Want to Know My Pet Peeve?

OK – I confess – I have a pet peeve about photos.  Specifically about poorly done photos on properties that are listed for sale.  I get really annoyed when I see dimly lit rooms, kitchens with cluttered countertops, refrigerators covered in magnets and papers, and out of focus pictures.  Sellers, you deserve better - homes with high quality photos sell 32% faster.

Given that over 90% of buyers start their search online, if you don’t have great photos, your property is going to be bypassed in seconds.  And buyers will not go back to review it once they’ve weeded it out.   So sellers, do yourself a favor and go view how your house looks online.  If you are not seeing clean lines, decluttered and bright rooms with wide angle lens shots, and crisp photos, then it is time to have an honest conversation with your agent on how you can better prepare your house for photos.   And you need to ask the agent how they will take higher quality photos.  Contact me if you want to work with an agent who knows how to maximize your online presence.  DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com; 603-526-4116

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Pricing Your Home is Not Magic

If you are thinking about selling, determining the right value is your number one priority.  While sometimes it seems the price is picked out of thin air, there really are 3 methods for determining value.  Below is a brief explanation of each.

1.  Market Analysis - Prepared by a real estate agent to provide an estimate of the probable selling price, expressed as a range.  Using similar active and recently sold properties and factoring in the many characteirstics that impact value, it is a guide to help the seller determine a listing price.

2.  Appraisal - a much more in-depth analysis done by a licensed appraiser.  Typically appraisals are used in the loan process to ensure the value of the home is equal to or greater than the purchase price, thus protecting the lender's interest.

3.  Automated Valuation - Used by Zillow and other companies, the value is calculated by software based on mathematical modeling.  While convenient, it misses important price influences such as property condition and location (e.g. on a busy street).

Want to know your home's value?  Contact me - I just completed a 6 hour class on mastering the market analysis!  25 years in the business and still keeping current - so put my knowledge to work for you!  Donna Forest 526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Looking for a positive home buying/selling experience? Call Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team!  603-526-4116

Curb Appeal on a Dime

Does your house or yard need a face-lift? These budget-friendly ideas will help you add interest to your home’s exterior—without a high price tag.

Illuminate pathways.

Curb appeal doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down—you can highlight pathways and landscaping with lights. This improves safety and can dramatically boost your home’s nighttime appearance.

Landscape for curb appeal.

Smooth the transition from street to front steps with these inexpensive landscaping ideas. A curved path to the home’s entry provides a pleasing welcome for visitors. Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers for plant groupings that have serious impact.

Add container plants.

Improve your front yard by turning your home’s entry into an inviting focal point with a few well-chosen plants on the front porch. Vary the container and plant sizes, and arrange them on multiple levels.

Replace old walkways.

Replace a dull or cracked concrete walkway with a fresh path made of stone or brick. Visitors access this front door via square pads of bluestone trimmed with brick. Narrow strips of turfgrass separate the squares, which step up slightly to follow the change in grade from the street to the house.

Get a healthy lawn.

If your lawn is sickly or choked with weeds, consider installing new sod. Remove the old lawn, lay new sod and keep it well-watered for a few weeks.

Create an appealing porch.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sizable front porch, it’s easy to transform it into a simple but inviting outdoor room. Add a swing, chairs or comfortable bench to create a conversation nook. Keep the porch free of clutter and ready for cozy gatherings.

Accent with color.

When repainting, take the opportunity to choose fresh hues or add an accent color to your exterior color scheme. Paint test patches before committing; some colors look great on a sample card but may be too intense for a house.

Restore an asphalt driveway.

To liven up a worn driveway, patch and seal the surface, filling holes and cracks with asphalt patch. Applying a fresh sealer can also make a driveway look new again.

Upgrade the garage door.

Sectional doors often feature windows in an upper panel, and some higher-end versions mimic the look of traditional carriage-house doors. If a new garage door isn’t an option, add character to the building with a pergola, new lighting or fresh paint.

Install a prefab trellis.

For exterior design on a dime, use an arbor or trellis to give form to your yard and complement your plantings.

Power-wash exterior surfaces.

