Fast, Affordable Online Interior Design Options

It was only a matter of time before the internet would disrupt how the design trade has worked for decades.

In the past, interior designers ordered almost every piece of furniture or decor from trade vendors on behalf of their clients, and billed them an hourly rate plus charges for purchases—typically, wholesale plus a markup or retail minus a discount. Then, it would take the merchandise months to be fabricated and delivered.

Obviously, homeowners were exhilarated when other resources emerged, such as HGTV shows, hip housing magazines, and online idea sites such as Houzz and Pinterest, allowing them to take a more active role in home design. The latest iteration to shake up the process is online companies that employ staff designers or freelancers with the goal of simplifying the designer-homeowner partnership and allowing the act of home furnishing to became transparent, faster, and more affordable.

Read the full article on REALTOR® Magazine…

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House hunting pet owners place high priority on spaces for pets

Real estate brokers are keenly aware of the priority home buyers and home owners give to their pets.

Recent Realtor.com research showed 89 percent of millennials who bought a home own a pet. Of this demographic, 79 percent of pet-owning buyers who closed on a property said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets.

A recent pet parent who purchased a home said she even picked her Realtor® for her pet-friendly attitude, having learned the broker she chose had worked with several volunteers at a local animal shelter.

“It’s heartwarming to find that people will put their pets’ needs first, even when it comes to one of the biggest financial decisions they will ever make,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com. “This survey shows that we really do consider pets part of the family-and that their needs are a critical part of finding the perfect home.”

While dog owners typically desire homes with large yards, cat owners have different space considerations, ranging from where to place to litter box to find ways to satisfy the feline’s curiosity and craving for exercise and environmental enrichment.

Cat owners on the move face an “indoor/outdoor” dilemma, according to Cynthia Chomos, who teaches classes for real estate brokers on various topics including “feng shui for buying and selling” and “color appeal for a quicker sale.” A few years ago, she started applying those skills to her other passion: creating safe, enriching outdoor enclosures for cats, sometimes known as catios or cat patios.

“Cats, whether living mostly indoors or allowed outside, are naturally drawn to the stimulation of the outdoors, but responsible cat owners know a variety of outdoor hazards lurk, especially for free-roaming cats,” according to Chomos. Veterinarians can confirm the consequences of unprotected outdoor time can be traumatic and expensive.

Having a safe and stimulating environment for beloved pets is paramount, but home buyers who search for pet-specific amenities also care about aesthetics.

“You can have a beautiful house and a pet, too,” says Julia Szabo, pet columnist for the New York Post and author of Animal House Style: Designing A Home To Share With Your Pets.

Chomos, who founded Catio Spaces in 2014 and is a licensed contractor, agreed, stating, “Rather than looking like an unsightly cage, catios can resemble outdoor rooms. She builds custom catios around Puget Sound and offers downloadable plans for DIYers who prefer to construct their own or hire their own carpenter.

Cat enclosures and protected perches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. (Editor’s note: a Google search uncovered more than 4 million results for the keyword catio!)  PETA describes catios as being akin to “a vacation beach house for your feline friends.”

Escape-proof materials and components are essential, according to those who build them. Additional elements often include shelves for vertical and horizontal movement, perches for lounging, toys for enrichment, cat safe plants, seating and space to decorate.

From small and simple to large and luxurious, the enclosures can be an attractive addition to a home while ensuring the health and wellbeing of cats – as well as cat owners, birds, and other wildlife. Large catios provide outdoor space for feline and human bonding while enjoying the benefits of nature.

As a pet lifestyle expert, Chomos helped found “Catio Tour Seattle,” a showcase of local catios, and collaborates with others to promote the benefits of catios. The annual catio tour, is organized by PAWS as part of its Safe Cats, Healthy Habitats project and sponsored by Catio Spaces, The Humane Society of the United States, Oskar & Klaus and Seattle Audubon. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, July 13.

Source: Seattle King County REALTORS® Northwest REporter

How smart is your home?

In 2019, it’s possible your house is smarter than you. Designed to provide energy efficiency, security and comfort conveniences, the smart home can do it all on command. Control lighting, heating, cooling, appliances, televisions, computers and other security features with smart technology that communicates with each other and can be remotely controlled via a smart phone or online. Internet connectivity and cloud storage makes all this smart home technology possible by bringing convenience and electronic intelligence right to your fingertips. If you’re technically-challenged, don’t worry – we suggest starting small to go big with technology with three easy technologies to make your home smarter this year.

