Pocket Full of Doors: What to Know About Pocket Doors

Mirrored pocket door with white frame sliding into wall between bathroom and hallway

A pocket door tucks discreetly into walls, like this mirrored one that separates a bathroom from a hallway. Photo Courtesy of Johnson Hardware.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Ever see those cool hideaway doors that tuck into the wall and think, “I’d love a door like that!”? The good news is that you can — commonly known as pocket doors, these doors are functional, save space and look great.

But, is a pocket door the right type of door for your new home? While these types of doors may be attractive, they should be used in certain cases. If you’re unsure if a pocket door will work in a certain room, talk to your builder. In the meantime, here’s what to know about pocket doors:

The Basics

What is a pocket door and how does it differ from a regular door? “A pocket door can be the same size and look of a regular door, but it instead slides discreetly within the interior of the wall,” says David Soriano, founder and president of Bryan Construction in Doylestown, Pa. “This can be used on any interior door in a home, providing there is enough wall space on one side of the door to allow room for the entire door to slide in to.” Pocket doors come in a variety of styles, including solid wood, glass and even rice paper.

While these doors offer space savings, Soriano says that homeowners who use these doors are often after a desired look. They want “a very open, seamless look consistent throughout the home,” he says.

Barn Doors, The Pocket Door You Can See

wood barn door separating bathroom from master bedroom

Photo Courtesy of NW Artisan Hardware.

An alternative to pocket doors (and the need for a pocket door frame) is the barn door. Barn doors glide on hardware you install above a door. While barn doors don’t close in the same way that a pocket door does, they provide privacy without taking up space.

“Barn doors are perfect for areas where you don’t want to impede traffic flow,” says Barbara Green, owner of Sensibly Chic Designs for Life in Charlotte, N.C. “You can cover a pantry with them or a doorway between a formal living room or a hallway.

“They can close off a space, but when you want it to open, it completely opens the room up without having to worry about traffic flow being impeded by the doors jutting into the hallway or room,” says Green.

Not All Doors Are Created Equal

It’s important to understand that a pocket door shouldn’t replace every type of door in your home. Erin Davis, owner and lead designer of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Ore., suggests pockets doors in cases where they’ll see “light to moderate use only.”

Placement is also important when thinking about a pocket door, Davis says. “The framing that is required for a pocket door limits plumbing and electrical placement,” she says. Because you don’t need to remove parts of the wall to install a pocket door frame, newly built homes are ideal for these types of doors. “You can pre-plan in locations and frame it in from the start” with a new construction home, Davis says. Your builder can offer advice on the best way to incorporate this type of door into your new home, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Save Pocket Doors For Smaller Spaces

While pocket doors are hailed for giving folks more space, that’s not true in every case, says Anjie Cho, a New York City-based registered architect and feng shui interior designer. “People think that they get more space, but not always,” she says. “You lose the back of the door (for hooks, like in a closet or bathroom). You also lose acoustical privacy. This is something to consider with bathrooms and bedrooms.”

Cho suggests using pocket doors in rooms where space is limited, such as a powder room.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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How to Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

cat standing by water fountain

Practical steps, like ensuring your pets have fresh, cool water, can go a long way in making sure your pets are comfortable this summer.

By Patricia L. Garcia

The dog days of summer are upon us and for homeowners with pets, it’s difficult to keep cooling costs down and pets comfy.

While your new home comes with a great HVAC system and energy-efficient features, there’ still more you can do. Small, yet practical, steps like keeping a bowl of water out for pets can go a long way in helping pets stay comfortable on toasty days. Here are some of the most practical and low-cost ways to keep your pets cool:

1. Understand Your Pets

Pets like dogs and cats don’t have sweat glands, so they expel heat by panting and through their paws. While an effective cooling technique in most cases, it may be difficult for pets to cool down in extreme heat. So it’s important to understand when your pet is in distress. Learn the signs of heat stroke in pets and how to manage it if your pet is overheated. For example, unlike dogs, cats don't pant -- unless they're overheated or sick. If your cat has been outdoors or has been exercising and they're panting, it's time to seek veterinary help.

