RE/MAX 440
David J Feinberg

David J Feinberg
4789 Route 309  Center Valley  PA 18034
Phone:  610-509-4358
Office:  610-791-4400
Fax:  610-791-9575

My Blog

Do's and Don'ts for Bringing the Next Generation into the Family Business

October 28, 2013 3:27 am

We often tell families that there is no "one size fits all" formula for transitioning a family business from one generation to the next. There are multiple variables in every family and business that impact how to best address the process in a given situation, making it challenging to offer tools like checklists to help with preparations. Yet, while each situation is unique, there are some experiences most businesses will face for which there is some common wisdom. One such situation is the experience of getting the next generation of family employees started professionally in the business.

Anyone who has ever begun a new job can attest that early accomplishments often play a significant role in one's long-term success. Of course, there are no guarantees for success, but a family member who starts his or her career in the business with strong objective success or as a clear contributor on a team will be more valuable to the company and likely have continued success than a family member who does not. With that in mind, here's that checklist I mentioned earlier; a list of "Do's and Don'ts" for onboarding new family employees in a family enterprise:

Do...

• Plan ahead. The most important preparations happen years before the new family employee actually joins the family business, ideally when they go to work at another company. The self-confidence, credibility and learning of outside best practices that come from working elsewhere have immeasurable value for the new family employee once they join their family's enterprise. Outside experience gives the new family hire instant credibility with other employees - credibility that can otherwise take years to develop, as some non-family team members may assume successes the family employee has at the business are thanks to their family connection. Even more important, however, is the self-confidence that is developed when a family member knows without a shadow of a doubt that he or she can succeed in the outside world, too.

• Start the new family employee at an appropriate level. If you start them at a level that's well above their skills and experience, then you risk overwhelming them and sending a signal to the rest of the organization that they will be given unfair advantages. If you start them at a level that's too low-because you started at the bottom and they should, too - even if they come with years of outside experience - then you risk putting them in a boring work situation or causing them a lot of frustration that could lead them to leave. Of course, many families believe it is important that their family employees experience all aspects of their business (tiresome jobs included), and that approach has great merit; the only caveat is you may not want to have a college-educated and well-experienced manager bagging groceries for more than a few weeks.

• Have the new family employee report to a long-standing employee and well-regarded non-family member. It's not always possible, but there are great advantages to having the new family employee report to someone who is not also a family member. Most importantly, this kind of reporting relationship will increase the chances that the new family employee will receive accurate performance feedback.

• At a minimum, provide the new family employee with the same performance feedback process as all other comparable employees. If all employees receive an annual formal performance review with informal "check ins" quarterly, then that's what the new family employee should receive as well. As it can be challenging for a mid-level manager to provide objective feedback to a member of the owning family, it can sometimes be helpful to develop some support from the HR department or other senior leaders in the business for this process. In addition, there may be a desire to take a more proactive role in the professional development opportunities for family employees if they have the ambition and potential to eventually move into more senior roles in the business.

• Communicate. Too often, the new family employee or the incumbent feels frustrated, angry, confused or even delighted about a particular situation... and they keep that feeling to themselves. It's important for all key parties to check in with each other frequently and informally, simply to keep the lines of communication open. Establish a tradition of a weekly breakfast or monthly lunch to ensure communication stays strong. Family members may have many qualities, but mind-reading isn't one of them!

Don't...

• Create a job for the new family employee. This is really an extension of the second bullet point above. Just as it's important to bring the new family employee into the organization at an appropriate level, it's equally important that a job is not created for them. If the position is not genuine, then others in the company will know that... and they will likely resent the new family employee as a result. In addition, it can be difficult to objectively assess the performance and development of the family employee if they are not in a role or job that has to be done, that provides some accountability.

• Put all the responsibility for the career entry and development of the new family hires on just one generation. Onboarding a new family employee in a family enterprise is a complicated and sometimes difficult process that is too big for any one person. It's not the new family employee's sole responsibility to make it happen; nor is it the sole responsibility of the incumbent. Successful onboarding is a responsibility that is shared by both generations.

