Date Night at Home

We know all the excuses why you don’t have regular dates nights with your spouse- we don’t have a babysitter, we’re trying to save money, or the old standby…we’re stuck at home due to a quarantine. (well maybe that one is due to recent events.) We get it. It’s hard. But taking time out to focus on your relationship should always be a top priority. Since you may not always be able to go out for date night, we wanted to offer ideas for Date Nights at Home beyond the basic movie night.

Wine Tasting

Pick up a few bottles of wine (or if you’re like us, just go to your inventory) and have a wine tasting at home. Get a few different varietals of reds or whites, hide the labels with a paper bag, and see if you can guess what grape was used. We suggest starting with 3-4 different types.

 

 

Progressive Dinner

You may not be able to go house to house but what’s stopping you from different rooms of your house. Start with appetizers in the office, dinner in the dining room, and dessert outside. We love using different spaces in our homes and this is a fun way to change it up without leaving.

Dine Alfresco

When is the last time you had a picnic or had dinner outside? If the progressive dinner seems like too much work, stay in one spot but outdoors. Fire up the grill or just make your plate inside and then eat outdoors. If you’re really feeling adventurous, pack it up in a basket, grab a blanket and have a picnic in the backyard.

Cooking Competition

Have you ever watched one of the cooking competitions like Chopped? Why not have your own against your spouse. You each can choose a surprise ingredient that the other has to use in a dish. It’s like a game and dinner in one. Make it fun!

Video Games

Yeah, we said it. Kick the kids off the games for a while and have a little fun for yourself. We have one of the old (now new again) Nintendo’s with the original Mario Brothers. It was so much fun playing again and took us right back to when we were kids. If video games aren’t your thing, then find a board game or something from your childhood that will bring back great memories.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you incorporate a date night into your schedule as often as possible. It is a way to stay connected, unwind, and get back to enjoying each other.

Happy Homing!

Allison and Erin

 

 

 

Creating Cozy in Chaos

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word that describes a feeling of coziness and well-being which you enjoy through a simplified lifestyle. Denmark consistently ranks as one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world and most credit it to living the hygge lifestyle. Right now, when there is so much chaos going on outside our homes, let’s enjoy the slower pace and find a way to create a cozy, relaxing atmosphere for ourselves and our families. Here are 5 ways you can start to incorporate the hygge lifestyle today!

Decorate with Candles

Whether you’re using real candles or flameless, there’s nothing quite as cozy as a room with candles. As an added benefit, you can also choose a candle with a soothing smell to create an even more cozy atmosphere.

Add Blankets and Pillows

Although the temps may be rising, we can still enjoy having a few lightweight throws and comfortable pillows around the home. Add them in your living room, on an accent chair or to any place that they can be easily accessed. Who’s ready to curl up with a book and a cozy blanket?

Create a simple ritual or habit to enjoy each day

Grab your favorite mug and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the middle of the day. Take a few minutes to go for a walk to clear your head. Take a longer shower or even a bath and make sure you use your favorite soap or something that makes you feel special.

Start a gratitude journal

We know you have probably heard this everywhere, but it really does help you slow down and focus on the good things in your life. Since Hygge is all about enjoying the simple things in life, take a few minutes to meditate on them and write them down. Allow yourself to become more aware of the good all around you.

Splurge on a treat

Bake some cookies or even a cake if you’re feeling really motivated. Anything that you consider a comfort food or treat will work. One thing we always like to have on hand is place & bake refrigerated cookie dough. It’s easy to pop a few in the oven when you’re ready. An added benefit is the amazing smell you will have in your home while they bake.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your hygge journey. There are many great books available on Amazon if you’re looking to dive a little deeper which we highly recommend doing. We truly believe happiness, peace, and joy starts at home. Why not take advantage of this time to really embrace this concept and enjoy the happy effects that will come along!

Happy Homing!

Allison and Erin

Your Kids and their Mess!

