12 Unique Antique Store Finds and What to Do With Them

See the accessories one decorator always buys when she spots them — as long as she gets there first.

Houzz Contributor, Charmean Neithart

I get asked fairly often where I find the accessories in my projects. More often than not my answer is antique stores. “Antiquing” is my favorite type of hunting — and sometimes my favorite contact sport, as well.

Antique stores offer one-of-a-kind objects, reasonable pricing and instant gratification. Beware, though, of competitive shoppers eyeing the object you just inquired about. It’s best to wear flats for your next stop at an antique store; you might have to do some fancy footwork.

It’s helpful to know what you are looking at as you wander through, specifically, whether a piece is truly vintage or contemporary. And there are a handful of objects that I always buy if I find them. These objects are on the “buy now, ask later” list: If I see one of these objects I just buy it and then figure out where it will go later.

For some people, this may go against sensible purchasing behavior. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed up something interesting only to find it gone 10 minutes later. Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time that happened. So here is my “buy it now” list for those of you who like to antique.

Suzanis. A Suzani is a type of textile, usually from Uzbekistan or other Central Asian countries. I prefer the vintage Suzanis and use them in many applications, such as this beautiful piece that has been mounted behind a bed. They can also be draped over sofas, used for upholstery, and made into pillows.

The circular designs are embroidered and display bright colors. The circular shapes symbolize the sun and moon and also you will typically see flowers, vines and sometimes animals in the designs. They often were used as wedding gifts as part of a dowry.

Foo dogs. If I come across a great pair of foo dogs I always leash those puppies up and bring them home. Usually bright colors, sometimes old and sometimes new, foo dogs are eye-catching accessories for many styles of room.

Headless sculptures. This is just my quirkiness coming through, but I really like a headless sculpture. Authentic and classic, this type of sculpture adds a layer of culture and sophistication to a room.

The age of a piece will be reflected in price. Typically, the older a piece the more expensive it is. Also look for sculpture that has been artistically mounted. A tabletop size piece should cost anywhere from $100 to $300; very old pieces can be quite a bit more.

Elephants. I met a beautiful, majestic elephant in Thailand many years ago. I was able to feed him and take beautiful pictures that I cherish. I’m always reminded of these animals’ peaceful, protective mannerisms when I see replicas in antique stores. I was told that, traditionally, finding an elephant with its trunk up is good luck. OK — I can use some of that.

Blanc de Chine. You can find both old and contemporary versions of these white porcelain pieces originating from Dehua, China. Old versions can date back to the 1600s; these are very expensive. Typically I come across tabletop-sized statues that depict Chinese characters and animals. The size shown here usually costs around $400.

Porcupine quill accessories. Quill accessories can be vintage or reproductions. Old pieces such as small boxes and frames will be very expensive. The vintage pieces were typically made by Native Americans who collected the porcupine needles that were shed naturally by the animals. They developed intricate styles of weaving using these needles. Modern reproductions, such as this mirror, are striking with their black and cream palette.

African stools. I often come across these stools, sometimes called King’s stools or Ashanti stools.Their organic shapes and carving details look great next to sofas and chairs in modern and traditional spaces. They can cost anywhere from $200 to $500.

Midcentury pottery. I always snatch up groupings of multicolored pottery pieces when I find good ones. I prefer ’50s and ’60s era pieces, which come in a variety of sizes. Singles can be used as vases or sculpture, and groupings are great on sideboards and mantels.

Vintage commercial signs. Vintage signs large and small can be placed in rooms for an eclectic touch that adds whimsy and nostalgia to a space. Large ones can can be propped up in a corner, and smaller ones can be mounted just about anywhere. Try mixing in smaller signs with a photo collage on a wall or over a bed.

Vintage radios. Vintage radios are easy to find and I always enjoy inspecting their knobs and dials. I look for ’50s-era radios and interesting colors and add them to sideboards, mantels and coffee tables. If they work, that’s a bonus.

Vintage suitcases. Old suitcases are best when used in groupings, but just as fun in singles. I use them as end tables, coffee tables or just as sculpture. I always open these up and check their condition, but signs of wear are good — it adds patina to a room.

Vintage globes. Another easy find in antique stores, vintage globes are great as standalone pieces or tabletop accessories. I love the very old ones that have neutral colors, but the multicolored school style is fun too, especially in homes with children learning about history and geography.

