Lifestyle December 22, 2023

Tips for Creating a Memorable New Year’s Eve Party at Home

Hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration from the comfort of your living room can be filled with fun, food and guests – an unforgettable experience to ring in the new year. To make the most of the evening, you can create a festive atmosphere with themed decorations, incorporate new or favorite dishes, dress to impress and count down in style. Consider adding these touches while planning your unique New Year’s Eve at home.

Set the Scene

Adorn your space with lights and candles to set the stage for celebration. Then, add some specific holiday touches with a photo booth or instant-print camera to capture the memories and a large countdown clock to know when midnight is about to strike. Round out the space by strategically placing hats, noisemakers, beads and other fun items to get guests excited and engaged.

Delectable Treats

Diverse food dishes can also elevate your gathering. Dips, mini-sized treats and seafood or veggie platters are all great options and encourage mingling while satisfying the taste buds. You could also get creative with a cheese or chocolate fondue fountain to bring an elegant touch.

 Make Your Dress Code a Theme

Inspiring style and vibrant energy, you could encourage specific attire for your get-together. Unify your guests with a captivating theme, like black-and-gold, retro glam, masquerade ball or glitter and sequins, and add a layer of creative fun and conversation.

Countdown With Flair

Electrify your night with epic music mixes, classic karaoke songs, toasts and, if local laws allow, fireworks.

You could curate a playlist of upbeat songs to keep guests dancing all night or singing their hearts out with timeless beats. And as the clock approaches midnight, toast with champagne, sparkling cider or a festive non-alcoholic drink. Additionally, you could ring in the new year with a bang if you can organize a small fireworks display in your backyard.

Hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration at home doesn’t have to be bland – it can be an incredibly entertaining experience. Cheers to a fantastic New Year’s Eve and a promising year ahead!

Home DiyHome Improvement July 8, 2023

Curb Appeal: A Fresh Facade Makes a Statement

Curb Appeal: A Fresh Facade Makes a Statement

Maybe your perfect house was “new” a few years ago and it’s time for a refresh, or perhaps you’re just ready to mix things up a bit. Whatever your motivation for a mini home makeover, it’s always smart to begin by focusing on the facade. Go beyond a fancy mailbox or a seasonal wreath and check out these signature upgrades for considerable curb appeal.

It’s the Little Things

Maintaining the strongest and most attractive qualities of your home should be a priority. So before making any major alterations, take a good look at your front yard, walkway and facade, and figure out what could use some reimagination. Are the doorknobs losing their sheen? Could your off-white front door use a boldly hued coat of paint? And there’s no need to stop there – adding a graphic rug, piece of cozy porch furniture or tasteful planters are simple yet surprisingly effective ways to alter the front yard vibe.

Add a Splash of Color

Speaking of greenery, a quick online search of gorgeous home exteriors almost always includes those with pert and perfect plant life. Dressing your home with its own corsage is a simple and often lasting way to beautify it. You don’t need a botanical wonderland like the gardening enthusiast down the street, but manicured landscaping can make all the difference. Spruce things up by planting shrubs and perennials instead of annuals and zone-picky florals. Select bushes that will fill empty spaces, trees that will accent your home’s peaks and native flowers that will add a dash of pizazz.

It’ll Be Worth It

Now for the big stuff. Even if you ignore all the above and prefer a more minimalist landscape design, maintaining a clean, presentable front is of utmost importance and ensures your home will always be a welcome sight. If you’re short on time, consider hiring a landscaper for routine lawn and yard maintenance. You can also make the exterior more enticing by pressure-washing the driveway, front walk and patio, using either a professional service or buying or renting a power washer. Your brick, wood or stone will thank you.

Let It Shine

Why not highlight your home’s new style with landscape lighting? Check your local home improvement store for street posts, mountable lamps, and garden or walkway lights. While abundant lighting is the natural answer to nighttime, don’t overdo it – you don’t want to rival your hometown stadium, do you? Depending on the size, prices range from $10 per item and up, so do your research to find a great outdoor lighting business near you, or get into the DIY mood to set up your home for a show at dusk.

