Beyond ‘Blue for Boys’
Go Bold, Even For the Not-So-Old
IF, LIKE ME, you sought out an older home for its character—forgoing the conveniences of new construction—you may be paying an aesthetic price for keeping warm this winter, thanks to clunky, antiquated radiators. Be they hydronic (hot water), steam or electric, these heaters are rarely pretty. My own recently purchased abode, a 1970s French country-style house in Mendham, N.J., came equipped with the bête noire of radiators, the truly unignorable baseboard variety that snakes along a wall in every room.
I considered switching to forced air heat, but such an overhaul can be forbiddingly costly and forced air has its negatives, too: It produces the driest heat, a curse in wintertime when our skin is already cracking, and the constant bluster sends dust and allergens whirling through the air. Casting my loyalties with radiant heat, I set out on a mission to find out how other people are camouflaging eyesore radiators, and whether more palatable alternatives exist.
If you can't beat radiators—with decorative disguises—replace them
Some interior designers, like Manhattanite Alexa Hampton, enlist custom paneling to hide conventional wall radiators. Ms. Hampton installs wainscoting around the room, incorporating heating covers that, she said, "seem like just one more piece of the millwork and disappear." Under windows where there are no radiators, designers will often replicate the covers for continuity, modifying them so they work as storage. For a ready-made, albeit less seamless solution, the Holland, N.Y.-based company Fichman fabricates stand-alone radiator covers starting at $149. They can be customized to your specifications and delivered nationally in four to six weeks.
Other designers obscure radiators by building them into banquette seating equipped with air vents or by setting up screens. Vicente Wolf, who works out of New York, has constructed low folding screens on several occasions, while Washington, D.C.-based Darryl Carter has artfully adapted window shutters to do the honors. According to Mr. Wolf, while radiator covers can make a room feel smaller, a screen can be "a less obtrusive element."
“ The bête noire of radiators is the truly unignorable baseboard variety. ”
Of course, some homeowners just choose to replace regrettable radiators with sleeker Euro-versions. Hudson Reed, a British firm with an American e-commerce website, sells powder-coated steel models that are elegantly compact, some with a depth under 3 inches. The radiators comply with American standards and arrive in three to five days with free shipping. Runtal North America, the U.S. branch of a Swiss firm, offers equally thin panel models; both companies supply radiators that double as towel warmers for a clever upgrade in the bathroom.
Strategies for concealing baseboard radiators, which often run a wall's entire length, are relatively limited. Water-based models like mine can be recessed into the wall and the pros and cons of doing so are hotly debated. I decided to experiment, recessing my bedroom's radiator before committing to this expensive tactic throughout the house, and it's worked out brilliantly; I'm both warm and untormented by ugliness (at least until I leave the bedroom). For the sake of airflow, allow for a 2-inch gap around the perimeter of the unit; lining the cavity with a heat-reflector panel isn't a bad idea, either. To cover the opening, I commissioned laser-cut wooden grilles from Pattern Cut, an Anaheim, Calif., company. It offers 26 styles, with custom sizes available—I chose a French Moroccan look that reminded me of French interior designer Jacques Garcia's work. For lengths in excess of four feet, the grilles arrive in pieces so, unless you're the DIY type, have a professional assemble and shop-paint them for a flawless finish.
Recessing hydronic baseboard radiators into the floor is another option if you have enough clearance, and it's less involved than retrofitting under-floor radiant heat (heated tubes that run in rows beneath an entire room). "After carving out a niche in the floor and dropping the radiators down," said New York-based designer Eddie Lee, "you can put in wooden grilles stained the same color as the floor so they disappear." While dirt can fall through the grate, the benefits of freeing your wall space may be worth the awkward extra vacuuming.
Electric baseboard radiators are the biggest villains of all; they cannot be recessed and require a minimum clearance of 6 inches for fire safety, thwarting efforts to conceal them subtly. In the words of Alexa Hampton, "You either have to let those be or replace them."
