature the soft close feature.

Cabinet interiors can be customized to white, natural wood grain, or even a combination. If you prefer, the interior can be stained to match the exterior.

The doors of their cabinets use furniture-grade solid wood and veneers. The company also offers Thermofoil, Mullion, and specialty doors. As you can see, their selection is quite extensive.

Common Complaints

Kitchen Kraft has a very high reputation, affordable pricing, and wonderful selection of products.

Some customers find that it is very difficult to contact the company directly regarding product problems or concerns. They are always redirected to their local dealers who do not always have the solution.

When it comes down to the bottom line, the quality of the cabinets will depend on the construction style, quality of the installation, and usage.

Be prepared for some delays in shipping and give yourself a buffer in case you need to return a damaged product.


If you are hoping to upgrade your kitchen with functional, affordable, and beautiful cabinets, Kitchen Craft provides a large variety from which to choose. Their customizable cabinet interiors make it easy to create a layout that fits your needs precisely.

While the majority of customers have positive experiences and are pleased with their purchases, there are several who have had problems with the finish or installation.

Be sure that the measurements are done correctly and that you are speaking to a true professional before ordering the cabinets.

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3 Paint Color Ideas for Kitchens with Oak Cabinets Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:09:22 +0000 What are the best kitchen paint colors with oak cabinets? Before you go anywhere else be sure to read my tips on kitchen color schemes and painting tips.

The post 3 Paint Color Ideas for Kitchens with Oak Cabinets appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

Benjamin Moore Hancock Green
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Hancock Green HC-117 Photo
What are the best kitchen paint colors with oak cabinets?

If you’re just starting your kitchen remodeling journey – congrats! This is going to be a fun adventure and I’m glad you’ve made it this far.

But, you’re probably realizing how complicated kitchen design can get.

There are hundreds of color choices and thousands of opinions about the best kitchen colors. Once you reach a certain point, you just want to break through the noise and get real answers.

That’s why I’m here – to help you get your dream kitchen without the hassle.

Let’s be honest, finding great kitchen colors that work with Oak cabinets is difficult. And, if you stumble on a photo of your dream kitchen, how will you know what colors the used?

To make painting your kitchen as easy as possible, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite kitchen paint colors that go great with Oak cabinets.

Glidden Whispering Wheat GLN28

Glidden Whispering Wheat
Wall Color: Glidden Whispering Wheat – Photo

This traditional kitchen is a great example of how to use color to compliment your Oak cabinets. As you can see the dark granite countertops bring all of the colors together, yet gives you the opportunity to use a wide range of colors.

Glidden Whispering Wheat is a great choice for kitchens with traditional Oak cabinets and dark granite countertops. If you have a light colored tile or linoleum floor, this color is a great match.

Benjamin Moore Hancock Green HC-117

Benjamin Moore Hancock Green
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Hancock Green HC-117 Photo

Another great kitchen wall color is Benjamin Moore Hancock Green. This kitchen features a bolder Oak stain and dark granite kitchen countertops. The green hue on the walls helps bring all elements of the room together.

This kitchen is a great example of how important the backsplash is in your kitchen design. The backsplash helps pull in the green and browns and tie the room together. You may also notice that this kitchen has wood flooring as well.

Sherwin Williams Darkroom SW 7083

Sherwin Williams Darkroom
Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Darkroom – Photo

In this kitchen you’ll notice the color palette is considerably different from the previous examples. First, the Oak cabinets have a light stain and the countertops are white granite. In addition, this room has wood flooring which is a lighter stain than the cabinets.

This style of Oak cabinetry lends itself to contrasting, rather than complementary colors. The walls feature a color similar to Sherwin Williams Darkroom.

I should also point out how well the backsplash and wall colors balance out the color palette.

As you can see there are many ways to paint your kitchen walls with Oak cabinets. The examples included a range of cabinet styles as well as countertop, backsplash and flooring variations.

What kitchen paint colors did you love the most? Was there a color I missed that you would like to see included? Let me know!

The post 3 Paint Color Ideas for Kitchens with Oak Cabinets appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

Splash of Color: We Reviewed the Top LED Shower Heads Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:54:20 +0000 What are the best LED shower heads? Read my reviews of the top brands. See if temperature controlled color changing models worth it the cost plus more.

