Get the right mix of natural light, task lighting and accent lighting for both productivity and relaxation

 July 15, 2019
Houzz Contributor. Expert lighting design specialist.
Click "Embed" to display an article on your own website or blog.
We’re working at home more than ever. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that over eight million people work entirely from home, and a recent Gallup survey reveals that at least 43 percent of the American workforce spends at least some time working remotely. If you’re among those working from home, it’s important to get your home office lighting right. Consider these ideas for ensuring that your home office draws in natural light, is functional, adjusts to the time of day and is comfortable.

Don’t sweat that boxy A/C unit. Here’s how to put it out of sight and out of mind

 July 17, 2019
Houzz Contributor; Owner/CEO of Emu Building Science; LEED AP BD+C. After spending...More
Click "Embed" to display an article on your own website or blog.
If you live in a hot climate, your air conditioner is probably your favorite major appliance. However, it can quickly become a major party crasher in the middle of your backyard summer barbecue. That same hulking, boxy piece of machinery that cools your house can be an eyesore in your garden. But don’t sweat it. There are plenty of ways you can hide, mask, conceal and block your air conditioning unit so you won’t even know it’s there. Here’s how to keep your cool.

Water Filters And You! 300w, 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1920px) 100vw, 1920px" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; display: inline-block; height: auto; max-width: 100%; vertical-align: middle;">

There’s something you should know about your water: it’s not as clean as you might think.

In fact, depending on where it comes from, you could be having that skinny half-caf latte with extra primordial soup. Lots of little living things are in your drinking water right now, right in this moment. There are also plenty of minerals and more complicated compounds floating around in it, maybe even agricultural waste, if you get the drift.

It’s a pretty unpleasant picture, there’s no doubt about it. But without water, we mere mortals won’t last long. Just how do you keep from drinking a slurry that would potentially give you superpowers if you were in a comic book?

Water Filters for the Masses

Anyone who has a well should understand the need for regular testing and heavy filtration to protect their families from the things that can concentrate in the water supply, but most people who are on municipal water don’t give it a second thought. And why should they? Water goes to a treatment plant and it comes back as pure and glistening as new fallen snow.

Except that’s not really true. There are always contaminates that can’t be filtered out, no matter how hard you try. The technology is getting better all the time, but until it’s perfect, you may want to take some of the work of cleaning your drinking water into your own hands.

What Can a Water Filter Do?

There are plenty of water filters on the market today, mostly because many can only cover a portion of the contamination spectrum. It’s a lot to ask of one filter, though. The way you capture protozoa and eliminate them is completely different from how you’d get rid of excess calcium.

Unfortunately, this isn’t made very clear by those filter manufacturers. What ends up happening in many cases is that homeowners buy a single filter and are disappointed that their water is still kind of dirty.

For most whole-home filtration systems, using more than one type of filter will get you the best results possible. You will not get water that is perfectly free of anything but a couple of Hs and an O, but it will be much better overall.

Types of Filters

As mentioned above, there are several types of filters out there, most of which only cover a limited range of impurities. Some remove biological contamination from your water, but will not remove chemicals. These include:

  • Ceramic
  • Mechanical
  • Ozone
  • Ultraviolet

Others are really good at getting the chemicals, but don’t do much for things like cysts and bacteria. A few popular filters and techniques on that list are:

  • Activated Carbon
  • Deionization
  • Distillation
  • Ion exchange

Then, you have reverse osmosis.

Reverse Osmosis for Household Water Filtration

This particular filter technology as it’s regularly deployed to homeowners is a multipart system that not only includes a semipermeable membrane that prevents water contaminants like arsenic, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate from entering your faucets, a carbon filter comes along with most standard systems to catch chlorine and other materials.

Part of what makes a reverse osmosis system so effective at cleaning your water are the multiple filtration stages. Of course water’s going to be cleaner with several polishes rather than the single pass your Brita pitcher gets.

The typical reverse osmosis filtration system uses pre-filtration to eliminate sand, dirt, silt and other sediments, carbon filters to remove chlorine and organic compounds, as well as the reverse osmosis membrane. By installing a reverse osmosis system, you are really installing multiple water filters that work together to create very clean water.

The Flip Side of Reverse Osmosis

Mostly, reverse osmosis systems are really pretty amazing. They do a lot of work without complaining much and need minimal maintenance if they’re installed properly. However, nothing in this world is perfect and the reverse osmosis filtration systems do have a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Not all systems are the same. Just because many reverse osmosis systems include multiple pre-filters, it should not be assumed that the one you’re looking at on Amazon does. The quality of reverse osmosis systems varies dramatically, make sure you read the reviews and invest in a good system that will last.
  • You need decent water pressure. Because the water has to be forced through what is essentially a super fine mesh, you need decent water pressure for a reverse osmosis system to work. If you’ve had water pressure issues in the shower, it’s a good bet you need a plumber out to take a look before you spend the money on a reverse osmosis filtration system.
  • They use a lot of water. Many homeowners are surprised to see how much waste water their reverse osmosis system produces. How much discharge water is collected will vary based on local water conditions and the number and types of filters you use, but you can expect something like three to five gallons of discharge water per gallon of reverse osmosis purified water. The waste water, however, is totally useable for anything you’d use the purified water for, aside from consumption by humans or animals. Hook it up to your gray water discharge system and water your trees with it — it’s not wasted anymore!

Ready for Reverse Osmosis? Not Sure Where to Start?

Sure, you can buy that system from Amazon and hope that you know enough about your plumbing to set it up properly, but wouldn’t you rather be in the pool or kicking back on the sofa watching the game?

You don’t have to do it all yourself. Your HomeKeepr community is home to the best plumbers in your area. They’re happy to help you with that reverse osmosis system. Your real estate agent has probably already recommended a plumber, why not log in right now and see who it is? Not only will your recommended expert help you choose a level of filtration that works for your family, they’ll install it in no time.

Drywall Anchors: Secrets Revealed! 300w, 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1920px) 100vw, 1920px" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; display: inline-block; height: auto; max-width: 100%; vertical-align: middle;">

Whether you’re hanging a picture or mounting a television, anything that goes on your wall needs something to anchor it in place. If there’s a stud in the wall that you can attach it to then you’re fine; you’ve got well-supported wood to drive a screw into which will hold whatever you’re mounting in place. If you can’t find a stud where you need one, though, you could have a problem. That’s where drywall anchors come in.

What Is a Drywall Anchor?

Drywall anchors are small pieces that are slightly larger than the screws you’re using on a project. Depending on the type of anchor you’re using it might be made of plastic or metal, with small fins sticking out from the outside of the anchor body and a hole in the middle that runs the length of the anchor. The anchors go into the wall, then your screw goes into the hole. As you screw it in, the screw digs into the anchor body in much the same way it would with wood to ensure that the screw won’t slip out.

Anchors are designed to provide a tight fit for your screws. As the screw goes in, the anchor is forced to spread out and open up a bit. This pushes the body of the anchor against the sides of the hole you put it in, causing those little fins to dig into the surrounding drywall. The fins are positioned to go in easy but resist coming out, giving you a solid mounting even though there isn’t any wood or other solid material for your screws to secure to.

Plastic Anchors

There are multiple types of drywall anchors. Choosing the right one for the job you’re working on helps to reduce unnecessary damage to your drywall and ensures that the mounting is strong enough for the load it needs to bear. To ensure that you have the right drywall anchor for what you need to support, try to get an estimate of the weight of the load and check the packaging of different drywall anchors to find an anchor that can hold that much weight.

If you have a relatively light load, you’ll probably need a plastic anchor. The most common of these are known as expansion anchors and are essentially plastic sleeves that you hammer into a drilled hole and that simply spread out as you insert a screw. There are also threaded plastic anchors that look like oversized screws; they work similarly, except you screw them into place instead of hammering them. Regardless of the type of plastic anchor you use, the purpose is still to dig into the drywall and hold a screw in place.

Metal Anchors

For heavier loads you’ll likely wind up with a metal anchor. Though you may see some threaded metal anchors, the most common metal anchors are known as molly bolts and feature a metal sleeve with a screw already inserted into them. You hammer these into place as you would with an expansion anchor, then remove the screw. Once you’re ready to mount you place the screw back into the anchor and start tightening; this causes a portion of the metal sleeve to pull toward the screw, expanding metal arms on the other side of the drywall to create a much more secure fitting.

If you have an even heavier load, you’ll need to use a toggle bolt instead. These anchors consist of a metal bolt with foldable metal wings that the bolt screws into. You have to fold the wings so that they lie over the bolt, then insert them into a hole large enough that they can fit through to the other side. Once on the other side the wings will expand, preventing the bolt from coming back out. Make sure that there is a washer or something else that’s large enough to cover the hole, though, or the bolt head could slip through the hole and you’ll lose your toggle bolt into the wall.

When Drywall Anchors Fail

In most cases, if a drywall anchor fails then it simply wasn’t the right type of anchor for the job. Trying to use smaller or weaker anchors for heavier loads will often result in failure because they simply don’t achieve enough grip on the surrounding material to hold the load. In some cases, though, the drywall itself may be too weak or the anchor you use may have been intended for a different material. Be sure to match the anchor to the weight and the material to minimize your chances of anchor failure.

Are you still having problems finding the right drywall anchors to meet your needs? Don’t risk your photos or collectables… the HomeKeepr community is here to help with any issues you might have. Find the answers you need or locate a pro who can get everything secured safely in record time. Best of all, they all come recommended by other members of the community so you won’t have to worry about hard-to-trust reviews again!

Why Renters Should Get Serious About Owning Their Homes



Beatrice de Jong

Beatrice de Jong is the Director of Residential Sales at Open Listings, where she leads the in-house team of agents.


Buying a home is a major financial step and long-term commitment. Owning a home is the quintessential American Dream, but aside from the feeling of pride it brings, there are plenty of practical reasons to purchase a home.

Consistent Housing Payment

The biggest cost to budget for in your personal life is likely your housing payment. Being a renter means you are at the mercy of your landlord’s lease agreement, and rents tend to rise annually.

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly mortgage payment will be the same amount every month. Knowing the monthly bill is going to stay the same every month for years to come is a huge relief and makes budgeting for the future much easier.



Staying in the home you bought for a few years can mean walking away with a lot of money if and when you do decide to leave. You may even stay in the home long enough to eventually pay it off completely and not have a mortgage payment anymore!

By comparison, renting can feel unpredictable and like a waste of money, since it doesn't result in any equity in your home.

Customize Your Space

When you own your home, you're able to decorate and personalize the space as much as you want. Owning the space you live in means having the freedom to personalize it without the risk of losing your security deposit.

You can finally paint the walls any color of your choosing, and even invest in bigger renovations like replacing the carpet with wood flooring or beautiful tiles without having to get anyone else’s approval. Being able to customize your home is one of the most fun parts of homeownership.

Tax Benefits

As a homeowner, you can enjoy major tax deductions from mortgage interest and property taxes when filing your annual tax returns. The savings from tax benefits are significant and in some cases make homeownership less expensive than paying rent.

Be Your Own Landlord

Renters move more often than homeowners, and you can save the time and stress of having to pack up and leave. If the landlord decides to up and sell the house or building you are living in, you may have no choice but to relocate, forcing you to face an unexpected financial burden that could have been avoided.

Build Credit

Owning a home and making your monthly mortgage payments on time will help build up your credit score. Having a good credit score means you will easily be able to take out loans to borrow money when you want to, like for purchasing a new car or even buying a second home.

Build Wealth

As wealth management advisor and author David Bach" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">explains, renters may throw away over half a million dollars over their lifetimes — $1,500 per month for 30 years totals $540,000 — and own nothing to show for their trouble in the end. When you own a home, every payment brings you closer to paying off the mortgage. Homeowners will accumulate equity over time, which means if the home value goes up, you can capitalize on the higher value when you sell your home for a profit. Paying the mortgage every month is going toward paying off the big loan used to buy the home. Owning a home could mean you are saving money for your future, and it may even enable you to leave an asset for future generations to inherit.

Why Hopeful Homeowners Stay Renters

Though these benefits to homeownership are tempting, there's no doubt that the rental market is alive and well. The top three reasons I hear people say they opt to rent instead are because of they lack the savings for a down payment, have a low credit score or can't afford to buy within the area where they are currently renting.

Because rent increases at a faster rate than income, most renters find themselves eventually getting priced out of the homes they occupy. Here in Los Angeles, renters are being forced further east each year. Planning ahead and buying in an up-and-coming neighborhood could put you ahead of the trend and able to buy in a neighborhood before it gets too expensive. In cities with high rental rates, you should keep in mind that you could always rent out the home in the future to make an income from the home.

Even if homeownership seems out of reach right now because of debt or lack of savings, it is a goal renters can work aggressively toward. Lenders can provide options for loans that work for various situations and even offer incentives for first-time homebuyers to receive grants or loans with very low down payments. It may be the case that you can actually afford more than you think!

Stop making your landlord rich, and start investing in your future." style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry." style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Do I qualify?
Beatrice de JongBeatrice de Jong Forbes Councils Member

Beatrice de Jong is the Director of Residential Sales at Open Listings, where she leads the in-house team of agents.

Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization for senior-level executives in the real estate industry. Find out if you qualify at forbesreale...