By Heesun Wee, CNBC.com
The housing market remains shaky, even if the broader economy is improving. And after years of price declines and slow sales, homeowners have changed their priorities in home improvement.
Duo Dickinson, a home remodeling architect for more than 30 years, has seen his share of ups and downs in real estate. But this time it is different, he says.
Instead of waiting for the return of the good old days, homeowners are scrapping second-home dreams and fancy remodeling projects. They're focusing on staying put and value-focused home renovations.
Jacuzzi bathtubs and high ceiling "great rooms" that no one uses are out. In vogue are smaller bedrooms and insulated water heaters that cut utility bills.
Dickinson documented this shift toward frugality into a book, "Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want."
Says Dickinson: "People aren't coping as if there's light at the end of the tunnel, [they are] changing their expectations."
Blog Posts by CNBC
By Heesun Wee, CNBC.comRead More »from 9 "Post-Bubble" Home Improvement Rules
By Daniel Bukszpan, CNBC.comRead More »from 10 Brands that Made a Comeback
Popular brands don't always stay popular. Many fight to stay at the top of the heap, and it's not uncommon for brands to spend their commercial lives persevering through bankruptcies, restructurings and plain obsolescence.
It's also not unheard of for a brand to fall out of favor with consumers, get left for dead, but still return to the marketplace later on. Sometimes these brands have even managed to come back in better positions than they held before being written off. It's rare, but it happens.
What follows is a list of 10 brands that faded away and then made a comeback. Some lord over the global marketplace today, and some are still just barely hanging on. Whatever the case, these brands beat the odds and defeated death - even if only temporarily.
Read ahead to see 10 brands that defied conventional wisdom and came back, long after everyone had counted them out.
See the slideshow: 10 Brands That Made a Comeback
Dr. MartensDr. Martens
Dr. Martens is a brand
By Bianca Schlotterbeck, CNBC.comRead More »from 11 Beautiful British Castle Homes
They say that an Englishman's home is his castle. The phrase might not have literal meaning for most Britons, but buying a castle is not as unusual as you might think. For history buffs or buyers with a romantic imagination, a range of castles are on the market in Britain with the majority in Scotland. A lot of these castles also come with substantial grounds containing parkland, forests or rivers full of fish.
The following castle homes are for sale or rent in Britain and are presented in order of the least to most expensive. Many of the castles have ancient foundations and all of them are steeped in history once belonging to knights, royalty, aristocracy or the occasional rock star.
See the slideshow: 11 Beautiful British Castles Homes
The West Wing, Houston House, ScotlandThe West Wing, Houston House, Scotland Price: £699,000 (USD $1.12 million)
Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 4
Square Footage: 3185.7 Grounds: 6 acres
Houston House was a castle originally built by Sir Hugh de Paduinan
- CNBC | Work + Money – Tue, Apr 3, 2012 2:21 PM EDT
By Katie Little, CNBC.comRead More »from Wedding Insurance: Protecting Against 'I Do' Mishaps
Irene Rios-Knauf and her husband spent a year planning their August nuptials, but they didn't expect one raucous wedding crasher - Hurricane Irene.
Nervous brides and grooms are turning to wedding insurance to protect themselves against vendor or venue bankruptcies and unpredictable weather. Purchasing wedding insurance was also absent from the West Haven, Ct., couple's checklist.
"At no point did we even think about getting insurance," David Knauf said. "We figured, 'We have a building. We're going to have a wedding.' When in fact we had to cancel, we were thinking, 'Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?' We did a lot of scrambling."
Wedding insurance has become an increasingly popular option after several high-profile instances of severe weather disrupted bridal plans last year. A shaky economic climate has also fueled interest in the policies.
The average price of a wedding climbed last year to hit $27,021, according to the Real Weddings Survey, and in some regions, it can cost more than double that price. The escalating costs are prompting many couples to turn to wedding insurance to protect
- CNBC | Love + Sex – Mon, Apr 2, 2012 4:05 PM EDT
By Cindy Perman, CNBC.comRead More »from One-Stop Shopping for Divorce: From Lawyers to Matchmakers
In the same way that brides consult 1,000 people along their path to bliss, from cake makers to DJs, divorcing couples have a ton of people to meet as they disembark from their marital joy ride.
Enter "Start Over Smart," a divorce expo that took place in New York City over the weekend. It was a lot like a bridal expo - only with less cake and more lawyers.
What do you do with that gaping hole on your ring finger? Put a reminder on it, compliments of Shame on Jane Jewelry. The expo was the brainchild of Francine Baras and Nicole Baras Feuer, a mother-daughter team who have both been touched by divorce. Baras was the child of divorce at a time when it was really a scarlet letter, even for the children. Some of the other children weren't allowed to play with her. She is now a child and family therapist. Baras Feuer is a professional mediator who herself has been through divorce.
