Before & After: A Seaside English Garden by Farlam & Chandler

Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.

A garden in crisis greeted designers Harriet Farlam and Ben Chandler of Farlam & Chandlerin 2016. Dingy concrete paving slabs and a completely overgrown garden set a sad tone in the long, narrow space in the heart of the English harbor town of Whitstable, Kent.

“Unnecessary low brick walls enclosed borders planted with two tall bay trees, which were still in their plastic pots, their roots bursting out,” Farlam says. “The bay trees were growing up through two mature fig trees, and everything was smothered in Virginia creeper.”

The plan: “We lived with the garden as it was for a year, through all of the seasons, without touching it too much at all, apart from the immediate removal of the cherry tree,” she says. “This enabled us to really understand the light and how we would use and utilize the small space.”

The result: The courtyard was sited about a quarter mile away from the sea and was relatively protected from sea salt and wind. “Once we had an understanding of how the garden should function, we were able to create a plan for the garden, with the actual layout and bones of the garden very simplistic,” she says.

Photography courtesy of Farlam & Chandler.

Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.
Above: Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.

A sunken boardwalk made of English oak leads out from the breakfast terrace, journeying through “intense planted long borders” beneath the fig trees. “The path was inspired by a public footpath along the beach in Whitstable. Instead of traditionally floating a boardwalk above planting, we decided to sink our oak path, to create interest in the garden by changing levels but also to provide an increased sense of privacy. We made the path fairly narrow (just wide enough for a wheelbarrow), to encourage you to stop and pause to look and interact with the plants on route to the dining terrace,” Farlam says.

 Allium varieties include A. nigrum, ‘Mount Everest’, and A. atropurpureum.
Above: Allium varieties include A. nigrum, ‘Mount Everest’, and A. atropurpureum.

“The true character of the garden is formed with the layering of plants, which were selected to define the individual character of each area, but still be harmonious when journeying through the garden, the ‘journey’ being a very important aspect of the space,” Farlam says.

Foxgloves against a backdrop of Briza grasses.
Above: Foxgloves against a backdrop of Briza grasses.

Although the courtyard is buffered from sea salt and wind, a lot of the plants Farlam and Chandler chose (including lavender, rosemary, thyme, alliums, geraniums, angelica, iris, asters, fennel, and Erigeron) are salt tolerant. The fig trees provided the inspiration to use a lot of edible and medicinal plants, such as crabapple trees, valerian, angelica, and herbs.

Geranium pratense ‘Cloud Nine’.
Above: Geranium pratense ‘Cloud Nine’.

Before

“Despite how unloved the garden had first appeared, it still had a sense of magic and areas of privacy, which we wanted to retain as much as possible in the new layout of the garden,” says Farlam.
Above: “Despite how unloved the garden had first appeared, it still had a sense of magic and areas of privacy, which we wanted to retain as much as possible in the new layout of the garden,” says Farlam.

“The boundaries were completely overgrown with variegated ivy, making the garden feel very narrow and oppressive,” she says.

Concrete pavers held moisture, making the adjacent house feel damp and dingy.
Above: Concrete pavers held moisture, making the adjacent house feel damp and dingy.

After

 Two “characterful” fig trees frame the view of the simple dining terrace, which is reached via the sunken oak boardwalk through long borders either side,” Farlam says.
Above: Two “characterful” fig trees frame the view of the simple dining terrace, which is reached via the sunken oak boardwalk through long borders either side,” Farlam says.

Visible on either side of the dining terrace are the trunks of pleached crabapple trees, planted in the crushed shell surface. (The surface is a bespoke mix of crushed cockle shells with limestone chips and dust.) The crabapple trees provide both privacy and vertical interest.

“It was astonishing how many birds we had in the garden, we also didn’t want our new design to impact or discourage any wildlife. The existing fig trees were integral to this concept and we carefully cleared the shrubbery and trees around them to reveal them and allow them to act as focal points in the space,” Farlam says. “We stripped the boundaries of the ivy and painted the fences black, inspired by the fisherman huts on the beach, which immediately made the garden feel much bigger and the colors of the new planting pop against the dark backdrop.”

 Lavenders create loose sculptural balls in the gravel.
Above: Lavenders create loose sculptural balls in the gravel.

