Warm weather is upon us, and it’s time to take the party outside. From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, spring’s signature celebrations deserve a festive and welcoming outdoor space. But what if your patio feels a little plain, a little bare, or a little less-than-inspiring for the party of your dreams?
Dreams can become reality if you have the right plan. And we can prove it. We will show you how to take a winter-worn patio and make it bloom into a versatile foundation for hosting three spring parties, from setting up the perfect base space to perfecting every minor detail, down to the apps and napkins.
With the advice from our design and party experts, and the dramatic before and after photos of our patio designs, you are sure to find the inspiration to transform your patio into a party destination all season long.
Build a Beautiful Base
Before running off to purchase celebration decorations, take the time to build a versatile, functional outdoor living base for your family, whether you are entertaining or not. Most patios need the following basic elements:
- A table and set of chairs
- Planters and greenery
- A source of shade
Of course, don’t forget the grill—the official cooking tool of spring and summer.
Click on the arrows to see the patio transformation:
Spruce up the area
After the dreary winter months, your backyard oasis might look a little rough around the edges. Shrubbery can have dead or uneven growth, and leaves and branches litter the ground. In general, your greenery may need a little TLC. Pay attention to the plants and lawn around your patio by trimming, checking for disease or damage, and fertilizing all greenery. Setting up your lawn and garden for success means that they’ll reward you with beauty all season long.
Don’t forget the patio itself. Concrete is the most common patio surface, and since it is semi-porous, it can hold general grime as well as stains from plant matter. Use a pressure washer to bring back its sparkle (while you’re at it, extend the cleaning to the exterior of the house as well). Pressure-washing can prolong the life of your surfaces (mold and mildew naturally cause decay), and the results are immediate!
Once the surface is clean, add potted planters filled with seasonal, colorful flowers to help blend the patio with its surrounding environment.
Choose your investment pieces
Plastic Adirondack chairs are great for a casual get together. But when you’re ready to transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area suitable for the whole family, you’ll need comfortable, attractive seating, some shade and a table fit for all the great food coming off the grill.
“The elements are going to take their toll, so it’s important to invest in quality,” says KariAnne Wood, a blogger, lifestyle expert and creator of Thistlewood Farms in Paducah, Kentucky. “Look for pieces that are a good scale for your size patio, and when you invest in furniture, make sure that you get furniture protectors so you can protect it from the elements in the off season.”
A neutral table and chair set is a great base (especially if you add a little texture with a rug below it). From there, says Wood, it’s time to add some shade. Consider an umbrella or pergola: “It extends the life of the patio, and helps define and add purpose to the space.”
Umbrellas come in a huge range of styles, from traditional table-anchored options to bigger, more modern cantilever styles.
Finally, the easiest way to “fire up” a party is to add a grill to your outdoor setting. By taking the cooking outside, you’ll get to spend time with your guests, keep the house cool in the heat of summer and show off your cooking chops to the neighborhood. Gas and charcoal are both excellent choices, and some grills include both, so you can leave your options open.
Your base patio is set! Now, building a specific party setting is a snap, which Jacqueline Lawrence of inventivENVIRONMENTS in Charleston, South Carolina, illustrates with the following seasonal soirees.
“I love a challenge like this!” says Lawrence. “It’s really all about creating a plan and then layering the look with texture, color and fabric.”
Party One: Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is rising in popularity as a celebration in the US, but don’t fear that you’re stuck with plastic margarita glasses, a piñata and sombreros. Go beyond cliché to celebrate the vibrancy of Mexico and its rich heritage.
Lawrence explains her elegant approach: “We want something cool and inviting for Cinco de Mayo, so we evoke the colors and textures of the high Mexico desert. Cool sage greens, a woven runner, citrus and succulents provide inspiration, and the last two do double duty on the table-scape: The citrus can be a great beverage garnish, and the potted succulents a thoughtful takeaway gift for the evening’s guests.”
Click on the arrows to see the Cinco de Mayo patio transformation:
Additionally, since Cinco de Mayo is often more of an evening affair, Lawrence also includes a glint of copper to catch the setting rays of the sun, and uses the space under the umbrella as a party “ceiling” from which to hang decorative elements. In this case, copper lanterns accented by a fresh flower garland woven throughout look even better when there’s a soft glow from the lanterns’ candles.
Our menu highlights the culture of Mexico:
Party Two: Mother’s Day
Small details, pale petals, tinkling glass and delicate treats—Mother’s Day is all about making the women in your life feel special, so it makes sense that traditional feminine details lead the way in this design. Seersucker fabric is fresh and full of spring promise, beautiful glassware makes the day sparkle and you can never have enough flowers for Mom.
“The amount of flowers for this scene might feel over the top, but really, it’s very doable!” says Lawrence. “Purchase some potted plants in bloom for the planters, and then layer flowers for the table. Buy simple cut flowers to arrange for a centerpiece, and then add flower heads to each place setting—and even the ice cubes! Different varieties, colors and sizes really provide the illusion of an abundance of petals.”
