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Articles Tagged "Home Decorating"

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October
8

When working with a smaller sized house, it's smart to be conscious of your space and make use of every square inch. It is possible to be clever and have both a desk and bed co-exist comfortably in an office that is shared as a guest room. If you find yourself not wanting to fully devote your spare bedroom into a single use space, learn how to make this room as functional as possible. 

Use a Sleeper Sofa

A modern sleeper sofa is perfect to incorporate into an office space, giving a cozy couch appearance by day and functional bed by night. When it's not in use as a bed, the couch makes for a great spot to catch up on reading or taking a break from office work. 

An Office with a Daybed 

If you find yourself with limited space for a sleeper sofa, try a daybed for a less bulky option. A daybed is ideal for creating a casual spot for relaxation due to their low profile design, while still providing guests a space to sleep. 

A Guest Bedroom with a Work Area

Perhaps you find yourself not using the office space as frequently as anticipated. If this is the case, consider using the space mostly as a spare bedroom with a smaller work area. A twin or full sized bed is perfect sizing for a guest room that has limited space. 

Choice Properties offers you a chance to find the home of your dreams. We work with your budget and ideas in mind to support your ultimate vision. Call us if you are ready to check out the available inventory or to speak with a reputable agent who can assist you with your home buying needs.

July
17

Buying a home offers the chance to completely make the space unique to you and your family. The blank slate allows those to fill the space with their style, expressing their personality in every room. Whether you're comfortable in a rustic home, modern, or country-chic, it is entirely up to you! If you're looking for something new and fresh, consider trying the design trend on the rise: minimalism. Minimalism means inviting only the essentials into your space, while limiting clutter and miscellaneous items. Here is how you can bring minimalism into your newly purchased home. 

Choose Neutral Colors 

The first step to introduce minimalism to your space is selecting a neutral color scheme. It is suggested to go with soft whites or light gray for a minimalistic-feel, which allows natural light to pour into the space while making the room feel welcoming. If you crave more color, go for a powder pink! 

Furniture and Materials

Similar with colors, you will need to find a balance of materials. Combining different materials, such as natural wooden floors with a metal coffee table creates an industrial, yet warm style. Incorporating organic materials into your custom build will always be on trend. The most important key is still choosing furniture that you find comfortable. Don't settle for a stunning couch that offers zero comfort!

Declutter and Add Storage

Perhaps the biggest aspect of choosing a minimalist design is decluttering. If you don't feel comfortable donating items you are currently not using, consider using a storage unit for the time being. More homeowners are opting for a minimalist design as a way to start fresh and live simply. Decluttering and only keeping the essentials allows you to do this, feeling rejuvenated and stress-free in your personal space. 




Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

May
29

5 Tips for Beginning Gardeners

With the warm weather comes perfect timing to tackle outdoor projects. If you have recently moved into a new house, gardening is the perfect way to ground yourself and make the space feel like home. The beauty of gardening is that there is always something new to learn. It takes trial and error, but with the right guidance you can have a green thumb in no time. These 5 tips for beginning gardeners are perfect to start this new adventure with!

Don't Go Overboard

When beginning to garden, it's important to start small and not take on more than you can handle. Gardening is a hobby that takes a certain amount of devoted time. If you run a busy schedule, don't feel down about starting with a small garden! It is suggested to start with containers or a raised bed to manage your seeds. Over time, you can slowly expand your garden and add more plants as you please.  

Purchase High Quality Gardening Tools

Most plants are sensitive and require a level of care, from both you and your gardening tools. Purchasing a hose that won't kink will save you time and worries, but be sure to pair it with a gentle watering faucet. Consider investing in stainless stool tools as they can handle weather elements not rust.

Incorporate Mulch in the Garden

Spreading mulch is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Mulch helps limit time spent watering since it is able to hold moisture. Adding 2-4 inches of mulch on your garden beds will help plants thrive.

Add Compost

Not only is composting a sustainable way of life, but it adds great value to gardens. The secret to a healthy garden is the quality of soil, and compost is a great way to boost the nutrients. Start composting with grass clippings or fallen leaves, while incorporating kitchen waste. This includes:

  • Egg shells
  • Fruit and veggies scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Houseplant trimmings
  • Tea leaves/bags





Choice Properties offers you a chance to find the home of your dreams. We work with your budget and ideas in mind to support your ultimate vision. Call us if you are ready to check out the available inventory or to speak with a reputable agent who can assist you with your home buying needs.

