Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. With the threat of winter storms past, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get some tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).

March 21, 2018   No Comments

5 Tips To Refresh Your Home For Spring Time

It may still be snowing in some parts of the country, but spring is almost here. Before the flowers start budding outside, refresh the inside of your home to give your interior spaces that springtime glow.

Bring the outdoors inside

Adding fresh plants or flowers to an otherwise ho-hum space can spice things up in the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t have a garden full of fresh flowers to choose from, greens make a lovely addition to your living room, or even an eye-catching centerpiece for your dining room table. Better Homes and Gardens suggests gathering a few fresh fern fronds for dramatic texture and rich color.

Don’t be afraid to add color

One of the easiest ways to perk up your space is to invest in a gallon of paint, call in reinforcements to help you out, and go to town with brushes and rollers. If you’re not incredibly adventurous when it comes to color choices but still want a pick-me-up, try going with a warmer, creamier version of the neutrals you already have; a creamy barely-yellow adds so much more warmth and interest than stark white.

You could even paint an accent wall a bold, fun color and use that space to showcase some of your favorite art or family portraits for your own personal art gallery. suggests incorporating bright colors in a breakfast nook or one of the smaller spaces of your home or apartment. It’s less of a risk than painting your entire kitchen or living room, but still packs a punch.

Reorganize your bookshelves

If you’ve got a fantastic library, now is a great time to take everything off the shelves, blow the dust off the covers, and reorganize. You might even consider artfully stacking books in different directions, some horizontal and some upright. Apartment Therapy reports some pretty impressive results simply by arranging books by color for a uniquely eye-catching display.

Photo by Craig Conley via Wikimedia Commons
Update window treatments

Spring is a great time to trade in your richly-textured drapes for lighter, breezier, more summery colors. If privacy isn’t a huge issue in a space, try adding light, breezy sheer curtains on a thin, minimalist rod. You’ll love how much the change automatically brightens your space. You might also consider substituting your ordinary blinds with Roman Shades. They’re a classier way to control light and privacy, and to update your style.

Make your entryway welcoming

Upgrade (or thoroughly clean) your front-door mats and add a wreath to your front door. This could be a fun DIY project for the entire family. Make sure you have an efficient landing spot just inside your front door — a place to drop keys and hang up a coat or jacket before coming inside. This is also a great place for a fun mirror and a flower arrangement. Your home’s entryway often gives guests their very first impression of your home, so make it shine with your family’s personality and a touch of style.

Photo by The McClouds via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Realty Times Staff

March 12, 2018   No Comments

Eight Must-Do’s Before You List Your Home For Sale

The Spring selling season is on, and if you’re considering listing your house, it’s time to get it in tip-top shape. You may think your home is already listing ready right now, but a real estate agent may not agree. These eight activities will help you put your best house forward.

Clean up that yard

You can’t underestimate the power of curb appeal. An unkempt yard, chipping paint, even a mailbox that’s seen better days can turn off a potential buyer – or turn one into a bargain hunter. And you don’t want either.

“Your home’s curb appeal is the first thing buyers see when they drive up to the property. Buyers immediately start assessing the exterior and landscaping, forming a knee-jerk first impression,” said Professional Staging. “This initial reaction is very powerful. It instantly sets the tone of the tour and will have an effect on how buyers perceive the rest of the property. If their first impression is a negative one, then the rest of the home will suffer for it. The state of a home’s exterior usually matches the interior. If the grass is long or patchy, the paint on the house is faded or peeling, and there are cracks in the driveway, then buyers are going to be very wary of what other kinds of maintenance issues could be awaiting them inside and in places that they can’t see. These issues instantly translate to dollar signs and stress for home buyers, so it’s likely they will move on to the competition to avoid them both.”
Consider your door

Chances are, you don’t look much at your front door because you come in and out of the garage. A buyer approaching your house will notice if your door isn’t pristine and may project the lack of pristine-ness onto the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive but the impact is dramatic.


A cluttered house can mask its best qualities and also make potential buyers feel like it’s not as spacious as they want it to be. “Resist the urge to roll your eyes at this one,” said Family Handyman. “It is imperative that your home looks livable. Potential buyers may not be able to see past your clutter. Think of it this way – don’t move things you no longer want or need. Make decisions now and your house will sell faster and your move will be easier. Take one room, or even part of one room, at a time and dive in. Recycle or shred paper. Donate books, toys, clothing and duplicate household items. If you’re getting frustrated and you can’t deal with one more stack of papers or shoebox of old photos, put them in a plastic tub, label the tub and stack it somewhere out of the way.”


You want your home to be memorable, but for the right reasons – not because of your wall full of crosses or bookcase overflowing with antique figurines. Pack them away to neutralize the space. “The next step on your declutter list? You want to remove any distractions so the buyers can visualize themselves and their family living in the property,” Kipton Cronkite, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York, told “He says that includes personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make your home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which house hunters can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.”