If you keep the above items in mind while planning for the transition of your family's business, you will take an important step toward increasing the likelihood that your family business will continue long into the future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Selling Your Place? Tips for Negotiating

October 25, 2013 3:24 am

A blog at helpinghomesellers.com, has good advice for sellers who want to respond to low-ball offers. The site suggests instead of getting into a debate about money, try sweetening the pot with a variety of counter-offers, including:

• Paying for some of the buyers’ title insurance, closing costs and/or points.
• Pay homeowner’s association fees for a year.
• Look into buying down the buyers’ mortgage rate for the first year.
• Cover a year's cost for a lawn-maintenance/snow removal service.
• Pay or provide an allowance toward moving expenses.
• Provide the buyers with a home warranty.
• Pay for the lawn and pool services for a year.
• Offer a golf club membership, pool membership, or cable subscription.
• Offer an allowance to repaint, new carpeting or for window treatments.

Incentives, especially for first time homebuyers, can often do the trick, the site states.

Investopedia.com says even in declining markets it is extremely important to be cognizant of comparable properties, and to price one's home to entice potential buyers to view it and ultimately bid on it.

That site says sellers should reject the temptation to hold out for top dollar, or to price the home at the upper end of what the market will bear. To get a sense of what similar homes are selling for, Investopedia.com recommends:

• Attending open houses
• Perusing the newspaper for local listings
• Ask a real estate agent to print up comparable listings on the multiple listing service (MLS)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fixed Mortgage Rates Drop to Four-Month Low

October 25, 2013 3:24 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates hitting their lowest levels since this summer amid market speculation that the Federal Reserve will not alter its bond buying purchases this year.

Findings

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.13 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending October 24, 2013, down from last week when it averaged 4.28 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.41 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.24 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.33 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.72 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.00 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.07 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.60 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.59 percent.

"Mortgage rates slid this week as the partial government shutdown led to market speculation that the Federal Reserve will not alter its bond purchases this year. The weak employment report for September added to this expectation,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “The economy added just 148,000 jobs, which was below the market consensus forecast and less than the 193,000 jobs increase in August."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are Dads The New Mom?

October 25, 2013 3:24 am

Who wears the pants in the family when it comes to household purchasing decisions – mom or dad?

According to a September 2013 survey by Child's Play Communications, titled Are Dads the New Black, mom remains by far the No. 1 decision maker when buying for home and family. Dads are making inroads, but not to the degree many now assume. And mom's evaluation of dad's contribution often differs dramatically from his own.

Conducted with The NPD group, an independent market research company, the Child's Play survey queried nearly 2,500 moms and dads – approximately 1,250 couples – across the U.S., asking for each one's view of dad's decision-making role in 20 different product categories. The survey looked at where dads were "entirely" responsible for a product category, then "primarily" responsible and lastly, where they "shared responsibility equally" with their spouses.

"Based on our immersion in the world of moms, it seemed that some of the claims about dad's involvement in household purchasing decisions were overstated," said Child's Play Communications president, Stephanie Azzarone. "Our goal in launching the survey was to separate perception from reality."

Some highlights:

• Moms remain the major household purchasing decision maker in about 80 percent of families.

• Moms are responsible for the majority of those decisions--about two thirds. This is notable because it contrasts with the long-held belief that moms are responsible for about 80 percent of household purchasing decisions—an indication that dads are getting more involved.

• Dads continue to dominate decision making in what might be considered traditionally "male" categories. 55.3 percent of moms and 62.2 percent of dads said that dad was entirely responsible for buying decisions related to Home Repair, and 50 percent of moms and 57.0 percent of dads said dad had sole responsibility for Lawn & Garden. Meanwhile, roughly a third or more said dads handle all decision making for Automobiles (38.4 percent of moms, 48.6 percent of dads) and Technology (31.8 percent of moms, 35.1 percent of dads). The percentages remained similar when families were asked what dads were "primarily" vs. "entirely" responsible for.