While you may be tempted to shave a pet such as a chow chow, don’t! Shaving a pet messes with their heat regulation and puts pets at risk for sunburns. Always talk to your vet or groomer before taking the clippers to Fido. And, if you have a pet with a short snout (brachycephalic breeds) like a pug, Boston terrier or Persian cat, know that they don’t tolerate the heat as good as other breeds.

2. Keep Them Hydrated

This is the most practical advice we can offer: make sure pets have water. A bowl of cool water will help them in the process of cooling down. You can even put some ice cubes in the bowl to keep water from getting warm throughout the day. Kim Pezza, a dog owner in Punta Gorda, Fla., says she uses crocks to keep water cool. Crocks don’t only keep water cool; because they are heavy, spilling is prevented.

If you’re with your pets during the day but want to give your AC a rest, you can try frozen treats or popsicles specially formulated for your pet.

3. Give Them Shade

This doesn’t just apply to outdoor pets; make sure you’re home isn’t inundated with sunlight all day long. Using blackout curtains in areas of the home that are particularly bright can go a long way in keeping rooms — and pets — cool. This is especially important if your pet is crated or lives in a cage or tank (birds, fish, guinea pigs, etc.).

4. Cooling Mats

There are plenty of gel mats online and in pet stores that you can use to help pets stay cool. These mats are filled with a self-cooling gel that absorbs body heat. These mats are easy to use, use little space and don’t use electricity.

5. Ceiling Fans, Dehumidifier and Air Conditioners

Most folks have ceiling fans in just about every room of their home. While a ceiling fan doesn’t actually cool down a room, it does cool down the room’s occupants, including pets. As a rule of thumb, ceiling fans should run counterclockwise during the summer. If it’s running the opposite way, reverse it by switching the small button located on the base.

In some parts of the country, humidity can make an already hot day unbearable. To help you AC work better, use a dehumidifier in your home to keep humidity levels down, suggests Tobi Kosanke, president of Crazy K Farm, an animal rescue organization. A dehumidifier will keep air drier and just a bit more tolerable for your pet (and you too!).

Most pet owners deal with pet hair, so it’s important to change out AC filters on a regular basis. Doing so will help you AC work more efficiently, so don’t forget this important maintenance task.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Tips for Decorating a Functional Kid’s Room

Spirited colors and fun storage cubes give this kid’s room flair. The Benjamin Model by Drees Custom Homes near Dallas, Texas.

Spirited colors and fun storage cubes give this kid’s room flair. The Benjamin Model by Drees Custom Homes near Dallas, Texas.

By Ashley Steel

Children don’t make decorating the home an easy task. Between their undying curiosity for their surroundings, their ever-changing tastes and a penchant for making messes, most parents have probably found themselves sniffling over the juice-soaked couch and crying, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This sentiment is especially true of children’s rooms; a private haven for their mess and mischief making. But if you’ve decided to give up on decorating your kid’s room, think again!

Buying nice furniture and fragile decorations and telling your kids they can’t be kids lest they damage these item, simply won’t fly. A room isn’t stylish if you can only look at it. Instead, try decorating in ways that facilitate childhood fun.

Here’s our top tips for creating a stylish, kid’s room:

Paints and Varnishes

Starting with the basics, there are many paints and varnishes that can be scrubbed clean in the event that your kid decides to take crayon or marker to the walls. In particular, paints that come in semi- to high-gloss finishes are great for messy, high-trafficked areas, as they can be scrubbed clean without damaging their sheen. When meeting with your builder, be sure to ask for high-gloss paints.

These same glossed paints and varnishes can also be used to protect furniture. And not only will the finish help protect against stains and messes, but paints can be easily changed if your child outgrows the color of their room.

Tip: When selecting paints, make sure they don’t contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can release toxic chemicals into the air.

Flooring and Fabric

Spills are a common childhood hazard, but let’s face it, they continue to happen all of our lives. Rugs, especially dark rugs, are a great way to protect against spills and also protect flooring from day-to-day wear and tear. No matter the color scheme of your child’s room, select a dark coordinating shade for their rug.

