Cool new choices and YouTube tutorials help resurrect the midcentury trend.

Local interior designer Mandy Riggar chose this paper from Portland-based collective Makelike for a client’s stairway.

Remember the glory days of patterned wallpaper? We’re thinking 1950s floor-to-ceiling patterns, more-is-more florals, and geometric shapes on every vertical surface. That was before the backlash—for decades, nobody would be seen dead with anything but a flat painted wall as a backdrop, and all the world was smooth.

Well, wallpaper is back, baby, but not like before. From Spoonflower’s peel-and-stick to Flavor Paper’s scratch-and-sniff, lemon-lime-scented iteration, there are countless new and delightful ways to dress up your surfaces.

Mandy Riggar, a Portland interior designer, says the wallpaper renaissance is due in part to a rise in affordable and accessible versions, like self-adhesive wallcoverings that are easy to install and remove. Plus, there are now a zillion styles from which to choose, not to mention custom designs, which make wallpaper “almost trendless,” says Riggar. “It’s just about finding the brands that carry the style you like.”

For one client’s stairway (pictured above), Riggar sourced the wallpaper from Makelike, a Portland-based graphic design collective founded in 2000 by Mary Kysar and Topher Sinkinson, which produces a selection of hand-screen-printed wallpaper featuring botanical, coral, geometric, and abstract patterns in myriad color palettes.

Portraits by Portland-based artist Gracie Ellison paired with a printed design chosen by local interior designer Vicki Simon in a client’s powder room

Another Portland interior designer, Vicki Simon, used printed wallpaper with a sketch-like pattern in black and white in a client’s powder room, and found it paired well with hanging portraits by Portland-based artist Gracie Ellison. “For me, using wallpaper is just a fantastic way to integrate, to bring interest to a project, especially in smaller spaces,” Simon says.

For similarly bold designs, with some peel-and-stick options for a low barrier to entry, local wallpaper studio Thatcher (formerly Juju Papers and Avery Thatcher Tile) produces a wide range of products for residential and commercial spaces, with bold motifs and one-of-a-kind styles.

Since it was founded in 2012 by Avery Thatcher, the studio has found a nationwide client base, which Thatcher says grew with the resurgence of DIY home décor during the pandemic.

If you’re looking to install wallpaper on your own, YouTube is a good place for step-by-step instructions. It’s a tool Thatcher says has revolutionized the use of wallpaper and fed its growing popularity. “The first time I installed [wallpaper], I definitely watched a YouTube video,” she says.

A wallpaper from Thatcher Studio


Thatcher still encourages people to purchase traditional wallpaper and hire professional installers if they can afford it, but she offers another pro tip for folks who want to go it alone: use liner paper, a heavy-duty paper that smooths out any imperfections. “It makes traditional wallpaper totally removable, and all of it is curbside recyclable at that point,” Thatcher says. “It has a special paste that allows it to be removed, and then you put the wallpaper on top of it.”


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Named for the shape of the container used to hold salt in colonial times, these homes have a steeply sloped roof that is much longer on one side than the other.

Saltbox houses are common in New England, and back in the 18th century, housed many famous pioneers and patriots, including the second U.S. president, John Adams. Sturdy and understated, they are found by the bushel in historic registers and are very popular today. Read on for a brief history of this quaint architectural style, and why it has such enduring appeal.

Historic Saltbox

A brief history of saltbox houses

Back in colonial times, many saltbox homes started as symmetrical two-story houses, but as families expanded, so did their square footage. One-story additions were built on one side of the home, pulling the original roofline farther down and giving these homes their distinctive asymmetrical shape.

As Lance Abbott Kirley of residential design firm Classic Colonial Homes in Massachusetts notes, “So many aspects of colonial architecture are about symmetry, yet when viewed from the side, the saltbox—with its long rear sloping roofline—challenges that notion.” It’s that distinctive look, Kirley says, that “makes saltbox homes appear more grounded and resilient than all other styles of New England homes of the period.”

Another advantage was that snow could slide down the extended rear roofline, preventing any given part of the roof from carrying too heavy a load. Gavin Townsend, art history professor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, adds that feline lovers will be amused (or not) to learn the roof’s nickname: a “cat slide.”

“Because an adventurous feline, finding herself on an icy roof, could slide down the outshot [extended roof] and reach the ground, while suffering damage only to her dignity,” he says.

Saltbox homes also boast plenty of storage space—typically in the cramped triangle of dead space under the extended roof, just above the ground-floor addition. This also provided an additional barrier from the cold, which was appreciated in the days before fiberglass insulation and central heating.

These homes also sport traditional colonial features like narrow clapboard siding, tight-patterned window grilles, a massive center chimney, and understated exterior trim. However, saltbox homes have since evolved to suit a variety of needs and tastes, thanks to their unique blend of practicality and whimsy. Many older saltbox homes have been reworked by design firms to preserve the traditional exterior, but include more contemporary interiors and modern features.

But no matter how they’re modified, saltbox homes remain fashionable because they are classic and practical. Kirley notes that his company’s clients ask for saltbox homes more than any other Colonial style. After all, the saltbox has served American families for over 300 years—why not several hundred more?

What Is a Saltbox House? A Colonial Style That Modern Buyers Love


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Glamming up a guest bathroom is often a lower priority than, say, modernizing your kitchen or replacing your roof. But as the holidays approach—and your regular guests come a-calling—you might be looking for ways to spruce up your spare loo on the cheap.

This week we gathered five trendy decor looks from Instagram—with affordable ways to get these looks—that are sure to inspire your guest bath overhaul. No matter how small or large of a project you’re looking to take on, the following ideas offer something for everyone.

It’s time to put the “pow” back into your powder room—without spending a ton of money. Here’s how.