Adding to your already full schedule!

We are all spending much more time at home, and if you are a parent, you’re most likely taking on additional responsibilities like teacher, activities coordinator, and line cook.  Staying on top of the housework responsibilities has become even more challenging. We love our kids but let’s face it, they’re really good at making messes and even better at ignoring them before moving on to make another. Before we know it, their rooms are a disaster zone, mess is creeping out into the living room and their bathroom…let’s not even talk about their bathrooms. We want to share a few ways we are getting our kids involved in daily chores and more importantly-daily routines so that our homes can continue to thrive and stay neat.

Make the Bed

So this one makes it into our top must-do tip for EVERYONE, so we are going to camp out here for a bit. Remember the 2014 commencement speech that Adm. William H McRaven gave to the University of Texas? No, well we didn’t think you would so we are happily including it HERE. One of the life lessons he learned from basic SEAL training was the importance of making his bed every morning. He explains that this one, simple task can set the tone for your entire day. It gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment within the first few minutes of waking up, encourages you (and your kids) to continue to do more tasks throughout the day, and it reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter. What a great habit and lesson to instill into your children as early as possible. We will also add that when your bed is made, you will naturally want to make sure the rest of the room is tidy. It’s like a domino effect. Tip: if your kids object and think it’s not cool, tell them you got the idea from a Navy SEAL and we think that may up the “cool” factor just a bit! Disclaimer: we know not every kid can perfectly make their beds so do what works best for your child/children based on their age and ability. Maybe it’s straightening their stuffed animals, making sure their pillow is in the correct spot, or spreading out their sheets. The most important thing is that we are starting the habit and allowing them to feel a sense of accomplishment to start their day.

Put dirty clothes in the hamper

This is a really simple one for any age. Whether they have a hamper in their room, bathroom, or another spot in the home, make sure they know where to put their dirty clothes and towels. If your kids are anything like ours, half of the floor in their room is covered with clothes. This is another simple rule that can make a huge impact at the end of the day.

Clean up one activity before moving to another

Can we get an AMEN on this one??? How many times have you walked into their room or your living room and there are opened games spread out, half-built Legos (not fun to step on!!!), coloring books and crayons, books…we think you get the idea. The rule in our house is before you move on to the next activity, the current one needs to be put away. Completely put away, in the correct spot. We try to make it fun by setting a timer or putting on a fun song. You probably will get some push back initially but once they understand the rules, it will make your life so much easier!

Put away clean laundry

Depending on the age of your kids, this could be fold and put away or if you’re a control freak like us, just put away. We love the idea of this because 1. It helps us get through the piles of laundry a bit faster and 2. It allows them to take ownership of their space. We have everything labeled in their rooms so they can easily see where to place the clean items. A few ideas are shirts, shorts, play clothes, school, socks/underwear, etc.

Choose one additional based on age

We are aware that every age group can’t and probably shouldn’t have the same responsibilities, so we provided some suggestions for most ages. For children that can handle more responsibility, Cozi Family Organizer has a great starter list of chores to assign by age. Just make sure the task is something they can do each day and it’s something that will help you. Cozi- Chores for Kids: Starter List

Now more than ever we need to create a sense of order and calm for ourselves and our children. Creating simple routines and habits like the ones above can help you take a few things off your already overflowing plate, while also helping to instill good habits in your kids. Each child is different, and the most important thing is doing what works best for them and your family. These are a few ideas to help you get started. They are also simple enough to continue throughout the rest of the year!

Happy Homing!!

Allison and Erin

 

 

Front Porch Refresh

Now that we’re in the middle of summer and all of its hot, muggy glory, we want to give you a few ideas to spruce up your front porch. Everyone gets excited to clean and plant new plants when Spring rolls around, but by July the front porch is probably getting ignored. Since we all need some motivation from time to time, we came up with a few easy tips that can be done in less than one hour to give your front porch a midsummer refresh. Oh and remember, back to school is about a month away and you want your porch to be ready for the First Day of School photos!

