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RE/MAX 440
Cathy Antonucci
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie  PA 18944
 Phone: 215-453-7653 1156
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Cell: 215-589-5656
Fax: 267-354-6233 
cantonucci@remax440.com
Cathy Antonucci

My Blog

6 Ideas for Pinterest-Worthy Home Décor

February 22, 2016 4:12 am

Housing millions of images and thousands more each second, Pinterest is a playground for those seeking inspiration. Which home décor trends will make a splash on Pinterest feeds this year? Interior designer Taniya Nayak, of HGTV and Food Network fame, points to six major décor movements:

1. Digitally Defined – “Geometric shapes and angles have become associated with technology; this evokes creativity and innovative design because they're edgy and create movement,” says Nayak.

One way to incorporate this trend within a space is using geometric floor tiles in different colors. The edginess of the tile with the mix of color will keep your eye constantly moving. Geometric shapes alone, like in a light fixture with lots of edges, will also create a dramatic and stunning statement.

You can also incorporate this trend with “pixilation” for a modern and clean look. Pixelated artwork made up of monochromatic cubes can be simplistic and fit in a variety of spaces.

2. Fresh and Fab – “Fun saturated colors, such as yellow and blue, produce an energetic and happy feeling,” Nayak says. “Let your imagination run wild and paint a bold accent wall for an eye-catching statement, or paint an antiqued piece of furniture a bright color for an unexpected combination of modern and traditional elements.”

Multiple bright colors mixed together create a crisp and fresh interior and elevate the mood in any space. Incorporating flowers and fruit is also a great way to enhance a space with color and aromas, instantly revitalizing a room.

3. Nature's Patterns – Lend a sense of cleanliness without sacrificing detail with simple designs inspired by nature. These patterns are organic and include shapes such as honeycombs, florals and leaves.

“When honing in on the details found in these elements, it's easy to see there are countless designs created,” says Nayak. “Pair these with neutral colors that have warm or cool tones for a soothing atmosphere, or blow them up and paint them in a bright color for a bold statement.”

You can also integrate natural patterns through accent pieces, such as reflective light fixtures to mimic sparkling water or a textured jute rug.

4. Presswork Palette – Personalize any space by incorporating text—think monograms, family names or inspirational quotes. Adding an uplifting quote or message to a room, whether on a small pillow or large piece of subway art, will create a positive atmosphere and generate conversation. Text can be placed anywhere throughout the home.

“Have fun by playing around with various fonts and sizes to create different moods throughout each room,” Nayak says. “Letters can be sharp and defined to create a contemporary and stylish aesthetic, or soft and casual to give life to a space so it feels elegant and timeless.”

5. Textured Terrain – Forget smooth finishes. From transformed wood pallets to worn leather or tin ceilings, raw materials that are aged offer a great deal of texture and help give a space dimension.

“A great way to make a raw material feel beautiful is by incorporating it into an application you would not typically think to use the material,” says Nayak. “For example, utilizing concrete on a wall instead of the floor will create a clean and raw space that will reflect simplicity and unity.”

6. Well-Traveled Style – Incorporate global influences with vibrant colors and exotic textiles through painting, wall décor or accessories. A parade of patterns from different cultures can feel modern and fresh when used together.

“Don't be afraid to mix multiple prints within a space; having a variety of patterned pillows, rugs and wall décor is a great idea,” Nayak says. “Make sure to tie these patterns together by carrying a similar color throughout each element in the room.”

Whichever trend you choose to implement in your home, keep your unique style at the forefront, Nayak adds. After all, Pinterest is about personalization!

“When trying a new trend, make sure it accurately represents your style—and remember, you don’t have to go all out. Any of these trends can be incorporated into your home as little or as much as you'd like through pillows, accents, rugs and paint.”

Source: ShurTech Brands, LLC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Save or Spend? 5 Ways to Make Your Tax Refund Count

February 19, 2016 4:03 am

Taxpayers averaged $3,000 refunds from the IRS last year, and more than 70 percent expect a refund this year. If you’re awaiting a refund, plan now to make the most of this year’s windfall, says Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

“Tax season is a great time for consumers to reassess how they allocate extra cash,” Carlisle says. “It’s wise to take steps toward securing your financial well-being, like storing your refund for rainy days or using it to get a jumpstart on saving for retirement.”