“The intensity of planting disperses as you pass beneath the two sculptural fig trees into a calm, refined palette of plants in the dining terrace, a simple rectangular space with centrally positioned table and chairs,” says Farlam.

The outdoor dining table and chair are by Danish design house Hay. For more, see Outdoor Furniture: Metal Lawn Chairs Made Modern.
Above: The outdoor dining table and chair are by Danish design house Hay. For more, see Outdoor Furniture: Metal Lawn Chairs Made Modern.
Cleft chestnut posts screen the rear area of the garden and the back gate from view from the dining terrace. Simple cold frames made from old sash windows create a utility area behind the screening. A potting bench and log store, with simple cold frames made from old sash windows, create a utility area behind the screening. A simple metal bench (also by Hay) is positioned to catch the last of the evening sun at the end of the garden.
Above: Cleft chestnut posts screen the rear area of the garden and the back gate from view from the dining terrace. Simple cold frames made from old sash windows create a utility area behind the screening. A potting bench and log store, with simple cold frames made from old sash windows, create a utility area behind the screening. A simple metal bench (also by Hay) is positioned to catch the last of the evening sun at the end of the garden.

The border in front of this screening is planted with less restraint than closer to the house, says Farlam: Thalictrum, purple fennel, eryngium, crambe, and poppies create “a riot of color and texture, loosely reflecting the plant palette found on the beach.”

Leslie Sells Houses

If you’re looking for more inspiration to design a small or narrow garden, start with our curated guides to Garden Design 101 for suggestions for Decks & PatiosPavers, and Perennials and Annuals. See more of our favorite Before & After projects:

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Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

    Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

    While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

    You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

    Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes.

    1. Roof

 

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

 

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

    Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

     

    Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

    5.Heating and CoolingYou’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

    At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

    Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

Your 6 Most Common Home Security Questions—Answered

home-security-laptop

Now that you’ve finally found that perfect home, you’re itching to get settled in and comfortable in your very own space. This is the fun part! You get to put your personal stamp on things and enjoy your new place to the fullest. But in order to do that, you want to make sure that your most important asset, that brand-new home, is fully protected. And of course you need to ensure that your loved ones are safe, too.

If you’re new to the world of home security, you might (understandably) have some questions about the best way to go about this.

Your parents, your friends, your co-workers, even a well-meaning neighbor are all going to have opinions on home security. But what actually works? What do you need to ensure you feel completely comfortable in your new space—when you’re home and when you’re away? We have you covered. Here are the answers to your most common home security questions.

1. How important is a home security system?

“For the utmost peace of mind, we always recommend a professionally installed and monitored home security system,” says Angela White, president of the Electronic Security Association.

Why is it so important? In a study by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, 83% of home invasion offenders said they’d check for an alarm first.

Plus, today’s modern systems aren’t the one-size-fits-all models your parents bought. You have a range of options—from smart home security systems that can be controlled from an app when you’re away to a simple system with motion detectors and window sensors—so you can choose what feels right for you.

2. Should I display security system yard and window signs?

It might seem like a small thing, but you should indeed display those security system yard signs and window stickers prominently. The majority of study respondents told AIREF that security system signs were effective at protecting the home.

Thinking about only displaying fake signs, without adding the security system? Resist the temptation. Fake signs can be easy to spot. Only a realsign accompanying a real security system will ensure real protection in the long run.

3. Are visible exterior cameras effective?

Not too long ago exterior home security cameras often stuck out like a sore thumb, prompting many people to wonder if their neighbors were secretly celebrities.

Today, they’re common outside homes because homeowners have figured out they can be a valuable tool. From being able to see who’s at your door, to just feeling safer knowing the cameras are there, homeowners have increasingly been turning to this relatively simple security strategy.

“I personally don’t think you can go too big when installing a home security system if it makes you more comfortable as a homeowner,” says Lee Walters, a security expert with 30 years’ experience in law enforcement and founder of FortifyMyHouse.com, a security education website.

Security cameras are just another effective “tool in your arsenal,” Walters says. And they’re affordable, too—as the technology has become more prevalent, the costs of purchasing and installing those cameras have gone down.

4. Should I leave the lights on when I leave?

We’ve all heard this one: If you leave the lights on when you leave, people will think you’re still at home. Many people even leave their lights on a timer when they’ll be gone for an extended period of time. But does it work?

“Interior lighting can be an effective deterrent,” Walters says.