  • Do an overall cleaning- If you haven’t cleaned off the porch in a while, then get to work. Just spraying off any furniture, cleaning off cobwebs and wiping the doors and windows will make a huge difference. If there are any weeds hanging around in your planters or flower beds after all the rain, take a few minutes to pull them. Don’t get too distracted and pull out the pressure washer. Just do what you can do and hit the areas that will be the most impactful.
  • Add a fun wreath to your front door- if your wreath has already started to dull from the summer sun, replace it with a new one that can carry you into September. We pulled a few great options.
  • Get a new rug – This is usually an easily forgotten or ignored item at your front door. One mistake we see so many people make is choosing one that is too small. Make sure you select a rug that is wider than your front door, so it does not end up looking too small.
  • Update your planters and add new plants- If the plants in your planters have seen better days, why not replace them? Add something with bright colors that can carry you through the rest of summer and possibly into Fall. There are also some great subscription services that will ship you new plants for your front porch each season. We are definitely checking them out!

Sources:

Is your dream home hiding under all your stuff?

Have you heard yourself say, “If we only had a larger home, we could keep it organized”? If you have, you’re certainly not alone. There are 300,000 items in the average American home. When you break it down, that means you are finding a place to store 300,000 different things in your home. According to a U.S. Department of Energy report, 25% of Americans with two-car garages don’t have room to park their cars in them. Only 32% have room for only one car. A NAPO study found that 55% of people polled would save up to 60 minutes per day if they were more organized. A UCLA study confirmed that there is a direct correlation between a woman’s stress levels and the number of items in her household. Just finding all these statistics in one place (Maids.com article) got my head spinning. Most people think the size of their house is the main problem, so they decide to purchase a larger house. Then guess what, after a few months that larger house is filled with more stuff and the cycle starts all over again. The problem isn’t the size of your house or the lack of storage space in your home. The problem is all the items you have accumulated over time have taken over and they’re causing more stress than enjoyment. You deserve to be happy in your home.

We fully understand that de-cluttering your home could be a huge task for most and something that requires a lot of time. If you have no idea where to begin, here are 5 tips to help you start making small changes that will hopefully lead you to crave more organization and peace in your life.

  • Grab a bag, basket or plastic bin and go through each of the main living areas of your home. Put anything that does not belong in that room into the bin. Don’t try to put an item where it belongs or organize it by room. Just grab it and throw it in. This should not take more than 15 minutes. Stick to the main living areas only- living room, dining room, kitchen, etc. Once you’re done, go through the bin. Donate anything you can, toss anything that you don’t need to keep and find the home of the rest. Do this every day moving forward to make sure you don’t let things pile up.
  • Clean off your kitchen countertops. Get rid of anything that you do not use on a regular basis. If you can relocate an item you use regularly to an easily accessible place, do it! If you’re storing a coffee grinder you never use, donate it! You have cabinets and pantries for storage. Don’t use your countertops as an additional storage space. Once you’re done, make a commitment to keep them that way.
  • Go make your bed. We don’t care if your entire room is a mess and your bedding is ugly. Make it. Do it every day as soon as you’re out of bed. You will be amazed at how this little task will transform your bedroom. Once your bed is made, you will want to straighten your nightstands, dressers, etc.
  • Do a load of laundry every day from start to finish. This means wash, dry, fold/hang and put away. Start it in the morning then finish in the evening. This is a game changer. You will no longer dread the weekends with mountains of dirty clothes. Breaking it up over every day of the week will make it so much more manageable.
  • Go through your mail as soon as it enters the house. Don’t let it pile up for a week before you decide to tackle it. Toss the junk mail, pay the bills and store anything you will need in the future. This small step will save you so much time and reduce clutter.

These small steps can lead to larger changes as you continue. When you see your home clutter-free, you will be more conscious about what you bring into your home in the future.

