Archives for February 2012

How Much Water is your Home Wasting?


Montreal Inhabitable Sculpture: Actually Living in an Ultramodern Loft

What first grabbed my attention is the local. Montreal, my home town. There is something to be said for the clean-lined aesthetic of a metal-centric retrofit of a warehouse space – but does form take on a life of its own, or still serve a function?

This project in Montreal by Jean-Maxime Labrecque certainly has a few unique twists, but what sets it apart from similar interiors is, in part, the fact that most photos show someone actually occupying the spaces.

In some cases, this shows off neat functionality, like a sleek metal surfacing concealing a huge and useful walk-in close, or what it might be like to sit at this table or lean on that counter.

In others, it perhaps reveals more than the architect wished to share – how uncomfortable those benches might be, or the comfortable nature vs. awkwardness of bending over to get something out of certain cabinets.

Amazing underground homes


In the Swiss village of Vals, this underground house stands apart from the rest. It is a brainchild of architects from SeARCH, Netherlands and Christian Muller. The beautifully designed house plays intelligently by completely eliminating the need of cooling in summers and heating in winters.

Gary Neville’s Underground House

The first shocker from the list comes from Neville’s kitty. Beautiful, functional, fascinating and appealing. We wouldn’t lie if we tell you that these words describe it best. Designed by Make Architects, it is sprawled across 8,000 sq. ft. This subterranean sensation is beautifully laid in the shape of a flower and built in a way that keeps energy consumption to the minimum. If there is anything Gary is good at apart from football, it’s his conscious to go eco friendly!

Modern Underground house by KWK Promes

This underground house from KWK Promes has been made using modernistic elements in mind. The green roof of the house is accessible only to the residents via a set of stairs running from inside. Blending perfectly with its green surroundings, the house provides a perfect interaction between outdoors and indoors for its residents.

Your Home Tax Benefits

home financeAs you file your 2011 taxes, this is a good time to think about how you can make the most of certain tax benefits now or in your future. For example, if you became a homeowner last year, you are now eligible to take advantage of one of the smartest ways to reduce your taxes.

You can deduct your mortgage interest payments: Typically, the biggest tax advantage of home ownership is that you can deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage. That means the mortgage interest you paid during 2011 can be deducted on your 2011 tax return. As long as your mortgage loan amount is lower than the price of your home and is less than $1.1 million, it’s usually deductible unless you’re in a particularly high tax bracket.

In the early years of owning a home your mortgage payment is mostly interest, so the amount you deduct can really add up. But remember: to take advantage of this tax benefit, you must file IRS Form 1040 (Schedule A) and itemize your deductions.

Your property taxes are deductible, too: In addition to deducting your mortgage interest, you can deduct the property taxes you pay for both a first home and a vacation home. If your property taxes are held in an escrow account, be sure to deduct only the amount that has actually been paid out. Also, if you receive a local tax refund (from the state or county, for example), you’ll need to subtract the amount of the refund from your deduction.

When you buy your house, if your closing date is not on the first day of the month, you may have to pay pro-rated property taxes in addition to prepaying your mortgage interest. If you do, the extra taxes and interest are tax-deductible.

Do the math: When it comes to reducing taxes, home ownership is “the gift that keeps on giving.” Year after year, you can deduct your mortgage interest and property taxes, lowering the Federal Income Taxes you have to pay. Here’s how it works:


Essential tax-time documents: Whether you complete your taxes on your own or go to a CPA, make sure you have what you need to maximize your real-estate tax benefits.

IRS Publication 530 (2011)

From the U.S. Government, this is essential tax information for homeowners. This includes 2011 changes and upcoming changes in 2012.

1098 Form

Issued by your lender, this form shows you the mortgage interest and real estate taxes you paid in a given tax year; both are tax-deductible.

IRS Form 1040

If you want to qualify for home-mortgage interest and real-estate tax deductions, you must itemize your deductions on IRS Form 1040 (Schedule A).

HUD1 Settlement Statement

This form indicates the “points” you or your seller paid when you purchased your home; sometimes you can deduct the full amount in the year you bought your house. You can even deduct the points your seller paid, if they don’t deduct them.