Making small updates and investments will ensure your home looks, feels and is well taken care of. Go ahead and use these tips, and if you continue to challenge yourself to improve your home’s first excellent impression, your neighbors may feel challenged to match it!

Home DecorHome DiyStaging July 8, 2023

Wallpaper With Personality

Wallpaper With Personality

Wallpaper is back. And you’ll be glad it is – with all the exciting new colors, patterns and textures available to choose from. Today, stylish wallpaper is being used in small spaces, such as powder rooms and mudrooms, or as a beautiful accent, providing pops of color that brighten up an area or give it a more customized look.

Wallpaper choices range from traditional floral patterns to modern art deco designs, with patterns ranging from subdued to bold. Today’s wallpaper is also much easier to apply and remove, so you can create a big impact without the hassle and mess. So, where do you begin? It depends on the look you’re going for.

Create Visual Interest With Texture

If your space needs some personality, textured wallpaper may be the answer. Its three-dimensional design mimics just about any material, giving the room an unexpected visual element. Faux stone or wood adds rustic charm. Floral or scroll patterns evoke an antique or vintage vibe. Many textured papers are even paintable, so if you ever want to change things up, you can give your walls new life with a coat of paint.

Add a Touch of Glow With Metallics

For a glamorous feel, metallic wallpaper is an elegant choice. Your space will sparkle with movement as gold, silver and black elements reflect the light. Some metallic papers are also textured, producing shadowed accents that add depth and intrigue.

Soften Up With Fabric

Fabric or textile wall coverings are among the oldest types of wall decoration and can complement a bedroom’s soft furnishings, giving it a luxurious feel. Found in both manmade and natural fibers, the paper mimics velvet, silk, linen or cotton. These materials are also breathable and porous, making them less susceptible to mold spores. However, keep in mind that fabric wallpaper can be affected by moisture and extreme heat.

Go Green With Naturals

Newer wall treatments made from environmentally friendly, natural products such as bamboo or grass cloth have increased in popularity. Certain brands are handcrafted and create quite a conversation piece, capitalizing on the material’s innate color and texture variations.

Wow Them With a Mural

On a feature wall, a mural makes a bold a statement. It can help bring the beauty of the outdoors inside, transforming a room with dramatic floral arrangements, sweeping landscapes, lush forests and a variety of other picturesque nature-inspired scenes.

Find Your Inner Child With DIY Options

If you’re looking to create a playful, interactive space, coloring wallpaper is just the ticket. It’s not only an ideal addition to a child’s room, but also adds a fun element to any entertaining space. Just like coloring books, this wallpaper comes in a plethora of themes and can be minimal or highly detailed in design. Most often in peel-and-stick form, you can easily remove it, apply a new pattern and start all over again. Just be sure to take pictures of your masterpiece before tearing it down.

Feeling timid about jumping on the wallpaper bandwagon? Consider starting with a small project. Give your lamps some personality by applying wallpaper around the edges of the shades. Wallpaper the top of a side table that isn’t getting much use. Or paper the back wall of a bookcase or curio cabinet to introduce surprise depth. No matter the project, wallpaper has the unique ability to create a space in your home that’s every bit as distinctive as you are.

Home DecorHome DiyStaging July 8, 2023

Guest Room Tips for the Warmest of Welcomes

Guest Room Tips for the Warmest of Welcomes

Opening your house to guests is one of the many joys of being a homeowner. You can make guests feel welcomed and comfortable by following these simple tips.

Create the Ultimate “Flex” Room

Flexibility is key in getting the most out of your guest quarters. If you host frequently, the room will likely be used by a wide variety of people – from your high school bestie visiting with her kids on spring break to Great Auntie Edna who’s there for the holidays to your nephew who’s in town to tour college campuses. If you expect to holiday children or multiple guests at the same time, consider investing in bunk beds or at least twin beds to offer several possible combinations of sleeping arrangements. The important thing is to plan ahead and anticipate who you may be hosting. Keep this in mind when decorating the space as well. Selecting a neutral color palette (step away from that ruffled, hot pink comforter!) will ensure that everyone feels content in their home away from home.

