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AOL Real Estate - Blog

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    Frank Lloyd Wright's Tonkens House in Cincinnati

    Here's your chance to own a piece of architectural history: Iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright's famed Gerald B. Tonkens House in Cincinnati has just hit the market -- for the very first time ever, Zillow reported. Built in 1955, the home is a rare Wright masterpiece, and it's asking $1.788 million. Other Wright homes have been at risk of demolition, such as the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, which a developer planned to tear down to make way for a couple of McMansions. (Luckily, the home was saved -- at least temporarily.)

    The Tonkens House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Curbed. The home, though designed by Wright, was built by his grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home sprawls across 3,100 square feet and "fits seamlessly onto the parcel, giving the home tremendous privacy," Zillow said. It has custom-made Philippine mahogany cabinetry, gilded ceilings and a large hearth. There's a separate cottage on the property, and, as Curbed points out, the home is being sold with much of the original furniture in place.

    See the listing for more details.

    Find homes for sale in Cincinnati, or search listings in your area.

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    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
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    See celebrity real estate.

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    Learn About Frank Lloyd Wright

     

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    They're like works by Christo, but in Techicolor. Like the artistic duo famous for wrapping the Sydney Opera House, the Reichstag, and other landmarks, the Spanish art collective Penique Productions wraps architecture -- but from the inside, and more colorfully. They spread giant plastic sheets across the interiors of ornate buildings, taping the sheets to the floors and walls, then turn on high-powered fans to blow the sheets outward. The result is ... well, amazing. If you look through the gallery below, you'll see just what we mean.

    Penique targets buildings with an ornate mix of architectural elements, and the goal is to homogenize the atmosphere. By blanketing spaces with the plastic sheets, "the space is simplified, emphasizing the shapes and textures, ultimately generating a different atmosphere within the same structure," wrote real estate blog CollabCubed. The group's art installations -- erected only temporarily, of course -- have hit Mexico, Italy and Paris' Fashion Week.

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    See also: Narrowest 'House' in the World Is Unveiled
    Artist Makes Luxury Home in a Dumpster

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
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    The Renowned Environmental Artist Christo Discusses His Next Project,

     

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    Wave House, Goleta, Calif

    By Erika Riggs

    Normally you wouldn't be able to hear the sound of waves in a home perched 60 feet above the beach, but the Wave House in Goleta, Calif., was engineered to not only look like a wave but to capture the sound as well. "You hear the waves pounding even though they are quite a ways away," said Montecito listing agent Steven Richardson of Coldwell Banker. "It's part of the treats offered up."

    Wave House, Goleta, CalifThere are several other design "treats" revealed throughout the home, from the spectacular views of the ocean to the curved exterior. The residence near Santa Barbara was reportedly designed by Michael Carmichael, who was given free rein to engineer the one-of-kind home. The two-bedroom, one-bath home includes an office, a large kitchen and a living room that looks out onto the water from windows shaped like a curling wave.

    "It's hard to put into words the sensation that you get when you're inside the property and around the grounds," said Richardson. "Most of the inside of the house draws the outside in. From the sounds and the views, [they] all blend and mix around you." A guest tower provides additional whimsy. Measuring 30-feet high, the tower is topped by an ocean-facing observation deck. At the edge of the property, another deck and a hot tub also have an unobstructed view of the water.

    Newly constructed stairs lead to the beach below. The California home is also situated beyond a gated street, ensuring privacy. And, as you could guess, Richardson said the sunsets are incredible.

    See the listing for more details.

    Find homes for sale in Goleta, Calif., or search listings in your area.

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    See more on Zillow:
    House of the Week: Mid-Century Class in Bothell, Wash.
    House of the Week: Frank Lloyd Wright's Pottery Barn
    House of the Week: Skylights and Glass in Seattle

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Springtime is upon us, and you know what that means. Well, yeah, all that spring cleaning, but now's a great time to do something else with your home: give it a makeover. You may be considering repainting your home, buying new furniture or even going all the way with a remodel. You may also think you know what you're doing -- when you actually don't. In the video clip above, HGTV design expert Sabrina Soto dispels some common myths about home makeovers and explains what NOT to do when redesigning your home.

    Here's what you definitely can do, though, that doesn't take a lot of time (or money): update your home accents by switching out your drawer and door hardware, spot-paint boo-boos and scratches on bed frames and walls, and use decorative paper to cover the switch plates on electrical outlets that complement your decor scheme. These are just a few quick and easy home makeovers you can do in a flash and on the cheap.

    Soto has much more advice on home makeovers besides what not to do. Watch the full segment on Huffington Post Live, where we even asked her a question of our own: What room is the easiest and cheapest to makeover? We weren't expecting the answer she gave. And since we're on the topic of home makeovers, click through the gallery below to see some of the best and worst we've ever seen.

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    See more:
    Extreme Home Makeovers: From Sorry to Stunning
    Quick and Easy Home Makeovers
    Disabled Teen Gets Home Makeover That Will Change His Life

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.