The key is to develop a smart system that works for you. Try turning different lamps on at different times when you leave, so that your system isn’t predictable.

A better option? Try a smart home security system.

“All of the interactive technology now allows you to simulate that you are home and to check in to remotely monitor what is happening in real time,” White says. Interactive systems allow you to control lights from your phone, so you can illuminate different rooms at different times—and that’s far more convincing.

5. Should I leave the TV or radio on when I leave?

“It should appear that someone is home, and leaving the TV or even a radio on can do that,” Walters says. In fact, a study by KWG in Portland, OR, found some home invasion offenders weren’t willing to risk it if they heard noise inside.

And if you’re leaving your furry family members at home, the sound of a TV or radio might make them feel comfy. It isn’t an exact science, but many experts believe the sound of voices can help pets with separation anxiety.

6. Should I install a home security system myself?

DIY home security kits abound on the internet. Most of these kits work in similar ways: A security camera to record video (or send it to your phone) or an alarm that sounds if a door or window is opened. These kits—and professionally installed and monitored systems—seem the same on the surface, but you’ll be missing out on a ton of helpful features if you opt for the DIY.

Modern home security systems are like virtual butlers. You can check on your pets from your phone while you’re running errands. You can turn the lights on remotely when you pull into your driveway so you aren’t stumbling around in the dark when you walk inside. And if you need it, emergency services—such as the fire department—are just a push of a button away.

“If homeowners are looking for a trustworthy security company that can work with them to install a security system, we recommend that they visit Alarm.org to search for a member of the Electronic Security Association in their area,” White says. That way you’ll not only know what you’re getting in advance—and how well it will work—you’ll also have the option to personalize the system to make it fit your lifestyle.

In the end, the experts recommend not relying on one home security strategy alone. The best approach is a well-rounded one: Get the alarm system, but go ahead and leave the radio on, too. Because in order to feel safe, you need to be safe.

Leslie Sells Houses

Happy ‘Housiversary’? How Homeowners Celebrate This Hot, New Trend

housiversary

Happy “housiversary”! Um, say what? Yep, #Housiversary is a thing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and beyond.

The reason: Much like a marriage, the day you close the deal and officially “own” your home is a milestone that should be celebrated. Yearly! Only how?

Here are a bunch of ideas on how to celebrate this big event, from the very day you close the deal to years down the road.

Show off the keys to your castle

When you close on a property, you sign tons of documents and hand over any last payments. Then at the very end comes the best part—you finally receive the set of keys that actually open the doors to your new home. It’s no wonder so many housiversary revelers like to show off their key rings to mark the occasion.

———

Take before and after photos

Richard Blakeley of AmericanAutotroph.com and his wife closed on their home on Halloween of 2016.

“And we love to celebrate our housiversary,” says Blakeley. In addition to having a combo housiversary/costume party every Halloween, Blakeley also makes a point of taking yearly photos of his home to document the renovation progress.

“One day I hope to print out the pictures and hang the photos on our staircase wall, complete with the year below each one,” says Blakeley.

Richard Blakeley marks his housiversary by taking a yearly snap. Here's his basement before...
Richard Blakeley marks his housiversary by taking a yearly snap. Here’s his basement before…Richard Blakeley
... and one year later. Wow!
… and one year later. Wow!Richard Blakeley

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Raise a glass!

“I’ve owned my home for almost five years, and my husband and I celebrate every year,” says Samantha Hill, who bought a cabin on the Stillaguamish River in Granite Falls, WA. “We celebrate because we’re really proud.”

The couple usually mark the occasion with cocktails by the water.

“We live in the woods, so we pick wild marionberries and then muddle them with fresh herbs and citrus,” says Hill, who then adds organic vodka or gin.

If you don’t have wild berries growing in your yard, no problem. You can simply stop by a liquor store and grab what makes so many housiversaries a happy and special occasion—a bottle of bubbly.

———

Commission a portrait

“I had a professional picture drawn of my current house, and it now sits in my office where it makes me smile every time I look at it,” says Scott M. Browder of Charlotte, NC, who’s also a real estate agent. “I absolutely love it because the portrait reminds me of all the hard work my wife and I have put into our home.”