• Moms, however, dominated purchasing decisions for children's products. In fact, dad's role here was noticeably minimal. Moms said that only 1.1 percent of dads were entirely responsible for buying children's toys and clothes and dads were in close agreement, claiming sole responsibility for 2.2 percent of toy purchases and 1.2 percent of children's clothes.

• The balance improved when families were asked where they shared responsibility equally. The four categories that ranked significantly higher than others among both moms and dads were Home Furnishings (51.0 percent of moms and 46.0 percent of dads said decision making here was shared equally), Family Travel (51.0 percent and 46.6 percent), Family Entertainment (43.2 percent and 43.1 percent) and Appliances (41.4 percent and 36.2 percent).

Source: Child’s Play Communications

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Halloween Can Be Scary, Particularly for Pets

October 24, 2013 3:24 am

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns people to keep pets safe this Halloween, a holiday that can be truly frightening—and a little hazardous—for pets.

"While Halloween is a lot of fun for kids, pets can be alarmed by the new activity and strange costumes. Many dogs feel they are the guardians of their homes, and they can feel threatened if a stranger comes into their area," explains Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the AVMA. "If your pet is apprehensive in these situations, you need to be sensitive to that and make preparations before Halloween to keep your dog or cat from becoming confused and fleeing your home or perhaps even biting somebody."

The AVMA has produced an informative video posted on the AVMA YouTube channel offering tips on celebrating Halloween safely with pets.
"Nothing will ruin your Halloween fun like an emergency trip to the hospital, or to the animal hospital, because one of your animals got into the candy bowl or got scared enough to scratch or bite," Dr. Fobian says. "Consider putting your pet into a place where it will feel safe. This could be inside a crate with a favorite toy or pet treat or inside a room with the door closed. If you're dog or cat is prone to becoming extremely stressed, work with your local veterinarian to find solutions. It might even be advisable to board an animal to remove them from the situation."

Here are some other tips to help keep your pet happy and healthy this Halloween:

• The cocoa in chocolate can be poisonous to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the more deadly it can be. In addition, small dogs are more likely to be affected by ingesting a small amount of chocolate than larger dogs.

• Chocolate candies aren't the only sweets that are potentially dangerous. Some pets will consume a candy whole, including the candy wrapper, which can cause an intestinal blockage. Also, Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many chewing gums and baked goods, has been shown to be poisonous to dogs. In addition, raisins, a common healthy treat for kids on Halloween, can be poisonous to dogs and cats.

• If you fear your pet has ingested candy or any other potentially dangerous foods, contact your veterinarian or your local emergency pet hospital immediately. A quick response could save your pet's life.

• If you want to put a Halloween costume on your pet, make sure that the costume doesn't obstruct the animal's vision, breathing or movement. Also, it may be a good idea to introduce your pet to the costume a few days or weeks before Halloween, so it won't startle them on such a busy, unusual day. Never leave your pet alone while it is wearing a costume.

• Halloween decorations, like candles or jack-o'-lanterns, and pets don't go together. Your pet could knock something over and possibly start a fire or suffer burns. Make sure they're placed where pets can't access them.

• Make sure that every day—but particularly on Halloween—your pet has proper identification. With the front door opening and closing to allow neighborhood children to say "trick or treat," it's possible a pet could panic and run out into the night while you're busy handing out candy. Proper identification, particularly microchip identification with up-to-date registered information, will make it much more likely that you'll be reunited with your pet.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Boomers Much Less Likely to Shop on Cyber Monday