    Sabrina Soto: spring makeover tips on HuffPost Live.

     

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    By Libby Kane

    Springtime brings bugs: D.I.Y. bugs, to be exact. And if done right, D.I.Y. can be an affordable way to refresh your home. There's just one caveat: Doing things yourself takes time -- and patience. There's the planning, the research, the scavenging for materials, the first coat of paint, the second coat of paint ...

    Knowing that your patience could wear out long before that paint dries, we've found the perfect compromise: 10 projects from around the web that are cheap (you'll be using things that you already have) and quick. You can knock each of these projects off in under an hour.

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    See more on LearnVest.com:
    House Damaged in Natural Disaster? Claim Your Loss
    Waterfront Housing: Is the Risk Worth It?
    Spring Cleaning: When Is (and Isn't) a Task Worth Your Time?

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    People across the United States long for and love their homes. And why not? It's their own little corner of the world! But it also might be a window into their personality! What messages are you sending if you're the owner of a colonial, Tudor or bungalow home?

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    See more on Homesessive:
    Avoid the Most Costly Home-Furnishing Mistakes
    Make Your Rental Feel More Like Home
    Creating a Healthy Home Office

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
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    foreclosures in your area.
    See more celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Steampunk loft, New York City

    Our dream of owning New York City's "steampunk loft" has come to an end, when news broke that the property was (finally) under contract. Though we were huge fans of the loft's psychedelic, steampunk-inspired decor (we even did a video on it), it seems that the owner's decision to strip it of its steampunk theme was for the better.

    Last December, owner Jeremy Noritz re-listed the loft with a serious make-under -- although if you look closely, you can still see subtle little remnants of the apartment's old steampunk days. (The kitchen, for example, still boasts repurposed wrenches as kitchen handles). It's now under contract, the property's listing agent, Nikki Beauchamp, confirmed to AOL Real Estate. The success, she says, can be credited largely to the fact that potential buyers were finally able to see beyond the home's crazy furnishings.

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    "Following the transformation, we saw an increase in inquiries and open-house traffic," Beauchamp said. "[Interested parties] mentioned several times that they had been tracking the apartment online, and the change was a deciding factor to revisit considering the apartment." No word on how much exactly it was sold for, but it's most recent listed price was $1.59 million. It's still fun to reminisce about its glory days, however! See the "Inside Look" episode we did on the loft last year below.

    AOL Real Estate's Inside Look: Steampunk Apartment


    See more on steampunk: Decorate Like a 'Steampunk': Mix History and Futuristic Sci-Fi

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
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    Home demolition, Re-Use Hawaii

    You'd think that once a home is demolished, it's gone for good, right? Wrong. In Honolulu, a nonprofit organization called Re-Use Hawaii tears down old, abandoned homes and gives them new life -- by providing the leftover materials to residents to build new houses.

    The organization collects building materials from home demolitions and construction (that would otherwise end up in a landfill) and stores it in a warehouse. Homeowners can "shop" at the warehouse for items to build their own homes or embark on DIY projects, KITV in Honolulu reported. According to Re-Use Hawaii, 80 percent of waste from home demolitions can be reused for other construction projects.

    "It's cheaper for us and better for the environment," said Travis Edwards, the owner of a custom furniture business. Watch the video below to learn more bout Re-Use Hawaii, and see their inventory. Also, the Building Materials Reuse organization lists a nationwide directory of groups that recycle used and leftover construction material, and the U.S. Green Building Council supplies a list of the most common recyclable building materials.

    Re-Use Hawaii Takes Unwanted Materials and Turns Them Into Housing


    See more on recycled building materials:
    Homes Made Mostly From Recycled Materials

    Marin County Man Ordered to Tear Down Sustainable Home He Built for 40 Years
    Castle Made of Car Parts and Other Junkyard Finds

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    Tiny Paris apartment

    Like many of you, we're obsessed with tiny homes. New York City microstudios measuring 325 square feet, San Francisco apartments at 160 square feet -- good things come in small packages, we say! And just when we thought it couldn't get any smaller, we saw this: A teeny, tiny 130-square-foot apartment in Paris!

    Though many of you would automatically think "nightmare," it's actually a pretty clean, uncluttered and streamlined space! Storage is largely hidden inside sleek, built-in shelving, and a split-level floorplan was implemented to ensure greater flexibility and the illusion of space. (The bed, for example, can be tucked right underneath the raised "kitchen area"). Like NYC's microstudio, all the furniture is custom-made and modular, and it gives the apartment the feel of a jewel box.

    Thibaut Menard, a student and the son of the apartment's owner, is the Paris microstudio's current inhabitant, and he told Wired that he noticed "new architectural features every day." The studio was designed by Julie Nabucet and Marc Baillargeon. We dig it (being located in Paris doesn't hurt, either), but do you? Would you live in this 130-square-foot apartment? Tell us in the comments below.