Which of These Patio Umbrellas is Right For Your Home?

Spruce up your patio with one of these stylish umbrellas.

By Abbey DeHart

What if someone could drive by your house every day and have a look inside at how you decorated, what was hung on the walls, what colors you used inside your bedrooms, as well as how neat and tidy you kept things? It would certainly make you adjust the way you decorate and clean, right?

But one aspect of your home you may forget about is the patio. Your patio space is a direct reflection of your style, and neighbors and friends can see it without even entering your home—yet it’s all too often overlooked! It can be difficult to make choices regarding your patio style or simply to find the money or desire to spruce it up the way you’d hoped, but a few small updates can really make a difference.

A drab outdoor space can quickly be transformed with the right patio umbrella and accessories. Maybe you don’t love your patio furniture, but don’t have the budget to replace it? Fear not! An affordable umbrella in a bright color or bold pattern can easily update your space and make it more warm and inviting.

Let’s consider some unique opportunities for ways to update your outdoor spaces with patio umbrella styles that are outside the norm.

The Standard Umbrella

The standard patio umbrella comes as a solid color, usually a muted neutral or a bold bright color. These patio umbrellas are the what most people gravitate to because they are safe and add class and comfort to your space in a matter of minutes. If you like the look but want to mix things up, start by adding accessories.

For example, consider hanging decorative string lights inside of your umbrella for that “wow” factor during a warm summer evening when cooking out.

Another fun way to change up the traditional umbrella is to select one with a bold pattern and mix and match the umbrella patterns with coordinating patterns on the patio cushions or pillows. This is a fun way to embolden your space without spending too much money.

The Half Umbrella

Have a smaller space? Consider a half umbrella over a couple of lounge chairs. This small umbrella has a cool, casual vibe and is particularly unexpected in an urban setting. It’s a fun option that gives even the smallest patio the dose of personality it deserves and makes your small backyard or balcony feel more like a retreat.

The Cantilever Umbrella

The cantilever umbrella is a freestanding umbrella that looks great over a set of lounge chairs. This umbrella can shift directions to create more shade and gives an impressive spa-like look for people who want to make a true statement on their patio or deck. This umbrella is best for larger spaces and larger budgets, but it’s worth the money! Pair it with some umbrella lights and you have the perfect outdoor party space.

Patio Decorating Tips

Truth be told, a few quick fixes can turn even the most boring, outdated patio or deck into a fun, vibrant entertainment space. If you have basic patio furniture and a limited budget, focus on these key tips to bring your space to life:

  1. Choose accessories that speak to your taste. Whether they’re simple or bold, patterned or plain, bright or muted is up to you!
  2. Add lights. String lights, solar-powered lanterns, torches and even fire pits to add some fun and whimsy to your space at night. There are so many fun options for lighting that create a calming ambiance your guests won’t forget.
  3. Make it comfortable. Make sure that your patio cushions are soft and clean, and don’t be afraid to mix patterns and step outside your box.
  4. Incorporate greenery. If you have extra room in your budget, pick up some oversized pots and pretty plants and set them around the sides of your deck or on the stairs. Mix the plants with options from a greenhouse or nursery, and add some spiked plants or longer vines. Pretty plants always bring coziness to a space.

And most of all? Embrace your own unique style! This is the space that shows off your style to everyone who can see it, so make it the haven you want it to be.

Abbey DeHart is passionate about decor, crafts and DIYS and writes for several publications, including  Plaid Crafts, Angie’s List, HomeRight and The Home Depot. She provides tips on improving your patio area with different outdoor furniture and cool patio umbrella ideas and options.

8 Steps You Need to Know Before Redecorating Your Home

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

Houzz Contributor, Karen Egly-Thompson

If you have a DIY decorating project on your horizon but don’t know where to start, here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Commit to a Budget and Timeline

First, figure out your total project budget. If you skip this step, you’ll likely spend much more than you anticipated and make poor purchasing decisions you’ll later regret.

Also pick a date to complete your project by, even if you don’t have a looming reason to do so. Creating a complete-by date will fuel your project so it can take flight. Completing one stage of a project informs the next and the next. Otherwise, approaching your project piecemeal will delay completion, if you even complete it at all.

