The arrival of fall brings with it an array of change, from cooler temperatures to newly red, orange, and yellow foliage. This edition of Good to Be Home is filled with an array of inspiration to help you embrace this transformative season, including a guide to regional fall blooms across the nation, a closer look at modern Southwestern design, and much more.
Gardening is a delightful endeavor that can not only enhance your landscape but also deepen your connection with Mother Nature. Continue this pastime into fall by planting seasonal blooms bursting with the season's colors. This issue offers a closer look at the best autumnal plants for different regions across the country.
There are numerous ways to improve your home’s curb appeal, but none are as impactful as exterior paint. But before you rush to the store or hire a contractor, there are numerous factors to consider. Be sure to check out the enclosed guide to help you better determine which colors and paint options are right for you.
Southwestern design has long been favored by amateur and professional designers alike for its bright colors and eclectic patterns. Recently, the style has undergone a revitalization, leading to a more modern take on the traditional components. Inside, find out how you too can bring this vibrant and culturally rich style into your home.
Purchasing a home is an undeniably daunting endeavor, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between the fact and fiction of mortgages. The guide in this issue is here to assist you in navigating this complex process by shedding light on common mortgage myths, providing the accurate information you need to make informed decisions.
What inspiration will you take from this beautiful season? As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Autumn is perhaps most anticipated for its warm color scheme: delightful shades of orange, red, and yellow that decorate the trees as well as your holiday table. But did you know that you can also transform your garden to match this comforting palette? Follow this guide to fill your landscape with warm hues and fully embrace the season.
For plants to thrive in your yard without meticulous care—and sustain their good looks next year—they need to be “hardy.” This term refers to a plant’s tolerance to local climate conditions, including temperature, rainfall, and soil quality. For example, if you plant lovely red Drummond phlox flowers, which are native to the South, in a northern climate with cold fall nights, they may droop by sunrise. Use the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map to identify your specific zone number, then shop for plants with the same number on their tags to ensure you find species that will thrive in your yard. And make sure to keep these tags after planting, as they can offer species-specific advice for tasks like fertilizing and pruning.
The following hardy plants burst forth with beautiful fall colors when grown in the appropriate environment.
Chrysanthemum (zones 5–9)
Also known as mums, these dramatic flowers are common autumn houseplants. However, when you choose the right variety and give them proper care, they can become permanent fixtures in your garden too. Select perennials like football mums, which are among the hardiest, and plant them early in fall so their roots have time to set before the frost. If you live in a cold climate, coat their soil with a dense layer of mulch as well. As long as you pick a spot where they’ll get plenty of sun, use rich, well-drained soil, and provide ample water, they’ll light up your garden with breathtaking late-fall blooms.
Goldenrod (zones 2a–8b)
These fragrant and colorful bouquet staples are also fall garden essentials; their small yellow petals dotted on long leaves can elevate any landscape’s color palette. Hardy goldenrods bloom from summer through fall and can tolerate many different growing conditions, including poor soil and full sun. There are many varieties to choose from, but because most are native to North America, just about any can lend a glimmering touch to your garden.
Mexican bush sage (zones 9–10)
Colorful shrubs of this species decorate gardens with their long, lavender-like flowers and full, mint-green leaves. Native to warmer climates, Mexican bush sage can add bright color to areas of the country that may not normally enjoy fall foliage. Best of all, they will bloom again in spring. Plant these shrubs in well-drained soil under the shade of tall trees, and watch as pollinators flock to your garden.
Rose (zones vary)
While they’re typically thought of as a summer flower, some species of roses actually bloom in autumn. Floribunda roses, which flourish in zones 4 through 8, offer delightful yellow petals this season, while the “Mister Lincoln” hybrid tea rose produces iconic red flowers year-round in zones 5 through 10. Some of the most drought-resistant varieties include Joseph’s coat climbing roses, which thrive in zones 10 and 11. Grow these worldwide-favorite flowers as vines, shrubs, or even ground cover to create a spectacle of blooms in dynamic fall shades.
Seasonal squash (zones vary)
Autumn is closely associated with comforting holiday foods, many of which you can grow in your own garden. Spaghetti squash, for example, produces a plump, edible, yellow harvest in fall as well as broad pointed leaves along their vines. Varieties of pumpkins, meanwhile, yield a classic orange harvest under full, elephant-ear-like foliage. There are different varieties of each plant for different zones, but all tend to prefer warm soil and full sun. They need at least ninety days to harvest, so consider taking home a mature potted plant to ensure an autumn return. When cultivated carefully, these fruits—yes, fruits—will lend scrumptious appeal and attractive coloring to your home garden.
Ask anyone what autumn looks like, and crisp fallen leaves may be the first image they recall. Raking these little delights is often a necessary chore to protect your lawn and grant it sun, but did you know that they also make excellent mulch? A two-to-three-inch layer of leaves can keep roots warm, lock in moisture, prevent weeds, and even provide shelter to pollinators, which are every gardener’s best crew of landscapers. Shred the leaves with a mulcher or by hand (for small plant beds) to help them biodegrade quicker.
