Bring Earth Day into your home

Today marks  Earth Day. How will you spend the day? Here are a few simple ideas to save energy and reduce your impact on the earth.

Create your own Earth Hour
During Earth Hour, people around the world turn off the lights. Even famous places such as the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building go dark.  Re-create your own Earth Hour tonight by turning off the lights and the TV. Play a board game, have dinner or read a book by candlelight.

Adjust your thermostat
Spring is slowly heating up into summer. Check that your heating and cooling settings are appropriate for the new season.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
If you haven’t already made the switch, think about replacing old light bulbs with CFLs. According to EnergyStar, if each home in America replaced just one light with an ENERGY STAR light, the energy saved would light more than 3 million homes for a year and save about $700 million in annual energy costs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle
Upcycling is the art of taking something that could be seen as garbage and turning into something useful. Do you have a basement full of items that you’re thinking about throwing away? Next time you want to run to the store to buy something new, head down to your stash and envision if there’s anything there that you could use instead, like this pair of rubber boots that became a flower pot.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on April 22, 2018 at 11:00 am
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5 Deal Breakers that can blindside home buyers

Purchasing a home can be a complex endeavor for even the most well-prepared home buyer.  You’ve diligently saved for your down payment, followed the market, researched agents and now you are ready to make an offer on your dream home.  Don’t let these 5 “Deal Breakers” come between you and your new home.

Big Purchases on Credit. It is tempting to buy the furniture for your new home or a new car for the garage before the sale closes. Take care if you are making these purchases on credit. Large purchases on credit can have a major impact on your credit profile which effects your mortgage application. It’s a better plan to wait until after closing or pay cash for these transactions or you may be putting that furniture in a different living room than you originally picked them out for.

Overpaying. Before your bank will approve your mortgage they will appraise the home you are purchasing.  If they feel you are overpaying they are likely to decline your mortgage application. If you find yourself in this situation consult with your agent on renegotiating your offer to be more in line with the bank’s appraised value.

Purchasing too close to Foreclosure. If you are making an offer on a house which is facing foreclosure be sure to have a closing date set before the foreclosure date. Have your agent work with the lender to structure closing before the house goes back to the bank and into foreclosure.

IRS liens. You’ve heard the old saying “Death and Taxes”.  Back taxes and liens can derail your attempts to get financing for a mortgage so be sure to have your books in order before filing your loan application.

Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is a database of insurance claims for both people and property.  Your home insurance rates are determined by the information about you and the property you plan to purchase which is contained in this report. Past claims for water damage, falling trees and even dog bites from present and past owners can multiply your insurance rates. Consult your agent about the CLUE report for your future home as soon as possible once your home purchase offer is accepted.

When purchasing a home there will be challenges which you can plan for and the unexpected hurdles.  By educating yourself as a consumer and choosing a well trained real estate agent you can avoid many of the pitfalls of 21st century home ownership.

What about you? Tell us if you have had any “deal breaker” experiences.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 7:22 pm
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13 Appliance Tips & Hacks for Household Chores

Modern home appliances make our lives so much easier: They tackle dreaded household chores, saving us time and effort. There are lots of ways to use them, however, that you may not have thought of before. From cleaning your ceiling fixtures in the dishwasher to vacuuming your pet, here are 13 little-known tricks for getting more than your money’s worth from your appliances.

  1. Sanitize small toys and more. Use your dishwasher to wash and sanitize teething rings, small plastic toys, mouth guards, and even baseball caps. Place items on the top rack and run the dishwasher as usual with detergent (without any dirty dishes). Put smaller items in a small mesh laundry bag so that they don’t move around.
  2. Clean ceiling fixtures. At least once or twice a year, remove and clean your glass ceiling fixtures and light covers in an empty dishwasher. Run the machine on the normal cycle.

