Hot Home Trend: Yellow

Hot Home Trend: Yellow

Hot Home Trend: A Color ‘Bomb’ of Yellow 

Paint firm Pantone chose “Illuminating”—a bright, bold yellow—as one of its 2021 Colors of the Year. Could it become a staging staple?

June 7, 2021

StagingDesign Trends

By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey

The cheerful color of yellow is lighting up home design ever since paint firm Pantone chose “Illuminating”—a bright, bold yellow—as one of its 2021 Colors of the Year.

Yellow commands attention and is often used as an accent color in throw pillows or rugs. It also could make for a great color pop in outdoor accent pillows.

Yellows are being used in more kitchens, too, particularly for a high-contrast look in white or gray kitchens. Consider adding a yellow jar or vase filled with fresh greenery, a bright yellow serving piece, or even yellow kitchen stools to make an island standout.

Yellow is a bold color and should be used sparingly.

It can be overpowering and can change the lighting in a room—making you appear slightly green on a Zoom call. But in small doses, yellow may be just the ray of sunshine to help brighten the mood in your home design.

Get inspired with these designs featured at Houzz.(link is external)

Photo by aMortonDesign(link is external) – Search kitchen design ideas(link is external)



Photo by All About Home Design(link is external) – More entryway photos(link is external)



Photo by Studio KW Photography(link is external) – More bedroom photos(link is external)



Photo by GMD Design Group(link is external) – Discover living room design inspiration(link is external)


Photo by Coastal Home Photography, llc(link is external) – More bedroom ideas(link is external)




Photo by LEIVARS(link is external) – More living room ideas(link is external)

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Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, editor of the Styled, Staged & Sold blog, and produces a segment called “Hot or Not?(link is external)” in home design that airs on NAR’s Real Estate Today radio show. Follow Melissa on Instagram and Twitter at @housingmuse.



Secure Your Router Against Cyberattacks

Secure Your Router Against Cyberattacks

6 Steps to Secure Your Router Against Cyberattacks

Your personal Wi-Fi network is a prime target for hackers. To protect yours and your clients’ private information, beef up your cybersecurity at home. Here’s how.


by Burton Kelso

Securing your home and office wireless network is essential, especially for real estate pros, who handle sensitive client information every day. The last thing you want is a stranger connecting to your wireless router and snooping through private data. It’s important to update your router—which acts as a firewall, protecting you from the many digital threats lurking online—so it’s performing at its best. Change these basic settings to improve your home network’s security.

  1. Change your router’s login credentials.Most routers have administrative credentials that enable you to change your router’s settings based on whether you’re using a public or private network. These settings include turning the firewall on and off, monitoring who’s connected to your wireless network, and updating the firmware for your router. For most brands, you can Google the default username and password. So, if you never change the administrative settings for your router, anyone connected to your wireless network can gain access and change the settings. It’s OK to continue using the default username, but you really need to change the password.
  2. Change the network name and password.Most brands of routers come with a default wireless network or SSID and password. Sometimes, this information is printed on a sticker attached to the router. Default router settings can easily be found on the internet—just look up yours! Changing these settings differs by the router, but you’ll often find this function under “wireless settings,” “wireless security,” or something similar. Once you make changes to your wireless network name and password, you’ll have to reconnect all of your wireless devices.
  3. Use strong network encryption.Most routers already have encryption methods set up out of the box, but it’s always a good idea to login to your router settings to make sure it’s properly secured. Looking at your wireless security settings, you will see options such as:
  • None. This setting means you want your home or office network to be publicly accessible—like your local coffee shop’s. Don’t choose this option if you’re exchanging sensitive information.
  • WEP. Wired Equivalent Privacy is outdated technology and provides little security, so you shouldn’t use it.
  • WPA. Wi-Fi Protected Access is the current security method used to protect routers. It comes in three flavors: WPA, WPA2, and WPA3—which became available in 2018 but isn’t available on all devices.
  1. Disable the display of your wireless network name.If you want to keep your wireless network secure from prying eyes, it’s best to simply disable the broadcasting of your Wi-Fi network name or the SSID. If you change your default wireless name and make it invisible to other wireless users in the area, you’ll create the ultimate protection from hackers. To make this happen, go into the settings and choose the option to turn off SSID.
  2. Keep your router firmware updated. Firmware is the software that controls your router, and just like your computer, smartphone, and tablets, your router needs to be updated from time to time. Router manufacturers occasionally release updates to fix security holes, and you need to download them. Your router should have a “firmware update” option in the main menu, or you might have to visit a separate page to download the latest version and manually upload it.
  3. Set up a guest network. If you have frequent guests in your home or office and you want them to use your Wi-Fi, it’s not a bad idea to set up a guest network that will give them access to the internet while keeping your personal network private and secure. Not all routers have the option to set up a guest network. If yours does, you just need to go into the router’s settings and select the option to set up a guest network.