1. Sectional mirrors

A common decorating trick is to add a mirror to a space to jazz it up, and these sectional mirrors from @bathroom_decor take the concept in a charming and unexpected direction.

“Geometric mirrors can create a focal point in a small space,” says interior designer Amanda Oninski, of FLOOR360. “It’s a bold design choice that creates a look that’s both glam and luxe. Coordinating those shapes with the tile, accents, and wallpaper in the space will make it feel complete.”

Get the look: Arrange a few of these diamond-shaped wall mirrors in your guest bath.

2. Smoky glass pendants

Another quick way to upgrade your stale bathroom is with new light fixtures. We’re in love with these chic smoky glass pendants from @maxis.homestory.

“A glass pendant light is a classic fixture,” says Oninski. “Using the smoked-glass pendants modernizes the look of the fixture and the space it’s in. This fits squarely with the design trend of creating spaces that strive to blend traditional with modern.”

Get the look: Shop this smoky glass pendant for a timeless look in your bathroom.

3. Penny tile

If you’re all in for a big design overhaul, consider redoing your bathroom walls or floor in a penny tile like this one featured by @chairishco.

“Penny tiles have been increasing in popularity in recent years because they are a cost-effective way to add some personality and a touch of vintage to a bathroom,” says interior designer Carla Bast. “The small size gives you an opportunity to get creative with patterns and create a custom look. Their small size also makes them less slippery than larger tiles.”

Get the look: Find the perfect penny tile for your bathroom by shopping this collection at Home Depot.

4. Block-print wallpaper

Calling all grandmillennials! Another way to go all out in your guest bathroom is with brand-new wallpaper like this trending block-print pattern from @mindygayerdesign.

“I love block-print wallpaper in the bathroom because it’s classic and timeless,” says Bast. “It’s not too busy or overwhelming, and has just the right amount of detail, without distracting from other features in the bathroom. Try pairing it with a bright-colored vanity for an unexpected twist or wood-toned cabinetry for a more subtle look.”

Get the look: Check out this block-print wallpaper from McGee & Co.

Looking to upgrade your wall space without changing the walls themselves? Why not install a gallery wall like this one from @the_interior_lens.

“There’s something about having a gallery wall next to your tub that adds a cozy, lived-in feel to the bathroom,” says Bast. “It feels like a natural extension of the living room into the bathroom.”

Even if your guest bathroom doesn’t have a tub, you can still add a personal touch to the space with an eclectic wall of art you’ve collected over the years.

Get the look: Shop local vintage stores for one-of-a-kind art, or download some ready-made prints on Etsy.


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Georgian architecture is an architectural style characterized by symmetry, balance, and proportion that traces its origins back to 18th century England. You’ll find this popular design scheme across the nation, though it’s concentrated in the Northeast, particularly in New England.

What is Georgian architecture?

Photo by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd.

Georgian architecture landed in the United States in the early 1700s, during the reigns of—you guessed it—George I through George III.

“In America, Georgian architecture is commonly associated with the Colonial period, since it was the most favored style up until the Revolutionary War,” says Julie Muniz, an art curator and consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. After the war, all things British were shunned, including Georgian design, and the American Federal style emerged in its place, she adds.

In popular culture, perhaps the most memorable example of Georgian architecture to appear on the silver screen is the house where little Kevin McCallister was left behind in “Home Alone.”

Design characteristics of Georgian architecture

What is Georgian architecture?

Photo by Eric Stengel Architecture, llc 

A classic Georgian home is square or rectangular, made of brick, and features symmetrical windows, shutters, and columns.

“Grand entrances were often embellished with pediments, arches, and columns, and interior spaces featured high ceilings, window headers, and crown molding,” says Muniz. “Larger houses feature a central block augmented with symmetrical wings on either side.”

Justin Riordan of Spade and Archer Design Agency points out that Georgian homes tend to have two-and-a-half stories, with an elaborately adorned front door with a pediment (a triangular structure above the door) or a transom window (above the entranceway).

Windows in Georgian architecture

What is Georgian architecture?

Photo by Meyer & Meyer, Inc. Architecture and Interiors 

Because symmetry reigns supreme in this style of architecture, the windows of Georgian homes mirror each other.

“The window layout for this home will often be the same on both the first and second floors, with the addition of a window on the second floor, over the front door,” says Riordan.

Georgian home windows are also typically flanked by shutters painted black, forest green, or navy blue.

Home decor and Georgian architecture

What is Georgian architecture?

Photo by Peterssen/Keller Architecture 

Because Georgian homes are classical in nature, most homeowners will fill them with traditional decor, but there’s no rule that says you have to stick to period furniture if you’re lucky enough to own one.

“The great thing about Georgian architecture is that the rooms are very boxlike and can work with a variety of looks,” Muniz says.

Riordan agrees: “You can contrast a Georgian exterior with a modern aesthetic inside.”

However, if you want to go the more traditional route, Muniz says that neoclassical furniture will highlight the built-in features of the architecture.

Georgian houses are flooded with light (thanks to all those windows) so Riordan says designers can incorporate dark, moody paint colors without making the inside of the house look too gloomy.

“Reversely, sticking to a white-on-white paint scheme can allow for brightly patterned furniture, rugs and art,” he says.

Taking Georgian architecture outside

What is Georgian architecture?

Photo by Western DuPage Landscaping, Inc. 

Traditional landscaping can really emphasize the classic design of a Georgian house. Consider refined flower beds, manicured shrubberies, and carefully planted ground cover.


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After a real estate sale, there are a lot of documents to organize. But do you have to keep them all? After all, you don’t want to have to file all of it if you don’t have to; but you also don’t want to chuck something crucial.