Add Some Local Flavor

Showcase your local community by displaying the highlights or most popular features of your city. Display a coffee table book about its history or attractions. Framed postcards or other artwork that show the best and coolest spots around town will not only dress up the space, but also give visitors a little taste of what they might see and do during their stay. Go one step further and stock the dresser drawer with brochures or travel magazines they can browse through to gather ideas about an itinerary for their vacation.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Want to really understand what your visitors might need? Spend a night in your guest room with suitcase in tow, and you’ll discover all sorts of little niceties that would make a difference to your guests: handy hooks for wet towels, extra blankets in the bureau, plenty of empty hangers in the closet, a convenient luggage rack, drink coasters for the nightstand, an alarm clock or even a collection of short stories for nighttime reading. Endeavoring to understand their needs from their perspective will help you play the role of the perfect host.

Feel confident when you lay out the welcome mat that those who cross your threshold will enjoy the time spent in your home. Refer to these tips when preparing for overnight guests and you’ll be sure to win points as a first-rate host.

Buying & Selling July 8, 2023

Long Distance Moves: What To Know

Long Distance Moves: What To Know

Guest post written by Chief of Organized Living & NorthStar Moving Company Co-Founder Laura McHolm

We often get asked: what moves are considered long distance moves? Long distance moves are any move that crosses a state line. They can also be called interstate moves.

If you are one of the millions of Americans seeking a life change by moving to a new state, Coldwell Banker’s Move Meter is an excellent resource to determine what state is a fit for you. Simply fill in where you live and where you are considering moving to and the Move Meter will use data to compare key factors such as taxes, schools, home prices and overall quality of life!

Once you decide on the new state you are moving to and are ready to move, here are the elements to be aware of and consider when moving long distance:




Factors that affect the price of long distance moves

  • How far are you moving?
  • When are you moving? Think of it like airplane tickets, the busier the time, the more expensive the ticket. Usually, moving companies are the busiest at the end of the month and in the summer.
  • How much stuff are you moving?
  • Will you pack yourself? Or, is the moving company packing for you?

Consolidated shipping

Instead of sending a giant semi truck across the state line with only your belongings onboard, check to see if your moving company can consolidate your long distance move with other clients’ shipments. This method of consolidated shipping allows everyone to receive the lowest rate for long distance moves.

If you need to move quickly, or have a large amount of items to move, you can always pay full price for an entire truck.

Delivery windows

Sometimes for long distance moves, moving companies give a delivery window and not an exact arrival date. They know conditions like weather and road closures can often slow down the moving truck. And, if your belongings are part of a consolidated shipment, it takes time for the movers to pick up and deliver other clients’ shipments along the way.

Accessorial charges

Does your move involve any extra circumstances like flights of stairs? An elevator? Will the truck have to park far from your front door? By the way, the moving lingo for “extra circumstances” is “accessorial charges”.


Will your belongings need to be in the moving company’s storage while you’re getting your new place ready?

Best money saving tip

The best way to truly save on the cost of your move is to choose a moving company based on their reputation. Make sure they have provided stellar service to their clients for years.



Laura McHolm is a home organization, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

Buying & SellingHome DecorHome DiyHome ImprovementLifestyleStaging July 8, 2023

First Impressions Matter – Get Your Home Market Ready

First Impressions Matter – Get Your Home Market Ready

If you are considering selling your home, there are several things you can do now to make the best first impression on potential buyers. Taking the time to declutter, deep clean and make simple repairs will show buyers that your house and property are well-maintained and ready for a new owner.