There’s no way for your network to be 100% bulletproof, but these common-sense tips will protect you against the usual methods cybercriminals use to get into your network.


Burton Kelso is the owner and chief technology expert at Integral, an onsite and remote computer and laptop repair service company for consumers and businesses.


Camping in Northern CA

Camping in Northern CA

By Julie Cleek

Camping in Northern California has become one of the most popular areas to bring your RV, family, and pets to camp.

A few exceptional places I would like to highlight are Fort Bragg, CA, Tahoe National Forest, and Dillon’s Beach.

Westport Beach


Fort Bragg,CA

Fort Bragg has many different camping options, but a great place to choose is Westport Beach RV Park and Campground. This park is located in Mendocino County and it offers Cottages, cabins, full hookup RV sites, and tent camping as well. It has a 4.4-star overall rating with amenities such as volleyball and horseshoe courts, a kids playground, and private beach. The average price for an RV site is only $65 per night and it is only 19 miles from the famous Glass Beach attraction.




Meeks Bay


Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe National Forest is one of the most beautiful places in CA. Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in Northern California that is home to winter sports, summer outdoor recreation, and scenery enjoyed throughout the year. Meeks Bay Resort and Marina Campground offers full RV hookups and tent sites with waterfront sites so popular that many are reserved more than a year in advance. The average RV site cost depends on the season and ranges from $45-65 per night. The resort is proud of its overall star rating of 4.1. 




Dillon’s Beach

A great place to camp on Dillon’s Beach is Lawson’s Landing RV Park. Lawson’s Landing is a Year-Round boating and fishing resort and is situated at the mouth of Tomales Bay, California which is 50 miles north of San Francisco. They also have a 4.1 overall star rating and their campsites range from $45-60 per night. To the west of the campground, they offer over 1 mile of ocean beach with clamming, fishing, boat launching, and boat rentals. In addition, they also offer Tomales Dunes which are some of the last mobile dune systems left along the California coast. 

Dillon’s Beach

If you are looking for places to camp in Northern California, then look no longer! These options are some of the best choices around,  and you won’t be disappointed!



Nevada County Walking Trails

Nevada County Walking Trails

by Mary Cornell

Whether you are an avid hiker or a daily walker there is no shortage of amazing trails and places to walk in Nevada County!

Being a walker myself, some walks that include my dogs, other days a friend or two, or just a solitary walk to get my thoughts together, walking is a great way to stay healthy, strong, and stress-free.

Wolf Creek Trail Map

Wolf Creek Trail Map Courtesy Bear Yuba Land Trust

One of our latest trails in Grass Valley that has opened within the past two years is Wolf Creek Trail. It is convenient, close to town, paved, and is wheelchair, and stroller-friendly. Meandering along the Wolf Creek and amid the North Star Mine, it has not only beauty but history. There are 4 trailheads for this trail. One is off of the mine museum’s parking lot, one-off Freeman lane by the Animal Shelter, one-off Freeman Ln, with a path down our “sinkhole” and the other at the Wolf Creek group housing. 

I love to walk my dogs at The Nevada County Fairgrounds or around the Lyons’ lake. The fairgrounds are open again for dog walkers, the walk is level, paved and they provide doggie bags. I love that the fairgrounds encourage us, dog walkers, with even a bowl of water for our furry friends.

The Empire Mine State Park trails are awesome, as there are many trails to take, and are popular not only for walkers and joggers but also for horses. Many ways to enter this area and one time we even got lost and came up on Highway 174 without knowing where we were!


There is a trail that comes off of Litton Rd in Grass Valley that meanders up crosses Sierra College Blvd, up around the high school, and ends up at Eskaton off of Ridge Rd. That is a fun, short, and surprising walk.


There are many trails that run alongside a NID ditch (Nevada Irrigation District).

One of the longest and most beautiful is the one that starts at Gracie and ends up at Red Dog in Nevada City. This trail is 4 miles if you take it and double back to the car. It’s level and calming as you walk near water the whole time.

