Neil Kelly’s Interior Design Trends for 2015

Neil Kelly is an award-winning design-build remodeling company with locations in Portland, Seattle, Bend and Eugene. The company has a reputation for their designs and craftsmanship. Today they have a Seattle Design Center and are known innovation in the interior design industry.

Neil Kelly recently offered some trends for 2015 and they are clear to distinguish between a trend verses a fad; a trend veers a new direction. They believe these trends will last through and past 2015!

  •  The Next Frontier

According to, the leading platform for home remodeling and design, about half the remodelers remodel to prevent health problems. The President of Neil Kelly, Tom Kelly, says, “We believe that the healthy home is the next frontier in home renovation.”

Healthy improvements to home environments could be anything from non-offgassing finishes, no-formaldehyde cabinets, to better air filtration systems. For example, the Kohler’s SanSouci Touchless Toilet only requires a wave of your hand over the toilet instead of touching the handle. This could prevent against germs.

  • Creature Comforts

Few creature comforts go out of style but rather most improve over time. Heated floors and heated towel racks are some of the creature comforts that

  • Reduce, Reuse, Re-birth?

Most sustainability experts are well versed with the phrase “life cycle.” Products from Neil Kelly have their own life cycle, some longer than others and some shorter. Viridian, a company in Portland, Oregon, rescues beautiful old wood from landfills and repurposes it as a raw material.

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  • Remodel vs. Move

It seems that more and more people are interested in remodeling their current home instead of picking up and moving to a different one. It is likely to be both cheaper and more satisfying to say than to move. 1. Moving is a hassle when you have to change your address. 2. Remodeling gives you more choices and allows you to take full advantage of your property.

  • Heavy Metal

Metal is coming into homes! Everything from copper pendant lighting to cast bronze sinks are appealing to more and more homeowners. Heidi Hawk, a Design Consultant at Neil Kelly says, “I love working with multiple mediums as it brings out the artistic side of design.”

  • And the Winning Color is…

Designers at Neil Kelly are not huge fans of picking just one color of the year. Colors look good in conjunction with other colors and totally different with another set of colors. Another Design Consultant, Karen Richmond, says, “We’re seeing light blues and greens becoming increasingly popular.” She advises homeowners to visit stores that sell bath towels if they want to see the trend predictions. Towels have to be in store way before paint stores.

  • Contemporary Comeback

The National Kitchen and Bath Association reports that there is a shift toward simplicity and clean, minimalist bathrooms. This bathroom is the perfect example:

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  • Transitional over Traditional

Flat cabinet panels are all the rage these days. Peaceful atmospheres with less clutter are the perfect homes for those living active and sometimes stressful lives.

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Costa Mesa Real Estate Market 2014 Recap

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Sarah Sitar Costa Mesa Real Estate 2014 Report First TeamThe 2014 numbers are in for Costa Mesa’s single-family residence home sales, and there seems to be a positive outlook for the 2015-year ahead. The numbers seems to suggest that demand for living in Costa Mesa is on the rise, which is great for real estate companies moving forward. These numbers were gathered by First Team Real Estate.

At the beginning of last year, there was an active inventory of 117 single-family homes for sale on the market with a pending inventory of 48 homes.  Six months, we saw a surge in active inventory as well as the average sale price of homes due to new developments in the Costa Mesa area. In December of 2013, the average sale price was $504,585. In June of 2014, the average sale price skyrocketed to a staggering $690,591 with an active inventory of 177 homes for sale and a pending inventory of 50 homes for sale. These six months between December of 2013 and June of 2014 represent an increase in demand to live in Costa Mesa due to their good schools, safe neighborhoods, beautiful property developments, and exquisite atmosphere.

In September of 2014, we saw a decrease in active inventory to 147 homes for sale and an increase in pending inventory from 50 to 68 homes for sale. The Average sale price also decreased from $690,591 in June of 2014 to $580,374 in September of 2014. Single-families are typically focused on settling in and sending their kids to school, so there is a higher demand at the beginning of summer as it is more convenient for families to move in. Houses were seen to sit on the market for an average of 77 days (the most average days on the market in 2014). Again, this is potentially due to single-families focusing on their children’s first couple of months at school.

In December of 2014, we see a resurgence of average sale price at $683,381 per home and the fewest average days on the market with 59 days. Pending inventory was at its lowest point at 19, and active inventory continued its downtrend since June of 2014 with 138 single-family homes for sale. As we look towards 2015, we can expect the real estate market in Costa Mesa to fluctuate similarly as it did in 2014 with higher average prices due to higher demand and further developments to keep up with the increasing demand to live in Costa Mesa.

