Room of the Week: Winemaker’s Kitchen

The new home of Robert and Lydia Mondavi, of the Mondavi winemaking family, may be thousands of miles from Napa Valley, but much of its design pulls from California wine country.

Located in coastal Beaufort, SC, the kitchen in particular has a casual, California aesthetic. The light-filled space was specifically designed to be the entertaining focal point, and each feature was chosen to fulfill that purpose, from a high-end Thermador range to top-of-the-line ventilation.


As anyone knows, counter space in the kitchen is key, and even more so for someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining.

Food needs to presented on a clean, beautiful surface, Lydia Mondavi said. So the couple chose a natural quartz surface in white, manufactured by Silestone. Quartz is one of the hardest materials in the world, and is stain- and impact-resistant, making it ideal for kitchen surfaces.

Sink and tile

Apron-front sinks are popular today for their deep basin. Most commonly they’re installed in white, but the Mondavis wanted something with color to highlight the backsplash tile.

Rather than install the tile in a traditional horizontal pattern, the rough cut terracotta tiles by Ann Sacks was placed in a herringbone pattern.

The texture and herringbone style is “a little twist on a classic style,” said Mondavi.

Reclaimed wood floors

Pale blue cabinets and white counters give the kitchen a light feeling, but to keep the space from feeling too cool, the Mondavis added reclaimed hardwood floors, which they designed in conjunction with Authentic Reclaimed. The flooring is made of Old Crow bourbon barrels from Kentucky distilleries.

“We love bourbon and couldn’t resist using this reclaimed piece of living history for the floors of our entire home,” said Mondavi. Although the barrels are from bourbon distilleries, the stain ties them to the Mondavi winery.

“We wash them with an exclusive wine stain to create this exquisite color that looks like our old Fume Blanc vines.”

See more homes in Beaufort, SC.

Explore more kitchen designs on Zillow Digs.


About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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U.S Regulators Ready for Relaxed Mortgage Rules

mortgage_rules_conceptLater this week, after several years of back-and-forth debate. U.S. regulators are finally set to finalize a more relaxed set of mortgage standards.

This new set of rules will be a win for the real estate industry, with the projected agreement much more moderate than the mortgage security standards proposed back in 2011. The federal reserve is scheduled to hold an open meeting on Wednesday, October 22, with five other regulators signing off before the end of the month.

“NAR has strongly advocated for a Qualified Residential Mortgage rule that encourages sound and financially prudent mortgage financing by lenders while also ensuring responsible homebuyers have access to safe and affordable credit,” said NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate Inc. REALTORS® in Dayton, Ohio. “We hope that the final rule will align with the broadly defined Qualified Mortgage / Ability-to-Repay rules that were implemented in January. Synchronization will provide lenders with much needed clarity and consistency as they apply the new standards to loan applications.”

These new set of rules will hopefully avoid a repeat of the real estate melt-down in 2008 by slashing the pre-existing requirement—extending from the 2010 Dodd-Frank law—that borrowers make a 20 percent down payment to get a qualified residential mortgage. New, lighter rules will instead require that loans comply with a separate set of mortgage standards written by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These standards will evaluate allowed debt a borrower can take on in relation to their monthly income.

For more information, visit last week’s article appearing in the Wall Street Journal.

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Seven Must-Dos for First-Time Homebuyers

first-time_homebuyers(2)(MCT)—Buying your first home can be nerve-wracking. As a first-time homebuyer, you will navigate a process that might include uncertainty, excitement, confusion and frustration.

But preparation and knowledge can help you stay on the right track. Here are seven steps that can improve your chances of having a good homebuying experience.

Know Your Credit
If you think you may want to buy a home in the near future, your first step — and perhaps the most important one — is to watch your credit. Familiarize yourself with your credit history and make sure all the information in your credit reports is accurate.

“The very first thing you need to do is to find out what your credit is and what’s being reported about your credit,” says Pava Leyrer, director of training for Northern Mortgage Services in Grandville, Mich.

This will give you enough time to deal with any reporting errors on your report or improve your credit before you are ready to buy, Leyrer explains.

If all looks good, keep it up and don’t max out your credit cards at the furniture store after you sign a contract for the home.

Hire a Good Team

Buying a home for the first time is supposed to be fun, but it’s actually hard work, and at some point during this process you will feel overwhelmed. You’ll need to be surrounded by professionals who know what they are doing so they can guide you and provide answers to your questions.

“Formulate a good team to help you,” says Rafael Castellanos, an attorney and managing director at Expert Title Insurance in New York. “You don’t want someone who is going to pressure you to buy the one or two exclusive listings that they have.”

Find an experienced real estate agent, a reputable mortgage professional and a real estate attorney if you can.

“You cannot have an inexperienced buyer and an inexperienced agent,” says Patty Da Silva, owner of Green Realty Properties in Davie, Fla. “Who you hire is truly one of the most important things.”

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Homebuying does not begin with home searching — unless you are sitting on a pile of cash and won’t need a mortgage. Otherwise, make sure you get a preapproval from a lender before you even begin hunting for a home.

And make sure it’s a true preapproval and not just a prequalification, Da Silva says. Some lenders will tell you that you prequalify for the loan based on the income and credit information you have provided. That’s not good enough for most sellers today.

With a real preapproval, the lender will verify your income documentation and not just check your credit.

“Have your finances really ready,” Da Silva says.

Determine A Budget and Stick to It

Don’t wait until you are shopping for a house to find out how much home you can afford.

Determine your budget and the monthly payments you can afford and qualify for early in the process.

Most importantly, stick to the plan.

“When you fall in love with a house, all common sense goes out the window,” Leyrer says. “Make sure you know what’s going to fit your budget and stay in control.”

