Category Archives: Lifestyle

2017’s Top Kitchen Design Trends

While a home’s curb appeal may draw buyers in, its interior matters just as much, if not more. Several features are high on the wish list of today’s homebuyer, including a modern kitchen. Whether you’re thinking of starting a remodel or you’re just curious about what the future holds, check out these trends that turn kitchens into buyer bait.

Hidden appliances: Upgrading appliances is one of the quickest ways to add value to a kitchen. If you’re looking to impress a buyer with deep pockets, look into hidden appliances. What’s the appeal? Less obvious appliances keep the eye on the kitchen’s overall flow and design.

Personalized pantries: The utilitarian kitchen pantry has evolved into a trending design element. Whether you choose a pocket door and complementary light fixture or a rustic barn door and wallpaper, there’s no shortage of ways to express your personal style.

Creative countertops: Looking for a revamp with an immediate impact? Upgrade the counters. Quartz and butcher block, both easy to maintain, are quickly replacing traditional marble and granite surfaces. You can dress up your kitchen further with sleek waterfall-edge countertops that extend vertically to the floor.

Mixed-up metal accents: Accessorizing with different finishes is a trendy, cost-effective way to update your kitchen. In addition to stainless steel and gold, homebuilders are seeing copper accents emerging as the metallic detail of choice.

Don’t let a dated kitchen cost you when it’s time to sell your home. Incorporating a trend or two could be enough to give your kitchen the face-lift it needs to entice buyers.

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Featured Image Credit: “The Kitchen: Chapter Six (Final Reveal!)” by Emily May © 2014 (CC BY 2.0)

How to Throw a Seamless Dinner Party

Think being a good host means stressing in the kitchen while your guests enjoy the party? Think again. With a little advanced preparation, you can unlock the secrets of a stress-free holiday get-together.

Plan and Practice the Menu
Choose dishes that don’t have to be served piping hot, like lasagna, quiches and braised stews. Test out new recipes in advance so you can make necessary adjustments to the ingredients and perfect your prep time. Once you’ve got the menu figured out, prepare what you can ahead of time. Ready entire courses that will keep for a day; then heat them up just before your guests are set to arrive.

Don’t Forget the Drinks
Serving a signature holiday cocktail, whether it’s alcoholic or family-friendly, can simplify your hosting process. If you can, find one that can be premixed and served from a pitcher. Chill other beverages in an ice-filled tub to keep your refrigerator food-focused, and position the drink station opposite the food buffet to create a nice flow and avoid bottlenecks. This will help cut back on the number of people congregating in and around the kitchen.

Aim for Easy Cleanup
Plan out the number of serving dishes you’ll need in advance, and borrow from family and friends to supplement what you have. Want to reduce your dish-washing burden? Serve hors d’oeuvres, which can be filling and require little more than a napkin. If you do opt to use dinnerware, begin the party with an empty dishwasher so you clear plates and glasses as soon as guests have finished.

These tips will help you enjoy your gathering without the typical hosting hassles.

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Featured Image Credit: “Happy Thanksgiving everyone!” by Satya Murthy © 2010 (CC BY 2.0)

Turn Your Master Bedroom Into a Sanctuary

Since we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, we should place high importance on the look and feel of the master bedroom. Follow these tips to transform one of the most important rooms of your home into a relaxing sanctuary.

What to Bring In

  • Neutral Colors — Light, neutral hues like creams, taupes, grays and blues provide a tranquil atmosphere. Use soft, coordinating colors for your bedding and walls.
  • Soft Lighting — Overhead lighting can sometimes be harsh or too concentrated. Create a soothing mood with soft, balanced lighting throughout the room. Add lamps to brighten dark corners and illuminate each side of the bed.
  • Window Treatments — A sense of privacy is essential to any sanctuary. Window treatments offer coverage from the outside world and can be a beautiful design element. If outside lighting disrupts your sleep, consider blackout curtains.

