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Don’t let Old Man Winter harm your home. A few extra maintenance tasks can keep you covered until spring arrives.
It’s been a rough winter for most of the country, and we’ve got several more weeks to go — and likely more snowstorms, too. Assuming you handled some of the basics before the start of the season, here are some additional steps you can take to keep your home safe from the winter weather.
Keep pipes from freezing
Most cold weather issues pertain to plumbing, and one of the most common problems is frozen pipes, which can leave you without running water — or worse, a hefty repair bill. Proper insulation around the pipes helps to prevent this.
Other simple things you can do to prevent frozen pipes include:
- Keeping your house properly heated by setting your thermostat to around 55 degrees.
- Disconnecting water hoses from outdoor faucets.
- Ensuring exterior doors, like garage and entry doors, remain closed.
- Opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to get under the sinks and warm pipes.
- Allowing the faucets inside your house to drip so water continues to flow through them.
- Installing weather stripping around the doors to keep cold air out and warm air in.
Inspect your roof
Experts say you should take a look at your roof from all angles, because one side might be clear but the other covered in snow drifts.
This is important, particularly if you live in Massachusetts, the epicenter of this season’s roof collapse epidemic. To date, more than 160 roofs have collapsed or faced imminent collapse in this one state alone, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Among the many visual clues that your roof might be straining under the weight of the snow, according to MEMA, are new cracks in walls or beams, sagging roof steel, and bends in metal supports. If you have any concerns, speak with a professional and consider bringing in an inspector.
Remove snow and ice built up against your house
If snow and ice pile up against your house, they could cover your exhaust vents (which can affect the performance of your furnace) and natural gas meter (which could lead to potentially dangerous leaks). Gently brush away the snow with your hands or a broom. If the problem is too severe, contact a service professional or technician for help.
Dead or damaged tree branches and limbs could easily break and fall because of ice, snow or wind, potentially damaging your house or car, or even possibly injuring someone walking near your property. Take care of them as soon as possible.
Published by Vera Gibbons on Zillow Blog.
The owner bought it as a weekend retreat but loved it so much she moved in full time.
JoAnn Rosenthal always loved the simple lines of St. Joseph’s, a church near where she used to spend weekends away from New York City.
So when it went on the market in 2000, she and a friend snapped it up with the idea of turning what was essentially a stone-and-stucco building from the 1870s into a weekend retreat.
It took several years, and at one point Rosenthal rented a house nearby to keep daily tabs on the renovation. They dug a well, added plumbing and electricity, put a kitchen in the old vestry and built an annex for additional bedrooms.
They also uncovered murals on the ceiling.
“When I purchased the church, there were ceiling fans suspended from the old pressed-tin ceiling,” she said. “When we removed the ceiling, we discovered they’d installed a ceiling fan right in the middle of Jesus’ belly.”
When the renovation was finished, Rosenthal found her weekends there growing longer until she just left New York and moved into the church full time. She bought out her friend several years ago, when he moved to Argentina.
The 3-bedroom, 3-bath home, which is listed for $749,000, sits on 1.5 acres in Bucks County, PA.
Radiant floor heat warms the great room, which has 15-foot ceilings, and the home is decorated and lit by original stained-glass windows.
A garden shed that resembles a chapel also has original stained-glass windows.
The steeple still holds the old church bell, which Rosenthal said visitors like to ring.
“I usually say you can ring it once as you’re leaving, because the people who live around me were parishioners, and I think it’s a reminder to them that it’s not a church anymore,” she said.
The listing agent is Michael Strickland of Addison Wolfe Real Estate.
Photos by John Armich
This article was published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.
Want to add some light to a dark space? Here are some simple decor tips from Jill Russell of Trulia that can help.
We’re counting down the days until daylight saving time, but in the meantime, there are things you can do to improve the ambiance of spaces that aren’t blessed with natural light.
Here are seven simple tricks, from color choices to accessories to creative decor tweaks, to make your windowless spot a brighter, more inviting room a reality in no time.
1. Satin, semigloss, or high-gloss paint
When selecting paint for any room, the color is usually the most important consideration. But when you’re dealing with a windowless space, the finish can also have a huge impact.
Satin, semigloss, or high-gloss paints are more reflective than flat or eggshell finishes, and therefore help light bounce around the room. The caveat is that the glossier the paint, the more imperfections you’ll see, so thorough wall prep is essential. On the flip side, the glossier the wall, the easier it is to wipe clean!
In a rental where you can’t alter the walls? Adding a fresh coat of high-gloss paint to a large piece of furniture does the trick too.
2. Translucent or shiny furniture
Walls aren’t the only things to consider when attempting to brighten up a windowless space. The pieces you put inside can make a huge difference.
