Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Let It Shine

Here are a few ways to think creatively about indoor lighting to liven up your home during the long winter ahead.

With shorter days and more hours of darkness in autumn and winter, turn to the power of indoor lighting as a solution – never underestimate its brilliance. Clever lighting can transform the look and feel of your home with the flip of a switch. While natural sunlight streaming inside is ideal, sometimes the clouds rain on our sunshine parade. When that happens, rely on a variety of lighting sources to brighten things up. You’ll notice, it’s not a one-bulb-fits-all sort of situation.

General lighting is the workhorse of illumination. For the most part, it’s utilitarian in nature but an essential and practical starting point. It brings uniformity and functionality to a room. This is a direct form of light, typically found from a ceiling pendant or chandelier and increases in versatility with the addition of a dimmer control.

Ambient lighting works alongside general lighting but is more indirect, more intriguing and fools the eye with magical illusion. It helps soften harsh shadows and brings major impact through light sources such as wall sconces, voluminous upturned torchieres and hidden coffered ceiling lights.

Mood lighting comes on soft, but its subtle effects make a bold statement. Never glaring or harsh, it brightens otherwise shadowy corners and makes unexpected appearances in ways like hanging, amber-lit Moravian stars. It lends high-style and a certain je ne sais quoi. For an exceptional interior ambience, you must include mood lighting, darling.

Task lighting puts a lot of voltage into getting the job done and doesn’t need to look like its hard at work. Whether it’s a sleek chrome arm lamp over a desk, hidden under-counter kitchen lights or spot-on overhead pendants, task lights should always be offset by companion lighting to soften the contrast of their high-intensity brightness.

Accent lighting is the drama queen of the bunch. It takes centerstage and spotlights key artwork or decorative elements and draws the eye in. It works harder to steal the show than mood lighting, so it requires brighter light at the point of interest.

Treat lighting as an art element. Let it conjure atmosphere and breathe life into an otherwise uninspired room. Try uplighting and lowlighting, spotlighting and strategic lighting. Whichever way you turn up the wattage on the illuminating possibilities in your home, enjoy basking in the power of beautiful light.

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Guest Post written by Tracy Ellison.

Tracy Ellison is a creative content writer for The Studio, providing insightful information and ideas to enhance the art of living, with a background as an advertising photo stylist, designer, artist and copywriter.


Originally posted on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Shake Up Your Turkey-Feather Festivities


Simple ways to surprise your guests with unique touches you bring to your food and table this Thanksgiving.

Note: Please be sure to follow COVID-19 safety recommendations for your local states and areas.

Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to gather, give thanks and share in the joy of family and friends, so make it a memorable occasion by putting your own signature style on the event. Surprise your guests with unique touches you bring to your food and table that will make them feel extra special and make them sigh with contentment.

Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

Set a perfectly appointed table. This is the time to channel your inner-most Emily Post. Follow the proper etiquette for utensil and glassware placement and bring out the fine china. Pick one main color and sprinkle it throughout your table setting – in the napkins, table runner and serving platters. Tie the whole look together with petite, colorful bouquets in the same themed hue and set them in front of each guest in individual bistro glasses for rows of beautiful, cohesive color.

Don’t forget the kiddos. Kick up the fun at the kids’ table and keep them amused while waiting to dig into dinner. Get them to eat their vegetables by placing a dollop of yummy dip inside a small cup along with colorful, dunked veggie spears that are ready to munch on. And strategically keep the peace by using place cards tucked on top of Tom Turkey cupcakes (for after dinner). Seat older children next to younger ones that need a little help passing and serving family style. Lastly, spare your fine linens and lay down a tablecloth of craft paper. Arm each child with a bundle of colored crayons and let them have at it. What’s better than scold-free table drawing?

Best wishes and thank you notes. Not the typical kind, but new and special ways to share at the Thanksgiving table. Break the ice with the person seated next to you by having some fun with handmade napkin rings made of raffia twine and breakable novelty wishbones. For deeper bonding, put in your two cents of thankfulness on a note and then into a gratefulness jar that gets passed around the table. Let each guest pick out a note of thanks and read it aloud to emphasize the true meaning of the day.