Your closing company is required by law to keep a record of your closing documents, so that’s a good fallback in case you misplace yours. Still, it’s smart for you to keep important documents on hand—particularly if, later on, you need to file a claim against the seller or your professional representation team (i.e., your real estate agent, home inspector, or mortgage lender). Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but it’s wise to be prepared.

Full disclosure: I’m a real estate agent, but I’m not a naturally organized person. In fact, until a few months ago, I kept the documents from my home purchase in a folder in my closet labeled “Keep Docs.” (I’m not joking!) But the important thing is, I know what forms I have to hold onto.

So, of the hundreds of documents you’ll encounter during the home-buying process, here are the ones you should keep—and why.

8 Real Estate Documents to Keep—and What Happens If You Don’t

1. Buyer’s agent agreement

When you choose a real estate agent, you sign a buyer’s agent agreement—a contract between you and the brokerage, stating that the agent represents you in the purchase of your home.

This agreement outlines the terms of the relationship with your agent—including who pays the agent’s commission (in most cases, the seller), the length of the agreement (90 to 120 days is standard in most markets), and the terms for terminating the agreement.

Why you should keep it: This contract spells out what services your agent agreed to provide you with—and it can come into play if you have an issue with your agent after the transaction closes.

2. Purchase agreement

Every home sale starts with a real estate purchase agreement—a legally binding contract signed by home buyers and sellers that confirms that they agree upon a certain purchase price, closing date, and other terms.

Why you should keep it: The provisions stated in this contract must be followed to the letter. If you or the seller fails to fulfill these duties, there could be legal ramifications.

3. Addenda, amendments, or riders

These types of documents alter or amend the terms of your purchase contract. For example, if a survey reveals that there’s an encroaching fence built by a neighbor, and you’d like the fence removed, the sales contract has to be formally amended.

Why you should keep them: Addenda, amendments, and riders are often related to home inspections or appraisals, and because they change the original terms of the signed contract, they’re worth holding onto.

For instance, if both parties signed a repair addendum, where the seller agreed to make certain repairs based on the home inspection, you’ll need this addendum if you find issues with the repairs down the road.

4. Seller disclosures

Sellers are required by law to disclose certain problems with the home, both present and past, that they’re aware of that could affect its value. While laws vary by state, these disclosures might include lead-based paint, pest infestations, and renovations done without a permit.

Why you should keep them: If major problems crop up with your home after you move in, these disclosures can be the basis for a future lawsuit against the seller. If you lose them, you might have trouble holding the seller accountable in a court of law.

5. Home inspection report

After your home inspection, your inspector should produce a report with detailed notes on the condition of the home and any potential problems.

Why you should keep it: This document is an extremely detailed list of everything that the home inspector finds, and it typically includes photos of problem areas. By keeping this report, you’ll have a record of any repairs that you may need to make to the property in the future.

6. Closing disclosure

Mortgage lenders must provide borrowers with a closing disclosure (also called a CD) at least three business days before settlement. This document spells out things such as your loan term (typically 15 or 30 years), loan type (a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage), the interest rate, and closing costs, among other financials.

Why you should keep it: Your CD is an itemized list of all the costs associated with closing and your mortgage, and it’s important to have for future reference. It’s also the document you’ll need when you go to file your taxes, since you can take deductions for things such as mortgage points.

7. Title insurance policy

Title insurance offers protection against any competing claims to a home. As part of the process, the insurer will run a title search of public records, seeking loose ends such as liens against the property or fraudulent signatures on ownership documents.

Why you should keep it: You’ll need this document in the event another party, such as a previous owner, tries to claim the property. Note that there is separate title insurance to cover lenders versus buyers, and you would do well to get a policy for yourself.

8. Property deed

When you take title and become the sole owner of the property, you’ll receive a deed—a legal document that confirms or conveys the ownership rights to the home, says Anne Rizzo, associate vice president of Detroit-based title insurance company Amrock.

“It must be a physical document signed by both the buyer and the seller,” Rizzo says.

Typically, the property deed is mailed to you after the title transfer documents are recorded in your county’s public records office.

Why you should keep it: Presenting a property deed is the only way to show someone you legally own the home you’re residing in. Because the deed is sent to you directly, neither your mortgage lender nor title company is required to keep a copy of it.


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Selling a home is no longer the easy feat it was last year—or even six months ago.

Between the news that we already seem to be slipping into an unofficial recession and a serious home market slowdown, many sellers feel like they’re facing a Sisyphean task. The Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate hike of 0.75% is expected to push up mortgage rates that had already reached a 20-year high, putting further pressure on a stressed market.

But if you’re in a position to sell, there’s no reason to give up hope.

You might not be able to bank on receiving multiple offers over your home’s asking price. But with a little foresight and strategic thinking, you’ll be scheduling the moving trucks in no time.

Below, we hear from real estate pros who have weathered much worse markets than this.

How To Sell Your Home During a Real Estate Slowdown

Consider offering an interest rate buydown

Chances are, many of your potential homebuyers are struggling to balance their home goals with the reality of ballooning mortgage rates. A great way to put them at ease is by offering an interest rate buydown to help make their mortgage payments more manageable.

An interest rate buydown is typically negotiated between a buyer and the buyer’s lender. But sellers may also offer to buy down a buyer’s mortgage. In a seller-paid buydown scenario, the seller will pay a certain amount of money to the buyer’s mortgage lender to lower the buyer’s interest rate.

“A rate buydown can be a specific amount of money credited at closing that the buyer can use toward points on their mortgage,” says Michelle Mumoli, a broker-associate with Compass in Jersey City, NJ. “And because buyers have the option to refinance once rates go down again, they can use that to cover their closing costs.”

You can also offer to structure a buydown by percentage points.