Carlisle and the ABA recommend:
 
1. Saving for Emergencies – Open or add to a high-yield savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about 3-6 months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships, like losing your job or having to replace your car.

2. Paying Off Debt – Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
 
3. Saving for Retirement – Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is employer-sponsored.

4. Putting It Toward a Down Payment – The biggest challenge that most first-time homebuyers face is coming up with enough money for a down payment. If you intend to buy a new home in the near future, putting your tax refund toward the down payment is a smart move.

5. Investing in Your Home – Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will increase the value of your home. This can include small, cost-effective upgrades, like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term. If you have more substantial renovations in mind, your bank can help with a home equity line of credit.

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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15 Safety Tips when the Power’s Out

February 19, 2016 4:03 am

Severe storm conditions may threaten structural damage to your home, but they can also result in electrical hazards. These dangers are most often associated with the use of portable generators and space heaters, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), and may exist long after the storm has ended if a power outage occurs.

When operating a portable generator, keep in mind these tips: 

• Do not operate a portable generator in your home, basement, or garage. Generators can very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. 

• Be sure the generator is used with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. 

• Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed. The power from the generator can back-feed along power lines and harm anyone who comes into contact with them, including utility line workers making repairs.  

• Make sure there is at least one working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test the batteries at least twice a year, at the same time smoke detector batteries are tested.

When operating a space heater, keep in mind these tips: 

• Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory. 

• Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully. 

• Inspect space heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater. 

• Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater. 

• Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes. 

• Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs. 

• Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire. 

• Place space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways, where they may pose a tripping hazard. 

• Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. 

• Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater. 

• Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use. 

Source: ESFI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Paint Colors Set the Tone—and Mood—of Your Home

February 19, 2016 4:03 am

Repainting a room in your home? Don't overlook the psychological impact of color. Studies have shown that different hues create different moods, and can even affect behavior, says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute.

"There are lots of good reasons to select a particular paint color, including personal preferences and design considerations, but often overlooked is the psychological power certain colors exert on mood, attitude, and outlook," says Zimmer.

"Even before you go to the paint store or start to look at color cards, think about the mood you'd like in your surroundings," continues Zimmer. "Do you want the space to be relaxing or invigorating? Once you make that decision, the color choice becomes easier.”

If your goal is to create a tranquil space, then look for a soft green or pale blue. These are the most calming colors, so they're ideal for rooms where you rest and relax, such as the family room or bedroom.

Other go-to colors for rooms where you rest include certain beiges, browns, and taupe. More enveloping than blues and greens, these quiet tints and shades impart warmth and coziness to a space.  

At the other end of the psychological spectrum are paint colors that can inject energy into your surroundings. Yellow is the best example. Like a splash of sunshine, yellow walls can lift the spirit and brighten your outlook. What better color to use in a kitchen or breakfast area where you start the day?

Shades of orange—tangerine and apricot, for example—are also energizing, so they too are good choices for rooms where you spend your mornings.

Reds are energizing, too, but they need to be used sparingly, since their bold appearance can literally increase heartbeat. But if you're seeking a great dining room color, look no further: studies show red can actually increase appetite, which is why it is used in so many restaurants. 

Aside from the color of the paint you choose, keep in mind that tone also plays a role in setting the mood. Brighter tones invigorate, while those that are muted ("toned down") tend to be more relaxing.

After choosing the perfect color, make sure it continues to look just so by applying the highest quality paint. Products that are 100 percent acrylic resist fading, so the color you apply is the color you'll continue to enjoy for years to come, says Zimmer.

Source: Paint Quality Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Remodeling Spending to Surpass Pre-Recession Level

February 18, 2016 4:00 am

Home improvement spending will increase as 2016 moves forward, up to 7.6 percent before the year’s out, suggests the latest Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), recently released by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“2016 is looking to be a stronger year for home renovation activity compared to 2015 thanks to the continued recovery in the owner-occupied housing market,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center. “In most markets across the country, rising house prices are bringing more homes to the market and increasing sales, which is a large driver of home improvement activity.”

The LIRA projects that by the third quarter of 2016, the level of annual spending in nominal terms will surpass the previous peak set in 2006.

