Monthly Archives: March 2015

Bluebonnet Trails: Celebrate Spring in Dallas

The season of spring almost always ushers in a budding of topographical and personal renewal. Ring in the warm months and lay the seeds for a prosperous year by stepping out of your Dallas home by spending some time in the Texas countryside and acknowledge all that this unique land has to offer. The month of April, especially, offers specific opportunities to commune and reconnect with the natural bounty of the land. Blooming Bluebonnet Trails and engaging outdoor festivals are sure to make an appreciation for the great outdoors sprout in even the most persistent of city slickers.

Bluebonnet Trails

Frolic through more than 40 miles of bluebonnet-dotted terrain in Ennis, Texas, any time during the month of April. This natural showcase of blooming beauty will keep you swaying in the wind with amazement. While this official flower of Texas tends to boast full blooms towards the end of month, regularly checking in with the Ennis Garden Club or Bluebonnet Love can keep you up to date on specific areas along Bluebonnet Trails that flourish with vivid azures and stark whites that rival the midday sky. Book tours on trails with a knowledgeable and friendly guide to learn about history and botany while also searching for that perfect, album-worthy snapshot.

Terrell Heritage Jubilee

Nothing says “fun” for Texans quite like an old-fashioned, country celebration. At the annual Terrell Heritage Jubilee during April 16–19, you’ll be treated to the sights and sounds of a down-home festival. A barbeque cook-off, rodeo, carnival, arts and crafts show, and live entertainment tickle the senses of visitors from across the state. Tours of local museums spotlight histories and antiquities that remain off the beaten path for most. The freeing, open space of the jubilee’s location offers to transport festival-goers to a simpler time and place where the only mandate is to have a rollicking good time.

Arbor Daze

Billed as the “ultimate family festival,” Arbor Daze skyrockets environmentalism into the stratosphere with its wide variety of fun activities, learning opportunities, and hands-on volunteerism. At this festival, you’ll have more nature-infused entertainment choices than you can shake a branch at. Arts and crafts, children’s areas, and local entertainment color this celebration with the right shades of joy. More than anything else, Arbor Daze promotes environmentalism by gifting its festival participants with a tree to plant and grow in an area of their choosing. Mark April 24–25 on your calendar and leave a preference for the concrete jungle behind.

Image Source: Flickr/John McStravick

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Bathroom Design Ideas Using Tile

BathroomTile

Ceramic and porcelain tiles rank among the most popular choices for bathroom flooring due to their durability and water resistance. Tiles are available in a multitude of colors, shapes, and styles to easily mesh with any decor. Here are a few bathroom design ideas and a brief overview of tiling in case you’d like to try this DIY project.

Add Tile When Remodeling

Adding tile as part of a bathroom remodel makes sense because you’ll have an empty space to work with. When remodeling, consider replacing toilets with newer, more efficient models. You may also want to remove the existing vanity or cabinets and update the look by installing newer styles. Old lighting fixtures can also be updated with a modern style.

Choose Tile

In addition to choosing a color and style, buying the right type of tile (floor vs. wall) is also important. Compared to wall tiles, floor tiles must have greater water and slip resistance, in addition to increased durability. After you’ve selected the tile, you’ll need to purchase grout. Opt for a color that closely matches your tile for a blending effect, or you may want to choose a contrasting hue to make the grout lines stand out.

Prepare the Subfloor

Your subfloor must be stable and flat to prevent tiles from cracking. If your existing floor is ceramic tile or a cement base, tiling on top may be an option, but the height of your floor will increase, which can cause issues when reinstalling toilets. Another option is to remove your existing floor and install an OSB or plywood subfloor. Once your subflooring is set, you’ll need to attach backerboard using mortar and screws for optimal adherence.

Lay the Tile

Before starting the project, plan your exit strategy so that you don’t tile yourself into a corner. It may be helpful to sketch the room and mark where each tile will go. You’ll want to ensure that any cut tiles are located around the perimeter of the room, not in the center. To lay tile, first spread mortar using a notched spreader. Press each tile down firmly and ensure it’s flat and straight. As you work, add spacers between tiles to help measure a uniform size of the grout lines.

