Blog Category - Blog

Tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 13, 2017

For some people, changing colors in a room is like changing your hairstyle. It’s nice to try something different—and it’s easy enough to change back if you don’t like the result. For others, the prospect of switching is a scary proposition.

Painting a room is one of the most affordable ways to make a big change in your home. The only hard part can be the color choice. Looking at the array of paint chips in the store can be overwhelming. Before you head there, narrow down your choices.

Here are some tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home.

Look at your wardrobe. What colors do you like to wear? That’s a big clue to your color preferences. If you’re drawn to neutral colors, you’re comfortable with those soft shades, making this palette a smart choice for your interior walls. If your penchant for lime green or sunshine orange feels too daring for your walls, tone it down a bit.

Inspect your photos, artwork, and other accents. What colors prevail? You chose these decorative pieces for the message they communicate, but was color a factor as well?

Pull the paint color from a print. You might have a favorite pillow, upholstered chair, or even table linens. Zoom in on the shades that might work well on your wall. Take the fabric to the paint store and ask them to match it.

Use a color wheel. See how colors relate to each other. A color wheel gives insight into the hues that work harmoniously together. You might like a monochromatic color scheme, with variations of a particular color (lightness and saturation). A complementary color scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, usually a warm and a cool one (yellow and blue, for example). An analogous color scheme combines colors that are next to each other, like blue and green, or orange and red, and varying shades of those colors. There are several other options for color schemes, but this will get you started. Once you choose the color scheme, you build your palette of specific colors.

Check out color trends. Home décor colors are like fashion. They change with the seasons and the years. Greenery was the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year. The foliage-inspired shade is like a springtime refresh. Home décor watchers are expecting 2018 interior color palettes to move from pastels to more intense hues. With palettes named “Far-fetched”, ”Resourceful”, and “Resourceful”, you might find one to suit your taste.

Think holistically. Your house is a sum of its parts, which includes your wall colors. Make sure you have smooth flow from room to room. This is where organizing a whole-house color palette will help.

Donate to Toys for Tots with Tuskes Homes!

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 12, 2017

We are collecting gifts on behalf of Toys for Tots of the Lehigh Valley now through Monday, November 27th at our model homes! To donate, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to any one of our model homes at the following communities:

  • Hanover Oaks: 6877 Gwenmawr Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017
  • Maple Shade: 3796 Bethman Road, Easton, PA 18045
  • Saratoga Farms: 4314 Belmont Drive, Lower Nazareth, PA 18020
  • Sand Springs: 14 Reserve Drive, Drums, PA 18222

All toys will be donated locally to Toys for Tots in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. This is a great way to give back to the communities in which we build our homes. We are proud to have partnered with Toys for Tots for nearly 20 years, because We Live Here Too!

The Toys for Tots Foundation is a program by the U.S. Marine Reserve Corps. Its mission is to help less fortunate children throughout the country experience the joy of Christmas, and to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources: our children. The program seeks to unite all members of local communities in a common cause during the holiday season through their annual toy collection and distribution campaign, and to contribute to better communities in the future.

Thank you for considering donating! We hope to see you soon!

Which is the best smart home assistant?

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 30, 2017

If your name is Alexa and you’re an actual person, you’re probably getting asked a lot more questions these days. ”Alexa, what time is it?” “Alexa, when is the next full moon?” “Alexa, how far is it to the nearest coffee shop?”

And you can thank Amazon for this annoyance.

Amazon launched the Echo in 2015 in the U.S. This cylindrical speaker connects to a voice-activated, computer-generated, smart home assistant named Alexa. Alexa is capable of answering questions (when properly phrased), playing music, acting as a timer or alarm clock, requesting an Uber ride, checking your calendar, making lists, reading audiobooks aloud, and reciting the news and weather updates. Of course, Alexa can also place your Amazon orders, too.

Yes, Alexa is smart, but is she the best smart home assistant for you?

Google Home emerged soon after Echo, and at a lower price point, while offering the same type of assistance. The Echo Dot, a hockey-puck-sized version of the larger Echo, gives you a very affordable entry into the smart home assistant experience.