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    See more on tiny homes:
    Tiny House for Sale in Arkansas Has Everything but Room

    NYC's Amazing 'Transformer' Apartment Puts 6 Rooms in 1
    Tiny House for Sale in Arkansas Has Everything but Room

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
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    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    Top Tiny Apartments You Won't Believe

     

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    stamped concretehouselogic logo

    By John Riha

    A stamped concrete patio gives you the look and texture of a stone patio for a lot less than the real thing -- up to 50 percent less than the cost of natural slate or limestone. That's not all. Stamped concrete can mimic brick, cobblestones, cracked earth, and weathered wood. Add a bit of fun with leaf patterns, animal shapes, even dinosaur footprints. Best of all, a stamped concrete patio is low-maintenance: The "stones" won't settle over time, creating uneven surfaces, and there are no grout or joints that can open up to let grass and weeds sprout.

    What's a Stamped Concrete Patio?

    A stamped concrete patio is simply a concrete slab with a textured, embossed surface. The contractor:

    - Pours and smooths the slab.
    - Presses a pattern into the surface while the concrete is still wet and soft.
    - For realism, adds color to the concrete as it's mixed, or sprays it on after the surface has been stamped.

    Make sure you hire a contractor who's done stamping and has the examples to prove it. Check references.

    What's the Deal With the Stamps?

    The patterns are made using large, flexible polyurethane stamps. The stamps are about 2-by-2-feet square and an inch or two thick, and they're pressed into the wet concrete to create the textured finish. A concrete contractor may step on the stamps to press them into the concrete or use a tamping tool. Before putting the stamp on the concrete, the contractor sprays the patterned side of the stamp with a release agent that prevents concrete from sticking to it.

    Using a colored release agent accents cracks and grout lines, giving the finish an "antique" look that enhances realism. One pattern usually is a set that includes several stamps, each one with varying textures and shapes, so the overall pattern isn't repeated too frequently. Stamps also have interlocking tabs so any grout lines align perfectly.

    What's It Cost?

    A stamped concrete patio costs $10-$15 per square foot, professionally installed. Here's a quick price comparison:

    Plain concrete: $6-$12 per sq. ft.
    Brick: $14-$20 per sq. ft.
    Stone, slate, or marble: $17-$28 per sq. ft.
    Concrete pavers: $13-$20 per sq. ft.

    More: Love concrete (or at least its price)? We've got great ideas for concrete inside the home, too.

    Can I Do It Myself?

    Making a stamped concrete patio is a fairly simple process, but only skilled DIYers should attempt it. That's because concrete can be a tricky medium to work with:

    o. It requires a properly installed base of compacted sand and gravel.
    o. It's heavy; you'll need to be strong.
    o. Concrete requires specialty tools to shape and smooth the surface (any specialty tool performs best in the hands of an experienced worker who knows how to use it).
    o. Concrete sets up relatively quickly. Once it starts to harden, it's difficult to apply the stamps.
    o. A mistake in concrete is permanent.

    You can rent concrete stamps at rental outlets and concrete supply stores for about $25 per day per stamp. Doing your own work saves 20 percent to 50 percent of the cost of a professionally installed slab and stamped concrete finish.

    Any Drawbacks to a Stamped Concrete Patio?

    Very few:

    Deep depressions. Although stamped concrete is a good choice for ADA accessibility, be wary of deeply embossed patterns; all that texture may be tempting, but it creates uneven surfaces that make patio furniture wobble and may be hazardous for those with limited mobility. Accessibility guidelines require bumps and ridges on walking surfaces be no more than ¼-inch high.

    Fair-weather color. Although you'll have more color options with surface colorants, the colorants may flake off over time. Have your concrete dyed while it's being mixed for a more permanent solution.

    It's got a "tell." As good as stamped concrete may look, aficionados of real brick and stone will know the difference.

    Can I Add a Stamped Finish to an Existing Patio Slab?

    Yes, you can, as long as your old slab is stable and in good condition. You'll be raising the height of the old slab by an inch or so, so you'll want to make sure the new level doesn't interfere with existing steps or vents in your foundation walls. The new concrete shouldn't touch your siding, either. A pro will prepare the existing slab by cleaning it and covering it with a bonding agent that ensures good adhesion between the old concrete and the new. Then, your contractor will cover the old slab with new concrete and apply the stamps.

    This article was originally published on HouseLogic.

    See more about patios on HouseLogic:
    DIY Paver Project: A Backyard Rescue in Action
    Evaluate Your Yard for a Patio
    Awe-Inspiring Patios Made of Stone

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    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
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    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    Learn about Stamped-Concrete Patio Floor

     

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    green home: solar paneled roofWith Earth Day fast approaching, real estate firm Redfin took a look at the 10 cities with the greenest homes. Redfin determined the rankings by number of homes for sale with green features in each market, as well as each city's carbon-dioxide emissions ranking. Green home features include solar panels, LEED certification and Energy Star appliances.

    "The residents of these cities are reducing their environmental footprint and saving money at the same time," said Redfin agent Julie Jacobson, who has been designated an LEED Green Associate, on the company's website. "By making your home green, you can reduce monthly utility bills, make your home's indoor air quality healthier, reduce your environmental footprint and even help increase the value of your home without any sacrifice in design or comfort. It is truly a win-win."