Take a weekend to clean your home’s exterior. Aluminum, wood and vinyl siding are safe surfaces to power-wash, as are wood decks and concrete sidewalks. If you don’t own a power-washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store.

Coordinate hardware.

Address numbers, mailboxes, locksets and porch lights are simple upgrades. These elements are small but add a lot of finesse to your look. Keep the colors and finishes consistent so the pieces look like an ensemble of accessories, not a batch of mismatched hardware.

Plant trees.

If you’re preparing to sell your house, consider adding a few small ornamental trees. If you’re staying put, think long-term and try oaks, maples, honey locust or other large species suitable for your region. Another option: fast-growing species or small ornamental trees such as pagoda dogwood, redbud, flowering pear, river birch or Japanese maple can add dramatic interest without requiring years to become established.

Beautify the driveway.

The colors and textures of the plants shown here soften the driveway’s expanse and make it look less utilitarian. Groundcovers and low-growing plants are best in beds along the sides (or in the middle!) of the driveway.

Bring style to a slope.

Cheap-looking materials detract from a yard’s appearance. For sloped areas that need terracing, use cut stone or precast decorative wall blocks for a high-end look.

Wow with windows.

There are numerous ways to increase the appeal of your windows. Shutters add style to plain windows, while painted trim in a modern color creates playful contrast. Window boxes filled with lush foliage also bring life to a home’s exterior.

Doll-up the driveway.

For an affordable driveway face-lift, line the pavement with plant containers that can be easily updated each season. Here, solar-powered lanterns between the planters provide flexible lighting.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

The Housing Market is Blooming!

It is spring in the Granite State and the housing market is in full bloom.  While we are still experiencing low inventory, buyers are out buying and multiple offers are not uncommon.  Like last year, the lack of homes to sell is impacting prices.  Statewide in the 1st quarter, the median sales price grew from $260,000 in 2018 to $280,000 in 2019, up 7.7%.   The average days on market was 80 days.  Sales statewide are down by 2.8%; again due to low inventory. 

In the combined towns of Newbury, New London, and Sunapee, 1st quarter sales are about the same.  26 homes sold in 2019; 25 sold in 2018.  The average days on market dropped to 145 days vs. 201 days in 2018.  The median sales price was $350,250 in 2019 compared to $392,000 in 2018.  The higher median sales price in 2018 can be attributed to having 3 sales over $1 million close in the 1st quarter vs. the highest sales price this year was $750,000.

The good news for home buyers is no further rate hikes are expected and the 30 yr. fixed rate mortgage is under 4.5%.  Additionally it is still a tight job market which is pushing up income.  Bottom line, it’s still a good time to be a buyer or seller so contact me to get your jump on the spring market!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, donna@donnaforest.com

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/18 – 3/31/18 and 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.

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Weekend House Projects Under $20

You don’t have to spend big bucks to improve the functionality of your home. Try one or more of these projects this weekend to make your home look and feel its best.

Replace a window treatment.

Has the window shade above your kitchen sink been marred by repeated exposure to splashes and cooking liquids? Replace a stained window covering with an inexpensive fabric treatment and see your kitchen in a whole new light.

Brighten a bookcase.

Give a bookcase an exciting backdrop by applying contact paper, scrapbook paper or fabric to its back. If you don’t want to commit to a particular design or color scheme, measure the piece’s back panel and mount the background material on poster board, cut to the size of each shelf.

Tackle trimwork repairs.

You might not be able to install new trimwork in your home for $20, but you can make improvements to what you already have. Replace mismatched, missing or damaged moldings, end caps, quarter rounds or baseboard. Curved areas might require a special piece or trim made of an alternate material.

Create a charging station.

Construct a mini charging station for your family’s devices with this simple, inexpensive hack. Cut small slits in a basic ledge shelf to enable cords to run behind and inside the hollow shelf before being plugged in below. Mount the station to the wall to keep countertops clutter-free.

Organize the entry.

Keep dirt and mud contained with a boot tray near your home’s entryway. Buy one that’s easy to clean, or create your own from a jelly-roll pan. If storage space is limited, tuck the tray beneath a slim console table.

