Get your home in tip-top shape with these quick and easy spring spruce-ups. From cleaning your patio furniture to giving your exterior some fresh curb appeal, take your home straight into the warm-weather months with our quick refresh tips.
One of the many benefits of owning your own home is the freedom to find your ‘furever’ friend. By pointing out the aspects of your home that make it ‘pet-friendly’ in your listing, you’ll attract these buyers rather than alienate the 61% of American households that have a pet!
If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream homes?
Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals.
A recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by American’s love for their pets.
This should come as no surprise as $66.75 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2016, with $70 billion projected for 2017. NAR’s President William E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search,
“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership.
REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”
The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home
So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:
Instead of building out, a California family reconfigures the floor plan to make the garden part of the living space.
Andrew and Amy Faulkner had spent some time and effort on plans to extend their master bedroom and add a bathroom to their family’s 1961 home in Mill Valley, California. “But the local planning department didn’t approve our proposal,” says Andrew, a graphic designer and artist. Architect Erika Shern helped them change gears and keep the same footprint but reconfigure their existing space, a choice that in the long run saved them time and money.
Instead of knocking out the back wall and extending the house, the couple solved their problem by working from within. “My office got smaller to accommodate a powder room and a master bath beside the master bedroom,” Andrew says. “The bedroom was changed around and we added French doors that open up onto the back deck.” The doors give an indoor-outdoor feel to the bedroom. “We have so much more light and the garden is now part of our living space,” Andrew says.
The entrance to the additional bathroom is off the master bedroom. The stand for the television was designed by Andrew’s late father, Winthrop Faulkner, who was an architect and furniture designer in Washington, D.C. Ringo takes catnaps in the afternoon sun.
The desk nook was created when the shower stall in the master bathroom was pushed into the office space. Lily the cat likes to use the office window as a door.
The pocket door between the master bedroom and bath was a great space saver.
The new master bathroom has a large walk-in shower and lots of storage.
“We both loved the house the way it was,” Andrew says, “but we only had one bathroom upstairs that we shared with overnight guests and visitors. We wanted to have a master bathroom and separate powder room, so we started to make plans to move things around.” The original bathroom was divided to create a powder room and part of the new master bath.
The master bedroom opens onto the newly designed back deck, which is now used for entertaining and as a place for the family to hang out.
On the recommendation of their contractor, the Faulkners turned a low retaining wall into a bench for more seating.
The succulents were removed from the garden during construction and replanted into the back of the built-in bench seats. Metal flashing and waterproofing were added inside the planter boxes for better drainage.
Lily the cat has found a shady place to sleep outside.
The hot tub is easily accessible from the bedroom.
The hanging lights are solar-powered.
“We both love midcentury furniture and thought the house fit our aesthetic,” says Amy, an elementary school teacher. “Our furniture fit in here perfectly, as well as our art.” The coffee table was custom-designed by Andrew’s late mother, Jeanne Hawes Faulkner, who was an interior designer.
The Faulkners replaced the working fireplace with a gas unit. “We lose a lot of heat through the large, single-paned front windows,” Andrew says. “The gas fireplace heats up the whole room and it’s better for the environment.”
A tube amplifier and speakers sit on top of a blanket chest that has been in Amy’s family for many years.
No changes were made to the front room or the kitchen. “The kitchen was one of the selling points of this house,” Amy says.
“The things we liked about the kitchen include the bamboo floors, the bamboo cabinets and all of the updated appliances,” she says. “The island is the gathering point in our kitchen when friends come over.”
The entrance to the house was originally at the back. “We added stairs to the existing front deck to make a more logical entry,” Andrew says.
The small powder room in the main hall off the living room is perfect for guests.
The house was originally confined to one floor, but the previous owner opened up the basement by adding steps and turned the lower floor into a bedroom, bathroom, TV room and laundry room.
Nineteen-year-old daughter Izzy personalized her bedroom downstairs with photos and other mementos.
A piece of wire mesh above the bathroom shelves is used by Izzy to hang her earrings.
Izzy has always loved languages and design, so she combined the two by using the pages from a German tourist guide and a Russian psychology book to decorate her walls. The framed print is from a book of Russian typography.
Andrew was convinced that the new plan to rearrange the bedroom, bathroom and office would satisfy their original expansion plans. “Just trust me,” he said to Amy. They both took their chances and are thrilled with the results.
If you have extra mint from the garden and you’re tired of mojitos or tea, check out this recipe for fresh mint chip ice cream!
Nothing heralds the arrival or warm weather like ice cream sandwiches made with fresh garden spearmint and dark chocolate. Here’s a recipe for fresh mint chip ice cream.
FRESH MINT CHIP ICE CREAM RECIPE
Makes 1 generous pint
Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue renting! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.