If you want the most accurate “intelligence”, Google Home appears to have a slight edge. Digital agency Stone Temple quizzed both devices. Google Home was able to answer 3,383 questions, while Alexa was only able to answer 1,030. Of those responses, Google Home was correct 89.5% of the time, and Alexa achieved 86.9% accuracy. Alexa relies primarily on Wikipedia for information, while Google reaches a wider range of third-party sources, like Google Maps for checking traffic conditions.

Google Home can also remember your last question. So, if you ask, “Who won the last Super Bowl?” and followed up with “What was the score?”, you’d get both answers. With Alexa, your second question would have to be, “What was the score of the last Super Bowl?”

Amazon Echo, however, currently has the edge on managing your smart home devices, like your thermostat, lighting, security, home entertainment, and appliances, but Google Home is gaining ground. Compare the Alexa-enabled smart home devices with Google Home’s list of supported devices and partners.

Google Home will also connect your videos, photos, and television, via Chromecast. You can even tell it to skip ahead 30 seconds on a video, and show photos of a selected person, location or time period. Alexa isn’t quite as savvy.

Both Google Home and Echo offer hands-free calling. Tell them to call a contact from your list or ask your smart home assistant to find a phone number.

Apple is finally responding to the demand for the smart home assistant. The Apple HomePod is scheduled to launch before the end of the year. It promises to have superior audio, but like all Apple products, will also emerge in limited quantities and at a higher price than Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Home energy efficiency ratings, explained.

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 15, 2017

Energy efficiency is one of the top priorities for homeowners. No one wants to waste energy (or money) on a home, appliances, or systems when there are ways to avoid it.

You’ve probably seen many of the ratings systems and codes tossed around, but do you know what they mean? Here’s a quick guide to the most common energy efficiency ratings and how to interpret the scores.

HERS. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) measures the energy efficiency of a home and assigns a performance score. This rating is based on the efficiency of a standard new home. A home that was built according to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code receives a HERS score of 100.

The survey, which must be conducted by a certified HERS professional, examines your home’s construction and systems:

  • Ceilings and roofs
  • Exterior walls, both above and below grade
  • Attics, foundations, and crawl spaces
  • Garage and basement floors (over unconditioned spaces)
  • Windows, doors, vents, and ductwork
  • HVAC, water heating system, and thermostats

A score of 70 indicates that your home is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home. U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an average resale home has a score of 130, meaning a home that is 30% less efficient than the standard.

The program was developed by RESNET (The Residential Energy Services Network), which created the training and certification standards for HERS Raters and Home Energy Survey Professionals. Look for a RESNET qualified home energy professional to conduct a HERS survey.

What this means to you: The lower the HERS score, the greater your energy savings. A score of 80 or below might qualify you for an energy-efficient mortgage and increase your home’s resale value.

ENERGY STAR. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed this program in 1992 to assess the energy efficiency of products, systems, and even buildings. ENERGY STAR certification can be awarded to anything from a major appliance to a light bulb, from your central air conditioning system to a ceiling fan. Even those strings of holiday lights are measured for energy efficiency. Your home’s electronics account for 21% of your annual energy usage, so all those televisions, external power adapters, printers, and small appliances account for a significant amount of the overall expense. Compare that to your major appliances, which constitute about 12% of the annual usage.

ENERGY STAR certification is awarded after a third-party organization tests and verifies that the product or home meets the stringent requirements of the program. An ENERGY STAR-rated home is evaluted with a HERS index, as well as other criteria.

What this means to you: The average annual energy cost for a single-family home is estimated at $2,060. By investing in ENERGY STAR products and systems, you can lower your cost and contribute to preserving our natural resources.

SEER. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to identify the efficiency and operating costs of air conditioners. SEER is a measurement of the total cooling output (measured in BTUs) divided by the total energy used for that output—similar to the MPG rating for a car. A higher SEER rating indicates a more efficient air conditioner.

In 1992, a SEER 10 was the standard, but that rating was increased to 13 in 2006. A central air conditioning system was required to have a minimum 14.5 to qualify for ENERGY STAR.

