It’s Great To Be Home . . .

a homebody’s guide to home renovation and more

A Real Simple Deal February 26, 2009

Real Simple has been one of my favorite magazines ever since my good friend Jen gave me a year’s subscription for my birthday awhile back.  If you’ve never read the magazine, drop what you’re doing and either go buy a copy or check it out here – believe me, it’s really that great.  Real Simple is filled with tons of useful ideas to make your life more . . . simple!  (You never would have guessed that from the title, right?)  But it can also make your life more organized.  And beautiful.  And all sorts of other fun things.

Right now, Real Simple and The Container Store have joined forces to bring you two free issues of this awesome mag.  Go ahead and click here to sign up for this great deal!!

 

Real Simple | Life Made Easier, Every Day

The Container Store® - The Original Storage and Organization Store®


While we’re on the subject of the awesomeness of Real Simple, I thought I’d tell you about this nifty wine-pairing tool on the Real Simple website.  Even though I’m a big fan of wine (we even have our own built-in wine fridge in the hutch in our breakfast nook), I’ve never been able to figure out which wine to serve with different dishes.  Turns out it’s real simple!  Click here and you’ll never commit another wine-pairing faux pas again – or at least you won’t have any excuse if you do! 

P.S.  I just used the wine-pairing tool and found out that I’m supposed to have a glass of Gewurztraminer or Riesling  with my spaghetti tonight – delish!!

 

 
Real Simple Wine Pairings

 

Images courtesy of Real Simple and The Container Store.

 

Tax Credit For First-Time Homebuyers February 22, 2009

As you’ve probably heard, the federal government recently passed a tax credit available to first-time homebuyers.  Although the tax credit is pretty straightforward, there are a few little quirks that you should know about:

  1. Who is a “first-time homebuyer”?  The government considers a “first-time” buyer to be anyone who has not owned a home for the past three years – so, in reality, the tax credit is available to people who previously owned homes, as long as they haven’t been homeowners since about 2006.
     
  2. When does the home have to have been purchased?  The tax credit only applies to homes that are purchased between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009.
     
  3. How much of a tax credit can you receive?  The stimulus bill allows first-time buyers to claim a tax credit on their 2008 or 2009 taxes for $8,000 OR 10% of the home’s value, whichever is less.  That means that homes worth less than $80,000 will receive a tax credit of less than $8,000.
     
  4. Are there any income restrictions on who can take the tax credit?  Yes.  Full credit is only available to first-time buyers that earn less than $75,000 for singles, or $150,000 for couples.  However, a partial credit may be available to singles or couples that earn more than the income ceiling.
     
  5. How do I claim the tax credit?  It’s easy!  Just claim it on your return – and if you’re really ambitious and have already filed your return, then you can just file an amended return to take the tax credit.
     
  6. Will I have to pay back the tax credit?  Maybe.  Basically, the tax credit is yours to keep unless you live in the home for less than 3 years – then you have to pay it back.

Pretty cool, right?  The tax credit is a great and unique deal available to you first-time buyers, so definitely be sure to take advantage of it on your tax returns!  To find out a little bit more about the tax credit and how it might apply to you, just click here.

 

Bargain Hunting February 18, 2009

When we first started the renovation, I was convinced that certain design elements were just out of reach.  They were too expensive, couldn’t have’em, end of story, period.  After briefly mourning the loss of my fancy goodies, I decided to take matters into my own hands – me, be denied glass tile??  I think not!!

So the quest began.  A little time spent perusing discount websites, home improvement stores, etc. finally led to victory.  Here are a few of the awesome steals you can find with a just little effort:

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Example No. 1:  The oh-so-fancy sea blue glass tile in our master shower.  I am head over heels for this tile, and I can’t believe it’s mine!  Glass tile can be ridiculously expensive (up to $30 a square foot for some styles), and while we stayed away from the really pricey stuff we were able to steal this tile for less than half of its original price because it was being discontinued by the manufacturer.  Score!!

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Example No. 2:  The undermount, scalloped porcelain sinks in our jack ‘n jill bath.  Would you have ever guessed that I found these beautiful babies for 20 bucks a piece at Lowe’s?  These suckers can easily go for up to $100 a piece, so I was beyond thrilled to polish off both sinks in that bathroom for under $40.

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Example No. 3:  The blown glass pendant lights in our master bath.  These beauties are probably my favorite design element in our bathroom.  They have the exact same shade of blue as the shower tile, giving balance to the room and adding a fun pop of color on what’s otherwise essentially a tan wall.  The price, you might ask?  I was totally psyched when I found them at Lowe’s for about 1/4 of what they were selling for at two other stores that shall remain unnamed.    

Don’t let something like a price tag keep you from having the awesome design of your dreams – do a little research and you’ll find amazing deals that you won’t be able to stop talking about.  Let me know what great steals you were able to find for your own home!!