We’ve all been quarantining for months now, and even though some restrictions are lifting we’re still spending much more time at home than usual. As Fall approaches, temperatures cool, and gorgeous colors are coming out here in Arlington, VA, outdoor living is getting more attention. As the new hot spot for gatherings when you want to safely “get away from it all,” now is a good time to think about updating your outdoor décor.
WARM THINGS UP: Fall means warm days and chilly nights, so adding patio heaters is always a good idea for extending the time you can spend outside. If you worry about having too much of an industrial feel, there are a lot of elegant and interesting designs available that can blend with your style. For a low-tech solution to chilly evenings, invest in a stash of stylish and comfy lap blankets.
COMFORT ZONE: For alfresco dining or a fun “happy hour” in the backyard, nothing is more welcoming than a firepit. Warm, relaxing firelight accompanied by friends, favorite cocktails, and single-serve snacks will make your outdoor gathering feel like a night at a trendy outdoor café. Drape chairs with cushions and blankets to increase the luxury factor. Then bring out food that can be prepared and shared while staying safely socially distant.
CREATE PROTECTED SPACE: Adding structures such as pergolas, gazebos, tents, or creatively hung drapes is a great way to increase the comfort level outside while also making for fun, creative spaces to entertain and hang out.
LIGHT IT UP: There are endless varieties of lights to fit every style and situation. This is a great budget-friendly way to update your outdoor space while adding some sparkle to make it feel special. You can drape lights across decks or in trees, but think outside the box and also add them underneath tables and railings or inside translucent vases for a soft glow. If you really want to impress, use LED smart lights you can control with an app to adjust brightness and hue. Candles are always a winner, but if those Fall breezes blow too hard, try LED lanterns for a cozy glow.
DON’T FORGET THE FRONT PORCH: While happy hours and family dinners are usually held in the back yard, front porches are perfect for early morning coffee and casual gatherings with neighbors all day long. If you have gorgeous Fall foliage you can see from your front porch, instead of decorating in oranges and reds, go simple with your color scheme using neutrals, blacks and whites that won’t distract from the view. Cozy cushions, chunky knit lap blankets and throws, and hardy flowers in antique planters are all classics for Fall that will make people want to linger. Add some spiced cider or pumpkin-flavored anything and you’re good to go!
The Fall Season is always beautiful here in Arlington. The cooler temperatures, the way the sun hangs in the sky, how life takes on a different pace, all making it easy to “fall” in love with.
If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in Arlington, Virginia or the surrounding region, I’m here to help. Just give me a call at 703-593-6320. Email is good too, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot has changed this year due to the pandemic, including how people are using their homes. COVID-19 quarantines and physical distancing protocols are forcing people to perform more of their daily tasks at home, causing homeowners to look at their spaces from a different perspective and altering them to fit what they need for work, school, fitness, and more. Rarely used spaces such as formal dining rooms, living rooms and mudrooms are getting makeovers to become study rooms, fitness areas, and modern home office workspaces.
Here in the Arlington, VA area, I’ve seen this happening throughout our community. Arlington is filled with people who find themselves in need of fully functioning office space able to meet the needs of their job without exposing them to the threats of the pandemic. In addition to working from home, there’s also remote school for the kids, adjustments for two-income families, and a need to address other lifestyle issues such as health, fitness and even just relaxing. The simple home office that was perfect a year ago isn’t up to the demands of two people working fulltime from home. And kids need much more than kitchen tables for schoolwork. Re-inventing spaces and creating hybrid solutions are a big part of the “new normal,” and is affecting home design in the following spaces:
Home Office / Workspace
Home offices are getting the lion’s share of attention these days, addressing things like proper seating, work surfaces, lighting, stable and secure internet connectivity, and more for a more robust office setting. Rather than working from the dining room or family room shared with kids, fully functioning home offices are being designed that can meet most demands of working from home.
Using the kitchen table for homework just won’t cut it anymore. Kids need easy access to computers and smart devices, and the internet bandwidth to handle multiple users in addition to parents working from home. Keeping kids close is still one of the main requirements when planning for schoolwork space. Monitoring their progress and their internet usage, as well as being close at hand for assistance when needed means kids need to be near where mom or dad are hanging out too. Since the kitchen is still the central gathering point of most home, kitchen-adjacent areas such as corner cubbies, hallways, large closets and even dining rooms can become the perfect workspace.
If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your children’s remote schooling needs, check out this article: Creating Modern Homework Spaces that Kids Will Thrive In.
Guest House / Guest Suites
A separate guest suite or even guest house is seen in a new light as useful for when a single family member might need to isolate themselves in case of illness. Outfitting these areas with items for eating, food storage, and office space is essential for providing distance, privacy and livability for family or guests.