Danish company Elpan-Wanpan retails minimalist electric and hydronic baseboard radiators through its U.S. distributor but perhaps most exciting for people like myself are the baseboard heaters from Thermodul. Manufactured by Hekos in Italy, they look like traditional molded baseboards. The idea is so simple it's a wonder we Americans haven't thought of it ourselves. Thermodul doesn't have stateside distribution yet but they are equipped to ship direct, and the hydronic version is fully compatible with U.S. systems.
When the sample I requested arrived, I was actually giddy.
Stop by Spruce Apothecary located in Portland’s Union Way for useful Valentine’s gifts including exclusive fragrances, soaps and top of the line skincare products.
1022 W. Burnside St. Unit K, Portland, OR 97209
VA loans are the most misunderstood mortgage program in America. Industry professionals and consumers often receive incorrect data when they inquire about them. In fact, misconceptions about the government guaranteed home loan program are so prevalent that a recent VA survey found that approximately half of all military veterans do not understand it.
With this in mind, we would like to debunk the most common myths about VA Loans.
Fact: Veterans and active duty military can use the VA loan many times. There is a limit to the borrower’s entitlement. The entitlement is the amount of loan the VA will guarantee. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may have to make a down payment. Never the less, there are no limitations on how many times a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member can get a VA loan.
Fact: For eligible participants, VA mortgage benefits never expire. This myth stems from confusion over the veteran benefit for education. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after discharge.
Fact: You can have two (or more) VA loans out at the same time as long as you have not exceeded your maximum entitlement and eligibility. In order to have more than one VA loan, the borrower must be able to afford both payments and sufficient entitlement is required. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may be required to make a down payment.
Fact: By law, homeowners with VA loans may rent out their home. If the home is located in a non-rental subdivision, the VA will not guarantee the loan. If the home is located in a subdivision (such as a co-op) where the other owners can deny or approve a tenant, the VA will not approve the financing. When an individual applies for a VA loan, they certify that they intend on making the home their primary residence. Borrowers cannot use their VA benefits to buy property for rental purposes except if they are using their benefits to buy a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Under these circumstances, the borrower must certify that they will occupy one of the units.
Fact: If a borrower has a claim on their entitlement, they will still be able to get another VA loan, but the maximum amount they would otherwise qualify for may be less. For example, Mr. Smith had a home with a $100,000 VA loan that foreclosed in 2012. If Mr. Smith buys a home in a low cost area, he will have enough remaining eligibility for a $317,000 purchase with $0 money down. If he did not have the foreclosure, he would have been able to obtain another VA loan up to $417,000 with no money down payment.
Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. In recent years, the VA loan made up roughly 13% of all home purchase financing. This program remains underused largely because of misinformation. By separating facts from myth, more of America’s military would be able to realize their own American Dream.
Sales of previously owned homes finished 2013 at their highest level in seven years, but a slowdown in recent months suggests the market is cooling after two years of strong gains but it is still on an upward trajectory.
Tucked above SW 13th sits Masu Sushi. The service is excellent, the atmosphere is hip and the food is delicious. Make sure to order a Japanista roll, made with crab, tuna and cilantro. Masu validates parking for guests in the nearby Indigo lot.
406 SW 13th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
Middle-class homebuyers are finding fewer homes on the market that they can afford. In 14 of the top 100 metropolitan regions, more than half of the for-sale homes this month were out of reach for middle-class buyers, data from real estate tracker Trulia show. A year ago, that was true in just eight of the leading metro areas. Rising prices, higher interest rates, flat incomes and fewer foreclosed homes for sale are combining to limit choices for the middle class.
As part of Windermere’s long-standing commitment to help those in need, our offices throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington will be collecting coats and blankets
NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 20,
M–F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Help us share the warmth this winter by
bringing new or gently used adult-sized coats and twin-sized blankets.
Home prices continued to rise in August in as they did across much of the nation, which saw the biggest year-over-year gain since July 2006. But as the summer selling season comes to an end, home prices are expected to dip during the winter months, to be followed by a more moderate rate of appreciation in the new year.