“Offer to pay down their interest rate by a point or two at closing,” suggests Doug Greene, owner of Signature Properties Philly. “It directly addresses a pain point that many buyers are facing and will likely make less of an impact to you than you think. One or 2 percentage points is always going to be less than dropping your price $30,000 to $50,000 on an average-priced home. Buying down points is working well in today’s market.”

Help homebuyers with big-ticket items

If your home isn’t newly built, there’s probably a big-ticket item—your boiler, your roof, your HVAC—that needs replacing now or in the near future.

“If you have, say, a roof that’s over 15 years old, it will have to be replaced pretty soon,” says Brenden Rendo, a real estate agent at NextHome Neighborhood Realty in Winter Springs, FL. “It’s a huge bonus if you offer to do it before the sale, or offer to escrow funds to cover the costs from the proceeds of the sale.”

Strategically reduce the asking price

Some sellers have had to cut prices right now, but you can do it in a shrewd way that will be more likely to actually land a buyer.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that discounting your home once in a large chunk, like 5% to 10%, will stir up a lot of interest,” says Greene. “This works in any market. If you adjust the listing, you’ll find you get action quickly and often yield multiple offers and a flurry of showings.”

Or, you can trigger interest with strategic micro price drops.

“Start by doing plenty of research on pricing in your area in order to establish a baseline price, and list your home at that price for starters,” advises Martin Orefice, CEO of Rent to Own Labs in Orlando, FL. “And savvy homebuyers will often look for homes that have recently dropped in price, because this can indicate a seller who is eager to move their property. Triggering this interest is a great way to get people in the door, so time your price drops carefully.”

Go down by 1% each month, Orefice suggests, and schedule those price drops for times when you’ll be available for showings.

Throw in something unexpected

If you’re selling your home and downsizing, you might be ready to part with any number of assets that aren’t normally included in a home sale. Consider offering one of these as a tantalizing tidbit for buyers.

“Competition is so tight right now,” says Robert Johnson, marketing director at Coast Appliances, whose work often involves strategizing on home sales with real estate agents. “Capturing a buyer’s interest is the first step to landing a sale, and sometimes that can be as easy as offering and highlighting high-end appliances or unexpected items like a car, big-screen TV, solar panels, even gardening tools.”

Market your assumable VA loan

VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and don’t require down payments or mortgage insurance, making them hugely popular for those who qualify. But one bonus that few are unaware of is that VA loans can be assumed, or taken on, by buyers.

“If you have a VA loan that can be assumed, you should definitely market that,” says David Hampshere, founder and CEO of Purple Egg Real Estate, which covers Florida and Alabama. “VA loans can cover 40% or more of the sales price and are usually at a very low rate.”

Offer a home warranty

Because the housing market is so uncertain right now, adding a layer of predictability can be a huge boon.

Sellers may opt to attract buyers by offering to pay for a home warranty that would cover the home’s systems (like the electrical and plumbing) and appliances while it’s on the market. A warranty can also be transferred to the buyer once the home is sold.

Most home warranty contracts are 12 months and cost $250 to $1,500 per year, depending on your warranty provider.

Theron Smith, a Brown Harris Stevens real estate agent in New York, has found that homes with a warranty sell significantly faster and for more money than comparable homes that don’t offer a warranty in the same market.

“By offering a home warranty during your home sale, you give your buyer peace of mind that they are protected financially if anything were to go wrong in their new home,” Smith says. “As a result, they feel more comfortable and confident taking the leap and making a big decision about their home.”


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PRETTY MUCH all of Portland’s more than 150 parks have a claim to fame. That’s what made it so difficult to narrow down this list—we could fill the rest of the pages in this magazine with our thoughts on where best to play disc golf (Pier Park) or go geocaching (there’s an easy one under a rhododendron bush at Laurelhurst Park, we just happen to know) or join a group of highly enthusiastic adults in a pickup kickball game (head to Sewallcrest Park for that one). Read on for 31 more of our favorites, best in class among a very classy field.

Best Park for Extreme Sports

Portland preens over its cycle-friendly self on the regular, but mountain bikes and the people who love them were very much left out of the commute-by-bike renaissance of the 2000s and 2010s. Gateway Green Park, sandwiched between I-205 and I-84 in outer Northeast Portland, is the city’s first serious attempt to engage the cyclocrossers and single-track enthusiasts—and it’s the stuff that YouTube compilation video dreams are made of. Your first tip that this park means business? You can’t drive there—the only way in is by foot or by bike, via the I-205 bike or pedestrian path. Once you’re in, prepare for serious shredding, via a bumpy pump track, rock ledges for getting tricksy or practicing your balance, a skills trail for facing off against buddies, and several miles of natural surface trails. Skateboarders, meanwhile, will peel off to nearby Gateway Discovery Park, where a giant concrete bowl awaits, complete with steps, rails, and ledges built for showoffs. West-siders have easier access to the compact Holly Farm Park with a 2,800-square-foot space with swoops and spines to get you airborne (and hopefully down in one piece—wear those helmets and kneepads, please!). Meanwhile, parkour enthusiasts should make their way to Westmoreland Park early in the morning, before the nature playground is packed with the preschool set; the logs, boulders and streams there are primo for daredevil open-element obstacle leaping and bounding; the bark chips ensure a soft landing. —JS 

Best Park for Views for Days

If you ever need to be reminded why you live in Oregon, there’s no quicker fix than to make tracks to a local park with a view of snowcapped peaks in the distance. On a clear day from the top of Southwest Portland’s Council Crest—the highest point in the city, at more than 1,000 feet above sea level—you can glimpse not just hometown favorites Hood and St. Helens but the more far-flung Jefferson, Adams, and Rainier. You can drive to the top during daylight hours, but it’s much more sporting to park in the surrounding neighborhood and hike one of a number of footpaths to the top, where there’s a grassy area to sprawl after you’ve finished taking in the view. For a less-heralded but no less lovely vista, make your way to Northeast’s Joseph Wood Hill Park atop the extinct cinder cone of Rocky Butte, where you can see out through the Columbia River Gorge to the east and take in most of the city to the west. Or catch the no. 15 bus and get off at SE 69th and Belmont, partway up beloved Mount Tabor, and then hike to the top and lurk until the single bench positioned for the best possible view of a distant Mount Hood is free. —JS

