Preparing for the School Year at Home

Virtual Learning

Image source: Shutterstock

For those whose children will be taking classes online or participating in remote learning this school year, keeping the following tips in mind will help create an at-home learning environment that prioritizes health and learning, while being able to adjust to this year’s unknowns.

A home cannot fully replace all that a formal school classroom has to offer. However, what it lacks in traditional classroom appeal it makes up for in comfort and familiarity. Prepping your home to take on this additional role will help set your child up for success during what will be a unique academic year for many.

Set the tone

One of the best ways to set your children up for success this school year is to get them excited. It is important to communicate that this school year, even with all its unknowns, is an exciting opportunity for new and creative ways to learn and grow. Helping your child understand the unique learning possibilities your home provides will get the school year off to an enthusiastic start.

Create a space 

Establishing a designated space for school at home is important for a child’s ability to focus and to associate a space with learning. How you create a classroom environment will depend on your home and your needs. If your child is most comfortable in their room, try incorporating their classroom setup there. Depending on your child’s age, it may help to have toys or familiar room objects nearby. However, if your child is distracted by their own room, it may be better to set up elsewhere to help them focus, such as a nook or office.

Allowing your child the freedom to make the space their own will help stimulate their imagination, which is vital to their learning and enjoyment of school.

Wherever the home classroom is, be sure that area has minimal distractions, maintains a strong internet connection, and is well-stocked with school supplies within reach at all times.

Back to school

To maintain a sense of normalcy, keep your family’s back-to-school traditions intact this year, such as picking out school supplies, back to school clothes shopping, and everyone’s favorite first day of school photo. These ceremonies of preparation for the school year will build excitement while bringing some familiarity to those final days of summer.

Establish a routine

Just as adults have discovered new routines to parallel the shift to remote work, children need a shift in their daily flow to mirror the change to remote learning. The rigor of their school schedule will determine how much flexibility you have in putting together a routine.

Stay active, incorporating movement breaks throughout the day to make up for the lack of physical activity. Plan out times away from their computer screens to differentiate between work and playtime.  It’s recommended that children move at least 60 minutes a day, so prioritize exercise and movement, going outside when possible. This change of scenery is a helpful intermission for children. It gives their eyes a rest from their screens and returns them to their learning space feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Granted, your ability to facilitate your child/children’s preparedness and monitor their continued learning is based on various factors like your work schedule and what resources your school district is providing for at-home learning. No matter your household’s situation, taking these factors into consideration where possible will help set your student(s) up for success.


Posted on September 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Blog, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Protecting Your Home’s Air Quality

Most of us tend to think of air pollution as something that occurs outdoors where car exhaust and factory fumes proliferate, but there’s such a thing as indoor air pollution, too. Since the 1950s, the number of synthetic chemicals used in home products have increased drastically, while homes have become much tighter and better insulated. As a result, the EPA estimates that Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. 

Luckily, there are many ways to reduce indoor air pollution. We all know that buying organic and natural home materials and cleaning supplies can improve the air quality in our homes, but there are several other measures you can take as well. 

 

How pollutants get into our homes 

Potentially toxic ingredients are found in many materials throughout the home, and they leach out into the air as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. If you open a can of paint, you can probably smell those VOCs. Mold is a VOC that can build up in the dampest parts of your home like the laundry room or crawl spaces. Another example is the “new car smell” that seems to dissipate after a while, but VOCs can “off-gas” for a long time, even after a noticeable smell is gone. 

Many materials used to build a home contain chemicals like formaldehydetoluene, xylene, ethanol, and acetone, and even lead. VOCs can also be in the form of pet dander or dust. Fortunately, VOCs from building materials dissipate over time. For that reason, the highest levels of VOCs are usually found in new homes or remodels. If you are concerned about VOCs, there are several products you can buy that are either low- or no-VOC. You can also have your home professionally tested. 