What this means to you: The higher the SEER, the greater the energy efficiency. A higher SEER will cost more to purchase, but can save you up to 40% in cooling costs.

Tuskes Homes Joins Fig Magazine to Celebrate the Lehigh Valley’s MAKERS

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 8, 2017


Tuskes Homes joined Fig Magazine on Thursday night to celebrate the launch of their Fall 2017 issue, the MAKERS issue. Hosted by Lehigh University Art Galleries, the launch party featured a preview of the community’s latest art exhibit and celebrated the Lehigh Valley’s most innovative artists, creators, and makers—including Tuskes Homes’ own residential architect, Marci Werley.

“It was wonderful to meet with such an incredible group of individuals,” said Marci of participating in the Fig MAKERS edition. “The creativity and innovation that they are bringing to Bethlehem is what makes this such an exciting time to be building homes in the area.”

As lead architect, Marci designs the beautifully handcrafted, custom homes for which Tuskes Homes is known. A Lehigh Valley resident herself, Marci envisions home designs that combine the region’s preference for classic styles with the modern conveniences local residents love. She meets with homeowners to discuss their plans, and devises a floor plan that suits their needs and brings to life the dream home that they’ve worked so hard for.

Joining Marci in the MAKERS issue are local chefs, artists, jewelers, distillers, glassblowers, woodworkers, luthiers, designers, and more. One common theme among these local cultural icons: their commitment to cultivating a sense of community in Bethlehem.

“A sense of community is so important to us as home builders, but also as people who live here,” Marci said. “The Tuskes team lives here too, we have families here, and there is nothing more important to us than building our homes in a strong and growing area like Bethlehem.”

For more information about local home design trends or to inquire about building your dream home, contact Martha at 484-626-1616 or visit

Want to keep up with the local events and happenings in Bethlehem? Follow Tuskes Homes and Fig Bethlehem on your favorite social channel!




Save Your Energy! 4 Simple Tips for Energy-Efficiency at Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 5, 2017

Conserving energy at home does more than just protect the planet—it can also save you money. The costs of using excess electricity, water, and fuel add up over time, and decreasing your usage is often as easy as flipping a switch or turning a dial. Try a few of these easy ways to cut down on energy usage at home. Your wallet (and Mother Nature) will thank you!

Do laundry less often. Wait until you’ve accumulated a full load of laundry before running your machine. Running full loads rather than smaller ones means that more clothes are being washed with less water—plus, you won’t need to do laundry as frequently! In addition, wash clothes with cold water whenever possible. According to, only 10% of the energy your washer uses goes toward running the machine; the other 90% is used merely to heat the water.

Unplug unused chargers. Cell phone and battery chargers consume approximately 0.26 watts of energy when not in use, according to Leaving one charger plugged in won’t break the bank, but a whole family’s worth of chargers can add up to 10% of your energy bill.

Buy new, not used. In general, new homes tend to be much more energy-efficient than older ones. Modern appliances use less energy, newer toilets waste less water, and the latest HVAC systems require less fuel. If you’re looking into moving to a new location, consider buying a newly constructed home or working with a home builder that designs homes with energy-efficiency in mind. Here at Tuskes Homes, we love power-saving products such as energy-efficient GE appliances, which are installed in our new homes.

“Daylight” your home. Rather than using artificial light, open up the curtains and let the natural light illuminate your living space. Not only does daylighting conserve energy and save money, but it also beautifully highlights your home’s interior. Natural-light lovers will adore Tuskes Homes floor plans such as the Kingston and Monocacy, which feature numerous windows throughout the home, plus additional window options in the great room. Tuskes Homes’ open-concept floor plans help natural light flow throughout the home, and unique features such as transom windows and French doors make daylighting a natural part of living.


Yes, you DO need a home theater system

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 1, 2017

Televisions keep getting bigger and “smarter”. Video streaming selections keep getting broader and better. Siri, Alexa, and Google make it easier than ever to find the movies and programs you want,

A home theater system is no longer a matter of enjoying the occasional movie in the comfort of your home. Today, it’s how people are experiencing entertainment—from sports to movies to everyday programs

So, if you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in expanding your viewing quality, the answer is, yes, you DO need a home theater system.