    Click through the gallery below to see the 10 cities with the greenest homes (text provided by Redfin). And to find a green home for yourself, check out AOL Real Estate's green home listings.

    %Gallery-186246%
    See also:
    Solar Power at Home Saves Money
    Green Living for Renters
    7 Green Home Trends: From Baby Steps to Extreme Updates

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    Actor Ed Begley Documents His Attempt to Build an Ultimate Green Home

     

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    By ProfessorBaron.com

    If you are an investor who is buying rental properties, are a do-it-yourself type or want to renovate your kitchen, there are many things you can do to reduce your costs on doing some updating. Note that most renovations run way over budget and encounter issues, regardless of where DIY, semi-DIY, or having a contractor do the job. Make sure you estimate plenty of contingency funds for those guaranteed cost overruns.

    Also, be cautious about spending a lot of money on kitchen renovations. While any property renovation will add value to the property, it's unlikely to add as much value as it costs. For example, if you spend $20,000 on a kitchen, it might only add $12,000 in value. Finally, again be cautious on how much you spend as it probably won't dramatically increase your rental amount, but it probably will increase the length of time that your tenants stay at the property, and smart landlords love long-term tenants.

    Some fixer-upper options:

    Cabinets - If the cabinets are in good shape, but old and gray, a fresh coat of paint from a skilled painter can add a world of life to the kitchen. But the painter needs to take the cabinets off, sand them lightly, brush paint them with the proper type of brush and paint, and re-install them. And of course sand and paint the cabinet exterior fascias too! A nice job of painting on an average kitchen probably runs $750 - $1,000 if done right. And don't forget to paint the inside and bottoms!

    You can also put new hinges onto the cabinet doors if they are the ones that show on the exterior of the cabinet when the door is closed. Word of caution: If the existing holes don't match the new hinges, it can end up being a big headache and probably won't be worthwhile. Brushed nickel hinges are $2-$4/hinge.

    And new handles on those cabinets are a must. You can buy the 20/30 packs of brushed nickel handles at the home renovation stores. They're about $2-$3 per handle and look great.
    If the cabinets are past their useful life, you can check into cabinet re-facing or cabinet replacing - both are expensive options. If you are going to replace them, make sure to look at the in-stock and "special order" cabinets available at the stores, before you jump into custom-made cabinets. If you are going to re-face or replace, make sure to get several bids for the work.

    Countertop - If you are going to keep the cabinets, a new countertop will be a big help. But, if you're not ready to replace the cabinets just yet, wait on the countertop, too. Countertops can run $15-$65 per square foot. I like the giant granite squares that can be found at your home renovation store. They are installed at 18 inches wide and 24 inches deep, so they're much better than the 12 inch by 12 inch standard granite square tiles. Cost of these installed is probably $22-$30 per square foot; granite is $10-$15 per square foot. Note: Use dark grout for rentals! You can also buy brand-new laminate counter tops, which are less expensive and easy to do.

    Sink/faucet - If you are replacing the countertop, it's time to do the sink and faucet! Most home repair stores offer a stainless sink and faucet combination for about $200-$300. Make sure you buy the "combo pack."

    Flooring - Flooring really should be tile (which isn't cheap) or linoleum - which doesn't last that long. It's essential to use dark grout for tile in rental floors, and a tougher grade of linoleum is best if you go that route. Skip the carpets or wood laminate flooring for any kitchen/bathroom floors.

    Appliances - If you need to replace the appliances, go with moderate grade appliances. Most appliances will last a long time. I've bought many properties with 20-year old appliances working fine, but they look terrible and could be energy inefficient, so I replaced them.

    Lighting - Kitchen lighting can be easily updated from an extensive selection at the home improvement stores. They're usually easy to install. Check out the ones with low energy bulbs.

    Water/Electrical - If the property is older, it's probably a good time to bring in the plumber and electrician. Change out old water valves and update the kitchen switches and electrical outlets to new GFCI circuits for water-related safety.

    All the items above cost money whether you DIY the job or semi-DIY it. But an updated kitchen will help in the most important goal in rental property ownership, which is to keep your tenants as long as possible. Just like you, your tenants want to live in a nice place too and a nice kitchen will inspire them to stay a long time!

    More on Zillow:
    What's the Best Way to Earn Wealth in Real Estate?
    Rental Property Investing 101
    Rental Homes: Making More Money by Keeping Your Tenants Happy

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.

    Find homes for rent.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    By Annie Thornton

    When a lilac tree died in Sloan Schang's yard in Portland, Ore., last summer, it left behind a blank corner. It also provided him with an opportunity. A secluded backyard spa appealed to Schang, a writer and creative director, but the $6,000 bill required for the necessary electrical work and a new hot tub sounded less than pleasant.

