Monday, January 30, 2017

Very Creative!

This day and age, burglars and shady “friends” are getting craftier at finding your valuables. The good news is we are becoming craftier thinking up new places to hide those goods. Here are a number of great ideas for stashing your valuable and sentimental (or naughty) items in places nobody would think to look.

1. This is about as clever as it gets. Just make sure you don’t trim your fingernails too close.

2. Here’s a shocking idea for hiding your goodies.

3. Having a hidden cubby behind a wall-mounted TV not only gives you better wire management, but also provides a secret storage area too.

4. Or instead of hiding items behind a picture frame, hide your stuff INSIDE one!

5. Rows of binders filled with pages of boring sentences are a great place to hide things from your kids.

6. That space under the cabinet is a perfect place for a little extra hidden storage.

7. Here’s a great trap door for hiding your valuables (or people) under the stairs.

8. This inconspicuous armoire can act as a hidden entrance to a panic room.

Or a hidden room to get your fifty shades of grey on without any unwanted intrusions.

9. Probably the sneakiest hiding spot of them all is located on every door in your home. Learn how to make one here.

10. Tired of that random brother-in-law who comes over and eats everything in the fridge? This dresser refrigerator might help.

“Would you like some mustard with those underpants?”

11. This ring lets you store your valuables within your valuables.

12. Here’s a classic hinged picture frame you can hide your jewelry behind. Learn how to make it here.

13. Seriously. Who would ever suspect?

14. The handles give it away, but this storage space is still a sweet idea for a floor bathtub.

15. Make your cold-hard cash even colder with this A/C vent safe. Purchase one here.

16. For only $99 you can hide your valuables in a head of lettuce... that is also a safe.

I doubt any burglar would check a head of lettuce while searching for your valuables.

17. A staircase is the perfect place to hide a small bar. For other amazing ideas using staircases, check this article out.

18. Here’s a great way to hide you valuables at the beach or swimming pool.

19. Rock out your house key concealment with this genius hiding device.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wow, this was enlightening but rather sad.

Spite Houses are the resulting combination of a reason to despise someone, and enough land and resources to leave a sizable monument of retribution. In some cases, these retributions are well deserved, and in others it’s the result of adults acting like spoiled children. At times, these spite houses serve as homes, and others serve as little more than an eyesore. Whatever the case, the stories behind most of the well known spite houses are rather laughable.

#1 The two brothers.

There are two stories about this house built in 1716, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The first is that two brothers inherited the house, and couldn’t stand each other. So, instead of one selling to the other, he just decided to build a ten foot wide home to live there and spite his brother. Because, if you are miserable with your brother, it only makes sense to want to live in a prison cell sized home right next to him. The second theory is that the ten foot wide home was constructed to block the scenic view of two other family members, due to spite over inheriting such a small piece of the father’s estate. Seems colonials had their own precursors to the modern day dysfunctional family sitcoms.

#2 Thomas McCobb

This home was built in Phippsburg, Maine, in 1806. Thomas McCobb, heir to his father’s land and shipbuilding business, built this home directly in front of the “Mansion in the Wilderness,” which was inherited by his step brother. The home was moved in 1925 to Deadman’s Point in Rockport, Maine by barge.

#3 Dr. John Tyler

This house was built in 1814 by Dr. John Tyler, the first American born ophthalmologist to perform cataract operation. He had learned that the city was planning to extend Record Street through Tyler’s land. In his search to stop the extension, he found a law inhibiting roads from being built where a substantial building was being constructed. He immediately had the foundation poured, and the road crews discovered it the next morning.

#4 More sibling rivalry.

“The Skinny House” was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1874. There were two brothers that inherited a part of their father’s property (sounds familiar). While one brother was serving in the military, the other built a large home, leaving only a tiny piece of land that he thought was too small to build on. When the soldier returned, he built a very skinny home, high enough to block the sunlight from coming into his brother’s home, ruining the view.

#5 The agitated developer.

In the 19th century, a Freeport, New York developer was agitated by the city’s grid development plan. He built the Victorian “Freeport Spite House” on a triangular plot of land, virtually overnight to throw off the development plan. Now that’s tenacity!