Mend your walkway.

Cracks and gaps in sidewalks and walkways can quickly expand throughout the year. Not only will a patch job make your pathway look nice, it’ll also make it safer for visitors and passersby. Fix your sidewalk with a patching compound specifically made for cement.

Get stylish underfoot.

Try your hand at a fun paint technique and update tired flooring with a custom rug. Using a vinyl floor remnant and paint, you can create a fun, personalized focal point. Varying the stripe widths creates a cool, casual look.

Add a cheap backsplash.

Turn a large vintage map into a distinctive backdrop that makes a statement. This map of Paris is a fun addition to an otherwise-neutral kitchen.

Tip: If you’re a renter or have boring ceramic tiles in your kitchen, use peel-and-stick decals to add less-permanent flair in a flash.

Replace switchplates.

Replace a plastic switchplate with a wood, metal or ceramic cover to make a visual statement. Some switchplates are even textured to blend in with marble, tile or stone surfaces. Do this for light switches, electrical outlets and phone and cable jacks.

Organize your closets.

Coax function from a messy closet with thoughtful accessories designed to elevate organization. Categorize hanging garments by type, day of the week, or family member with colorful tags. Slim, slip-free hangers look uniform and maximize space.

Recaulk the bathroom.

If the caulk in your bathroom is looking dingy, discolored or cracked, it’s time to remove it and start fresh. Whether it’s around your sink, bathtub or shower, old caulk can grow mildew and cause damage by leaking water—especially between the tub and bathroom floor. Remove the old caulk, clean the space well and replace it with a new layer. A good caulk seal will last up to 10 years.

Add a divider.

Drawer and cabinet dividers are a must when it comes to keeping kitchen tools in their respective places. Secure a wire rack inside a cabinet to provide sturdy storage for cookie sheets, muffin tins and cooling racks. Some units match your kitchen cabinetry design for a completely integrated and customized look.

Step up your storage game.

Plastic bins are a versatile and inexpensive way to restore order in almost every in-home trouble spot. Using clear bins for storage in a pantry or for a closet gift-wrap station, for example, is an easy way to take inventory and identify items at a glance. Use labels to ensure everything stays tidy and easy to access.

Designate a drop spot.

Enhance the style and storage of your entryway with a designated place for important drop-zone items. Create a mini hang-up station for house keys and outgoing mail on the back of a cabinet door. Use magnetic strips, pegboard or an old ceiling tin, and add hooks to store items in one convenient location near the door.

Update your house numbers.

All it takes is a screwdriver and few minutes to give your front door a personality-filled facelift. Change out poorly operating door hardware or make house numbers more readable for a pretty, practical update on the cheap.

Put towels and robes within reach.

Bid floor puddles goodbye by keeping after-bath accessories within reach. Add a towel bar or robe hook near your shower or bathtub, or move the one you already have to make it more accessible. Find bars or hooks that match or complement existing hardware in your bathroom.

Add hanging storage.

Free up valuable floor space in your basement, garage or entryway with hanging storage. Seasonal items, such as bikes and sleds, are difficult to store and take up lots of space. Add hooks to an unused wall or ceiling area and discover space you didn’t know you had.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

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5 Reasons You Should Sell in 2019

If you are on the fence about selling, this might be the best year to put your house on the market.  Below are 5 reasons why selling now will put more money in your pocket!

  • The median home price is at an all-time high.  In NH, the median home sales price was $282,500 in 2018, surpassing the peak of the market in 2005 at $270,000.
  • There still is low inventory which means buyers are competing for homes.  Multiple offers are not unusual!
  • Mortgage rates have fallen since the start of the year – meaning more buyers can afford to buy.
  • Milennials are entering the market – nearly 5 million will be turning 30 in the next 2 years – they scooped up homes last year and 2019 should be no different.
  • Some economists are predicting an economic slowdown in 2020, which could impact housing sales.