Light bulbs, handles, and hardware, oh my!

Burned-out bulbs, loose handles, and hardware that’s worn, scratched, or rusted is easy to take care and can help your place look finished.

Give everything a good dusting

Look up! How’s that ceiling fan? You’d be surprised how a little thing like a dusty fan can impact a buyer and turn them into a non-buyer. Get out that duster and hit all the corners and window sills you never notice. And then clean all those windows so when you open all the blinds and drapes to let the sun shine in, the light doesn’t get blocked by smudges and fingerprints.

Walk through your home like you’re seeing it for the first time

Come in through the front door and examine every inch of the house. You’ve probably been ignoring little things that have just become part of the landscape. A scuffed baseboard here. A broken switchplate there. Even the pile of shoes in the front hall that you don’t even notice anymore. Potential buyers will, and these little things could be enough to turn them off.

“Once you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, start to look at it with an objective eye,” said Family Handyman. “If you were the potential buyer, what red flags would you see when you walked around your house and yard?

Clean out your closets, your cabinets, and your pantry

Don’t fool yourself into thinking people won’t open doors and drawers and look through everything (Side tip: Hide your valuables before showings, just to be safe!). You don’t have to worry about being judged for your fashion sense—although, you might want to pack away those ‘80s parachute pants! You should be more worried about whether buyers will walk away because they think there isn’t enough closet or storage space, or it’s not efficient space.

You have to pack anyway since you’re moving, so start early. Empty out closets, cabinets, and storage areas so the space looks sufficient and nicely organized. For closets, the idea is to make them look filled, but not overfilled. Create space between hangers and fold other items neatly on shelves. Make sure there is ample space for shoes because, let’s face it, this could be a deal breaker for some people.

Written by Jaymi Naciri



March 7, 2018   No Comments

Renovation Tips For A Classic, Not Trendy, Home

Here’s the dilemma. You’re getting ready to redo your kitchen and you want it to be stylish and modern but not trendy. After all, this is the only kitchen renovation you ever plan to do and you don’t want it to be outdated before you are even finished with the final touches.

If you’re paralyzed because you’re afraid of making the wrong decision, we get it. We’re facing a similar dilemma here, FYI, with floors that need to be done and so many options from which to choose and no winner (yet) because it’s not yet clear if what is currently hot is just a flash in the (floor) pan or will stick around for a while.

So how do you know how to choose? First, it depends on what your goals are. If you’re just looking to update and then sell your house, choosing materials that are trending now may be a good call. If you’re thinking, “I want to love this and have it still look good in 10 years,” that’s another story.

“You’ve probably taken on a renovation project because you want to update the style. While you’d like to give your home a modern look, choosing a short-lived style or personal design is a major fail,” said HomeAdvisor. “While a trendy design is sure to make your home stand out, it’s also going to quickly go out of style. This is a big problem if you want to resell your home in the future. Modernize the look of your kitchen or bathroom, but avoid bold styles that only appeal to those with specific tastes.”
Go neutral

Yes, neutral can be boring. It’s true. (It can also be super chic when done right.) Making a bold choice with your kitchen countertops might feel like the right way to go right now, but you may turn around in a couple years and regret that choice, especially if you’re going to try to sell your home. You can always bring in pops of color with accessories or items that are easier to replace or redo.

For the last several years, grey has been the go-to color for homes. Prior to that, it was beige – a color that is currently seeing a resurgence even though grey is not gone – yet. Black and white is another currently hot option for color schemes, and, the bonus is, “black and white remains a classic combination,” said HGTV. Certain colors will never go out of style – House Beautiful has 10 of them. But remember that no matter what color you choose, it’s not permanent. Painting is one of the easiest ways to update your space and change the mood whenever you like.

Just keep in mind that high ceilings and other architectural features may make a DIY situation un-DIY-able and may make a redo more expensive because you have to hire someone. Key in on walls that don’t soar to a pitched ceiling or that can act as a focal wall for high-impact that’s easy to accomplish yourself.

Be smart about your kitchen

You may have a desired look cemented in your head for your kitchen, but are you making smart choices? Shaker cabinets, farmhouse sinks, and marble countertops are a few good options if you want something that looks modern but “will stand the test of time and still look as beautiful twenty years from now as it does today,” said Apartment Therapy.

Go eclectic with your furniture

An entire house full of mid-century modern furniture can begin to look like a showroom, and when the trend is over, it can be painful to replace it all. Creating a more eclectic look with an eye toward classic pieces creates staying power. Adding in a vintage piece or two can add another important layer. “A design rule that’s sure to remain true? Every room in your home needs a unique vintage piece,” said HGTV. “Even in newly-decorated spaces, distressed or worn pieces create a collected, designer look.”