Image Source: Flickr/Cheryl Marland

Cutting Tile

Tile saws can be rented at any home improvement store. Be sure you understand how to work the saw safely. Many Philadelphia area Home Depot stores run DIY tile classes, so you may want to attend one and learn more about the tools needed.

Grouting

Sanded grout works best for ceramic and porcelain floor tiles with larger grout lines. Purchase premixed grout or buy bags of dry grout and mix it yourself. Using a rubber float, spread the grout in the empty spaces between tiles. Next, take a rag or sponge and wipe off excess grout left on the tiles. Once the grout has fully dried, apply a sealer to protect it from discoloration.

Bathroom Design Ideas Using Tile

Tile designs and styles change frequently. Wood-look porcelain tiles are a new trend in bathroom flooring. These combine the beauty of hardwood with the durable traits of tile. Classic subway tiles have regained popularity for backsplashes and showers. To update the retro look, try using colors other than white, or choose a contrasting grout color.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are long-lasting and beautiful flooring options that add value to your Philadelphia home. If you think you’re up for the challenge, a basic design in a small bathroom space is a great way to learn how to lay tile.

Main Image Source: Flickr/andrechinn

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Moving to New York? 7 Tips to Navigate the City Like a Local

Times Square at Night

You can always spot people who haven’t quite got the moving to New York thing down pat yet. They’re the ones that march eagerly toward the empty subway car instead of crowding into the crammed ones with everyone else. They’re the ones that buy bagels at the end of the day. They learn very quickly that those things are on the “what not to do when you’re new to New York” list. Want to know more of what not to do? Read on.

Image Source: Flickr/Richard Ricciardi

1. Avoid. Times. Square.

Unless you work there, live there, or you’ve got a really good reason to be there, there’s really no reason for you to hang out in Times Square. It gets really busy there, with tourists and street vendors packed shoulder to shoulder. How tight does it get? It’s crowded at midnight. Oh, did you think we mean “Avoid Times Square on New Year’s Eve”? No, we mean avoid Times Square on a Tuesday.

Cheap Umbrellas

Image Source: Flickr/Liam Kearney

2. Invest in a Good Umbrella

They tempt you, drawing you in when you need them most — we’re talking about cheap umbrellas, of course. They grace every bodega, taunting you when a freak thunderstorm hits. They’re cheap, but they’re cheap for a reason: They’ll last you a block before they’re destroyed by a gust of wind. Plan ahead and invest in a good umbrella.

3. Scope Out the Underground WiFi Spots

There are subway stations in NYC with full-blown WiFi, thanks to wireless carrier deals with NYC’s MTA. This means that if you have to send a text, you’re awaiting an important email, or you need to make an emergency phone call, you can do it at one of these stations. As of the end of 2014, 76 stations in Manhattan and Queens were wired. The plan is for every subway station in the city to be set up by 2017. Some of the stations on the list include Herald Square, Bryant Park, and the 81st Street B and C train station underneath the Museum of Natural History.

4. Speaking of Empty Subway Cars …

That sole empty subway car in an rush-hour train packed full of passengers is empty for a reason. Trust us. Sardine it in a cramped car like everyone else.

Houston Street

Image Source: Flickr/Wally Gobetz

5. Houston Street

It’s pronounced “HOW-stuhn.” Never say “HYOO-stuhn.” You’re welcome.

6. Save Money and Make Your Own Chipotle

We get it; you’re busy. After moving to New York, you don’t have time to cook for yourself all the time. The thing is, if you eat lunch out every day, you end up spending a lot of money that you could be saving. Even if you “only” spend $10 per day on lunch, that’s at least $200 per month. (That doesn’t include your $5 latte and $2 bagel in the morning, adding another $140 per month.) Insane, no? Instead, you can stock up on groceries from places like Costco (order it online via Instacart) and find recipes online that teach you how to make your own Chipotle. Then you can splurge on yourself once a month without feeling guilty.