  1. Eliminate wrinkles from clothing. To smooth out wrinkled clothes or linens left too long in the dryer, toss a damp, lint-free cloth in with them. Run the load on the lowest setting for 10 to 15 minutes. Newer dryers also feature a steam setting that removes wrinkles and refreshes clothing between wears.
  2. Disinfect sponges and dishcloths. Kitchen sponges and dishcloths contain billions of germs. Clean and disinfect them daily by zapping them on high in the microwave for 2 minutes to kill germs.
  3. Freshen up your curtains. Vacuum heavy drapes with the upholstery attachment. Use the dusting brush attachment for lighter drapes. Wash sheer curtains in the washing machine on the delicate cycle, then hang them up while they’re damp to prevent wrinkles.
  4. Remove wax from fabric or carpet. To get rid of wax on a tablecloth, place it in your freezer until the wax is hard. Then put a flat paper bag over the wax and another under the fabric. Iron the top bag with a medium-hot iron until all the wax transfers to the bag. To remove wax from a carpet or rug, place an ice pack on the spot until the wax hardens. Shatter the wax and vacuum up the chips.
  5. Clean baseboards. Dusting baseboards can be a backbreaking chore. Use your vacuum cleaner and the dusting brush attachment to avoid having to bend down. Do the same to clean chair and table legs.

  1. Organize your fridge. Use the built-in features of your refrigerator to organize food by category. Designate certain shelves or areas for leftovers, preferably front and center, so you don’t forget they’re in there. Use special-purpose bins for their intended use: crispers for vegetables, deli trays for deli meats and cheeses, cold storage trays for meats. Newer models also feature convertible cooling zones to keep food fresh.
  2. Dust blinds. Extend the blinds fully and turn the slats to the closed position. Use the dusting brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean the slats from top to bottom. Then open and reclose the slats in the opposite direction and repeat the process.
  3. Clean your microwave. The best time to clean your microwave is immediately after using it. Thanks to residual steam, all you have to do is wipe it out with a paper towel or damp sponge. To clean old messes, microwave 2 cups of water on high for 5 minutes. The steam will soften cooked-on spills, which you can wipe off with a paper towel or cloth.

  1. Exterminate dust mites. Dust mites live off human and animal dander and other household dust particles. They thrive in sofas, carpets, and bedding. Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum your mattress and upholstered furniture regularly to minimize dust mites. Be sure to empty the canister in an outdoor trashcan.
  2. Groom your pet. If your dog or cat doesn’t hide when you get out your vacuum cleaner, try using the dusting brush attachment to brush your pet. It’s a gentle way to collect shedding fur.
  3. Remove grime from shower liners. Wash plastic shower curtain liners in the washing machine with hot water and detergent on the regular cycle. Throw in a small bath towel to help “scrub” mildew and soap scum off the liner. Then rehang the liner and let it air-dry.

Have you found any unusual cleaning hacks for your appliances? Share in the comments below!

Organizing and cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper writes for The Home Depot about easy organization hacks, including the best ways to use your appliances. To view The Home Depot’s selection of appliances, click here.

For more information please contact us here.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.

Posted on April 3, 2018 at 5:01 pm
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Artfully Organizing Your Bookshelf

When it comes to organizing a bookshelf, there are a multitude of directions you can go. For example, a simple Pinterest search will turn up endless results of bookshelves stylishly organized by color, but what if that entails separating books from within a series? For some of us, that’s like separating our children. Ultimately, how you organize your bookshelf is a personal choice based on your own aesthetic, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some tips to help give your reading space photo-worthy style.

Sorting by color:

  • One color per shelf (a blue shelf, a green shelf, and so on). If you’re having trouble filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in craft paper.
  • A gradual “rainbow” flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
  • A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the whole bookcase is filled. This is time-consuming, but impressive.

Sorting by size:

  • Large, heavy books should be shelved on sturdy shelves, below head height.
  • Start by placing the tallest and largest books on the lowest shelf, placing smaller and smaller books as you move upward. This creates a tidy, organized appearance. On some bookcases, this is a necessity to adapt to the height of each shelf.
  • Large decorative objects and oversized books look best if they are spaced out between different spots in the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. They also make excellent bookends and will help to keep books in place. A zig-zag pattern works well.

Design effects to consider:

  • Create a dark backdrop. The bookcase will look more striking if the backdrop is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of the bookshelves to create this vivid effect. This can be anything from basic black to pale beige. For open-backed bookshelves, hang a cloth between them and the wall.

  • Stack books on top of each other on some shelves, and vertically next to each other on others. Shelving books in different orientations by varying the position of the books is eye-catching and chic.