How to Style a Bar Cart

If you don’t already own a bar cart, we’re here to tell you why you should go out and purchase one immediately. If you already have one, we want to show you some fun ways to style it and you’ll probably want to go out and purchase a second one for another room. (Erin currently has two in her home)

So, besides the fact that they totally up the ‘I’m really cool, sophisticated and classy” vibe in your home, the bar cart is quite functional. It can provide storage, help when you’re entertaining and of course give you a stylish place to store ingredients for your favorite cocktail. They can also serve as a coffee bar, hot chocolate bar during the holidays or a side table for any room. It is such a fun piece to style for each season or holiday too!

When styling a bar cart, there are a few basics that you want to make sure you have. Stylish barware, cute glasses or mugs, an ice bucket and your choice of spirits. If you want to step it up a notch or two, we recommend adding the following: flowers (real or fake), fun artwork, paper straws in fun colors and cocktail napkins. We pulled together a few fun items in three different styles to give you some inspiration. All items are found on Amazon and we have included the link to each item.

We start with the Glamorous Gold Bar Cart which includes the best book we have seen on bar carts. It shows you many different styles and even includes cocktail recipes.

Gold Bar Cart     Gold Stemless Wine Glasses     Gold Decanter     Champagne Art

Small Gold Vase     Bar Cart Book     Gold Bar Kit     Paper Straws

 

Next up is the Farmhouse Chic Bar Cart with galvanized barware! GALVANIZED BARWARE!!! We haven’t seen anything like these fun, rustic pieces and can’t wait to get our hands on them along with those adorable mint julep napkins.

Rustic Bar Cart     Galvanized Cocktail Kit     Galvanized Ice Bucket     Galvanized Mugs

Copper Moscow Mule Mugs     Mini Faux Plants     Mint Julep Napkins

 

Last but not least, we wanted to include a Give Me All the Coffee Bar Cart. This would be fun to set up in a walk-in pantry or breakfast nook area.

Oak Bar Cart-     Keurig     Mugs     K-Cup Holder     Paper Straws      Coffee Art Work

Farmhouse Vase      Canisters     Coffee and Jesus Dish Towel

These are just a few ways to have fun and play around with styling a bar cart. We hope it excited you and gave you some inspiration!

Margaritas by the Pool and Home Staging?

Although Home Staging has been around for quite a while, it is still a relatively new concept to most people selling a home. Most realize they will need a Real Estate Agent, inspector, appraiser, and mortgage company but they forget the important aspect of fully merchandising their largest asset by hiring a professional home stager. Even when it is brought up by the selling agent as something to consider, it may initially be shot down and looked at as another added “cost” of selling a home. Home Staging is the art of merchandising a home to appeal to buyers the same way companies merchandise their products. We want to break down some of the top objections people have when they think of home staging and debunk some of those misconceptions.

