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2023 Home and Design Trends to Watch

By: NAR  Barbara Ballinger
Sustainable design and warm, cozy spaces are on the rise in 2023.

Modern living room

© CreativaStudio / Getty

While homeowners compile their holiday wish lists, we’ve compiled a list of 12 home and design trends experts think will be next year’s stars.

Architecture and design experts weigh in on what’s emerging in 2023. As the new year emerges, lifestyle changes due to the pandemic continue to hold strong. Cutting home expenses and conserving resources are top of mind for many. Move over, granite: These new countertop materials are coming in strong, and cozy comfort is taking the place of stark, minimalist design.

Home Office Updates

For many, hybrid work is here to stay, so home offices make the list, though changes are in order. Many crave some interaction, says Priscilla Holloway, a salesperson with New York City–based Douglas Elliman.

Architect Liz Peabody of Boston-based The Architectural Team says that open, partially open and glass-walled spaces are seen in houses as well as multifamily buildings’ common spaces and individual apartment units. Another change is that some offices are larger and have a window for a nice view, according to designers at The Plan Collection(link is external).

Why now? The pandemic changed how and where we work, and people are still figuring out what works best at home.

Home Office

© Ropewalk, Charlestown

Home Office

© Camille Maren, Avalon Saugus

Induction Cooking

Though the change will be gradual, many homeowners are expected to switch to induction cooking from natural gas. Many are finding that their cookware is induction-safe, despite previously held beliefs, says Chicago kitchen expert Mick De Giulio of de Giulio Kitchen Design. Induction has many benefits: Water boils faster, food cooks quicker, and homeowners have more control of heat level calibration, he says. Additionally, the smooth surface is easier to clean.

Why now? Many cities are outlawing natural gas hookups in new homes and buildings to reduce fossil fuel emissions and better control environmental and climate challenges.

Kitchen Induction

© Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing Photographers

Eco-friendly Design

More real estate sites list eco-friendly design as a priority, from solar panels to energy-efficient windows, stronger builds that better resist severe weather, more tech features like programmable thermostats, gardening apps(link is external) and smarter, more environmentally friendly, hygienic toilets like Toto USA’s Washlet and bidet toilets. TOTO also manufactures domestically, reducing its products’ carbon footprints, says Bill Strang, president of corporate strategy, e-commerce and customer care.

Why now? More homeowners know the importance of sustainable design due to climate change reports, how fossil fuels damage the environment and the importance of preserving resources.

Eco Design Toilet

© Toto U.S.A.

Cozier Comfort

Tough times call for an antidote, and many are seeking a dose of comfort within the walls of their homes. The ebb and flow of COVID-19 in conjunction with other stressors has people wanting to feel as though they’re wrapped in a warm hug, says Chicago-based designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design. He suggests doing so with patterned wallpaper on both walls and ceilings. A tactile touch also works, he says. Think big, upholstered headboards; ’50s and ’60s lounge-style sections to sprawl, watch TV or eat; and colorful tufted or handwoven area rugs that resemble art.

Why now? Collective stress levels are at an all-time high, and people are finding they need a respite from the constant barrage of information available because of the digital age.

Cozy comfortable bedroom

© Daniel Kelleghan Photography

Cozy comfortable living room

© vaninwegen digital arts

More Natural, Personalized Interiors

The biophilic, natural look prevails in appeal because of the benefit nature provides. Homeowners want organic furnishings, live plants and warmer colors in the clay palette, says Gena Kirk, vice president of Design Studio at Los Angeles–based homebuilder KB Home. The latest iteration reflects interest in embracing memories through personalized design aesthetics that display mementos and heirlooms, Kirk says.

Why now? During the pandemic, homeowners opted for cleaner, minimalist interiors to set a clear boundary between personal space and the outside world. They now want to return to a new form of nesting, through an accumulation of textiles, warmer colors, new hardware and fabrics for a welcoming, natural environment to live, work and play, Kirk says.

Natural-looking kitchen

© KBLA Westport

Dekton and Neolith Surfaces

Every few years, a new countertop surface takes center stage as the best in terms of durability, sustainability, color or novelty. The latest “it” surfaces are newer “sintered” stones, a combination of minerals that form a solid surface that can’t be etched, scratched, burned or stained. Dekton and Neolith appeal because they resemble marble and other high-end surfaces and are resistant to fading, says Boston designer Jodi Swartz of KitchenVisions. Milwaukee designer Suzan Wemlinger adds that because the slabs are large, there’s less need for seams, and they can be used in outdoor kitchens without cracking in extreme temperatures.

Why now? New technology processes have led to the development of these stain-resistant, strong surfaces, and kitchen counter durability is nearly always top of mind for homeowners.

Neolith Kitchen

© Michael Lefebvre Photography

Affordable Design Choices

Instead of tempting buyers with fancy cabinets, finishes and appliances, more homebuilders are turning to affordability as a feature. “Good design is not about spending the most money but offering well-designed homes, sometimes without bells and whistles,” says Mary Cook, founder of Mary Cook Associates, a Chicago-based commercial interior design firm. Builders are displaying predesigned packages of cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring that keep costs down. They’re also cutting square footage to show that buyers can live well in smaller homes, Cook says.