Zillow recently reported that:
“With Rents continuing to climb and interest rates staying low, many renters find themselves gazing over the homeownership fence and wondering if the grass really is greener. Leaving aside, for the moment, the difficulties of saving for a down payment, let’s focus on the monthly expenses of owning a home: it turns out that renters currently paying the median rent in many markets could afford to buy a higher-quality property than the typical (read: median-valued) home without increasing their monthly expenses.”
What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?1. The latest Rent Vs. Buy Report from Trulia pointed out the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:
3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family buying an average priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $42,000 in family wealth over the next five years.
4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment –along with a profit margin!!
Bottom LineOwning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.
Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.
1. Prices Will Continue to RiseCoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.
The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to IncreaseFreddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4% over the last couple months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtorsare in unison, projecting that rates will increase by at least a half a percentage point this time next year.
An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.
3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.
Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?
4. It’s Time to Move on with Your LifeThe ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.
But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?
Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.
If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.
Nothing has more immediate impact on the mood of a garden than color. When it comes to putting together a garden color palette, you can first decide how you want a space to make you feel and then choose the color scheme accordingly. If you want a cheerful and inviting space, choose foliage and blooms in light and medium pastel shades. If you’d like to feel energized, go for a high-contrast pairing of fiery red flowers and deep purple foliage. For a feeling of tranquility, turn to blooms in peaceful blues and whites.
Don’t know where to begin? Take a look at garden beds in three pleasing color palettes that each set a specific mood for the landscape.
Why bother with a color palette? Gardens with too much variety can feel overwhelming and look cluttered. Sticking to a color scheme for a planting gives a garden a balanced, put-together look and can help you avoid impulse purchases at the nursery. It’s up to personal taste, but limiting the number of different colors to no more than five can be a helpful rule of thumb. While this may seem constraining, adopting a more disciplined approach to plantings can harmonize the look and feel of your garden without sacrificing plant diversity.
1. Cheerful and Inviting
Color palette: Medium blue-green, light green, bright orchid, eggshell, deep violetEvoke the look of Monet’s garden in Giverny with a watercolor palette of pink, blue, purple, green and soft yellow. Pastels feel fresh and harmonious in the garden, transitioning smoothly from one soft hue to the next. Like the first blooms in spring, pastel color palettes feel cheerful and inviting — making them a great choice for entryway and front yard plantings.
Pastel color palettes can include all hues on the color wheel in muted tones. Adding one or two plants in a more saturated color — like a dark green-leaved shrub or deep purple perennial — can keep a pastel color palette from looking washed out.
In this woodland garden outside of Boston, the designer banked the beds with pastel blooms mixed with plants that have silver to medium green foliage. Here we see white peonies, dark purple ‘May Night’ sage (Salvia ‘May Night’), lavender-pink ‘Globemaster’ alliums (Allium ‘Globemaster’), silver-leaved Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) and evergreen inkberry (Ilex glabra). Concentrating on blues and purples in a pastel palette creates a calmer and more tranquil feel than pastel schemes that include yellows and pinks. In the same garden, catmint (Nepeta sp.) blends with dark purple ‘May Night’ sage, lavender-pink ‘Globemaster’ allium and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) for a calming walkway planting.
2. Dramatic and Energizing
Color palette: Pomegranate, dark purple, yellow orcher, periwinkle blue, medium gray-greenHigh-contrast jewel-toned color palettes command attention, making eye-catching border displays that stand out on the block. Gardens in this rich color palette shine all year but are particularly dramatic in late summer and fall, when the deeply saturated tones complement the red, orange and amber leaves of trees changing color.
Gardens using jewel-toned color palettes benefit from tones chosen from opposite sides of the color wheel (like orange and blue or yellow and violet). Pairing plants with foliage or flower colors in closely complementary hues makes each color stand out in contrast to its neighbors. For example, in this seaside garden on Bainbridge Island, Washington, dark purple ‘Caradonna’ sage (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’) and cool blue ‘Little Titch’ catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Little Titch’) set off bright orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) planted close by.
3. Cool and Serene
Color palette: Leaf green, light sage, white, deep blue, sky blueAs calming as puffy white clouds moving across the sky or a sailboat on the water, planting palettes made up of blue and white blossoms set the tone for a tranquil landscape. To keep beds looking crisp and clean, restraint with the color palette is key. Choose blooms in clear shades of blue and as close to true white as you can find, and mix them with plenty of evergreen foliage.
In this backyard in Westport, Connecticut, the designer used a mix of white- and blue-flowering bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), medium blue veronica, pale purple-blue catmint (Nepeta sp.) and white roses.
Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!
Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.
A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:
“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”
Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:
“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”
In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.”
Bottom LineIn today’s competitive atmosphere, you need a professional on your side who knows your exact market conditions and can help you take the steps you need to be able to secure your new home!