Set up a good system to keep track of your expenditures. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but even a spiral notebook can work for smaller projects. The key is to keep it updated.

Here’s an example of how I keep a running log of project expenses. While the main goal is tracking the total amount spent, I also indicate the store (which I left off here because stores will vary based on your location and preference), method of payment, general description and any notes, such as delivery fees — useful information that may come in handy later.

Keep all of your receipts together in one location. You can refer to them easily for warranty information and returns, if needed. I use a small zip pouch made for holding pens and pencils while I’m out shopping. After I return and enter them into the spreadsheet, I stapled each receipt to a piece of paper and store that neatly in a project folder.

See more tips on creating a decorating budget

2. Evaluate Your Needs and Lifestyle

Separating wants and needs is a hard one. Prioritize your needs by first creating a list of the furniture and accessories you envision going into your space. List any work you want to do, like painting or wallpapering, too. Then rate each item 1 through 5, with 1 indicating an absolute must and 5 reflecting a nonnecessity. Reorder the items on the list with the necessities at the top and the more wishful items at the bottom. Involve other family members in this process. They may identify overlooked items.

Also, be honest about your family’s lifestyle requirements today instead of at some far-off idyllic future date. For example, if the kiddos use your family room as a playspace, include toy storage on your list. You may have some child safety needs too. Also note any special concerns about pets, such as shed fur or the potential for furniture to get clawed.

3. Decide What Stays and What Goes

Based on your list, identify any pieces of furniture or accessories that you absolutely want to keep in the space. Remove the pieces you don’t plan to reuse; consider donating them if they’re in good shape or selling them online or through a local consignment store.

4. Draw a Preliminary Furniture Plan

If your project is small, this step may not be necessary. However, if you’re buying new furniture or just considering a new configuration, it’s extremely helpful to try out pieces in different locations to see what fits and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to end up with a too-big piece of furniture. You’ll need a tape measure or laser measuring tool to measure your space and a scale ruler to draw it to scale. A simple sketch illustrating only the outside dimensions is all that’s necessary.

If you don’t have these items or don’t feel comfortable with drawing to scale, an alternative is to “draw” the outlines of furniture with masking tape on your floor or cut furniture-size shapes out of butcher paper to maneuver around on the floor.

Don’t forget about circulation space. Ideally, you’ll want to keep 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the coffee table. Maintain 36 inches for comfortable general circulation. Since you may not have found specific furniture pieces yet and don’t have detailed furniture dimensions, you may need to revise the size of some furniture pieces as your project progresses. Nonetheless, this exercise is a good starting point.

Also measure your entrance door and the pathway to the room, including building elevators if you live in a high-rise. Bring these notes with you when shopping. If there are any delivery dimension concerns, you can address them then and there.

See more on how to get your furniture arrangement right

5. Concentrate on Big Items First

Focus first on the big-impact items, then concentrate on smaller accessories. Too often people get hung up on a small detail that can derail the flow of the bigger items. The idea is to work from large to small.

Find furniture. Unless you’re lucky to find the furniture you want in stock, most furniture takes eight to 12 weeks for fabrication. However, even in-stock furniture may not be delivered right away. If available, get a swatch of the upholstery or finish sample to help with other room selections.

Unless you’re comfortable working with a complex color palette, minimizing your scheme to two colors, as in the space here, will make shopping easier — and your space will look sharp and put-together.

Find furniture in the Shop section

Work the walls. Compared with any other design material, wall paint gives a room the most bang for your buck. I find it easiest to select a wall paint color or wallpaper after the furniture is selected. You have much more leeway with paint color choices than furniture upholstery. Plan to get your space prepped and painted prior to the furniture delivery.

Watch now: How to Paint a Wall Faster

Hit the ceiling. Color instead of conventional white on the ceiling is another cost-effective attention-grabber, especially if you have crown molding to separate it from the walls, like in this living room.

6. Move Toward the Mediums

After you’ve figured out your furniture layout and color scheme, focus on finding the midscale items that will pull your space together, such as an area rug. Your scaled drawing will also come in handy to see how prospective rugs will work with your furniture layout.

Window treatments like Roman shades and drapery can offer lots of style compared to run-of-the-mill Venetian blinds. They can minimize less-than-perfect windows and help save on energy bills, too. New window treatments don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Ribbon-trimmed cordless shades like the ones shown here here can be ordered online for $100 to $125.