A sketch of Scott Browder's brick two-story home in Charlotte, NC
A sketch of Scott Browder’s brick two-story home in Charlotte, NCScott Browder

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Feast like the day you moved in

Moving day usually ends with ordering takeout, since no one wants to cook after a day of hauling boxes. It’s no wonder many homeowners mark their housiversary with the tradition of food in a box. Besides, nothing says “home, sweet home” like a couch and a few pizzas—the true comfort food.

———

Survey your new domain

What better place to do that than perched atop your fridge for a good view?

———

Track how your (indoor) garden grows

Sure, you could renovate your bathroom to mark your housiversary. Or you could illustrate the time you’ve spent in your home by showing just how much your fern grew over the years. Imagine what this houseplant will look like on the 20th housiversary?

———

Throw a potluck

Housewarming parties are great right after you’ve moved in, but a year in, you can celebrate again with a housiversary potluck! Everyone loves an excuse for a house party, so go ahead and give ’em one by inviting over your friends and neighbors

The best part of a potluck? Dirty dishes go back with the guests who brought them—no one wants to be stuck at the sink on their housiversary.

Invite friends over for a casual dinner.
Invite friends over for a casual dinner.Facebook

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Take time to reflect

To commemorate her housiversary with her husband and two kids, homeowner and marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain takes stock of how their house in Flower Mound, TX, used to look versus how it looks now.

“We like to look back on the past year to see how far we have come,” she says. “Then we come up with goals for the house and yard for the upcoming year.”

Because a house, after all, needs to change with the times. Does it need a fresh coat of paint in the living room, or a new garage door? If you’re looking for some ideas, here are the top home renovations for 2018.

Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.

5 Plants That Naturally Repel Mosquitoes

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Check out these plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.

Guest post by Rachael Baihn

Many homeowners want to enjoy their outdoor living space but don’t want to get eaten by mosquitoes while doing so. Bug repellents and bug zappers are effective but don’t keep those nasty bugs away from your outdoor living area. Check out these plants that naturally repel mosquitoes and other annoying bugs that keep you from using your outdoor space more often:

1. Lavender

This beautiful purple colored plant is a natural mosquito repellent with a wonderful fragrance. Lavender is a great addition to an outdoor space as it adds color as well as keeps bugs at bay. Its unique scent will keep insects and rabbits away and is very hardy. Lavender tends to spread out and can get quite large so make sure that you have enough space when planting this beauty. Lavender does well in warmer climates but can withstand a wide variety of environments as well.

2. Citronella Grass

This plant is a no brainer when it comes to its ability to keep mosquitoes at bay. Citronella is a commonly used ingredient in many natural mosquito repellents and this grass does well in doing just that. The lemon scent of Citronella Grass is incredibly good at repelling bugs and does well in planters. Place a few pots around an outdoor living space for ultimate protection against biting insects.

3. Catnip

As a variation of the mint family, catnip is very good at deterring insects. It is low maintenance and does well in planters as it has a tendency to creep into other areas of the garden. A recent study showed that catnip was actually much more effective than DEET and the natural repelling aspects are impressive. If you do decide to choose this mosquito repelling plant have a plan of action for neighborhood cats who may be attracted to your outdoor space as well!

4. Marigolds

This annual flower produces a scent that repels mosquitoes as well as other bugs such as whiteflies, aphids, and hornworms. Marigolds are an easy addition to an outdoor space as they do well in pots that can be spread out around a patio area or even placed directly on your outdoor table. They do well in borders or edging as well and should grow well all summer long.

5. Rosemary

As an easy to grow herb, Rosemary extracts a woody scented oil that repels both moths and mosquitoes. It does well in containers but can also thrive along borders or in garden beds as well. Rosemary has the ability to grow quite large so regular trimming is recommended. It does best in dry and arid environments but can withstand colder areas when placed in pots. Enjoy the mosquito repelling qualities of this plant as well as snip off a few sprigs to use in summer cooking.

Take charge of your outdoor space and plant different varieties that will repel pesky mosquitoes the natural way. Choose a few favorites and see which plant does best in your outdoor space. Consider placing them close to the outdoor seating area for greatest impact on keeping the biting insects away from your outdoor space this summer.

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Leslie Sells Houses

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The Rule of Three: The Essential Decor Trick Every Homeowner Needs to Know

rule of threes

The Rule of Three: The Esessential decor trick every home owner needs to know

What Is the Rule of ThreeThe Rule of Three is adesign principle which affects every room of your home. It dictates layout, size, and shape of objects,the work triangle of a kitchen, even the color, pattern and fabric designs of your room.