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Top 5 Interior Design Trends for 2015

Sarah-Sitar-Interior-Design-Trends-for-2015The Wall Street Journal gathered an experienced group of 20 interior designers to dictate the coming interior design trends of 2015.

1)   Mixed Metals – Mixing warm and cold metals is particularly popular right now. Examples of warm metals are rose gold and copper. An example of a cold metal is silver. Interior designers are looking for a more strategic layering of gold, silver, and black metals for a more stylish look.

2)   Navy Blue – A color scheme of navy blues is becoming increasingly popular with interior designers. Dark blue plays a great counterpoint to a white marble for luxury homes. Navy blue mixes so well with a variety of different colors, such as cream, pink, coral, gray, and sage.

3)   Painterly Rugs – Any rug that is a visual landscape of irregular patterns breaks the mold of a rectangular room with rectangular furniture. These rugs also act as a piece of art and are especially spectacular as a silk rug. Silk rugs shimmer and change colors, which give the living room and extra helping of life.

4)   Smokey Glass – Clear glass is a thing of the past. Smokey glass is making its mark in 2015 to strike a tension among raw and refined. There is a sense of mystery that comes with smoky glass that you don’t get with clear glass, which emits complete transparency.

5)   Graphic Tiles – Increasing interest in differentiating indoor and outdoor space has brought colorful concrete tiles from commercial spaces to the modern day home. The use of these tiles allows for a combination of graphic design and interior design to coexist.

To read the complete article in the Wall Street Journal, click here.

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Costa Mesa Approves the Development of Symphony Apartments

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Sarah Sitar Costa Mesa Real Estate DevelopmentCosta Mesa’s City Council recently approved real estate development plans to build apartment complexes in the South Coast Metro district. The plans were pitched by the well-known Sakioka family, who are responsible for multiple valuable real estate development projects in Orange County. The plan proposed was to build a mid-rise apartment complex with 393 units two blocks away from the popular South Coast Plaza. The address of these apartments will be 595 and 585 Anton Blvd. The apartment complex will be called the Symphony Apartments, and this 5-acre plan would replace two vacant restaurants and a parking lot.

These apartment units will be one and two bedroom apartments ranging from 750 to 1400 square feet. Also inside the complex will be additional 4000 square feet of retail space and a parking lot with 731 spaces. The complex will come with a multitude of amenities such as a gym, pool, spa, an open plaza, and a small dog park. Local business owners in the neighborhood consider these apartments a great addition to Costa Mesa’s bustling urban economy. It’s important to develop these complexes as the urbanization of a city develops.

The City Council is also charging the Sakioka family $3,000 for each apartment, which will be going towards developing and maintaining public parks. The reason for this is that the apartments are not ownership housing, so a fee is required from each apartment in the complex.

The neighborhood is surrounded by some of Costa Mesa’s most popular retail and commerce destinations, as well as high-end hotels, office buildings, and similar apartment complexes.  Construction is set to start towards the end of 2015 and expected to last 18 months. 

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Top 10 Interior Design Trends of 2014

Now that the year is coming to a close, let’s look back at the most popular remodeling and interior design techniques from 2014:


Sarah Sitar Interior Design Shower1)   Showers – showers are becoming more popular than bathtubs these days. Interior designers are focusing more and more on the shower design than combining the shower with the bathtub.

2)   Floating Shelves – Shelf space can get cluttered. Home decorators are using floating shelves as a new and stylish way to distribute shelf space and lessen the clutter.

3)   The U-Socket – People are using USB ports more and more nowadays with their various electronics. U-sockets have a built in USB port with a smart sensor that powers off when your device is fully charged.

4)   Bright Colors – Bright colors are “in” this year. A slight accent using a bright color appliance can really make your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom pop. Especially cobalt blue.

5)   Stand alone tub – People who like to take baths want a bath experience. Stan alone tubs take up less space than the normal tiled tub deck and have a much sleeker look for your bathroom

Sarah Sitar remodeling kitchen6)    Modest Interior Design – Rounded designs, earth shades, and raw metal finishes allow for a more modest feel over the increasingly popular “modern” look.

7)   Self Expression – Homeowners today want to add a little bit of themselves into their interior design. This might come out in the color scheme of your kitchen, sleek frames, or layered textiles.