Best Park for Cooling Down on a Hot Day

Plenty of parks around town have tall, spreading trees under which you can grab a patch of shade on cloudless summer days. What makes Sellwood Park stand out? It just has so dang many such trees, plus easy access to the Willamette River to catch the breeze off the river, and proximity to one of the best-loved swimming pools in town. Sellwood Pool was the city’s first outdoor public pool, back when men and women still bathed on alternate days, and is still going strong 112 years later (though we mourn the loss of the Snow Dee-Lite cart, which used to post up outside the pool fence to sell all flavors of sno-cones). Show up early if you want to nab a lounge chair, or be prepared to hover like a hawk until someone leaves. Just across the Sellwood Bridge, sprawling Willamette Park lacks a pool of its own, but still has river proximity in its favor; easily launch a kayak here for a peaceful paddle down a serene stretch of the river. In North Portland, Columbia Park reigns as a prime location for a game of eagle eye or hide-and-go-seek—with an abundance of  Douglas firs and linden trees, you’ll easily find a candidate to post up under while you dream the afternoon away. —JS

Best Park for Smelling the Flowers

Every yoga class opens and closes with a few deep, healing breaths, all the better to help you quiet your mind and achieve that blissful om state. Now consider how much more delightful it would be if that deep breath were outside, and you were inhaling not just the scent of your yoga class’s collective sweat, but the flowers that bloom in abundance all summer long. Washington Park is, of course, Portland’s calling card for scent-seekers. Believe the hype: The fragrance of the more than 10,000 rosebushes that bloom in the International Rose Test Garden over the course of a year is heady stuff. We’re especially partial to the Shakespeare Garden, which contains flowers and herbs name-checked in the Bard’s body of work. For a more off-the-beaten path experience, head east on Powell Boulevard to the Memory Garden at Ed Benedict Park. Specially designed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their caregivers, the park hosts flowers that can spark transporting memories just as music does. Plants here are purposely oldies-but-goodies: fragrant lilacs, climbing roses, herbs and geraniums. At the next-gen Cully Park in Northeast Portland, a walk through the Native Gathering Garden yields scents of camas, sweetgrass, and other plants that remain integral to the region’s Indigenous tribes. —JS 

Best Park for Flying a Kite

 Some of Portland’s sweetest parks are compact affairs, where you’ll trip over lovers smooching on a blanket or overly enthusiastic hackey-sackers. Not quite so much with these wide-open spaces, which sport enough room to run like the wind while you hopefully hoist your kite, trying to achieve liftoff. Northeast’s Fernhill Park will give you some exercise while you’re at it as you huff and puff your way up and down its rolling terrain. The Fields, one of a string of chichi parks in the Pearl District, is flat as a pancake, but has a strategic location in a condo-generated wind tunnel. —JS 

Best Park Quinceañera/Engagement/Family Pictures

 That dream where you’re Toni Braxton in her “Breathe Again” video, running along the hedges in a billowing ballgown, a grand fountain tinkling in the background? It all comes to life in Peninsula Park, in North Portland’s Piedmont neighborhood. Show up to this geometric rose garden, opened in 1913, in your quinceañera dress with a photographer and entourage, and expect to be interrupted by small children demanding to know if you’re a “real princess.” If you’re nervous the rosebushes in the sunken garden might snag your dress, the bandshell that overlooks the flowers and fountain is a thorn-free option. (You just might run into an actual band practicing there—the covered space saw many an impromptu outdoor rehearsal during the pandemic.) For more French castle than English garden, line up your shot instead under the St. Johns Bridge at Cathedral Park, so you’re framed by the nested arches of the bridge supports and the green blanket of Forest Park on the other side of the Willamette. Celebrate your love for urban density with a shot from Tanner Springs Park in the northern reaches of the Pearl District, where you can choose from a background of condo towers, the Fremont Bridge, or the industrial-chic wall made from railroad tracks. —MS

Best Park for Canine Companions

Howl it from the hilltops: Portland is a canine Valhalla, with more than 30 off-leash zones in city parks in which to bound untethered. Northeast’s Normandale Park is famed in furry circles for its three separate fenced-in areas, allowing smaller pooches to socialize separately while their larger counterparts get ample runway. On the opposite side of the city, Gabriel Park in deep Southwest boasts two off-leash, fenced-in spaces—one for summer and one for winter—and a snazzy skatepark besides, not to mention plenty of shade, rolling hills, a community garden, and a playground for your human offspring while their four-legged friends explore the seasonal domains. North Portland’s Chimney Park is another popular enclosed alternative with a wood-chip walking path surrounding the play area and just the right smattering of trees for shade and stick-finding. Non-bolters should check out Irving Park—its sweet hilltop, off-leash romping pad makes for a relaxed neighborhood gathering spot.FMcC

Best Park for Bird Nerds

TBH, the King Kong of Portland’s parks system, Forest Park, could claimed every other superlative on this list. At 5,100 acres, it’s one of the country’s signature city nature parks, vast enough that you can easily find solitude within its sprawling network of trails (unless you decide that the first sunny Saturday of spring is your moment to hike to Pittock Mansion). Don’t believe us? Ask the birds who congregate in the park; Portland Audubon says you should keep your eyes peeled for the northern pygmy owl, and the Steller’s jay, among others. Across town, Powell Butte Park is a far less treed landscape, which ups your chances of spotting majestic birds like bald eagles and western red-tailed hawks as they wheel through the sky. —JS