Bring out the best of the holiday and spread a table of good cheer, great food and an abundance of love and kindness. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Guest Post written by Tracy Ellison.

Tracy Ellison is a creative content writer for The Studio, providing insightful information and ideas to enhance the art of living, with a background as an advertising photo stylist, designer, artist and copywriter.


Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog.

Friday, November 13, 2020

How to Build a Home Gym Without Breaking the Bank


With many gyms closed or operating at minimum capacity, a home gym has never sounded more appealing. Three out of five Americans are actually turning to home gyms for good, and over half of the population is looking for the best home-fitness options. You can even find affordable home gym equipment that gets the job done just as efficiently as a commercial gym can.

The following is a guest post by Ricardo Mello

With many gyms closed or operating at minimum capacity, a home gym has never sounded more appealing. Three out of five Americans are actually turning to home gyms for good, and over half of the population is looking for the best home-fitness options. You can even find affordable home gym equipment that gets the job done just as efficiently as a commercial gym can.

The Rise of at-Home Fitness

Americans are exercising 25 percent more than they were before the quarantine and the majority of them are now convinced you don’t need a gym to get fit, according to OnePoll. The poll also shared that the respondents have spent $95.79 on average on home fitness products. 

Some Americans are just simply bored and have replaced pre-Covid outings with working out safely from their home. This healthy decision does come at a cost but includes overall savings compared to a gym membership. To help with your home gym efforts, I’ve gathered some resources and low-budget products that will help you get fit without breaking the bank.

Space Saving Ideas

We all don’t have a dedicated fitness room in our home, so it can be beneficial to find compact home gym equipment and dual-purpose products. Try a door pull-up bar or punching bag that’s discreet and doesn’t need any complicated installation. You can also take advantage of mini steppers that help you meet your cardio goals while taking up limited space in your home, and resistance bands can adjust the difficulty of workouts while being applied to numerous types of equipment and exercises. 

DIY Gym Equipment

If you’re feeling handy, you can build your own workout equipment from the comfort of your own home. You can use pipes to create a pull-up bar, squat rack, gymnastics bar, weight rack, and even monkey bars if you want to turn your home into a home gym playground. If you have carpentry skills, you can make a dip station or pull blocks out of plywood.

Digital Personal Trainers

The modern digital era has made it easier than ever to receive fitness training from home, and even on a budget. We’re not all familiar with the proper workouts for our particular goals, so training sessions are a great way to receive instructions on how to safely and effectively achieve the results you’re looking for. 

Personal trainers typically cost up to $400 a month, but now you can access free Youtube videos, affordable online training subscriptions, and technology products that keep track of your activity and health. More and more Americans are purchasing fitness watches such as Fitbit and the Apple Watch, and these devices are great at helping you stay on track with your fitness goals. Smart assistants can also guide you to success with personal training apps.

Get Active From Home

Technological advances and the rising market of home gym equipment have made it easier than ever to create a home gym. You can use this time in quarantine to work on some DIY projects to create your own equipment, and also find some great deals on compact and dual-purpose products that can safely be delivered to your home. Take advantage of your time at home to improve your health and wellness, and save some money too.

 Ricardo Mello is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Manhattan Miami Real Estate. He helps clients all over the globe invest in residential real estate in NYC and Miami. He’s a licensed realtor in Florida. His work has been featured on Inman, Realtor Magazine, The Close, and NextAdvisor.


Originally posted on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending October 24, 2020

 Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a new all-time low this week, dropping to an average of 2.8% with .6 points. Record-low rates, coupled with continued strong buyer demand seen in recent months, should continue to support an active market in the coming weeks in what is normally a slower time of year. 