The post Splash of Color: We Reviewed the Top LED Shower Heads appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

ana bath dual led showerheadLED Showerheads are a wonderful bathroom accessory that not only are able to give you a refreshing shower, they are also a great way to brighten up any day.

These special light-emitting diode showerheads transform the color appearance of the water so that you can enjoy beautiful cascading streams of color even on the gloomiest day.

LED showerheads come in options that include single or multi-color light choices so it is easy to find a color to suit your individual preferences.

Besides transforming the appearance of the water color, this type of showerhead also offers a wealth of water flow patterns to choose from as well. A high number of these showerheads also have the added benefit of being energy efficient without compromising water pressure.

dreamspa color changing led showerhead dreamspa extra large rainfall led showerhead dreamspa dual led showerhead ouku rainfall led showerhead
DreamSpa Water Temperature LED Showerhead Dreamspa® Extra-large Rainfall LED Showerhead DreamSpa® LED Dual Showerhead Ouku Rainfall LED Showerhead
elecs led showerhead temperature controlled color_changing led handheld showerhead ana bath dual led showerhead vdomus rainfall led showerhead
Elecs Single Color LED Shower Head Temperature Controlled Color Changing LED Handheld Showerhead Ana Bath LSS5430CCP LED Dual Showerhead VDOMUS LED Rainfall Showerhead

One of the special features of these showerheads is that they don’t require batteries to operate! How cool is that?

There are a number of LED showerheads available that not only provide a variety of colorful patterns for water streams, but also have variable spray settings to make a shower feel more luxurious as well.

Listed below are some of the most popular models with the best reviews:

DreamSpa Water Temperature LED Showerhead

dreamspa color changing led showerheadFeatures include an all-chrome showerhead surface that offers five adjustable angle spray pattern choices that include Power Rain, Pulsating Massage, Hydro-mist, Economy Rain and Water, and Saving Pause. This LED model light changes between the colors of red, blue, and green with water temperature variations.

No batteries are necessary as this showerhead powers itself with running water. The rub clean jets make it simple to maintain and no tools are required for assembly.

MagicShowerhead SH1026

elecs led showerheadThis showerhead fits to standard shower pipes and is powered only by water pressure. Made from ABS chrome, the MagicShowerhead conserves water by not exceeding 2.5 GMP at 80psi.

It is a fixed model that is easy to adjust and is able to illuminate the water stream in up to seven different colors that include white, orange, yellow, pink, red, green, and blue.

To install, simply detach the current showerhead and screw the new one back in place.

Temperature Controlled Color Changing LED Handheld Showerhead

temperature controlled color_changing led handheld showerheadFeatures include sensor that automatically changes the color of the water stream between green, blue, and red, depending on the temperature of the water.

Powered by water pressure, this showerhead is efficient and easy to install. Not to mention it is one of the few handheld models that features LED lights as well.

VDOMUS Rainfall Showerhead

vdomus rainfall led showerheadThis battery-free LED showerhead is a popular model that comes with a wealth of features. This showerhead that has an 8-inch square shape that projects a colorful rainfall of water in colors that include blue, pink, and red. Colors change according to the temperature of the water setting.

These color changes, along with the visual temperature display, helps you to accurately adjust the water to prevent burns. This model is easy to install and requires no special tools and gives you the option to either mount it on the wall or on the ceiling.

So, What’s the Best LED Showerhead for You?

Taking a shower can be more enjoyable when you bathe under a stream of water colors.

Color changing shower heads come in a vast assortment of styles that are efficient and easy to install. Upgrade the appearance of your bathroom with an LED showerhead and make your day more colorful and refreshing.

The post Splash of Color: We Reviewed the Top LED Shower Heads appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

5 Creative Kitchen Island Design Ideas You’ll Love Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:39:45 +0000 Start with these kitchen island design ideas first! See what design experts think are the best kitchen island ideas. Plus kitchen design photos and more!

The post 5 Creative Kitchen Island Design Ideas You’ll Love appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

kitchen island designs
Kitchen Island Designs – Photo

Why are kitchen islands so desirable? The reason is simple. A well-designed kitchen island can transform an outdated kitchen into a gourmet chef’s dream.

That’s probably why in a recent study by the National Association of Homebuilders, 80 percent of home buyers said they consider a kitchen island desirable or essential in their homes.

Not only does an island provide valuable workspace but it also expands your kitchen design options. For example, moving the range into the center of the island is a great way to interact with guests while cooking and increase your chi.

