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10 trendy projects for the home you can do now

Create a bar from your shed, install a barn door in your living room and other ways you can improve your abode.

Port Washington-based designer Keith Baltimore installed LED lighting

Port Washington-based designer Keith Baltimore installed LED lighting in the hallway, living room and kitchen of a Hampton Bays home.  Photo Credit: Keith Baltimore Design/Ric Marder Imagery

Decorating trends tend to come and go, but there are some of-the-moment projects that seem to be sticking around.

Here are the 10 hottest home projects according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders trade group, all of which are playing out across Long Island.

1. Shed rooms

Some homeowners are turning free-standing sheds into more than a place to store rakes and lawn mowers.

Brendon Martin outfitted a detached shed on his property that faces Centerport Harbor with a bar, inspired by the casual beachfront bars in the Caribbean, using it often for parties.

“I didn’t want just a wall, I wanted to do something different,” said Martin, who recently accepted an offer on the property, which had been listed with Peter Arner of Signature Premier Properties. 

For this DIY project, Martin, 42, used a circular saw to cut a rectangular piece out of one side of the shed, reattaching the piece with hinges and chains that allow him to close up the bar in the winter. The top of the bar is a piece of driftwood that washed up on the property.

2. Changing lighting to LEDs

LED lights are more eco-friendly than incandescent bulbs, using less electricity to create a stronger light while emitting less heat, so they last longer and result in savings on over time.

“Now many LEDs are available that look almost the same as standard bulbs, so they are an upgrade that can be used in an older lighting fixture,” says Port Washington-based interior designer Keith Baltimore, who has used LED bulbs in recessed and hanging fixtures.

Each light source should provide the light required for the purpose of the setting, Baltimore says. For instance, warmer or soft light that has a yellowish cast may be appropriate for rooms that require calmer lighting, such as a bedroom. Cooler light that is a more neutral white can be used in workspaces or bathrooms, while the coolest light is best for reading. The temperature of the color is measured in kelvins, with 2,700 K providing the warmest color temperature and 6,500 K having the coolest.

3. Unusual fireplace inserts

Homeowners with a more modern style sense have been outfitting glass fireplaces with unique elements, such as crystal and rock inserts instead of obviously faux wood.

Huntington interior designer Kate Singer recently finished a project in Lloyd Harbor that includes three gas fireplaces with crystals and other unique inserts.

“My clients chose these somewhat glamorous crystal fireplace inserts over something more traditional since the entire converted carriage house is designed with a very modern, loft-like feel and approach,” Singer says. “The juxtaposition of traditional brick, original to the carriage house, with the modern crystal insert keeps it a bit more interesting in this breakfast room. It’s a nod to the past with a very au courant, modern touch.”

4. Turning TVs into artwork

“Some people don’t like the idea of having a giant TV over their fireplace,” says Kerith Flynn of Margali & Flynn Designs in Williston Park. “They want something more decorative.”

Flynn used to install cabinets with doors, or sliding doors over the fireplace, to hide TVs, but she recently used Samsung’s The Frame TV in the home of a client in Manhasset. The model, which runs from $1,300 to $2,800 depending on the size, transforms into a framed piece of art, with a variety of paintings and photos available to display.

5. Modern barn doors

Barn doors have traditionally been associated with rustic décor, but the designs and hardware have become more contemporary. The doors are a trendy way to mark an entry to closets and rooms.

“Barn doors are not strictly limited to the rustic, reclaimed look that once defined the feature,” says Wantagh interior designer Wendy Lepkoff. “Now you can do painted raised panel doors to textured glass or monogrammed frosted glass for use in an elegant master bath."

The finish of the doors can take them from the farm to industrial to formal elegance, she adds. "The gorgeous hardware options go from modern sleek chrome to chunky black iron," she says. "They add instant character and many times a focal point in a room. And it's indoor-outdoor living in an instant with barn doors used in place of traditional sliding glass doors.”

6. Smart homes

More homeowners have installed smart systems, with heating, air conditioning, lighting and speakers all controlled by smartphone.

A new 5,000-square-foot home in Sagaponack, listed by Enzo Morabito of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for $4.55 million, above, features a four-zone HVAC system with Nest controls, Lutron lighting and shades controlled by smartphone and a Sonos sound system.

Jim Macri, owner of Oakwood Automation in Huntington Station, which installs and configures smart home systems, says the basic installation for lighting, heating and cooling includes replacing light switches and thermostats with those from a smart system, which are manufactured by several brands, including Nest and Lutron. 

Macri estimates that it costs $2,000 to $3,000 to install several smart thermostats and light switches in a home, though his company specializes in connecting and customizing lighting, HVAC, audio, video and security systems so they can be controlled by one app. They also make the systems “more intelligent,” he says. 

One Oakwood Automation customer, for example, had a system configured so that when an alarm code was punched in, music started playing on the home’s speakers. 

“People don’t realize how much they love this until they have this,” Macri says. 

7. Heated floors for small spaces

Instead of adding electric or water-based radiant heating, homeowners are installing electric pads underneath the floors of the rooms where they want warm floors, such as a bathroom.

“The setup costs aren’t as high as something that’s hot-water-driven,” says George Suddell, principal of Huntington-based Suddell Architects & Builders. “Imagine an electric blanket without the blanket.”

Whole-house radiant heat can cost $3,000 to $5,000 for the boiler setup and then $10 to $15 for the floors, while electric pads cost around $8 per square foot, according to Suddell.

“What people want is warm floors,” Suddell says. “They don’t care how they get them.”

8. Better garage organization

Homeowners with garages are outfitting them with shelves and cabinets for better storage of items such as cleaning products, holiday decorations and sporting equipment.

Marc Shuman, owner of Plainview-based GarageTek, offers coordinating systems of cabinets and shelves, starting with a slotted wall panel that accepts all of GarageTek’s components.

“We designed a line that created a cohesive system of products designed to all look and work together so that ... it looks like a finished room in a home," he says.

The average cost of a GarageTek system is between $10,000 and $15,000, depending upon the size and complexity of the project, Shuman says.

9. Open kitchen shelving

More homeowners are opting for floating shelves in place of kitchen cabinets to store dishes, cookbooks or other minimalist décor.

Moore of Wolf and Wing used reclaimed wood floating shelves in a Rockville Centre renovation project where the family added an extension to their small Colonial.

“They did not put … [upper cabinets] in the kitchen except for full-height pantry cabinets around the built-in fridge/freezer, but they added balance with this area of open shelving,” Moore says.

10. Flex spaces

With the line between home and office blurring, many clients are asking for small office spaces in the corner of their kitchen or family room, says Amanda Moore, a designer with Long Beach-based Wolf and Wing.

Moore recently created a multifunction space in a post-Sandy rebuild in the West End of Long Beach.

“Our client works from home occasionally and wanted a space in which she could do so that virtually disappeared when she was enjoying the living room for relaxing and socializing,” Moore says. “She also wanted a minimal wet bar, so we designed a compact area that could fulfill all her needs and that looked as built-in and inconspicuous as possible.”

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