Increase Curb Appeal

A clean and attractive exterior is crucial, as it creates a positive first impression and sets the tone for the rest of your home. Spruce up your outdoor space by removing overhanging tree limbs and branches, applying a fresh coat of exterior paint, mowing the lawn, adding plants or flowerpots, power washing, painting patio and deck areas and repairing or replacing damaged screens and doors.

Take Care of the Obvious

While grooming your outside space, you’ll need to address any glaring concerns. Check and fix loose or damaged roof shingles, bricks, wood and trim. Clean out septic systems to ensure your property is in top working condition. With these projects completed, you’ll also reduce maintenance stress while your home is listed.

Make the Interior Shine

Create an inviting and welcoming atmosphere by cleaning, decluttering and organizing your home, which shows buyers that there’s plenty of space. Freshen up your indoor areas by painting walls, removing outdated rugs or furniture, polishing kitchen appliances and deep cleaning hardwood floors, sinks, tiles and showers.

Remove the Clutter

You’ll also want to check that any clutter is cleared by organizing closets with shelves and storage bins, storing everyday items like paper and toys in cabinets and closets, and removing personal items like picture frames and your kid’s tee-ball trophies. While you’re thoughtfully arranging, you could take advantage of this opportunity to get rid of any paperwork that is no longer needed while gathering documents potential buyers may need to review in in a handy folder. These papers could include HOA information, appliance manuals, warranty information, records of repairs (especially if it involved electrical, plumbing or contractor issues) and the survey of your property.

By increasing the outdoor appeal, creating a warm, appealing indoor space and gathering all the information upfront before listing your home for sale, you’ll be well on your way to smooth, stress-free transaction – and seal the deal with a great first impression.

Uncategorized June 2, 2023

Staycation Innovation – Make Home the Only Place You Want to Be By: Jennifer McGuire

Staycation Innovation – Make Home the Only Place You Want to Be

If your own backyard is likely to be your leisure-time destination this summer, you may as well daydream some plans to amp things up out there. Ponder these fun and fabulous ideas that just might get your wheels turning and help make your home the best getaway of all. Alfresco Pizzeria Patio kitchens have already […]

If your own backyard is likely to be your leisure-time destination this summer, you may as well daydream some plans to amp things up out there. Ponder these fun and fabulous ideas that just might get your wheels turning and help make your home the best getaway of all.

Alfresco Pizzeria

Patio kitchens have already impressively elevated the concept of cooking outdoors by incorporating sinks, refrigerators, warming drawers and even wine coolers. Consider a novel component that will really kick things up a notch. If you love crispy brick-oven pizza, what better way for you and the family to enjoy a piping hot slice than in the fresh air and under a twinkling canopy of stars? Conduct some online research and sketch a few layout options that make sense for your space. With a touch of imagination and an investment in a bit of creative masonry, you and the whole troop could soon be sinking your teeth into an alfresco-prepared, pepperoni-covered creation that deliciously celebrates the season.

Tranquility Space

The peacefulness of a water feature is the perfect addition to a budding backyard oasis, and an ideal focal point that complements both small and larger spaces. Wonderfully delightful options include waterfalls and fountains that produce the pleasant sound of trickling water, vibrant koi fish for visual appeal, or the addition of native plants and flowers to attract wildlife such as chirping birds and frogs. Be the architect of your very own happy place. Add a hammock or stylish swing chair to the tableau and you’ve just found your new favorite book nook – so you can tackle that summer reading list in blissful comfort.

Gaming Arena

Whenever the family is gathered for some quality time together, a little lively competition can go a long way. Any number of nifty games can be set up and enjoyed right on your own lawn. A rousing round of bocce ball, croquet or even traditional cornhole will be enough to liven things up at home and get everyone joining in the fun. The key is to create a dedicated recreation space. For something like classic horseshoes, for instance, you can jazz things up by incorporating special features like retaining walls and backstops to make the arena feel official, and bordering landscaping to help separate the area as a designated gaming spot. Once you’re all set up, choose your teams carefully and let the tournament begin!