In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending October 24: 

 • New Listings increased 8.1% to 1,361 

 • Pending Sales increased 27.0% to 1,422 

 • Inventory decreased 29.7% to 8,971 


For the month of September: 

 • Median Sales Price increased 10.8% to $310,000 

 • Days on Market decreased 15.9% to 37 

 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.0% to 100.5% 

 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 33.3% to 1.8




Publish Date: November 2, 2020 • All comparisons are to 2019 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2020 ShowingTime.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

4 Ways to Adapt Your Kitchen to 2020’s ‘New Norm’

 Since lockdown, our kitchens have seen more use than ever, whether that’s more cooked meals to pass the time or doubling up as a home office. Even as restrictions continue to change amidst the current ‘new norm’, it’s expected that our attitude towards kitchen interior design will be forever changed with more emphasis on hygiene, flexibility and storage.

The following is a guest post by Sophie Armstrong from Burlington Granite

Since lockdown, our kitchens have seen more use than ever, whether that’s more cooked meals to pass the time or doubling up as a home office. Even as restrictions continue to change amidst the current ‘new norm’, it’s expected that our attitude towards kitchen interior design will be forever changed with more emphasis on hygiene, flexibility and storage.

With this in mind, today we’re going to be looking at how the impacts of COVID-19 are influencing kitchen design, as well as as how you can adapt your current design to accommodate changing needs during these unprecedented times.

Design social spaces

Even with some restrictions being lifted, the murmurings of a second wave of coronavirus this winter could result in more people choosing to socialize in their homes rather than heading out.

This means the kitchen will become the epicenter of social gatherings, with more focus on open-plan designs that allow a seamless interaction between cooking and living spaces.

One concept that’s becoming a popular feature is the kitchen island. Ideal for compact modern homes, they offer a practical solution for additional storage and surface space, as well as a seated area for socializing. Whether it’s a coffee morning with friends, larger family get togethers or a socially distanced Zoom quiz, having an area in your kitchen that allows for everyone to socialize without impacting functionality is key to the future of kitchen design.

Of course, if you don’t want a permanent island, opting for a mobile island or simply using your dining room table to offer that social space could be equally as effective.



Invest in ultra-clean worktops

Hygiene best practice has been a core part of the fight against the coronavirus and understandably it’s become a key focus within our kitchens, too. As a place where we prepare, cook and eat our food, people are now seeking out ultra-hygienic materials to bolster the cleanliness of their kitchens.

As the workhorse of your home, paying special attention to your countertops and counter splashbacks will set the right foundations to a cleaner (and potentially greener) home all round. For splashbacks, the addition of smooth porcelain or glass tiles will not only propel water and other splashes, but they can also be quickly cleaned to keep germs to a minimum.

For countertops, opting for a natural granite kitchen worktop will not only deliver a timelessly stylish, durable and sustainable solution, but also a hard-wearing and easy-clean surface to match. With exceptional scratch, stain and water resistance, you can rest easy that your worktops remain pristine and bacteria free with a simple wipe down after each use.



Add super-sized storage

Storage is a common issue for many modern homes and during the initial lockdown period many people went into a grocery buying frenzy, stocking up on long-lasting foods. Thankfully this bulk-buying mania seems to have subsided, but it has left a lingering effect with people still buying more canned and frozen goods than before COVID-19.

As a result, there seems to be a significant shift to bigger storage requirements in kitchens, with modern takes on the old fashioned larder. Of course, not everyone has the space for a dedicated food storage room, but tall, floor-to-ceiling pull out cupboards with integrated shelves and racks offer the ideal alternative. Optimizing previously unutilized space, these types of super-sized storage units are set to be a mainstay – providing savvy storage solutions even in compact kitchens.

These concealed units aren’t just for dry foods either, they can also be the perfect way to achieve a clutter-free kitchen design that’s a breeze to wipe clean – helping to maintain your ultra-clean countertops.



Create multi-functional zones

The modern kitchen doesn’t just need to be for cooking and socializing. In the current climate, they’ll provide a hub for multiple activities – from working from home to relaxation. This means it’s essential that kitchens can be versatile and ready to adapt to different activities throughout the day.