January
16

Tips on Maximizing Space in Your New Home

Regardless of how big your new home is, we all crave the need of maximizing space to make our homes feel spacious and welcoming. If you have been wondering how to make your bathroom more organized or tips on making use of your spare bedroom, stay tuned! The experts at Choice Properties are sharing our tips on maximizing space in your new home, allowing you to truly enjoy your recent purchase.

Open Up Your Entryway

The entryway is the first area of your home that guests welcomes guests. This space should be functional, allowing space for maneuvering quickly and easily. Take full advantage of the space by adding a bench or sitting area for guests to remove shoes. A coat rack also makes it easy for kids to grab backpacks when rushing to the school bus! Mounted wall hooks are easy to install and don't take up much space.

Organize Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the busiest room in any home. This means the space should be enjoyable, comfortable to cook in, and functional to entertain guests. Maximizing space by adding vertical storage shelving in your pantry is a great way to hide food and making use of other cabinets. Using drawers for kitchen utensils and cabinets for plates gives items a designated spot.

Tidy Up Living Rooms

Have you noticed how your living room may become cluttered without even trying? This is a high traffic area and can easily become tight. Whether it's family movie night or Saturday football, consider rearranging the space for better enjoyment! Multifunctional furniture, such as ottomans, are perfect for tucking away video game accessories. If you're looking for a coffee table, consider one that offer drawers and open shelving to store TV remotes.

Don't Hide Junk in the Garage

Although the garage is the perfect place to store items, be sure to do so properly rather than hiding boxes of junk. If your garage became piled with miscellaneous items during the move, it's time to go through and purge the unnecessary. Take this time to donate unused furniture that is in storage or discard broken appliances you never got around to fixing. Installing an overhead ceiling rack for luggage, recreation equipment, and seasonal decorations allows you to park your cars where they deserve!

Make the Most of Your Bedroom   

Every bedroom in your home should be a place of comfort, giving you a space to escape from the daily stresses of the world. It can be easy for nightstands to become cluttered or drawers to be overflowing. Maximize the space by ensuring drawers are cleaned of outdated or unused items. Adding storage to your closets is a great way to organize jeans, work pants, and shoes without taking up space.





Choice Properties provides the best in service when it comes to finding your dream home. Our excellent team of realtors will support you in finding the right home at the right place, right now.

Give us a call today!

October
30

Renovations That Will Increase Your Home's Value

If you have considered renovating your home with the intention to sell in the near future, or just for your family, there are a few things you may want to consider. If you are looking for a renovation that will increase your home's value, there are two ways to go about the process. Getting one or two major renovations completed, such as finishing a basement or adding an extra living space to the existing home is one tactic. Opting to tackle a handful of small projects and fixes is the second option. Whichever you decide to do, here are some remodeling projects than can add more value to your home.

Kitchen Upgrades

These days, potential buyers typically seek a spacious, updated kitchen. Simple upgrades like replacing old appliances and adding new countertops or cabinets can easily add up in cost. Consider these bigger renovations that are worth the investment:

  • Adding an island
  • Adding a breakfast nook
  • Adding new ceramic flooring
  • Adding accent lighting

Removing Walls

Open floor plans are the first to catch the eye of many. Knocking down unnecessary walls is a great way to open up any space with little hassle. Be sure to use a professional contractor for a safe and completed job!

Room Additions

Contrary to popular belief, adding a new room to your existing home is not as expensive as one may assume and is a great way to increase your home's value. Think about converting your attic to a study area or adding another room addition to your house. This will increase your square footage while pushing up your asking price.   

Outdoor Living Space

People crave an outdoor space for relaxation during the warmer months. This could mean building a back deck or slate patio. Make your outdoor space a mini oasis by adding path lights, plants, shrubs, and trees.




Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

 

October
17

 

Read This Before Buying a Fixer Upper

Whether you're a first time home buyer or experienced with the home buying process, purchasing a house is an exciting time! Taking time to discuss your desires in a home with a trusted realtor will help make your dreams come true. For some, this may be newly built home with extra storage on a limited budget. Others may prefer to purchase a "fixer upper", which requires an open mind and deep conversations. The agents at Choice Properties suggest you read this before buying a fixer upper, preparing you with questions to ask along the way.

Questions to Ask Your Agent

What is the value in this neighborhood?

It's important to keep in mind the area in which you're looking to purchase a fixer upper. Considering your investment in the long run is critical with these projects, as you don't want to get stuck in a house you can't sell down the road.

Is the home located in a historic district?

Purchasing a victorian home to renovate is a dream had by many. Featuring original crown molding, wainscoting, and beautiful stained-glass windows. Your agent should make you aware of this, but homes in historical districts often have to be renovated with an association or to a city standard. This means obtaining approval for projects and updates, which also comes with a price tag.