    So Schang constructed his own backyard bathhouse -- in less than a week and for less than a sixth of the price -- with a salvaged claw-foot tub. "My wife was appropriately skeptical when I proposed putting a bathtub in the backyard," he says, "but she was sweet and trusting enough to just let me run with it." Let's see how he did it.

    Project at a Glance
    What: Backyard bathhouse
    Location: Portland, Ore.
    Size: 7 by 10 feet
    Budget: $750, including labor and materials



    Site Preparation

    Schang cleared out the dead lilac tree as well as some ornamental grasses to prep the site. He dug a hole 5 feet wide, 7 feet long and 6 inches deep, framing it with pressure-treated 2-by-6s. He tightly packed 1/4-inch-minus gravel into the pad to prevent the cast iron tub from sinking. The tub sits atop the compacted gravel without additional anchoring.

    The deck is framed with pressure-treated 4-by-4s, resting lengthwise on the gravel. The decking itself is recycled cedar fence boards left over from another home improvement project; Schang cut and nailed them directly to the 4-by-4s. While he says the deck was level and secure already, he additionally anchored it with foot-long garden stakes, pounded to the ground and bracketed to the deck frame.



    Plumbing

    The claw-foot tub was a steal at $100, and the catalyst for this backyard project. It was already in great condition, only requiring an application of paint. Because it's protected from the elements by the pergola, Schang didn't prep the tub in any other way.

    He hired a plumber to install a new exterior hot water bib, tied into existing pipes in the couple's basement laundry room. Often it's possible to replace an exterior hose bib with one that can tie into a hot water line, but that wasn't an option here. Schang was happy to pass off this portion of the project. "If there's something you're not comfortable doing yourself -- like plumbing, for me," he says, "absolutely hire a professional or enlist an experienced friend. The peace of mind is worth the extra time and cost."

    Schang ran a long rubber hot-water hose 60 feet from the exterior hot water faucet to the tub site. He concealed the hose in mature landscaping rather than burying it.

    The hose rests on a cedar stake; the flow is controlled with a single-handled faucet. The water temperature is controlled from the bib at the side of the house. "We rarely ever use the cold tap, except in the summer when we use it as a cool-off pool with our son - and generally just fill it with straight hot water," he says. On colder nights the water stays warm for 20 or 30 minutes, longer in summer.

    Schang sealed the overflow hole and previous faucet holes with cork so that he could fill the tub entirely.

    The tub drains into a 15-foot-long ABS drain pipe, extending above-ground out into the planting beds. Like the hose, the pipe is concealed by plants and evenly drains onto the vegetation through perforations.

    Pergola

    For backyard privacy and shelter, Schang built a pergola that's 7 feet wide, 10 feet long and 8 feet tall.

    "If you've ever built a fence or a deck, you can handle this," he says.

    If this is your first home improvement project, though, be careful, be thorough and don't rush through it.

    "All I can say is measure, measure, measure," Schang advises.

    Here's How You Can Build a Pergola the Way He Did:

    1. Measure and dig the locations for the four posts.
    2. If you're sloping the roof, cut the rear posts to length.
    3. Set the posts and concrete in 2-foot-deep holes.
    4. Cut and hang the outside box frame for the roof. (Schang bolted heavy lag bolts directly into the post.)
    5. Cut and hang the joists. (Schang used using joist hanger brackets.)
    6. Cut sheets of corrugated metal roofing to the right size using heavy tin snips, then attach them to the joists and frame them with screws.



    Light Fixture

    Schang built and designed the light fixture himself. He drilled a field of holes in the base of a soap box he bought on Etsy.com and stapled a string of lights to poke through the holes in the box. Schang calls the light "a cross between an old-timey Lite Brite and a kind of light shower." String lights already drape the perimeter of the yard, so Schang only needed to attach an extension cord.

    "Night soaks are quiet and peaceful," he says, "and on clear nights we get glimpses of the stars through the trees." One of his favorite things about the tub is how drastically the experience transitions from day to night. "In the morning and late afternoon, the tub gets some choice moments of direct sunlight, and birds and squirrels are constantly popping in to see what's going on."



    "The result has exceeded both of our expectations," he says, "and I can't ever imagine getting tired of this space and the simple magic of an outdoor soak. It's all somehow rustic and luxurious at the same time, very Swiss Family Robinson."

    Materials

    Structure and decking -- $225:

    - Six 10-foot lengths of 4-by-4 pressure-treated wood posts for the pergola and deck frame
    - Eight 8-foot lengths of outdoor 2-by-6s for the roof frame
    - Six bags of easy-mix concrete for the posts
    - Three sheets of corrugated metal roofing
    - Hardware
    - Bamboo privacy shade
    - Ten 5-foot-long cedar fence boards for the decking
    - 20 cubic feet of 1/4-inch-minus gravel
    - Decorative river rock

    Plumbing -- $475 (including hired labor):

    - Hose rated for hot water
    - Faucet to control flow at the tub (mounted on a cedar stake)
    - Faucet to control water at the side of the house
    - Overflow corks
    - ABS drain pipe
    - Claw-foot tub