Hirschman’s Pond is just a short scenic walk, starting off of Cement Hill Dr in Nevada City. I love the rock outcropping and the serenity of the pond. You can continue past the pond and walk another couple of miles on this trail, but it does run near the highway for a while, so you have some road noise.

The Independence Trail was once a stunning and awesome path leading to a waterfall and creek where salamanders are abundant. The trail had been built through and using the wooden flumes that were once there for the gold miners to direct the water floor. Unfortunately, in 2020 the fire that swept through also destroyed the flumes and walking bridges.

The Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City is a little more challenging but well worth it! The trail memorializes the early contributions of the native Chinese people. It’s complete with the Chinese Tribute bridge that highlights the walk.

Alta Sierra has a trailhead at the corner of Dog Bar and Alta Sierra Dr. It is a short uphill trail that crosses the NID ditch, skirts the golf course, and has an amazing large tree that is unique and makes a great photoshoot. If you’ve walked the trail, I’m sure you know the one!

If you head on down the hill towards Penn Valley, you will find the Buttermilk Bend Trail at the Yuba River near Bridgeport. This is a great springtime hike, as there are beautiful wildflowers all around and labeled for you to see their names. It rambles above and follows the beautiful Yuba River. It is a breathtaking hike.

Further down the road on the way to Beale’s Airforce Base, there is a trail leading to Fairy Falls. This trail is best taken in the spring as you are walking through large open fields among the cows and very little shade. Finally getting to the waterfall, you will find it a great spot to picnic.

These are just a very few of the great hikes and walks in Nevada County that I have enjoyed. There are plenty more that I’ve yet to mention!

So get out there, explore our beautiful Gold Country and breathe the mountain air!



Weary Homeowners Create Kid-Friendly Spaces

Weary Homeowners Create Kid-Friendly Spaces

Many families are struggling to find room for their children to attend remote school, play, and sleep peacefully. That has some parents seeking new layouts and furnishings to help keep home life humming smoothly.

 by Barbara Ballinger

3 Takeaways

  • Due to COVID-19, many parents prefer houses that don’t need time-consuming, complex remodeling.
  • Create zones within rooms that can adapt to different needs, such as sleep, play, and study.
  • Select child-proof furnishings that hold up to wear and tear.

Years ago, children’s bedrooms were the focus of the younger generation’s home life. That’s where they slept, played, and did homework.

But at some point, kids’ toys started spreading out to the living room and their homework ended up on the kitchen or dining room table. Now, the pandemic has exacerbated these trends and made houses seem much smaller.

The result is more parents looking to experts on how to reorganize existing rooms, especially for young children who may not be able to verbalize their needs and anxieties. Many buyers are seeking different types of room arrangements since they don’t know when the pandemic will end, or if another will arise. Many also represent a variety of family compositions, including single parents, adult children, or three-generational households.

“We need greater flexibility to adapt,” says architect Marissa Kasdan, director of design at KTGY Architecture + Planning’s R+D Studio’s Tyson, Va., office.

Designers, architects, real estate salespeople, and child psychologists are sharing advice on how to furnish children’s bedrooms and a home’s communal spaces to meet everybody’s needs. But Chicago-area designer Paula Winter of Paula Winter Design offers one important caveat: “It’s helpful to consider your child’s personality,” she says. “Some want to be more alone, and others like being around others.”


Most experts on children believe the prime purpose of a bedroom should be sleeping. Screens should be kept out of the bedroom so that sleep is not disturbed.

“We recommend that studying and playing are kept outside the bedroom, if possible,” says Lisa Medalie, PsyD, DBSM, founder of DrLullaby, Digital Sleep Solutions for Sleep Problems in Children in Chicago. “When kids are doing homework or playing in the bedroom, these are competing cues and triggers. Kids are likely to be tempted to play, resistant to bedtime, or think about school when such activities persist in the bedroom,” she says. 

But not every family has separate rooms where children can pursue non-sleep tasks. Lisa Cini, a senior living and multigenerational expert and author of Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living (iUniverse), advocates for setting up zones. “Parents can think of the bedroom almost like a kindergarten room with spaces for naps and sleep, play, and learning, so all are distinct,” she says.

Winter agrees on the benefit of zones, which may repeat certain functions. For example, in some bedrooms, she includes several places to sit—to work at a desk, read in a chair, congregate with friends on the floor or at a window seat.