 

How to reduce VOCs in your home 

 

Choose your building materials wisely  

  • – Use tile or solid wood for flooring—hardwood, bamboo, or cork
  • – Choose solid wood or outdoor-quality plywood that uses a less toxic form of formaldehyde. 
  • – Choose low-VOC or VOC-free paints and finishes 

Purify the air  

  • – Make sure your rooms have adequate ventilation, air out newly renovated areas for at least a week 
  • – Clean ductwork and furnace filters regularly 
  • – Install air cleaners if needed 
  • – Use only environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals 
  • – Plants are a natural solution to help clean the air 
  • – Air out freshly dry-cleaned clothes or choose a “green” cleaner 

Pick the right carpet 

  • – Choose “Green Label” carpeting or a natural fiber such as wool or sisal
  • – Use nails instead of glue to secure carpet 
  • – Install carpet LAST after completing painting projects or wall coverings
  • – Air out newly carpeted areas before using  
  • – Use a HEPA vacuum or a central vac system that vents outdoors

Prevent mold  

  • – Clean up water leaks fast 
  • – Keep humidity below 60 percent, using dehumidifiers if necessary 
  • – Refrain from carpeting rooms that stay damp 
  • – Insulate pipes, crawl spaces, and windows to eliminate condensation 
  • – Use one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water to kill mold in its early stages 

If you would like to learn more about VOCs and indoor air quality, please visit http://www.epa.gov/iaq/ 

Posted on April 3, 2020 at 10:51 am
Fort Collins | Posted in LivingWindsor Real Estate

Posted on April 15, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Living, Windsor Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Life Expectancy of Your Home

Every component of your home has a lifespan. Common questions asked by homeowners include when to replace the flooring or how long to expect their siding to last. This information can help when budgeting for improvements or deciding between repairing and replacing when the time comes. We’re all familiar with the cliché: They just don’t build things like they used to. And while this may be true when it comes to brick siding or slate roofing, lifespans of other household components have increased in recent years. Here are the life expectancies of the most common household items (courtesy of NAHB):

 

Appliances: Among major appliances, gas ranges have a longer life expectancy than things like dishwashers and microwaves.

Appliance Life Expectancy
 Oil-burning Furnace  20 years
 Heat Pump  16 years
 Gas Range  15 years
 Electric range / Refrigerator / Dryer  13 years
 Electric / Gas Water Heater  10 years
 Garbage disposal  10 years
 Dishwasher / Microwave / Mini Fridge   9 years

 

Kitchen & Bath: When choosing your countertops, factor in the life expectancies of different materials.

Kitchen / Bath Item Life Expectancy
 Wood / Tile / Natural Stone Countertops  Lifetime
 Toilets (parts will require maintenance)  50+ years
 Stainless steel sink  30+ years
 Bathroom faucet  20+ years
 Cultured marble countertops  20 years
 Kitchen faucet  15 years

 

Flooring: If you’re looking for longevity, wood floors are the way to go. Certain rooms in your home will be better suited for carpeting, but you can expect they’ll need replacing within a decade.

Flooring Material Life Expectancy
 Wood / Bamboo  Lifetime
 Brick Pavers / Granite / Marble / Slate  100+ years
 Linoleum  25 years
 Carpet  8 – 10 years

 

Siding & Roofing: When choosing roofing and siding for your home, climate and maintenance level factor into the life expectancy of the material. However, brick siding and slate roofing are known to be dependable for decades.

Siding / Roofing Material  Life Expectancy
 Brick Siding  100+ years
 Aluminum Siding  80 years
 Slate / Tile Roofing  50+ years
 Wood Shingles  30 years
 Wood Siding  10 – 100 years (depending on climate)

 

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty.

You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you. For some, it brings a much-needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also consider if the cost outweighs the value of the item. In some cases, it may be less expensive to replace a broken appliance than to pay for insurance or a warranty.


Posted on April 13, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Home Improvement, Home Ownership, Investment, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Small Things You Can Do to Improve Your Home Office

Image Source: Canva

 

Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us now find ourselves working from home. While it’s hard to complain about the commute, working from home can be an adjustment. For example, you may find yourself doing tasks around the house and suddenly you’ve missed several important emails. If you feel like you need some help being more productive while working from home, here are five tips to improve your workflow.

 

Add Light

The best kind of light is natural light. Try setting up your workspace by a window. If that’s not possible, add a desk lamp or floor lamp to brighten your space. Not only will it help with visibility; it brightens your mood, which helps you to be more productive.

 

Declutter

Remove distracting clutter. Take everything off your desk that you don’t need. Store it elsewhere or use shelves on your wall to display it.

If you find yourself cleaning throughout the day, set aside time specifically for these tasks. If you’re still waking up at the same time you did when working at the office—which studies show is a great strategy when working from home—using your would-be commute time to tidy up helps avoid those periodic distractions.

 

Bring the Outdoors In

Bringing plants into your home is beneficial for productivity and health alike. Greenery is a natural mood booster and gives life to a room. Plants naturally purify the air, helping you breathe easy as you make your way through the workday. Try arranging both hanging and potted plants to improve the mood around your workspace.