Questions to Ask Yourself

How is the overall layout of the home?

Although changing the layout is possible, it's also an extra cost along with time added to the project. Considerations for how existing rooms flow and which walls are able to be knocked down to create a larger space should be kept in mind. Make note of the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you are seeking versus what the house currently offers. Will you have to add another bedroom or bathroom?

Do you have the time, patience, and energy for a fixer upper?

Choosing to completely renovate a home is a large project that requires many considerations. Are you prepared for unexpected issues or delays? Asking yourself these questions will help you decide if a fixer upper is truly what you are seeking.

Flipping a house is a big project, but can be done with determination!

Fixer uppers can be great investments in the long run, but require a promised commitment. Ask yourself if you are truly ready for a big project and tackle it head on, creating the home of your dreams!  If that answer is yes, it's time to call a Choice Properties agent to discuss the current options on the market!

 

 

Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. Whether you are looking to purchase a fixer upper or move in ready home, our team is ready to help. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you.

Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

 

June
4

5 Ways Homeowners can Avoid Foreclosure and Rebound

Owning a home comes with the responsibility of not only maintenance, but a financial obligation to pay a mortgage. As life happens, individuals may be presented with challenges and financial stress that can result in missing a payment. If several payments have been missed without contact with the homeowner's leasing company, a foreclosure might be presented by the lender. Although this is one possible outcome of falling behind on mortgage payments, there are several ways to avoid the foreclosure process even if a homeowner cannot afford the debt. The expert realtors at Choice Properties have listed 5 ways homeowners can avoid foreclosure, and rebound out of the rut.

Foreclosure Workout

During the time between the foreclosure announcement and the house auction, lenders are encouraging a compromise rather than proceeding with the auction. Lenders want to see homeowners stay on the right track, and are willing to negotiate a mortgage payment suitable for the current lifestyle.

Short Sale

Following the Notice of Default filed by the lender, but before the auction, there is a time where new potential buyers could make an offer on the house. If an offer is made on the house, lenders have the ability to consider accepting or declining the offer. If the homeowner presents a reasonable short sale offer, the lender may see this as saving them the time and effort of finding a qualified buyer in a soft market.

Bankruptcy

The only option to immediately stop foreclosure is to file for bankruptcy. Once bankruptcy has been filed, federal law prohibits any debt collectors from continuing collection activities, including foreclosure. This means the homeowner will face the creditors in court, buying the homeowner more time to recover financially. This law requires mortgage companies to work in-hand with homeowners, compromising to find the right solution.

Deed in Lieu

In this step of the foreclosure process, homeowners voluntarily sign the deed of the home over to the bank. Although this option sounds easy, it can significantly impact a homeowner's credit score. Lender's can be reluctant to sign over the home, as they fear homeowners are manipulating the system and being dishonest about their financial stress. This makes it difficult for lenders to agree to a deed in lieu.

Assumption/Lease-Option

Most loans in today's world are no longer assumable, meaning the average mortgage contains a clause where the borrower agrees to pay off the loan entirely. If a homeowner is facing foreclosure, they may have the advantage of persuading their lender to modify the loan. This allows another buyer to assume the loan, making it a win-win for all parties.

Consider taking action to avoid home foreclosure, rather than ignoring the situation. There are multiple ways homeowners can steer clear of a completed foreclosure, all of which are easy to navigate.





Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

May
17

Things to Consider about Buying a Fixer Upper

Older homes hold true characteristic in both their interior and exterior, making them great for fixer uppers. Updating an older space allows you to treasure the unique statements, such as discovering hidden shiplap or restoring old hardwood floors and bring out the raw beauty within the home. Not only are historic homes beautiful for fixer uppers, but can also come with a cheaper price. Your Choice Properties real estate agent can help find your dream fixer upper within your price range and desired features. In the meantime, we have created a list of things to consider about buying a fixer upper, ensuring you are fully prepared for the flip.

Talk to an Inspector

When buying an older home, it's common of the home to come with both cosmetic and design updates. It's important to speak with an inspector to fully understand the condition and safety of the home, ranging from plumbing, electrical, to foundation. Having a complete understanding of the home's risks will prepare you for updates needed, allowing you to adjust your budget on the renovation.

Break Down Investments

Upon making a plan based on the inspectors findings, your next step should be to go through investments with your contractor. Sorting through different options for repairs while staying in budget gives you the chance to see where your money can go. Selecting a contractor that cares enough on your project will be patient as you decide your best options.