  • Try a pyramid of books, topped with a small trinket.

  • Leave plenty of empty space. Gaps often look better than a shelf clogged with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases placed in the middle of a room, which need a large amount of space to let light through.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 25, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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Creating a household budget while we wait for our jetpacks

If you’re like me you grew up in a world where technology promised exciting innovations like jetpacks, flying cars and monorails. Most of these promises never really materialized and we ended up with the Flowbee, Pepsi Clear and Betamax instead.

That’s why I always stop to appreciate when technology truly makes life easier. A program that I recently started using is a personal finance website called Mint.com.

Personal finance software has been around for ages, but Mint is a game changer because it doesn’t require a license, it is web based so you can use it from anywhere and it is FREE. In the past you had to buy a license for a product like Quicken or Microsoft Money for your computer and upgrade regularly which was time consuming and expensive.

I like Mint for current and aspiring homeowners because you can:

    • See where your money is really going by merging your account information from banks, credit cards, investments, assets and cash in one intuitive dashboard.
    • Track specific expenses and budget for home renovations and vacations to get away from home renovations.
    • Check out tons of resources especially if you are saving for a down payment, planning a home renovation project or you just need help with managing your household budget.
    • Manage your budget on the go with the Mint iPhone app.

Mint isn’t the only game in the personal finance town. What do you use to get your finances under control?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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A little goes a long way: a top ten list for making the most of your home improvement

ToDoListThis weekend I spent the greater part of Saturday taking care of the ongoing household to do list and the transformation made a huge impact. There certainly is more to do, as is the nature of home improvement, but having a finite list of things to accomplish and making time to enjoy them made all the hard work worth it! Here is my top ten list of how to make the most of your time when tackling home-improvement projects.

1. Imagine your perfect place. Your home should reflect your personality, the way you spend your time, and fit your needs. If you want a place to entertain, to relax and meditate, to create art, nurture your children, or display your collections, you will want to consider your priorities. Once you have explored the possibilities the next step is to prioritize your to-do list in order to make the most impact.

2. Make a list. Some home project lists could go on and on (and on), so it’s a good idea to write out a list and discuss the details with the members of your household so you know where to start and who is responsible for what.

3. Prioritize. Once you know what needs to be done it’s time to prioritize the list. If there is something timely (like getting gutters before the fall) keep that in mind when prioritizing, but also think about those projects that will bring you the most joy in daily life.

4. Do one project that really makes a difference. I recently finished sprucing up the living and dining rooms with new curtains and new furniture for storage and display. These are the rooms I spend the most time in at home, so the difference is palpable to how I view my home. Now we are ready for a big dinner party which is one of the most important things in our household. From this experience, I realized that small changes and some cleanup can make a huge difference.

5. Keep it reasonable. Make sure your list is reasonable. The goal isn’t to get everything done in one weekend, which typically isn’t feasible anyway. Rather, you want the time you invest in your home to be enjoyable and give you the sense of satisfaction (and motivation to do more).

6. Gather your tools. Nothing will derail a project like not having the right tools. Once you know what you are going to accomplish make sure all your supplies are ready. You’ll be far more efficient if you hit the hardware store, fabric store, gas station, etc. prior to getting started.

7. Work together. Some projects are two-people projects. If you share your household, enlist other members to share the work. Some projects need two people to lift, spot, hand tools, push, pull, etc. If you live alone, have a work party by inviting a friend over to help. You can return the favor if they ever need help with a household project.

8. Enjoy the process. Blast music, take breaks, and step back to reflect on your household improvement. If you need to dedicate a weekend to doing your chores, you may as well still enjoy it!

9. Get the list done. If you’ve taken the time to make your list reasonable you shouldn’t have any trouble completing it. Doing so will reaffirm your sense of accomplishment, so when you look at what was done, you won’t be thinking about what you have to do next.

10. Bask in your success. Focus on the improvement, enjoy your space, and most importantly, use it! If you made your bedroom a sanctuary, light a candle and relax with a good book. If you reconfigured your kitchen for more efficient use, have your own Iron Chef moment and cook a huge meal. Just remember, all your planning and hard work should be enjoyed.