A feature light fixture, like the one in this dining room, can become a stunning design focus.

 

7. Save the Small Stuff for Last

Fill in your scheme with decorative accessories toward the end of your project. You’ll be able to see what areas need attention and have a better sense of scale, especially with artwork. With the furniture in place, you’ll also have easy access to key dimensions, like the clearance between shelves.

I also like to shop for table lamps, particularly lamps that will sit behind a sofa, after the furniture is delivered so I can see how all the heights work or don’t work together. Cord lengths and switch locations are also easier to evaluate when the furniture is in place.

8. Leave Room for the Unexpected

You may come across something surprising in your decorating journey that has special meaning or even adds a bit of humor, like these Hulk hand bedpost toppers. Don’t discount originality or quirkiness; it’s what makes your home truly yours.

More
Decorating 101: How to Start a Decorating Project
28 Design Ideas Coming to Homes Near You in 2017

5 Housewarming Gift Ideas for Small Apartments

Ditch the candles. Here are 5 housewarming gifts that won’t get regifted.

Living in a small apartment requires serious Tetris skills to store items that you don’t use every day.  We can’t give the gift of extra space to our friends who move into small apartments, but we can certainly be more thoughtful when it comes to housewarming gifts. So ditch the candles and give a housewarming gift that won’t get regifted.

 

Gift Cards to Local Stores

Do some research on Yelp for brunch, coffee, dessert, spa, dry cleaning, gym, art classes or whatever your friend loves or may need. Check out the reviews and give a gift card to the top-rated business in the local area. If you are feeling generous, give your friend a tour of the new neighborhood by providing a list of things to do along with the gift cards to the top-rated businesses for each of the things to do.

 

Succulents

Trend alert! Flowers are gorgeous, but these tiny succulent plants last a long time and are easy to take care of. These charming plants can be placed on bookshelves, windowsills, coffee tables or you can even keep them floating in a hanging terrarium. These succulents have become a staple in home décor and are sold pretty much anywhere! You can find them at your local garden stores, pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens, grocery stores like Whole Foods or ShopRite and online.

 

Blankets or Slippers

Give the gift of leisure. Nothing can replace the awesome feeling of lounging on a couch under a soft blanket or walking around in fuzzy slippers. Placing a blanket on a couch or a bed is a good trick to make the room look cozier. And they can be folded and put away easily.

 

Gift Cards to Print Pictures

Giving a picture frame can be risky. What looks great on a store display may not necessarily look great with the (new) style your friend is going for. Give a gift card to a store that prints photos so your friend can finally print the pictures on his or her phone. Snapfish and Shutterfly are two websites that allow you to upload pictures and print. You can also print pictures on coasters, books, mugs, calendars and many other products that your friend can decorate the new apartment with!

 

Smart Plugs and Switches

Smart plugs connect the electrical outlet with the device you are plugging in and lets you turn the device on or off remotely or at a scheduled time.  Perfect for the chronic “did-I-leave-my-curling-iron-on” worrier or the globe trotter who wants to turn the light on and off when he or she is traveling.

 

 

Make your home smarter. Visit coldwellbanker.com/smart-home for more information.

8 Steps You Need to Know Before Redecorating Your Home

 

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

Houzz Contributor, Karen Egly-Thompson

If you have a DIY decorating project on your horizon but don’t know where to start, here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Commit to a Budget and Timeline

First, figure out your total project budget. If you skip this step, you’ll likely spend much more than you anticipated and make poor purchasing decisions you’ll later regret.

Also pick a date to complete your project by, even if you don’t have a looming reason to do so. Creating a complete-by date will fuel your project so it can take flight. Completing one stage of a project informs the next and the next. Otherwise, approaching your project piecemeal will delay completion, if you even complete it at all.

Set up a good system to keep track of your expenditures. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but even a spiral notebook can work for smaller projects. The key is to keep it updated.

Here’s an example of how I keep a running log of project expenses. While the main goal is tracking the total amount spent, I also indicate the store (which I left off here because stores will vary based on your location and preference), method of payment, general description and any notes, such as delivery fees — useful information that may come in handy later.