To retrofit your current home with an integrated home theater system, you’ll need more than televisions. Preferably, speakers are fit into the wall, rather than exterior speakers mounted on them, and cables must be run to give you the connectivity. For true surround sound, you’ll be installing a speaker in the ceiling as well.

Are you considering a move to a new home? If you’re building from the ground up, adding a home theater is not complicated. Your builder can work the design and infrastructure into the plans so that it fits seamlessly. This opportunity also allows the homebuyer to expand the system into more rooms. For example, add the viewing to your kitchen, where your family and guests often congregate, and install a wall-mounted television for your outdoor living space.

A home theater system isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might think. In addition to the televisions, you’ll need a home theater receiver (also known as AV receiver or surround sound receiver) with Bluetooth connectivity, and the speakers. You might also want to consider the lighting in your media room. It’s easy to add dimmer switches for the existing light fixtures. Do you need room darkening shades?

You can expand your technology from the basics, depending on your desired home theater experience. Here’s a great guide to all the bells and whistles.

Are you ready to go from renter to homeowner?

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 17, 2017

For the past few years, you might have been watching the real estate market with interest, but didn’t feel ready to make the leap from renter to homeowner. You can still take advantage of low interest rates.

Why are you hesitating?

Here are some telltale signs you might be more ready than you think.

You’ve been paying rent on time for years. That monthly payment shows you’re responsible, and that you’re used to committing a sizeable sum each month to your living expenses. When you consider that your monthly mortgage payment could be even less than your rent, then you should feel confident that you can handle it.

You have a secure job. You’re getting good performance reviews and your employer is in a solid position, possibly even growing. If you like your job and see your future there, you have the job security that’s important when you commit to a mortgage.

Your credit is good. A good FICO score is 700 or higher, but you can get a loan with a lower credit score, as long as your debt-to-income ratio is within the acceptable range (e.g., your total debt is less than 30% of your annual income). The higher your credit score, the better you will do, both in terms of how much you can borrow and at what rate. Talk to a lender about mortgage pre-approval so you know where you stand before you start your new home search. Many lenders can give you direction for improving your credit score to qualify for the home you want.

You know what you want in a home—and it’s probably not roommates (or parents). You’re becoming more aware of home designs, wandering through home centers, and exploring neighborhoods. You’re imagining yourself as a homeowner, instead of seeing it as a distant reality.

Seeing is believing. That image of homeownership could be closer than you think. Talk to a real estate professional and a lender to explore your options. You’ll never know if you’re ready to buy a home if you don’t make the move!

Home Design Trends Taking Bethlehem by Storm

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 4, 2017


We are loving some of the classic, yet modern, home designs that the Tuskes Homes design team and homeowners have been bringing to the table in Bethlehem recently. If you’re thinking about investing in a new home, or simply looking to upgrade your current home’s style, check out a few of these trends that have caught our eyes.


This yoga loft in our Hanover Oaks model home is looking good!


    1. Add a touch of tranquility with a yoga loft. If you have an extra bedroom or other space you’re not using, take a few easy steps to transform it into a serene room for yoga. Just add a yoga mat, a speaker for some peaceful music, and set up a small table for your favorite scented candles or aromatherapy. For a little extra décor, visit some of the shops in Historic Downtown Bethlehem and look for antiques, sculptures, or wall art to add to your personal sanctuary.

We can’t get enough of these Saratoga Farms homeowners’ gorgeous black and white design concept for their new home.


2. Keep it simple with classic black and white. Having trouble deciding on a color scheme for your new home? Black and white is a classic combination that never goes out of style. Plus, if you decide to add colorful decorations later on, it’ll be easy to find something to go with this neutral color scheme.

Brightly colored shutters add a unique touch to this home in Bethlehem’s Maple Shade community.


3. Give your shutters a pop of color. Bethlehem is a colorful city, so to give your home an equally vibrant personality, consider opting for colorful accents. Bright reds or blues look amazing against more a more neutral background. Choosing unique shutters is a great way to add some character to your new home!