What are your tips for making the most out of your home?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 9, 2018 at 10:36 am
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Outdoor Living Inspiration

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Can you believe that it’s already the middle of February? Summer is just around the corner and there is no better way to prepare than indulging in some exciting backyard inspiration. This year, turn your backyard or patio into the ultimate hangout. We’re talkin’ friends-never-want-to-leave kind of spot. Here are some ways to make that happen:

Sunken Hot Tub

We know what you’re thinking; hot tubs are so 80s. Not anymore! Consider adding a sunken hot tub to your backyard with a deck of natural stone, tall grasses, and outdoor curtains for privacy. Include pillar candles and some twinkling lights for added ambiance.

Outdoor Kitchen

If you entertain a lot, an outdoor kitchen is the ideal space for summer entertaining. Bring out your inner Tom Douglas with a cooking station that includes a high-end grill, refrigerator, wine chiller, and elegant washbasin. Round this all out with a concrete counter, bluestone tile floor, and stainless steel.

Outdoor Theater

Nothing says summer like outdoor movies, so why not create your own personal drive-in? All you need is a projector to watch your favorite movies, some dangling lights in the trees, blankets, and pillows. You could also watch it from a hanging bench or a floating bed. Get über creative and buy an inflatable flat screen for your pool area and turn it into a full-fledged theater, inflatable lounge chairs and all. This way you’ll never have to choose between movies and precious pool time.

Tiki Bar 

Before you say no, say yes. Tiki Bars are entirely underrated; we think they’re the quintessential piece to any stay-cation. If you’re going for a tropical retreat feel, this is the place to start. Just don’t forget the hanging lanterns, bamboo, and ice-cold margaritas.

Fire Pit

Is your ideal summer situated by a campfire? Then add a fire pit and enjoy s’mores in the comfort of your own backyard. It’s easy to make your own. Use an old wine barrel, bricks, stones, or a concrete bowl. A lowered fire pit is great if you want to use sand for a beachy atmosphere. On a chilly summer night a campfire sets just the right mood for outdoor fun.

To enhance your space with little to no cost, add dangling vines or twinkling lights. And a splash of color here and there immediately changes the vibe. Choose one or all of the ideas above and start planning your debut party!

For more outdoor living ideas, follow our Pinterest board. For more information about Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 28, 2018 at 5:42 pm
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Fear of Commitment? Choosing the Right Colors for Your Home

One of the most frequent questions interior designers hear is how to choose colors for a home. We all love color, but some people are afraid of using color in their home. Many find they fear committing to a certain color scheme or making a mistake after it is all done. Here are some ideas to help to get you started.

To try to determine just what colors to use in your home, look in your closet! You’ll see the basic wardrobe classics in there: black, brown, navy, beige/khaki. Those colors are neutrals and very applicable in your home color scheme. Now, check out the colors hanging there, too. Unless you are a serious fashionista, a certain color or two will emerge as a standard in your color preference repertoire. Even prints will feature similar colors. These colors are a great place to start to help you decide what colors to use in your home. If you love wearing certain colors and feel good wearing them, you will enjoy seeing them throughout your décor.

Lest you feel the need to paint an entire room tomato red (or whatever color you find that you prefer), just paint the walls a nice warm taupe or other neutral that you like and use the tomato red as an accent color with some of your accessories such as throw pillows, lamp bases, art on the walls or throw rugs. You can even practice with some inexpensive items you might find at a tag sale or discount store before you commit with higher priced items. Give it a try and don’t be afraid to keep working at it. For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 6:44 pm
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8 Laundry Room Updates to Fit Any Budget

Laundry 1Sharon Barrett Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Hoping to transform your tired laundry room into a sparkling clean, efficiently working space, but without the major costs of a full remodel? By not changing the layout or adding square feet, you can bring costs down while still making meaningful changes to your space. Use this guide to help you decide what to prioritize and what to put on the back burner, and give your laundry room an update that works with your space — whether your budget is $100 or $10,000.

If your budget is about $100: Clean, declutter and upgrade laundry baskets that have seen better days. It’s worth spending a little more for hampers that can stand up to heavy use.

Also think about which features would be most helpful to have, such as hampers on wheels, triple-sorter bins or stackable baskets that can tuck out of the way when you’re not using them.