 

Change Your Chair 

A chair that’s too tall, too short, or not comfortable is a fast track to back and shoulder problems that inhibit your workday and linger afterwards. Being in a stationary position for hours at a time requires the right kind of support to stay productive. Features to look for in a quality office chair include proper lumbar support, sturdy wheels, and an adjustable base that allows your shoulders to relax and your feet to rest flat on the floor.

 

Add Decor

It’s important to keep your home office professional and dedicated to your work. However, adding personal touches to the space will help you feel at ease. Position your work computer and phone front and center with any related work tools close by and handy. Adding pictures of loved ones, artwork, and inspirational quotes will help inspire you to generate ideas while working productively.


Posted on March 20, 2020 at 2:08 am
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Living | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Designing Your Home Office

Image Source: Canva

Working from home is an aspiration for many of us, but to do so effectively takes effort. A disorganized space at home can be just as troublesome as a hectic office. The most disciplined telecommuters will tell you that you need a structured routine and organization in order to be successful.

Having a designated workspace is one of the most important elements to your success when you make the switch to telecommuting. Even if you live in a small space, you need to find a balance between home and office. People who work from home often have a difficult time separating their work hours from their non-work hours because it’s so easy to keep at it late into the night. But maintaining a balance and shutting down the computer is important for overall wellbeing. What are some other must-haves for a successful home office? Here are the top five:

 

  1. Natural Light – Study upon study tells us that natural light is needed to boost productivity and mood. Make sure to set your desk up as close to a window as you can. If being near a window isn’t an option, a natural light lamp is the next best thing. It helps balance your body clock and leaves you feeling rested and refreshed.
  2. To-Do List or Planner – Start each day off by making a to-do list outlining what you need to get done before the end of the workday. Make sure to set a realistic time frame in which all of that should be completed, so you can check each one off the list and feel immense accomplishment once you’ve completed them all.
  3. Storage – If you have a big enough space, put in a large bookshelf where you can organize everything (think storage boxes). It reduces clutter and looks stylish. Using your walls and cabinetry is the most efficient use of space.
  4. Calendar – Many people tend to rely on digital calendars these days because of their convenience. When all of your devices sync together and pop up with reminders, you never have to worry about missing an appointment. However, many people find that it helps to keep a paper calendar handy too so you can easily view your whole month at a glance. Choose which options works best for you by playing with both options, or something in between and see which one lets you be more productive with the least amount of stress.
  5. Space for Inspiration – It doesn’t matter what field you work in, having a source of inspiration in your workspace is essential. Whether it’s a photo of your family, your dream car, or that vacation you’ve been dying to take, having that inspiration right in front of you provides a constant reminder of why you do what you do.

Posted on March 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Home Ownership, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Refresh Your Bathroom into a Spa

With some creative thinking and a few do-it-yourself projects, you too can transform an everyday bathroom into a spa-like experience:

 

High-end shower head

There are a plethora of shower head options available today that can make even a simple shower space feel like a luxuriating experience.

 

Heated towel rack

Once out of the tub/shower, heated towels help you comfortably maintain your body temperature while the pampering continues.

 

Dimmable lights

Adjust the bathroom lights to match your moods and activities: brighter for primping, and dimmed to create a calming effect.

 

Less clutter

Not everything that’s meant for the bathroom needs to be stored in the bathroom. Look for things that can be moved elsewhere to make the space feel a bit bigger and more organized.

 

Calming scents

Essential oils, luxury soaps, and scented candles are an easy way to create an aromatic atmosphere of luxuriousness.


Posted on January 27, 2020 at 11:45 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Home Improvement, Housing Trends, Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Remodel for the Most Resale Value

What’s the best remodeling project for your home? The answer, in part, depends on where you live. Every year, Remodeling Magazine evaluates which projects bring the most return at resale in different markets around the country in their “Cost vs. Value” report.  For the purposes of this blog, we are focusing on the Pacific states (WA, OR, CA, AL) and the Mountain states (MT, ID, UT, CO, NV).

According to Remodeling Magazine, these are the six top projects in those two regions that currently have the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell. To see the full report, click here.

 

Garage Door Replacement

The project with the most return from Washington State to Nevada? A new garage door.

In the Pacific States, replacing your garage door will cost an average $3,785, but will increase your resale value by $4,686, recouping 123.8 percent of what you paid for it. Homes in the Mountain States will also benefit from a garage door replacement, recouping 98.6 percent of their costs.