"Bridal magazines are all over the place. There's no divorce magazine, no divorce community, so a lot of people just rely on information from their attorney," Baras Feuer said. She and her mom had
By Cindy Perman, CNBC.comRead More »from The Top 10 Tax-Procrastinating Cities
If you haven't done your taxes yet, you're not alone!
Nearly one-third of Americans wait until the last two weeks to do their taxes, according to Intuit, make of the tax software Turbo Tax.
And, let's be honest, some of us are better at procrastinating than others.
Intuit is out with its annual list of the 10 most procrastinatinest cities. So, if you find out your city is on the list, you can just say - Hey, it's not me. It's something in the water!
Here are your top 10:
10. Portland. People in the "City of Roses," so named for its climate conducive to growing roses, are stopping to smell the roses a LOT more this year, moving up the list from No. 13 last year.
9. San Diego. When Ron Burgundy told San Diego to "stay classy," I don't think he meant stop what you're doing and just be classy. San Diego moves one notch down the procrastination list from No. 8 last year.
8. Denver. Is it the altitude? Or just all the nice weather we've been having? Who knows,
By Heesun Wee, CNBC.comRead More »from 10 Smart Digital Appliances You Wish You Owned
Digital advances are emerging as one of the hottest trends in the home appliance space. Think refrigerators that track your food inventory and expiration dates; washers and dryers you control remotely with a smartphone; robotic vacuum cleaners. "2012 is becoming the year, when connected appliances become more mass marketable and more mainstream," says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the annual show.
The evolution of these new appliances can be traced to the explosion of mobile devices. Another factor is cloud computing, which allows your many devices to easily communicate and sync with one another. Tech savvy consumers want their traditional white-box appliances do the same. In addition to smart technology, more consumers demand energy-efficient appliances. In fact, with higher utility bills and gasoline prices, consumers are more concerned about saving energy and money than
By Natalie Erlich, CNBC.comRead More »from For Brazil, Beauty is Serious Business
As Brazilians get richer, so do their tastes. That's certainly true for their consumption of beauty products.
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen's stint as the face of Procter & Gamble's Pantene is credited with raising sales of the haircare brand in Brazil by 40 percent. "From a cultural standpoint, women in Brazil really take their looks seriously," says Nik Modi, analyst at UBS. "Then you think about the Olympics, the income story, wage inflation and people getting more wealthy. It all bodes well."
Brazilian consumers spend an average of $240 a year on beauty products, matching the consumption of more mature markets such as the U.S. and U.K., according to Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner at A.T. Kearney, a consulting firm that advises retailers on overseas expansion.
Over the next five years, Brazil's consumption of personal care and beauty products will outpace that of developed markets including the U.S., says Ben-Shabat, who co-authored a report that ranked Brazil the most attractive market for retail expansion.
With a growth rate of 7 percent to 8 percent a year, Brazilian sales are growing four times faster
- CNBC | Shine Food – Wed, Mar 28, 2012 12:25 PM EDT
By Katie Little, CNBC.comRead More »from Chick-fil-A to Launch Food Truck; Will Others Follow?
The company that wants you to "Eat Mor Chikin" now hopes you'll eat it from a food truck.
In April, Chick-fil-A will follow several other national chains that have already entered the food-truck space.In April, a franchisee will launch Chick-fil-A's first food truck that will serve customers in the Washington, D.C., area. Currently, there is only one traditional Chick-fil-A restaurant in the nation's capital.
"If they don't have a presence in D.C., a food truck can be a good way to introduce themselves," said Sam Oches, managing editor at QSR magazine.
But if a market is already saturated with a company's restaurants, adding a food truck to the mix may not resonate much with consumers, Oches said.
"How many consumers would say: 'I'd rather go chase a truck than go somewhere down the street?'" he said.
Chick-fil-A's new food truck follows forays into the mobile food business by several other national chains including Applebee's, Jack in the Box , Qdoba and Taco Bell.
Only 6 percent of quick-service restaurants and 4 percent of fast-casual restaurants operate food
By Colleen Kane, CNBC.comRead More »from Athlete Clothing Lines
How do you suppose professional athletes earn enough riches to afford mansions like the ones seen here and the getaways pictured here ? It's not only their salaries or their prizes, but the endorsement deals, spinoffs and personal brands. For abundant evidence, see the CNBC slideshow Pro Athletes Turned Entrepreneurs.
See the slideshow: Athlete Clothing Lines
While some of these athlete fashion brands are not so well known, one of the following examples was once ubiquitous, one is legendary, and one line of undies is currently modeled by its namesake in a giant ad on the side of a building in midtown Manhattan. This collection has a good selection of newcomers: Some of them debuted earlier this year, and some are debuting now and in upcoming months. We've got representatives from the worlds of golf, tennis, pro skating, soccer and cycling, as well as some big and tall NBA guys making sure they can go out in a nice suit.
Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan/ Maria Sharapova Collection for Nike Maria Sharapova