October 24, 2013 3:24 am

FatWallet.com announced results from its 2013 Cyber Monday Shopping Survey by TNS Global. Of the 1,000 surveyed online, 48 percent said they will shop this Cyber Monday, 60 percent under age 40 and less than 40 percent age 50 or over. More than half of those that plan to shop this Cyber Monday said they will spend more this year (52 percent, up from 33 percent from a year ago), and 44 percent said they would spend more than $200. When it comes to which way they will look to find savings, 78 percent said deals (products on sale), 55 percent store-wide discounts, 76 percent want free shipping and 30 percent will seek cash back. Ways they will shop for Cyber Monday deals:

• 91 percent will use online retailers
• 29 percent will use online coupon sites
• 23 percent will use Emails
• 18 percent will use online cash back sites
• 13 percent will use mobile devices
• 9 percent will use social media

"The majority of younger adults are more digitally connected then Boomers are, using emerging online marketing channels like mobile and social media to shop," states Ryan Washatka, FatWallet president. "Cyber Monday offers the perfect storm for these shoppers and the record spending we've seen the last couple of years supports this."

Items they will be shopping for the most on Cyber Monday:

• 54 percent for holiday gifts
• 34 percent for gadgets
• 34 percent for clothing
• 32 percent for books, movies or music
• 25 percent for toys
• 21 percent for tablets/Smartphones
• 19 percent for laptops
• 16 percent for TVs

When asked what time they will shop for Cyber Monday deals, 33 percent will start on Pre-Cyber Monday (Sunday), 69 percent on Cyber Monday (a.m.) and 19 percent during Cyber Week (Tuesday through Friday following Cyber Monday).

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Deciding When to Replace a Front Door

October 24, 2013 3:24 am

Homeowners looking to save on rising energy bills can start right at the front door. That's the advice of experts at Therma-Tru Corp. who suggest evaluating your main entry door at least once a year to determine the status of the door's operational capabilities and energy efficiency features.

"Every component of a home needs to be replaced at some point over time," says Derek Fielding, director of product management for Therma-Tru Corp. "Most homeowners can get years of service out of their front door, but there will come a time when a door needs to be replaced. That's why it's important to annually evaluate and maintain your main entryway."

According to Fielding, there are several easy ways homeowners can determine when it's time to consider a front door replacement.

Tip #1 - Open and close your doors on both dry and wet, humid days. Make sure all the components operate smoothly. If your door doesn't close securely, or fits tightly on humid days, then it’s most likely leaking air on dry days, causing the home to lose energy.

Tip #2 - Inspect the weather stripping around all sides of the front door to make sure it has not worn out. On a bright day, stand inside near your door and look for daylight flowing through the door perimeter. If light is coming in, then so most likely, is external air and possibly moisture. That means it’s time to determine if your foam-filled weather stripping may have lost some of its compression, cracked or simply worn out.

Tip #3 - Examine your locks to make sure they operate smoothly and are strong enough to help protect your home. Multi-point locking systems offer exceptional peace-of-mind and security for the home.

Tip #4 - Reach out and touch your door on both hot and cold days. If you feel the exterior temperatures on the inside surface, then your door may not have adequate insulation. In this situation, consider upgrading the door with a replacement that is more energy efficient and has an ENERGY STAR® qualified rating for your geographic area. Order a multi-point locking system on your next door for a tighter fit against the weather stripping, which can help provide even greater energy savings.

Tip #5 - Look at the appearance of your door. If you have a wood door, it may be warping or rotting after years of service. A steel door can get dinged and rust over time. And, it's possible that the style of the door simply doesn't match up with the design of your home. These are all red flags that it's time to replace your front door.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Taxpayers Should Act Now to Take Advantage of IRS Changes

October 23, 2013 3:24 am

Unlike last year, tax planning for 2013 is not hampered by uncertainties over a looming fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, there is always some uncertainty and a few expiring provisions to warrant special attention by taxpayers.

Managing income taxes at year end involves techniques designed to address three issues:

• Accelerating or deferring income: If a taxpayer expects to be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year, it's best to defer as much income as possible until after the year-end.
• Accelerating or deferring deductions: If a taxpayer's overall tax rate is the same in both years, accelerating deductions achieves tax savings this year rather than waiting for those tax savings to materialize next year.
• Take advantage of tax provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2013: There are several temporary tax provisions that can only be used this year.

