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Fall Project Ideas


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Fall Project Ideas for the Bath Range from Practical to Whimsical

Monday, September 21, 2015

By John Voket

Every September, I look forward to adding little seasonal touches to every corner of the house and yard. In this segment, we'll tap a bushel full of sources to get some great ideas for practical and decorative ideas for fall bathroom projects.

Claire Gallam at agrees that the bath is a perfect place to add some fun seasonal enhancements like rustic wreaths or gourds. Gallam says sub out your white summer towels for fall colors like deep reds, oranges and marigold. And for winter, swap your fall wreath for a winter one with ferns and berries.

Courtney Lake, an interior designer and blogger at Courtney Out Loud, says when decorating a smaller bathroom, keep it simple. Lake says to feature one statement piece, like a chandelier, piece of artwork, trendy shower curtain or mosaic floor, and keep the rest of the room clean cut and sleek.

After attending the the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) earlier this year, designer Jeanne Chung ( said she came away with great ideas about designing bathroom spaces that are beautiful yet still meet the needs for the aging consumer.

Chung said many aging in place modifications are being presented in high profile, decidedly non-institutional designs including zero entry tubs, curbless shower, and sturdy grab bars that don’t look they belong in a nursing home. She noted that when bathroom space is at a premium, some great new wall hung toilets and vanities may be the way to go.

Chung also honed in on Robern‘s M-Series electrical cabinets that leave bathroom counters clutter free and easier to clean. A range of models provide built in electrical outlets, a mirror defogger, USB charging, a magnetic panel to hang items like tweezers and nail clippers, as well as separate storage for glasses/razors - there's even a model with an integrated TV on the mirror.

Another Florida blog ( had these quick fall tips for the bath:

  • Add linens in warm colors for an instant cozy, fall appropriate feel.
  • Swap out artwork for something seasonal. Any painting or photograph that includes leaves and trees will fit your theme and look great.
  • Simple wreaths, made of grapevine or leaves, can add texture and color to bathroom walls or the bathroom door.
  • Fill the space with fall fragrance. Choose candles with warm scents like cinnamon, apple, or pumpkin. The smell will give the fall feeling and candles can add a bit more color to the mix as well.

We'll look at a few more fall design and project ideas in our next report, stay tuned!

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How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value



How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value

A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) found that sustainable, low-maintenance designs are top trends among residential landscape projects. The study, which asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements, points to a great demand for ecologically sensitive upgrades intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

According to the study, the top five upgrades are native plantings, adapted drought plantings, food or vegetable gardens, fire pits and fireplaces and low-maintenance landscapes. If you'd like to incorporate these ideas into your outdoor space, it’s best to hire a professional. Here’s why:

1. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will add value to your home, extend your living space and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer in a controlled setting. From arbors to fountains, they can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

2. Hiring a landscape architect is a terrific investment for your home. Research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

3. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who often work with landscaping or other construction companies to install their designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that's printed by another company.

4. Landscape architects are trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property's problem areas, as well as possibilities, and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

5. Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love and that will comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

8 Small Ways to Save Big


8 Small Ways to Save Big

Yes, it’s hard to save money – especially when you think you’ve already cut the fat out of your monthly budget. But personal finance editors offer eight ways you may not have considered that can help you wring out a few more dollars to squeeze into your savings:

  • Negotiate your rates – If you’re paying high rates on credit balances, call each of your issuers. If you have good credit, and especially if you can point to better offers you’ve received from other issuers, there’s a good chance lenders will agree to lower your rate.
  • Get a credit card with rewards – If you’re spending $80 a month on gas, groceries and sundries, putting it on a card with a five percent rebate will net you nearly $200 a year. Look online to find the right card for you – but pay off the balance each month.
  • Make media free – Cancel your subscriptions or let them expire. Dust off your library card and get movies, books and magazines for free at your local library.
  • Change your calling plan – Visit your provider to determine whether a cheaper plan is available based on the number of minutes you use each month and other contributing factors.
  • Ditch the gym – Does your community center offer workout facilities? Can you make do with old-fashioned exercise opportunities like running daily with a friend or neighbor?
  • Brown bag it – If you’re spending $8 or more for your lunch each day, you can pretty much halve the expense by packing your own lunch. Pack yourself an occasional treat to make the sacrifice seem worth it.
  • Reshop your auto insurance – If it’s been a while since you comparison shopped, make a few phone calls and see if you can lower your rates.
  • Control heating and cooling costs – If you don’t already have one, spend about $50 for a programmable thermostat. It could save you 10 to 20 percent in heating and cooling bills year-round.

