Preparing Your Home for Summer

The calendar may claim summer begins on June 21st, but for most of us, it’s already fully in gear. Kids are getting out of school, families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbecues are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following are a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process.

Outdoor Spaces

GardeningGardening– It’s not too late to start your garden!  If you’re thinking of getting your green thumb engaged, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season.

Outdoor living– My home has an outdoor space that, like many, suffers in the grey of winter and the rainy spring. To get it properly in the summer spirit I need to get it prepped for hosting. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbeque.

BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners.

Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges.

Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen.

Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool get this ready for a summer season of fun in the sun, (unless you are lucky enough to enjoy your pool year-round). Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out!

Summerize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather items such as heavy blankets, jackets, and other items so they aren’t in your way. Same goes for any sundry items you only use during fall and winter.

Inside Spaces

Lighten the Space- Though I likely won’t spend much time inside once the mercury rises, I want to keep the house as light and cool as possible. I have found that replacing the curtains with a lighter shade lets the light in, but also keeps the rooms from overheating from sun exposure. Summer always makes me want to lighten up with the accessories- lighter colors, more whites, bright accents and less clutter.

Rearrange – Freshen up spaces by rearranging some of your wall art. If you don’t have enough wall pieces to rearrange regularly it may be time to add to your collection. You can find inexpensive original art online at stores such as Etsy or in person at local galleries. You can always play with other items like framed images from books, vintage posters or record albums. Here are some terrific ideas for using what you have to add interest to a room.

SpringCleanupAir it out- Open all the windows, shake out the rugs and update home fragrances to fit summer moods (citrus, freesia, clean linen, coconut, melon, fruits and tropical, etc.). You can create your own diffuser with essential oils to distribute fragrance. This may be more symbolic than practical but it always makes me feel ready for summer.

Paint- If you have a room you really want to refresh, a three-day weekend is a good time to take on a project of scale, so you have plenty of time to prep, paint, dry, and clean up. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to really transform how a room feels. Need help picking colors and paint type? Here is some good advice.

Garage or Basement- Tackle a big space that makes a big difference. Our garages and basements often become year-long dumping grounds for seasonal decorations and clothing, items that don’t fit in cabinets, memorabilia and maintenance tools. Go through your items and sort by keep, throw out and donate/sell and then group your keeps by function. Make sure your tools are accessible for easy gardening and entertaining by making sure your tools are accounted for, ready to go, and easy to reach. Here is a useful video on garage organization.

Yard/Garage Sale- If you have overflow at your house, plan a yard/garage sale to get rid of items you no longer need or want. Just make sure to pack everything up and donate it at the end of the sale otherwise you are just letting the clutter back in!

Plan a party- Once your space is all cleaned up and redecorated you will want to show it off! Plan a summer BBQ, dinner party, pool party, picnic or any other gathering.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog. 

Let’s Make Your Memorial Day a DIY Breeze

If you have ever had the responsibility of hosting a get-together over Memorial Day weekend, you probably know that it can be a daunting task. Between barbecuing, decorating, and general mayhem, the three-day weekend can feel like its own brand of work. To ease those stresses, we’ve gathered up a few of our favorite DIY Memorial Day traditions that can make everyone’s lives easier. Who knows, you might even have a little fun with them!

Make decoration creation a family event

If your attic shelters a full array of patriotic decorations, it may be no trouble for you to adorn your home appropriately. For the rest of us, here are some family-friendly options for last minute party décor.

Credit: dreamingindiy.com
  • Grab several slats of wood, paper, or any other surface you feel comfortable displaying.
  • Set up a “paint-friendly” space, ideally outdoors, with rags or paper laid out underneath to avoid excess mess.
  • Optionally, you can create or buy stencils of flags, fireworks, stars, and other thematic artwork to help guide the youngest in the group.
  • Set up the kids with age-appropriate artistic implements and let them go wild. While a watchful eye will surely remain necessary, not only will you have family-approved decorations for the weekend, you might just get a moment to actually catch up with one another.

It’s the little things

Credit: zullily.com
  • Candle holders and vases make just as big an impact in theming as grand gestures. Small DIY decorations such as adding stars and stripes to your accent pieces helps flesh out the theme you’re going for.
  • By sticking with a consistent artistic tool (sharpie, paint, pencil, etc.) you can deliver a sense of consistency to your guests while saving yourself time an effort.
  • Function can be found in all sorts of items. If you find yourself caught in a windy day on Monday, your creations can play double-duty as paperweights and board game savers.