Using Scotchgard or another fabric protector can provide an additional layer of security against spills. Not just for carpet, many of these products can also be used on couches, chairs, shoes and more.


One of the primary roadblocks to creating a stylish kid’s room is keeping messes at bay. The short attention span of most kids requires cleanup be a swift and efficient process. An empty shelving unit fitted with cloth baskets is a great solution for kids. The soft, fully removable baskets allow kids to stow away toys, clothes and other knickknacks and return them neatly to shelves when cleanup time comes.

Choosing a Theme

Creating a room your child loves is crucial to making them feel at home. A great way to do this is to involve your child in decorating. When left entirely to their own devices, this could result in a decorating monstrosity, but as the adult, it’s important to moderate the process.

Let your kids choose a theme, a color scheme and maybe a team, character or other item for the room to revolve around. Then, take it upon yourself to find tasteful coordinating pieces that meet their desired qualifications.

Decorating a kid’s room doesn’t mean choosing between childhood play and stylish décor. Simple precautions ensure that you accommodate for the lifestyle and growth of your child. Good luck on your journey to a stylish kid’s bedroom, and remember, there’s no crying over spilt milk when you use these easy tips.

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Five Ideas for Functional Entertainment Centers

floating wall-mounted TV stand

A floating TV and media stand, like this one from Prepac, puts a slight twist on typical entertainment centers.

By Ashley Steel

Recently I made the move to a smaller space. While inevitably this meant getting rid of many of my possessions and having to forgo the purchase of many large, dazzling pieces of furniture, it also meant getting smarter about the way I utilize space.

I set my sights on an entertainment center; an expansive jack-of-all-trades storage unit that could sit flush with my wall and provide ample shelving and storage. Deep into my search, one thing was clear: the entertainment center I had in mind wasn’t in the cards for me. My discoveries yielded pieces too big, too bulky and, frankly, outdated.

Not ready to give up, I changed my parameters to include smaller pieces and took my search online to see what I could discover in the way of stylish, functional entertainment centers. Here are my favorite discoveries:

Broadway Black Altus Plus 58-inch Floating TV Stand; $139.99; Overstock.com

Perfect for the simple guy or gal, this unit shown above mounts cleanly above the floor and creates just enough space for your basic electronics and DVDs. Its stylish flair creates a look similar to a piano for a classic look and feel.

Wildon Home Demuline Entertainment Center; $573; Wayfair.com

Curved entertainment centerUniquely curved, this entertainment center is in a class of its own. With its black and silver color combination and open metal frame, this piece bears a clean, ultra-modern design. Perfect for accommodating the oddly shaped knick-knack, this unit creates eight vertical and three horizontal storage spaces.



Manhattan Comfort Morning Side Entertainment Center; $639.78; Wayfair.com

light grain wood entertainment centerMinimalist and sleek, the light grain wood pairs nicely with the black reflective glass and shelving. Ample height makes up for its thin profile and guarantees efficient use of space. Balancing cabinetry and open shelving, this unit is perfect for hiding your less-attractive items, while still showing off your most prized possessions.



Heritage Rustic Entertainment Center; $693.89; Overstock.com

distressed metal and wood entertainment centerDistressed wood and metal meet in this entertainment center for a look that’s artistic and vintage. With a low, long profile this unit saves overhead space. Rectangular wood drawers and square glass-paned cabinets balance each other out to create an interesting geometric visual. Metal studs and slim, arched handles round out the look.



Carson 3-Piece Entertainment Center for TVs up to 50; $215; Black and Cherry Finishes; Walmart.com

adjustable three-piece entertainment centerA bit like Tetris, this 3-piece entertainment center can be adjusted to meet your spacing needs. A combination of closed cherry cabinetry and open metal shelving lends both warmth and openness to the room. Silver accents pop against the dark, chic unit.



Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

Posted in Home Decor/Furniture, Interior Design | Leave a comment

Welcome Home: Five Fun Doormats For Every Taste

Red doormat wit white text that says Keep Calm and Come In

Keep calm! We’ve got the perfect doormat to bring some character to your front door. Photo Courtesy of Decorative Things.

By Patricia L. Garcia

When folks think of welcoming guests to their home, they think of curb appeal. An attractive front lawn and home exterior are important – it’s the first impression guests get of what’s in store inside.

A welcoming door and well-manicured lawn aren’t the only features, though, that should welcome guests. The right doormat can enhance your welcoming stage – here are our five favorite doormats for tastes of all kind.

For The Trendsetter: Keep Calm and Come In Doormat; $32; Decorative Things

You’ve seen the posters: “Keep Calm and Carry On” and the rest of the variations. Now you can carry on the trend with this fun doormat, shown above. Whether you appreciate British wit or simply enjoy the “Carry On” slogans, this is a fun way to tell guests to forget knocking and just walk on in.

For the Pet Lover: Dog Doesn't Know Sit Doormat; $24.79; Amazon

Dog DoormatIf “Beware of Dog” doesn’t suit you well, then a humorous doormat might. This kooky doormat lets guests know that you love pets and that your pets are the ones who rule the home

At 27 inches by 18 inches by 0.8 inches, it’s unlikely folks won’t be forewarned of a feisty Fido. And, you’ve got pets, so you’ll be happy to know that this doormat is easy to clean – just wash it off with a hose.


For the Music Fan: Cassette Tape Doormat; $20; Perpetual Kid

Mixed Tape DoormatA true music fan reveres the cassette tape for its nostalgia, so this doormat will make them smile each time they come home. The retro polyester mat will not only help music fans remember the days when they’d make a mixed tape for their crushes, but it’ll help keep their home clean, which is good for their album collection.

Put this out and prepare for all the compliments from other hardcore music fans.


For The Contemporary Lover: Floating Feathers Doormat; $25.00; Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods Feather MatThis coconut fiber doormat is both welcoming and chic with its print of five bird feathers. The nature-inspired print says “contemporary style can be found here” and is subtly showy. To add some sizzle to an unfussy home front, use this doormat to help customize the look.



For Preppy, Classic Lovers: Lion Crest Monogram Doormat; $99.50-$169 (two sizes available); FrontGate

Lion Crest Monogram DoormatIs a preppy polish more up your alley? Then this lion crest monogram doormat will be perfect for you – and the monogram will allow you to customize it to further represent your classic style. This doormat is distinguished and classy, yet still fun and unique. Place this in front of your door and guests will know that a classy home awaits.



Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Gadget of the Month: SWASH Express Clothing Care System

SWASH Express Clothing Care System

The SWASH Express Clothing Care System will save you time and help you extend the life of your clothes. Photo Courtesy of SWASH.com.

By Ashley Steel

It doesn’t take long for my jeans to lose their elasticity. That perfect just-been-washed fit goes out the window by the day’s end and, though my jeans may not be dirty yet, I’m ready to throw them in the wash just to get their shape back.

By no means the most financially viable or environmentally friendly option in clothing care, I have yet to find a good alternative — until now. Enter the SWASH Express Clothing Care System, the brainchild of Whirlpool and Proctor & Gamble, and our NewHomeSource Gadget of the Month.

What Does it Do?

A system that is designed to cut down on clothes washings, you can get the wrinkles and odor out of your clothes, restore their shape and pump them with fresh scent in the space of 10 minutes. Perfect for the on-the-go business man who needs his suit pressed in a hurry or the mom that needs to make her kids presentable before heading out the door, the versatility of the SWASH system is endless. Saving you time with its 10-15 minute wash cycle — and money by extending the time between cleanings — the SWASH system can also extend the life of your clothes by cutting down on the number of washes and preserving fabric integrity and color. An incredibly gentle system, the Swash system can be used on almost any fabric including denim, wool, cashmere, sequins, beading and even lace.

How Does it Work?