Designing alfresco areas are taking on renewed importance post-COVID-19. Homeowners are seeking to carve out their own private outdoor space on balconies, patios, and backyards, and many are hiring landscape experts to help them create fresh-air havens. Incorporating water, fire, light, and natural species are a few key elements, along with appropriate seating that can allow for distancing needs. Spaces can be designed for everything from work to relaxation and dining to recreation.
Health and Wellness
A home is often called a sanctuary, and during pandemics, this is never more true. Hygiene as a design need is becoming a big part of home design: antibacterial and antimicrobial surfaces, touchless faucets, and sanitation stations equipped with disinfectant wipes, disposable gloves, mask storage, and sinks for hand-washing at every entrance are all gaining in popularity. Mudrooms are being converted from makeshift spaces to fully equipped transition spaces for things like contactless delivery of packages, groceries, and meals as part of the transition as well.
Whether you’re looking for new ideas or a new home, if you live or work in the Arlington, VA area I am happy to be a resource for helping you find or create a home that fits all your post-pandemic needs. Reach out to me via email at email@example.com, or call 703-593-6320.
Love your kitchen, but hate the mess? During these times when more people are cooking from home, and much of life is centered in the kitchen, having a space that keeps the dirty work contained can be a lifesaver. It’s the return of the scullery – and we’re not talking about Downton Abbey! In fact, right here in Arlington, VA, I’ve seen many of my clients purchase homes and immediately make some changes to get this very functional type of space set up right away.
A scullery can go by many names – super-pantry, butler’s pantry, kitchen annex, etc. – but its purpose is the same: Provide a space next to the kitchen for meal prep, counter-cluttering appliances, dirty dishes, and anything else that is best left behind the scenes.
New home design and construction in the luxury real estate market are seeing more and more of these space-saving, clutter-busting rooms with everyone embracing the concept from busy moms hosting book club to enthusiastic entertainers in pursuit of party-planning perfection.
How to create a scullery or pantry
If you have space adjacent to the kitchen that can be repurposed, such as a utility closet, unused dining room, or side porch, it’s the easiest place to start. Often it’s as easy as removing a small portion of wall and some simple electrical and plumbing work to create a space you’ll use much more.
If you’re buying a home, planning to remodel, or even designing a new home from scratch, there are often extra spaces near kitchens that remodeling experts and architects can transform to create the “extra” kitchen of your dreams.
What a modern scullery is used for
Food and party prep are one of the most popular uses for these types of large pantries. Opening wine, plating appetizers, mixing cocktails, and arranging flowers can all be done in private, then presented in all its Pinterest-worthy perfection to family or party guests. Most sculleries provide the basics such as a sink, cabinets for storage, space for large counter-top appliances such as microwaves or stand mixers, and possibly a small refrigerator.
Elegant entertainers with a goal to impress without all the mess usually want to have items such as an under-cabinet ice maker, wine refrigerator and second dishwasher. Busy parents who value family togetherness but crave a little breathing space, ask for areas that give them storage, counter space and an easy space for kids to grab-and-go on their way to school, sports and activities. Add-ons might include microwaves for midnight popcorn making, refrigerator drawers for after-school snacks, and a place to put smoothie blenders, juicers and coffee machine.
They might be an old-fashion idea, but sculleries are experiencing a new era of popularity as homeowners discover how practical, functional and fun they can be. If you are buying a new home in Arlington, VA or the surrounding area and want to learn more about finding the perfect place with all the space and functionality you need – including a scullery! – I can help. Give me a call at 703-593-6320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a season spent indoors and under quarantine, as the weather warms up people here in the Arlington, Virginia area are gratefully heading outside with visions of entertaining, relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends. Going outside to take a stroll, visit and interact with people in the neighborhood and just be social has become a new high priority as communities get reacquainted. Porch parties, driveway drinks, happy hour walks, and front and backyard gatherings are the new belle of the ball when it comes to social time outside this summer season.
If you’re ready to invite people over and spend more time in your front or backyard, we’ve rounded up some ideas for sprucing up your décor and creating ambiance that will delight, relax, or help you find whatever you’re seeking for quality time outside.
Trend #1: Fun groupings with bold colors
Outdoor furniture is taking center stage as people are creating spaces to fit different functions while using bold colors and accents to make a statement. Grouping chairs and tables on the patio, beside the pool, or deep in a yard under leafy trees or near blooming flowers can all create attractive settings that draw people outside.