Ask Yourself How You Feel

When taking on the project of a fixer upper, it definitely comes with a commitment! The investment of time and money comes with patience needed. Several months are required during renovation, leaving you to be completely sure you are ready for this adventure. Don't be afraid to change your preferences in the middle of house hunting! Your Choice Properties real estate agent is here to offer patience as we help find the home of your dreams.

Fixer uppers can be great investments in the long run, but require a promised commitment. Ask yourself if you are truly ready for a big project and tackle it head on, creating the home of your dreams!



Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

July
13

Taking an outdoor space from drab to fab does not have to cost a fortune. Any space can be made over with some simple tips for creating the look and feel of a brand new space which is easy on the wallet and freshens things up a bit.

 

Shape Matters

Tables and chairs can make a space wonderful for hosting friends and family outside. Consider a circular or oval-shaped table rather than square or rectilinear. Rounded tables make for easy access around the space and accommodate additional guests without a fuss without putting anyone into a corner.

 

Garden Walls

Most people focus energy on improving the ground space in a garden. Fences and walls can offer a wonderful design opportunity for the right space. Repurposing what already exists into planters, for example, can spruce up a patio and add a different look and feel. Small patios especially benefit from creating the perception of more space.

 

Top to Bottom

The top of a garden wall can be just as important as the ground space or erected walls. Planters can create a new look while providing a screen for any less-than-desirable views or privacy curtain from neighbors. The idea also works for someone who wants to plant more than available ground space provides. Utilizing more space can create flow and balance in the garden while putting some carpentry skills to use in the process.

 

Noise

Depending on where a person lives, the sounds in one's backyard may incorporate elements of nature such as chirping birds and buzzing bees. If this is not the case, including sounds from nature can help nurture the mind and soul. Including a fountain with running water which provides relaxation, masks traffic and other unwanted noise from the outside world. A free-standing fountain can provide just the right atmosphere with do-it-yourself kits available at many nurseries.

 

Draperies

Curtains or draperies can add softness and sun protection while also providing privacy. Cozy up a space with outdoor fabric for areas exposed to the elements. Panels with weighted bottoms don't blow around in a breeze and sheers provide nice protection from sun and rain while keeping bugs at bay.

 

Lights

A string of lights is an inexpensive way to transform an outdoor space. Design options are many from small to large, round to decorative. Paper lanterns are also an option in a covered area with less exposure to the elements for a fun, decorative patio.

 

Personalize

Take creative license to express personal taste with vintage finds or spruce it up with some artwork such as a mural. Friends and family will cherish the personal touch and style.

 

Reuse

The attic, basement and garage may hold underused pieces to make the outdoor patio shine. Hanging baskets can be made from old colanders or old crates can be made into a planter. The sky really is the limit on making a patio shine with just a few personal touches.

 

Get more advice on simple and inexpensive ways to give life to your patio!

Contact one of our agents today.

June
7

The entryway is a high traffic area in most any home. Coats, backpacks, shoes and accessories tend to be dumped as soon as people enter the door which leads to an accumulation of stuff which makes it difficult to wade through. Learn some practical tips and ideas to help manage a high traffic hallway with minimal effort.

 

Display accessories. Outdoor clothing is usually stored near the exit but does not have to be hidden from view. Find attractive hooks to hang coats, hats and scarves to avoid a messy pile up. Swap out the winter accessories for sun hats, beach bags and blankets in the summer.

 

Add furniture. Create more surfaces to place items such as an upholstered bench, basket and coat rack for the hallway to provide spots for outerwear. The space will also look more cozy and welcoming with a personal touch.

 

See through a child's eyes. Kids need dedicated pegs to hang coats and hats easily without throwing items in a heap on the floor. Let kids choose a hook and give lessons on how to install safely for a fun learning opportunity which can motivate kids to use the hooks.

 

Repurpose dishes. A small dish or plate on a table can create order with minimal effort. Creating a small space to drop items quicklysuch as keys or loose change keep things orderly.

 

Use ledges or shelving to elevate items. Install a small shelf or ledge to place bags or purses on the wall. Not only will this save space but makes it easier on the body by not lifting heavy objects off the floor.

 

Opt for open. Rather than hiding the family's items from sight, create a system of open storage that makes it easy to grab and go. Separate pieces can add character to the hallway.

 

Line up baskets. Crates, baskets and salvaged drawers are an affordable yet visibly appealing way to create extra storage. Make the most of a series of containers against the hallway wall.

 

Make a feature. Get creative by making a beautiful backdrop for coats and bags and other bobbles which accumulate around the hallway. Frame the space with antiques such as a dressmaker's mannequin to hold coats or hats and similar pieces which add a bit of fun and flair to any space.