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Why Boomerang Kids Bounce Back

Not only are the numbers of young people over 18 who live with their parents reaching unprecedented numbers, higher than previously assumed, they are not necessarily moving out when their financial situations improve, a according to a new study by Federal Reserve economists that may have important ramifications for housing marks.

The fraction of young adults residing with parents has reached a historic high of 36 percent. This new trend has grabbed the attention of journalists and policy makers alike, who have popularized terms like the “boomerang generation,” referring to young adults who move back in with their parents after having lived on their own.  Young adults who “boomerang” are generally described as unable to live independently due to poor economic outcomes. Debt, and particularly student loans, among young adults has also expanded substantially over the past decade.

Nearly 40 percent of young adults carried student loans in 2010, up from 26 percent in 2001, and aggregate student loan balances have exploded in recent years, exceeding $1 trillion in 2013. The fraction of young adults living at home rose from 31.3 percent in first quarter of 2005 to 35.9 percent in first quarter of 2014.

Economists Lisa J. Dettling and Joanne W. Hsu found that increased indebtedness and problems managing debt – as measured by larger account balances, falling credit scores and delinquency on account(s)– increase large numbers of young people who return home to live with their parental co-residence.  Between 2005 and 2013 increases in student loan debt and delinquency and declines in credit card and auto debt account for 30 percent of the increase in flows into co-residence with parents and 26 percent of the increase in median time young people spent in co-residence.

However, less debt does not necessarily lead to a return to independent living.   “In fact, it seems highly likely the decision to move out will be more nuanced and idiosyncratic than the decision to move in: a period of financial distress may force an individual to move in with a parent, but a return to financial solvency does not necessarily force, or even create a sense of urgency for an individual to move out,” they said in a paper published last month by the Federal Reserve.

Large debt balances can actually shorten the time young people spend at home. The study found that young people with larger student loan and auto loan balances decrease the duration of time spent at home: a $10,000 increase in loans decreases the duration of co-residence by 1.5 percent for student loans and 4.9 percent for auto loans. Credit card balances also slightly reduce the time spent at home, though the effects were not precisely measured. Similarly, for each loan type, being current on payments reduces the duration with parents by 10 to 18 percent, relative to not having that loan type.

For student loans, each loan status reduces durations in co-residence relative to having no student loans– except for severe delinquency. Delinquency of 90 days or more, however, is associated with a 7.5 percent increase in the duration in co-residence. A student loan in deferment increases time spent in co-residence relative to being current, but durations are still almost 10 percent lower than those without student loans.  This indicates that deferment enables a young adult to reduce the length of time spent in co-residence, relative to those who become severely delinquent during the period of co-residence.

For auto loans, severe delinquency increases time spent in co-residence relative to mild delinquency and being current. For credit cards, being current and being seriously delinquent have similar effects on the duration.

The researchers found that that, after moving in, lower credit scores and delinquency both increase the time spent in parental co-residence, while larger balances decrease time spent in co-residence.

While delinquency and low credit scores increase time spent in co-residence, holding any debt and having a larger balance reduce time spent in co-residence. We interpret this result as indicative that the accumulation of debt itself is not necessarily problematic for young adults, and in fact, borrowing prudently may enable a young adult to exit co-residence more quickly,” they concluded.

This suggests that residing with a parent and borrowing are both important consumption smoothing mechanisms. Interestingly, the point estimates on the measures of local economic conditions indicate that neither unemployment rates nor house prices have statistically significant or economically meaningful effects on the duration of co-residence. This indicates that after moving into co-residence, short term changes in the local economy exert no effect on young adults’ decisions of when to move out. One possible explanation is that young adults do not look for jobs or to buy homes in the areas where their parents live.

“Overall, we find that the changing debt portfolios of young adults over this period – characterized by rising student loan debt, and declines in credit card, auto and mortgage debt – can explain 30 percent of the observed increase in flows into co-residence, and 26 percent of the observed increase in time spent in co-residence. We interpret these results as evidence that parental co-residence is used as a consumption-smoothing mechanism for weathering period,” they wrote.

For more information, visit

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Your Place: Multiple-glazed Windows Help Fight Condensation

window_condensation(MCT)—I know I’ll be getting this question at least once as cooler weather sets in, so here’s an explanation of window condensation, courtesy of Tom Herron of the National Fenestration Rating Council.

Condensation appears as a light coating of water, frost or ice. Unless the condensation is between the window panes, humidity inside the home is the cause, Herron says.

“Humid air holds water vapor until it contacts a surface whose temperature is less than or equal to the dew point,” he says. “When this happens, the water vapor turns to liquid.”

Because the interior surface of your windows is typically the coldest part of your home, condensation forms there first. Once the air becomes less humid or the glass warms, the condensation vanishes.

Condensation is “a naturally occurring phenomenon,” Herron says, but it can be destructive because excessive moisture can damage curtains, walls, carpets, and wooden window frames. In some cases, it leads to mold, creating health risks.

Minimizing condensation requires maintaining the surface temperature of the window above the dew point, he says.

Manufacturers reduce the amount of heat that gets transfered through a window, called the thermal transmittance or U-factor. The higher the U-factor, the higher the potential for condensation to form on the glass.

Reducing the potential for condensation requires each of a window’s three thermal zones to be efficient. Heat from inside the house will conduct its way through the parts of the window that are least efficient, causing those parts to have lower indoor surface temperatures.

Here are two things to consider when choosing windows, Herron says:

Upgrading from single-glazed windows to multiple-glazed windows or insulating glass units reduces the potential for condensation.

Going from single-glazed to dual-glazed or insulating glass units reduces the potential for condensation on the edge of a glazing surface. Choosing high-performance glass further reduces the chances for condensation.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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