Once you’ve caught people’s attention with your fun groupings, you can please their eye with bold colors. Chair cushions and pillows in fun patterns are an easy and budget-friendly way to add color. Umbrellas with bright colors are another way, and if you’re feeling like trying something really fun you could even paint furniture in bright blues, yellows, oranges or red to complement your outdoor décor and landscaping.
Trend #2: Blue is the color of summer
Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue, is a natural for summer, and easy to incorporate with furniture, accessories, and even landscaping and décor. Start with pillows and umbrellas. Add painted pots and planters in bright blues and fill your flowerbeds with blue flowers such as delphiniums, bluebells, agapanthus, hydrangea, cornflowers, forget-me-nots, grape hyacinth and lobelia.
Trend #3: Edible landscapes
A rising interest in sustainability, and a new-found appreciation for farm-to-table (or yard-to-table) has led to a renewed interest in home gardening. Many vegetables and herbs look great as part of landscaping while also providing a rewarding activity. If you have a small space, try container gardening, raised beds, or something fun like using pretty trellises to support vertical growth for tomatoes, peas, and other climbing plants.
Trend #4: Modern fire pits
The ease and size of portable propane tanks have made it possible for fire pits to experience a leap forward in design and functionality. Incredibly versatile, you can purchase fire pits in any size, shape and style these days to fit the unique furniture and settings you’ve created in the backyard.
Do a quick Google or Pinterest search for “unique fire pits” and you’ll see a cornucopia of ideas and selections from fanciful iron-worked designs to asymmetrical stacks to artistic renderings of animals, trees, mountains and other shapes in copper, steel, iron, brick, stone, cement and wood.
As you rearrange and decorate, remember that your goal is to create a warm welcoming ambiance that invites people to want to go outside to read, visit with friends and family, host a dinner, have a mini-cocktail hour, start the day with coffee, tea and nature, or just sit back and take a breath and a break from the stress of the everyday world.
Luxury is going low-key, in addition to focusing on details closer to the heart of the home, according to a recent report from the Institute for Luxury Home Living, an organization that tracks industry trends.
The changing face of luxury real estate has slowly turned its focus over the past few years to the point that a definite trend has emerged that recognizes the importance of amenities that address the overall well-being for a home’s residents.
Among affluent home buyers, large estates and mega mansions are no longer optimal goals. In fact, the younger generation (especially Millennials), are shying away from this type of home ownership in favor of investing in discreet residences while instead investing much of their money invested in design, décor and other upgrades that support physical, emotional and social wellness. One ‘must’ I often hear from clients here in Arlington is the inclusion of eco-friendly fixtures and fittings that enhance both well-being while also being both environmental and budget friendly.
On the other hand, in an era where frugal mindsets and eco-conscious living is growing in popularity, opulent statement homes and massive square footage aren’t appealing to as many homeowners. That’s where low-key luxury comes into play. No matter the location, it’s always possible to customize the interior of a home to fit each homeowners’ personal physical, emotional and even spiritual needs without creating homes that could be seen as wasteful or overdone.
Improving health and wellness isn’t anything new, and it’s no surprise that a focus on this is now permeating the industry to the point that it affects how home buyers and sellers are operating in today’s market. According to a recent Global Wellness Economy Monitor report, real estate that incorporates intentional wellness elements into its design, materials and building is quickly growing. There are now more than 740 wellness real estate and community developments built or in development across 34 countries – a number that grows weekly.
As an experienced real estate agent in the luxury market of Arlington, Virginia I’ve noticed these trends building over the past year and affecting both buyers and sellers in our market. Trends don’t necessarily translate to being “trendy,” and it’s important to engage a Realtor you can trust who knows the difference and is able to help you navigate today’s real estate market. If you’re ready to buy or sell in the Arlington area, give me a call at 703-593-6320 or email email@example.com. With more than 30 years of experience working and living in this area, I can provide insights, connections and resources that will be invaluable to your success.
If you have anything on your New Year resolution list about freshening up your home, there are a lot of new ideas that can help you get that done. New trends are fun to explore, but it’s important to note that classic home design concepts are classics for a reason – they can still work for you if you love them and yet be easily updated with small touches. So no matter if you want to freshen up your kitchen just a bit, or give your master bed and bath a dramatic makeover, there’s bound to be something in the emerging design trends of 2020 you can embrace.
# 1 Home Design Trend: Furniture That Lasts
Longevity is in – throwaway pieces are out. In an era where homeowners are increasingly aware of creating living spaces that are eco-conscious, so-called “disposable” furniture that requires replacement every year or two is no longer desirable. Purchasing new pieces that will become heirlooms, or revitalizing antique treasures discovered in attics or at flea markets is a trend that can look beautiful in your home. When you plan a redesign of any room, consider using less furniture. However, that furniture should be of higher quality and craftsmanship – something that can tell a story and be proudly handed down through the generations.