“The remodeling market has steadily improved in recent years with homeowners incorporating larger, more discretionary projects into their home improvement priorities,” adds Abbe Will, a research analyst in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center.

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Redecorating Your Home? Go Nordic!

February 18, 2016 4:00 am

(BPT)—Nordic-inspired interiors are having a moment. Echoing traditional Scandinavian design, the Nordic theme can lend a sense of balance and beauty to your home—and you can achieve the look without spending designer dollars.

To embrace the Nordic trend:

Start with a Clean Slate – When building the foundation of Nordic design, it’s important to select the right hue of white for the walls. Take a cue from colors inspired by natural, fine-textured stone. Alabster, for example, is a natural, flattering white suited especially for bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms and kitchens.

Turn on the Light – Long, dark winters in Nordic countries foster a desire for natural light. Take advantage of the daylight you do have—and create an ethereal effect—with sheer window treatments. Incorporate transparent, shiny and reflective elements, like paper lanterns or copper pendant lighting, to maximize “lightness” when the sun goes down.

Mix in Natural Tones – Nordic design favors natural, live-well tones. To achieve this look and feel, use earthy, natural materials, such as Carrera marble, in the kitchen or bathroom. Add birch or maple cabinets and furniture to help balance stone grays and blush petal pinks of the natural elements.

Sharpen the Details – Complex shapes, angles and patterns in vibrant colors are also present in Nordic décor. Hang boxy frames or multilevel, open shelving units for symmetry, and include a strategically-placed, whimsical element, like zebra-striped pillows, multicolored candleholders, or red counter stools.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Interior Design Themes Taking Off This Year

February 18, 2016 4:00 am

Trends in interior design are often dictated by the current culture. Themes taking off this year are a subtle nod to 2016, with bold furnishings mixed with soft patterns, according to a recently released report from the Delta Faucet Company.

The report forecasts these trends will manifest at home in the following ways. Get inspired by these looks when revamping your own home!

1. “Colorful Contemporary”

Soft, geometric shapes accompany bright hues and natural fabrics for a cheerful, modern look. Influenced by Mid-Century aesthetics, this design sits squarely at the intersection of urban and suburban. Stylized subway tile and playfully shaped furniture in loud colors, like coral or bright yellow, will become more popular. Homeowners with a desire for additional natural elements may want to consider lightened, walnut wood accents or copper-framed storage units with pale ash shelving.

2. “Delicate Victorian”

Graceful patterns, subtle pastel hues and white-washed woods work together to create a timeless Victorian-era aesthetic with a softer touch. This classic design has a place in modern spaces when traditional accents, like delicate filigree patterns, and soft colors are placed in open-concept designs. Homeowners can accessorize through feminine-shaped vases, rose-gold accents, brass finishes and patterned textiles. Within this trend, expect an emphasis on floral and hexagonal patterns to bring this understated, elegant style to life.

3. “Jeweled Luxury”

Deep purple and navy hues, angular patterns and polished chrome finishes all create a luxurious look. Taking elements from both modern and traditional design, this trend incorporates clean, geometric shapes and open, wirework furniture with faceted surfaces and marble flooring. Jewel-inspired details and finishes in buffed gold with subtle iridescences add a sense of long-lasting opulence.

4. “Reclaimed Rustic”

Cool metals combine with warm botanical patterns to create the perfect blend of strong, industrial design with country comfort. Tarnished metals and textured stone juxtaposed against repurposed wood, nubby linens or country silks create rugged, yet comfortable spaces. Reclaimed wood accents, bursts of poppy and browned brass finishes bring a balance of warmth to the cool, modern metals.

Source: Masco Corporation

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Taxes and Retirement: The Ins and Outs of the Saver's Credit

February 17, 2016 4:00 am

Have you stepped up your retirement-saving game? Don’t leave that money on the table! According to a recently released survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS), only one-quarter of low- to moderate-income workers are aware they’re eligible for the Saver’s Credit offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

"The Saver's Credit is a tax credit,” explains Catherine Collinson, president of the TCRS. “It reduces an eligible taxpayer's federal income tax, making it an important incentive for low- to moderate-income individuals and households to save for retirement in a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or new myRA. Unfortunately, many eligible workers may be missing out on the Saver's Credit simply because they don't know that it exists."
 