This is where features like the kitchen island offer numerous benefits that can quickly be transformed from a practical dining area into a streamlined at-home workspace. However, with the possibility of more people in the house at one time, the need to carve out a healthy work-life balance means your kitchen could also benefit from a dedicated relaxation zone.

The key here is to make this area still feel like part of the kitchen, yet distinctly separate. This is where choosing the right furniture style, size and design is essential. From oversized armchairs for a cozy reading nook to comfy sofas all the family can lounge on, pick pieces that complement the overall aesthetic and color scheme to create a unified look, but play around with softer textures and layering to give this space a more homely, serene feel.

When it comes to kitchen design amidst the current new norm, the key is to put emphasis on hygiene and functionality to ensure you have a clean and flexible space that works for you both now and in the future, whatever events unfold.





originally posted on Coldwell bANKER bLUE Matter Blog on OCT 22, 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Power of Kindness in the Age of COVID

 How to Help your Community

The following is a guest post written by Laura McHolm, NorthStar Moving Co-Founder & Chief of Organized Living.

As we all know, we are living in uncertain times. We’re ready for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over, but unfortunately the virus isn’t done, so we’ve buckled down and resigned to keep plugging along safely and adapting to our new normal. One look at the news can be overwhelming, however, we can find strength knowing we are all in this together. One thing that is always certain: Love and Kindness always wins. 

How do we help one another? Do something loving? Something kind? We want to make a difference, to help; but, it’s hard to know how to make an impact. The bright, good news is just one single action, one single click of a button, one single donation, can make a difference in your community.

One meaningful way to help is to give business to people and organizations with a heart. A great example is Coldwell Banker’s new partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a place so many kids call home while they fight cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Agents participating in the CB Supports St. Jude program make a donation for every home sale or purchase they complete. So, if you are looking for a new home, this is a way to give back — a home purchase with a purpose!

Another way to make an impact is to give to your local food bank. Food banks across our country are beyond overstretched right now. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many more families in need, and sky-rocketing unplanned expenses for food banks. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking news coverage of the long lines of families in their cars waiting patiently for a box of food. This year putting food on tables has even more meaning. With many schools teaching remotely, having access to nutritious meals at home is critical. Physical and mental health are truly essential. A hungry child and a stressed parent are not a recipe for success. We must make sure everyone’s children are well fed so all children’s minds can focus on their schoolwork. 

Every year, for the past eight years, NorthStar Moving has hosted a community food drive called Let’s Send Hunger Packing. Our 2020 Let’s Send Hunger Packing Food Drive just came to a close and I am proud to share our team and community truly stepped up. We raised the most donations in our eight years of conducting the food drive! We raised $47,046 for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, providing 188,184 meals to feed hungry children in Los Angeles County. We are so grateful to everyone dedicated to making a difference in the lives of hungry children throughout the LA region. This is something all of us can do to make a difference in a hungry child’s life: donate to your local food bank, it’s as easy as a click of a button.

The future is uncertain; but, there is something simple to do to make a big difference. A simple act of kindness. AND, when you’re telling 2020 pandemic stories to your grandchildren, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, not only will you talk about the masks, the TP shortage, the social distancing, the virtual school and meetings, you’ll talk about the simple acts of COVID kindness. The beautiful simple kind acts that proved we are strong, we are better together, we can tackle anything. When we work together as a community, we can make sure our neighbors are taken care of. Together, we can truly make an impact.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending October 17, 2020

 Home prices have surged higher in recent months across much of the country. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that their preliminary figures for August show the median sales price of existing single-family homes nationwide rose to $315,000, up $33,100 from a year ago. While mortgage rates have declined in the last year, the increase in home prices has largely erased the benefit of those lower rates. 

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending October 17: 

 • New Listings increased 15.3% to 1,533 

 • Pending Sales increased 21.1% to 1,441 

 • Inventory decreased 29.8% to 9,125 


For the month of September: 

 • Median Sales Price increased 10.8% to $310,000 

 • Days on Market decreased 15.9% to 37 

 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.0% to 100.5% 

 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 33.3% to 1.8


All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2020 ShowingTime.