 

Stay hidden. Large pegs and shoe racks help keep items hidden with minimal fuss behind doors. Install shelves and hooks where needed and work out where the family will place individual shoes, gloves, helmets and other items to keep the space clutter free.


Upgrade the umbrella stand. The messiest item in the house (aside from muddy boots, children coming in from outside and pets) is a dripping wet umbrella. Leave it by the door in a fancy stand which keeps water from the floor, avoiding a potential slipping hazard.

 

Get more advice on unique ways to keep your hallways tidy!

Contact one of our agents today.

November
10

Want to give your home a face lift but don't have a magically refilling wallet? With a budget of about $5,000 and a solid game plan, you can get a fresh new feel for your home this winter!

Home Improvements on a Budget

When working with limited funds, it's best to focus on the kitchen and bathrooms. These are the areas which are used the most, and if there's a chance you'll be selling your home anytime in the future, these are also the areas that buyers will show the most scrutiny over. With some finesse, you can even look at adding living space by enhancing your available outdoor areas.

Kitchens

A functional kitchen is a beautiful kitchen so start by assessing your cabinet situation. How practical are they? Could you use deeper cupboards? Taller? Wine-racks and spice storage might be beneficial, as well as a walk-in pantry to not only make better use of the space, but give you better control over your food supplies. Knowing what you have on hand will ultimately help out your grocery bill!

If you're happy with the cabinetry, other areas you can consider upgrading/updating are lighting and plumbing fixtures. Again, look for replacements that are not only 'pretty' but have 'green' benefits. These will eventually pay you back in utility bill savings, not to mention you can claim eco upgrades on your taxes. Win-win: help the environment AND put money in your pocket.

Bathrooms

Carry the green theme into your bathrooms. Update lighting and plumbing. While you're at it, consider giving the outdated tub/shower a facelift. Nothing says luxury like a tiled shower area, complete with a bench and a shelf area to house your assorted soaps and shampoos.

Outdoor Improvements

Create an outdoor living area to give your usable living space a boost. Actually building on new rooms can get quite costly, but a few dollars can go a long way toward turning a bland patio into an oasis. Things you'll want to keep in mind when creating your outdoor escape:

  • granite, pavers, or flagstone for the 'floor'

  • mulch landscape beds for visual appeal (if you don't have landscaping, consider a few potted plants)

  • provide shade by building a pergola or installing a retractable awning

  • if in a hot climate, consider installing outdoor fans and/or a misting system

  • water features will help with temperature as well, and can provide an audible escape


If you're looking to bring some life and energy to your home, a $5,000 budget can add quite a bit of flair and improvement to your house. Homes in Logan County are always beautiful but the upgrades keep them fresh. If you've recently updated your home, let us know!  Send us a picture and we'll feature it on our blog!

 

For more tips on how to upgrade your home with the buyer in mind.

Contact one of our agents for special advice.

 

November
6

As time marches on we tend to collect, some might even say hoard, so many "things." They might be personal mementos such as letters or various and sundry memorabilia from our school years, they might be "fangirl" collections from a book series, shot glasses from every state in the country, or baseball cards. Regardless of what is collected, humans like to gather.  It's in our nature.

Effects of a Cluttered Living Space

The problem with this is that eventually all this gathering leads to clutter, and clutter can lead to mental unease or distress. We're all very sensitive to our surroundings and the state of our living space often has a dramatic impact on our own emotional and mental state.  Cluttered closets and messy houses make for a lot of pent up anxiety and emotional baggage.  It might not seem obvious but the subtle effects of your surroundings have been studied and observed in cultures around the world for centuries, from Asian Feng Shui to modern Western Architectural Design principles. However, it's not always easy to part with our treasured collections of stuff.

 

Some of the most common reasons people refuse to get rid of these "things" are:

1. This is a family heirloom, so it would be wrong to let it go.

2. But it was a gift.

3. What if I need it someday?

4. I paid a lot of money for it.

 

Chances are, if you find yourself having to make excuses to yourself to keep the item(s), then you probably don't need them in your life or home. It's perfectly okay to have special mementos, but you don't need to hold onto every last thing you encounter in your life. Nor do you have to just throw away those relics.

Choose a few key pieces and create a shadowbox or a scrapbook. Consider donating your great-grandparents clothes to a local theatre organization where they can be used and appreciated by helping to bring the past to life . . . on stage. Perhaps you have some valuable china or crystal, or even art pieces, but they don't fit the style of your home and you never really liked the piece anyway . . . check with museum curators. You might have something that would be perfect for one of their displays (and this way you can go visit the stuff anytime you feel the urge to lay eyes on it again). Schools are always happy to take donations of gently loved books, toys, and clothes.