Keep all of your receipts together in one location. You can refer to them easily for warranty information and returns, if needed. I use a small zip pouch made for holding pens and pencils while I’m out shopping. After I return and enter them into the spreadsheet, I stapled each receipt to a piece of paper and store that neatly in a project folder.

See more tips on creating a decorating budget

2. Evaluate Your Needs and Lifestyle

Separating wants and needs is a hard one. Prioritize your needs by first creating a list of the furniture and accessories you envision going into your space. List any work you want to do, like painting or wallpapering, too. Then rate each item 1 through 5, with 1 indicating an absolute must and 5 reflecting a nonnecessity. Reorder the items on the list with the necessities at the top and the more wishful items at the bottom. Involve other family members in this process. They may identify overlooked items.

Also, be honest about your family’s lifestyle requirements today instead of at some far-off idyllic future date. For example, if the kiddos use your family room as a playspace, include toy storage on your list. You may have some child safety needs too. Also note any special concerns about pets, such as shed fur or the potential for furniture to get clawed.

3. Decide What Stays and What Goes

Based on your list, identify any pieces of furniture or accessories that you absolutely want to keep in the space. Remove the pieces you don’t plan to reuse; consider donating them if they’re in good shape or selling them online or through a local consignment store.

4. Draw a Preliminary Furniture Plan

If your project is small, this step may not be necessary. However, if you’re buying new furniture or just considering a new configuration, it’s extremely helpful to try out pieces in different locations to see what fits and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to end up with a too-big piece of furniture. You’ll need a tape measure or laser measuring tool to measure your space and a scale ruler to draw it to scale. A simple sketch illustrating only the outside dimensions is all that’s necessary.

If you don’t have these items or don’t feel comfortable with drawing to scale, an alternative is to “draw” the outlines of furniture with masking tape on your floor or cut furniture-size shapes out of butcher paper to maneuver around on the floor.

Don’t forget about circulation space. Ideally, you’ll want to keep 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the coffee table. Maintain 36 inches for comfortable general circulation. Since you may not have found specific furniture pieces yet and don’t have detailed furniture dimensions, you may need to revise the size of some furniture pieces as your project progresses. Nonetheless, this exercise is a good starting point.

Also measure your entrance door and the pathway to the room, including building elevators if you live in a high-rise. Bring these notes with you when shopping. If there are any delivery dimension concerns, you can address them then and there.

See more on how to get your furniture arrangement right

5. Concentrate on Big Items First

Focus first on the big-impact items, then concentrate on smaller accessories. Too often people get hung up on a small detail that can derail the flow of the bigger items. The idea is to work from large to small.

Find furniture. Unless you’re lucky to find the furniture you want in stock, most furniture takes eight to 12 weeks for fabrication. However, even in-stock furniture may not be delivered right away. If available, get a swatch of the upholstery or finish sample to help with other room selections.

Unless you’re comfortable working with a complex color palette, minimizing your scheme to two colors, as in the space here, will make shopping easier — and your space will look sharp and put-together.

Find furniture in the Shop section

Work the walls. Compared with any other design material, wall paint gives a room the most bang for your buck. I find it easiest to select a wall paint color or wallpaper after the furniture is selected. You have much more leeway with paint color choices than furniture upholstery. Plan to get your space prepped and painted prior to the furniture delivery.

Watch now: How to Paint a Wall Faster

Hit the ceiling. Color instead of conventional white on the ceiling is another cost-effective attention-grabber, especially if you have crown molding to separate it from the walls, like in this living room.

6. Move Toward the Mediums

After you’ve figured out your furniture layout and color scheme, focus on finding the midscale items that will pull your space together, such as an area rug. Your scaled drawing will also come in handy to see how prospective rugs will work with your furniture layout.

Window treatments like Roman shades and drapery can offer lots of style compared to run-of-the-mill Venetian blinds. They can minimize less-than-perfect windows and help save on energy bills, too. New window treatments don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Ribbon-trimmed cordless shades like the ones shown here here can be ordered online for $100 to $125.

A feature light fixture, like the one in this dining room, can become a stunning design focus.

 

7. Save the Small Stuff for Last

Fill in your scheme with decorative accessories toward the end of your project. You’ll be able to see what areas need attention and have a better sense of scale, especially with artwork. With the furniture in place, you’ll also have easy access to key dimensions, like the clearance between shelves.