8)   Multigenerational – Remodelers are looking to create bathrooms, kitchens and living areas that are catered to wild children and aging adults.

9)   Eco-friendly designs – More and more people these days are looking for materials that are made without potentially harmful toxins. Homes made with more “natural” materials are rising in demand. These potentially harmful toxins come in the form of formaldehyde or toxic glues and binders.

10)  Downsizing  – People are looking to live closer to the cities and sacrifice larger homes in the suburbs for a smaller, modest living space. This will require some thinking from your interior designer on how to achieve the look you want in a smaller space.

This blog post is based off of this article from Neil Kelly’s remodeling website.

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Cost-Value Ratio of Remodeling Projects in 2014

When homeowners remodel their homes in order to sell, they take into account the cost of the job versus the resale value of the specific project. A recent study was done that took into account 35 different remodeling projects and their current price compared to last years price.

The remodeling projects were as following:


  • Attic Bedroom
  • Backup Power Generator
  • Basement Remodel
  • Bathroom Addition
  • Bathroom Remodel
  • Deck Addition (composite)
  • Deck Addition (wood)
  • Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass)
  • Entry Door Replacement (steel)
  • Family Room Addition
  • Garage Addition
  • Garage Door Replacement
  • Home Office Remodel
  • Major Kitchen Remodel
  • Master Suite Addition
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel
  • Roofing Replacement
  • Siding Replacement (vinyl)
  • Sunroom Addition
  • Two-Story Addition
  • Window Replacement (vinyl)
  • Window Replacement (wood)

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According to the data brought to the survey by remodeling.hw, this is the second year in a row where the cost-value ratio for remolding projects has risen. In 2006, the cost-value ratio began to decrease each year until the ratio spiked back up in 2013.  Back in 2005, the cost-value ratio was at 86.7%, the highest it’s ever been. In 2014, we are seeing a cost-value ratio of 66.1%. The increase from 2013 to 2014 is the second biggest increase (5.5 percentage points), whereas the biggest increase was from 2004 to 2005 (6.1 percentage points).  All of this data shows that the increase in resale value was greater than the increase in construction costs. There was an increase in construction costs by 2.2% and an increase in resale value by 11.5%.  Back in 2010, construction costs dropped dramatically, but the resale values dropped even further. The resale values eventually picked back up in 2013 with continued low construction rates, improving the cost-value ratio that we are seeing today. This is good news for the remodeling industry, and could be a good sign for the overall housing market improvement.

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First Team Real Estate Wins Best Real Estate Company in Orange County

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Sarah Sitar First Team Real EstateRecently on Orange County Register, Sarah Sitar’s company, First Team Real Estate won the best real estate company in Orange County for the fourth year in a row. The winning office was their East Orange County Regional Office on East 17th Street in Tustin, California. First Team Real Estate has closet to 110 full-time licensed real estate sales people that serve the Irvine, Orange Park Acres, Orange, Cowan Heights, North Tustin, Tustin, Villa Park, and Costa Mesa.

First Team Real Estate was founded in 1976 by Cameron Merage. They have the 11th best sales volume in the county. First team is able to outdo their competition with their innovative marketing tools such as “Hot Buys” and “Market Trends.” Their customers know First Team as a luxury real estate brand, with their ever-so-famous slogan “Live Beautifully.” At First Team, the customer is their number one priority. They launched a popular “My Video” campaign, that consisted of past and current clients talking about their experiences with First Team agents and how they were able to find them the home of their dreams or sell their home with ease.

The East Orange County Regional Office was opened by Mike Hampton in 1991. In the end, First Team is all about customer service. They give their agents all the tools and resources that they need to the be real estate agents of choice in their given community.

First Team Real Estate is very selective about who they hire. They chose agents who they believe are motivated and can provide clients with the service and respect that they deserve. The team has been able to persist through the volatility of the real estate market as they have a high retention rate from their agents. First Team also has a philanthropic foundation called “First In Our Hearts.” This is an in-house organization where employees are able to donate time or money to charitable causes or organizations in Souther California.

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Solutions for Common Lighting Problems

Sarah Sitar Interior DesignIn a post completed for the website of the Color Cord company, several solutions for particularly pesky lighting problems are offered, all through the use of one single product—one of their most popular, yet simple products to date.  The product is entitled the Colored Cord, and involves two simple pieces—a porcelain cord set and industrial light bulb cage.  The finished product is a very modern and bright colored lamp that can be utilized in several different fashions, once the consumer’s favorite bulb is supplied and screwed in to place.  The company describes the light as a task light—perfect for providing plenty of light in an area with limitations in term of surface space.