Best Park for Playgrounds

Newbie parents often find their way to the toddler-focused zone at Northeast’s Wilshire Park, where the sand pit and wooden vehicles provide blessed moments of respite. Kids of all abilities will love the specially designed inclusive play areas at Arbor Lodge Park and Couch Park, with slopes, ramps, climbing walls, adaptive swing sets, and interactive sensory elements including musical instruments. Newer additions to the playground block include Kʰunamokwst Park with its riverine water feature, beginners’ skate park, and a ramp-accessible play structure, and Spring Garden Park, with a scrambly boulder water feature for sticky summer days, a kid-friendly public art installation by Swedish-born, Portland-based nature artist Hannes Wingate dubbed “The Nest,” and a futuristic play structure. —FMcC

Best Park for Picnics

While not an official park, the city-owned grassy area along Mocks Crest atop the Skidmore Bluffs is an official picnic destination. Located a half-mile walk from the Yellow MAX Line’s N Prescott stop (we highly recommend transit or biking—parking on Overlook’s dead-end streets is no fun, and feels downright unneighborly), the perch looks out over Swan Island and the Willamette across to downtown and Forest Park. Throw a camera in your picnic basket, and linger for a stunning sunset. Energetic kids in tow? There’s not much room to run around on the Bluffs, and the steep slope presents perils, so head instead to Luuwit View Park, in Northeast’s Argay neighborhood. Book the massive picnic shelter, claim one of the tables scattered on the lawn, head down the hill for grouped tabled and grills next to the climbing wall and skatepark, or just spread out a blanket on the 16-acre property while the kids attack the playground. No matter where you settle, mountain peaks (including the park’s namesake, a.k.a. Mount St. Helens) and airplanes bound for PDX are the backdrop. MS


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Having good credit helps you prove your creditworthiness to potential lenders. If you’re hoping to buy a home, having a good credit score is key, since it helps you qualify for a mortgage. So if your credit score is low, indicating bad credit, knowing how long it takes to raise it to the home-buying range can help you plan.

Credit repair companies sometimes promise almost instant results, saying that they will do the hard work. However, there’s no secret to raising your score, and it can’t happen overnight. It is possible to raise your credit score within one to two months. It may take even longer, depending on what’s dragging down your score and how you handle it. Here’s step-by-step advice for do-it-yourself credit repair that works, so you’ll never ask yourself this question again, “how long does it take for credit score to go up?”

How Long Does It Take to Improve Credit Score Enough to Buy a Home?

The time it takes for your credit score to go up

First off, what’s considered a good score versus a poor one? Here are some general parameters:

  • Perfect credit score: 850
  • Excellent score: 760-849
  • Good credit score: 700 to 759
  • Fair score: 650 to 699
  • Low score: 649 and below

While the score required varies by area and type of loan, lenders will generally look for a score of 660 or higher before they will grant a mortgage. If you’re hoping to boost your credit score fast, here are some actions you can take.

Correct errors on your credit report

Correcting errors on your credit report is a relatively quick way to improve your credit score. If it’s a simple identity error—like a credit card that’s not yours showing up—you can get that corrected within one to two months. If it’s an error on one of your accounts, though, it could take longer, because you need to involve your creditor as well as the credit bureau.

The entire process typically takes 30 to 90 days. If there’s a lot of back-and-forth between you, the credit bureau, and your creditor, it could take longer.

The first step to correcting errors is to get a copy of your free credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian (the three major credit bureaus). You can do this at no cost once a year at

Next, review your credit report for errors. If it’s an error on one of your accounts, you must refute that error with the bureau by providing documentation arguing otherwise. For example, if you paid a credit card on time and the card issuer is reporting a late payment, find a bank statement showing that you paid on time.

Credit bureaus typically have 30 days to investigate the error. If they agree that it’s an error, they will remove the item. The credit bureau may also ask for additional information or ask you to discuss the information with the creditor involved. If that’s the case, stay on top of communications with your creditor so you can get things resolved as quickly as possible.

Build a credit history if needed

A low credit score doesn’t always mean you have bad credit. It can just mean you have thin credit. In other words, you haven’t demonstrated enough creditworthiness to potential lenders, at least that they can see on your credit report.

If that’s the case, you may need to open a credit account, such as a credit card, and make payments on it regularly. Try to get a card with no annual fee, if possible. Don’t overspend, or use this as an excuse to take out loans you don’t need.

You could get a secured credit card, for example, and pay for gas and other regular expenses with it. To avoid paying high interest charges or building credit card debt, track your balance throughout the month and pay the balance off every month.

Deal with delinquent accounts

If you have bad credit, bringing delinquent accounts current and settling accounts that are in collections can also boost your score fairly quickly. Once the creditor or collection agency reports your account update, you should see a positive bump in your score.

Keep in mind, though, that your late payment history will remain on your credit report for seven years. If you have bad accounts that have been on your report for six years or more, you may not want to worry about settling them or bringing them up to date. This can re-age the account, and if you fall behind again, it will stay on your credit report for another seven years.

“Make sure you don’t re-age these accounts, because they’re going to drop off soon,” says Nathan Danus, CDMP and director of housing and community development at DebtHelper in West Palm Beach, FL. Negative information typically “falls off” your credit report after seven years, so if you’re close, it’s best to just wait it out.

Lower your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio refers to how much you owe compared with the amount of available credit you have. For example, if you have a $10,000 credit limit across all your credit cards and you have balances totaling $9,000, you’ve utilized 90% of your credit. This drags down your score.