I also like to shop for table lamps, particularly lamps that will sit behind a sofa, after the furniture is delivered so I can see how all the heights work or don’t work together. Cord lengths and switch locations are also easier to evaluate when the furniture is in place.

8. Leave Room for the Unexpected

You may come across something surprising in your decorating journey that has special meaning or even adds a bit of humor, like these Hulk hand bedpost toppers. Don’t discount originality or quirkiness; it’s what makes your home truly yours.

Add a Pop of Seasonal Color to Catch a Buyer’s Eye

A touch of color can go a long way in making your home standout.

The following is guest post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. All photos are example of design and staging work by PJ & Company Staging. 

If you’re getting your home ready to sell this spring, it’s the perfect season to add pops of trending colors to attract buyers and help your showing stand out from the competition. The following are some of our favorite tips for introducing colorful accents that will grab buyers’ attention and make them feel welcome from the moment they step foot on the front porch. And once they become engaged with the property, they’ll be more inclined to make an offer!

Front Porch
After cleaning up winter debris from the yard, a great way to attract buyers past the front door is to create an inviting porch with plenty of curb appeal. The easiest way to give a quick facelift for the season is with bright accents such as a beautiful welcome mat, floral wreath, colorful pillows placed on a bench or chair and potted seasonal flowers and greenery.

Entry

staging1-updated

Once the buyer steps into the home, create a welcoming entry with an eye-catching hallway runner in a bold patterns and colors. Pair the rug with an adjacent console table vignette using floral or grassy arrangements, a beautiful lamp and hanging mirror to set the inviting tone for the rest of the property.

Family Room/Living Room

staging2-updated

After freshening walls with neutral colors for a soft back drop, add dimension with colorful wall art that not only complements the rest of the room’s décor but enhances the room’s unique features.
Bring new life to sofas and chairs by adding accent pillows in trending spring colors and bold prints such as coral, turquoise, and green. Don’t forget to layer with a soft throw draped over an armrest that complements the color palette and adds a feeling of warmth and luxury.

Fresh Bedding

staging3-updated

An easy way to embrace the spring season in your bedrooms is by putting away heavy bedding and adding a white duvet or coverlet. Layer with accent pillows, shams, and a cozy throw in fresh hues such as floral prints in soft blues, greens, corals and yellows for a spring-like, peaceful feel. To complete the fresh look of the room, pair bedding accents with nature-inspired botanical wall art in complementary colors.

Inviting Touches in the Bathroom
To create a welcoming, spa-like ambience in the bathroom, our go-to accents include layering fresh, fluffy towels on countertops and racks, hanging a fresh shower curtain with bright patterns and hues and finishing with a plush bath mat to match. Other favorite touches are silky florals in creams, green succulents, colored glass vases or bottles, liquid hand soaps, candles and of course wall art.

 

patti-sternPatti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

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Discover the hottest new trends in smart home technology, from voice control to security, to temperature control to lighting and even safety measures like door locks!

Is your home a smart home? If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, the answer is probably yes, or it will be soon. What were once seen only as gimmicks reserved for the tech-savvy homeowners have quickly become the norm. We conducted a survey and  found that almost half (45%) of Americans own some sort of smart home technology. More surprisingly, 36% of that group don’t consider themselves to be early adopters of technology.

Whether you’re shopping for a first home, looking to sell your home, or planning home renovations to add value to your house, smart home technology should be at the top of your must-haves list. 54% of homeowners said they would install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. In fact, about 33% of agents said homes with smart features sell faster.

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

So, which smart features and home renovations should homeowners and home buyers be most interested in next year? Our survey found the top “smart” features were:

  • Voice Control
  • Security
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Safety

Most Americans (60%) agree that a home needs to have at least three of these features to be considered “smart.”

Voice Control

One of the fastest-growing smart home features in the last year is voice control. The list of products that operate with voice control features is growing by the day, from music players to TVs to even security products, lighting, and shopping.

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Security

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” when it has smart security locks and alarm systems. Security features lead the way for smart features in terms of adoption and appeal. Even though 58% of home buyers say smart security is the most appealing type of pre-installed smart home technology, only 31% have smart security installed.