What to Take Out

  • Outdated Bedding — A relaxing bedroom begins with a comfortable bed. Most experts recommend replacing your mattress every eight years. Pillows should be replaced every two to three years or every six months if you have asthma or allergies.
  • Excess Furniture — Get back to basics by paring down your bedroom to just the essentials. Most people require little more than a bed frame, a couple of matching nightstands and a dresser or chest of drawers. Anything more can quickly become clutter.
  • Unnecessary Electronics — From more sleep to better family relationships, there are numerous benefits of having a technology-free bedroom. Reserve your master bedroom for rest and relaxation, and keep electronics out.

Make over your master bedroom into a serene space you look forward to at the end of a long day. These tips can help you get started.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: “Europa-House-2-Bed-Master-bedroom-10” by Living Rooms London © 2013 (CC BY 2.0)

St.Patrick’s Day Parades and Celebrations

Every year, on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated. It began as a religious holiday in Ireland and is still celebrated like so in Ireland. In the US it is more of a festival that celebrates Irish culture with parades and a variety of events.

Boston parade is the second largest in the country. It is the most Irish of all the cities in the US, that is why St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated all week. The parade goes through South Boston and features marching bands, live music and many more fun festivities.

New York Parade is also one of the largest with 150,000 participants. The bands are marching down the 5th avenue in Manhattan and it usually takes about five hours to complete the route. Participants of the parade are bands military, firefighters and cultural groups and clubs.

Scranton parade is considered to be the oldest ones and it is believed to be one of the most popular. There are over 12,000 participants and include Irish step dancers, local organizations, Irish groups and bagpipers. The parade always begins with a Mass at St.Peter’s Cathedral.

Chicago parade was first held in 1956 with the Irish population growing. They way St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Chicago is pretty unique. Starting in 1962, they began to dye the river green for the celebrations and stays green for about five hours. It causes no harm to the water, in fact, the dye can detect pollution.

New Orleans parade also included marching bands, float riders who throw not only beads, but also ingredients for the Irish stew! Festivities go on for 10 days and include not one, but three parades. One of the most popular celebrations are the block parties, these are outdoor parties that are free and open to public.

Flickr Creative Commons: Max Talbot-Minkin (CC BY 2.0)
All photos used under this license.

Celebrities Who Bought and Sold the Most Houses

We all know celebrities love their real estate, they buy, they sell, and they renovate. Let’s take a look who among celebrities sold and bought the most houses in the last 10 years.

Oprah Winfrey is without a doubt a top home buyer. She owns homes all over the country, and not all her homes are mansions – she owns a 2 bedroom home in a small town n Indiana. She’s been particularly active in real estate world lately: she sold her Chicago house and bought a mansion  in Colorado with her own funicular and “wine mine”.


Flickr Creative Commons: Paul Williams (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Ellen DeGeneres is not only known as a comedian, but also for her passion for architecture and design. She recently bought a house in Malibu that was previously owned by Brad Pitt and also a house with an ocean view in Montecito.


Flickr Creative Commons: Jesse Wagstaff (CC BY 2.0)

Nicholas Cage owns about ten homes in England, Rhode Island, and Bath. He also owns a haunted house in New Orleans previously owned by Madame LaLaurie.


Flickr Creative Commons: Tom Bastin (CC BY 2.0)

Cher was one of those who also traded some real estate she owned. She sold her Palm Springs and Los Angeles, and bought a home in 90210 zip code and also a Malibu home.


Flickr Creative Commons: Marcus (CC BY-SA 2.0)


All photos used under this license.

Living in a Tiny House

Tiny or small house living is becoming more and more popular these days. Tiny houses are usually between 100 to 400 square feet. They are considered much more affordable, more environmentally friendly and allow to have more free time to spend with a family instead of constant maintenance and cleaning. Even though there are a lot of good reasons to live in a small house, it is not for everyone. Let’s take a look at pros and cons of small living.

Cheap. Tiny houses are cheaper to buy, which means smaller mortgage or none at all. Also, utility bills are lower. In addition to that, there is no need to spend a lot of money on furniture.

Less clutter. Because of smaller space, people tend to keep only things they really need and use.

Easy to clean. While traditional size homes can take all day to clean, tiny houses might take only an hour or two.

Environmentally friendly. Small houses require less materials to be built and less energy to power and maintain them. Also, some houses can be powered using solar energy.

Despite all the benefits of small living, there are some drawbacks as well.