Why now? Higher interest rates have put a pause on buyer frenzy. “We went from crazy busy to crazy slow,” one homebuilder says. Now is the time to see how affordability and quality design come together.

Zero Emissions

Master-planned developments are taking the guesswork out of emission-free living. Developer Marshall Gobuty of Sarasota, Fla.–based Pearl Homes shows how with his 18-acre Hunter’s Point development, the first LEED Zero–certified community in the world, he says. “There’s no energy cost associated with the 86 single-family houses except for a $35 monthly maintenance fee from Florida Power,” he says.

Why now? With the pandemic and overall inflation, energy costs continue to soar. Also, sustainable development helps communities adapt to challenges posed by climate change and protects natural resources.

Zero emissions home

© Pearl Homes, Allan Mestel

In Multifamily: More EV, Fewer Additional Amenities

Few multifamily buildings are constructed without an EV charging station, says architect Peabody. Developers are including a handful and leaving infrastructure available to expand the number. At the same time, they are devoting less square footage to amenities since younger generations are less inclined to pay for features they may not use, especially after seeing how the pandemic shut down facilities. What most still want are lounges, coworking spaces and outdoor areas to exercise and unwind, Peabody says. Pet parks and spas still make the list as well, says Cook.

Why now? EV stations are essential as more people switch to electric vehicles. Just over half of passenger cars sold in the U.S. will be electric vehicles by 2030, according to Bloomberg(link is external).

EV charging vehicle

© The Architectural Team, Christian Scully and Modera Marshfield

Eco-friendly Lounge

© Ed Wonsek

Walkable, Affordable Boomer Living

More efforts are underway to create more options for the enormous boomer cohort as they age(link is external). Many want to give up owning a car, live where their location has a high walkability score and cut living costs by living in smaller, energy-efficient homes. One example is developer David Fox’s Passive House building in Northampton, Mass., to be completed in 2024; it will eliminate 80% of typical energy needs to heat and cool and be built with sustainable mass timber construction, solar panels, a community garden and a bicycle shed. The building’s 70 apartments will average 1,200 square feet; share a gym, lounge and roof area to exercise; and limit rent increases.

Why now? Boomers are the largest aging community to date, and as the country ages, more emphasis on how elders live is needed now.

Fire-Resistant Modules

On the east coast, building structures to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and floods are in high demand. On the west coast, however, San Diego–based modular builder Dvele focuses on manufacturing fire-resistant steel modular houses. The company started with 500-square-foot homes constructed from a single module design and now offers 4,000-square-foot homes from seven module designs. All are also highly energy-efficient due to self-powered solar panels, says Kellan Hannah, the company’s director of growth.

Why now? The National Interagency Fire Center statistics show that as of last October, almost 60,000 fires burned 7 million acres, above the 10-year average of 48,000 fires and close to 6 million burned acres. Fires are only worsening, meaning construction must adapt.

Fire-resistant home

© Dvele


What’s NOT Hot?

Several once-popular design choices are losing appeal, primarily because they require high maintenance or aren’t functional for today’s busy routines, says Gena Kirk with homebuilder, KB Home. She suggests letting go of these four in the year ahead.

High Pile Carpet

While soft, shaggy carpet styles make a statement, they are difficult to keep clean and aren’t practical, especially in households with kids and/or pets.

Gray Cabinets

Gray cabinets have been popular but are cooling off as more homeowners shift to warmer hues to make their spaces more welcoming.

Standard Subway Tiles

Standard-size white, horizontal subway tiles are still popular, but many now prefer larger 4-by-10 inch or 4-by-16-inch tiles that run vertically to draw eyes up and give an age-old design a fresh look.

Open Shelves

Most struggle with clutter, so even though some love the open look above, others are opting for the traditional closed cabinets since they find it easier to keep stuff concealed. These days there are countless custom interior organization systems to arrange contents in a neat fashion.

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4 Fall Staging Tips


tree, fence, plant, house, leaf, fall, flower, home, porch, foliage, spring, color, autumn, backyard, garden, flora, season, flowers, trees, hdr, seasons, yard, vermont, pumpkins, outdoor structure, Free Images In PxHere

Fall is a season that alludes to the comfort of the senses. Autumn is also a time of the year that many folks will move into their new home. Use these seasonal tips to stage your home, and take advantage take of the  fall highlighting your home to it’s fullest.

Fall Colors

Embrace the fall colors with touches of seasonal décor.  Use rich colors to warm up your homes appeal. This could be as simple as decorative candles, pillows or a throw place on the couch.

Seasonal Scents

Aromas of cinnamon, apple, cranberry, or other fall spices are warm inviting scents this time of the year. Be cautious as to not offend a potential home buyer with any scent that may be overpowering or too strong. A candle or essential oil diffuser near your home’s entrance will freshen the space & set the seasonal tone.

Shorter Daylight Hours
As the daylight hours shorten during the fall, be sure to let in as much natural light as possible to give your rooms a more inviting and spacious feel. Adding extra lamps will help, if you don’t have enough natural light.

