Monthly Archives: December 2008

Having a bunch of fun here . . .

I’ve got to say that this gig is a hoot.

I can literally write about anything I feel is worthy within the housing industry, find an eye-catching photo, and give it an edgy title. Then I can sit back and see how many thousands of hits I get all over the country.  What a trip!! Thank you for the clicks . . .  Of course, that’s what’s great about my subject matter — housing.  Housing can encompass everything from design to construction to decor to windows, doors and roofs and everything in between.  The topics are limitless!

Stay tuned for my upcoming product reviews after I attend the exciting International Building Show in Las Vegas in mid January.  What is so thrilling is being able to tell you about cutting edge innovations to every day things for the home — like washers and dryers that talk to one another and radio-frequency-controlled lighting systems. The systen of which I speak actually permits you to place a light switch on a sliding door, or anywhere you want in your house and have a remote control in your car for when you pull up the driveway to turn on the lights as you arrive!!

This is the stuff that the  media, builders and tradespeople get to see at trade shows, but the information doesn’t trickle down to the consumer and become affordable for a few years down the road.  Now YOU are going to be there with me as I walk the trade show floor!

I encourage my readers to make topic suggestions: things you think the average consumer needs to know, watch out for, would find fascinating, and from which they could benefit.  Send your ideas to until I get an email address.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!!


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Another privately held homebuilder bites the dust . . .

Like many before them in this financial debacle, another well-known homebuilder announced recently that it will literally be closing its doors.

As reported by the homebuilding trades’ BUILDER Magazine’s Alison Rice, Kimball Hill Homes, founded in 1969, has become the latest casualty of the housing and credit crisis. Once the firm finishes building the homes it currently has under construction, it will have become a statistic and comment on life in our times.

Kiimball Hill’s CEO Ken Love is quoted as saying that he deeply regrets the decision, but given the current housing and financial market conditions, the homebuilder is simply unable to conduct normal operations while it continues with sales efforts.

Kimball Hill was one of the elite BUILDER 100, closing 3,246 homes as recently as 2007, but proceeded with filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year.  In addition to its financial difficulties, Kimball Hill also lost it founder David K Hill to cancer in July. It was David who had named the company after his father, Kimball Hill.

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Taking your luxury hotel room home with you

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery . . .

Not long ago when I traveled on business, I can remember that after a long plane flight I would dread the “hotel bed” – and even worse, the lumpy, hard pillows and unwashed bedspreads (the variety my mother told me never to put my face on when we traveled).

I must admit, however, that the hospitality industry has stepped up to the plate in recent years. Now when I check into a room, I am often greeted with cushy beds, downy comforters, soft pillows and a freshly washed cotton duvet covering a blanket . In fact, there are definitely things about hotel rooms I’ve stayed in that gave me ideas for home decorating. It seems I am not alone.

400 –thread count sheets and Egyptian cotton towels can now be found on the shelves of many home goods stores, oftentimes dubbed “hotel” quality. I noticed that homebuilders routinely offer options for “coffee bars” with mini-fridges in master bedrooms these days. I fell for the telescoping wall-mounted magnifying mirrors. And, even though I’ve haven’t employed the idea, it even occurs to me that bolting a headboard to the wall instead of attaching it to the bed frame would make it easier to change sheets.

In “Endless Summer,” a recent article, Veronique Kipen writes that the right kind of hotel actually does things better than you. “Towels are thicker, the carpets deeper, the drapes actually keep out the light, the beds are in league with Morpheus and the bathroom amenities would make a Puritan weep.”

Kipen reports that NBC Today Show’s travel editor, Peter Greenberg, discovered how much he liked about hotel design and décor when he had to rebuild his Los Angeles home after the 1994 Northridge earthquake took its toll. His architect took ideas and concepts from 47 different hotel rooms – some resort-like or hotel-like but most concepts not high-priced in nature. Things like the deluge showerhead, beds on platforms and entertainment centers whose doors rotated out of sight were just a few. The royalty-sized king-sized bed he adopted was an idea taken from the Four Seasons in New York, the bathtub from the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, the sink was reminiscent of Caesar’s Palace, the toilet from Tokyo’s Park Hyatt and door locks from the St. Regis were all incorporated into the design. Greenberg’s 15 years of traveling had put him in touch with CEOs and managers of hotels like these, so he used his familiarity to find out how to buy the items. And so, it seems, can anyone else.