Click on the arrows to see the Mother’s Day patio transformation:
Below the petal explosion are the fresh stripes of seersucker—Lawrence used the iconic breathable fabric as a runner, complemented by delicate napkins and even more floral motifs on fabric pillows, which creates a luxurious feel and makes the scene one-of-a-kind. Maybe mom always told you to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”—this design does all that in the details.
Our garden-inspired Mother’s Day menu features fresh and light fare:
Party Three: Memorial Day
For Memorial Day, take your color cue from the American flag to plan a patriotic party. Red, white and blue used in equal proportions create a bold backdrop for a casual cookout.
Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, uses the patriotic trio to great effect.
“Nothing says ‘all-American’ quite like a decorative grouping of pots and planters full of red geraniums, while vibrant outdoor pillows in hues of red, white and blue set the tone of your celebration,” says Kelly, adding, “Don’t forget the miniature flags!”
Click on the arrows to see the Memorial Day patio transformation:
Lawrence follows this classic advice in setting the scene for our Memorial Day party, including swapping out the chairs’ seat cushions for a motif that fits the celebration. “A few styles of cushions can really extend the life of your furniture and make it feel fresh with a simple change. Why not a bright pop of red for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July?” she asks.
Additionally, Lawrence uses monofilament to hang paper stars and lanterns from the umbrella, extending the color from the table itself into the entire space.
The table and the grill are the stars of this show, and the table is set to create a buffet style service for the food. A few chairs are moved into a conversation area in the shade, providing easy table access for guests to fill their plates. Although cool desserts will help take minds off the heat, designer Kelly suggests being ready with an assortment of yard games.
“Activities like corn hole, croquet and ping-pong get the whole family involved, while a kid-approved activity like decorating bike baskets or making ice cream sundaes keep their focus on the fun of the long weekend,” suggests Kelly.
Once the food is finished, it’s easy to clear away the serving dishes and transform the table for crafts.
Our Memorial Day menu takes the standard cookout fare up a notch:
Starting with a neutral, comfortable base will ensure that your party goes as planned, no matter the occasion. From there, choose an inspiration for the decor and then take a cue from our professional designers by layering elements to make your spring party feel more professional and put together. Now all that’s left to do is celebrate!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Female agents face an upward mobility challenge within the industry. Here’s how real estate brands and brokerages can work to mend the female leadership gap.
A stark lack of of women in leadership positions exists across all industries. The real estate industry, however, could quickly pivot and become the paragon industry when it comes to representation.
Women have always excelled in the field, but statistically have not found themselves in leadership positions. A report titled How Women Brokers are Reinventing Leadership in the 21st Century from the California Association of Realtors — which recently launched its WomanUP!® initiative and hosts an annual conference — found that women are opting out of large brokerages to forge their own paths.
We should celebrate women entrepreneurs starting their own real estate companies, but as an industry — and particularly within larger companies — we need to take a critical look at why so many talented women with the will to lead are not finding these opportunities within traditional brokerages.
It’s clear that real estate has an upward mobility challenge when it comes to female leaders. According to the NAR 2017 Member Profile Report, women account for 67 percent of all real estate agents, yet only 46 percent of non-selling broker-owners are women.
At Coldwell Banker’s annual Leadership Summit in March, we hosted a panel titled, “When Women Lead,” comprised of women leaders from across the country, with the goal of getting to the root cause of this leadership gap. We found that women in real estate often face two common hurdles: a lack of management training and limited opportunities for leadership positions in their offices.
A one-hour panel didn’t begin to scratch the surface, so we have also introduced a series of virtual conferences with Coldwell Banker agents and brokers to continue the conversation. Hearing from women throughout the network has inspired me to find ways to drive change at both the grassroots level, within each office, and throughout the larger network. In mid-March, I hosted our first “Women of Coldwell Banker,” lunch attended by 100 percent of the women in our home office.
Women with the will to lead have many shared experiences — hearing from others who have achieved success helps us all realize that overcoming challenges is possible, when we identify common hurdles we can find better solutions.
It is also important for men in our industry to rise to the occasion and meet their female peers shoulder to shoulder in this fight. Without allies, making progress towards this goal only becomes more challenging.
Conversations, mentorship and training for women are only part of the equation. To bridge the leadership gap, it’s critical that opportunities for growth are offered to talented women in real estate. Training is only effective once it is applied. Paving the path to management and leadership in real estate will inspire future generations and propel our industry forward.
It is imperative for companies and brokerages to build infrastructure within their companies to provide talented, hardworking women with the tools and training, as well as the opportunities, to lead. Creating task forces, hosting summits and sparking conversation will ignite change — first by providing women with a platform to air their challenges and subsequently by influencing organic change throughout the industry.