#6 Charles Froling

Charles Froling was vexed when the city of Alameda, California decided to take a large portion of his inherited land to build a road. He had hoped to build his dream home on it. To spite the city, and an unsympathetic neighbor, he built the “Alameda Spite House” between the road and the neighbor. The house is 54 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 20 feet high, and nearly touches his neighbor’s home.

#7 Francis O’Reilly

In 1908, Francis O’Reilly owned an investment parcel of land in Cambridge, Massachusetts (there’s that state again). His abutting neighbor declined buying the land from O’Reilly, who was looking to make a profit. In spite, he decided to build a 37 foot long, 8 foot wide building. It’s currently occupied by an interior decorating firm.

#8 The cost of a low-ball offer.

In 1925, in Montlake, Seattle, Washington, the “Montlake Spite House” was constructed in response to a neighbor making an insultingly low offer on the tiny parcel of land. The house is 860 square feet, 55 inches wide at the south end, and 15 feet wide at the North end. It was built this way simply to block the neighbor’s open space. Seems people don’t take kindly to cheap neighbors.

#9 Aaron Jackson

In 2013, Aaron Jackson, and LGBT rights activist and founder of Planting Peace, was checking out Westboro Baptist Church on Google Maps. This church was widely known for being against everything Aaron Jackson stood for. He noticed there was a home for sale across the street from the church and immediately bought it. He painted it up like the rainbow flag to spite the church. He reports that most of the attention that would be on the church, is now turning towards his home.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Need a little decorating help?

Every homeowner wants their home to look polished, pulled together and reflect their personal style. But not every homeowner wants to put in the effort to get it there. Some people just hate decorating, and the thought of decorating an entire home? Well, that just sounds terrible. But you can have a gorgeous, well-decorated home even if you're Pinterest challenged. Here are 5 decorating tips for people who hate to decorate:

Be Bold

If you're a person who doesn't like to decorate, you want to keep the amount of decorating you need to do to a minimum. And the best way to make a big impact with minimum effort is to be bold. Using bold patterns, colors, decor and furniture can make a room look highly styled with little effort on your part. Keep the majority of the room simple, and then choose one focal piece to make a bold statement. Use all neutrals in your dining room, but then use patterned wallpaper on one wall to add visual interest. Furnish your living room with simple pieces, but then choose an interesting coffee table as a conversation piece. Keep your entire bedroom in muted colors, but add a bright bedspread to add a pop of color. Focusing on one aspect of the decor in a room that makes a big impact will keep you from having to worry too much about decorating the rest of the room.

Stick To One Theme

Decorating can get complicated when you try to mix too many styles at once. And while an expert interior designer (or someone with a passion for decorating) can pull off a shabby chic living room with old world charm and touches of a contemporary style, for people who hate decorating will feel completely lost when trying to pull in design elements from multiple styles. Stick to one design theme throughout your home to minimize the amount of thought you need to put into your decorating. Sticking to one theme, like modern or traditional, will make it much easier to furnish and decorate your home since the decor will be consistent from room to room.

Hire a Designer

If you truly hate decorating - and you have a healthy decorating budget - you might consider hiring an interior designer. An interior designer can help bring the vision you have for your home to life without you needing to deal with all of the small details that go into making a home beautiful. They'll source the materials, choose colors, buy furniture and take care of all the decorating. If you do hire a designer, it's important to find someone you trust who has experience with the style of decor that you'd like for your home. Just because someone is an amazing modern designer doesn't mean they'll be able to design the contemporary home of your dreams. Ask other homeowner friends for recommendations, search interior design directories on home sites like Houzz or use Yelp to find a well-reviewed designer in your area.

Use A Design Service

If hiring an interior design feels like it's out of your budget, explore a digital design service. Using a virtual design service is much more affordable than hiring a private designer but can get you the same results. One fantastic virtual design service is Havenly. Havenly allows you to review designer portfolios so you can choose a designer whose style matches what you're looking for. Then, you share details about the room and budget, and your designer puts together a mock-up of the design. You let them know what you like and what you don't before finalizing the design. Havenly then sends you a personalized shopping list of the items you'll need to purchase to complete your room. All you have to do is hit purchase and assemble the space and voila! Room decorated. And with prices starting at just $79 per room, you can't go wrong on the price. If you find the Havenly isn't quite the right fit for you, there's plenty of other virtual design services out there, like Laurel and Wolf or Decorist, to meet your interior design needs.