Many of the manufacturers are well-known names, such as Kohler, Viking, Sub-Zero and others, like Kahrs flooring, Karastan rugs, Closet by Design, Sealy mattresses, Nortel phones and Howard Miller clocks are a phone call away for any decorator, according to Kipen.

So next time you’re in a hotel room that takes your breath away and you’re just TOO curious about how to add similar amenities or products to your own home, why not take a stroll to the front desk and see if the hotel staff can find out more for you? Your home might take on that vacation-like quality and you’ll feel brilliant for implementing such novel concepts.

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The story of my beginnings and writing for an industry in distress . . .

This is my first blog on my new web site,,  a cyber-place  I intend to populate with not only by my regular columns, but also with the kinds of personal thoughts and comments I cannot put into the web sites and newspapers I write for.

I began my writing career in real estate eleven years ago for more than one reason: to satisfy my natural instinct to express myself, because of my penchant to help the mostly uninformed, confused visitors who visited my model homes,  and to impress the homebuilder for whom I sat in a beautifully decorated model home nearly 6 days a week.

I pitched the idea of a consumer newspaper column dealing with homebuyer issues to the Sacramento Bee and the new homes editor loved the idea.  I aptly named the column Builder’s Corner, proceeded to write my little blurb each week and waited for some glimmer of recognition from my employer — a huge, nationally-owned homebuilder.  I was sure NO other agent in the entire Sacramento area was going the extra mile the way I was — to write a  newspaper column designed to help potential homebuyers, citing the name of my builder in the column’s tag line. Free publicity!

Several fellow on-site subdivision agents gave me kudos for the column, but nary a word came from the people I wanted most to impress.  I waited.  Then I waited some more.

It came time for my annual performance review with my sales manager.  The meeting was pleasant and upbeat, with the manager citing my strengths, a few things I needed to work on, and my top producer status —  and then the conversation ended.  I continued to stare at her.  “Is there something else you’d like to discuss?” she asked.

“Well, yes,” I said sheepishly.  “How about my weekly column in the Sacramento Bee?”

“Oh yes, I ‘ve heard about it.”  She gazed down at her corporate employee evaluation form and look perplexed.  “I guess there is no place to indicate that here.” The expression on her face reminded me of a flight attendant who had just informed me that she had just run out of peanuts.

As I left her office, I swore that my budding writing career was not going to be dependent on  any corporate weenie dumb enough to fail to recognize creativity when she saw it.  The next day I changed the name of the columns to Under Construction, altered the format from a Q & A to a professional news opinion format and looked for more places to freelance my writing habit.

The days of the dot-coms were in full bloom in 1997. Soon I was asked to be the new homes columnist for Inman News Features ( Subsequently an entirely new world opened up for me.  Newspapers from California to New York, trade magazines, PR firms and more and more web sites wanted my content.  I quit selling homes to work full time as a writer.  Life was good.  Each morning I could throw my sweats on, pad downstairs to make a pot of coffee and proceed a few yards away to my home office, where I would tap away all day, knowing lots of little checks would float into my mailbox over the course of the month.

Because of life changes that veered me into different directions in the homebuilding and real estate industries, I have not consistently written full time since then.  But I was always writing something — for someone. Sometimes it was a book, other times, a PodCast, press releases, a ghostwriting assignment — you name it, and I did it on the side. It would serve to keep my writing skills sharpened while I figured the rest of my life out. And I somehow knew no matter what I did or where I went, I would continue to write.

To my delight, I am again back to writing full time, even though the housing industry is in a world of hurt and newspapers are dropping like flies. I will still be here to report the good, the bad and the hopeful wherever I can, however, in whatever medium will pay me a little here and there.

Please become a subscriber to my page on to get my sometimes goofy little articles — some of which might put a smile in your day.  The address to go to is:

…and all my other articles will be displayed at the bottom and to the side of the piece.

To all of you taking life’s journey with me here on, I thank you, I wish you enlightenment and I hope to bring something meaningful into your day.

Dena Kouremetis

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