“What these consumers often need to do is pay down the balances on their existing credit accounts, which can be a challenge if they’ve allowed the balances to creep up over time,” says Martin H. Lynch, compliance manager and director of education at Cambridge Credit Counseling of Agawam, MA.

“The ratio of what’s owed to the amount of credit available represents 30% of the consumer’s score, so rapid improvement is possible if there’s a large amount of money available to pay down balances.”

Linda L. Jacob, a financial counselor at Consumer Credit of Des Moines, IA, recommends paying down balances to below one-third of your credit line. Any payments you make will be reflected on your credit report as soon as your creditors report your payment to the credit bureaus.

Scores are updated on an ongoing basis, and creditors typically report once per month, so if you make a payment that lowers your credit utilization, that should be reflected on your score within two months.

If you’re regularly using your credit card but you want to keep your utilization low so you can apply for a mortgage, you may want to pay down your credit card balance on a weekly or biweekly basis. This ensures that your balance is as low as possible whenever your creditor reports your payment history to the credit bureaus.

You can also decrease your card utilization by getting more credit, but this approach can backfire. Consumers sometimes assume that by getting new credit, their score will improve. If you have a $3,000 balance on a card with a $4,000 credit limit and you’re approved for a new credit card with a $1,000 limit, you now have $5,000 in total credit lines. Instead of using 75% of your available credit, you’re now using 60%. That’s better, right? Not necessarily.

“Just applying for credit lowers your credit score, and that effect lasts for months,” warns Mike Sullivan, personal finance consultant at Take Charge America in Phoenix. “For the first few months after you apply for credit, your credit score may actually go down.”

You can try getting around this by asking a credit limit increase on a card you already have, instead of opening new credit. Be sure to ask whether they do a “soft” credit pull rather than a “hard” credit pull for a credit limit increase, though, since hard credit inquiries are the ones that affect your credit history.

A creditor may be willing to give you a credit line increase with a “soft” pull, which will not hurt your score. Soft inquiries are for background purposes only.

For example, a credit card company may do a soft pull to see if you’re eligible for certain credit card offers, or an employer may do a soft pull before offering you a job.

Soft pulls can be done without your permission and do not affect your score. Hard pulls require your permission, and are done when lenders or credit card companies are assessing whether to grant you a loan or line of credit.

How long does it take to improve credit score, plus how to raise it for the long haul

Short-term damage control consists of correcting errors, settling your delinquent accounts, and optimizing your credit utilization to make your credit report look better. Contrary to what some credit repair places promise, you can’t delete genuine negative information from your credit history.

The only other things that will improve your long-term score are time and building up a perfect or nearly perfect payment history, starting now.

For example, if you tend to forget to make payments on credit card debt, you can set up automatic payments. You can set up payments to cover the entire amount, or a minimum amount every month. You can always pay the remaining balance when you get the statement.

You should also check your credit report on a regular basis, so you can fix any errors that occur; for example through identity theft. You’ll also see how your efforts are paying off.

You generally don’t need to pay for a credit report. You can get a free credit report once a year. You may also be able to check your credit report or even see your FICO score for free through your credit union, card issuer, or other financial institution.

And here’s some good news for people with bad credit: Generally, people with the lowest scores will see the biggest gains the fastest.

“It’s a lot like dieting,” says Sullivan. For instance, if your score is 550, “you could probably get it up 30 points in a matter of a couple months, if you’re really dedicated and really careful,” he explains.

On the other hand: “If your credit score is already a 750 and you’re trying to get it to 780, that can take double or more the time.” Still, it’s worth doing whatever you can to improve your credit history and make sure you qualify for the best interest rate possible.


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For many, buying a historic home is a dream. If you’ve ever gazed wistfully at a listing for a neglected Victorian manse or eagerly searched for midcentury modern homes in your area, you understand the appeal of owning a home with a fascinating history.

But actually buying and owning a historic home is a real commitment—one that can come with a great deal of expense, as well as some surprising pitfalls.

Want To Buy a Historic Home? Know the Benefits and Risks

What makes a home historic?

Generally, a house is considered historically significant if it is a prime example of a certain style, or something of great interest happened there. (Perhaps it was a stop on the Underground Railroad or the childhood home of an important cultural or political figure.)

The National Register of Historic Places is the official database of properties—including homes—that are worthy of preservation in the U.S. To be formally classified as a historic home, the property needs to be at least 50 years old and meet one of four criteria:

  • The home is associated with a significant historical event.
  • The home is associated with a significant historical figure.
  • The home embodies a distinctive type, period, or method of construction associated with a master (e.g., Frank Lloyd Wright).
  • The home has provided, or is likely to provide, historical information.

What are the benefits of buying a historic home?

“Owning a piece of history is probably the top benefit of buying a historic home,” says Nicholas McMillan, a real estate broker and the owner of Hire Realty in Pleasantville, NY. “The unique experience of owning a historic property can connect history, art, and architectural enthusiasts with their locality and the past.”

There can also be a monetary benefit to buying a historic home.

“The value gains of many well-maintained residences in well-kept historic districts have far outpaced those of their more contemporary competitors. A number of things, such as the popularity of a historic neighborhood or rising property values, can contribute to this discrepancy,” McMillan says.

And then there’s the chance that you’ll qualify for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s tax credit program, which provides tax credits to homeowners who rehab historic buildings.

Challenges of buying a historic home

Owning a historic home can be emotionally rewarding, but its financial toll shouldn’t be underestimated.

First of all, payment upfront can be more complicated.

“It can be difficult to secure traditional financing for a historic home due to the unique nature of the property and the often unknown condition of key components such as the foundation, roof, wiring, and plumbing,” says Jennifer Spinelli, founder and CEO of Niche Home Buyer in Salt Lake City.

