You know that feeling when you walk into a nice hotel, your shoulders relax, you take a deep breath (is that lavender?), you look around and you are on vacation. You are away from it all... Wouldn't it be awesome if you felt that way when you came home after a long day at work? All the best hotels use these five tips, try it in your home and feel your own shoulders melt. (And if you're house is on the market, this is a fantastic strategy to stage your house!)
1. GLAM UP YOUR ENTRANCE. It's old advice, but somehow easy to forget. First impressions matter. Put a statement piece in your entrance, some seating for guests to sit if they remove their shoes, fresh flowers, and why not a conversation piece like these quirky animals? "Wow, where did you get the inspiration for those warthogs?" "Well, I've always loved The Lion King..."
2. THE OBJECTS ON YOUR TABLES AND COUNTERS TELL A STORY. The items on display in fine hotel rooms are placed there to take you on a journey. The glossy mag next to the coffee maker with the Turks and Caicos beach on the cover is suggesting you relax (and imagine yourself on a hammock?) while you drink your morning cup. The gorgeous photo book about Tuscany is inviting you to order some Chianti later tonight while snuggle into that leather armchair. And the bathroom is, of course, taking you straight to an Indonesian spa (more on that later). You can absolutely accomplish this in your own home. First, clear everything off your counters and tables. Then, decide what story you want to tell, and place only the objects that tell that story on the counters. Are you an amazing baker who also appreciates fresh healthy food? Display your stand mixer and a bowl of fruit. In your living room, you might display your vase from your journey to Istanbul, and in your bedroom, you display your most heart-warming objects, art from your grandchildren, or poems from a loved one.
3. KEEP THE PAINT PALETTE TIGHT. Different paint colors in each room can be dizzying, and hotels know that gentle, similar colors from room to room make you want to put your feet up and stay awhile. Pick two colors maximum, like the gray and teal above, and vary the shades within this palette.
4. GO LUX ON THE BEDDING. But keep it simple. And white. And so fluffy you will want to collapse on your bed at the slightest glance. The Ritz-Carlton (bed pictured) knows that luxe can mean pure simplicity. Buy the best sheets you can afford, and don't worry about a million throw pillows and coverlets. The quality will speak for itself.
5. YOUR BATHROOM IS NOT A BATHROOM. It's a spa. That's right. Copy everything you can from a spa's playbook when it comes to decorating your bath. Use an all-white color scheme, roll up your towels, arrange the soaps artfully, make it smell heavenly with a bamboo diffuser, and light some white candles. See? Your shoulders are melting already.
Hummingbirds and bees. One makes us happy with it's beauty and charm, the other keeps the human species alive. But hey, it's all about balance, right? Plant these six plants this weekend, and you'll be smiling AND helping our endangered pollinators.
ZINNIAS. These flowers are a powerhouse! They quickly bloom from seed to flower, humming birds are crazy about them, they are great as cut flowers, they are bright and cheerful, they attract butterflies, and they are low maintenance.
LANTANAS. If a hot, dry spot is a problem in your garden, lantana may be your solution. This hardworking plant with colorful flowers thrives with little moisture in full, unyielding sun. It's also easy to grow and hummingbirds love them!
SALVIAS. Hummingbirds have an acute sense of taste that guides them to the most sucrose-rich flowers, but the flowers also provide more overt cues. Salvias with red, pink or orange flowers are waving a flag that hails hummingbirds from the sky.
LAVENDER. This hearty Mediterranean shrub or annual has spikes of fragrant purple flowers or flower buds and requires little water once established. Butterflies and native and honey bees love it.
PENSTEMON. Penstemon, commonly called Beardtongue, will attract not only bees but other pollinators such as hummingbirds. The plant is available in a variety of colors -- pink, red, white, lavender -- and features tube-shape flowers that flare out, reminiscent of tiny bells.
BEE BALM. A classic American native and cottage garden favorite, bee balm is beloved by gardeners not only for its beautiful blooms in red, pink, purple and white; but for the evocative fragrance given off by foliage warmed by the sun. And it’s just as beloved by wildlife as it is by gardeners. Plant bee balm and you can be sure of the attention of hummingbirds and bees in the summer and by seed-loving finches in the winter. It’s an all-around garden winner that provides so much for so little effort.
Which outdoor water feature is right for you?
Bubbles! Moving water is soothing to listen to, and attracts more birds than still water.
The best thing about having a stream in your backyard? Building a pretty little bridge to go over it!
Not all rivers need to be wet. This "dry river" takes it's inspiration from Japanese Zen gardens. Bonus: super low-maintenance!
This Mexican-inspired waterfall invites you to sit down, take a deep breath, and perhaps open up a cold cerveza.
Or, if "go big or go home" is your mantra, why not combine a waterfall and koi pond? Who needs Tahoe?
...Or all three! This backyard features a bubbles, a river, and then a waterfall. The two tones of green add to the drama.
Here in California, we can do just about anything outdoors, including cook and dine outside all evening long without being eaten alive by mosquitos! Which one is your favorite?