Due to its size, a garage door can have a big impact on a home’s curb appeal.  But adding to your home’s aesthetic is only one advantage; the warranty that comes with the new garage door is also a selling point for potential buyers who can trust that they likely won’t have to deal with any maintenance issues in the near term.

 

Manufactured Stone Veneer

As long as the new stone veneer is consistent with your neighborhood’s overall look, this siding is the second-best project across the Pacific and Mountain states.

Stone veneer can replace your home’s existing siding, adding a fresh, modern look that conjures a cozy vibe all the way from the street, before buyers ever step foot inside. Along the West Coast, it can recoup 110.4 percent of the cost when you sell, and Mountain states will recoup 96.5 percent of the cost.

 

Wood Deck Addition

While building a deck might seem like a big undertaking, it’s actually a pretty cost-effective way to positively impact your home’s resale value. Pacific states can expect to pay around $15,000 and Mountain states just above $13,000, but they’ll see 87.8 percent and 74.3 percent recouped respectively when they sell.

Adding a deck extends the living space of your home and provides even more area for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors.  Whether you choose a natural wood deck or a low-maintenance composite deck, you can pick from a variety of styles based on the lay of your land and the areas of your backyard you wish to highlight.

 

Minor Kitchen Remodel

No need to move walls or appliances around, a minor kitchen remodel will do the trick to recoup 87.1 percent of the cost in the Pacific states, and 80.3 percent in the Mountain states.

An outdated kitchen can go from drab to fab and become a focal point with a fresh palette. Replace the cabinet doors with new shaker-style wood panels and metal or metal-looking hardware. Switch out the old counter tops with laminate that matches the new look. Think about adding a resilient flooring option, then finish the project with a fresh coat of paint to the walls, trim, and ceiling.

 

Grand Entrance

Looking to improve your curb appeal and create an entrance that guests and homebuyers won’t soon forget? Add a fiberglass grand entrance. This project involves replacing a standard-sized front door with a larger opening with dual sidelights (glass panels). Typically costing around $8,000, Pacific states will see 85.1 percent of that recouped in the sale, and Mountain states will see 71 percent.

 

Siding Replacement

Depending on the size of your home, replacing the siding can be an expensive undertaking. However, it’s a project that comes with high returns. For Mountain states, sellers can expect 75.4 percent of the costs recouped, and Pacific sellers will see 84.3 percent.

Not only is siding one of the first things a buyer sees, but it also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the home. Broken or damaged siding could mean that there are other problems with the home, such as pests and rot. Replacing old siding is a cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure buyers are going to walk through your front door.


Posted on December 3, 2019 at 8:45 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in For Sellers, Home Ownership, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Gold Thanksgiving

 

We’re in the thick of autumn now, with Thanksgiving just days away. That means it’s time to start considering how to best showcase your home before the guests arrive.

 

One of the cheeriest bits of fall is the shifting colors that bring a canopy of rustic hues to a walk through the neighborhood. You can bring that cozy feeling inside yourself with some golden-dipped creativity.

 

Gilded Pears – Use real or fake pears, whichever you prefer, spray paint gold, and allow them to dry completely. You can add little flags to the top if you’re really feeling crafty.

Magnolia Wreath – Collect some Magnolia branches and use a wreath frame as a base. Spray paint the green side of each leaf with gold and then assemble using wire. It’s not as complicated as it looks!

Dipped Pinecones  – First, you’ll want to make sure your cones are clean and dry. Apply gold leaf adhesive using a foam brush; deciding how much you add will determine how much of the cone is covered in gold. After they dry, consider gold leafing the cone’s scales. Wrap it around the cone and use a clean foam brush to rub it into the adhesive. Then give it a light spray with sealant and allow them to dry.

Gold Acorns – Hand pick your acorns, clean, and oven-dry them to make sure they are pest free. Paint them gold and then add a layer of clear shellac for a shiny look. Lastly, you’ll want to use a hot glue gun to attach the caps since they naturally fall off after the acorns dry. You can use these as filler in a glass vase or simply scatter them on a tabletop.

Shimmering Maple Garland – All you’ll need is a bag of artificial leaves, bought at any craft store, some Elmer’s glue, glitter, and string. Use a paintbrush to apply glue to each leaf and sprinkle lots of glitter over them. Let the glue set, then shake off the excess glitter, punch a hole at the top and attach a ribbon. Tie them all to a large strand and voilà, a perfect garland for the holidays.