Family size and lifestyle. While it might work for a one or two people, such living might not be the best option for family with kids. Also, entertaining might be a challenge.

Storage/closet space. Even though less space means less clutter, you still need place to store clothing and personal things. In this case organization is key.

Water and sewer. If you park your home in an RV campground, you might have access to water and sewage; if not, you will need to figure something out.

Building codes. Even though the house is movable and small, it has to be built according to codes and they need to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes etc.

As you can see, tiny homes are not for everyone; in the end, it’s a personal choice, and for many, the benefits outweigh possible inconveniences.

Flickr Creative Commons: Tammy Strobel (CC BY 2.0) 
All photos used under this license.





New Year’s Resolutions for New Homeowners

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us are making resolutions for the new year. To eat more healthily, exercise more often, and become more financially responsible are among the common pledges year after year. However, if you just became a first time homebuyer recently, we have a few special recommendations to put on your resolutions list this year to ensure an enjoyable experience as a new homeowner in 2016. 

Flickr Creative Commons: oddharmonic (CC BY-SA 2.0); Edited

1. Keep up with your seasonal maintenance.

In case you haven’t realized it yet, owning a home is a lot different than renting. One of the reasons is that your house will require much more maintenance (especially if you previously lived in an apartment), and now repairs and fixes are your responsibility. If you’ve only owned your home for a few weeks or months, you probably haven’t yet had the chance to deal with it in all types of weather, meaning there’s an element of the unexpected waiting for you in the new year. With the changing of seasons, there’s always something that needs to be checked on or updated to make sure it is functioning to the best of its ability. Taking care of these items in advance will save you a lot of time and money down the road. Don’t know which projects need to be completed when? Contact us to request a copy of our handy seasonal home maintenance guide.

2. Experiment with a new color scheme.

There’s a good chance that you did some painting when you first moved in, in order to personalize your home to your preferred style and that’s great! But with the new year approaching, it’s always a good idea to consider some change, and a fresh coat of paint is just like getting yourself a new haircut. Whether you’re thinking about a subtle shade change for your bedroom walls or a complete makeover for your kitchen, this is the time to go for it. And since Pantone just named their new colors of the year, perhaps these might be some options for you to consider (especially if you’re planning to welcome a new bundle of joy in 2016)? Or, if you’re not quite willing to commit to new paint, try adding some visual interest via trendy accent pieces, such as tribal print artwork and accessories

Flickr Creative Commons: Christian Bros Cabinets (CC BY 2.0)

Flickr Creative Commons: Christian Bros Cabinets (CC BY 2.0)

3. Splurge…a little.

Buying a home is probably one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life, and right now your wallet might be feeling a bit light. But as you get used to making your mortgage payments, they won’t feel like they’re making such a big dent anymore. You’ll then realize you might want to spend a little more to make your home feel complete. Don’t get us wrong – we’re not advising you to install the most tricked out home theater system you can imagine or a fish tank the size of your old apartment bathroom. However, we are encouraging you to treat yourself to that fancy vacuum you’ve had your eye on for months or a new dining room set that will go with those gleaming hardwood floors. After all, this is your house to do whatever you want with now, and you want to make it feel like your home, which might just mean adding a few indulgent creature comforts. You’ve worked hard to be able to call yourself a homeowner, so treat yourself!

4. Stay in touch with your real estate agent or broker.

You just spent three or four months talking with your agent nearly every single day and, perhaps, seeing them on a weekly basis for showings. But after closing…well, *crickets chirping*. Believe it or not, your agent will notice your absence in his or her life! Many agents grow fond of their clients throughout the home buying process and end up missing them once the search is over. Of course, they understand that you’re busy moving in and getting settled, but most would love to have a quick conversation every so often to hear about how you’re loving your shorter commute or new neighborhood hotspots.  While many agents do their best to check in periodically after closing, it sometime gets a little hard with numerous beloved clients to stay in touch with. You can help get the convo started by sending your agent some photos of the improvements you’ve made since moving in or by asking for a referral to the best snow shoveler in town. Good agents make it their business to establish connections with trusted service providers in the area, so this should be no problem. 