This concept is seen everywhere from presentations, magazines, to photography and of course, interior design and it is best described by the theory of Feng Shui. This theory presents the idea that odd numbers expand and create more energy, while even number contract and condense. So what does this mean to you? If you want to infuse your space with energy, create a well-designed space that is inviting and relaxing, and make your room feel as large as possible (no matter how big it is) you can do this with the Rule of Three.

Why Three

One is not enough, and five or more is too much, why three?

One is boring, it doesn’t really create a lot of energy or interest in a space. Imagine a blank room with just one chair in the corner. No matter how comfortable that chair is, you probably won’t want to spend too much time in here.

Now imagine a room with 5 or more elements like the Punk Rock Suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. Now the design here may have been intentional, given the desired scheme (aka PUNK ROCK) but you can see it looks very busy.

The human brain likes to easily puzzle things together and with three you can always find the center point and balance. Once you get past that, the brain has to work hard so naturally, it starts to resist.

Applying the Concept

Glendale Interior Designers & Decorators SYI Design, LLC

Now that you know why you should use the Rule of Three, let’s look at some ways to apply this concept to your décor.

Color

When applying color to your room the general principle is to add one big area of color, for example like this accent wall, a sofa, a decorative tapestry or area rug. Then look for 2 other ways to reintroduce that color within the room. According to the blog Mr.Kate.com you need to repeat a color at least 3 times to give a room a pop of color, otherwise, it just looks out of place.

Notice how in this Santa Cruz kitchen you have a pop of lavender on the large accent wall, this is then accented by the vase and the similarly colored island bar stool.

Size

The Rule of Three also applies to the size of an object, this includes the height and girth. The good news is, they don’t all have to be the same size.

This layout from Gauthier-Stacy Interior Design shows three bottles, all of varying sizes. This creates more visual appeal.

Shape

Farmhouse Kitchen by South West Interior Designers & Decorators VSP Interiors

You can also create an intriguing decor collection with three items in different shapes.

The logic of size and shape applies to many elements of your interior décor. The accent pillows you put on your sofa or bed; the arrangement you choose for your bookshelves or mantle; the lighting layout for your kitchen.

See it in Practice

Now that you’ve explored some ways to incorporate this into your home, let’s look at some projects that put this rule to work.

This kitchen has several examples of the Rule of Three, and of odd numbers in general. There is a three prong light design above the island, 3 clay tiles behind the stove and three white pottery canisters on the counter. But notice how there are odd multiples of everything from the glass jars and glass vases to the singular glass water dispenser on the island.

Even those who prefer more linear, and less abstract, can find balance and symmetry with the Rule of Three.

– – – – – –

Did you use the Rule of Three in your interior decor?

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What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?

Image result for pictures of Realtor and agents  with buyers and sellers

A real estate agent, realtor, and broker are three separate individuals with differing levels of education, experience, and affiliation. In terms of their qualifications and the services they offer, you might be best suited with a realtor VS a real estate agent, or vice versa.

Are you working with a Realtor or a real estate agent? Often, people use the words interchangeably to refer to any individual who handles real estate transactions, but that’s not correct.

A real estate professional can be classified as a real estate agent, realtor, and/or broker.  The difference between these titles are the levels of education, experience, and affiliation. So, who are these individuals and what do they offer? Are all real estate agents realtors or is there more required to be one or the other? We’ve got the inside scoop.

 

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. The steps to becoming licensed vary by state but typically include a minimum number of instructional hours and the passing of a real estate licensing exam. Additionally, many real estate agents have also passed a state background check and have business insurance.

Agents are the most common real estate professionals that you’ll run across. All real estate brokers and realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are brokers or realtors.

 

Real Estate Broker

The differences between a real estate agent and broker have to do with education. A real estate broker has pursued a higher level of licensing after working in the industry for a set amount of time. In addition, to become a broker you should be verified by a principal broker and pass a broker exam specific to your state.

In the end, the most telling differences between a real estate agent and broker are their level of experience. A broker has at least worked in the industry buying and selling homes for a few years.

 

Realtor

The final title is that of a realtor. A real estate agent and a real estate broker can both be realtors. The key to being a realtor vs. a real estate agent is belonging to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members of this association can be identified as a realtor.