# 2 Home Design Trend: Cozy Floors
Bleached, white and gray floors have been popular over the last few years, but home design experts are predicting a return to warm woods underfoot in the future. The good news is that you’re not restricted to just one color to stay in fashion. Lighter tones such as honey, oak and maple can be used for a more casual, vibe. Richer tones such as walnut, mahogany and dark oak create a more formal, luxurious effect.
# 3 Home Design Trend: Earth Tones
From Home Depot to haute couture, earth tone colors are rising in popularity for 2020. A very organic color palette ranging from a wide variety of greens, browns, and earthy reds are reflective of our culture’s increased focus on the natural world, and that is coming through in home design as well. An easy way to incorporate these colors into home design can be through accessories, art, furniture and lighting.
# 4 Home Design Trend: Embrace the Feminine
The modern aesthetic of cool colors and geometric lines is no longer the face of the future. According to home styling insiders, the future now looks a lot more feminine. Oval tables are replacing square. Curved lines and soft touches can be seen in accessories, art and paint colors. Homeowners who like this idea can indulge themselves with fancy lighting (think chandeliers in the dressing room), soft, flowing window coverings, or art that embraces the feminine mystique.
# 5 Home Design Trend: White Furniture
Parents with small children may wince when they see this, but yes, white furniture is indeed seeing a comeback. Check out any trending Instagram home décor influencer and you’ll see rooms entirely built around white couches, beds covered in a snowstorm of white duvets and pillows, not to mention white window coverings, lamps and outdoor furniture. That doesn’t mean your life will be whitewashed, though, as white does give you a base that you can do practically anything with to match your own personal tastes and design style. Good news for parents, advances in fabric designs have results in fabrics that repel and protect from stains and sticky fingers – which means even parents can enjoy this trend too!
When it comes to home design, you can expect to see a lot of blue this year. That’s because Pantone recently announced that their 2020 Color of the Year is “Classic Blue,” a shade reminiscent of the blue sky at dusk.
According to the Pantone Color Institute, responsible for selecting the color of the year, Classic Blue is a calming hue meant to reassure in a tumultuous time
“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith,” says Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a press release announcing the company’s 2020 Color of the Year. “It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.” Eiseman also explained that the color Classic Blue is meant to challenge people to “think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”
A recent story in Seattle Magazine about local resident Eiseman dived deeper in an interview with her about how the color is chosen. The process is at least a year long and definitely much more than just a whim or a staff favorite. To help make the annual decision, Eiseman visits art galleries and museums while traveling the world to attend trade shows and talks at least a year in advance of her decision. She also watches colors that appear on everything from fashion runways to NASA.
Sociopolitical climate plays a role as well, and Eiseman says the Pantone Color Institute has embraced the power of its platform to spark conversation about pressing issues beyond color. Last year, it chose “Living Coral” as the 2019 Color of the Year, in part for its aesthetic appeal and for the growing popular acceptance of the orange family of colors, but also for its contribution to an international dialogue about global warming.
The great news about this color is that when it comes to home design and décor, Classic Blue can fit any style from edgy to classic or modern to country. Like a good pair of denim jeans, it can be paired with practically anything and easily incorporated into home design in an almost limitless way.
If you love Classic Blue and want to incorporate it into your home, here are a few ideas:
KITCHEN: If you prefer keeping the kitchen a bit lighter and brighter, try using this shade of blue to add pops of color here and there (not everywhere). You could try this by painting the bottom of your island or just a few of your base cabinets Classic Blue. Appliances that come in bold colors have been another kitchen trend in the last few years, and you can easily find some in this shade. For a fun focal point, try just one appliance in blue, such as your oven or range and hood combo.
BATHROOMS: Kitchens shouldn’t get to have all of the color fun. You can start with adding Classic Blue with accessories such as towels, shower curtains or artwork. Or you can get really creative and decide that new tile is in order and create a blue oasis in one of your bathrooms. No matter how you use blue in your bathrooms, it’s a good bet that you’ll be adding feelings of being in a spa or soothing space, so go for it in these rooms for sure.
BEDROOMS: Blue is calming, soothing and can remind you of days spent on the beach or relaxing at a spa or resort. Bedrooms are supposed to be your oasis of calm in the home, so adding blue is perfect for this. Add some Classic Blue to your bedroom by refreshing bed sheets or covers, adding a few colorful pillows that pop, or going bold with new paint, wallpaper or artwork on the walls.