  1. Set Smart Temperatures
    Most thermostats only read the temperature in one area (usually the hallway) which can make other rooms too hot or too cold. Technology like ecobee4 or Nest comes with room sensors to help manage hot or cold spots. When sensors are placed in the most popular rooms, the smart gadget can read the temperature, detect occupancy and adjust the temperature so it’s just right.
  2. Sensing Leaks
    Smart leak detection sensors monitor your home’s plumbing with the purpose of discovering leaks and malfunctions. They can assist you in preventing water damage and the growth of mold and mildew inside a wall due to a slow leak.
  3. Open and Shut
    If you have ever left home for the day or, even worse, been on vacation and suddenly you’re unsure if you left the garage door open – a smart garage door opener offers convenience, improved home security and peace of mind. Check the open or closed status of your garage door via an app on your smartphone as well as open it or close it remotely – in other words, it’s possible to be on the other side of the Earth and still control your garage door.

The 2019 Color of the Year Is…

Expect to see more coral hues in home design next year. Pantone, the corporation known for its paint forecasts, unveiled “Living Coral” as its 2019 Color of the Year. The color, an orange shade with golden undertones, embodies “warmth and comfort,” Pantone says.

Living Coral can make a bold statement as an accent color, and forecasters expect to see it in more shag rugs, cozy blankets, and upholstery to “create a warm, comforting, and nurturing feeling in the home.” “With its ebullient nature, Pantone’s Living Coral adds a dramatic pop of color to any room setting, whether in decorative accessories, tabletops, or on the wall,” Pantone said in a statement.

Living Coral succeeds Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year, Ultra Violet. Other paint companies have been offering their picks for the 2019 Color of the Year. Behr chose a rich, bluish hue called “Blueprint,” while Sherwin-Williams chose “Cavern Clay,” a warm terra cotta color.

Source: Pantone

5 Winter Projects that Prep for Your Best Spring Garden Yet

As winter rolls in, you may find yourself in a funk — especially if you’re a gardener with a green thumb. The growing beds are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the dark skies that roll in a little earlier make you long for sunnier days. Hold on — just because the summer gardening season is over, doesn’t mean you can’t plan to get your hands dirty next spring!

Use winter to evaluate (or re-evaluate) your spring gardening goals – set yourself up for success to grow your best harvest yet! If you’re new to gardening, we have tips to help you get started – read on to learn the five winter projects to do now to ready your green thumb to have the best spring garden yet.

  1. Plan Ahead

As spring rolls around, you could just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happens, but for best results, use a garden planner to map out and maximize your growing space. Now comes the fun part! It’s time to order your seed catalog and decide what varieties and produce to plant. There are so many options to choose from and by spring, the grocery store’s produce won’t be able to compete with your homegrown harvest!

  1. Weeding, Weeding and More Weeding

Fall and winter are the best times to weed the garden. The beds are clear of produce and you don’t have to worry about the risk of accidentally yanking that prize tomato plant out of the ground. Before you reach for the Roundup, consider doing your soil a favor by opting for more natural weed killer options. Once you’ve finished cleaning the beds, fill them with plenty of mulch-utilizing mulch not only helps to keep the weeds out, but it provides your soil with a host of beneficial nutrients.

  1. Show Your Soil Some Love

One of the first things you learn in gardening is that not all soil is alike. Plants can die simply because the soil doesn’t drain well and it doesn’t hold many nutrients. Winter is the perfect time to test and amend your soil mix. There are a variety of soil testing kits available on Amazon, but if you really want to take it to the next level, consider having your soil tested at your county’s local extension office or check out this soil testing laboratory database to find a location near you. Once you have an idea of what your soil needs, get those hands dirty and mix it up. To maintain the quality of your soil, make sure to do ongoing maintenance such as applying compost, cleaning up dead material, practicing crop rotation and growing cover crops for the winter.

  1. Clean ‘Em Up

Don’t just toss your gardening tools in the garage and forget about them, clean them up for storing until the spring. Disinfecting your garden tools is a good way of warding off potential pests and disease and don’t forget to sharpen up any tools that are dull. Nothing is more frustrating than gearing up for some pruning or weeding and the tools are too dull-making it difficult to cut and trim. Tools that are sharpened regularly will last longer, too.