What makes a realtor unique? members of the NAR have all taken a pledge to follow a set of ethics and guidelines that ensure their integrity. These codes of ethics carry weight for a realtor in their day-to-day business practices and cover a wide range of pledges:

  1. Shall put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own.
  2. Shall cooperate with other brokers and agents if it’s in the best interest of the client.
  3. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without consent.
  4. Shall not discriminate in any fashion.
  5. Shall always present the truth in advertising.

All in all, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics offers a very specific outline for how an agent or broker should think, act, and perform their duties. This is not to say that the main broker and realtor difference is the type of individual—an ethical or non-ethical person. A broker can follow these same ethics guidelines without being a member of the National Association of Realtors. However, being a member of the NAR does offer a course of action if you have a complaint; you can contact your local board of realtors.

 

Choosing Your Real Estate Professional

So, how do you choose the right real estate professional for you? The right individual will be different for every transaction, homebuyer, and seller. You need to decide if having a few extra years of experience and education or adherence to a specific code of ethics makes you feel more comfortable hiring one person over another.

No matter whom you decide, we recommend carefully vetting all your candidates and reviewing their qualifications before making your choice. A realtor isn’t necessarily better than a broker, and an agent isn’t necessarily less experienced than a broker. It all depends on their qualifications. Vet wisely.

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11 Tool Organizing Hacks to Make Yard Work (Kinda, Sorta) Fun

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Untangling the hose. Searching for the spade. Stepping on a rusty rake and getting whacked in the face like you’re in a cartoon — again. It’s not that you expect yard work to be as easy as sipping a cold hefeweizen on the patio (it is yard work, right?), but does it have to be a drag before you even get to the work part?

It doesn’t, actually. These 11 tool organizing ideas are so clever, they’ll help you whip through all your yard tasks with such a can-do attitude, you’ll be on the patio sipping that beer in no time.

#1 Put Your Hose in a Bucket

A green bucket with a gray house on a wood platformImage: Henry McIntire

If you haven’t invested in a wall-hung wind-up reel, an inexpensive, galvanized bucket is a great option to corral your hose — especially if the alternative is a muddy, rubber rat’s nest behind the bushes. Be sure to cut drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket to avoid creating a mosquito haven.

“This would also make for easy winter storage,” says Sara Pedersen, a professional organizer from the Twin Cities. Just pick up the bucket, and put it in the garage.

#2 Use a Pallet in That Awkward Garage Space

A pallet against a garage wall with outdoor toolsImage: Carole Fearon

A slim pallet can make clever use of what is typically unused space between the wall and garage door frame. Snag a pallet — after asking for permission! — from a building site or behind a grocery store.

You can even attach it to the wall with hooks, as this homeowner did, so she could lift the whole thing off the wall to clean behind it.

#3 Go Vertical With Shelves

“Any time you can get items off the floor and onto the wall is a good thing,” Pedersen says. People tend to forget to go vertical. Now you’ve got room underneath for a small work table or storage bins.

Simple shelving systems come in many price points. You can add or subtract shelves to fit your space. “It’s also really helpful,” Pedersen says, to “set up zones for different types of items, gardening, sport, car maintenance, etc.”

#4 Use S-Hooks on Easy-to-Install Bars

Hang a couple of inexpensive Ikea storage bars, designed for kitchens and baths. Simple S-hooks allow for lots of small tools to hang. If you need more storage, just add more bars.

#5 Hang an Old Box Spring

The best outdoor organization tool might already be in your attic gathering cobwebs. A bed spring “potentially has room for every small tool,” Pedersen says. “It’s a great use of vertical space.”

If you don’t want a rusted look, spray the springs with Rustoleum paint. You may also want to situate it under a protective overhang or use it for element-proof tools only.

#6 Convert an Unused Filing Cabinet

Red filing cabinet turned rolling tool storage cartImage: Haydee Letonja

Who has paper files anymore? Scan and shred those documents, and give your old filing cabinet a more exciting second career. Turn the cabinet on its side and install sturdy casters. Pegboards on each end offer additional space for smaller items.

“My clients would love this; it’s easily accessible, and you can just shove in tools without worrying where they have to be placed,” says Lisa Mark, a professional organizer in Los Altos, Calif.