 If you are thinking about selling, contact me to see how the market could impact you.  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Living Room Design Tips to Bring Home

Lots of people will say the kitchen is the heart of the home—and that may be true, but the living room plays a huge role in how you entertain and use your house on a daily basis. Try incorporating these ideas next time you’re in the mood for a refresh.

Set the mood with color.

The colors you choose for your living room will affect how guests feel in the space. Colors can energize or relax the space, depending on how intense they are and how warm or cool they are.

A serene scheme of soft blue and white makes this spacious living room feel calm, cool and collected—a gracious setting for elegant gatherings. A light tan carpet underfoot warms the space and keeps the cool tones in balance.

Finish the walls and ceilings.

Traditionally, living room walls receive more elaborate or formal treatment than other rooms because the room is a public space. To make it a welcoming room that expresses your personality, choose wall coverings or treatments that reflect your style.

The walls in this room are wallpapered with a chic print. The effect brings warmth and texture to the walls and gives them a look of antiquity.

Add character with architectural trim work.

Trim work serves practical purposes, covering the seams where floors and ceilings meet walls and supporting the structure around openings. But these elements serve aesthetic purposes too. The style of trim work helps give your home a distinctive look, whether classical, contemporary, old-world or regional.

Projecting lintels over the door and windows, a deep cornice and a paneled and beamed vaulted ceiling combine to give this whitewashed living room a sense of place.

Choose stylish, comfortable flooring.

In keeping with the function of the living room as a public space, choose a floor covering that provides comfort underfoot and makes a design statement as well. A vibrant wall-to-wall carpet lays the foundation for a refined mix of florals and stripes.

If you prefer a less bold floor, choose a solid neutral flooring that allows attention to focus on furniture or art. Hardwood floors with area rugs are one of the most popular choices for living room floors, but ceramic tile, stone tile and full carpeting work too.

Create a focal point.

A focal point anchors the living room and helps draw you into the space. A fireplace is a natural focal point, symbolizing hearth and home, but in most living spaces, the television is the true center of attention. To keep them from competing, pair them up. A beautiful view or a stunning piece of art can also serve as a room’s focal point.

Here a the fireplace becomes the central point in this living room that features a simple and chic look.

Arrange furniture for conversation.

Living rooms are gathering spaces, so use furniture arrangement to promote conversation and interaction. Pull seating pieces away from the walls and arrange them to face each other.

If you have a large living room, break it into two conversational groups for a more comfortable, intimate feeling. Chairs and ottomans that can be pulled into the group as needed allow you to expand the circle and still keep the intimacy.

Include inviting lighting.

Lighting in the living room should be geared toward creating a relaxed, comfortable mood. Aim for layers of light, and position light sources so they form roughly a triangle to ensure good distribution of illumination.

Table lamps that focus the light down will encourage people to sit down and relax. The overlapping arcs of light illuminate the seating instead of the upper walls, sending the message to sit.

Dress the windows—or not.

Although heavy window treatments are mostly a thing of the past, living rooms are the place for elaboration and luxury if you’re so inclined. This combination of relaxed shades and floor-to-ceiling draperies is understated yet elegant.

The elegance comes from the generous use of fabric in the draperies—they’re not fancy, but the thick folds and puddling ends communicate luxury. The shades block light and provide privacy when desired.

Design a media center.

If your living room is also your family room, watching TV may be the main use of the room. Whether you have the newest model or an older one, incorporate it into the room’s design so that it’s a feature but not dominant.

A built-in bookcase is a perfect spot to accommodate the television.

Accessorize with art and collections.

Living room walls come alive when you use them to display art or collections that you love. Group items for impact, and hang them low enough to relate to nearby furnishings or architecture. The most common mistake in hanging pictures is putting them too high.

Source:  www.bhgre/life.com

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Best Ways to Store More in Your Kitchen

No one wants their kitchen prep surfaces overtaken by clutter—but no one wants to live without their favorite kitchen appliances, either. Here’s how to have both.

Maximize under-sink storage.

Conquer your under-sink space with an simple, on-a-dime solution. Keep your most frequently used items (dish soap, dishwasher detergent, sponges and scrubbers) on a turntable for quick access.

Streamline the coffee station.