Affording costly updates can also be a challenge for buyers of historic homes. Updating an old home’s insulation, for example, is often a hefty project.

“Historically, houses were built to breathe so moisture would not create mold or rot in the structure,” says Leslie Saul, an architect with Leslie Saul & Associates in Cambridge, MA. “Now, we try to create insulated envelopes that keep out heat and cold air. I recommend consulting a building specialist when making decisions about how to insulate a historic home.”

Updating heating and cooling systems is essential.

“Many of these homes were built without central systems,” Saul says. “Making new systems invisible within historic buildings may seem impossible, but it’s worth the effort to figure out the best way to do it.”

Additionally, historic homes are often located in districts with special zoning regulations that can restrict or prohibit certain types of alterations or additions in an effort to preserve the structure’s historical integrity.

These restrictions typically apply to the home’s exterior and often include rules about changing the home’s windows, paint color, or roof. This oversight may add months or years to the renovation process and may require you to apply for additional permits.

Under federal law, a property on the National Register has no restriction on how an owner modifies the home, unless the home is receiving federal assistance. However, local preservation laws may apply, and homeowners will need to consult their State Historic Preservation Office before undergoing any modifications.

Renovating a historic home does have its upsides, though. You may be able to cover repairs and renovations of a historic home with grants or loans.

“Check the State Historic Preservation Office after looking at general grants for first-time homebuyers,” McMillan advises. “They can aid a homeowner in finding state-specific funding for historic home renovations.”

Tips for buying a historic home

If you’re interested in buying a historic home, be realistic.

“Before you start your search, it’s important to have a concrete idea of what kind of maintenance and repairs a historic home may need. Budget for potential updates that’ll bring the home up to modern standards, as well as ongoing costs like painting and landscaping,” says Spinelli.

You should also consult with your local historic preservation organization or historic architecture experts in your area to learn more about how to care for and protect your new home.

Once you find a house you like, hire an inspector who specializes in older homes and get price estimates from contractors for all essential repair work. After you sign on the dotted line, Saul recommends hiring an architect with experience working with historic homes.

“There is so much to learn about your historic structure, including how it was used in the past,” Saul says.


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The home inspection can be a particularly stressful part of the homebuying process for buyers, but the equally anxious seller might be waiting with bated breath for the results as well. The buyer is typically responsible for scheduling and paying for the home inspection, but if the house is revealed to have major issues, the seller can be on the hook for repairs—or could lose the deal entirely.

“When selling a home, one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the process is waiting to see the outcome of the home inspection,” says Mallory Micetich, home care expert at Angi.

Home inspection issues like termite or mold damage can mean the seller will have to shell out money, credits, or concessions to make things right with the buyer. If the buyer is truly turned off by the home inspection results (and has a home inspection contingency), they can walk, aka a seller’s worst nightmare.

So why wait for a buyer to initiate a home inspection? If you’re preparing to sell your home, here’s how to identify any problems that can potentially stymy the sale.

How To Ace a Home Inspection and Sell Your Home Fast

Consider a pre-inspection

While it’s not required, a pre-inspection of your home could make the process of selling go quicker. You can disclose to buyers any problems your home inspector uncovered and how you’ve addressed them. You can also sidestep major negotiations during escrow.

“In many markets, it’s common for sellers to have a pre-listing general home inspection,” says Christine Dupont-Patz with Re/Max of Cherry Creek in Denver. “It gives sellers the ability to address any issue prior to listing, demonstrating to the potential buyers that the sellers are upfront and take care of their home.”

For sellers not keen on doing a pre-inspection, Dupont-Patz recommends, at the very least, having the major systems (i.e., HVAC, electric, plumbing) inspected. These are costly to replace, and inspecting them can “provide some peace of mind to potential buyers.”

Steps to ace a home inspection

Tidy up the home and leave

Before the inspector arrives, clean up any clutter.

“Although your inspector will be looking at more than just the cosmetic state of your home, it is never a bad idea to tidy up and clean your home ahead of time. This will show the inspector that, as a homeowner, you kept up with everyday maintenance,” says Micetich.

Once you’re done cleaning, it’s time to depart so the inspector can inspect your home.

“Let the professional do their job and stay out of the way, but be approachable should they need something,” says Donna Deaton, a real estate agent with Re/Max Victory + Affiliates in Liberty Township, OH.

Make the home accessible

“Make sure the inspector has easy access to every part of your home. If your attic access is in a closet or garage, clear any items that would impede access,” says Dupont-Patz.

The inspector can give you a rundown of all the access points they’ll need, but generally, they’ll need to get to the garage, roof, attic and/or basement, electrical service panel, and under the sinks.

Provide a handy list of improvements

You’ve likely made some repairs on your house, so make sure you let your inspector know that.

“If you have a list of any major improvements—when the roof or hot water heater was replaced, for example—this helps the inspector determine the age of the systems,” says Dupont-Patz.

That includes permits, too.

“Before a home inspection, it is a good idea to get together any proof of upgrades, especially if you did any work that needed permits or waivers,” says Micetich.

Get your paperwork together

Providing your inspector with warranties and other related paperwork can save time.

“Pull paperwork that shows any warranties on appliances, windows, gutters, or your roof, along with any recent services you’ve had done,” says Greg Crouse, product marketing manager at Leaf Home.

Having a binder with all of your paperwork can keep you organized and ready to go.

“It is also smart to gather any information, including receipts with the date of purchase for items like appliances, HVAC, water heater, and other essential systems,” says Micetich.

Do a thorough check inside and out

If you don’t have the time or budget to hire an inspector to check out your home before the official inspection, grab your clipboard, download a home inspection checklist, and survey your home yourself.

The more prepared you are, the better—and the more likely things will get handled early to speed you through the sale.


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