Add a few rocking chairs and you can sit and admire this stylish blue door all day long!


4. Or, pick a colorful front door. One popular trend in Bethlehem right now is a pop of color on the front door. Choose a shade that stands out from the rest of your home and expresses your personality, rather than a color that matches your shutters. A colorful front door will make your home’s exterior as individual as you are, and your new home will feel uniquely yours!

These homeowners in Hanover Oaks added incredible landscape lighting to their home’s exterior.


5. Light up your landscape. You’ve worked hard for the home of your dreams, so why not show it off day and night? Add some lighting around the outside of your home to highlight the landscaping and facade even after the sun goes down. Not only does the extra lighting look fantastic, but it’ll also make pulling into your driveway late at night much easier and safer.

This two-story stone fireplaces adds a rustic, warm charm to this Maple Shade home.


6. Add a stone fireplace for a rustic, chic flair. Everyone loves to curl up by the fire on a cold winter’s night, and Bethlehem certainly has its fair share of those. Give your fireplace a bit of style with a stone surround. Mount your television above the hearth, or simply place candles or vases on top of the mantle. Stone fireplaces look especially beautiful extending to the ceiling of a two-story great room.

This farmhouse sink is the perfect combination of functionality and style.


7. Upgrade your kitchen with a new sink/faucet combo. Especially trendy in Bethlehem right now are farmhouse sinks, which feature a deep basin with an apron front, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. When paired with a modern, classy chrome or stainless steel faucet, this is a kitchen design choice you’re sure to love. Add some under-cabinet lighting to accentuate your beautiful new sink!

Pendant lights complement the spectacular island in this open-concept kitchen.
8. Bring in some elegant pendant lighting. Bethlehem homeowners love putting pendant lights above the kitchen island in their homes. Not only does it add some sophisticated style, but it makes your kitchen warm and welcoming, perfect for entertaining–and we know Bethlehem likes to entertain! From modern to rustic, there are endless styles and several beautiful metallic finishes from which to choose.

Choosing the Right School District – Before Your Move.

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 3, 2017

Finding the right home in the right neighborhood is always a challenge for a homebuyer. Parents with school-age children have even more to consider when it comes to picking “Location! Location! Location!”

When you’re moving within your own region, you already have knowledge of the school district’s reputation. If you’re moving farther, you need to take the time to consider various factors when choosing a school. Here are some questions to ask yourself and the schools.

  1. What type of learning environment is best for my child? No one knows your child better than you. Determine whether she will thrive in a small or large classroom, needs a particular type of curriculum (structured versus non-structured, liberal arts, faith-based), or would benefit from a school that offers bilingual education.
  2. Does the town support the school? The town’s annual report will show how much of the tax dollars are spent on education. Look at the spending per pupil to determine how deeply the town is committed to education. A properly funded school will have up-to-date computers and technology, a library of diverse resources, proper sporting equipment, and a well-maintained campus.
  3. What services are offered? A school that employs a full complement of staffing—including on-site nurse, resource officer, librarian, and guidance counselors—is better equipped to provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment.
  4. What extra-curricular programs are available? The classroom is just one part of the overall education experience. Extra-curricular programs, like clubs and sports teams, provide valuable learning for young people. If your child is an avid lacrosse player, for example, and the school you’re considering doesn’t have a team, then you might want to look elsewhere for the right school.
  5. Does the district offer school choice? Having the ability to choose from more than one school for your child is a benefit. Some districts have a lottery where a certain number of students can attend a different school that better suits their needs. If you have a child who is musically inclined, the possibility of enrolling him in a magnet school for the performing arts may be just what you want.
  6. How does this school’s rating compare locally, regionally, and nationally? Visit to view a detailed report on the schools in the area you’re considering, including parent reviews. Keep in mind that all schools whether they are rated highly or not as a whole often have tracks for either highly skilled students or those that have special needs that are excellent. Don’t let a single score scare you from making the best choice for your children.

Once you have done all of this advance research, you can take the extra step and schedule a tour of each school to see and sense the environment for yourself.

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