#7 Customize Your Own Tool Cart

Amanda KovattanaImage: Amanda Kovattana

Like the file cabinet cart, this idea also recycles old stuff: Here it’s two doors, unused sewer pipe, salvaged closet rods, and a pegboard. Unlike the filing cabinet, you can determine where the separations go — customizing the width of each storage section — and design the pegboard area to really fit your needs.

#8 Turn an Eyesore Into Storage

Cut off the back of a $20-yard sale armoire for a perfect way to hide that jumbled group of utility meters — and providing a place to store your yard stuff.

This one is attached to the wall with L-brackets and concrete anchors. A concrete and stone base keeps it safe from standing water, and a coat of marine varnish keeps it dry.

#9 Don’t Forget the Kiddos!

Green wire baskets with plastic kids tools on a fenceImage: Nordic in Kent

Kids love digging in the dirt. These planters-turned-storage bins keep kids’ “tools” handy and allow dirt and water to fall right off. Stick with plastic items to avoid rust issues and “just make sure the holder is low enough so kids can easily grab what they want,” Mark says. And more easily put them away, of course (if you’re so lucky).

#10 Build Fold-Out Storage in a Tight Corner

This storage cupboard fits snugly into what otherwise would be unused corner next to a patio door. And the smart engineering makes it deceptively roomy inside. “A simple unfold reveals whatever tool you’re looking for,” Mark says.

When you’ve got what you need, the accordion-like hinged portion on the left side folds back up to cover the cubbies. Tools are protected from the elements, and you’re protected from having to go on a scavenger hunt to find your shrub rake.

#11 Dream Big With a Shed

If you’ve got the budget, a shed is the ultimate fun solution. And think about a wide doorway — for moving a wheelbarrow, ladders, mowers, etc. in or out — but note that “a really big swinging door [is difficult to open and] can be a barrier to use,” Mark says. Opt for an easy-open sliding barn door.

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How to Personalize Your Outdoor Space

Transform your patio, deck or outdoor room into a personal oasis that reflects your special sense of style.

As the temperatures rise and the days get longer, it’s time to create an outdoor space that’s a welcoming extension of your home. The inside of your home is a reflection of your style, and your outdoor space should be no different. Struggling with how to bring your design taste outdoors in a way that’s unique to you? With a few special touches, you can transform any patio, deck or outdoor room into a personal oasis that reflects your special sense of style.

Choose Furniture Based on Size and Lifestyle

To get started, consider the size and function of your space to select the right furniture. Whether you have a huge backyard complete with a large patio for alfresco dining or a small balcony in a city apartment, make your outdoor space completely your own by focusing on how you can enjoy it most within the space limitations. For example, your balcony space may not support a dining area, but it might comfortably fit two lounge chairs and a bistro table, perfect for outdoor dining.

If you’re looking to create a cozy, personal getaway to curl up with a book, choose a few chairs, a side table and a chaise lounge. If you love to host outdoor parties during the spring and summer months, consider adding a full outdoor dining set, multiple lounge chairs and even an outdoor bar cart. If you want a place for a large family to gather under the stars, choose a sectional. Everyone’s outdoor style is different, so think about how you envision using the space. Start with what you need, and know that you can always add pieces as your needs change.

Select Accents that Speak to Your Decorating Style

Once you’ve chosen outdoor furniture and decided how you’ll use your space, you get to have some fun decorating! This is where you can truly let your personality come through and give your outdoor space the fun touches that will make it shine. Here are the elements to consider:

Colors. Start by choosing your favorite color scheme. If you like bright colors, go for a bold combination of yellows, blues or reds. Navy is a great option for a poolside retreat. For a contemporary look, blues, whites and greys all blend well. Love a minimalist style? You can’t go wrong with classic black and white.

Textures. With your color palette in mind, search for outdoor rugs and textiles that create a cohesive look. Then, add finishing touches such as copper lanterns, twinkling string lights, stylish planters or metal wall art. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you really love and that feels personal.

Add One-of-a-Kind Elements

Of course, no space is complete without a few special touches. You probably don’t want to subject family photos or treasured souvenirs to the elements, but you can still personalize your outdoor space with decor pieces that hold special meaning. Choose touches like a hand-painted birdhouse or homemade musical wind chime. If you have a green thumb, plant your favorite flowers in planters for a sweet reminder every time you see them. However you choose to decorate, you’ll know yours is a one-of-a-kind outdoor space.