Have Fun

If you find that decorating makes you want to pull your hair up, lighten up! Decorating, with the right mindset, can be fun. See if you can reframe the decorating process to make it more enjoyable for you. Try making a game of decorating a new room, and see how many new pieces of decor you can find for under $50. Set a date with your partner to spend a Sunday morning visiting antique stores to scout new pieces for your dining room. Throw a paint apron or a smock on your children and let them get their hands dirty helping you paint the new playroom. No matter how much you hate decorating, there's always a way to reframe it and make it more fun. With these 5 tips, you'll have your home looking like an ad from a magazine - even if you're a person who hates decorating.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In the cold mid-winter a laugh will warm things up!

To some, real estate agents are considered the champions of their clients, trying to provide families with their little slice of the American dream. To others, they’re simply misunderstood. Either way, when it comes to helping us settle into the biggest investment of our lives, their value is immense. Now you can take an open-house tour of their world with comedian John Mulaney!

From start to finish you don't want to miss this hilarious clip that delves into the lives of these stalwart guardians of home ownership.

Via Quentin Forgues

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Thinking about redoing a kitchen?

A kitchen remodel is the singular most cost-effective room remodel you can put into your home if you’re planning on putting it on the market. The ROI is usually more than 100% and very often much, much more. With the upswing in the real estate market these days, a full or partial kitchen remodel can help you sell your home faster and for a higher dollar amount.

1. Tuxedo Kitchens

You may have not heard of the term “tuxedo kitchen,” but you have likely seen the color-blocked images. The style is relatively simple, usually with white on the top, and a darker color such as black or dark gray on the bottom of the kitchen. When designing your tuxedo kitchen, remember that the small accents are absolutely essential to tying this look together and really making it pop. Think brushed gold cabinet hardware with matching faucets and light fixtures, or utilizing the identical style cabinets for both top and bottom, but white on top and navy below, with matte finishes on both. The little details will make or break this room, so pay attention to the subtleties!

2. Wood Paneling

Now, of course we’re not talking about 1970’s basement wood paneling… no, today’s wood paneling is rich in color and texture and nothing at all like the past. The prevailing trend over the next years will be towards light colored, even white, paneling and will be used on walls, ceilings,’ll see lots of creative uses for paneling! While lighter colors prevail, faux weathered greys and brown inspire a rustic look without having to break the bank on reclaimed barnwood. Warm tones give depth to rooms where people gather such as kitchens and living rooms, or where we take sanctuary - bedrooms and libraries or den areas. Remember that you don’t have to panel an entire room, either. Using paneling in small spaces as an accent is a cost-effective and simple way to create a new look without investing a ton of work, time, or money. Utilize recent (say, last 10-15 years) paneling in new ways by painting it in a new color. In a kitchen or bath, consider painting the paneling in a shade similar to the existing walls. If you’ve got a cottage look or rustic decor, a bit of faux distressing will look fantastic, and breathe new life into the room!

3. Hidden Appliances

Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers. Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry, and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall. This look will be especially attractive to those who spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and are looking for a cozier, more relaxing feel.

4. Patterned Tiles

Out with the subway-inspired tiles, and in with eclectic patterned tiles. Use many different patterns within a color range for a really funky look, or stick with a more traditional, yet still colorful, look of alternating patterned tiles. The options here are truly endless, and you’ll find patterned tiles to fit every room, use, and budget. Go for a simple project like a new kitchen backsplash, or do an entire bathroom! Mix patterned tiles with solid-colored tiles or go all-out with one style/pattern. A simple online search for “patterned tiles” gives enormous inspiration!