Taxi, Taxi

Image Source: Flickr/Damian Morys

7. Practice Good Cab Etiquette

These days, with the proliferation of car services like Uber and Lyft, catching a cab may seem like a 2004 person’s problem. But there will come a time when you will need to hail a yellow cab. Don’t cheat by going downwind (or upwind) of someone who’s been patiently waiting for a car. The cab karma gods will get you.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Robert Francis

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Home Tip of the Day: Ten Minute Meals for Busy Work Nights

The last thing many of us want to do after coming home late from work is cook dinner for a few hours. Here’s how you can create a quick nutritious meal by using our new favorite kitchen appliance.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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Home of the Week: Timeless Elegance in Purchase, NY

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a modern property in Montana to a custom European style home in Purchase, New York.

Sitting on over 2 acres of professionally landscaped grounds you’ll find this elegant and timeless 7,780 square foot home. Above all else, a commitment to sophistication and tranquility are the hallmarks of this $2,599,000 gem.

Everything about this estate is first class – from french doors you see in nearly every room that invite inspiring views from one-of-a-kind gardens, to the harmonious blend of old world luxury and modern amenities. 19 foot great rooms, limestone fireplaces and grand staircases give off a decidedly relaxing atmosphere to the interior, but it doesn’t stop at the front door.

The zen-like outdoor space flanked by waterfalls, wild grasses, specimen plantings and sculptures make this a welcomed retreat from the hustle of the big city. The breathtaking private yard is highlighted by an authentic Japanese Tea House resting comfortably on what the current homeowner calls “Serenity Pond”. When you’ve enjoyed your fill of herbal tea and meditation, this home is located just 35 minutes away from all the excitement and entertainment that New York City offers.

Click here to learn more about this home listed by Debra Padawer with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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Coldwell Banker Teams Up with SNY on Play Ball Initiative

When you buy a home, you’re buying more than just four walls, you’re buying into a community. Our communities are an extension of our homes. They shape our upbringing, our memories and our daily lives. It’s where we walk the dog, it’s where we go to school, and it’s where we root on our local little league team.

Community is synonymous with home. This is particularly true for our network of Coldwell Banker real estate agents. Because in real estate where we work is also where we live.

That’s why Coldwell Banker is proud to be a title sponsor of the Play Ball initiative with SNY, which aims to give back to communities, specifically through youth sports programs. This baseball season, SNY is teaming up with Coldwell Banker and the Mets to award grants, donate equipment, conduct a clinic at Citi Field, invite youth to a Mets game and help provide employee volunteers for a league project.

Learn more about this sponsorship and the importance of community in the below segment featured first on LXTV Open House.

Looking for a community you can call home? Visit coldwellbanker.com today.

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Home Office Design: Top Five Refresher Tips

A utilitarian and logical home office design can prove integral to the productivity experienced within it. With the right design and improvements in mind, you can refresh your office in your DFW home for success. Realize your workspace’s maximum potential by implementing these Texas-centric office upgrades.

Bright Minds and Green Thumbs

Incorporating plants into a home office setting has a slew of advantages, including improving the atmosphere, air quality, and look of the office. Plants have even been associated with boosting mood, enhancing creativity and bolstering productivity. Refresh your office by going green and dotting your workspace with live, potted plants. While you can select from many different plant species, you can easily keep your choice homegrown: a potted cactus, for example, can require relatively little maintenance and add a bit of Texan flair to a home office’s interior.

Make a Decorative Splash With Paint

A fresh coat of paint can transform any room into a different world. Choosing a new color scheme for your home office can give you the opportunity to incorporate an overall theme. If your home office serves as headquarters to your business, consider repainting the walls in your company’s colors to help establish your brand with visitors and clients. Should your office function more as an artist’s studio, choose a hue that enhances creativity, like purple.