Minimizing, and thereby decluttering, your home will make you feel better. Don't keep things out of guilt or feelings of obligation. This is YOUR home, YOUR life, so make it a sanctuary. A happy place to be. You'll thank yourself for it.

 

Get more advice on ways to declutter your home and life.

Contact one of our agents today.

October
7

 

 

wabi-sabi

"wisdom in natural simplicity"

"flawed beauty"

 

You can create your own Zen-like garden by understanding and utilizing simplicity in positioning and materials. At first glance, things may look askew or odd when you enter a Zen garden, but understand that nothing is left to chance in these special places. Every shape, plant, boulder, piece of art, and water feature has been chosen, and placed, with care.

A traditional Zen garden is enclosed and has a defined point of entry and exit, so in creating your garden, start with the gate. Both practical and symbolic, the gate allows those who enter a clear line to leave their stress and troubles behind. The gate also keeps out the unwanted, both physical and spiritual.

Extending from either side of the gate will be an enclosure; a fence.  Choosing natural materials such as wood or a living hedge, will give visitors the illusion of being 'hugged' while their eye is drawn by the continuity and rhythm of the enclosure. This elicits feelings of safety and security, and of being welcomed.

Throughout any garden you will find pathways. This is especially true in Zen gardens where the paths are not only functional, but chosen with purpose. A straight-lined path will get you there quickly, where a curved or zig-zagged path encourages the visitor to slow down, take their time . . . reflect. For this reason, Zen paths are often narrower, allowing for one person to pass, thus making the garden experience singular and unique. Common considerations for Zen paths: width, gravel (aesthetic and auditory), shape/direction of pathways, simple lines and angles.

Incorporate rhythm into your garden through repetition—patterns, plants, paths, and structures. For most people, an easygoing rhythm translates into moments of blissful tranquility.  

Boulders, in every size, color, and shape are instrumental to the antiquated feel of a Zen garden. They speak of nature and the passing millennia, while adding visual points of interest. A variety of textures and the freedom to "plant" them as deep and wherever you want, makes them a fun addition to your garden as well. Investing in a few extra large boulders, professionally delivered and installed, will be well-appreciated by your visitors to your garden. TIP: Odd numbers are more natural, so go with groupings of three or five boulders as opposed to two or four.

Provide simple, unadorned seating in your Zen garden. Let your visitors focus on the fresh air, the sounds of nature, and the other carefully chosen aesthetics of the garden.

Simple, organic art is perfect for a Zen garden. In fact, the more simple, the better. Abstract sculptures and wind chimes are great examples of artistic items you can incorporate into the landscape for the enjoyment and mental awakening of those who will wander your pathways. Stick to natural hues.

Carefully placed lighting will make your pathways safe to traverse in the evening hours, and will allow you to highlight the more special features of your garden, like prized specimen plants or a handcrafted sculpture.

Choose plants for the scents they'll emit when in bloom, the sounds they'll make when being rustled by the wind, and by how they'll feel beneath your feet or under the pads of your fingertips.

The sound, movement, and peace that water can bring to a garden is priceless. Again, go with simple and natural . . . and understated. Whether a small bird bath, a rain catcher, or even a full blown water feature with falls, you want this element to not be forced or contrived.

 

Continuity is the key to being Zen.

 

October
7

Before you take on any kind of major redecorating, you're going to want to take some preliminary steps. Like determining what your working budget for the project is, and taking a good long look at not only your likes and dislikes, but those of the other people living in the space with you, especially your significant other. If you aren't both on board, one of you could end up miserable in your home—the place that is supposed to be a sanctuary.  Discuss these home decorating tips with your family and see what ways you can spruce up your living environment.

 

"Spend an hour or two on the computer and look at some things together and talk about them. Ask your partner: 'What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?'"~Alana Homesley, interior designer (Woodland Hills, CA)

 

Having a plan in place before you begin will help make the process smooth and painless. 

That being said, there is no reason not to go after your 'dream space'. Have fun collecting pictures and ideas of what you would do if money and time were no object; create a wish list of sorts. Investing time—months, if necessary—in this step will give you a jumping point and allow you to really figure out what appeals to you, and what doesn't. This can also be an insightful tool in the event that you hire a professional home decorator.

 

"If you don't have that master list, it's hard to prioritize." ~Amy Luff, interior designer (Viva Luxe Studios in Bristol, VA)

 

Good questions to ask yourself when creating your vision:

  • What colors are comforting, welcoming, and relaxing?