 

Sara Marie Hall creates original online content about outdoor furniture for Crate and Barrel, where you can find options for spaces of any size.  She enjoys spending time outdoors and loves adding new personal touches to her outdoor space each Summer.

Leslie Sells Houses

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Herb Garden: How to Grow Herbs in 6 Simple Steps

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A DIY herb garden is an easy way to have fresh basil, cilantro, and other kitchen staples on hand—no more running to the store or wasting cash on wilted parsley! What’s not to love?

But if you’re wondering whether a DIY herb garden is easy to set up and keep alive, rest assured, it’s the perfect choice for a beginner. Here’s how to get started in six simple steps.

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1. Determine the best place for an herb garden

Photo by Randy Thueme Design Inc. 

Find a patch of lawn that gets full sunlight for at least six hours a day.

“If you live in foggier, coastal climates, plant on the south or southwest side of your lawn,” recommends Rhianna Miller of Rubbermulch.

Be sure to steer clear of grass or turf that’s been treated with pesticides, says Sam Souhrada, maintenance division manager at FormLA Landscaping.

“These chemicals don’t always stay where they’re sprayed, and the rain can cause them to run off and travel to your herb garden,” he explains.

2. Choose your herbs

Photo by Lenkin Design Inc: Landscape and Garden Design

Most perennial herbs (e.g., sage, mint, and thyme) and many annuals (e.g., basil, cilantro, and dill) will thrive in much of the U.S. As for your own herb selection, don’t go wild and pick a lot of oddballs. Instead, plant the ones you like and will actually eat.

For example, chocolate mint sounds fun, but most people prefer regular mint for cocktails and iced tea. Basil is popular in salads (with tomatoes and mozzarella), pesto, and savory dishes. Bonus: Basil is known to keep mosquitoes and houseflies away, reports Amy Lowe, a nursery specialist at Lowe’s.

Other low-maintenance herbs include thyme and rosemary (the latter can survive on very little water).

3. Plant the herbs

Photo by Aloe Designs

“Planting from seeds is less expensive, but also less predictable, and it takes more time,” notes Souhrada. And if you don’t know what oregano looks like, you could end up plucking it out when you weed. Instead, cut to the chase and put in small plants from the farmer’s market or nursery. Look for bright color, plenty of foliage—and no bugs.

Space herbs out (10 to 12 inches between each) since many spread as they grow. Gently remove the plant from its container, squeeze the bottom roots to loosen them, and then nestle it into a hole. Lightly pack dirt around the herb, and then water it well.

You might want to label each section with the name of the herb painted on a rock or written on a wooden stick.

4. Water and feed the plants

Photo by Bachman’s Landscaping & Garden Services

Water when the dirt is dry, during the morning hours. Direct the water spray at the soil—not the leaves (this can promote mildew and disease).

“You may need to water frequently, even daily, in very warm climates,” says Miller.

How often you’ll need to weed is also related to rainfall, according to Souhrada.

“Check the area weekly to be sure weeds aren’t outcompeting the herbs,” he says.

Add 2 inches of mulch around your plants, as it’ll release nutrients and help retain moisture so you can water a bit less. Target weeds naturally with a spray made from white vinegar.

5. Pinch and prune flower buds

Photo by Missouri Botanical Garden

See flower buds forming? Snap them off, which will help keep the herb’s flavor from turning bitter.

“Some flowers, like chives,  are edible, but it’s not a good idea to allow your herbs to flower early in the season,” says Miller.

Once this happens, the plant is signaling that its life cycle is ending. To keep this from happening, pinch off buds as they appear.

6. Keep animals away

Photo by Rock Spring Design Group LLC (David Verespy, ASLA)

Brace yourself: Rabbits, mice, deer, and squirrels all want a piece of your herb bounty. You can plant herbs in raised boxes and enclose them with chicken wire to keep critters from stealing the harvest. Or sow with critters in mind.

“Rabbits love lettuce, but not rosemary or cilantro,” says Souhrada.

Tackle insects (beetles, mites, aphids, and whiteflies) with organic or homemade sprays made with orange, cedar, peppermint, lavender, or neem oil, recommends Miller.

“Using insect sprays for a five-day cycle will typically rid your herbs of the offending bugs,” she explains.

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