The SWASH system has a slim profile that sits on the floor. A pop-out frame allows you to hang and secure clothes while a cleaning pod — much like the pods used in Keurig coffee makers — is inserted into the top. Determine the length of the cycle based on the weight of the fabric, push the frame back in the machine and hit the start button. The cleaning pod will release the fragrant cleaning solution in a light mist, while the machine heats secured clothes to eliminate wrinkles and restore shape.

Priced at $499, this machine could prove very affordable in the long run by saving you trips to the dry cleaners, extending clothing life and cutting down on washing machine use. Happy savings!

Gadget of the Month Suggestions

Tell us: What innovative home product should we name as our September Gadget of the Month. Leave us a comment below with a review of an innovative home product you can’t live without. Tell us why you love it and it might be featured in our September Gadget of the Month article!

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Knobs and Pulls, Oh My! Cabinet and Drawer Hardware That’ll Freshen Up Any Room

West Elm agate drawer pull

Change up your cabinet and drawer hardware -- our first pick would be this green agate pull from West Elm -- for a fresh look in your home.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Often paint is hailed as the easiest way to freshen up any room. If I may be so bold, I would say that cabinet hardware is a much easier option that can quickly change the mood of a room. And, you can find a knob or pull for any budget (and no weekend clothing is required).

The thing about cabinet hardware is that you can easily swap them out as often (or not at all) as you like — to add whimsy or to class up a room or to match seasons, moods and even hobbies. There’s really no wrong way to go with knobs, handles or pulls. Another fun thing about cabinet hardware is that you can create your own (check out the wine cork pulls below) and they help show off your personality in a way that other home décor just can’t match.

Below are some of my favorite knobs, handles and pulls that will become a focal point in your new home:

Agate and Brass Cabinet Pull, $49, West Elm

These agate cabinet handles, shown above, will please everyone — kiddos just learning about science and nature and adults who appreciate this natural piece brought indoors. Funky and stylish, these pulls are colorful, natural and calming. These will update older pieces or add a fun splash of color to contemporary cabinets. These pulls are simple enough to not overpower drawers or cabinets that are modest and classic to the core.

Anchors Aweigh Hook, $14, Anthropologie

Anthropologie Anchors Aweigh HookAhoy, mateys. While it’s easy to go overboard — get it? — with the nautical look, this wall hook is a cool-meets-coastal piece that can be used as a door pull. The iron hook is a statement piece that is both functional and stylish and will make you want to use it all over your home. When your friends ask where you got it, you can tell them it was the only thing that survived your voyage from vanilla home decorator to style maven. (Just go with it.)



Satin Brass Faceted Knob, $60, Nest Studio

Nest Studio Facet Brass KnobIf you want a knob that’s both old school and contemporary, this satin brass faceted knob from Nest Studio is the way to go. The knob’s brass and faceted geometric shape says Art Deco all the way, giving any home a classic look and yet, it’s fab enough to be a cool, contemporary piece for cabinets with a modern flair.



Farmhouse Hardware, $12-$15, Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn Pull and KnobWhimsy is the focus of this farmhouse rooster and pig and drawer and cabinet pull from Pottery Barn. An antique-bronze finish gives a rustic look, while the brass metal base keeps them sturdy. Even if you don’t live anywhere close to the range, these fun pulls bring country living to you.



Wine or Champagne Cabinet Pulls, Free

Wine Cork Cabinet KnobsWine or champagne cabinet pulls add a custom touch to any set of cabinets. For a wine enthusiast, they will help show off your appreciation for vino and will help you find a use for leftover corks. Such hardware gives your cabinets both a sophisticated and inviting look.

If this is the option you’d go for, replacing your current hardware with wine or champagne corks is easy and cost effective. The only tools necessary to do so would be screwdrivers. Simply unscrew your old pulls and insert a pointy screw roughly the same length as the originals. Hold the screw in place with a screwdriver while twisting the cork onto the screw. Make sure that you are twisting the cork on evenly so that it lines up with your cabinet correctly. This process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so, depending on how many pulls you have. Photo Courtesy of My Home Ideas.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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