  • Do you have pets that need to be accommodated?

  • What building materials 'speak' to you? Sterile and clean (marble, travertine, silk), warm and inviting (wood, bamboo, cotton and linen), et cetera.

  • What era, or style, are you most at home in? Victorian, French Country, Museum Chic . . . the choices are endless.

 

With the ideas flowing, now you need to start narrowing down your home decor ideas in order to achieve a realistic budget. Review what you have in terms of furniture and large décor pieces, and decide what can stay and what absolutely has to go. A whole new room can be created around existing pieces. Maybe you adore the design of your sectional couch, but the upholstery doesn't fit the new color palette you're considering . . . it may be cheaper to have that couch re-covered than it would be to go buy a brand new one. Love the frame on your mantle artwork, but the image itself isn't going to work with your new theme? Reuse the frame by replacing the print.

Think outside the box and be open to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Your pocketbook will appreciate it, as will mother Earth.

 

If you need an experts advice on decorating tips,

Contact one of our agents today.

October
7

Fall is in the air and the days are getting cooler. Time to pack up summer, then pull out the winter gear. This is also the perfect time to give your closets a good tidying. Here are some suggestions from professional organizers for organizing your closet space.

 

Sort 

The chief design officer for California Closets, Ginny Snook Scott, suggests the first step you need to take on is pulling everything out of your closets and then sorting the stuff into four distinct piles.

  • Now Pile—often used and worn

  • Someday Pile—special occasion clothes that still fit

  • Never Pile—face it, you're never going to put these items on again (Geralin Thomas, who is the president of Metropolitan Organizing in Raleigh, North Carolina, recommends that any "trophy garments," those that do not fit or you're keeping only because you paid a small fortune for it but are honestly never going to wear again, need to go. The money isn't coming back and all these items are doing are cluttering your space.)

  • Seasonal Pile—self-explanatory

Ms. Scott recommends going through your Someday Pile once again, see how much you can move to the Never Pile.

 

Sort Again

The first step is always the easiest, but now comes the hard part. Eliminating. For real.

Most people find that their Never Pile is often much larger than they anticipated it would be—up to 40% or more of the closet content. With this discovery usually comes motivation to keep going, to do more. Use this mindset to revisit the Now Pile; see just how much of it you can shift to the Someday and Never Piles.

 

Keep Up Your Resolve

Get that Never Pile boxed and bagged, ready for repurposing by either donating them to a goodwill store, passing them on to friends or family who can and will use them, or setting aside for a garage sale. DO NOT STORE these bags where you will be tempted to sift through or have 'one last peek'.

 

Organize the Seasonal Pile

  • Wash (or have dry cleaned) anything that is getting packed up. You don't want any lingering toiletry products on the clothes as this will draw insects. **Make sure all items are completely dry before they get stored. Unpacking your clothes to discover them threaded with mildew is nobody's idea of fun.

  • Use air tight, clear plastic containers which have been clearly labeled with what is inside.

  • Store the bins out of sight, but in an easily accessible place.

 

"Never store clothes in plastic bags like those from dry cleaners. Store them in cotton zip-up bags. No mothballs. No exceptions."  ~ Geralin Thomas

 

You're Almost Done!

 

Take advantage of the fact that the closets are empty by getting in there with the vacuum. You want to suck up all those lingering dust mites which destroy fabric and play havoc with people's allergies.

This is also a good time to evaluate your hangers. Wire hangers should go back to the dry cleaners or get recycled; these are meant for temporary use, using them long-term will stretch and ruin the shape of your clothes.

As you return the Now Pile items to your freshly cleaned closet, professional organizers suggest you "group" like items, i.e. shirts, dresses, pants, et cetera. If you want to go all out, you can do each group by color or style.

 

Enjoy the fruits of your labor. It's okay to go treat yourself to one or two new items, just don't go too crazy.

 

Get more advice on organization in any space.

Contact one of our agents today.

 

October
7

Getting back to nature is a wonderful thing. However, looking out your front window to see the local wildlife destroying your landscaping and foraging off your heirloom varietals isn't. 

You can do something extreme—like put up a ten foot fence to keep them out. This might work, maybe . . . but you'd be surprised how resourceful and agile animals can be. You could go to your local outdoor store and procure bottles of assorted wild animal urine to spray around as a deterrent. Again, it works for a short time, but is not a long-term solution (and who really wants to mess around with feral urine?). Another, more viable, option is to revisit your landscaping choices. Use nature to outwit natural animal tendencies.