1. Hide an appliance, with style.
2. Got kids or pets? No more scuffed-up end panels.
3. Show off that amazing piece of stone you discovered!
4. Create an architectural focal point. (and no one will notice the crumbs...)
5. Keep your look ultra contemporary with strong, clean lines.
BONUS: Think outside the stone! We love this zebra wood waterfall!
The reason "spring cleaning" feels so soul-deadening, is because, didn't we JUST do spring cleaning? Also a bunch of fall clean-up? And that purge we did over the summer? Yes, for so many of us, it feels like we are in constant battle with our STUFF. Too much of it piles up, and we spend our evenings and weekends getting things back in order, only to have it mysteriously pile up again.
ALAS! DO NOT DESPAIR! According to Marie Konda, best-selling author of "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up", you only have to tidy once! Yes, once, like, ever. To date, none of her clients have relapsed into untidiness. Her method does not fail. Here's a brief primer:
Step 1: Put all the clothes you own on the floor.
Pick each item up, hold them in your hands, and ask yourself "does this spark joy?". If it doesn't- discard! Put remaining items back in drawers or hangers using a special folding method, shown here:
Then, when you open your drawers, you will see this:
After clothes comes books, then papers, then miscellany, then photos/mementos. Clients and fans have reported after using this tidying method that their lives have improved in dramatic and surprising ways. Better relationships, less stress, improved health, even better complexion and weight loss. Good stuff, right?
Check out the official website HERE. Or, buy the book right now HERE.
Looking for more square footage? Of course you do- you live in California, where square footage is hard to come by, even in the nicest, newest builds. And most of us aren't lucky enough to have basement or "lower level" spaces. What to do? LOOK NORTH! Embrace the angled walls and convert your attic into a master suite, guest room, office or a custom hideaway!
The white walls allow the fun colors of this living space to shine.
A playroom kids will run to! Don't be shy about painting the floors- attic spaces can look funky and creative!
Shiplap contrasts with the fuzzy texture on the chairs in this home office. You won't mind working late in this cheerful space.
Make the space multi-use- sleeping area, living area, even adding a bar or mini kitchen will make your new upper level your family's fave spot to hang.
Who wouldn't feel warm and cozy in this nook? Allowing the wooden beadboard to come up on the ceilings adds a Tahoe-cabin feel in diffuse into the space.
Edison bulbs galore! Explore unique lighting options for when the sun goes down- your guests will be impressed.
Lower ceilings are fine when you're relaxed in your home theater. Go ahead and add some sparkle or stars- and pass the popcorn!
Finding your dream home means finding the dream neighborhood — easier said than done, especially if you’re moving to a new area and can’t distinguish one 'hood from another.
How can you tell if your neighbors are friendly, and why should you care about good schools? Here are 5 things to look for:
1. Rising Home Prices (Bay Area buyers can check this one off!)
Climbing home values is one of the best markers of a great neighborhood. But if home prices are going up across the country, what constitutes a good growth rate? The median price of existing single-family homes hit $232,100 in the first quarter of the year, up 6.9% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. With that in mind, consider a place where home values are increasing at a faster rate than the national average.
2. Growing Household Incomes $$$
There are advantages to living in a neighborhood with healthy household incomes. Mainly, when homeowners earn more money, they can afford to make more renovations to their house, which in turn boosts home prices for the neighborhood as a whole.
3. Diversity is GOOD
State and federal Fair Housing laws impose restrictions on what real estate agents can and can’t say when working with homebuyers. One thing they can’t comment on is a neighborhood’s demographics. If that information is important to you, a simple Google search within the new zip code(e.g., “Synagogues in Lafayette” or “Latino cultural centers near me”) can help you assess whether there’s a significant presence of a particular community.
4. Awesome Schools
Even if you don’t have kids, schools significantly affect a home’s value for years to come. There’s no shortage of school ratings online. GreatSchools.org, for instance, compares test results for all schools in the state. To get a more comprehensive picture of a school district, look at graduation and college admission rates, and if you’re truly committed to finding a neighborhood with great public education, go to see schools in person.
5. Neighborly Neighbors
Unless you’re OK living in a bedroom community (as in, where residents simply eat and sleep), you’ll want to find a place where neighbors interact. Google whether the town organizes community events, like a farmer’s market, Labor Day parade or Halloween events.
Did you just move in, or suffer through a tedious (they’re all tedious) remodel and don’t want to bother with a housewarming party? Do you also catch your neighbors driving veeery slowly past your house? Are your friends casually “stopping by” for strange reasons like “thought you might need some fabric softener”? It’s not ‘cause they’re nosy, (okay, maybe a teensy bit, but in the nicest way), it’s ‘cause they want to share in your happy new surroundings! Yes, throw that party! Here are four tips!
hi! i'm leslie.
i'm a wife, mother of two boys, third-generation realtor, clinical psychologist. ('cause, you know, that helps sometimes...)
(oh, and here's my website)