  1. “I don’t want someone coming in to “judge” or criticize my home.” Let’s get right to it! This is probably the first thought most people have when initially approached with hiring a professional stager. The first and most important thing to remember is that a stager’s number one goal and your number one goal is the same – getting your home sold as quickly as possible for as much money as possible. They are not in the home to critique your décor style or judge the clutter that may have crept in over time. Their main goal is to help you capitalize on your largest asset by merchandising it to appeal to the buyer demographic in your area. Yes, they may tell you to declutter an area or recommend you remove some of your favorite décor pieces; but they will also show you how to see your home in the eyes of a potential buyer. They can help emphasize and strategically highlight the positive aspects of the home while downplaying the negative.  If you take anything at all away from this post let it be this – People do not live in staged homes. No one expects a home that is lived in to perfectly appeal to a broad range of buyers. Your home is a reflection of you and the way you live, as it should be. The goal of the stager is to objectively view the home, depersonalize it and provide suggestions on what can be done to show the home in its best light.
  2. “How can I continue to live in my home once it’s been staged?” So the stager comes in, works their magic and the home looks amazing. Now what? In an occupied home, a best practice for most stagers is to work alongside the seller to develop a plan for the home that is realistic for the homeowner to live in until the home sells and a plan that is easy to maintain. Stagers understand that the home will still be used while it is on the market and that it is important to make sure it is ready to show at a moment’s notice. Once the changes and updates have been made to the home, it will be incredibly easy to prepare for a showing or open house. An HSR trained professional stager will give you tips and a checklist to have it ready to show within 15 minutes.
  3. “I don’t want to spend more money when there are already so many costs in selling a home.” Hiring a professional stager is not an additional cost in selling your home. Hiring a professional stager is an investment in your largest asset. We like to refer back to a quote from Barb Schwarz, the OG of home staging, “The investment of staging in your home is far less than a price reduction on your home”. According to the National Association of Realtors, the longer a home stays on the market the further below list price it drops. Homes that stayed on the market more than 4 weeks, sold at an average of 5% below the original list price. In another study by NAR, 53% of seller’s agents say that staging a home decreases the time it’s on the market. The typical investment to stage a home is 1-3% of list price and having a consultation with a staging report customized to your home is less than a 1% investment in most cases.  An investment of 1-3% is LESS than the first potential price reduction!  Another point to consider is the expenses you continue to incur while your home is on the market. You most likely have a mortgage payment, utilities, insurance, taxes and the list can go on. Most professional stagers have multiple service options available starting at a walkthrough that will result in a list of items that you can do yourself to a full day of staging where the stager works with you. It is important to review all options to find the one that works best for your schedule and budget. There are many costs associated with selling a home, but professional staging is not one. It is an investment in merchandising your largest asset to help it sell as quickly as possible.

Think of your home as a product in a store like we said in the beginning. For this example, let’s go with a blender.  The manufacturer of blender A makes sure it’s shown in the best light possible so it stands out from the other blenders at the store. They carefully choose great ways to highlight the features of the blender on the package by showing graphics of frozen cocktails with little umbrellas giving the potential buyer thoughts of a carefree lifestyle, hanging out by a pool sipping a margarita. They set up a fun display with margarita glasses and limes next to their blender out of the box. Their main goal is to entice the buyer by giving them a glimpse of the wonderful life they could have if only they purchased this blender. Now, let’s look at blender B. There are no photos on the box. All the writing is in black and the box is white. The boxes are stacked on top of each other with no props or displays showing the blender out of the box. Which one do you think is going to stand out first to a potential buyer, margaritas or boring with no pictures? Which do one do you think the buyer will end up purchasing? Let’s take that same concept and apply it to a home. You want to be the fun margarita blender that stands out against the other competition by helping a potential buyer envision a wonderful lifestyle. While a stager is not going to set up your home to look like a tiki bar with margaritas, like the blender manufacturer, they are going to set the stage to merchandise your product (aka home) to appeal to the buyer demographic in your area.  If you simply leave your home as is, you’re leaving it up to the buyer to visualize the home as theirs which most cannot. Over 80% of buyers say it is easier to visualize a property as a future home when it has been staged. Understand that staging is actually an investment in your home, not something to make you feel insecure or something that would be hard to maintain. It allows you to effectively market your home to buyers and allows you to stand out against all the other homes competing for buyers’ attention.

New Spring Decor- 3 Ways

I decided to start shopping for some fresh, new decor for Spring and wanted to bring you along. I have a problem with home decor and clothes where I feel a new season equals an opportunity to shop. I’m sure I’m not alone here. I wanted to see what some of my favorite stores had as well as check out Amazon Home. I always like to make small updates around my home as a new season approaches. That being said, I like to make these subtle additions without making huge investments. I think small decor items, new art work, some florals, and maybe even an accent chair can really create a seasonal touch without breaking the bank. These small changes brought out seasonally can give a constant refresh to your decor. I chose to look at Pier One, Kirlands and Amazon Home. I also put together different looks for each one that represented neutral, light pastels and brights. I’d love to know which represents your style!