A few pointers on “points”

Known by a variety of names, including origination fees, loan discounts and broker discounts, points are the money you pay your lender as part of your closing costs. A point is equal to 1% of your mortgage. You can deduct the points for the year in which you pay them if your mortgage loan is for the house you live in most of the time. In order to qualify as a deduction, the amount you pay in points must be less than the amount of your down payment. So let’s say you make a down payment of $25,000; if you pay $24,999 or less in points to your lender, you can deduct it.

Sometimes the seller pays the points; you can deduct them, too, so long as your seller doesn’t. The points must be clearly shown in your HUD1 Settlement Statement.

Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)

If you benefit from Pay-for-Performance Success Payments, the payments are not taxable under HAMP.

Record of home improvements

Be sure to keep accurate records of any home improvements you make. Though not deductible, these costs are added to the value of your house when your capital gains are calculated. If you live in your house for at least two of the last five years and decide to sell, any profit you make up to $500,000 ($250,000 if you’re single) is yours—tax-free.

Moving expense records

If you moved for a new job, or because your employer changed location, you may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses.

Finance your home improvements the tax-deductible way

When you take out a first or second mortgage to buy a home, build one, or improve it, whether that means updating your kitchen, adding a new roof or undertaking an extensive remodel, the IRS calls that mortgage “home acquisition debt”—and it’s a great way to gain tax benefits while upgrading your home.

For most homeowners, the interest you pay on home acquisition debt is tax-deductible on loans up to $1 million for married couples filing jointly and $500,000 each for couples filing singly.

If you’d like to know more about the tax benefits that you, as a homeowner, are eligible for, visit or consult a certified public accountant.

Urban Art Meets Architecture: Suspended Cabin in the City

There is a level of intention and individuality behind this project sorely lacking in many urban developments.

It should perhaps come as no surprise, then, that it is the work of both an architect and artist: Brooklyn’s Mark Reigelman ands a Francisco’s Jenny Chapman (images by Cesar Rubio).

“Manifest Destiny! is about our God-given imperative as modern explorers, to seek out parcels of unclaimed territory and boldly establish a new home front in the remaining urban voids of San Francisco.”

The only disappointing part is that this picture-perfect little prefab cabin is not actually occupiable – it sits on the side of the Hotel des Arts in San Francisco, a temporary art installation rather than an actual dwelling. Still, at least someone thought to leave the light on at night!

Elegant Glass Tiles To Make Your Bathroom Sparkle

elegant glossy glass tiles for kitchen and bathroom

Love these glossy and elegant glass tiles by Italian Vetocolor Sleek. Come in variety of colors, patterns and shapes so that you can select according to your choice and space. Vetocolor Sleek’s tiles are just stunning and in a moment their highly detailed artistic patterns capture your attention. Vetocolor also offers a range of ready-made glass wall panels that can be matched anywhere in kitchen or bathrooms.

elegant glossy glass tiles for kitchen and bathroom

elegant glossy glass tiles for kitchen and bathroom

elegant glossy glass tiles for kitchen and bathroom

elegant glossy glass tiles for kitchen and bathroom

Why social music matters [infographic]

social music

From the late 1990s to mid 2000s, music piracy applications were the dominant force in online music. Today, a far more ethical alternative as swept the web. Social music applications give users on-demand streaming access to practically all of the world’s recorded music without any legal risks to the user.

In this latest tech explosion, several big players have emerged–some seemingly out of nowhere–and many are wondering how the two dominant social and music platforms, Facebook and Apple, will respond. We explore the social music landscape and the impact it’s having on the way we listen to our favorite bands.

Are Mobile Devices Destroying Your Body? [infographic]


Though most of my peers are tightly chained to their devices, few of us seem to grasp that. Being truly chained to convenience, most cannot see the parasite for what it is.

Of course, mobile technology has its uses. It’s even ridiculous to point that out. But have you ever felt a distinct repulsion from your mobile phone? Perhaps your delicate eyes, when confronted by the screen, were offended by the fluorescent, hypnotic glare. ..

If you’ve ever felt at a complete distance from your phone, there are some very good, proven reasons that explain this aversion.

How LinkedIn Works [Infographic]


LinkedIn is one of the largest social network services, it was started in the USA and has quickly grown to be the number one source for professionals to network within their industry.

But how does it actually work and how many people are using it? This infographic takes a look.