Make mornings easier with an all-in-one coffee station. Dedicate a pullout drawer next to your coffeemaker to holding filters, coffee beans and travel mugs, so brewing a fresh pot is a one-step task.

Have freezer smarts.

Stock your freezer with storage-smart ideas to make use of every inch of shelf space. Use plastic baskets (an affordable organization tool) to store foods by type, and put a labeled tag on each. Keep small adhesive labels and a permanent marker on hand to label individual containers.

Add a command center.

Built-in bins, a bulletin board and a clock turn one side of a fridge cabinet into a household command center. This simple DIY project creates instant organization and utilizes small spaces that are otherwise wasted.

Store stuff on the doors.

Attach racks to the inside of cabinet doors to boost storage options. Be sure to allow enough clearance within your cabinets to allow the door to close completely. A narrow rack is ideal for keeping small jars in order.

Fake a pantry.

Using substantial-size drawers is a smart alternative to a full-size pantry when kitchen space is limited. These drawers keep boxes and bags upright, organized and accessible.

Keep towels close.

Keep dish towels in a cabinet close to the cleanup zone. Use a pullout towel rack with more than one bar to air-dry and store towels.

Add open shelves.

Add open shelving for cookbooks, displays of attractive serving bowls and dishes, stemware, vases or baskets. Here, grouping and stacking pieces on the open shelves keeps items neat and easy to find.

Put walls to work.

Install a wire wall grid to keep kitchen tools handy. Turn a bare section of wall into a hook-and-hang center. For more storage, add accessories such as spice racks and cookbook holders.

Properly store spices.

Store spice bottles on their sides with labels visible; lay them in shallow drawers instead of stacking them. The best location for spice storage is below a cooktop or to the side of a range. The flavor of spices stored above a cooking surface might be adversely affected by the heat.

Neatly stow linens.

Run out of drawer space for towels and cloth napkins? Reach for a basket to neatly stack linens, and tuck the basket onto a shelf or inside a cabinet. A basket will help keep linen sets together and make them easy to find when you want to use them.

Divide your drawer space.

Adjustable inserts help organize flatware and other items inside your drawers. When designing custom drawer space, specify shallow drawers to store utensils one deep for easy viewing.

Try upright storage.

Store shallow items, such as cutting boards and platters, upright. Even narrow spaces next to your range or your sink can be used in this manner. Use dividers to separate items for easier retrieval.

Stow pots and pans.

Fill in the space under a cooktop with a tilt-out tray for spices and rollout trays for pots and pans. Or, slide in a movable cart with shelves to accommodate cooking equipment.

Combine storage.

Combine open and closed storage for visual interest and accessibility. An arrangement of cabinets and cubbies makes use of typically wasted space around a refrigerator.

Bring the pantry closer to you.

A pullout pantry system has wire shelf sides that prevent items from falling out and allow easy viewing of the contents. Pullout pantry systems, especially those that extend into toe-kick space near the floor, must be installed perfectly level and plumb to operate smoothly.

Customize your shelves.

If you’re installing open shelving, strategize your plan to accommodate what you’ll be storing. Professional organizers recommend measuring your stacked dishes to determine the shelf height your dishware requires.

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Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

6 Tips for Winter House Showings

Now that winter is here, it brings a new set of challenges for sellers.  Here are a few common sense tips to follow.

1.  Make sure your driveway is always plowed and entryways clear.

2.  Keep walkways and stairs clear of snow and ice.

3.  Set thermostat in a vacant house to at least 55 to 60 degrees.  A warm house holds more appeal and buyers will take their time looking.  If a home is cold, buyers will rush through and it leaves a negative impression.

4.  Put a large, heavy duty rug in front of the door used for entry to provide space for buyers' wet boots.

5.  Let in the light.  Push back drapes, open blinds, install higher wattage bulbs.

6.  If you have great summer photos of the yard, leave them out for buyers to view.

If you are looking for an experienced REALTOR with the common sense to help sell your house in any season, then give me a call. 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Looking for a positive home buying/selling experience? Call Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team!  603-526-4116

Favorite Bathroom Upgrades

Consider a frameless glass shower.