If your budget is about $300: Clean up, get hampers and then give the walls a fresh coat of paint. A cheerful color can make your laundry room feel brand-new without breaking the budget — especially if you’re willing to DIY.

If your budget is about $500: Get hampers, fresh paint and then a soft new rug. You’ll appreciate the dose of color as much as the softness underfoot. If moisture is a concern (for example, if your laundry room is in the basement), you may want to choose a sturdy indoor-outdoor rug.

If your budget is about $700: Get hampers, fresh paint and a new rug, and then swap out the lighting.

Ample lighting is important when you’re trying to check laundry for stains and read labels, so pay attention to the recommended wattage of any light fixture you are considering — anything less than 75 watts may not shed enough light (especially if it’s the sole light source in the room).

If your budget is about $1,200: Tackle all the above, and then treat your space to some bonus storage and extras, like an ironing station, a drying rack or open shelves. If your laundry room is small, look for space-saving designs like folding drying racks, retractable clotheslines and wall-mounted ironing boards.

If your budget is about $3,500: What’s next? New appliances! A new washer and dryer can work more efficiently than older models, operate more quietly and get your clothes cleaner.

If you’re going from top-loading to front-loading machines, consider adding a countertop above to hold supplies and act as a surface for folding. Not in the market for a new set? Give your old machines a thorough cleaning to keep them running well (and smelling fresh).

If your budget is about $5,000: If you have more room in the budget, think about replacing the laundry room sink and faucet. If you’re hoping to avoid additional installation costs, choose a new model that is the same size as the old one. If you don’t already have a sink in the laundry room, adding one will require more extensive help from a plumber, and costs will be significantly more.

If your budget is about $10,000: So you have the hampers, paint, rug, lighting, storage, appliances and sink. If you still have room in the budget, think about tackling a bigger project like installing a new tile floor or a pet-washing station. Your furry friend may not thank you but sure will look cute sitting in that tub.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm
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Decorating Your Home in Ultra Violet: Pantone Color of The Year 2018

Each year, design pros eagerly await the Color of the Year announcement from the experts at Pantone®. No matter what the hue, it’s always sure to make a splash—and home goods are no exception. From appliances and décor to tile and paint, manufacturers will start rolling out options to match (and complement) the Pantone Color of the Year.

Pantone® Ultra Violet is the pick for 2018. This is no shrinking violet: It’s a deep blue-purple that isn’t for the shy. No wonder that the Pantone announcement referenced icons known for showmanship like David Bowie, Prince and Jimi Hendrix.

Embracing a color this bold into your home might seem like a giant leap, but it could make a big mood difference in your home during the long, grey days of Seattle winters. We have assembled a few ways to incorporate Ultra Violet into your home – some large and some small.

Make an Entrance

Painting your front door adds instant curb appeal. Red’s a classic hue and teal is an up-and-comer, but this entry’s regal purple is a real knockout.

Set the Scene

Funny thing about purple: Though we tend to think of it as a scene-stealer, cooler shades in the blue-gray range can work almost like neutrals. Here, purple walls marry an eclectic mix of midcentury-inspired décor.

Look Around

You’ve seen the accent wall. How about the accent ceiling? A rich grape hue adds an unexpected twist to this bedroom’s gray walls and white trim. It gets extra punch from the peek of red seen through the doorway.

Consider Texture and Sheen

One secret to pulling off a jewel tone like these royal purple walls: Choose a matte finish. Shine plus color can be hard to pull off, but a flatter finish is, well, flattering.

Add Statement Furniture

If you’re planning on using Ultra Violet in a bedroom or living area, consider incorporating it in a piece of statement furniture. In this case, the piece will act as the focal point of the room, since it will undoubtedly capture plenty of attention. With that in mind, bed frames, ottomans and reading chairs are excellent options to fill this role.

Opt for Accessories

For those who are a bit nervous about jumping into a design full of intense shades, keep in mind that you can always incorporate Ultra Violet into your accessories. These are a great starting point because they generally include lower-cost items that can easily be replaced when your tastes change or if you decide you’re not a big fan of the look.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 13, 2018 at 9:41 am
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