The first suggestion for using the task light is in terms of replacing the traditional nightstand light.  Typically, lamps can take up a large portion of real estate provided on nightstands, not leaving much room for other more important items.  Color Cord proposes a solution for this, in that the pair of the porcelain pendant light set and industrial cage are hung on the wall to free up the nightstand.  This allows the device to serve as a bedside sconce.  In particular, this design is perfect for a college dormitory student operating on limited space to begin with; if one has the top bunk, it also works as a perfect light to read while in bed.  For college students, the article suggests employing a temporary wall hook as a means of hanging the light to become a sconce.  For a set workspace, however, the article suggests using three quarter inch steel or copper pipe and creating a custom and permanent hook for the light.

The other suggestion offered is noted as the traditional and most popular use of the light.  It is entitled the Swag Light, as it uses several hooks to create a funky, creative and unique path for the light.  This allows the light to be used almost anywhere—as a reading light or any other use.



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Asian Buyer Influx for Orange County Real Estate

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Sarah Sitar Orange County DemographicsIn recent Orange County real estate news, Chinese homebuyers have been flooding the market in recent years because of good schooling and greater opportunities. A recent article in the “Orange County Register” writes that wealthy Chinese citizens are moving to the United States fearing a burst of their housing bubble or a government clampdown on wealth. There is a booming wealthy Chinese sector, adding 900,000 new millions in 2013. GPD in China grew 9.6%while their national savings rate grew to 16.8%. The wealthy Chinese citizen do not fell that the Chinese government protects their private property rights as well as the United States government. China does not have anything like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the United States to protect bank deposits. Thus, real estate agents are claiming that protection of wealth is the main motivation for the booming Chinese real estate surge.

A new record of $92.2 billion was spent last year from oversea US real estate purchases, and a quarter of that was from Chinese buyers. Chinese real estate spending rose %72 percent this year to $22 billion, and 35% of that went to purchasing homes in California.

The top three real estate destinations for Chinese buyers were Irvine, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Most international buyers prefer to live with an enclave of people from their same culture, but local real estate agents are saying that many international buyers are now diversifying and purchasing property in less diverse areas of California. Chinese buyers have an appetite for low crime-rates, good schools, and luxury. This paired along with the desire to live in a similar culture have had Chinese buyers purchasing new homes in developmental areas in Southern California.

Asian buyers make up the top demographic for multiple new housing developments in Orange County. FivePoint Communities’ Pavilion Park in Orange County finds that 75% of their tenants are Asian.

You can read the full length article on the Orange County Register website here.

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Interior Designing Tips to Improve Home Aesthetics

Sarah Sitar Interior Design BedroomInterior design takes a keen eye for style and color schemes. Whereas one might be design close to look nice on someone’s body, an interior designer is working with a much larger canvas, a house. They have to be away of multiple factors that bring the house atmosphere to a place where the homeowners are aesthetically comfortable. “House Beautiful” has a list of tips to increase the aesthetics to a house to make it more appeasing to the eye. In this blog post, I will list a couple these tips as well as my own take on them.

The first tip is to add extra pillows to the main couch. A couch with one pair of pillows looks a bit skimpy. Two pairs of pillows with contrasting colors and patterns can really liven up the couch area. Also, tucking your throw blankets and pillows give the couch a cleaner more inviting look. In this way, the couch almost becomes the bed where “making the couch,” adds a sense of cleanliness and order to the new day. Another living room tip is to add skirts to your couch and living room chairs. This makes them seem grounded and really puts a finishing touch on the living room furniture.

Next is a tip for the bedroom. Adding a bigger bed area to the bedroom will make the entire bedroom look bigger. Raising the bed with a bed frame and adding a large headboard will make the room appear bigger. The bed is the main focus of the bedroom, so the bigger the bed with accessories is, the grander the bedroom feels. Another trick for the bedroom is to layer the lighting. Having multiple ambiance options only gives the bedroom a multifaceted functionality. The bedroom should consist of a reading lighting and a more ambiance lighting for general bedroom use.

Moving to the bathroom, adding a real rug instead of a bathmat can really enhance the aesthetics of a bathroom. Rugs are meant to withstand much more wear and tare than some wet feet. Bathmats tend to be smaller in size, giving the bathroom less of a home feel.

You can see the rest of the interior designing tips on House Beautiful’s website here.

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