My Favorite Kitchen Island Ideas

Even though the majority of homebuyers believe a kitchen island is important, many will be left without one. Another study revealed that 50 percent of first-time home buyers want a gourmet kitchen, but only 9 percent end up in a house that has one. What does this mean for you?

While you may not have the kitchen of your dreams, there are many creative ways to remodel your kitchen on a budget. Here are my favorite kitchen island ideas:

Add Multiple Work Areas

kitchen island design ideas
Include multiple work areas – Photo

The primary advantage of a kitchen island is the addition of usable counterspace. A simple and smooth kitchen island may be all you need to transform your kitchen. Oftentimes just a small workspace can make a dramatic difference.

Another important ingredient in island design is the countertop selection. Recently butcher block countertops have become popular in country style kitchens and even in a few contemporary homes.

On the other hand, quartz surfaces are long-lasting and affordable compared to granite or marble. Selecting a durable countertop will be essential to getting the most out of your new workspace.

As you can see there are many options available just in the countertop selections. This is why if you ask a handful of designers or homeowners for suggestions you’re likely to get a wide variety of responses about the perfect island design.

Range Relocation

kitchen island with range
Relocate the range Photo

Relocating your range or cooktop into the island can be a quick way to rejuvenate your kitchen. This adjustment can turn a kitchen into the social gathering place in the house.

Even Top Chefs like Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin’s master chef, believe locating the stovetop in the island to be the perfect kitchen layout. He explains that with this style of design you don’t have to turn your back on guests, instead “you are with them, cooking and entertaining and talking.”

But, just because an island range is perfect for a master chef, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Many DIY kitchen remodelers have found that this arrangement tends to waste valuable kitchen workspace, rather than improve it. Also in this situation there are potential ventilation issues and design considerations.

Added Seating Areas

kitchen island with seating
Add a few stools – Photo

It’s no secret that the kitchen has become the central gathering space in American homes. Families are busier than ever and are using the kitchen to have meals, schedule appointments and catch up with loved ones.

One way to make the most of these interactions is by adding creative seating onto a kitchen island. While not all islands have enough space for seating, there are a few creative ways to take care of this problem.

A seating area can take advantage of a two-level counter. This can create a visual barrier to the workspace to hide any potential mess during the cooking process. The raise counter area can also act as a convenient spot for serving.

Overhead Storage Ideas

kitchen island storage ideas
Add storage above the island – Photo

The space above an island is ripe for creative storage ideas. Of course the most popular solution is to hang pots and pans. If you have a high-quality set of cookware, this may be a great option. However, if you’re anything like me, you might have a variety of pans that just don’t cut it for display purposes. That’s okay.

Other storage ideas include hanging fruit, vegetables and breads. You could also integrate decorative elements as well as lighting into the storage space. The main consideration is to keep all hanging elements high enough to be above eye-level, but well within arms reach for easy access.

Portable Kitchen Island

portable kitchen island with seating
Portable Kitchen Island with Seating – Photo

In small kitchens where every square foot is valuable, a rolling island can provide functionality and flexibility. A small rolling island can act as a portable cutting board and storage space for all important cooking utensils.

With a little creative planning a portable island can be designed as an extension to your existing countertop to blend in, without getting in the way.

Multiple rolling islands can create separate work areas near the sink or stove top. The small space makes clean-up easy and are able to be moved completely out of the way or into another room when needed.

What Are Your Favorite Kitchen Island Ideas?

I just scratched the surface with these creative kitchen island designs. There are countless other way to make the most of your kitchen island on a budget.

Now I need to hear from you. How have you used your kitchen island to make the most of your kitchen work space on a budget. Have you tried any of the above ideas? Please share in the comments!

The post 5 Creative Kitchen Island Design Ideas You’ll Love appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

Exterior Paint Colors That Make Your House Look Bigger Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:17:12 +0000 What paint colors make small homes look bigger? Click here to find out. Don't pick up that paintbrush until you read these house painting tips!

The post Exterior Paint Colors That Make Your House Look Bigger appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

best exterior house colors
Exterior Paint Colors Are More Important Than Ever / Photo via Houzz

Just because there are thousands of house colors and paint combinations to choose from doesn’t mean they’re all available to you. In fact, most should be forbidden to any well-meaning homeowner.

Our suburban landscape is littered with regrettable house colors and poor design choices.