So, I challenge you all to do your part in accelerating the real estate industry’s progress in narrowing the female leadership gap. Encourage open conversations among peers within your network. Take an honest look at the growth opportunities available for women at your company. Put pen to paper and develop your plan of attack to combat this issue.
If you’re interested in learning more about working with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, please visit us here.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Coming up with a down payment to purchase your first home can feel like a herculean task. How can you possibly save twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars—approximately 11% of your home purchase price in 2016 (National Association of Realtors)—to pour into a house? For most individuals, it can be incredibly tough to save enough, particularly if you’re strapped for cash. What can you do?
The good news is that if you’ve been consistent about saving for your retirement, you have a leg up thanks to the two 401k first time home buyer options. These options allow you to supplement your down payment with cash from your 401k. However, not everyone qualifies to use money from a 401k. There are strict rules, so it’s vital that you understand how the process works before you move forward.
Borrowing from 401k
When it comes to borrowing from your 401k to help with your down payment, there are two ways to go about it:
- Get a 401k loan for home purchase
- Make a 401k withdrawal
Each of these options comes with its own costs and rewards. Remember that everyone’s financial situation is different and the best way to make the right choice for your situation is to contact a financial advisor and a skilled real estate agent.
First, let’s talk about getting a 401k loan for home purchase. The good news is that, when getting a loan, you don’t owe income taxes or the 10% early withdrawal fee. The bad news is that when you take a loan, it has to be repaid with interest even if you’re just paying the money and interest back out of your own pocket.
However, unlike a typical FHA loan, borrowing from 401k is fairly limited. Your max loan is limited to a specific dollar amount OR one-half of your account balance, whichever is smaller. This means that you need to know your current vested balance.
As for repayment, your 401k loan must be repaid within five years, and payments are required on a quarterly basis—both principal and interest. And your loan payments DO NOT count as contributions to your 401k.
Please note, not all plans permit loans. You’ll need to check with your particular plan to see what is allowed. Additionally, before moving forward with this option it’s advisable to check in with a financial advisor to ensure this option is right for you.
The second option for a 401k first time home buyer is a withdrawal. Compared to a 401k loan, it’s much simpler. The money is yours once you take it out and it does not have to be repaid. But there are a few more details. To withdrawal money from your 401k, you have to meet a few criteria including age restriction and financial hardship.
Only if your employer allows withdrawals and you can prove to the IRS that you are experiencing financial hardship can you even consider withdrawal. From there, your withdrawal has a certain dollar limit, and you must pay income tax on the full amount.
The other option for a withdrawal is to cash out on an old 401k. However, if you use this option, you’ll be required to pay both the 10% early withdrawal penalty as well as income tax.
Before you pursue this path or cross it off, be sure to get the opinion of a financial advisor who has access to your personal financial details.
401k Loan vs. Withdrawal
In most cases, a 401k loan may be easier to obtain and doesn’t come with the penalties associated with an early withdrawal. Of course, the downside is that you’ll eventually have to pay it back in five years.
So, why would you use your 401k to help purchase your first home?
Depending on your financial circumstances, this option may be more financially feasible than paying private mortgage insurance, and the interest goes back in your pocket. Another option is to use your IRA to avoid the 10% penalty. IRA withdrawals up to $10,000 are allowed without the 10% early withdrawal penalty, though you’ll still owe income tax.
If you need help figuring out the best option for you when it comes to putting together your down payment with your 401k, contact your personal financial advisor. Then contact a local Coldwell Banker office to find the perfectly priced home for you.
You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP! You need to move or want those proceeds immediately, but how? Let’s go through the best ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.
First, curbside appeal. This is the first thing every potential buyer sees so make it stand out! Some suggestions:
- Hire a gardener to clean and spruce up the entrance
- Remove superfluous items from the front of your home, i.e. garbage cans, strollers, etc.
- Put a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior
Second, this is the time to clean and eliminate all clutter inside your home. Here’s how:
- Give away extra toys, clothes, and anything else that makes it look crowded or disorganized
- Organize the kitchen countertops and closets
- Place bulky items in storage
Third, landscaping matters. A large yard cannot shine if the plants, grass and trees are in bad shape. Try the following ideas:
- Artificial grass-this always looks amazing and eliminates the need for maintenance
- Tie orchids around the trees, plant fresh flowers and maintain the grass and trees
Fourth, look under the hood. Make the inside of your home look as good as possible.
- This is the time to do some of the minor repairs you have been putting off. This will make your home look better and may eliminate certain issues during the Inspection Period.
- Yes, it seems expensive or time-consuming. However, if you hire a professional company, this can truly make the difference and get you more money in less time.
Finally, hire a professional, licensed realtor. A realtor with experience and expertise can help sell your home quickly for the best price.
Best of luck!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog