How-To Tuesday: Make a Big Impact With a Small Bathroom

Powder room. Water closet. No matter what cute, creative name you give them, small bathrooms can cause big problems. Of course there are issues like lack of storage and room to move about, but there's also the question of how to make a tiny bathroom look appealing. Here are a few quick tips for opening up and adding character to any small bathroom. 

Draw the eye up. Extra tall wainscoting is a good way to make a bathroom look taller, creating the illusion of more space. If you're not a fan, try installing another interesting detail close to the top of the wall.

Use a chair rail as shelving. Extend the top of your chair rail to create some space above-the-counter storage.

Get a claw-foot tub. It takes up less room than a traditional tub or surround shower and lend a vintage feel to the space.

Lighten it up. If your small bathroom has a window, think about expanding it. As with any other room, the more natural light you have, the bigger a space feels.

Cut it out. Create niches in walls where toilets, vanities, or storage items can be pushed back. You'll be grateful even if it gives you just a few more inches of floor space.

Install a pedestal sink. Choose one with pretty details. Bonus points if it has room underneath for a small nightstand or other piece of furniture to act as storage.

Give it character. A smaller room is perfect for a vintage or bohemian look. A unique paint job, like wide horizontal stripes, can also help widen the room. (Don't wince at the idea of stripes. They can be done subtly with neutral colors!)

Open up the shower by taking away the curtain or other enclosure and adding a glass wall and door.

Any other ideas for opening up a small bathroom?

June 2014 Charleston Real Estate Market Statistics

The Charleston real estate market is continuing to improve, as evidenced by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors' preliminary data for June 2014. 1,423 homes sold in the tri-county area at a median price of $227,500. That's up from 1,214 at $219,340 in June 2013.

Statistics for the midway point of 2014 also prove that the market is alive and well. During the first half of the year, a total of 6,613 homes sold at a median price of $216,273. That's an 8% increase from 2013.

Below is a breakdown of Charleston market statistics by county.

The ABC's of Real Estate

Like most types of business, the real estate industry has a lot of jargon that you might not be familiar with. With that in mind, we bring to you today a short list of the ABC's of real estate. How many of the following real estate terms do you recognize?


Appraisal: an expert estimate of the value of a property as determined by one of three methods: comparable sales (residential), replacement cost (insurance), or income approach (commercial).

Broker: a person who acts as a mediator between two or more parties for the purpose of negotiating a transaction agreeable to all parties.

Closing: the formal meeting where loan documents are signed, funds are disbursed, and keys are exchanged.

Deed: conveys or transfers title to land or other real property.

Earnest money: a monetary amount or something of value given by a prospective buyer of real property as evidence of good faith.

Foreclosure: the process of terminating an owner's rights to property due to delinquent payments.

Gain: an increase in money or property value.

HOA (Homeowners Association): organization of homeowners in a subdivision, planned use development, or condominium created to enforce deed restrictions and manage common elements of the development.

Interest rate: percentage of loan amount charged for borrowing money.

Joint tenancy: ownership of real estate by two or more persons, each of whome has an undivided interest.

Kickout clause: seller contingency that allows the seller to accept a buyer's contingent offer to purchase, while allowing the seller to continue to market the property and take backup offers. Also known as the 72-hour clause.

Lien: claim on a property of another as security for money owed. Example: judgments, mechanic's liens, mortgages, and unpaid taxes.

Mortgage loan: loan secured by a lien against real property given by borrower to a lender.

Net cash flow: investment income after expenses such as principle, interest, taxes, and insurance are subtracted.

Ordinance: municipal rules governing the use of land.

PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance): monthly payments required by an amortizing loan that includes escrow deposits for taxes and insurance in addition to principle and interest.

Quiet enjoyment: an owner's or tenant's right to use and possession of property without interference.

Realtor: designation given to licensed real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors.

Section 8: privately owned rental swelling units participating in the low-income rental assistance program created by 1974 amendments to section 8 of the 1937 Housing Act.

Title insurance: an insurance policy that protects the holder from loss sustained by defects in the title, which is evidence of ownership.

Undivided interest: ownership right to use and possession of property shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property.

VA Loan: a home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Veteran's Administration under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 and later to compensate the lender in the event of default.

Warranty Deed: deed that contains covenant that the grantor protects the grantee against any and all claims and ensures good title, freedom from encumbrances, and quiet enjoyment.

Regulation X: also known as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures ACT (RESPA). Concerned with the process of completing real estate sales. Monitored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Yield: effective return on investment

Zoning: a legal mechanism for local governments to divide an area into zones as to restrict the number and types of buildings and their uses.


How-To Tuesday: Make Your Own Natural, Homemade Cleaning Products

Modern households have gone retro. In a complicated world, it seems many families are striving to make things simple and natural whenever they can. When you think "simple," making your own homemade household cleaners might not top your list of first thoughts. But believe it or not, you can whip up your own natural cleaners with just a few ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen or bathroom! Check out our best recipes for natural, homemade cleaners.

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Mix in a spray bottle and use to clean kitchens, bathrooms, etc.

All-Purpose Cleaner 2
3 parts filtereted water
1 part vinegar
1/2 tsp. lemon juise
5-7 drops lemon essential oil
Put in spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with hot water.

Glass Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Furniture Polish
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Stainless Steel Cleaner/Polish
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar
Dab oil on one side of a soft cloth. Rub steel appliances to remove smudges. Dab vinegar on the other side of the cloth and wipe down.

Homemade Reusable Cleaning Cloths
Soak cotton fabric squares in a mixture of the following:
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. dish soap
8-10 drops lemon essential oil
Recycle an old container of cleaning wipes (like Clorox Clean-Ups) to hold the cloths.

Bleach Alternative
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
15 c. water
Mix in a large jug. Fill spray bottles if desired.

Produce Wash
1/2 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. filtered or distilled water

Dusting Spray (similar to Pledge)
1 Tbsp. natural dish soap
15 drops lemon essential oil
2 c. water

Deodorizing Spray (similar to Febreeze)
Fill a spray bottle with vinegar until almost full. Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Feel free to replace those oils with any others you desire.

Pots and Pans Scrub
Combine equal parts salt and flour, then add just enough vinegar to make a paste.

Do you have any great recipes for cleaning products we should know about? Are there any we missed that you'd like to see? Tell us in the comments below!


Hurricane Preparation Tips For Your Home

Hurricane season is upon us! While many of us living in the Lowcountry are seasoned pros in hurricane preparedness, it never hurts to refresh the memory and make a list of "to-do's" to keep on hand. If you're NOT familiar with how to prepare for a hurricane, don't panic. As long as you take certain precautions, you and your home should weather the storm just fine. Before you do anything else, decide whether you will evacuate or stay and ride out the storm. If you live in a flood zone that could suffer from a storm surge, the best thing to do is evacuate. If city officials tell you to evacuate, DO IT. Don't learn the hard way.

Whether you stay or evacuate, you'll need to prepare your home for intense wind and rain. Check out our hurricane preparation to-do list below!


Contrary to what you may have heard or done in the past, don't tape your windows. It's a waste of time. It might keep glass from flying everywhere in the event that the window does break, but there's no guarantee. It certainly won't keep the window from breaking in the first place.

If you have hurricane shutters, put them up a day or two before the hurricane is expected to make landfall.

If you decide that plywood is the way to go, make sure you don't wait until the last minute to buy it. Do so early in the season and have it and the necessary tools on hand in advance. You'll thank yourself later. Buy 3/4-inch thick plywood and enough screws to place 18 inches apart all the way around.

Block all views of the inside of your home if you decide not to cover the windows. Hang drapes and make sure blinds are closed, etc. You never know when looters will show up to take a peek inside post-storm.


Move any outdoor items into the garage or the house. This includes grills, patio furniture, lawnmowers, garden hoses, toys and playsets, trash cans, and decorative items. Ask your neighbors to do the same to lower the risk of someone else's belongings blowing over and knocking out one of your windows.

Examine the landscaping around your home. Trim any dead limbs and branches from surrounding trees and bushes. They're sure to break off in heavy winds and can damage roofs, windows, and cars. If there are any large, weaker trees (pines, for example) close to the house, consider cutting them down.

Check gutters to make sure they're clear of leaves and other debris. You'll want them in working order once the heavy rains start to fall!


If you decide not to evacuate, prepare a room for your family to take shelter in during the storm. This room should ideally have no windows or exterior doors and only one interior door. If you don't have a room without windows, a hallway will work in a pinch. Stock the room with bedding, a radio, batteries, flashlights/glow sticks, and enough food and water to last your family for about twelve hours. If you have pets, don't forget to include their necessities as well. Candles can go into the mix if you don't have gas lines that could possibly be compromised.

Store valuables and important documents in a waterproof container that you can keep with you. Take pictures or videos of valuables for the insurance company.

Check expiration dates on all items in your hurricane kit. If you don't have a hurricane kit, MAKE ONE NOW.

What to include in a hurricane preparedness kit:
Enough non-perishable (dried, canned, boxed) foods and water to last at least three days.
Battery-operated radio
Plenty of extra batteries
Necessary medications
First aid kit
Non-electric can opener
Paper plates and plastic cups and utensils
Trash bags and duct tape
Hygiene items
Waterless soap
Pet ID, collars, and leashes

For a more comprehensive list on how to prepare your hurricane kit, visit   

What other hurricane preparation tips do you have? Tell us in the comments section below!




A friend of ours who recently bought a house enthusiastically referred us to Johnson & Wilson. Our friend's recommendation was top notch - Johnson & Wilson. is AWESOME! - Brian
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