So, before we get started I have one small request, actually it’s a demand.

I’m asking you to throw away any and all paint ideas you currently have.

Do it now and don’t look back. You’ll thank me later.

In our current real estate market every design decision matters. Even the most subtle changes to your house colors can improve the perceived value of your home, making it stand out from your neighbors.

However, choosing the wrong paint colors could cost you thousands of dollars in lost equity down the road.

How to Pick the Best Exterior House Colors

traditional exterior paint colors
Light Colors Will Always Make Your House Look Larger / Photo via Houzz

How can choosing paint colors make a home look bigger and improve curb appeal?

The answer is simple.

In our DIY era more homeowners are taking critical design decisions into their own hands and dropping the ball. This is an opportunity to use your neighbors mistakes to your advantage.

Making smart, well-educated house color decisions will help your home stand out from the rest, while still giving you the opportunity to do it yourself and have fun along the way.

It’s no secret that today curb appeal is at a premium.

With an overwhelming number of homes on the market and many of them available at extremely affordable prices, anything you can do to maintain or improve home value is critical.

Even if you don’t plan to sell within the next year or two, planning ahead will save you countless headaches down the road and potentially put thousands of dollars.

For some families the house painting process seems to be a very personal decision. With thousands of paint colors to choose from, it appears that anything is possible.

But it’s not!

Let’s be honest, there are only a few colors that are suited for your home.

My goal is to give you the best return on your home painting investment.

Creating an outcome that you will look back on 10 years down the road and be thankful you didn’t choose that awful aquamarine color. This will be a decision that makes your neighbors wonder if you hired a pro, and will continue to turn heads for years to come.

Step 1: Evaluate Surrounding Elements

traditional exterior house colors
Evaluate Surrounding Elements and Features for Contrast / Photo via Houzz

When choosing the perfect house color it’s important to acknowledge and respect the surrounding environment of your home. Stand outside your house and take a step back to see the larger picture.

How does your home fit into the neighborhood? How is your home influenced by the landscape and other surrounding elements? First take a wide-angle approach on your color selection before focusing on any specific colors.

Homes in a suburban neighborhood, often built close to one another, will need to carefully evaluate their surrounding house colors. If homes around yours are painted in dark or subdued colors, a light or neutral palette will make your house stand out from the rest. Lighter colors also have a more clean and timeless appearance.

This same strategy must be applied to homes on property or those with elaborate landscaping. How can you use color to pull the house out from its surroundings and make it stand out? Typically, white or off-white will provide contrast to the other elements making it look larger than it really is.

Step 2: Determine Base, Trim and Accent Colors

Classic white house with white trim
Use Base, Trim and Accent Colors to Bring All Elements Together Photo via Houzz

The next step in choosing the best house color is to pay close attention to trim and accent colors. They can make or break the perfect paint scheme. In fact, I believe they are the secret ingredient in the house painting process.

After deciding on a base color the rest of your design decisions will be based on this first choice. The trim must be neutral and complimentary of the base. Although it’s common for naive homeowners to choose a contrasting trim color, this is a decision you must avoid.

A contrasting color will emphasize design elements that are better left unnoticed. Garage doors, poorly placed windows and unattractive rooflines are usually outfitted in trim. A neutral color will help expand the surface area of the home, allowing the base color extend to the edges of the house envelope.

Complementary colors are to be used for accents as well. For example, a well selected accent color for the shutters can help accentuate the architectural features of a home. The accent colors will help draw attention to the well designed features. These are the areas that will be noticed and appreciated by your neighbors.

Step 3: Pick the Correct Sheen

After selecting the appropriate main body, accent and trim colors the next step is to decide on the correct sheen. Sheen is the term used to describe the degree of light reflection paint has. A flat paint will reflect almost no light, whereas a high-gloss paint will have high-reflectivity giving it a shiny appearance.

The decision on which sheen to choose will also be influenced by the condition of the existing surface as well as the desired durability. For example, flat paints are best for use on large areas. Due to the nature of flat paints they are perfect for hiding any surface imperfections that occur on exterior wood or metal surfaces.

Semi-gloss and gloss paints are preferred for accent and trim applications. The higher sheen makes window frames and doors easier to clean. Glossy paints also tend to give trim and accents a professional, finished look.

With all of these elements in mind, the key to choosing the best paint colors is simply not to go overboard.