A glass shower door lends a luxurious look to any bathroom, but the reason for installing one might not be all about looks. This shower lacks a ledge or lip to step over to enter the shower, making it a great choice for aging family members.

Install comfortable seating.

Whether you want a spot to sit down and towel off or a place to lean back and relax for a few moments, a cushioned chair or ottoman ups the comfort level of any bath. Another option is to place a cushioned bench beneath a window. Be sure to add lots of pillows.

Pipe in soothing sounds.

Keep your favorite soft music on hand for easy listening while you rejuvenate. Whether you invest in a state-of-the-art sound system or stash a small CD or mp3 player on the shelf, music has great impact on your mood. If you’re installing a sound system, maximize sound quality by placing two speakers in opposite corners of the room.

Include an entertainment center.

If you keep up with the news while you get ready in the morning, consider installing a small television in your remodeled bathroom. Low-voltage, water-resistant televisions designed for installation in areas near water come complete with water-resistant remotes. To protect your television, keep bathroom humidity levels in check with proper ventilation.

Get a glowing hearth.

Put a fireplace in your bathroom to enjoy the sight and warmth of a roaring fire as you relax in the tub or do evening stretches. If the bathroom is attached to your bedroom, consider a double-sided fireplace for twice the enjoyment.

Put in a shower bench.

Just like in a lavish spa, a seat in the shower will encourage a slower pace. Tile the bench to match the rest of the shower, or add a bench made of a contrasting material like teak or glass. Enhance a shower bench with other upgrades in the shower, such as a steam feature or multiple showerheads.

Install heated towel bars.

Yet another cozy idea: hang your towels from heated bars so you can wrap yourself in warm terry cloth when you finish your shower or bath.

Go big with a freestanding tub.

Wash away stress in a deep soaking tub. If you long to linger in the soothing jets and serene bubbles of a whirlpool tub, buy a model that’s roomy and doesn’t strain your muscles when you lean back. Keep in mind that you need plenty of hot water to fill the tub, which adds to both your water and electric bills.

Channel the spa with a steam shower.

If you truly want a spa experience without leaving home, put in a shower that doubles as a steam shower. To make your shower steam-ready, equip it with a door that seals tightly on all sides. Install a vapor barrier on the ceiling and wall framing to prevent moisture, which causes wood rot, from reaching studs and joists. Include a steam generator outside the shower. This heats water from your water system using a 220-volt electric heating element. A steam-generator supplier will help you determine the best size.

Integrate smart storage solutions.

Take a beautiful bathroom to the next level by adding practical and pretty storage. It’s easy for bathrooms to get overloaded with cosmetics and grooming products; smart storage allows you to put everything in its place. Mix open and closed storage, or try frosted-glass door inserts, shown in this bathroom, to add interest to the room and break up a wall of cabinets.

Lighten it up with windows and skylights.

Brighten a dark, dull bathroom by adding windows or a skylight. Let your room’s proportions and features dictate size. If wall space is limited or views are unappealing, consider a skylight. Operable models, called sky windows, offer ventilation as well as light and have frames that match wall windows. To prevent moisture and condensation problems, choose high-quality windows and install them according to the manufacturer’s specifications, or call on a professional.

Glamorize with a chandelier.

Even the bathroom needs glamour, and adding a chandelier is a quick way to upgrade a hardworking space. Hang a pretty fixture over the bathtub so you can enjoy it while you lounge, or put it near a window so the crystals can bounce light around the room.

Add luxury shower elements.

Dual showerheads, handheld showerheads, body sprays and a broad bench elevate an ordinary shower experience to be invigorating and lavish. Wall-mount showerheads can be adjusted to spray high or low for people of different heights. Many handheld sprayers can be adapted to existing plumbing lines, making for easy installation.

Create a “rug” out of tile.

Almost any bathroom can incorporate a tiled “rug,” and one can be added to an existing bathroom by simply removing tile from the area you want to add the accent, and then putting down the new tiles. Like other upgrades, the tile rug adds a custom and personalized look to the bathroom. It’s also a great place to infuse pattern or color.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

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