How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor


How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor

 Trusting a contractor with both your home and money can feel overwhelming. Spare yourself time, expenses and sanity by following these steps for choosing the best remodeling contractor.

1. Decide what you want out of your newly remodeled home. Start thinking about goals, amenities and a rough timeline, making sure you can clearly articulate your ideas to a contractor. Idea centers such as can serve as inspiration for kick-starting your remodeling project. This phase is also ideal for researching sustainable building products. By using green products, homeowners save money on heating and cooling costs, and builders can decrease the construction's carbon footprint.

2. Ask for advice. You're not the first person to remodel your home, so don't go through the process alone. Talk to friends, relatives, neighbors and coworkers about their remodeling experiences. In addition to collecting referrals, ask targeted questions about how those contractors communicated throughout the process and mitigated any setbacks. If you know a building inspector, ask which contractors regularly meet code requirements.

3. Research and contact businesses. Start gathering information on your referrals and local prospects by visiting their websites or making phone calls. Make sure these remodeling contractors have the required licenses, liability insurance and ability to obtain local permits for your project. Most will also tell you if they belong to a professional association such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or National Association of Homebuilders. The Better Business Bureau also issues warnings about those that might not be trustworthy. Through your research, select three to five potential contractors.

4. Set up meetings with contractors.
After identifying your top candidates, schedule face-to-face meetings with each to discuss your project. Ask questions and make sure communication is fluid and straight-forward. How many projects does the contractor handle at one time? Are his or her past projects similar in scope to yours? If you find a particular meeting goes especially well, ask for references and a bid on your project.

5. Compare bids and references. Think of this step as putting the finishing touches on your selection process. When contacting references, ask them to rate their satisfaction with the project. Did the contractor meet time and budget requirements? As soon as the bids come in, look at the cost breakdown of labor and building materials. The best contractor is not always the cheapest. Now's the time to find out if a contractor uses the best quality products that meet your budget.

6. Choose your contractor and sign a contract. With all of your research on hand, select the best contractor for your project. After confirming with the contractor, draw up a contract that includes a description of the work, products to be used, cost and completion dates and let the project begin.

Home Buying Tips for New Parents


Home Buying Tips for New Parents

Many expectant parents upgrade to larger homes when baby’s on the way. If you’re thinking of buying a new home to accommodate your growing family, it’s important to assess certain factors you may not consider otherwise, including:

Master Bedroom Proximity – Is the master bedroom on a separate floor from the others? Will you want to be adjacent to your baby’s nursery, or are you comfortable with sleeping down the hall? Always consider the layout of the bedrooms before buying.

Pool Safety – If you’re seeking a home with a pool, keep in mind that your child will likely venture outside before he or she knows how to swim. Is the pool appropriately gated, with no holes or gaps in fencing? Are all latches and locks in proper working order? Is the door leading outside secure?

Property Hazards – Evaluate the home for any potential dangers, including stairs, tree roots or uneven pavers. These can be easily overlooked by a curious child and lead to unnecessary injury.

Street Location – Take into account how far your home is from a busy area. Is the home located on a congested street? What is the posted speed limit in the area and how fast do cars typically drive through the neighborhood? Are there streetlights and crosswalks nearby?

If you are a expecting a new addition to your family, let me help you find the perfect home in Northeast Florida.  Ponte Vedra, FL is waiting for you!

7 Ways to Make a Small Home Look Larger


7 Ways to Make a Small Home Look Larger

Hanging large mirrors on one wall of the living room has been touted for years as a way to make the room larger. But, said New York designer Jeffrey Blum, mirrors reflect everything in the room, creating the illusion of clutter.