Pier One is up first with a neutral look. The first thing I saw was the Frenchie doing yoga and I will totally be purchasing both dogs for my home. I also fell in love with the candlesticks that come as a set. I love the detail and the varying heights. Oh, and that clock!!!! I think all these pieces either together or separate add soft touches of Spring throughout the home and all can easily transition into other seasons. Links to all items are below.

Pier One

Yoga DogBox WoodClockVaseFloral Canvas Wall ArtSilver Yoga DogTriangle SculpturesAbstract Wall ArtPillowGray Pillow Candle SticksGreenwood Curl Arrangement

Kirklands is up next. I seem to always find what I’m looking for at Kirklands and then some. I tried to stay with very soft, Spring pastels in this group. I started with the painting which basically screams SPRING. I feel like you can really pair so much with these colors and it will all look great. I also adore this chair which happens to be on sale right now. I have been searching for a chair to put in a weird corner of my house and I think this may be the winner. I had to include the set of three candles because I feel candles are a must in every season!

Kirklands

Floral arrangementsWall ArtChairCandlesLamp •Pink PillowFloral Pillow Gray PillowBasket

Last, but certainly not least is Amazon. As we all know, you can find anything you need on Amazon but I find I am much more successful when I have a specific item in mind versus just browsing. I decided to go in with an open mind and just start searching for inspiration. Although it did take a bit longer to pull all of these items together, I have to say Amazon is a great place to find home decor. I was searching for brighter pieces and I really like everything I found. The three bicycle pictures are so adorable and fun. I was able to use them as inspiration when looking for the rest of the decor. The plant is REAL, not something I expected to find, and had amazing reviews. I also love the tray and lanterns. Everything is so fun and bright!

Amazon

Fiddle Leaf Fig TreeFarmhouse TrayWall Art Yellow Pillow CoversSolid Yellow Covers Green Printed Pillow CoversPlanterLanternsRug

I hope you enjoyed “shopping” with me. I know I will be picking up a few pieces from each store this season. I think you can mix and match from each retailer to really get a great, new look. Whether you choose one piece or all, I know they will help add a touch of Spring to your home and maybe even in your step!

Home Redesign and Interior Styling- What’s it all about?

Everyone has heard of interior designer and I think most people have a pretty solid understanding of what you would get if you hired one. But, do you know what home redesign or interior stylist is and what you would get if you hired one?

Home Redesign or a more glamorous term, Interior Styling, focuses more on using what you already have to create a more functional, stylish space that works for you and your family. It is a more economical solution than a full interior design project because in most cases they can make small tweaks like rearranging furniture, adding accessories or organizing a space, to help you create a home you love.

Have you ever sat in your living room and thought, I really love almost everything about this space, but something still feels a little off? Do you have a room or space in your home that you can’t seem to keep organized? No matter how many times you have moved accessories or furniture around you still can’t quite reach the look you were going for. This is where a home redesign project would benefit you. You typically start with a consultation and evaluate what is currently working or not working in the space. Then you would identify key decor pieces that you love and want to keep in the design. From there, a very customized plan is developed for you based on your time and budget. Some designers have the option of doing a 2-hour consultation and providing you a detailed list of updates and purchases to make so you have the confidence to make the changes as your time and budget allows. You can also take it a step further and actually have them assist you in the implementation of the plan. The end goal is to leave you with a home you love that is designed with your lifestyle in mind.

You deserve a home that brings you joy. You deserve a well-organized home that works for you and your family. You deserve a space to come home to each day that promotes relaxation. If your home is possibly missing the mark on any of these, you should explore how the small investment of a home redesign project could help.

If you’re interested in exploring the services Walker Hill Designs provides for redesign and styling, click here.

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