Accents: More than Just Drawls

Decor and accents often stand out the most to visitors and clients and can influence that all-important first impression. Choose your accents carefully. Home offices meant strictly for personal use can boast a few accents that say something about you, while those that act as a hub for a business may need a few items that advertise goods, services, or a company philosophy. To maximize your space, invest in accents that have the dual purpose of providing decoration and storage options.

Rope in Some New Furniture

Replacing your old office furniture with new versions can improve your workspace in a multitude of ways. Opt for ergonomic chairs and office supplies to make working as comfortable as sitting on a front porch and watching a Texan inky sunset. If your business is Texas-centric, choose rustic-looking furniture made of local mahogany or cedar trees for an extra dose of the Lone Star experience.

Reorganize for New Life

Clutter and improperly placed items constantly threaten the utility of home offices. Organizing your office into a logical and fluid home office design can improve your productivity level and reduce the amount of stress you experience while getting work done. Carefully consider your home office’s layout and plan ahead: Determine where computers, printers, and peripherals should go before setting them up. Get rid of as much old paperwork as you can and take advantage of labeling and digital filing systems. Take your cue from those long stretches of Texas highways and keep things as simple, bare, and unencumbered as possible — that always makes for the smoothest personal and professional rides.

Image Source: Flickr/Lisa Risager

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Quintessential New York Sayings

New York Sayings: Slice

New Yorkers have a unique lexicon. First, there’s the accent (it’s real). Then, there are all the distinctive phrases that pop up in our daily conversations.

Here are some quintessential New York sayings that you are bound to hear on the streets of Manhattan.

Image Source: Flickr/The Pizza Review

Slice: a piece of pizza. Specifically, this often refers to a slice of cheese pizza. If you want something on your slice, make sure to specify your toppings: “I’ll have a slice of sausage.”

Downtown: used when traveling south. Generally, anything below Canal is considered Downtown.

Uptown: you’re not heading north in Manhattan, you’re heading Uptown.

Crosstown: crossing the city in an east or west direction. “That Crosstown bus is the worst!”

Upstate: anything north of the Bronx.

Schlep: carry or drag. “I schlepped this package around all day, and now I’m exhausted.”

Nosh: a snack or small meal. “I haven’t eaten anything since morning! I need something to nosh on.”

Schmuck: someone who is stupid or foolish. “They’re all a bunch of schmucks in that office.”

Mad: a lot of something. “He is mad funny.”

New York Sayings: Bodega

Image Source: Flickr/Michael Cory

Bodega: the combination deli/grocery/convenience store found on almost every corner in New York.

The City: the island of Manhattan. After grabbing a cab at LaGuardia, tell the cabbie, “I’m heading into The City.”

Regular coffee: refers to a coffee with cream (or milk) and two sugars, usually ordered from your corner deli or bodega. Don’t try this New York saying at Starbucks!

Schmear: a thin coating of cream cheese on a bagel. “I’ll have an everything bagel with a schmear and a regular coffee.”

Standing on line: said rather than standing in line.

Bridge and Tunnel: indicates people who commute to Manhattan for work or pleasure by a bridge or tunnel. May also be referred to as B and T.

Stoop: the steps leading up to an apartment building and a popular gathering spot during the hot summer months.

Boss: a way of referring to someone when you don’t know their name. “What can I get you, boss?”

Son: another way of addressing a person whose name you don’t know. “How you doin’, son?”

New York Sayings: Street Meat

Image Source: Flickr/Alex

Street meat: the food you order from a food cart.
Whether you’re new to The City or a native, you’re sure to hear at least one of these New York sayings anytime you leave your NYC apartment.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Angelo Amboldi

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Country Inspired Spring Decor Ideas for Your Philly Home

Sofa

The beginning of spring is more than welcome on the East Coast — especially after a harsh winter season. Celebrate this lovely season by making your home look like a nice, warm, breezy spring day in the country, even though you live in Philadelphia. Explore these country inspired spring decor ideas for your Philly home.