    Light fixture -- $50:

    - Soap crate
    - Strand of Christmas lights
    - Extension cordOther materials:
    - Clear outdoor protective sealer for all wood that's not pressure treated
    - Repurposed materials for bath accessories (cedar decking shower caddy, tree stump side table, towel hooks)

    See more on Houzz:
    Find a Landscape Architect or Designer in Your Area
    Ideas for Redesigning Your Backyard or Landscape
    From Firepits to Sheds, Find the Perfect Decor Item

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    Turning a Small Outdoor Space into a Backyard Spa

     

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    http://curbed.com/archives/2013/05/16/delawares-only-frank-lloyd-wright-house-listed-for-135m.phpDudley Spencer House by Frank Lloyd Wright

    curbed logoBy Rob Bear

    Location: Wilmington, Del.
    Price: $1,350,000
    The Skinny: The one and only Delaware house designed by iconic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Dudley Spencer House, completed in 1958, was listed last month for $1.35 million. Tucked away on more than 6 acres, amid a dense stand of old-growth trees, the low-slung structure houses three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and ample indoor and outdoor entertaining space. The furnishings, particularly a pair of dated, overstuffed couches, detract from the architecture, but that's nothing that a new owner couldn't address, plus there is still plenty of built-in furniture designed by Wright. That the listing is lacking photos of the kitchen suggests that it is either in original condition, and thus poorly suited to the needs of a modern cook, or that it has been garishly overhauled. Still, the Spencer House is notable as one of Wright's last commissions; he died in April 1959.

    This story was originally published on Curbed.

    See the listing for more details.

    Find more homes for sale in Wilmington, Del., or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-188797%
    See more on Curbed:
    German Power Plant Goes Incognito as a Garden Hedge
    Composer John Philip Sousa's Former Home Relisted for $28.9M
    Here, Have a Look at Atlanta's Most Utterly Insane Beds

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    Are You Sure About Buying a Frank Lloyd Wright Home?

     

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    Whether you're sprucing up your home to sell or just want to give it a quality makeover, consider adding touch-ups that will boost your home's value -- and help you get a higher price when you do eventually put it on the market.

    Blanche Garcia discusses home makeovers on HowcastAs Blanche Garcia (pictured at left) explains to Howcast, you should focus on your kitchen countertop and appliances, wall colors and flooring. Granite or stone countertops are always the way to go, Garcia advises. You might think you're saving money by going with cheaper laminate variety but these types of countertops typically don't outlast a year. And if you have outdated kitchen appliances, consider getting them replaced. They speak greater volumes to perspective homebuyers than you might think.

    Want more advice on value-driving renovations? To find out what color never to use in the bedroom and which type of flooring works the best, check out the video above.

    See more on home makeovers:
    Spring Home Makeover Don'ts: HGTV's Sabrina Soto On Big Mistakes
    Tyler Leone, Disabled Teen, Gets Home Makeover That Will Change His Life
    Listing Fail: Even 'Ugly' Homes Need Buyers

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    Like something out of a Dickens novel, 81 years ago a loss left a family so bereft that they essentially tried to freeze time. Grocer William Straw Sr. lived for about 10 years with his wife and youngest son in a semi-detached home in the Sheffield suburb of Worksop, in northern England. The family lived an unremarkable existence there, writes the Nottingham Post, until Straw died suddenly in 1932, at age 68. That's when the remarkable part of their home's story began, because in their grief Straw's widow and two sons then left the house essentially unchanged from then on.

    The sons
    William Jr. and Walter, went even a bit further when their mother died seven years later -- leaving her room untouched. And when the last of them to survive, Walter Straw Jr., died in 1990 without an heir, he left the home to Britain's National Trust, which preserves cultural treasures.

    It
    followed suit in leaving the home in the condition the Straws left it, where (as can be seen in the slideshow below) the Trust says hardly anything was thrown away and where the Straws did without most modern conveniences. The Trust has since opened Mr Straw's House to the public as a place where "photographs, letters, Victorian furniture and household objects spanning 100 years can still be seen exactly where their owners left them." Though the house doesn't contain precious antiques per se, its eerily untouched state gives a glimpse into how well-to-do British families lived nearly a century ago.

    Customs of the time can be seen from the Straw House's decorations -- oil paintings, delicate linens and heavy furniture -- down to the contents of the pantry. However, the antique kitchen is perhaps the most fascinating for the way it compares to "ultra-modern" kitchens of today. Its limited space includes a butler's sink, a tiny stove (where a primitive clothes iron waits to be warmed), and a pantry stocked with circa-1930s items.

    Mr Straw's House currently offers tours that focus on the life of donor William Straw Jr. that challenges assumptions about the teacher, community activist and World War I veteran who lived there for 47 years. "Some people think he was eccentric," The Post quotes Megan Doole, custodian of the house, as saying. "But we are showing that he had a range of interests and skills which changed throughout his long life." (Contrast that with the life of heiress Hugette Clark, a reputed recluse, who in 2011 reportedly left $180 million in prime residential property in the U.S. that was likewise frozen in time.)