Home Exterior Decorating
When planning to sell in the fall, take advantage of seasonal items to raise the curb appeal of your home.  A festive wreath on your door, pumpkins on your porch, or mums along your walk way are wonderful fall additions that don’t cost much to spruce up your home. Also, be sure to keep up with the falling leaves on your lawn, as you do not want the highlights of your home to be distracted by piles of falling leaves.


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Basement Remodel

A finished basement can make your home more spacious, livable, and enjoyable. It can also add dollar-value for eventual resale. But before you start planning where to place your home movie theater and speak-easy style wet bar, there are four important things to consider. 

1. Remodeling is Riskier

 in Older Basements 

In most cases, basements built before the mid-1990s were not designed for use as living spaces. Generally, the foundations are not waterproof, and there is no vapor barrier beneath the concrete flooring. That creates high humidity levels and greater probability of flooding from snowmelt and rainstorms. This doesn’t mean finishing your basement is impossible, but you should definitely check your insurance before getting your project underway. 

2. Wet Soil Conditions 

A high-water table and poor drainage around the foundation can cause water to pool, and eventually push through openings in the concrete. Even if there are no cracks or holes, water can penetrate porous concrete and greatly elevate humidity. The effects of this more subtle intrusion can be seen in tell-tale white stains in the concrete. These are salt deposits left behind by evaporating water. The phenomenon is called efflorescence.  

3. Rainy Climate 

If you live in an area prone to big snow melt, soaking spring rains, or violent summer storms, you need to factor this into your plans. Inevitably, there will be a weather event that overwhelms systems to designed to prevent or mitigate water intrusion. 

4. Intended Use 

Are you looking for a casual “man cave” or a simple recreation area for the kids? Or do you envision a fully livable space with bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and entertainment area? How you execute your remodel should be framed around the potential for water intrusion. In the words of Jeff Thorman, general contractor and host of Home Renovision on YouTube: “The best investment for a basement is one you can afford to lose.” 

Keeping Your Basement High and Dry

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to prevent or mitigate water intrusion. While none of these solutions can overcome poor construction or catastrophic flood events, they can help make a moderately damp basement into a space that’s comfortable and dry. 

Install a sump pump 

Most modern basements have built-in sump pumps, but they can certainly be installed in older dwellings. To function optimally, the pump should be fitted in a basin beneath the concrete that is 18 inches in diameter and two feet deep. This will hold up to 20 gallons of water. Investing in a high-quality cast-iron model is well worth the cost because cheaper models are more likely to fail. Your pump should have a mechanical float switch that kicks it on when water rises and turns it off when levels fall. For areas with high water tables and heavy seasonal rains, a battery-operated backup pump is highly recommended. 

Invest in a high-quality d

If humidity levels in your basement regularly hit 50% and higher, a dehumidifier greatly improves the air quality and prevents the growth of mold, mildew and fungus. It can also prevent long-term rot and structural damage to flooring and framing.  


Simple floor-stand models are helpful in the short term but are not a permanent solution. To ensure optimal air quality in a humid basement, you’ll need a dehumidifying ventilator air exchanger installed in your HVAC system. These units automatically keep humidity levels between 30 to 50% and vent moist air out of your house. In tightly sealed newer homes, they also prevent the buildup of potentially noxious gases. 

Build a Subfloor

Whether you have an old basement never intended for habitation, or a modern one with a water-sealed, back-filled foundation, building a subfloor is an excellent way to manage the inevitable moisture intrusion.  


Constructed from wooden panels lined with dimpled, waterproof membranes, subflooring provides a vapor barrier that mixes air and water, helping it evaporate or channel to a drain. An insulated variety of subflooring also keeps the cold at bay, making the living space easier on bare feet. 


Ideally, any framing for walls should be constructed directly on top of the subfloor. That’s because any beams in direct contact with cement are vulnerable to moisture damage. 


Lastly, if you want wood floors in your new basement paradise, you’ll need to lay another layer of plywood on top of the subfloor. Otherwise, it won’t have the structural integrity required.


Learn more about basement remodeling 

Obviously, there’s a lot more to consider when finishing your basement, from plumbing and electrical to aesthetics and design. Continue your education by reading these articles: 


The Pros and Cons of Finishing Your Unfinished Basement 


10 Things to Consider Before Finishing Your Basement 


How to Plan a Finished Basement 


Building a Dry Basement 


For a sobering look at the perils of finishing a basement, check out this video from Home Renovision: Thinking About Finishing Your Basement? Watch This First! 

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Maintaining Your Investment

If you’re a homeowner, it’s almost certain that your home is the most valuable asset you will ever own. That’s why homeownership is often referred to as an investment. As any savvy investor will tell you, the key to success is protecting your investment.

The Essential


Although there are hundreds of ways to preserve your home’s value, there are a few essentials you must do regularly. The first, and perhaps most crucial, is the foundation. A bad foundation spells big trouble. This is especially important in Minnesota, where water intrusion can be a perennial problem for homeowners.

Good maintenance begins with a simple foundation check you can do yourself. Walk both the exterior and interior of your home and look for signs of cracking, bulging, or uneven surfaces. If you suspect there may be an issue, it’s advisable to have a professional assessment.


You should inspect and maintain your home’s roof annually (at least). You can check for damage by looking for “impressions”—small-to-medium sized dark spots—which are usually a tell-tale sign of hail damage. If you suspect hail or any other type of damage, it’s worth having a specialist come out to inspect your roof.