The Kitchen

Begin your spring decor transformation in the kitchen, since that is probably one of the rooms where you spend most of your time. The windows are a focal point for a country kitchen — they allow tons of light to enter the room, so make sure your curtains are light and sheer. Add a short, floral-patterned valance at the top. Next, add a “proper” country kitchen floor mat in front of your sink — look for a mat that has a rooster or daisy pattern. Finally, every country kitchen needs plenty of counter space to prepare delicious meals, so for the finishing touch, get a small portable white kitchen island on wheels with a wooden top. You can use it for cutting up your vegetables and meat or for adding a vase of beautiful, fragrant spring marigolds and daisies.

The Bedroom

To add the look of “spring in the country” to your bedroom, replace all of your heavy, dark bedding from the winter with floral, checkered or mixed patterns. Red and white checkered bedding puts you in the mind of an inviting covered picnic table. Bedding designed in two or more shades of green (such as a light green comforter along with an array of deeper green pillows) is an ode to the growth of green plants that’s characteristic of the spring season. And to add a bright, happy look, choose a yellow country sunflower pattern for your bedding, including crisp white linens. It might make you feel as if you’re lying in a patch of sunflowers on a farm in the country.

The Living Room

The next place where you can easily add a touch of spring is in your living room. Begin by rearranging the sofa, coffee table and any end tables. Place the sofa in front of or near the window — this allows you to feel the warmth of the spring sun every time you sit down to relax. Next, replace old throw pillows with new ones that are brightly colored (green, yellow, white, pink, and blue). For inspiration, look at common Easter colors. Examine the various shades of tulips or a blend of colors that are characteristic of marigolds. Patterned and lace-trimmed pillows are perfect — look for styles that are hand-stitched with country inspired scenes like farm houses, cottages, and carriages.

Image Source: Flickr/PoshSurfside.com

When you incorporate these country inspired spring decor ideas into the interior design of your kitchen, bedroom, and living room, you may come home from a long day traversing the busy city of Philadelphia and feel as if you’ve stepped into a country oasis.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Nancy Hugo, CKD

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Home Library Design in Any Space

Incorporating a home library design into your space can be extremely appealing to the eye and add a lot of warmth to any apartment or house. However, it can pose some challenges. For example, what do you do when you live in a small apartment or studio, or have no shelves to put the books on? That’s when you need to get creative because a home library design can involve anything from putting up shelves yourself to buying the correct piece for the space.

Fill the Space

Now, if you are living in a studio or apartment there is one thing each of these has in common, walls. There are always bare walls that need to be filled. A great way to help make a library blend into the room is by matching it to the same color as the walls. For example, take two stand alone bookcases and push them together to fill a bit of unused wall space. Pushing them together makes it look more like one piece of furniture verses two separate bookcases. Once pushed together, feel free to spread out books, artwork, small trinkets from traveling, and other items to make it your own. If you are crafty, go out and buy two cabinet doors and add them to the bottom of the bookcase. This will create the illusion of the bookcase being more of a focus piece and will also allow you to stash some items in it — great for storing items you don’t want people to see.

Going Up

Another creative idea is to go vertical and use the wall space in terms of height. A lot of people forget how much space they have if they were to add shelves or do something nontraditional, like adding shadow boxes. These can go anywhere, take up no room, and require very little installation. If you buy small shadow boxes, they can be installed in minutes with only two screws. It keeps the books organized, gives you more storage space, and doesn’t take up floor space. You can group the storage cubes or put them above a desk. Again, take advantage of their design and use them as a focal piece by painting them a different color or hide them by painting them the same color as the walls.

Finally, you might want to think about installing a floor to ceiling bookshelf. Although it will take up some space, it also provides limitless opportunities for you to show off your items. The bookshelves can be customized with some shelves being larger than others, making it look like it was made for your apartment. You can also take some cute baskets and add them throughout the bookcase. This allows you to still be able to hide stuff and makes your items look less cluttered. Consider adding a painting or some modern art to help it feel like an addition to your space.

For more ideas on home library design try visiting some creative websites like Architecture Art Design or Lus Home. Good luck!

Image Source: Flickr/brewbooks

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