Blum, the owner of SixZero6 Designs, suggests seven less traditional ways homeowners should consider to create the illusion of more space:

Invest in built-ins – Whether you add window-seats or built-in bookshelves, small rooms will benefit. Unlike groupings of furniture which can appear awkward or cluttered, built-ins make small rooms provide vertical interest and architectural detail, making them appear gracious and more substantial.

Open up the doorways – Renovate doorways, making them as wide and tall as possible, preferably to the ceiling. There may be no need to remove an entire wall between rooms when enlarging a door can make a huge difference.

Choose larger floor tile – The larger the tile, plank or pattern on a floor, the larger the room will look. Even the tiniest of powder rooms can benefit from this trick. Another tip? Install tiles on a diagonal.

Make use of the hallway – Hallways often seem small and closed-in. ‘Open’ them by hanging an eye-catching piece of artwork at the far end. This draws the eye to the longest distance, making the hallway appear less cramped.

Add a wall of windows – Replace the living slider with a wall of windows or French doors. They will brighten the room and draw the eye out to the landscaping, making the room itself seem more expansive.

Use light colors and scaled-down furniture – Rooms painted in light colors, especially cream colors and icy blues, help make a room appear larger. Choose low-profile or slim pieces of furniture, rather than large or overstuffed pieces, to maintain the open look.

Please the senses – Just placing fresh flowers in a room, playing soft music and opening windows or sliders to let the breeze in can go a long way toward making a small room appear airier and me spacious.


Just because your space is small, doesn't mean it can't be fabulous!  Enjoy these tips and build your happy space today!

Great Signs for Housing in 2015


Great Signs for Housing in 2015

It looks like housing will continue to excel into the new year, due to the rise in job creation and declining mortgage rates.

Another boon for housing is the rise in single family construction. Although levels still remain way below “normal” building conditions, increased construction ties directly back to an increase in available jobs, furthering the cycle for improved housing.

According to a recent US News article, the National Association of Home Builders indicates that for every 1,000 single-family homes built, enough economic activity is created to sustain 2,970 jobs for a year, yielding $162 million in wage income and $111 million federal, state and local taxes and fees. NAHB notes that while half of these jobs are in the construction sector, the rest lie in associated business that grow along with housing.

This is encouraging news for sure!  Please contact me with any of your real estate needs.  I look forward to helping you buy or sell your home.


Getting More Light into Your Living Space


Tips for Getting More Light into Your Living Space

If you want to give your home the best chance of selling at the price you want, put a little light on the subject. After all, poor lighting can make a room look gloomy. And it’s well known in the real estate industry that buyers look for excellent lighting when shopping for a place to live. That means displaying the right combination of natural night, lamps and other sources of light.

This may seem obvious, but sunshine is a great way to light a room, so take down drapes and curtains and let the light shine in. Not only will this brighten a room, it will also help with your staging by making it easy for potential buyers to imagine what curtains, drapes and blinds they want to bring into each room. Also, be sure to clean the windows as they’ll be more prominent when curtains are taken out of the equation. Cleaning windows will also let the light shine brighter.

Lighting can also be used to showcase aspects of your home that you want to emphasize. While spotlight lamps are great for showcasing fireplaces or paintings, if you have dimmers, use them to create the right mood from room to room. If potential buyers look at your home when it’s darker outside, make the playroom bright and cheery and dim the lights in the dining room to set a more romantic mood.

It’s also important to take a good look at your fixtures and the shape they’re in. If they’re cracked, worn-out or just out of date, take the time to replace them. And go with something simple in order to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. Incorporating simple fixtures into the space will also help you keep more money in your wallet while making it easier for buyers to imagine what fixtures they’d like to install. Don’t overlook light switches either—they can get worn out and stained after years of hands touching them. Make sure they’re clean, and buy new ones if necessary.

You’ll also want to be sure to pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathroom. Add high-wattage bulbs in the kitchen, particularly in cooking areas. If your bathroom needs a little sprucing up, the right light can go a long way toward creating a bright space.

If you’re simply looking to bring the lighting up a notch in your home, there are some simple, inexpensive ways to achieve this goal. Whether it’s buying bulbs with a higher wattage, cleaning your lampshades (or buying new ones), trimming trees/shrubbery or cleaning curtains and drapes, incorporating extra light into your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune.



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