Petite Pumpkins – If you are still head over heels for pumpkins, then using small ones for place cards will add some spice to your table. Tape each pumpkin halfway with painters tape, choose a design with horizontal, diagonal, or however you want! Next paint the bottom portion with gold craft paint (may require multiple layers) and with the last layer still wet, generously sprinkle gold glitter over the painted half. After your pumpkin is dry and you’ve shaken off the excess glitter, wrap beading foil tightly around the stem. Leave a little extra at the end for you to bend for your place card.

Find these and more decor ideas on our Pinterest Board, “A Gold Thanksgiving.”


Posted on November 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Blog, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Windermere Living Fall Issue

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the fall issue of Windermere Living! Are you a foodie who loves to travel? Inside this issue is an article about interesting destinations where you can enjoy edible, immersive experiences like making your own coffee on the Kona coast of Hawaii, or diving for clams in Cabo and cooking them with an executive chef.

If you’ve ever undergone a major home remodel, you know all too well how important it is to partner with the right architect. We explore that topic in this issue, along with some pro tips on how to match yourself up with the perfect architect for your project, a process that isn’t that different from dating.

Last but not least, there are more than 70 pages filled with homes for sale throughout the Western U.S. Whether you’re in the market for a country farmhouse or a high-rise condo, there’s a little something for everyone.

This is just a sampling of what you’ll find in this issue of Windermere Living; we hope you enjoy it!

Read the Fall Issue of Windermere Living.


Posted on September 12, 2019 at 9:36 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Blog, Living, Luxury Real Estate, Windermere Living, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Refresh Your Home

 

The craving to move happens to every homeowner as they start to feel bogged down, or like they need a restart. That sense of newness doesn’t have to be dramatic, however. The great part about having a home of your own is you can make improvements and give your home a chance to evolve over time. You just need to help your home live up to its potential!  These are seven of our favorite improvements to help you make the most of your home.

 

1. Find Your Home’s Purpose

Each home is as unique as its owners, so in order to fully utilize your home, consider how you view your home’s purpose. Some people like to entertain, others find it a calm space in the frenzy of daily life; some nurture their families and others nurture their creativity. Your home’s purpose can be any combination of these and more, but it helps to consider the function of your space in order to ultimately find its purpose. Knowing your home’s purpose will help guide you as you move room to room while you refresh the space.

 

2. Assemble a List

 

Create a list of haves/needs/wants. Answer questions like: what is it about the space that isn’t working; how could it work better to fulfill the purpose; where could I move some of my items to make them feel new again?

 

3. Make an “Inspiration Board”

 

An “inspiration board” is a great way to visualize your home’s decor. You can create a board online with a tool like Pinterest to organize ideas you love, you can also use the ‘Save’ feature on Instagram, or the old-fashioned way with a cork board and magazines. Doing this will allow you to see all the elements you like in one place so that you can then tie it all together into a room you love.

 

Photo Credit: @Krista4Coral on Instagram

4. Choose a New Palette

Renew the lighting and color by shaking up your color palette. It’s easy to fall into the white/beige standby to keep our rooms neutral, but sometimes a color that provides a contrast to your décor will make the room pop. Add a new color to the palette, refresh a wall with an accent color that you already feature in your decor, or overhaul your curtains and throws with a brand new hue.
What about the Pantone color of the year? See our blog on how to incorporate Living Coral into your home.

 

5. Rearrange

Moving furniture around is another easy way to reinvent your space. Try placing your sofa on an angle to open up your entertaining room or move your lamps to improve lighting. You can also think about moving a piece of furniture into a room to give it new life, like using a unique dresser for a credenza or a chair as a side table.

 

Photo Credit: HouseBeautiful

 

6. Create a Collection

If you have items that you like to collect, think about how to transform that collection into something you can display. If you don’t already have a collection of loved objects think about what this collection would be for you. You can center a room design around your travel souvenirs, old camera collection, figurines, unique plates, or familial objects. Adding to this collection over time can be a great way to keep your spaces new while maintaining a personal feel to your decor.

 

7. Find Design Motivation

Home design evolves over time and can be sustained by finding items that inspire you. Read magazines and books that inspire your interests in architecture, design, art, etc. Or find stores and flea markets that sell pieces that influence your aesthetic. Another way to get in-tune and keep your aesthetic with you is to bring a camera with you when you’re doing your favorite activities and bring back memories or inspirations.

 

Important Note: Have fun with it! Homes and aesthetics evolve over time, add and subtract as you go, and don’t stress if the room doesn’t feel finished. You’ll get there eventually.


Posted on July 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Meaghan Nicholl | Posted in Buyers & Sellers, Housing Trends, Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,