©Modsy  Living room design by Modsy.

Areas can be visually and physically separated with a different floor surface such as tile and an area rug, standing screen, movable wall, pocket door, curtain, low bookcase, or even pretend teepee. A desk or table can be positioned to minimize distractions, says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at San Francisco-based Modsy, an online design service, which surveyed parents to learn the effects of how COVID-19 influences ways families use their homes.

If the square footage in a bedroom doesn’t permit different zones, sometimes an extra or oversized closet can be converted into a homework center. It can be an easy DIY project with lumber planks for a desk and bookshelves, a child-sized adjustable chair that “grows” as the child does, good task and recessed lighting, and a file cabinet or rolling cart to organize supplies.

The good news is that most children’s furniture is on the small scale, so rooms don’t have to be large to accommodate multiple functions. Some furnishings can also be concealed, such as a Murphy or trundle bed.

Living Spaces

©Modsy  Dining room design by Modsy.

Even before the pandemic began, parents with children have looked for homes with a variety of shared spaces that better fit their individual needs.

The death of the open floor plan: One casualty of buyers’ current needs may be the open plan because it fails to mitigate noise and distractions. “Open layouts are not for all anymore. Many want to go back to a separate dining and living room or a small family room off the kitchen,” says Sandra Cuba with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park, Fla.

Instead, there’s increased interest in having a “flex” room that can function differently for each family’s needs.

Separate different child areas: Chicago-based Lexington Homes designed one townhouse model for its Lexington Trace development in Warrenville, Ill., with a finished lower level with natural light that could work as a children’s e-learning area or playroom. An optional half-bathroom can be added. When the pandemic ends or children are grown, it can be converted into a movie theater, home gym, or home office, says principal Jeff Benach.


©Lexington Homes  Children’s room design by Lexington Homes.

Other parents and design professionals are looking to attics and spaces above a garage or in a basement, if available, for the same learning purposes, especially when children are older and can be left alone, says Usha Subramaniam, a real estate salesperson with Compass in suburban Westchester, N.Y.

The trend has even given rise to a new professional niche. Orlando-based designer Lauren Nolan focuses on installing at-home classrooms through her business, Childhood & Home. She likes to create cheerful, calm, and eco-conscious study spaces with designated areas for technology, play, and arts and crafts.

Working together: Not all parents want to have their children out of sight, says Chicago real estate salesperson Jennifer Ames of Engel & Volkers. “They want the capacity to supervise and keep an eye on them while they’re on Zoom,” she says. Designing a multipurpose shared space for school, work, and leisure is no small design task! says Winter.

©Lauren Nolan  Home classroom design by Lauren Nolan.


The Chicago-based Belgravia Group has developed one layout in its new condos at Triangle Square in East Bucktown that places a flex space adjacent to and within view of other rooms, says Elizabeth Brooks, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Some parents also favor layouts with multiple rooms where kids can pursue different activities—some messy, some quiet.

Architect Eddie Maestri of Maestri Studio in Dallas went this route in remodeling his own family’s new house. “The boys usually want to be where we are,” he says. Now his 8-year-old twins have several rooms to choose from, including some designated for screen time which is off limits in their bedrooms, Maestri says.

KTGY Architecture + Planning has also followed this approach with its new “City Home” model. Designed for urban areas, the plan offers two spaces that might be used for work or school at home, but are flexible for alternative long-term functions, says Kasdan. “We are finding that flexibility is key with all of our designs as residents use their homes in new and varied ways,” she says.


©KTGY Architecture + Planning  Flexible children’s space by KTGY Architecture + Planning.

Since having adequate storage can be a problem, the City Home also includes extra storage within the unit and more in a nearby corridor on each building level.

Choose proper materials and designs: Parents and designers are wise to select child-proof furnishings that hold up to wear and tear, dirty hands and feet, rough play, and spills. For example, Winter suggests sturdy fabrics, upholstery treated with stain repellent treatments (safe for children and pets and for busy families) or built-in stain-resistant upholstery, sectional sofas that can be separated, tables that can be easily cleaned or worked on (solid surface materials or laminates), and ones with no sharp corners.

It’s also helpful to have extra seating, which should be selected based on age-appropriate designs and their function, Winter says. This might include benches or poufs, coffee tables that raise to dining height, as well as bins, containers, see-through bags, and recycled packing boxes to organize toys, games, books, and more.