Entertainment Hub

If you envision whiling away the lazy days of summer poolside or out on the patio, rest assured that you won’t have to give up your favorite technologies at the same time. It’s possible to sing along to the musical hits of the 80s and even binge watch that hot new drama everyone’s talking about as you kick back and enjoy the great outdoors. Wireless connectivity has become increasingly advanced, including hidden speakers and waterproof flat screen TVs that offer perfect sound and image quality while seamlessly blending in with your natural outside space. Introduce such high-tech conveniences to your out-of-doors living area and benefit from the very best of both worlds.

As you can see, there’s no need to wander very far to make the most of the season. If you’re feeling inclined to give the yard a little tender loving upgrade, the ultimate summer vacation may be just a few steps away – right out your own back door.

Home DecorHome DiyHome Improvement June 2, 2023

Stylish Illumination to Brighten Your Home By: Jennifer McGuire

Stylish Illumination to Brighten Your Home

Lighting has come a long way since the days of an ordinary square of frosted glass adorning the center of the ceiling. With an almost unlimited range of options, interior lighting today is creative, versatile and every bit as important as the furniture you choose. Inside the home, light serves to helpfully illuminate the spaces […]

Lighting has come a long way since the days of an ordinary square of frosted glass adorning the center of the ceiling. With an almost unlimited range of options, interior lighting today is creative, versatile and every bit as important as the furniture you choose.

Inside the home, light serves to helpfully illuminate the spaces where we work and play, but it also creates an overall mood. Successful lighting design involves more than simply tucking a few extra lamps into dark corners. Whether you are planning illumination for a remodel or supplementing your current array, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Let’s Be Practical

Fixtures should be bright and focused for cooking, desk work, reading, grooming, crafts and games, while general illumination should allow for ease with cleaning and other practical housekeeping tasks. Motion-sensor staircase and nightlights add an extra measure of safety.

A Matter of Attraction

Place the light where you’d like to direct focus. Use a spot or up-light to draw attention to a particularly attractive architectural feature, sculpture or large potted plant. A framed photograph or painting can be showcased using a mounted picture light from above.

Set the Mood

Dimmer switches alter the ambiance easily and dramatically, turning general illumination and task lights into party lighting. Nearly every fixture and room can benefit from this simple hardware adjustment. And while high-wattage overhead bulbs are ideal for playrooms or workspaces, they’re not particularly flattering. Select softer, warm-tone bulbs for dining room fixtures and chandeliers.

Variety and Versatility

Rooms that serve multiple purposes will require a number of different light sources. A kitchen island requires plenty of light for food prep and homework, but a softer glow is in order when it doubles as a bar or buffet when you’re entertaining. Versatile, USB-chargeable LED lamps can be moved around where light is needed most – from room to room or even to brighten up the patio or porch.

Accentuate the Positive

Add a bit of drama with a touch of neon, a draped light rope, a sprinkling of twinkle lights or a set of shelving lights to artistically display a special collection. Explore the unexpected – install a colorful paper lantern in a powder room or an elegant chandelier in the guest bedroom. Make an older fixture or sconce feel new again with a distinctive bulb choice. Edison bulbs have lately been having a moment, but flame-tipped, spiral, vintage diamond shapes and even amber glow bulbs can be transformative.

The Art of the Matter

Sculptural lighting has emerged as a novel way to add some character as well – a striking work of art with a practical purpose. Spindly pendant lights, funky Art Deco sconces and styles that incorporate industrial metal accents are brilliant choices to spice things up in an otherwise conservative space.

Make a Statement

Fixtures with oversized shades or in an unusual shape can become a focal point in a main living area like a family room or even a smaller space such as an office or library. New styles range from futuristic to retro 70s cool, and custom designs can incorporate antiques, found objects, art glass or metalwork.

Efficiency Is Key

Acknowledging the importance of energy efficiency, LED bulbs and fixtures are now available in a multitude of sizes, styles and brightness levels.  And with the latest in smart home technology, a single panel or remote for your entire property can manage indoor and outdoor illumination, automatic on-off, window coverings, vacation lights and much more.