Help nature help you

Credit: Kathy Quillian
  • The simplest of decorations are those that grow all by themselves. Whether in bouquet form, wreaths, or, in your own garden, natural coloring adds the perfect touch to your party decor.
  • Mixing roses, petunias, and irises creates a charmingly patriotic array.
  • Plan for your guests! Will there be children at your party? Setting out a dozen single-stem vases will look great but may lead to disaster, so consider your audience before decorating.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog. 

Gardening Trends For 2018

Outdoor living during the spring and summer months is extremely popular. Months of cold, wet winters are followed by glorious spring colors and warm summer days of vivid blue skies. In this post, we thought that now would be the best time to share some pretty garden trends for 2018.

Wabi-Sabi

Leisure time should be just that: relaxing and rejuvenating. So why labor relentlessly to create and maintain a perfect landscape? Wabi-sabi, is the Japanese art of accepting transience and imperfect beauty. Relax and appreciate nature as it is, with humble imperfections, weeds and all. Recognize (and tell others) that dandelions and clover in untreated lawns are not blights. They are status symbols for ecological horticulture. Consider natural grasses and groundcovers as low-maintenance substitutes for sod. Opt for perennials instead of annuals, let flowers go to seed and give nature license to evolve on her own.

Reclaiming Small Outside Spaces

For many of us these days, space is at a premium and with house prices continually on the rise, more and more people are living in apartment blocks or tiny lots. Garden designers are determined to make even the smallest of spaces useful and attractive, and manufacturers have taken notice. Look for a better choice in planters that slot onto balcony rails. New models will have coverings for protecting plants from cold temperatures so that you can even grow seeds and vegetables on your balcony alongside your flowers.

Self-watering wall planter systems have been improved for 2018 and the hanging macramé plant holder is having a bit of a revival. Add a small patio heater and you have an outside space you can enjoy all year round with minimal effort.

Purple Passion

Pantone’s Ultra Violet is the color of the year. Maybe that’s why you find purple flowers in this year’s plant varieties and garden design. It’s easy to incorporate this color in the garden as there are many flowers and shrubs with this beautiful color. However, there are also several edible purple plants that you can grow. Purple vegetables are not only interesting and pretty, their unique color denote anthocyanins which are very beneficial to your health.

Re-Wilding

This is a style that keeps popping up time and again. However, 2018 has taken the re-wilding trend up another notch. It is still all about working with nature, growing wildflowers and supporting our pollinating insects. Re-wilding means adjusting plant selections to better support local wildlife and growing both seed-producing and berry-bearing plants. However, now it is also about using ‘green’ gardening products, natural solutions to bug and slug killers instead of chemicals and insecticides and using peat-free products.

 

Alfresco Living

Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas are tipped to be a key trend for Spring/Summer 2018. We are not talking about a little nook corner just off the kitchen. Alfresco dining spaces are being pushed out into the garden itself and made into a major feature. These dedicated outdoor dining areas are surrounded by in-ground and container plants for that lush feeling. Special flooring, comfy furniture and mood lighting turn it into a little haven. Complete the trend with a sunken fire pit, barbecue or pizza oven and you might never want to leave.

 

Lighting The Way

 

Adding lighting to your garden is not a new thing. However, in this age of renewable energy, garden lighting companies are turning away from the more traditional lighting solutions we have seen in the past. The advances in solar energy capture, means that we can light up our gardens in a variety of fun, affordable and better ways. No more changing batteries or wiring up the garden with electricity.

The wide range of lighting methods allows you to create whatever ambience you want. Simple stand-alone lights can mark pathways, either discreetly embedded into the path edges or standing loud and proud along the side. Multi-colored fairy lights can be tangled among the overhead branches of a tree creating dazzling shapes and textures. Solar Mason jars can be hung from above or used as table lighting. Festoon lights can create an ambient glow around any outdoor space creating romantic nooks.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

 

February Home Maintenance Checklist

It’s February – winter’s not over yet, but spring is right around the corner. If you have cabin fever from being inside, cleaning and freshening up your house can help you get through this last month of winter and be ready to get outside when spring arrives.

Once you check these items off your to-do list, you’ll be able to relax by the fire with a good book and enjoy the last few weeks of winter.