Additionally, having a home insurance policy with roof-replacement coverage is advisable. In the event of a storm that causes roof damage, which is not uncommon in Minnesota, a good insurance policy can cover most of the cost to replace your home’s roof—potentially saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

Furnace & AC

Your HVAC system should be regularly checked and serviced. If and when it comes time to sell your home, the furnace and the air conditioning are two things prospective buyers are sure to ask about. Having each system checked annually is relatively inexpensive—you can usually have your AC and furnace checked for less than $100 total (plus you can usually find some deals if you shop around).

Maintenance throughout Your Home

With those bigger ticket items covered, the list of things to maintain in your home is seemingly endless. What you focus on depends in part on the location, type, age, and size of your home. With that in mind, refer to this list, organized by area, of things that should be regularly checked and maintained. Unless otherwise noted, these tasks should be performed annually.

  • Inspect siding for signs of wear or damage
  • Clean gutters twice a year—typically best to do in the spring and late fall once leaves have dropped
  • Inspect chimney and dryer vent to ensure proper ventilation
  • Check flashing between windows and doors—replace if not intact
  • Drain outdoor hoses and faucets in the fall
  • Clean kitchen range hood
  • Clean oven at least twice a year
  • Inspect dishwasher hose and drainage
  • Check sink drainage
  • Clean refrigerator and ensure temp settings are functioning properly (check items toward back of fridge for signs of freezing)
  • Check sink and bath/shower drainage
  • Check the shut off valve/supply on all toilets
  • Inspect shower/tub for signs of cracking
  • Check grout between tiles and re-grout if there are signs of deterioration
Living Rooms and Bedrooms
  • Test electrical outlets
  • Test carbon monoxide/smoke alarms, replace batteries if necessary
  • Inspect interior window and doors for signs of draft
  • Clean screens on windows/storm doors
  • Replace furnace filters at least quarterly
  • Check sump pump to ensure proper function
  • Clean dehumidifiers
  • Inspect hot water heater
  • Check for any signs of water intrusion (regularly during non-winter months)

While this list is by no means exhaustive, performing these checks and following up with required maintenance will protect the value of your home, and shield you from the time and expense of major repair projects further down the road.

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Top Remodeling Projects and Their Costs

By: Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff
Home remodeling is booming. To see the specific projects and home improvement purchases contributing to the highest renovation activity and spending in four years, check out the highlights below from the recent 2022 U.S. Houzz & Home Study. You’ll find details on the rooms homeowners are remodeling most, top products and materials they’re buying, and more.
1. Kitchens and Bathrooms Get the Most Attention

The kitchen is the room homeowners most frequently remodel. Some 28% of renovating homeowners give the kitchen a makeover, and 1% of those create a kitchen addition. Guest bathrooms and other nonprimary bathrooms are the second-most-frequently updated rooms, with 26% of homeowners remodeling one of these spaces; 2% of those create a bathroom addition.

About 1 out of 5 homeowners (24%) remodels or adds a primary bathroom, and 21% do the same with a living or family room.

And just as renovation activity has hit its highest rate in four years, so too has renovation spending. The right side of the chart seen here shows median spending amounts for various interior room projects, as well as the year-over-year increases from 2020 to 2021.

The median spend on a kitchen remodel is $15,000, a 25% increase from 2020. Guest bathroom spend is up 38% year over year, to $4,400. Living room spend rose 33%, to $4,000. Laundry room spend also increased 33%, to $2,000. And all other rooms except closets saw year-over-year increases in median spending.

Keep in mind that the median means that half of the people spent more and half spent less; it’s not the average. Economists like to reference the median, or midpoint, figure rather than the average because the average can be skewed, can be volatile year over year and can be misleadingly high or low because of a single project that costs far more or less than others.

2. Many Homeowners Purchase Paint and Light Fixtures

Home renovation projects include multiple elements. A look at the top home improvement-related purchases shows how many people are approaching updates.

Paint is by far the most common purchase among renovating homeowners, with 65% choosing it. A majority (51%) also purchase light fixtures during their project.

Faucets and shower heads (46%) moved back into the top three purchases after dropping into the No. 4 spot in 2020. Also frequently bought: lawn and garden supplies (45%), building materials (40%), noncarpet flooring (38%), cabinet and door hardware (36%), major kitchen appliances (32%) and sinks (32%).

3. Decor Beautifies Indoors and Out

Decor accounts for a large portion of updated elements. More than half of homeowners (55%) decorated their homes in 2021.

Almost half of them bought rugs (48%) and pillows and throw blankets (47%). Large furniture is a top purchase as well (39%), though the category dropped by 5 points in 2021 compared with 2020. Artwork also decreased by 3 points, to 39%.

Other popular interior decor purchases include small furniture (39%), window treatments (35%) and lamps (32%).

And decor isn’t confined to the indoors. Around a quarter of homeowners bought outdoor lighting (27%) and large furniture (24%).

Meanwhile, some renovating homeowners found themselves in a festive mood last year. A little more than a quarter (26%) of them bought holiday decor in 2021, a 4 percent increase from 2020.