Raised beds make gardening easy. Get step-by-step instructions for constructing a raised garden of your own that will last for years.
Raised beds drain more efficiently, give the gardener more control over the location and soil quality, and can help keep out pests like moles and rabbits.The best part? You can build one in an afternoon. This raised bed and trellis combo uses rough-sawn cedar, which is weather-resistant, insect-resistant and looks good, too.
You Will NeedTwo 9-foot, 2″ x 12″ rough-sawn cedar boards /three 7-foot, 2″ x 4″ rough-sawn cedar boards /one 6-foot, 2″ x 4″ rough-sawn cedar board /four 10-foot, 2″ x 2″ rough-sawn cedar boards/twenty-two 4 1/2-inch lag screws /3-inch deck screws /finishing nails /16′ x 34″ hog fencing panel /20 coaxial cable clips /tape measure /circular saw /speed square /level /drill with 3/16-inch bit /hammer or nail gun /bolt cutters.
Step 1: Measure and Cut BedMeasure and cut two 6-foot and two 3-foot lengths from the 2″ x 12″ cedar planks. These pieces will be assembled to form the raised bed.
Step 2: Cut the Top RailMeasure down half an inch along the 2-inch side of a 7-foot long 2″ x 4″ board and cut a 45 degree angle at both ends to chamfer (bevel). This angled cut provides a more finished look to the top rail of the trellis.
Step 3: Measure and Cut Trellis FrameMeasure and cut four 32-inch lengths and four 66-inch lengths of 2″ x 2″ lumber. These pieces will be used to construct frames, to which fencing will be attached to create the trellis.
Step 4: Drill Pilot HolesMeasuring one inch from the ends of each 6-foot plank you cut for the bed, drill three holes spaced 3-inches apart. Drilling pilot holes for the lag screws reduces the possibility of the wood splitting during assembly.
Step 5: Assemble the Raised BedUsing twelve 4 1/2-inch lag screws (three at each corner), build the bed by driving lag screws through prepared holes into the ends of the 3-foot planks. Make sure all edges are square and that they don’t overlap. The thick cedar used here will hold up just fine without any stabilizing posts, but you may need to nail square stakes on the inside of each corner if you’re using a more lightweight wood.
Step 6: Attach Fence Frame to the TrellisUse finishing nails to attach the 66-inch 2″ x 2″ to the 7-foot 2″ x 4″ board, flush and centered at one end of the board. Repeat this step with the second 66-inch plank. Make sure you are working on a flat, stable surface—here we used scrap lumber to create a flat level surface to work on.
Step 7: Assemble the TrellisLay all pieces of the trellis and fence frame together; ensure the pieces will fit together snugly and that the corners are square. The unattached 66-inch 2″ x 2″ fence frame sides should meet in the center of the trellis. The 6-foot 2″ x 4″ serves as the bottom rail.
Step 8: Attach the Top RailCenter the top rail on the frame so that the chamfered ends overhang the sides of the trellis evenly at each end. Confirm that the corners are square, then attach the top rail to the trellis sides using deck screws.
Step 9: Attach the Bottom RailWith the fence frames inserted, attach the 6-foot bottom rail to the trellis sides using two 4-1/2-inch lag screws.
Step 10: Attach Fence FramesUse 3-inch screws to attach the fence frame to the trellis. Attach the top and bottom rails using finishing nails.
Step 11: Cut Hog Fence PanelsMeasure two 66-inch lengths of hog fence and cut using bolt cutters. Hog fencing is sturdy, inexpensive and attractive, but nylon netting or other materials may be substituted, if desired.
Step 12: Place the FencingPlace the cut fence panels into the frame.
Step 13: Attach FencingSecure the fencing on all sides of the frame using coaxial cable clips.
Step 14: Attach Trellis to Raised BedOn a level surface, slide the trellis over the ends of the raised bed. With the base of the trellis resting on the ground, use a level to make sure the sides are even, then use three 4 1/2-inch lag screws on each side to attach the trellis to the raised bed.
Step 15: Pick a Location and Anchor the BedCut four stakes at least 12-inches long from 2″ x 2″ lumber. Select a location for the bed (make sure to choose a spot that receives at least 8 hours of sunlight each day for best results), then hammer stakes into the ground inside each corner of the bed. Fasten with 3-inch screws to prevent possible tipping. To prevent weeds and grass from growing in your new bed, cut away the sod before anchoring it to the ground, or smother the grass by lining the bed with newspaper, which will decay over time.
Preparing the BedThose building a raised bed in the fall can try this trick for a thriving garden next spring: After lining with newspaper, add a layer of seed-free straw, blood meal, burlap (in case seeds make it into the straw), composted cotton burr, shredded leaves, another layer of blood meal and compost followed by potting mix. Leaving this to “stew” over the winter will create a nutrient-rich planting area that is ready to go once spring arrives.
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