    The Trust is also seeking more local interest in the remarkable home, as it's seen a drop-off in visitors. "The older generation remember the Straws and know of them so visit," Danielle Brown, house and visitor manager, said in the Worksop Guardian. "But it's the next generation we are trying to attract, who don't have memories of the brothers."

    Mr Straw's House Now -- Just as It Was Then:
    %Gallery-193822%

    More on historic homes:
    New York-Area's Oldest Private Home Hits Market
    David Schwimmer Turns Historic Home Into Teardown
    King George IV's Cornwall Estate Goes on the Market

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    If you picture Winston Churchill as most at home in a setting of overstuffed club chairs, overflowing ash trays and heavy drapes, you might want to guess again. When it came to home decor, Britain's intrepid World War II leader -- the nemesis of both Hitler and Stalin -- seems to have had a lighter touch. As seen in the video above, the decor of Churchill's living room was what Huffington Post Senior Style & Home Editor Brie Dyas calls "very ladylike, very dowager" (with not an "iron curtain" in sight!). One wonders, though, whether the prime minister's baroness wife might have had some influence.

    In any case, it turns out that Sir Winston was a bit of a "DIY guy" -- since as Dyas points out, most of the paintings decorating that delicate environment in the photograph below were done by him.

    winston churchill living room

    How well did he succeed at that? You can judge for yourself as both Churchill's childhood home and, Chartwell, the home where he raised his children and spent his last days, are open to the public, complete with furnishings used when he lived there and his paintings.

    Chartwell was Churchill's home from 1924 until his death in 1965 at age 90. Britain's National Trust, which is dedicated to the preservation of historic sites, had acquired Chartwell and the surrounding 79 acres of land around 1946 from a group of businessmen who were friends of his. For 50,000 pounds they purchased the home and land from Churchill, who was having difficulty paying for the upkeep of the mansion. He rented the home from the National Trust with the understanding that he and his wife could live there until his death or when he chose to move.

    That wasn't the first time that Churchill had to be bailed out on the property, though. In 1938, Chartwell went up for sale because of financial difficulties. The house was advertised for sale as containing five reception rooms, 19 bed and dressing rooms, eight bathrooms, and being set in 80 acres, along with three cottages and a heated and floodlit swimming pool. The home was taken off the market when a friend and businessman agreed to help ease his Wall Street losses by taking on some of Churchill's debt for three years.

    Churchill's boyhood home for a short time was Blenheim Palace (see slideshow), about eight miles from Oxford in a town called Woodstock. The palace was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough following his famous victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, according to the historians for the site. Winston Churchill was the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough. Churchill's burying place at the Bladon churchyard can be seen from a tower at Blenheim.

    More about historic homes:
    House That Grieving Family Left Stuck in Time, Now a Museum
    13 Historic Homes From the 13 Original Colonies
    Oswald Slept Here: See the Tiny Dallas Room Rented by JFK's Killer

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    Some say that they don't notice the homeless living by garbage dumpsters, so one California artist decided to create a functional home, complete with kitchen, toilet and shower, out of a New York City dumpster that he believes could actually go undetected as a home. It's one of the tiniest mobile homes you might find (yes it is on wheels). It's smaller even than some of the 150-square-foot houses that have gained notoriety.

    AOL Real Estate first reported on Gregory Kloehn in September 2011, but others, as seen in the video above, are just taking notice now. It was "a challenge to see if I could make a home that would go undetected in the city," Kloehn, said on HGTV, "People would just walk by. It is in this gray zone of legal housing, illegal homes."

    "I was trying to deconstruct what a home can be," he says in the video we first ran, "how you can turn different objects into a home." Since Kloehn constructed his home, tiny homes as a means of alternative living seem only to have gained more notice and inspired more designers. After all, sustainable living, with efficiency and minimal upkeep are all desirable in a home. But living in a dumpster? That gives recycling and repurposing a whole new meaning.

    The home has a functional toilet and an outdoor shower that use a six-gallon tank of stored water. The kitchen area comes complete with minibar, stovetop, and an optional outdoor barbecue that runs off of a five-gallon tank of propane.

    The coolest feature is perhaps the windows. Kloehn created a crank that extends the top portion of the home by a couple of feet to reveal them. When no one is home or he wants it to look more like a regular ol' dumpster, he simply rolls it back down. However, if you're looking to pull back the lid to throw out a bag of trash, well, that's Kloehn's skylight.

    It's a little cramped for style, but if you've ever seen the inside of some Manhattan apartments going for a couple thousand a month, they are not that much bigger. Some are as small as 78-square feet.

    Gregory Kloehn and dumpster house

    More about tiny homes:
    Yep, It Can Get Smaller: A 130-Square-Foot Apartment in Paris
    Tiny House for Sale in Arkansas Has Everything but Room
    San Francisco's 'Micro-Apartment': How Much Smaller Can We Go?