The Saver's Credit may be applied to the first $2,000 of voluntary contributions an eligible worker makes to a 401(k), 403(b) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan, or an IRA. The maximum credit is $1,000 for single filers or individuals and $2,000 for married couples.

"The Saver's Credit is a tax credit above and beyond the advantage of tax-deferred savings when contributing to a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA,” adds Collinson. “Because this double benefit sounds too good to be true, many eligible savers may be actually confusing the two incentives.”

The credit is available to workers aged 18 years or older who have contributed to a company-sponsored retirement plan or IRA in the past year and meet the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) requirements. These are:

• Single filers with an AGI of up to $30,500 in 2015 or $30,750 in 2016 are eligible.
• For the head of a household, the AGI limit is $45,750 in 2015 or $46,125 in 2016.
• For those who are married and file a joint return, the AGI limit is $61,000 in 2015 or $61,500 in 2016.

Additionally, the filer cannot be a full-time student or be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return.

Most workers who are eligible to claim the Saver's Credit are also eligible to take advantage of the IRS Free File program for taxpayers with an AGI of $62,000 or less. Thirteen software companies make their tax preparation software available for free through Free File at www.irs.gov/FreeFile. Bear in mind certain restrictions may apply.

If you are using tax preparation software to prepare your tax return, including those programs offered through the IRS Free File program, use Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR. The credit is not available with Form 1040EZ. If your software has an interview process, be sure to answer questions about the Saver's Credit, also referred to as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit or the Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions.

“Workers who are eligible to receive the Saver's Credit are at risk of missing it if they use the wrong tax form. The Saver's Credit is not available on Form 1040EZ," says Collinson. “If you are eligible to claim the Saver's Credit, you should use Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR.”

If you are preparing your tax returns manually, complete Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to determine your exact credit rate and amount. Transfer the amount to the designated line on Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR. If you are using a professional tax preparer, be sure to ask about the Saver's Credit.

Remember to have any refund you receive directly deposited to an IRA to further boost your retirement savings.

Source: TCRS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Circle Last Year's Lows

February 17, 2016 4:00 am

Mortgage rates have moved lower for the sixth week in a row, prodded by ongoing market volatility, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®).

“The 30-year mortgage rate dropped another 7 basis points [last] week to 3.65 percent,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “[Last] week's drop leaves the mortgage rate just 6 basis points above last year's low of 3.59 percent.”

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 2.95 percent with an average 0.5 point, according to the survey, and the average 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.83 percent with an average 0.4 point—both decreases.

“In a falling rate environment, mortgage rates often adjust more slowly than capital market rates, and the early-2016 flight-to-quality has run true to form,” Becketti says. “The 30-year mortgage rate has dropped 36 basis points since the start of the year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury has dropped 59 basis points over the same period. If Treasury yields were to hold at current levels, mortgage rates might well sink a little further before stabilizing.” 

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Scam Alert: There's No Such Thing as a Free Energy Audit

February 17, 2016 4:00 am

Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy expenses? Concerned as you may be, don’t accept a free energy audit. Audits billed as “free” are often perpetrated by scammers hoping to make off with thousands of dollars from unsuspecting homeowners.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), most of these cons start with a knock on the door from someone offering free home energy audits. The person then suggests touring the home in order to pinpoint areas that are contributing to high utility bills.

Don’t be fooled—this first interaction is actually a set-up for another scam. Following the tour, the fraudster may ask for payment upfront, claiming it is needed to finance a government grant that will earn the homeowner a rebate, or pressure the homeowner into paying for slip-shod construction work or highly marked-up energy-efficient products.

To avoid becoming a victim of an energy audit scam, remember to:

Never allow any one into your home who claims to be from the utility company or the government, unless you requested the visit.

Ask the person for identification. Inspect their identification card thoroughly, and compare it to the identity labeled on their uniform and given in their story.

Listen for red flag words, such as “prepaid debit card” or “wire transfer.” These are tell-tale signs of a scam.

Keep your cool. If you suspect a scam, remain calm. If the fraudster is pressuring you for information or payment, call your utility company (use the number on your bill) to verify.

Use common sense. Some scammers may seek payment to repair or replace your electrical meter. The meter on your home is the property of the utility company, and it is never your responsibility to maintain, repair or replace it.

Source: BBB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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