As you plan your fall garden foliage, resist the urge to dig up all your out-of-season plants. Spring perennials won’t be quite as appealing in September as they were in May, but if you outright replace them, you might find yourself similarly disappointed when spring rolls around again. For best results, balance your garden with plant life that blooms throughout the seasons, and favor plants that grow attractive leaves and stems year-round. The ones in this guide feature delightful colors and textures, so even when they aren’t in peak season, they’ll still look pretty darn good.
For more info, visit planthardiness.ars.usda.gov
Among the various ways to transform your home’s curb appeal, painting stands out as a powerful and versatile option. A fresh coat of paint can instantly revitalize your home, adding a touch of personal style and enhancing its overall appearance. However, before you pick up your brush or roller, make sure to take these key considerations into account.
When it comes to painting the exterior of your home, it’s important to first take note of the type of material you’ll be working with. Not all surfaces are suitable for painting, and each has its own factors you’ll need to weigh.
Though painting brick can be tricky, it is still possible to do. Brick is a breathable material, meaning that any moisture it absorbs can easily evaporate. Painting adds a layer over it that could trap moisture instead, leading to water damage. So if you do choose to paint brick, you’ll want to use a breathable paint designed for it that contains silicate or is mineral based. Also, make sure you’re committed to the look and the color; once brick is painted, it can be challenging, if not impossible, to revert the material to its original appearance.
Vinyl siding can be painted, but only if you use the right paint and techniques. This material expands and contracts with temperature changes, potentially causing the paint to crack or even peel off entirely if you don’t take the necessary steps. Luckily, most major paint retailers sell paints specific for vinyl siding, which contain acrylic and urethane resins that adhere better to the material and accommodate its expansion and contraction.
Wood siding generally should be painted to help the material stand up to the elements. The paint forms a layer of protection that can better prevent dry rot, which can be costly to repair. You’ll just want to first use an oil, latex, or stain-blocking primer to ensure the longevity of the paint.
Both traditional and synthetic stucco can typically be painted, but it’s crucial to ensure yours is in good condition by repairing all cracks and damage beforehand. Like brick, stucco is a breathable material, so you’ll need to use an acrylic-latex paint specifically designed for it to allow for proper moisture evaporation and prevent future issues.
When choosing a paint color for your home’s exterior, you’ll want to take your neighborhood’s overall aesthetic into consideration, especially if you’re part of a homeowners association that enforces color restrictions or requires approval for exterior work. For instance, if the majority of the homes on your block are painted white, opting for a vibrant green or yellow might cause your house to stand out in an unfavorable way. It could even potentially diminish its resale value since potential buyers may be deterred by the stark contrast. By aligning your paint choices with the character of your neighborhood, you can ensure a harmonious blend while maintaining your home’s market appeal.
As you’re selecting your paint, it’s crucial to think about the long-term effects the sun may have on it. Sunlight not only causes colors to fade over time but also influences how they appear on a day-to-day basis. For example, a south-facing home receives direct sunlight during midmorning or midafternoon, which can cause lighter paint colors to appear washed out. On the other hand, a north-facing home preserves true color representation, though because of the lack of sunlight, darker colors may look less appealing. Factoring in your home’s orientation and the impact of sunlight will allow you to choose a paint color that will withstand the test of time and maintain the desired appearance.
Whichever color you select, consider painting your home’s gutters, shutters, and other trim work a complementary or contrasting color, such as a shade of black if you chose white for the exterior, to better help them stand out. This can also modernize the overall exterior and give it a lot of character. Conversely, if you have an unpainted home but maybe aren’t ready to take on the upkeep that comes with painting the entire exterior, you could just paint these features only. This is a relatively easy and cost-effective update that can go a long way toward improving your home’s curb appeal.
Adding a fresh coat of paint to your home’s exterior is an excellent way to breathe new life into its appearance. Consider consulting with a professional painter, who can help you better understand the necessary steps you should take to get your desired look without jeopardizing the integrity of the material.
Home design trends are always evolving, with new fads emerging and older styles being revived. One such style getting a recent revitalization is Southwestern design—in fact, the modern approach has become so popular that the 2023 HGTV Smart Home features it throughout.
With earth tones, wood accents, and geometric patterns, this style is rooted in the diverse heritage and stunning landscapes of the American Southwest, seamlessly blending traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities. It’s a great way to warm up your home and create cozy, comfortable rooms you can enjoy for years to come. To help you fully embrace this style, here are a few tips for incorporating it into your living spaces.
The Southwest is a region teeming with natural wonders, vibrant cultures, and a rich history. Its unique blend of American Indian, Hispanic, and western influences has given birth to a captivating design style that’s endured for decades. However, the modern interpretation takes a more minimalistic, subdued approach, focusing on crisp, white walls and exposed wood beams that allow more vibrant and warm-colored pieces of art, furniture, and decor to have their shining moments. While it still provides a deep connection to the heritage, culture, and nature of the region, it fuses traditional, contemporary, and even midcentury elements without getting too kitsch, creating a unique and visually stunning aesthetic.
Embracing modern Southwestern design means balancing natural materials with the vibrancy of traditional cultural elements. When you take the time to carefully craft and curate each piece, you’ll be left with an oasis you can sit back and relax in.