  • Mop entryway floors. Clean your floors regularly to prevent damage from road salt and melting snow. Place a basket of old towels near the door to wipe up water and salt as soon as it is tracked inside.
  • Rotate or flip your mattress. Extend the life and comfort of your mattress by flipping or rotating it. At the same time, vacuum box springs and the mattress to eliminate allergy causing dust- mites.
  • Organize your laundry room. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from the ridges in your washer. Throw away laundry products you never use and replace damaged sorting bins.
  • Clean out your spice cabinet. Throw away expired spices and other seasonings, which may not only lose their taste, but could harbor mold and bacteria.
  • Sanitize hand-held devices. Prevent germs that cause the spread of colds and the flu by disinfecting your phone, remote controls, tablets, as well as your door and cabinet knobs.
  • Dust blinds, ceiling fans and fixtures. Wipe down or use a feather duster to remove the dirt that builds up on blinds, ceiling fans, light fixtures other small electronics.
  • Add color to your table. Treat yourself to some fresh flowers to add cheer to your kitchen table while waiting for spring blooms to make their first appearance.
  • Plan your summer vacation. Reserve your vacation home now to get the best selection of available properties. Start your planning today at Long & Foster’s Vacation Rentals website.

 

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

New Trends in Seattle’s Housing Market

IMG_8438Last week, at the Windermere Builder Solutions Breakfast, more than 100 Windermere brokers came together to listen to Windermere President OB Jacobi lead a panel discussion on new home construction trends in the greater Seattle area. The panelists included Mike Owen, General Manager: Macadam Floor & Design; Belinda Leppa, Sr. Designer: Macadam Floor & Design; Curtis Gelotte, Sr. Principal: Gelotte Hommas Architecture; and Eric Drivdahl, Principal: Gelotte Hommas Architecture.

Macadam Floor and Design is a new builder design center located in Kirkland and they always give us the down low on the latest trends. So, what’s in?

  • Bringing the outdoors inside. Do this with larger glass windows or folding glass doors.
  • Minerals as hardware.
  • Large geometric tiles on floors.
  • Mixing metals, such as brass and gold.

Interior paint color – Grey still has a heavy influence, but it is warming up a bit and getting softened with a stone color. Of course, the Pantone colors of the year are playing a big part with light blues and soft pinks.

Wallpaper – Always a great place to get a little crazy. Textural, geometric patterns are so in.

Carpet – 2016 is about modernizing the traditional themes. People are doing geometric shapes and soft grays. However, hardwood floors continue to be on trend. It’s not uncommon for someone to do hardwood floors throughout the whole home, others are even putting wood on the walls. Fun fact: When the economy is good, floor color tends to lighten up, and when economy is bad, floors tend to darken.

Tile– Geometry, 3D textures, and extra extra extra-large tiles. Marble counter tops are still big and concrete is becoming more common in custom homes.

Cabinets – Many are painting them white with muted tones or contrasting wood tones. Mix and match. Get venturesome, but not reckless.

Lighting – Gold has come back in (don’t worry, not the gold of the 80’s). These are different from the pendants of last year; they’re brass and gold statement pieces. Remember: lighting is the jewelry of the home.

tap-791172_960_720Plumbing – Plumbing is functional art. Brass, soft gold, and black (faucet) statement pieces are where it’s at.

We also learned that home owners are going bonkers for statement dining rooms. They love having a bold, fun place to entertain their guests. These are tying into a theme, which is: Nature luxe. Like we said earlier, it’s all about bringing the outside in. Yes, we’re seeing a lot of brave ideas and statement pieces going on, but it’s important to be subtle and do it in a tasteful way.

Gelotte Hommas Architecture kept the trend going with outdoor living. Seattleites think our climate is not the greatest for outdoor spaces, but according to Gelotte, with our mild winters and not-too-hot summers, we actually have the ideal climate for outdoor living… who knew! The most important thing to know about outdoor living is that it needs to flow from the inside to the outside. The space doesn’t need to be huge; a good rule of thumb is having your outdoor space roughly the size of your kitchen.

What’s being built? Modern, contemporary homes are still very much in demand. However, contextualizing a home into a neighborhood is really important so it doesn’t stand out too much. It’s about appropriate scale and size.

Multi-gen living is on the rise. Homes are being built to accommodate extended family which usually involves having an in-law suite. Also, bonus rooms are being made into living spaces.maxresdefault (1)

When it comes to thinking green, most custom home clients are concerned with energy consumption, so they opt to get solar panels or geothermal heating.

That’s a wrap for the latest trends! How are you going to incorporate them in your home?

This article originally appeared on WindermereSeattle.com.