Create a Sleep Sanctuary

Sleep is key for mood stability, focus, and health.

To make a bedroom function best for sleep, Dr. Lisa Medalie, a Chicago-based child psychologist, says remove all screens and electronics from the bedroom. From her experience using sleep tracking devices called “actiwatches,” children often sneak into devices at night if they have access. “It is not worth the temptation. Children are not yet ready to be responsible for inhibiting the desire to watch videos, play games, and talk with friends,” says Medalie, creator of a sleep app, “DrLullaby.” To make a bedroom more appealing, Medalie says let children be involved in picking decorations so it feels like their space. Use room darkening shades and white noise to block extraneous sounds and light. She also says using a nightlight or “bedtime buddy” will improve comfort and ease their nighttime fears.

Converted Garages and Sheds

Cuba has clients who bought a smaller house and converted the garage with air conditioning into a virtual office for one parent who now teaches from home. “It has allowed her to have a quiet, organized place to focus on her students and her own two kids to use their bedrooms,” Cuba says. Subramaniam has clients in her Westchester, N.Y. market who have added sheds to their property so they could have a quiet space away from the kids, she says.

Outdoor Areas

Though not all climates permit use of an outdoor space all year, many families can install an awning or bring in a patio heater to extend use of the area. And they can outfit a space for active play with simple additions, such as a jump rope, zipline, tree swing, hopscotch board, and kid-sized table and chairs. Last summer, Cuba found that more buyers clamored for a bigger addition—a swimming pool.

Remodeling expert and speaker Dan DiClerico installed a NanaWall to open the back of his Brooklyn house to the outdoors. During the first wave of the pandemic, their backyard became his kids’ refuge to do homework, enjoy open-air playdates, have family meals, play sports, and store favorite toys and sports equipment.

Once the pandemic is over, many experts predict homeowners will continue to want their homes more flexible as needs keep changing. Plus, many predict remote work is here to stay for a significant percentage of the American workforce. “These ideas aren’t likely to go out of style,” Subramaniam says.

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).


Russian Salad Recipe

Russian Salad Recipe

Russian Salad

Recipe from Vladimir Ocokoljic
Adapted by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • YIELD 6 1/2 cups (about 12 servings)
  • TIME 1 hour

Heami Lee for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.

Basically a vegetable-studded potato salad with mayonnaise, Russian salad is hugely popular all over the world for family gatherings and festive events. It’s a beloved, traditional party dish riffed on almost everywhere but my own home: I’d only ever seen pasty, congealed versions I would never wish to eat until I tried this one from Vladimir Ocokoljic, served at his Serbian restaurant Kafana in New York City. While not quite as demanding as his aunt back in Belgrade, who used to slice even the peas in half, Mr. Ocokoljic insists on the tiny dice (each ingredient should match the size of a pea) and emphatically dislikes any sweet pickles (only gherkins or cornichons are a fit), making the finished dish delicate, luscious and savory. Whisking pickle brine into the mayonnaise creates a liquidy slurry, loose enough to dress the salad without its becoming smushed and gluey. —Gabrielle Hamilton 


  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes (about 1 pound), washed
  • 5 thin carrots (about 1/2 pound), washed
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 4 large eggs, fridge-cold
  • 3 ½ ounces boiled ham
  • 1 cup drained cornichons and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of their brine
  • 1 scant cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise



  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with salt.
  2. Add whole potatoes to the boiling water, and cook 15 minutes. Add whole carrots to the cooking potatoes, and cook both another 10 minutes. Remove potatoes and carrots with a spider when easily pierced with a cake tester or a very thin knife blade, and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Add frozen peas to boiling water, and using the spider, remove them to a separate bowl as they float, until all peas have floated and been transferred to the bowl.
  4. Gently add the eggs, and allow to boil 10 minutes.
  5. While the eggs cook, peel the potatoes and carrots under cold running water by rubbing them gently with your fingers. Rinse the peas under cold running water to cool.
  6. Once the eggs are cooked, drain them, and peel under cold running water.
  7. Neatly dice the potatoes, carrots, ham, eggs and cornichons to the same approximate (and rather small) size as the peas, aiming for uniformity. Gently toss them all together in a large bowl.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise with the cornichon brine, and pour over the salad. Toss gently with rubber spatula or using your fingers until the salad is well coated. Season with several hearty grinds of black pepper.
  9. Refrigerate overnight, and serve cold