Ground covers are practical, versatile, and affordable. While there are hundreds of ground cover options, only a handful can stand up to deer. Most deer-resistant covers are highly invasive, so you want to plant responsibly; i.e., if you don't have a lot of deer or other foragers, you may want to forgo these or risk having your property overrun.  These plants can help keep deer out of your garden this season.

 

1. Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

  • Also known as wintergreen

  • Native to cold-weather climates of the eastern U.S.

  • Has small urn-shaped flowers in the Spring, followed by red berries; in the Fall, its evergreen foliage is bronze-tinged

  • Needs rich, acidic soil and is a good choice for growing around azaleas, hydrangeas and rhododendrons.

 

2. Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

  • Also known as bearberry

  • Sun-loving option as majority of deer-resistant, non invasive groundcovers prefer shade

  • A type of wild manzanita that grows as a low, spreading mat on the West Coast. East Coasters: look for cultivars taken from the eastern subspecies, such as 'Massachusetts'

  • Has the same evergreen foliage and smooth reddish bark manzanitas are known for

 

3. Dwarf Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

  • Also known as leadwort

  • Sun tolerant

  • Tough, well-behaved, easy-to-grow ground cover from China

  • Foliage with sky-blue flowers which appear sporadically from midsummer through fall.

  • With the first frost of fall, the foliage becomes tinged with a burgundy color

  • Can aggressively spread with rich soil and lots of moisture

WARNING: Wear gloves when pruning or handling the plant as contact may cause dermatitis.

 

4. Barrenwort (Epimedium spp.)

  • Also known as horny goat weed

  • Tough ground cover which thrives in shady areas under large trees

  • Spreads at a moderate rate but not considered aggressive or invasive

  • Has heart-shaped leaves and hat-like flowers

  • For resisiting deer, look for varieties such as 'Sulphureum' or red barrenwort

 

5. Pachysandra  (Pachysandra spp.)

  • Most common form used is also known as Japanese spurge

  • High degree of shade tolerance

  • One of the cold-hardiest evergreen ground covers

  • Can be aggressive with growth under ideal conditions

WARNING: Pachysandra is poisonous and should not be used where there is a concern that children, pets, or livestock may consume it.

 

6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

  • Also known as wild baby's breath

  • Native to Europe but used in the Northeast US as deer avoid eating it despite the sweet fragrance it emits.  

 

Get more advice on keeping deer and other citters out of your garden.

Contact one of our agents today.

October
5

 

Plants are essential to the human way of life. We produce carbon dioxide, a poisonous gas which the plants take and convert into the oxygen that we need to breathe. Pretty important.  And they're beautiful, so why not decorate your Logan County home with a splash of life.

 

Strategically Place Plants to Maximize their Aesthetic Functionality

Kitchen. Herb gardens are functional while cooking, as well as pleasing to the eye—and perfect for apartment living where space is limited and major decorating may not be allowed. Also consider low-maintenance plants which are vine-like or create long tails as beautiful additions to upper alcoves (if you're willing to climb up and water them once a week).

Use tall, open-styled bookshelves as plant stands—they are decorative and practical. Avoid bookcases for clustering as any plants you put toward the back will not get the light and ventilation they need.

Create an oxygen-rich lush atmosphere in your dining room with a few well-placed large potted plants. If you like the 'jungle' look, you can also cluster smaller pots on windowsills or side-credenzas. Consider hanging one or two from the ceiling with macramé plant holders for a bohemian feel.

If continually changing out floral arrangements isn't your thing, consider a planted centerpiece. Wheatgrass, cat grass, and herbs are good options for the dining table, though any small, low-lying potted plant will work (you want to see the person across the table from you). Protect the table from drips with saucers underneath the plants to collect water.

Are you fortunate enough to a sun room or greenhouse? Load that bad boy up, and even have a go at something exotic or tropical. These rooms are often humid and full of direct sunlight.

Fresh greenery in your bedroom will help clean the air, refreshing the atmosphere while you sleep.

 

Not Everyone Has a Green Thumb (and even those who do, don't have it all the time)

At one time or another we've all killed a plant, it happens. Don't get discouraged. Go ahead and give it another try with these growing tips:

  • Look for healthy plants at a reputable nursery (knowledgeable staff will help you choose the right plant for your situation)

  • If you're bad about watering, use the alarm feature on your smart phone to set TIME TO WATER reminders

  • Fussy plants (like ferns) love to take a bath … or at least be in the warm "tropical" atmosphere created by steamy bathrooms.

  • If you don't trust yourself to spread the plants out, cluster them up. You'll have one place to stop and water, plus this allows the plants to create their own little ecosystem and micro-climate (good for preventing water loss).

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