REST OF THE HOUSE: You can incorporate Classic Blue in everything from paint colors and wallpaper to furniture, pillows, and artwork. The sky is the limit (and the color too!) so have fun adding a little blue to your home and life. There are even flowers you can add to your home in shades of blue that will complement your Classic Blue vibe such as hydrangeas, lavender, lilacs and iris.
If you love scrolling through home-décor ideas on social media, but get intimidated by the too-perfect images, Wabi-Sabi might be just what you need. The Japanese ideal of finding beauty in imperfection and creating harmony through simplicity is the perfect antidote for today’s chaotic world, and a great idea for updating your home.
In the context of interior design and decor, a home that incorporates elements of Wabi-Sabi embraces pieces that are lovingly weathered or lived in, while promoting peace and tranquility by keeping things simple. No more obsessing over every detail, or racing to have the latest shiny, high-tech gadget, and nothing overly polished or glittery.
A wide variety of home décor styles can easily incorporate elements of Wabi-Sabi, including shabby chic, farmhouse, minimalist, contemporary, and even industrial. If you want to try your hand at adding a little Wabi-Sabi to your home, here are a few ideas to get started:
Add artisanal and handmade items
Wabi-Sabi is about seeing the beauty in imperfection, and this works great with handmade or artisanal items. Ideas include a unique vase from a local pottery maker, homespun fabrics you found in a bazaar on vacation, or a bench or table made by a local craftsman.
Embrace calm and clear the clutter
Obsessive organization is not the key here, but rather clean, clutter-free areas that evoke feelings of peace and calm (instead of stress and chaos). You can have small items on counters and tabletops, but they need to have a sense of order and functional purpose. Decorative bowls and trays are very Wabi-Sabi, as are houseplants, herbs or succulents that add freshness to the space.
Bring the outdoors in
Speaking of greenery, Wabi-Sabi embraces bringing nature inside the home, valuing plants and organic elements for the sense of peace and harmony they can brings. Nature itself is also a great example of beauty in imperfection. Fresh flowers, hand-carved wooden bowls or trenchers, unique stones or agate, succulents and plants of all kinds, and even natural wood furniture can all add to your Wabi-Sabi décor.
Mismatched is exactly right
Throw out those catalogs where everything matches exactly. Adding something you love or treasure to a room, even though it is not a perfect fit aesthetically, means you’re really getting to the heart of Wabi-Sabi style. Remember, imperfection is, well, perfect!
If you want to study Wabi-Sabi a bit more before making a decision, here are a few books to reference:
- Wabi-Sabi Welcome, by Julie Pointer Adams
- Wabi-Sabi Home: Finding beauty in imperfection, by Mark Bailey and Sally Bailey
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo
In my work as a Realtor in the Arlington, VA area, I’ve noticed elements of Wabi-Sabi working exceptionally well for home staging and décor when selling a home. The peaceful, welcoming feeling it evokes, as well as the natural tones and effortless blending with other styles are attractive for potential home buyers.
If you have questions about home staging, selling homes or the real estate market in Arlington, Virginia or the greater Northern Virginia area, please give me a call. I’ve been living and working in this area for more than 30 years and am ready to help.
A home that makes you healthier? In an economy where consumers are consistently rating health and wellness as a top priority, architects and real estate professionals are creating homes that support overall well-being.
According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor report, real estate that incorporates intentional wellness elements into its design, materials and building is quickly growing. There are now more than 740 wellness real estate and community developments built or in development across 34 countries – a number that grows weekly.
We’re not just talking about physical health, though. In fact, people’s overall views of health take into consideration at least six different aspects, including:
Since homes are typically one of the most important investments people make in their lives – personally and financially – it makes sense that architects, home builders, interior designers and real estate professionals see the potential for integrating wellness-promoting details that support better, healthier lifestyles.
How to create a healthier home
How do designers create homes that support better health and wellness? It starts by looking at the environment a home creates, and the details that can be adjusted to support different aspects of health such as physical, mental, social, etc.
Physical and mental health can be improved, for instance, by using “green” products and construction methods that reduce toxin exposure. Creating soothing spaces that support sleep and relaxation, or that encourage interaction with nature, are also ways to use space and design to support both physical and psychological wellbeing.
Incorporating design and “smart home” elements such as built-in aromatherapy, circadian lighting systems, and sophisticated air and water filtration systems also add to the health factor for new homes.
Current homeowners who want to follow this trend don’t have to pack up and move to a new home. Design elements such as smart lighting, air and water purifying systems, and easy remodels or redecorating that transforms inside and outside spaces into relaxation zones can be incorporated to add healthful benefits for all.