4. Outdoor Projects Dip Slightly

Speaking of outdoors, apart from decor, homeowners updated their outdoor grounds, structures and systems. Renovations to outdoor spaces hit a peak in 2020, with 57% of homeowners tackling an outdoor project. In 2021, that share dipped slightly, to 54%.

Beds and borders were the most commonly updated outdoor features, despite dropping by 7 points, to 28%, in 2021 compared with the previous year. Lawn upgrades also saw dropped by 3 points, to 17%, in 2021 compared with 2021.

Outdoor security updates rose by 3 points year over year, to 17%.

5. Plumbing and Electrical Top Home System Upgrades

Some remodeling upgrades aren’t the kind you can see, but are no less important to a well-functioning home than the visible kind. Nearly two-thirds of homeowners (63%) update home systems.

Around a quarter of renovating homeowners upgrade the plumbing (27%), electrical (24%) and automation features (24%). A fifth address security (21%), cooling (20%) and heating (20%) components.

Median spending on some of these areas has increased. Electrical upgrades jumped by 50%, to $1,500, in 2021 compared with the previous year. Security updates also spiked by 25% year over year, to $500, in 2021.

6. Roofing, Paint and Windows Dominate Exterior Upgrades

Homeowners make many renovations to their home exteriors as well. Slightly more than a fifth of renovating homeowners (21%) upgraded their roofing in 2021, a 3-point increase from 2020.

A fifth of homeowners also updated their exterior paint; a fifth also updated windows or skylights. And a similar share upgraded exterior doors and gutters or downspouts (18% each).

Median spending increased for all exterior building upgrades, for some more than others. Spend on roofing increased 11% year over year, to $10,000. But exterior door spend saw a 50% jump year over year, to $1,800. Spend on gutters or downspouts increased by 40% year over year, to $1,400. And spend on windows or skylights increased by 25% year over year, to $5,000.

7. Electrical and Tech Systems Spark Interest

Homeowners purchased a variety of indoor and outdoor electrical and tech systems for their 2021 renovation projects. Light fixtures were the most popular (51%), followed by indoor TVs (29%), alarms or detectors (25%) and thermostats (23%).

Smart security cameras for outdoor areas were the most popular smart-tech feature that renovating homeowners bought in 2021, chosen by 21%, followed by home assistants (19%) smart light fixtures (14%), smart thermostats (15%) and wireless doorbell cameras (14%).

In Conclusion:

Since the pandemic began, homeowners have been eager to spruce up their spaces. Even recently, homeowners are spending more on home improvement projects than they have—due partially to higher building material costs, but also to a desire to widen the scope of their projects.

Kitchens and bathrooms continue to be the most popular areas to renovate, according to the 2022 U.S. Houzz & Home Study. The median spend in 2021 on a kitchen remodel was $15,000, a 25% increase from 2020. A guest bathroom expenditure costs a median of $4,400, a 38% year-over-year increase, according to Houzz’s report.


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Cold Zone Gardening in Minnesota

The growing season is short, but with a little planning you can create a thriving garden
As the weather warms and the snow melts, Minnesotans rush out to their gardens and coax botanical miracles from muddy earth. Flower beds burst with color. Vegetable patches yield bushels of beans, peas, tomatoes, and zucchini. And fruit trees drip with apples and pears. 

Of course, not everyone is blessed with green thumbs. In fact, more than a few of us are all thumbs when it comes to getting a garden to produce much more than weeds. How do those prolific gardeners do it? What’s their secret sauce? The answer is more science than “saucery,” and deeply rooted in our state’s “plant hardiness zones.” If you don’t know what that is, read on, and get ready to have your best season in the soil yet.

Get to Know Your Zone

Plant hardiness zones were created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers and gardeners select plants that thrive in their region of the country. Based on seasonal temperature cycles, each zone is defined by how cold it gets in the winter. There are 13 zones in the United States, from Alaska to Florida, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Every zone covers a 10-F range.  

The lower the number, the colder the zone. Minnesota has five zones and they’re all pretty chill. The northern-most zone—3a—ranges from Brainerd to International Falls with average temperatures plunging -35 to – 40 F in the winter. By contrast, Fairmont, on the state’s southern border, sits in balmy Zone 5a where winter temperatures rarely dip under -15 to -20 F.

If you’re not sure what zone you’re in, visit the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map page and enter your zip code in the search bar. 

Choose Your Plants, Check for Frost, and Get Digging

Once you know your zone, you can determine which plants will thrive in your area and calculate the optimal time to get them in the ground. As a rule, you should plant after the last frost of the season. This frost-freeze calculator tells you about the average frost-free dates for your zip code. For example, in the Twin Cities area (zone 4b), there’s little chance of frost occurring after May 14. Up along the Canadian border (zone 3a), however, the last frost can come well into late May and even early June.

Whether you’re starting vegetables from seed, or shopping for perennials at the local nursey, most seeds and plants come with information about the hardiness zones where they will thrive. They also tell you about the optimal temperature ranges for healthy growth. For instance, kale and broccoli are very hardy and can go in the ground right after the last frost. But tomatoes require long, warm days, so planting might have to wait a couple weeks more until the conditions are just right.