  1. Cover Up from the Cold

Your garden bed clean-up is done and now’s the time to protect any winter plants from the coming frost. Consider investing in portable cold frames or row covers to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Another option is to invest in a greenhouse or build your own. You can start your seeds inside and once the last frost is over, you can move them into the ground. This is a method to use for those that live in very cold regions.

6 Master Bathroom Trends to Watch

Grays, mixed metals, and farmhouse styles are some of the most popular trends for remodelers taking on sprucing up their master bathroom.

The 2018 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study is based on a survey of more than 1,100 homeowners who are planning or recently have completed a master bathroom renovation. Some of the trends that emerged from the report:

1. Seeing gray: Gray colors continue to dominate for walls and flooring in the bathroom. Gray cabinets are also gaining popularity, climbing from a 10 percent share in 2016 to 16 percent in 2018.

2. Taking the upgrade: More homeowners are upgrading their master bathrooms with special features when they remodel. The most popular premium features are dual showers, one-piece toilets, vessel sinks, and built-in vanities.

3. Mixing up the metals: Two in five renovating homeowners do not match metal finishes across fixtures and hardware in master bathrooms. Of the 58 percent of renovating homeowners who do match metal finishes, the most popular options are matte nickel and polished chrome (38 and 28 percent, respectively).

4. Going a little country: Farmhouse styles are jumping in popularity. While contemporary style continue to be the leading choice among renovating homeowners, the style has dropped over the past three years. Farmhouse style, on the other hand, has more than doubled in popularity, from 3 percent in 2016 to 7 percent in 2018.

5. Making it accessible: The majority of baby boomer homeowners (ages 55 or older) are addressing aging-related needs during master bathroom renovations. Nearly half of renovating baby boomers are changing the bathroom layout, and one-third are removing the bathtub. Other upgrades include installing accessibility features like seats, low curbs, grab bars, and non-slide floors in upgraded showers and bathtubs.

6. Building a master suite: The study found that homeowners are focusing on their master suite as a whole, not just the bathroom in their updates. Nearly half of master bathroom projects also were accompanied by master bedroom renovations (46 percent). Some homeowners are making their master baths even larger than their bedroom. One in ten master bathrooms is the same size or larger than the master bedroom (11 percent).

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

4 Ways to Get Your Fireplace Ready for Fall

Is there anything cozier than snuggling up beside the fireplace in fall? With the whisper of cool fall air, staying inside and watching the crackle of the fire in your favorite comfy spot is the only sensical move this season. The thought of fresh pumpkin spice everything, warm apple pies and a fuzzy blanket to curl up in is enough to get the firewood ready right now!

Before you start sipping on the cider, get your fireplace ready for fall with these four unique ideas from RE/MAX.

1. Add fire to your fireplace

Get creative! You can go as simple as a candle sitting on the mantel – to different sized candles in glass containers at different heights. The sparkle and the yummy scents will bring dimension, style and great smells to the room and help your fireplace feel like the epicenter of all things fall. Pro tip: try the Brown Sugar Chestnut Candle to get your house smelling extra nice for the season.

2. Signs are in!

You can’t go into a store today without seeing a customizable sign. Take a simple frame with slots for letters and spell out your favorite quote. Or, go a little deeper and get a chalk style board, adding your personal touch with handwriting and design. Add a family saying, your favorite verse from the song you can’t stop singing, or just a word of encouragement will lighten up the mantel and bring smiles all around.

3. Fall Flowers

Dress up your mantel with festive fall flowers. From the dollar store to a ritzy florist, you can find the orange, yellow and rustic brown hues you desire. Grab an old mason jar as a vase and start putting together the fall colored flower arrangement that is sure to grab any guest’s attention. Pro tip: string together some fake leaves and wrap them around the edge of the mantel to pull together the entire look!

4. Pumpkins, everywhere!

No fall mantel would be complete without a traditional pumpkin or 12 sitting strategically across the top. With fake fruit or real, the traditional look of a few beautiful orange pumpkins on the mantel captures the epitome of fall. Aside from pumpkins, is the idea of switching out the ordinary for a different, yet equally seasonal move. Change out the pumpkins for apples! A subtle switch can give your mantel the envy of neighbors.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a house that comes with the perfect fireplace to curl up next too, contact me. I’ll be happy to help!