If you take anything away from this, I hope that you choose a light base color in addition to neutral trim and accent colors. This is the key to using the right colors to make your house look bigger and create lasting home value.

The post Exterior Paint Colors That Make Your House Look Bigger appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

How Much House Can I Afford? Tue, 02 Feb 2016 18:55:06 +0000 How much mortgage can you afford? It might be less than you think. See what most home buyers don't know about getting a home mortgage.

The post How Much House Can I Afford? appeared first on Doorways Magazine.

make home affordable

First-time home buyers always want to know “How much house can I afford?” – but the real question they should be asking themselves is “How much mortgage can I afford?”

Why is this such an important distinction and why does it matter?

Well, I’ve seen it happen countless times throughout my career. You have grand visions of your dream home, after all it’s cheaper to buy than rent, right? However, when you sit down at the bank, your loan officer drags you back to reality.

Hopefully this article will help you avoid that embarrassment when you are ready to get approved for a mortgage.

When shopping for a new home, you get to pick the house, but the bank will tell you how much you can spend.

That’s because they use a few basic formulas to determine how much mortgage you can afford.

Banks typically use two Debt-to-income ratios (DTI) to determine how much they are willing to lend you. These formulas are the front-end and back-end ratios.

Front-End DTI Ratio

young family first homeWhen you apply for a loan the bank will require proof of income. This is a key ingredient in their formula.

Most lenders agree that your monthly housing expenses should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income.

According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, the median household income is around $54,00 – or $4,500 per month.

Based on the suggested front-end ratio of 28 percent, you can spend $1,260 on your monthly housing expenses.

While this may sound like enough to buy a nice home, you also need to include all other housing related payments such as property taxes, homeowners insurance and HOA dues.

These extra payments usually add up to around 15 percent of your monthly housing expenses.

What’s included in your monthly housing payment?

  • Monthly Mortgage Principal and Interest Payments
  • Monthly Real Estate Property Taxes
  • Homeowners Insurance Premiums
  • Homeowners Association Dues

Back-End DTI Ratio

woman shopping credit cardAnother area that your lender will carefully look at is your total monthly debt service. This includes your monthly housing expenses plus all other outstanding monthly debt payments.

These include credit card minimum payments, car loans, installment loans, as well as child support and alimony.

Combined with your monthly housing expenses, your monthly debt obligations should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income.

Continuing with our example above, if your monthly household income is $4,500, your total monthly debts service and housing payments should not be more than $1,620.

If you spend the full 28 percent (or $1,260) of your gross monthly income on housing, that only leaves you $360 to cover your other expenses.

As you can see the numbers start to add up fast!

What’s included in the Back-End Ratio?

  • Housing Payments
  • Credit Cards (Minimum Monthly Payment)
  • Installment Loans
  • Car Loans
  • Personal Debts
  • Child support or alimony

What Type of Mortgage Can I Afford?

After running the numbers above we determined that you can afford to pay $1,260 on your monthly housing payments if you make $4,500 per month.

So, what will $1,260 buy you? That’s a great question!

The answer depends on a number of factors such as your credit score, down payment and aversion to risk.

Mortgages are available from many different sources and in various styles:

  • Jumbo Mortgage
  • Conforming Mortgage
  • VA Home Loan
  • USDA Mortgage
  • FHA Mortgage

There are many types of mortgage financing available depending on your situation:

  • 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
  • 15 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
  • Interest-Only Mortgage
  • Balloon Mortgage

As you can see there is a wide variety of mortgages available. All you need is a little creativity to make one of them work for your specific situation.

Today, lenders have much higher restrictions on mortgages, so not all options may be available to you depending on your credit rating and available down payment.

Try Our Free Mortgage Calculator!

Want to take this to the next level? Check out my free mortgage calculator to find out how much mortgage you can afford.

Using the calculator you can adjust your home purchase price, down payment amount, interest rate, and loan term.

Don’t forget to calculate your front-end and back-end ratios before you get started!

If you know your debt-to-income ratios before you step in the bank there will be no sudden surprises after they run the numbers.

While I tried to help you answer the question: “how much mortgage can I afford?” – we really just scratched the surface. Check back for more home buying tips and daily mortgage interest rate updates.

If you have any home buying or design questions, feel free to leave a comment in our home design and remodeling community on Facebook.

The post How Much House Can I Afford? appeared first on Doorways Magazine.