For an exhaustive list of deciduous trees, fruit, vegetables, perennials, roses, shrubs, and other plants that can grow in each of Minnesota’s hardiness zones, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Cold Hardiness List. 

Expand Your Zone of Learning

Of course, knowing your zone and which plants are best adapted to it is only the beginning. Each plant has unique needs for sunlight, water, soil type and fertilization. You also need to know about the various pests, blights, and diseases that can afflict your garden. Fortunately, a world of resources is only a click away. The University of Minnesota Extension has an exhaustive website covering every aspect of your Yard and Garden, from primers on trees, shrubs, vegetables, and native plants to guides on soil and nutrients, landscaping, and creating pollinator gardens. There is also an excellent resource that connects you with Master Gardeners who can answer all your questions about garden issues. The service is free, and most questions are answered within 48 hours. 

Whether you have a few potted tomatoes on the veranda, or a yard filled with carefully cultivated flowers, your garden can be a zone of peace, fun, and fulfillment. As the English poet Alfred Austin said, “the glory of gardening is hands in dirt, head in the sun, and heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” 

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4 Outdoor Trends on the Rise

By MNR News 

After a long tough winter, Minnesotans are ready reclaim the fresh air and natural spaces of their yards. Sure, the grass is matted and garden beds are disheveled, but it’s all a canvas for your imagination. With a few tools, supplies, and a little sweat, you can turn it into a colorful oasis for relaxation, play, and a socially distanced garden party or two. Here are a few tips to get you started. 

 the Front Yard  

Until recently, front yards were strictly ornamental. A few bushes; a smattering of flowers; and maybe a lawn gnome to keep the maple tree company. Then the pandemic happened, and this overlooked space became a nexus for spontaneous, safe gatherings with friends and neighbors. Some emerging trends for revitalizing your front lawn include: 


  • Firepits circled with comfortable camp chairs or, if budget permits, stone pavers and masonry seating walls 
  • Bistro-style table and cushioned outdoor chairs 
  • Walkways bordered with bright flowers, bushes, and attractive ground-cover plants 
  • Bird feeders help wildlife and bring beautiful visitors to your yard 
  • White picket fence that frames the perimeter 


And don’t forget about the porch. Cover that concrete slab with a colorful outdoor rug. Add a rustic touch with a vintage accent table topped with a vibrant potted fern. And turn your front door into a beacon for good times with a coat of bold primary color. And paint those shutters to match! String some party lights overhead and let the good times roll! 

Bring the Indoors Out and the Outdoors In

Make the most of Minnesota’s precious sunny seasons by blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living space. Whether you’re on a tight budget or have big dreams and the money to match, there are many ways to create seamless flow between your indoor sanctuary and private outdoor haven. 


  • Add an outdoor couch and other lounge furniture to the patio or deck 
  • Create a private courtyard with a vine-covered or glass-roofed pergola 
  • Bring the natural vista inside by installing expansive accordion or sliding-glass doors or full glass walls 
  • Build an outdoor kitchen replete with a gas or charcoal grill or smoker with generous counter and workspace 
  • Bring a touch of Florida to Minnesota with an outdoor bar 
  • Enjoy your own private spa with a jacuzzi or hot tub 
  • Stretch the season into fall and beyond with an outdoor heating lamp on the deck or patio 

Create a Garden Fit for a Party 

Not only do gardens enhance your yard with color and beauty, they can also grace your table with fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit from spring through fall. When well designed, gardens create focal points and can make even the smallest yard seem bigger than its actual size. 


  • Use raised beds to elevate flower or vegetable gardens 
  • Create curving walkways between garden beds with stone pavers 
  • Soften the hard lines of a patio slab with a border of flowers or prairie grass 
  • Bring life to the deck with decorative terracotta urns planted with herbs 
  • Make a fountain, pond or other water element the center of a garden 

Pro Tip : Make a plan or sketch showing all the elements you want to incorporate, from raised beds to walkways, border plants, and patio. This helps you see the complete “canvas” of your backyard composition before you break ground. 

Landscape for Year-Round Beauty

Minnesota’s winter doesn’t have to end enjoyment of your home’s outdoor spaces. By choosing the right mix of evergreens, perennials, and ornamental grasses, you can take in heart-warming views from your windows, even when it’s far too cold to venture outside. 


Select a mix of plants with different heights, silhouettes, textures and colors. Pines spruces and cedars are evergreen, look stunning after a snowstorm, and light up the holidays when you add strings of lights. Ornamental grasses with feathery heads are radiant in the winter sun. Wintergreen Boxwoods are broad-leafed evergreen shrubs that can be pruned into French-garden-style geometries or left wild and bushy for a touch of English-cottage warmth. Some other plants to consider for you winter landscape include: 


  • Paper Bark Maple with attractive exfoliating bark 
  • Ground-covering Pachysandra for a lush green carpet 
  • Winterberry Holly with round orange berries 
  • Cheery green Hellebores that flower brilliantly in early spring 
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10 Outdoor Living Trends in 2022

We’re not the first to observe that COVID-19 changed the way we think about our homes. Nonetheless, two years on from the dawn of the pandemic, it’s hard to overstate just how significant this change has been.