Glass, dark marble, polished nickel, and translucent acrylic all bounce light, as does this super simple coffee table, which lends an airy vibe to this living room area.
3. Large mirrors
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but also one of the most effective ones: placing an oversized mirror in an enclosed room.
A mirror works as sort of a faux window, reflecting artificial light around the space and giving the impression that the sun is pouring in — even where it isn’t. For instant results, prop yours against the wall, right on the floor, behind a seating area or focal point of a room. You can also use a mirror to back a bookshelf.
4. Reflective gallery wall
As an alternative to a single large mirror, consider creating a gallery-style wall filled entirely with mirrored and metallic frames.
Multiple reflective surfaces grouped together will bounce light around effectively, and it’s easy to hang as many frames as you like (in all shapes and sizes) to show off prints you already own.
5. Low-hung light source
Hanging a pendant light source or chandelier a little lower than you usually would is the perfect way to achieve a soft glow in any space. Try it over a love seat, bed, or sitting area for an extra-cozy, warm, and inviting feel. For extra-bright bonus points, use exposed-bulb pendants.
6. Glass door
Here’s an overlooked idea that’s easy to do, even in a rental: replace a traditional solid door with a glass-paned one!
Doing so helps you take full advantage of light passing through windows in adjacent rooms. In darker, more enclosed spaces, the glass panes help create not only more light but also a free-flowing, open ambiance.
7. Single focal point
In windowless rooms, it’s often better to adopt a “less is more” philosophy when accessorizing and arranging furniture.
Here, the setup works because it all centers on the fireplace — one large painting on the mantel, a single, oversized leafy plant, and otherwise bare walls, all conveying the sense of fresh, open air.
What are your tried-and-true tricks for adding light to dark spaces? Share in the comments below.
More than 250 guests gathered at a home in Los Angeles’s Pacific Palisades neighborhood last fall. Models swam in the pool, guests attired in all-white drank mojitos and a singer strummed an acoustic guitar. The guest of honor: the 11,000-square-foot New England whitewashed-brick house, which would hit the market days later for $16.95 million.
As luxury home prices edge into record territory in some areas, traditional wine-and-cheese open houses are being replaced with five-course meals, poolside fashion shows and living-room concerts. Agents and developers, looking to stand out from the competition, are in some cases spending tens of thousands of dollars on these over-the-top open houses—prices once reserved for the launches of luxury condo buildings.
“Parties have become a big part of the marketing program,” says Joyce Rey, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International. She and her colleague, Stacy Gottula, say they showed up at an event a couple of weeks ago where a tennis pro played on the home’s court and a therapist offered free massages in the home’s spa.
An entertainment publicist who has worked with celebrities and lifestyle companies, Alexander Ali says he’s recently begun working with real estate clients as well. He says the all-white themed party in Pacific Palisades was inspired by hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs’s Hamptons White Party, and meant to highlight the seven-bedroom home’s traditional Hamptons look.
“No one wants wine and cheese platters anymore,” Mr. Ali says. The party generated about 10 follow-up showings but is still on the market.
Sellers are often hesitant to embrace the idea. Many homeowners “feel their homes are very exclusive,” says Ms. Rey. “They don’t want some kind of event to attract attention.” F. Ron Smith, the Pacific Palisades home’s listing agent, says that when he first brought up the white party idea to his clients, developers and designers Greg and Grace Shain, they “had trepidations” about having such a large gathering at a home they’d just spent months gut renovating to sell.
And the bigger and more elaborate the party, the bigger the bill. The event cost about $30,000; the cost was split between Mr. Smith and the Shains. Agents say that such events can range upward of $100,000 for the most elaborate affairs. Sometimes agents pony up; other times they split the cost with sellers.
Agents are also enlisting co-sponsors to offset costs and expand the guest list beyond their own Rolodex. The White Party’s sponsors included champagne maker Moët & Chandon, Patron and Maserati of Beverly Hills, which provided valet parking. Gregg Lynn, a San Francisco-based agent, asked First Republic to throw a party in 2011 for a $35 million penthouse; the private bank invited its high net worth clients. Agents Ms. Rey and Ms. Gottula say one recent event they staged was co-sponsored by luxury car maker Bentley and included its vehicles.
Agents also try to come up with a “hook” or theme that will attract guests and show the home off to its best advantage. Last year, Ryan Serhant, a real-estate agent who appears on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” had a listing for a two-bedroom condominium asking for $2.595 million. The unit had high ceilings, wide-plank wood floors and a major flaw: Many of its windows open to a brick wall.