5. Automation

Faucets with sensors - great for kids who can’t yet reach. Lights that go on when we enter a room and automatically go off when they stop detecting motion. Meat thermometers that notify your smartphone when your roast has achieved the correct temperature. These are but a few of the quickly increasing options when it comes to automating your home. In 2017 and future years, we’ll see more of these automation trends, and many of them will allow you to run your home from your smartphone or device. Exciting times, indeed! And here are some trends that are on their way out!
  • Short kitchen cabinets are no longer en vogue. Go for taller cabinets with more room for storage.
  • Brown and grey speckled granite countertops. While granite is still a popular choice for counters because of its resiliency and ease of clean up, lighter granite is more in line with the kitchens of 2017 and beyond.
  • Dark wood kitchens are a no go. Bright and light are where it’s at.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Would you live here?

Brigadoon, Silvertown, Stepford, Middlemarch, Pleasantville…all mythical towns of fantasy from literature and film that make our hearts yearn for perfect locales that just don’t exist in the real world. That is, until now.
Nestled deep in northern Holland is the small town of Giethoorn. When you first see photos of this tiny town it looks like it was cut straight from a child’s dream; or the abandoned location of northern Holland Disneyland. Either way, this neighborhood of magic, with its network of quiet canals intertwined throughout, is no fairy tale.
When you see the canal streets and wooden bridges that beckon you to come visit the beautiful village straight out of Beauty and the Beast, you might think you’ll have to pass beyond the gumdrop forest and through moors of the dwarven kingdom. In reality it’s just a short car ride from Amsterdam with an array of bed and breakfasts for you to stay in while you visit.
Life in the little Venice-esque village of 2600 is quiet. The website even touts that the most commotion you’d hear is the “quacking of a duck, or noise made by other birds.” That or the postman using a punt to deliver the mail. (Punt as in “a flat-bottomed boat” not punt as in he’s kicking packages across the water because he can’t be bothered with getting in and out of a boat.)
Next time you’re in Europe and you want to truly get away from it all, stop by Giethoorn before it possibly disappears into the mists for a thousand years.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Top 12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Home

Top 12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Home

Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be?

Your home should be your haven: the place where you will be protected from harm. It should be a top priority, and yet every year 1200 people or more visit the emergency room during the holiday months due to accidents and unintended injuries sustained from hidden dangers around the home.

With a sharp eye and preventive action you can reduce the chances of lurking safety dangers for everyone who visits your home.

The Top 12 Home Safety Tips

1. GOOD LIGHTING— Adequate lighting reduces the risk of tripping and falling both inside and outside your home. This is especially important in winters when days are shorter. Critical areas that need to be illuminated are the stairs, outdoors, and foyers. Make sure your street number is well lit and visible from the street to aid first responders find your home. The fix: Make sure adequate wattage is utilized and long-life bulbs and motion detectors are in place.

2. ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS?— Electrical issues, like a flickering light or a dead outlet, can be mild annoyances that actually signal serious dangers. If not addressed promptly, a faulty electrical system can result in house fires and shocks. The fix: If you’re experiencing any problems with your electricity, contact a professional right away. In your daily life, make sure electrical cords are not frayed or pierced and extension cords are securely connected. Do not run too many cords to a single outlet. Unplug small appliances, space heaters, and power tools when not in use.

3. DO ROUTINE CLEANING— Not maintaining your appliances leads to a greater chance of accidental home fires. The fix: Do simple tasks regularly like cleaning grease off your stovetop, emptying the lint trap on your dryer, and keeping your chimney clean and clear.

4. SMOKE AND GAS DETECTORS— Every home needs functional warning devices that detect smoke and gases. The fix: When purchasing smoke alarms, make sure they also detect carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is especially dangerous because it is colorless and odorless. Replace the batteries every six months—or whenever you change your clocks. Create an emergency evacuation plan, build a preparedness kit, and practice regular safety drills with your family to ensure awareness of procedures.

5. SECURE YOUR HOME— Many homes now have the latest technological advancements but still rely on locks and hardware from decades ago to keep you safe from intruders. The fix: Do an audit of all entry points to your home—doors and windows and screens. If any do not have secure screens, locks, and deadbolts, have them installed. For those entry points that do already have door knobs, handles, and locks, make sure that they are in good working condition.