In the early days of COVID, when travel restrictions and business closures affected us all, many people started thinking creatively about their outdoor living spaces. Those trends have continued, and as we approach the treasured spring and summer months in Minnesota, there’s renewed interest in creating fun, relaxing outdoor spaces to enjoy with friends and family.

1. The “outdoor room”

If you can overlook the oxymoron, this trend is one that can’t be missed. According to Wayfair’s 2022 Outdoor Trends Report, scores of people are searching for outdoor pergola kits. You’ve likely seen a pergola, even if the term is unfamiliar (see feature image for reference). A pergola kit includes all you need to assemble the structure. Once you have the pergola in place, the bones of your “outdoor room” are set.

Pergolas are great because they provide some shade and potential rain-cover (depending on the kind you buy)—but they also structure an otherwise open outdoor space. And they’re growing in popularity. Just how popular, you ask? According to Wayfair, searches for outdoor pergola kits are up 369% compared to 2021.

2. Dine al fresco—and cook too

Outdoor kitchens are predicted to continue rising in popularity in 2022. When it comes to designing an outdoor kitchen, the options are seemingly endless. Whether you want a simple grill and a sink, or an elaborate grill, mini fridge, sink, stovetop, and cabinets too—you can design the space that fits your desires (and your budget, of course!).

3. Stylish seating

Say goodbye to basic patio furniture. 2022 will bring the comfort of indoor furniture to your backyard, porch, or deck. Pair this with the “outdoor room” or the outdoor kitchen, and your home will be the place everyone wants to come for an evening of food and drinks.

4. Work from home—outside

Even though some companies are returning to the office, many will still have hybrid, or even fully remote, work options available. People are getting creative with makeshift workstations popping up in unexpected places—including outdoors. Some have transformed garden sheds into mini-offices, while others have set up shop on their deck or front porch. Choose what you like, just be sure the Wi-Fi connection is strong enough when you’re out working in the sun!

5. Re-think the front porch

Perhaps you noticed more people sitting out front last year as you walked through your neighborhood. According to Google trends, the number of searches for “front porch” increased by 1.42% in 2021. The front porch can be a great place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or an early evening glass of wine. Depending on your set up, you could include a few comfortable chairs, a couch, or even a porch swing.

6. Hot tub relaxation

The outdoor hot tub is making a comeback. Another by-product of people spending more time at home, it’s a great addition to the backyard. Whether you want to slow down and enjoy time with family and friends after a long week at work, recover from a workout, or just get some alone time—an outdoor hot tub will do the trick.

7. Expand your home garden

While home gardening has risen steadily in popularity for many years, it’s becoming a key element of outdoor living. Many people are incorporating aspects of their garden into other outdoor living spaces, such as pergolas or front porch sets. Whether you’re a committed vegetable gardener or someone who likes sprucing up your home’s exterior with pretty plants and flowers, the benefits of home gardening are numerous. Further, an environmentally friendly garden is a great way to help pollinators and other species flourish!

8. Up your outdoor technology game

If you’ve ever been to a friend’s house for a backyard movie night, you’ll understand the appeal of an outdoor theater. Outdoor streaming is growing in popularity, and the good thing is that a screen and projector can be relatively inexpensive. Watching a movie under the stars is a great way to unwind with the family, all while enjoying the best of indoor and outdoor at the same time.

9. Hang the lights

Warm, fun lighting is a key part of a good backyard set up. Hanging string lights have become a go-to for many backyard fanatics. Their versatility and affordability make them a great choice.

10. Don’t forget the warmth

There’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire after the sun sets. Both bonfire pits and outdoor fireplaces are a good option for outdoor warmth. Some may even opt for outdoor heat lamps. Whatever you choose, investing in a way to stay warm outdoors will lengthen the outdoor season. And that’s crucial here in Minnesota!
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Kitchen Tile trends in 2022

Hot Home Trend: Elongated Tiles

Lengthier styles are adding some contemporary contrasts in kitchen backsplashes and home flooring.

Supersize those tiles—go longer and wider. The look is gaining popularity throughout the home.

Long and linear backsplash tile is offering a modern twist in kitchens, according to the home remodeling website Houzz, which recently listed the trend as one to watch in 2022.

For example, a popular go-to has become white ceramic 4-by-12-inch tile. “The rectangle shape lends a timeless feel while its elongated form gives it a fresh, updated appearance,” Houzz designers note in their 2022 style report. “On Houzz, we see backsplashes with a subtle wavy or crackle glaze finish will add texture, or a herringbone pattern to give even more spin on the design.”

Tile Trends
Photo credit: Asha Maía Design

Tiles are getting bigger in the flooring as well. Extra-large tiles can make spaces appear larger, particularly if chosen in lighter colors. Also, larger tiles mean fewer grout lines—less to clean.

But regardless of size, one flooring trend heading out of style: Square tiles, notes in its 2022 flooring trends report.(link is external) Instead, tile shapes are moving more toward a wood-look plank. The bathroom is the exception where large format tile remains trendy, they note.

In the main living spaces, longer, wider planks are being favored in making floors appear larger and more open and are becoming a “classic staple,” notes. On the other hand, short, thin planks are starting to look outdated.