Lighting can run the gamut from sophisticated and modern to traditional or romantic – and should always be uplifting and inspiring. Careful attention to illumination will enhance the comfort and overall feel of your home for both family and guests. It’s limited only by your imagination to make it brilliant!

Home DecorHome DiyHome Improvement June 2, 2023

Kitchen – The Heart of Home By: Jennifer McGuire

Kitchen – The Heart of Home

What magical, gravitational pull does the kitchen hold over us all? It’s a combination of things that we’re unconsciously and instinctively attracted to – comfort, familiarity and fond memories. No matter the time of day, the event du jour or the number of guests who grace your doorstep, most often you’ll find friends and family […]

What magical, gravitational pull does the kitchen hold over us all? It’s a combination of things that we’re unconsciously and instinctively attracted to – comfort, familiarity and fond memories. No matter the time of day, the event du jour or the number of guests who grace your doorstep, most often you’ll find friends and family huddled inside the heart of the home: the kitchen. Its magnetic quality swirls around memory-inducing scents, the sound of flapjacks sizzling on the griddle, the rhythmic clinking of glassware toasting and the irresistible sight of delectable meals being prepared by the hands of loved ones. No wonder it’s where we want to be, and where we often choose to stay.

The ideal modern kitchen is more than a utilitarian food station, it’s everyone’s happy place focused on laughing, sharing and being together. Discover a few simple ways of blurring the lines between kitchen and living space to create the ultimate comfort zone in your home.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Keep it sleek and subtle. When designing a combined kitchen/family room, aesthetics are important. Today’s kitchen appliances go incognito when these workhorses are disguised behind custom cabinetry that hides everything from the fridge to the dishwasher. Ho-hum countertops can be replaced with showstopping surfaces that beg to be touched such as rich marble, honed stone and dramatically veined quartz.

Incorporate the adjacent dining and family room decor into the overall kitchen design by treating it with the same decorating prowess applied to the rest of your home. Introduce intriguing artwork that’s protected under glass, objects d’art to dress up the workspace and reiterate living area fabrics on cushions for a cozier, more cohesive look.

Where the Action Is

Whether you’re into helping with meal prep, witnessing the melding of ingredients into the day’s pièce de résistance or enjoying the hustle and bustle of the kitchen vibes from the sidelines, a comfortable place to sit is a must to make the open-concept ambiance complete. A casual seating chart is preferable.

Start with comfy barstools snugged up to a beautiful stone slab island that offer front-row seats to the chef at work. Add extra seating with a built-in banquette tucked beneath a window, a large farmhouse table with ample chair space, or a couch-and-club-chair combo for even more entertaining options – all within kitchen earshot. When placing furniture and accessories, maintain unobstructed site lines and easy-access pathways to adjoining gathering areas. Flow is of the utmost importance when rooms intermingle.

Let There Be Light

One of the best results of an open-concept kitchen comes from all the light that floods in from the windows of adjacent rooms. In addition to natural light, it’s essential to brighten each of the surrounding sans-walls sections with the proper illumination. The prepping-cooking-plating area calls for bright task lighting, well served by overhead recessed can lights, under-the-counter LEDs and over-the-counter pendants that get the job done efficiently yet stylishly.

Other nearby living spaces require softer options, including general lighting, which is typically derived from a ceiling pendant or chandelier, and ambient lighting – an indirect and often more intriguing glow used to soften harsh shadows and deliver a major impact via wall sconces and torchieres. And don’t overlook unique mood lighting in all its glorious drama. With the brilliant power to set the stage and add theater to a room, its bold effects make it an impressive standout in any space.

Create the perfect gathering hub for sharing daily meals, activities, special moments and living life to the fullest. The open-concept floor plan centered around the kitchen stirs up an elusive energy that radiates out like a star and makes all interconnecting rooms feel like the epitome of “home.”