    GALLERY OF TINY HOMES:
    %Gallery-119479%
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    With a style that's part castle, part playground, part observatory and all fantasy, it's no surprise to learn that this Austin, Texas, home is the creation of a noted video game developer, Richard Garriott. Originally constructed as a more-or-less conventional home in 1987, Garriott added secret rooms -- starting with a dungeon -- and a maze of hidden passages until the 4,790-square-foot home, dubbed Britannia Manor II, resembled nothing so much as a videogame-turned-reality. "A lot of my games include portals or gateways," Garriott told HGTV, which lead to "fantasy worlds, just like the experience of going through the house." That could make a bargain for the right video game fanatic.

    The tri-level house went on the market at the end of 2011 priced at $4.1 million but is now offered at nearly half that price, $2.4 million, reports Realtor.com. It's hilltop location is described in its listing as occupying three lots on 3.99 acres, with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a foyer, formal living room, office, pantry, utility room, wine room, library and game room -- though (after viewing the gallery below) if you think the fun and games aren't confined to one room, you're probably right. Observe the water slide on its exterior, and note that its two pools -- one indoors and the other out -- are connected so that bathers can swim from one to the other.

    Is it any surprise that Garriott made the manor the scene of legendary parties, especially around Halloween? "I don't get to see people's faces while they play my games," he told Wired back in 2007, on the eve of one of his extravaganzas. "But tonight I'll get the benefits of a live performance. My parties are where the virtual meets the tangible."

    In terms of resale, though, the price cut on his home suggests that Garriott lately met the harsh reality that often comes with an over-the-top remodel: It's unlikely to pay off as an investment unless you can find a buyer who shares your particular tastes -- even if it's in line with something as wildly popular as video gaming. (Witness the fate of New York's "steampunk loft," which didn't sell until it was stripped of its trendy retro-futuristic decor.)

    Despite the $1.7 discount on Brittania II, though, Garriott apparently is ready to take his home-design fantasies to the next level. Realtor.com reports that he's "building an even more over-the-top Texas castle, which will be christened Brittania III."

    More on homebuying and selling:
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    John Lautner's Stevens home Malibu, bedroom
    Zillow


    By Erica Riggs

    "It's the third owner that can mess a house up," Michael LaFetra says of his home in Malibu, Calif. "I don't mean it in a disparaging way; it's just the way it works." And LaFetra would know. What started as curiosity toward architectural treasures -- a hobby of picking up notable homes, the way some collect and restore cars -- has turned into a full-time occupation.

    "I'm constantly scouring the Internet, [talking to] various people, trying to find architecturally significant homes, with a nod toward modern," LaFetra says. "Homes that are in danger that I can potentially save."

    It was such research that led LaFetra to the Lautner Stevens House in 2003. At the time, the house in the Malibu Colony was on its second owner, Christy Stevens, the wife of Dan Stevens, who commissioned the home in 1968. "I fell head over heels for it," LaFetra says. "But at the moment I didn't have the cash for it. I tried to explain I was the best buyer, but she wasn't interested."

    So the home passed onto the third owner, who installed updates that started to stray from legendary architect John Lautner's vision for the home. It was also at that point that LaFetra was ready to try to snag the home again. "So I went to talk to them and said basically, 'You're screwing this house up, and if you're going to turn and sell it you're going to be in trouble because the buyer won't know what you're doing,'" he says. A few days later, the owner called LaFetra back and agreed to sell.

    By October 2008, the renovation was underway, and although the home hadn't been structurally altered, a year later not a single surface remained untouched, LaFetra says. "They had removed original built-ins, painted the original concrete. ... They were trying to turn the house into something it wasn't," he explains. "I remember walking into the house, and they had removed an original Lautner lamp from the ceiling and had hung a wrought-iron chandelier with light bulbs that emulate flickering candles. I said, 'That's it. I need to intervene.' "

    Today the home has been updated and restored as close as possible to the original Lautner structure. The exposed wood and concrete gleams. High ceilings and enormous windows follow the curvature of the roof, a design that mirrors the waves of the water below.

    And still, says listing agent Cory Weiss of Partner's Trust, it's livable.

    "It's one of Lautner's most functional floor plans," Weiss says of the home, listed at $22 million. "It's on a large lot, it has direct beach access and of course, it's in the guard-gated Colony -- one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the area."

    So why would LaFetra list it for sale? Simply because sometimes life gets in the way. His fiancee is pregnant, and as they went through the home, imagining what they'd do to baby-proof the space, LaFetra realized doing so would change the integrity of the home.

    "I just looked at her, with tears in my eyes, and said this won't work," LaFetra says. "I don't want to change it. It would be like buying a Ferrari and driving it like a Honda. I'd just as soon free this house to someone who can appreciate it and live in it the way it needs to be [lived in]."

    And the possibility of a new owner coming along and changing the house? LaFetra isn't worried. The home is now a California State Historical Landmark.

    JOHN LAUTNER'S STEVENS HOUSE, RESTORED:

    More from Zillow:
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    California Coast Wave House
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