Beyond elongated tiles, watch for more uniquely shaped tile to also enter more flooring choices in 2022. Bold geometric shapes—like in hexagon tiles—are offering a vintage, classic style that is being used in a more contemporary way. expects hexagon tiles to show up in more interiors, particularly in colors like whites, blacks, and grays.

Hexagon Floor Tiles
Photo courtesy
Hexagon Floor Tiles
Photo courtesy
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Spring Tips To Transform Your Home’s Exterior

As spring approaches and your yard emerges from beneath the snow, it’s a good time to start planning outdoor improvement projects. Whether you want to enhance curb appeal for a future sale or simply make your yard and house exterior more aesthetically pleasing, we’ve got proven tips to fit every budget, timeline, and level of expertise.  

Basic Improvements 

Paint the Siding and Trim 

Few improvements are more transformative than a fresh coat of paint. Save time and get excellent results by contracting a professional painting crew. Depending on the size of your home, an exterior paint job typically ranges from $1,700 to $5,000. If you don’t know a painter, your Realtor® should be able to provide a recommendation. 

Spruce Up the Yard 

Wake up that winter-weary matt with a hearty dose of fertilizer and reseed or cover any bare spots in new sod. If weeds are a concern, but you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, consider some of these all-natural weed-management techniques. Be sure to trim the bushes and hedges, cut dead branches from trees, and restore decorative gardens with fresh mulch and vibrant plants and flowers. 

Revive the Driveway 

The driveway is most visitors first point of contact with your home. Make a good impression by repairing cracks, and killing any weeds sprouting in-between. If the asphalt is faded, a fresh coat of sealcoat is fast and transformative. If your driveway is made from pavers, check to be sure none are loose or damaged. 

Pro Tip: Add a little eye candy with bordering plants and flowers. 


Replace or Repair Old Gutters and Downspouts 

Stained, dirty, or clogged gutters create a dingy, dilapidated look that makes a bad impression on visitors or buyers. If your gutters and downspouts are in sorry shape, factor repairs or replacement into your budget. Beyond aesthetics, they have functional utility that impacts the health of your home, from gardens and lawn to the foundation. 


Go by the Numbers (and then replace them) 

Inspect the entry to your home with fresh and discerning eyes. Are any house numbers damaged, crooked or missing? Is the porchlight a dusty graveyard for moths? Are the doorknob and entry lockset faded, chipped or rusted? Is the door scuffed, scratched and in need of paint? Is the wall-mounted mailbox dented and faded? Take an inventory and prioritize repairs and replacement. These small investments make a world of difference to the presentation of your home. 


More Ambitious Upgrades 

Turn the Front Porch into an Outside Room 

Make your porch an inviting outdoor space by adding comfortable chairs, small tables, and stands or urns with plants and flowers. Hanging plants also add color and life. Create a place where that makes it easy and pleasant to socialize with neighbors, friends and family. 

Install Window Boxes 

Window boxes add splashes of color and greenery that bring your exterior to life. Available in a variety of materials—wood, terracotta, iron, copper, and more—they complement your home’s colors and play off its lighting. Whether you want a cozy cottage look or a something more fitting for French manor, window boxes are the perfect finishing touch. 

Turn Bare Walls into Living Canvases 

Got a bare side wall that’s home to an ugly collection of gas lines and an air-conditioning unit? Give it a quick makeover that transforms it into a garden oasis. With a few pre-planted decorative containers, you can reclaim a forgotten space and turn it into one of the highlights of your property. Pro Tip: Stagger the containers in an asymmetrical arrangement for an artistic look. Choose containers made from earthy natural materials like wood, terracotta and ceramic. 

Plant a Mailbox Garden 

Encircle your lonely curbside mailbox with a bed of flowers and ground-hugging plants. For a relatively small investment of time, effort, and materials, you can create an inviting entrance that captures attention, sets your home apart with an evocative splash of beauty. Pro Tip: Paint the post to match the color palette of your flowerbed. If your mailbox is worn or damaged, replace it with something colorful and new. 

Show Stoppers and Curb Poppers 

Build a Walkway 

Tear up the dull concrete path to your front door and install brick, stone or colored concrete pavers. Although this can be a costly undertaking, it adds a stately, sophisticated touch that elevates the presentation of your home.

Pro Tip: Accent your walkway with border gardens and a variety of flowering and ground-covering plants. 

Create a Sculpture Garden

Even a modestly sized backyard becomes a private park with the addition of artistic elements like sculptures, fountains, and boulders. Each of these can become the focal point of a nook or cove within a grove of trees, cluster of bushes, or planted mound. Set a bench in a shady area nearby where you can spend peaceful moments in a your own secluded refuge. 


Install Outdoor Lightning 

Add a little stagecraft to your property by illuminating a walkway or accenting trees and gardens. Although reasonably priced, solar-power lights can be obtained from many stores, a professional installation ensures better quality and design options.

Pro Tip: Light fixtures should be subtle additions that are not readily visible in the daylight. Camouflage them with plants, rocks, and other natural features. 

Erect a Garden Gate or a Pergola 

Create a dramatic entrance to a garden with an arched gateway. Or add an intimate gathering space with an elegant wooden pergola. Highlight the effect of either of these elements by training flowering vines that add both shade and beauty.


Source: MNR News