Temperature control

Smart temperature control is more widely adopted with homeowners over the age of 65 – about 40% have smart temperature products, while only 25% of 18-34 year olds have the technology installed. The favorite features of smart temperature controls are:

  • Improving the comfort of the household (71%)
  • Reducing energy consumption (68%)
  • Monitoring or controlling their device while away from home (41%)

Safety

The safety of the household should be a top priority for any homeowner. Smart technology offers new features for fire and carbon monoxide detectors, nightlights, and other renovations to make your house safer. Homeowners look for safety features that allow them to monitor and control the safety of their home either when they are away (52%), or from anywhere inside the home (30%).

The leader in smart thermostats, Nest, has also released a smart Smoke and CO Alarm, Nest Protect. One feature of this device that is quickly becoming the norm for smart technology is interconnectivity. If your Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace automatically.

Lighting

For homeowners looking to improve comfort with the ability to make easy changes in the mood of their home – while reducing energy consumption – smart lighting is just the thing. Many new smart technologies emerged this year for a smarter lighting experience:

  • C by GE uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can personalize your light temperature settings throughout the day. This allows your lighting to sync with your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your sleep cycle.
  • FlipFlic is a device installed on window blinds that automatically adjusts the blinds based on light, temperature and time of day. Natural lighting can play a major part in your home’s mood and vibe and this device gives you more control over it.

Our study also found that 70% of homeowners say they plan to invest more money in smart home renovations and features in the future. This new home trend is rapidly increasing and offering homeowners new ways to improve their own standard of living while raising the value of their homes.

Which smart renovations and features do you plan on adding to your home in 2017

Installing a Pool? The Ultimate Homeowner’s Checklist

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The decision to install an in-ground pool should never be taken lightly. Take the time to review this checklist before calling up the nearest pool installer.

The decision to install an in-ground pool should never be taken lightly. While this iconic amenity adds a level of beauty and recreation to the property, it also imparts significant real estate considerations. Without careful forethought and planning, unexpected roadblocks may put the pool to a grinding halt. Take the time to review this checklist before calling up the nearest pool installer.

 

Local Laws, Permits, and Municipal Codes

Check with the local jurisdiction to find out what is required. The pool contractor should be well-versed in the codes, permits, and fees necessary to begin. However, the responsibility lies with the homeowner. Some areas have restrictions on size and type of pool, setback, and safety features.

 

Strata/Homeowner’s Association Restrictions

Some homeowner’s associations may forbid the installation of pools altogether, while others have specific restrictions. They may prohibit excessively large pools or require additional safety measures not required by the city. Consult with them prior to investing in a pool or they may put a stop to it.

 

Utility Easements

Known easement issues should be dealt with prior to installing a pool. Utility service easements and other access issues can make the prime location of the pool far less inviting. Natural obstructions such as sinkholes, rocky terrain, and trees can increase the difficulty further.

 

Space Requirements

A pool will also take up more area than most people are expecting. Account for plenty of excess space for ease of movement, garden area, and play areas for children. Have a contractor assist in plotting out the available space, and making note of any questionable areas.

 

Property Taxes Versus Property Value

Typically, expect a new pool installation to qualify as new construction on the property. This will subject it to higher property taxes, which will vary based on locale. However, the amount of the investment is not often reflected by an equivalent increase in property values. Consider a new pool an indulgence rather than an investment.

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Climate and Neighborhood

Warmer climates are perfect locations for pools; so much so that they are essential property features, not luxuries. Even homes close to coastal regions still require pools, to maintain the health of the real estate market and to sell quickly. Homes in colder climates are more likely to add a pool as a novelty, only available for use in the warmer spring and summer months. Likewise, take a look at the other homes in the neighborhood, for indications on how desirable a pool is, and what styles are preferred in this market.

 

Patio, Landscaping, and Amenities

Consider how the in-ground pool fits in with current and future outdoor amenities. A patio is a natural pairing, but proper landscaping will prevent the pool from looking staggeringly out of place. Lighting, fire pits, and cooking areas can all be incorporated into a comprehensive outdoor entertainment area, increasing property values and market desirability.

 

Financing with Home Equity, Second Mortgage, or Unsecured Loan

Choosing the right financing should be done prior to putting a deposit down with a pool contractor. A qualified lender can explain the available options and assist in deciding what is best at the time. Many people turn to home equity loans immediately, but they are not always available on a newer home purchase or during a slow market. A second mortgage is another popular choice, but may not be a sound investment if a quick sale is expected. Unsecured loans are less popular, but are good when a large deposit is already available.