6. WHEN YOU ARE AWAY— We all enjoy long weekends and out-of-town vacations, but unfortunately that leaves your home vulnerable to intruders. The fix: Create the illusion that someone may still be there. Leave a TV or stereo on in the room where a burglar would most likely break in. Have neighbor pick up mail and the daily paper. Turn down phone ringers, keep blinds drawn, and don’t leave unsecured valuables in the home even if you think they are well-hidden. Never hide keys around the home or garden, and don’t leave notes on the door that suggest you are out of town.

7. HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS— Even if you are an expert and know your way around electrical, plumbing, car or other household repairs, proceed with caution. A poor repair could be a recipe for disaster. The fix: Call a professional or ask me for a referral from our trusted sources.

8. VEHICLE CAUTION— Remember that there is danger even before you drive on the street. If you are backing your car up, watch out for children and pets on the sidewalk and road. The fix: Be cautious and proceed slowly when driving vehicles in or out of your driveway. If your driveway does not have good visibility in both directions, walk down and look in both directions before you get in your car.

9. MAKE IT SAFE FOR VISITORS— If you are hosting friends and family, consider what additional safety challenges they may face. The fix: Put yourself in the shoes of a small child and look for low, hard edges, sharp objects, easy-to-open cabinets with chemicals and cleaning agents. Look for falling and tripping hazards that may fell seniors.

10. BRACE YOURSELF— Heavy objects are rarely braced in the home. Appliances, artwork, televisions, and aquariums present real hazards if they are knocked down by a person or a natural disaster. The fix: Strap and brace heavy objects and use security hardware for large artwork.

11. UNCOVER HIDDEN DANGERS— If your home was built before the late seventies, there’s likely lead in the paint under the top coats on your walls and windows, and there might be traces in the varnish used on many hardwood floors. In addition, asbestos often can be found in insulation and “popcorn” ceiling textures. The fix: Hire a licensed contractor to test for possible contaminants and remove them safely, especially prior to a remodel.

12. MOTHER NATURE— Your homeowners insurance will cover you in many instances, but did you know that you may not be insured against natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes? They typically require an additional policy. The fix: Contact your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate replacement coverage as home values escalate and coverage amounts can stay static. Discuss costs for adding disaster policies for the natural disaster most likely to hit your area. Finally, having a disaster and communication plan can minimize the risks.

Safety Dangers to Kids You May Not Think About

Do you have small children who live with you? Even if you don’t, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, your home may welcome friends with young children and older family members. This makes now the ideal time to survey home your home for potential safety problems.

Did you know that as little as an inch of water can be a major hazard? A pail of water in the yard, large puddles from a storm, even a washing machine can induce a small child to trip or fall into and become at risk. The fix: Watch for open ice chests and other standing water, and don’t leave toilet seats open.

Button-sized lithium batteries power small electronic devices, including remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards, and ornaments. When accidentally swallowed, they can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that can cause severe chemical burns and tissue damage. The fix: Only let small children play with mechanical devices and toys under supervision, and make sure to put these items away when not in use.

Every year, more than 5,000 kids end up in the emergency room after tumbling out of a window. Combat that by installing window guards or window stops so kids can’t fall out. Stairs are another potential hazard for youngsters with less-than-perfect balance. The fix: Baby gates can prevent young kids from venturing up or down. Steps should always have firm footing and be clear of objects as even older people can slip and fall or trip on items left on the stairs.

Cats can scratch a child not used to playing with finicky felines. The family dog may be big and loving but can outweigh a child by five times. Children can be easily knocked down, nipped, or even bitten by a dog not used to the activity of small children. The fix: Monitor play activity and make sure your pet is not getting anxious or annoyed.

Babies can be strangled by cords on blinds and shades. The fix: Excessive cords of all types should be removed or secured down. Always keep cribs away from windows with loose cords.

Now’s the Time
With the upcoming holidays at hand, now is the perfect time to survey your home and address potential safety hazards to yourselves, your family, and your friends. It doesn’t take long, most fixes are very inexpensive and simple to do, and your efforts will pay dividends in peace of mind for years to come.

If you would like our advice on how to make your home safer and need a list of trusted sources for home repairs, please contact us today. It’s our business to ensure that your home is safe and secure for your family.