Do you have any new homeowner resolutions to add to our list? If so, let us know in the comments! And Happy New Year, everybody!


All photos used under this license.

Tips on Staging Your House for Photos


Flickr Creative Commons: Wicker Paradise

There are always people who are wanting to buy a house, but with many houses on the market, it makes it difficult for sellers to stand out from the rest. A seller should seek out a professional to professionally stage their house and get a professional photographer to take listing photos, no cell phone pictures. Here are a few tips on staging your house.

Lighting can be your friend when staging a house. The angles which light can embellish will make rooms look larger and wider. If you are looking to correct symmetry and imperfections, or will the best angles of a room show, you can preview it, odds are that you have a tool in your pocket with a camera built into it. With your camera, take pre photos and this should give you an idea, as to the display or time of day you would like certain rooms photographed.

Wrinkles can be a beautiful thing on people, but, for example, on curtains and table runners, the camera will exaggerate the wrinkles to their full. Take a little time and get professional steamer of a hot iron and relieve them. Buyers want to feel refreshed when looking at a potential house, wrinkles do the opposite.

Colors, Colors, Colors. Colors can be your friend, well if done accordingly. There are neutrals and there are colors. The neutrals are black, white, grey, brown, beige, cream, silver, and at times gold. These form a good base for your room. You can add as many as you want, but there are colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. These colors must be used accordingly. Then there is a color story, they might be blues or reds or colors of the peacock, or teal and yellow. Word of caution, use only one color story line per room.

Make sure to use camera filters and other editing features in moderation. You don’t want to loose a client by taking pictures that make a house look better than in reality.

All photos are used under this license.

Popular Home Styles


Flickr Creative Commons: David Sawyer

Craftsman home style became popular in the 20th century and it was inspired by two architects, Greene brothers, who were influenced by English Arts and Crafts movement.  Some characteristics of craftsman house are gabled roof, front porch, tapered columns, stone details.


Flickr Creative Commons: Anthony Easton

Colonial style homes are influenced by 18th century European colonists who brought their influence with. One of the main features is that colonial houses are square and the front door is in the middle of the home. Also, there are usually two windows on each side of the door. Some other characteristics are shutters and wood detailing.


Flickr Creative Commons: Michael Hicks

Traditional style homes are the most commonly built, they can have a ranch-style plans or two-story house plans. There are many different styles that can accommodate a broad range of buyers. They have open floor plans up to date elements.


Flickr Creative Commons: Laurie Avocado

European-style homes are inspired by the European architecture such as Tuscan, English, Spanish and French. The exterior of such a house is usually brick or stone. Another characteristic of a European house is multi-peaked rooflines and bay windows.


Flickr Creative Commons: Joe Wolf

Ranch-style houses became popular in 1950s and 1960s, their convenience and flexibility in floor plans made it very popular after the World War-II growth. The are single story, long, low rooflines, large windows, attached garage, and brick or wood exterior.

All photos use under this license.

Celebrities Who Do Not Celebrate Thanksgiving


Flickr Creative Commons: Gage Skidmore

One of the celebrities who doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving is Angelina Jolie, who is known for her charity work and helping people form other cultures. She believes that the history behind the holiday is against her beliefs.

Cher also does not celebrate for the same reasons as Jolie. She said that it is time for her family to get together and watch movies, but not to celebrate.


Flickr Creative Commons: David Caroll

Unlike first two, Zooey Deschanel is not bothered by the holiday history much, but mostly about Thanksgiving food. She doesn’t like the color of the food, according to her, it doesn’t look appetizing. But she does like the fact that it’s time for the whole family to get together.

Alicia Silverstone is not against the holiday itself, but since she is a vegan, she does not like the “turkey” part of the holiday. She has her own food website with animal-friendly recipes.

THE 2015 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS(r) - The “2015 American Music Awards,” which will broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 22 at 8:00pm ET on ABC. (Image Group LA/ABC) ALICIA SILVERSTONE

Flickr Creative Commons: ABC Television Group Photostream

Mayim Bialik, the “Big Bang Theory” star, is also a vegan, and she does like the holiday except the Black Friday shopping. She avoids going to stores until after the holiday season.

All photos used under this license.