 

Resale Value and Attractiveness to the Market

A new pool is no guarantee of increased property values. In unfavorable markets, some buyers may not desire an in-ground pool at all, and it may end up buried in the future. Proper research will indicate what kind of market the property is located in. Often, a pool remains a luxury investment that is not easily recouped in the future.

 

The decision to install a pool is complex, but need not be overwhelming. By covering these areas prior to beginning, it will be easy to determine if a pool will be a reality or a pipe dream.

10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children

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Your life at home with children will be easier if your house has some version of these features.

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Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

If you have kids (or are planning to) and you’re shopping for a house, your what-to-look-for checklist is probably already a mile long. To avoid getting swamped by the home buying process, focus on what you really want from your home. Beyond the basics of location, price, condition and school district, what would really make a home a great fit for your family? Consider adding these 10 items to your home buying wish list — and then share your own ideas in the Comments.

1. Entry storage. From the strollers and car seats of the baby stage to the sports gear and backpacks of the older years, a never-ending parade of stuff comes with having children in the house — and the more places you have to put this stuff when you walk in the door, the better! Look for a house with built-in entry storage, from closets and cabinets to cubbies and shelves. Having an entry out of view of the rest of the house is ideal, so you can enjoy your home without staring at the gear in the entryway all the time.

2. Convenient laundry. A laundry in the basement may not be the first thing you notice at an open house, but if you have young children, you might want to give the laundry zone a little more thought. Having the washer and dryer on the main level — in a mudroom or off the kitchen, for instance — comes in incredibly handy when you’re wrangling small children who go through more wardrobe changes in one day than Lady Gaga. A laundry near upstairs bedrooms is another good option, since this will likely mean a lot less schlepping of heavy baskets up and down the stairs.

3. Stairs that can be safely gated. Speaking of stairs, if you are looking at homes with more than one level, pay attention to the stairs and railings. Look for stairs that can be gated easily at the top and bottom, and sturdy railings without any wide gaps. Airy, open staircases may look beautiful, but if you can’t easily block them, life with a little one will be very stressful.

4. Ditto for the kitchen. While being able to see what’s going on in the living room while you chop veggies for dinner is a definite plus, it still pays to consider how you can gate off the cooking area to keep curious little hands out. Door openings that are larger than standard size may require custom (read: costlier) solutions. Of course, you may decide you don’t need to separate this area … but it never hurts to think about it before you buy.

5. Built-in storage. Built-in storage means more places to neatly stash your family’s stuff, without worrying about anchoring tall, topple-prone pieces of furniture to the wall. Ideally, look for built-in shelving in the living room or family room with open shelves above and closed cabinets below.

6. Kid-friendly bathroom. We’re not talking about a themed bathroom here, but a functional space that will work well for your family. Look for a bathroom with a tub and plenty of room to maneuver — you may be spending a remarkable number of hours perched on a stool beside that tub, so comfort and spaciousness count! Other details to look for include a bathroom mirror that comes down close to the sink (so little ones can actually see themselves), and storage space for bath toys and extra towels, and if you have a large family, multiple faucets are a big plus.

7. Bonus space. When you have kids, extra space is always a good thing. Look for an area of the home that has the potential to be used in a number of different ways, from playroom to home office to nursery for a future sibling. If the space (attic, basement) is not finished, find out what it would take to make this area usable in the future.

8. Fenced yard. Even a small yard can offer big possibilities to a child, from building play forts to digging in the dirt. For your own peace of mind, look for a backyard that is fully, securely fenced, so you can let creative play happen without worrying your little explorer will go toddling off toward the street.

9. A view of the outdoors. Being able to take care of a little chore inside and still have a view of your child playing can be a huge help. A bonus benefit of having a good view of your outdoor space — whether through generous windows, sliding glass doors or French doors — is that it will encourage you and your family to actually use it!

10. Master suite. As a parent, having a space to call your own is so important. Sure, you may end up sharing the space with a toddler who had bad dreams or a random pile of Lego bricks more often than you would like, but knowing that this space is officially yours is worth it. Look for a master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a spacious closet. French doors leading to your own private balcony or patio? Major bonus.