Tax planning begins by projecting income and deductions for the year to determine your tax bracket and income thresholds that trigger higher and/or additional taxes, or limits the effectiveness of deductions. One of the impacts of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA12) is the reintroduction of the Pease limitation, which can greatly limit itemized deductions. Once a taxpayer knows what his or her income taxes will look like, it’s time to evaluate which techniques will help the most.

Strategies to accelerate or defer income:
• Adjust your elective deferral plans at work: Taxpayers who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, or in the Thrift Savings Plan can defer up to $17,500 this year. Taxpayers age 50 and older can defer up to $23,000.
• Harvest capital gains or losses: Long-term capital gains are taxed at 0 percent for taxpayers in the 15 percent bracket. Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains and reduce other income up to $3,000.
• Use the IRA: Taxpayers age 59 ½ and older can accelerate IRA distributions in 2013. Contributions may be deductible depending on your income level and whether you’re covered by a retirement plan through work. Taxpayers under age 59½ can convert traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs to accelerate income.
• Health-care assistance: People with health savings accounts – available with some high-deductible health insurance policies -- can save up to $3,250 tax-deferred for an individual and $6,450 for a family. Those who are 55 and older can save an additional $1,000. Flex spending contribution limits are capped at $2,500 this year.

Strategies to accelerate or defer deductions:

• Medical expenses: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises the income threshold this year to 10 percent of adjusted gross income for taxpayers under age 65. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for those 65 and older. Taxpayers may need to prepare or defer medical bills to lump expenses in a single year to get the deduction.
• Gifts to charities: Use a donor advised fund (DAF) to maximize the tax savings from charitable giving. A DAF makes gifting appreciated securities easier. The DAF can be funded in tax years when the deduction will have the most impact. Distribution to charities can be made at any time without tax consideration.
• Qualified Charitable Distribution: This year only, taxpayers age 70½ or older can choose to direct up to $100,000 of their IRA-required minimum distribution to charity. By doing so, the distribution does not show up as taxable income, which can lower taxation of Social Security benefits and help reduce other threshold levels to further minimize taxes.

ATRA12 extended—but did not make permanent—several tax incentives for individuals. Taxpayers should consider whether they can benefit from these incentives this year and plan accordingly. The following provisions are set to expire on Dec. 31 unless extended again:

• State and local sales taxes deduction. Taxpayer can choose between deducting state and local income taxes or the sales taxes they’ve paid through the year.
• Deduction for teacher expenses. Eligible educators can deduct up to $250 of any unreimbursed expenses.
• Deduction of mortgage insurance premiums. Payments of Private Mortgage Insurance premiums can be treated as deductible home mortgage interest in 2013.
• Discharge of principal residence indebtedness. This can be excluded from gross income this year.
• Qualified Charitable Distribution. Taxpayers can make tax-free charitable donations from their required IRA distributions.

2013 is certainly an exciting year for tax planning. Start now in order to minimize your tax bill in April.

Source: Rodgers & Associates

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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One Year after Hurricane Sandy: Data on Home Repair Projects & Installations

October 23, 2013 3:24 am

One year ago, the week of Halloween would be associated with something a bit more frightening, as a storm of epic proportion barreled toward the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Sandy would pummel into New York and New Jersey wreaking havoc and later becoming the second costliest hurricane in United States history.

Porch.com has assembled data to highlight the aftermath's effects on home repairs and insurance payouts a year after Sandy made landfall. With statistics on over 90 million home repair and improvement projects, data was collected on preventative and reactive measures that were enacted after Hurricane Sandy's landfall.

Following the storm, an estimated 651,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged – 340,000 in New Jersey and 305,000 in the greater New York City area - with 22,000 housing units completely uninhabitable.