This type of design embodies the region’s natural beauty, bringing in various warm, earthy neutrals that are reminiscent of its deserts. Adopting it requires making your dominant colors shades of terra-cotta, beige, light gray, and sage green, for instance. Benjamin Moore’s Southwest color palette is a great example of the terrestrial hues you could use as color inspiration for your living spaces. The colors you choose will lay the foundation for your design, which you can then build off of with your decor.
Once you have your warm neutrals, you can balance them with organic modern materials. Incorporate varying textures and tactile components, such as wood and leather elements and woven textiles, to help ground your design and create layers that bring more depth to the space. For example, a piece like this tan leather chair from Poly & Bark would work well against a clean, neutral backdrop. Together, these shades and textures create a sense of warmth and connection to nature that anyone can appreciate.
Pops of color and pattern
From geometric motifs to intricate rug designs, Indigenous-inspired patterns have long been a major part of Southwestern design. The modern approach continues to embrace these elements, bringing in the style’s traditional bright colors and eclectic, intricate patterns to complement an otherwise neutral base. As you’re designing a room, you’ll need to think strategically about where you want to add the more colorful, bold elements, like this patterned area rug from Southwestern Rugs Depot or this macramé wall tapestry, to create greater dimension and visual interest in the space.
As modern Southwestern design is a more pared-down version of the traditional style, it applies a minimalistic approach rather than using an overwhelming mix of bright geometric patterns and cow or cactus pictures on each wall. For instance, if you want to include a faux cowhide rug, like this one from AllModern, avoid pairing it with multiple animal or plant prints or cowboy hats on your walls. It’s about being intentional with your subtle nods to the Southwest. For this style, a little really goes a long way. And when done carefully, you can create a more modern, curated collection of decor that will withstand the test of time.
Mortgages can be complicated and confusing, so it’s not surprising that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding them. Because buying a home is a great way to build equity and help secure your financial future, knowing what’s real and what’s a fallacy is essential to ensuring you get the most out of your mortgage.
Fact: Before you start looking at homes online or attending open houses, it’s important to get preapproved for a loan from your lender. This will help you determine how much you can afford and avoid being disappointed if you fall in love with a home you don’t qualify for. Most real estate agents will also require a preapproval letter before assisting you in your homebuying journey.
Fact: Both offer estimates of what you can afford, but the accuracy of those estimates varies for each. With a prequalification, the lender reviews mostly self-reported financial information, while for a preapproval, they examine your credit report, bank statements, and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Note that some lenders may use these terms interchangeably, so ask which one is being provided, as most sellers will only consider buyers with preapprovals rather than prequalifications. However, neither one guarantees final approval.
Fact: When considering a home, you shouldn’t overextend yourself. Even though you may be approved for a loan at your limit, homeownership often comes with added or unexpected costs, such as repairs, homeowners association fees and assessments, and higher taxes, which you’ll want to account for so you don’t get into a financial bind.
Fact: While having a decent credit score can help you get approved for a loan (conventional loans usually require a minimum score of 620), you can still obtain a loan with a lower one. For instance, with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, a credit score of 580 will likely get approval. Keep in mind that there are several other important factors your lender considers when approving you for a loan, such as your income, DTI, and employment history.
Fact: Although a 20 percent down payment will help lower your mortgage payment, it’s not a requirement. There are several programs with lower down payment options if you’re financially strapped. For example, you can put down as little as 3.5 percent with an FHA loan, and a VA-backed loan requires no money down. Even conventional loans have some low-down-payment programs. Your lender will be able to outline the various options and your eligibility for each.
Fact: Since your down payment is a percentage of your new home’s purchase price, it only goes toward the cost of the home. Your closing costs, such as processing and mortgage fees, escrowed taxes and insurance, title insurance, and appraisal, must be paid separately.
Fact: Generally, the most popular loan choice for borrowers is a thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage, as the longer loan term enables them to get a lower monthly payment. However, this type of loan also comes with a higher interest rate, delays building equity, and puts you at risk of overborrowing. Other options, such as shorter-term mortgages with lower interest rates, have fewer fees and can help you build equity quicker. Although the monthly payments will be higher, you can potentially save more in the long run.
Fact: First-time homebuyers often apply for FHA loans because of the lower down payment requirement and interest rates. Lenders may also be more lenient on the credit score requirement for borrowers just starting to build their credit history and learning how to manage their debt.
Fact: Depending on the circumstances, such as the current interest rates available and the length of time you plan to stay in your home, an adjustable-rate mortgage may be a better choice than a fixed-rate one. It has the potential to offer a lower interest rate, which will reduce your monthly payment, and a cap on how high the rate can go so you won’t experience extreme fluctuations.
Fact: If you’ve declared bankruptcy in the past, you can still get a mortgage; you’ll just have to wait a certain number of years (typically four years for a conventional loan) after the bankruptcy has been discharged or dismissed to apply for one. Consult potential lenders to find out what measures you can take to be eligible for future financing.
Getting a mortgage may seem like an intimidating and complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with an experienced real estate agent and a knowledgeable lending officer can help you sort fact from fiction to better ensure the process goes smoothly.