Mr. Serhant says he decided to spend roughly $10,000 throwing a 10 p.m. “after-hours glow-in-dark” rave in the apartment. He says the condo sold for $2.5 million to a partygoer, “a stockbroker who works 120 hours a week” and is rarely at home during the day.
A couple of years ago Amy Faxon put her 4,000-square-foot apartment on the Upper East Side on the market for $8.25 million. Listing agent Wendy Sarasohn of Brown Harris Stevens suggested hosting a party featuring author Jill Kargman, whom she was friendly with. Guests ate cupcakes as Ms. Kargman read an excerpt from her novel “The Rock Star in Seat 3A.”
The home sold for $8.15 million; Ms. Faxon says she isn’t sure if the buyer attended the event. “The point isn’t really that you’re going to find a buyer from the people who are invited, but through the people who were,” she says.
Ms. Sarasohn says she has been coming up with events to fit the personality of her listings for years. This past October, she hosted a Halloween-themed haunted history neighborhood tour for a listing near Washington Square Park, guided by a local historian. Rain forced the event inside, where Ms. Sarasohn dressed like a good witch and handed out candy.
She says it takes creativity to come up with something that will get guests to show up. “At the end of the day, most people want to go home,” she says.
One potential pitfall is that the crowds an event draws can distract from the main attraction. Mr. Serhant, the New York-based agent, says he learned that the hard way when he planned an afterparty for a designer during Fashion Week at a loft-like property he was marketing. Nearly 700 people showed up; many were unable to get into the home. “It was just a bunch of drunk people,” he says. “It became a total disaster.”
It is no coincidence that hype-generating house parties have blossomed in an era of social media. Last week in Miami, Sotheby’s agent Daniel de la Vega hosted a “social media” crawl to launch four different single-family homes to the market. The event had its own hashtag and signs encouraging attendees to share pictures with friends and followers.
Chauffeured by luxury buses, a group of about 30 agents spent about an hour at each home, which range in price from $3.2 million to $13.5 million. Each home had food and wine from a different region (one featured Napa Valley, another featured vintages from Tuscany). Mr. de la Vega says the event was a success—several people used the hashtag and posted the event on their blogs. “It’s not really standard for agents to go to an open house and start tweeting,” he says.
Published by Candace Jackson of The Wall Street Journal on realtor.com.
The owner often sees red-tailed hawks, blue herons and bald eagles from inside this long, thin home with views in all directions.
More than once, Stuart Goldberg has jumped up from dinner to grab his fly-fishing rod and run out the door.
From his table, he can see the fish rising, and because he installed a 9-foot door to allow for the smooth egress of fly rods, he’s able to race down to the river on short notice.
Missoula, MT is “A River Runs Through It” territory, something Goldberg and his wife, Mindy, took seriously in building a glass house from which they’re regularly enthralled by all sorts of natural phenomena. They’re within the city limits — two miles from Big Sky High School and a grocery store, able to have sushi delivered to their door — but with an outdoorsy lifestyle.
“It’s the house that wants you to look outside,” Goldberg says. “It makes me pause when I walk down the hallway and get a glimpse of sunlight off the river or see red-tailed hawks or catch sight of resident blue herons feeding down on the river bottom.”
The Goldbergs have listed the house for $6.5 million, which includes 71 acres, plus 50-percent interest in 78 acres next door.
The long, thin home has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, with views of the Bitterroot River, national forests and recreation areas.
Whitetail deer regularly give birth to fawns within 50 feet of the house, because they know coyotes and other predators will not come that close.
“I have a photo of a bald eagle that dropped a fish on my driveway, then sat on a tree for four or five hours figuring out how to pick up the fish without running into my car. I moved the car, and he picked up the fish and flew away,” Goldberg recalls.
He and his wife built the home in 2011 on the site of an old dairy founded by Michael McCauley, an early settler of the area who convinced the military to build Fort Missoula nearby. The fort became an internment camp during World War II, and today it’s a historical museum.
Goldberg bought the property after seeing it with a real estate agent who took him and his business partner to the top of nearby McCauley Butte to show them what an incredible view a house would have from there. “We drove down the mountain and said, ‘We can’t let that happen,’” he says.
He, his business partner and a business owned by Goldberg and his father bought the property and an adjoining 140 acres. They developed 19 acres of it to raise enough money to put the remaining acreage into conservation. Only two homes are allowed to be built on the property, including the glass house. The rest of the property is now being sold separately.
Because of the land’s conservation status and the protected national lands around it, Goldberg says, “you could get on a horse outside the front door of our property and ride the horse across the river — which you can do at some times of the year — and basically ride that horse through public land until you got to Oregon.”
The listing agent is Keith Lenard of Hall & Hall Partners.
This article was published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.