Insurance claims skyrocketed with 501,447 claims paid out in the greater New York area and 328,946 claims paid out to New Jersey residents. Safety related projects were the most prevalent in the months immediately following Sandy in the New York and New Jersey metro areas with 49.9 percent of home repairs attributed to safety.

Todd Miller of QMA Design+Build LLC confirmed that "A lot of people were concerned about alarm systems – unfortunately the power goes out and the alarm system doesn't function. We have seen a number of people who have requested generators and that sort of thing. The new FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rules were pretty restrictive about what you can or can't do."

In what can be speculated as a potential fear of theft or looting, residents equipped their homes with emergency devices following the traumatic storm. Porch.com reported an increase of 55.6 percent alarm safety installs and an increase of 27.8 percent smoke detector installs. Following such a devastating event and with roughly 5 million residents without electrical power, Porch.com also studied the decline in home repair projects in the New York/New Jersey metro area between October and December 2012. The biggest declines in Exterior (18.4 percent) and Window repair (20.3 percent) were likely due to the complete devastation caused by the storm and residents anxiously waiting for insurance payouts. Miller said, "Now that FEMA has finalized their maps and certainty as to the direction that things are going in, we are seeing projects popping up now. If you didn't call your insurance company immediately after the storm, people were waiting months for adjusters."

As applications came rolling in for aid and assistance in home repair and recovery, $5.6 billion in aid was paid out to New Jersey storm victims with $415 million coming from FEMA grants designated to individuals with households. FEMA approved over $1 billion to New York City residents whose property was destroyed or damaged by Sandy with $855 million designated to help survivors with home repairs and temporary rental costs.

New governmental requirements have strengthened protection for residents and insurance providers. Flood maps have been updated for the first time since 1983 with 398,000 residents currently living in flood prone areas in the New York City area. By 2030, all buildings in New York with more than 7 stories and over 300,000 square feet are required to undertake flood protection measures. With New York City being the number one metropolitan city in the U.S. at risk from storm surge, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force launched "Rebuild By Design" to develop actionable projects that will make the Sandy-affected region more resilient.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting a Nursery? Tips, Trends and Ideas for Creating the Perfect Room

October 23, 2013 3:24 am

One of the most exciting design and decorating experiences a couple can have is preparing a room for a newborn. There is a wealth of great ideas and inspiration for designing and painting a nursery - for both DIYs and those hiring a professional painting contractor.

The first step is to decide if the nursery will have a theme or simply a mix of colors and details you like, points out Sara McLean, a color expert from a paint manufacturer. "Some current trends in nurseries include modern baby chic, vintage nostalgia, Bohemian, school themes such as science and tech, and fun twists on nature including beach and woodland themes," she says. "Or even opting for a traditional theme, like nautical, carousel or cowboy, you can add your own sense of playfulness, creativity or whimsy."

The color palette is the next step, thinking beyond just pink or blue. McLean says that the tradition of using blue in a boy's nursery has evolved into combinations of blue - particularly turquoise - with other colors such as red, green and orange. Pink for girls has evolved into fuchsia tones with elements of aquamarine, lilac, white and orange. In fact, aqua and orange have become popular choices for both boys and girls. There is a new boldness in the way colors are combined in the nursery - pink and purple with green or blue and yellow with green, for example. Striped ceilings can help stimulate the room and a touch or slight accent of black is trendy right now, to add a little sophistication.

Today's baby rooms include bold and brightly colored carpets, wall decals, maps, figurines and "monster dolls" that are so ugly, they're cute; owls and other woodland critters; and elephants. "Be sure to keep an open mind and eye out for items and styles that can make your nursery unique," adds McLean.

When decorating a nursery, it's important to use non-toxic products - from the paint to the rugs, to the furniture. Opt for biodegradable timber and certified formaldehyde-free furniture, and take special care with any antique baby furniture.

Source: www.dunnedwards.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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