Avoid hyper trends in larger items

Drapery, rugs, and bedding can be easily changed out to accommodate your fickle design taste. But when it comes to the larger pieces in the home – a couch or a set of chairs, perhaps, avoiding trends will give you longevity. “Timeless decor means fabrics that will stand up to years of changing trends! They transcend those changes,” said Stone Gable. “Don’t rush out and buy foundational furniture in the ‘color of the year’! It’s only the ‘color of the year’ for one year! Choose colors and patterns, especially when buying big ticket items, that will still look amazing when this year’s trends have come and gone. Add layers of accent decor like lamps, art, tableware, pillows, bedding, etc. in more updated colors and styles. They can be changed out easily when they get tired or are out of style.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri


February 27, 2018   No Comments

Kitchen Trends With Staying Power

Kitchen Trends With Staying Power Parkes Interiors

As a designer, I pay attention to trends that come and go in kitchen design. And there are a lot of new options to consider. But I tell my clients that the key is always to consider whether what’s trending will actually function for your kitchen. So let’s take a look at some of the current trends that I would argue are among the best options to incorporate into your kitchen remodel. Which ones would you love to have?

1. Fewer upper cabinets. The trend toward less wall cabinetry in the kitchen will continue. It’s not that clients have less stuff to store, but rather that they desire less visual clutter and that feeling of openness that a lack of wall cabinets inspires. This means that clever storage solutions for both base and tall cabinets are even more important.

Glassware is commonly stored in the wall cabinet closest to the sink. With less upper cabinetry, the dilemma of where to put the glasses arises. Consider using a drawer or rollout shelf, as seen here. Drawers are overlooked when it comes to glass storage. To make it work, just line the bottom of each drawer or rollout with a nonslip rubber liner.


Pantry pullouts are also a great source of storage when wall cabinetry is scarce. This tall, narrow pullout holds dishes, cups and glassware galore, as well as half a dozen stainless steel bowls.


2. Comfortable seating areas. For years, islands have been considered the ideal gathering spot in the kitchen. But now there’s a trend toward more comfort, and seating areas in kitchens are evolving accordingly. Clients want a place to kick off their shoes and relax with a glass of wine while waiting for their dinner to cook. Expect to see more soft seating in the kitchen, like the light blue couch in this photo.


3. Steam convection ovens. My favorite kitchen appliance slowly gaining a foothold is the steam convection oven. Cooking with steam locks in nutrients and keeps foods moist. Unlike microwaves, steam ovens reheat leftovers without drying them out. As a bonus, there’s a convection mode that bakes and roasts.


Will steam ovens replace microwaves? The answer probably depends on whom you ask. They still can’t reheat beverages or pop popcorn, and for some that’s a deal-breaker.

4. Induction cooktops. Induction cooking has been popular in Europe for many years, unlike here in the United States, where cooking with natural gas is preferred. With induction cooking, the energy is generated by a metal coil beneath the surface of the glass cooktop. When turned on, the coil produces an electromagnetic current only when it comes in contact with magnetic cookware. This current heats the bottom of the magnetic pan and cooks the food it contains. Induction is safe — the cooktop is cool to the touch when the cookware is removed. It’s also fast. Water boils in under two minutes.


One way to introduce induction cooking into your kitchen is to add a burner or two. This kitchen has a gas range plus a small induction cooktop in the island.

5. Smart kitchen technology. Our homes are becoming ever more connected with our devices. Whether through voice activation, phone apps or computers, connectivity is here to stay, so it was only a matter of time before the advent of smart appliances.


Smart refrigerators. Ever get to the grocery store and discover you’ve forgotten your list? Of course you have! A few of my trailblazing clients have purchased smart refrigerators equipped with an interior camera that takes a photo of the contents when the door is closed. This photo can be accessed while shopping from the corresponding app. Some refrigerators can determine when stocks are running low, make a list and even reorder.

Smart ovens and ranges. Imagine being able to control your oven or range remotely. Car stuck in traffic? Begin preheating your oven from your phone.


6. Column refrigerators. Unlike traditional refrigerators with their predetermined refrigerator-freezer spaces, column refrigerators are full-sized single units that are either all refrigerator or all freezer. They’re quickly becoming a client favorite due to the ability to customize chilling spaces based on one’s needs and preferences.

Column refrigerators are available in sizes ranging from 18 to 36 inches wide, and they can be installed separately or combined side by side for a cohesive look. They can be paneled to blend seamlessly with the cabinetry or left stainless, as seen here.


7. Servo drive cabinetry. A servo drive electrical system can open any cabinet with either a slight touch or a remote control. Though often found in more modern kitchens designed without hardware, this feature needn’t be reserved for the modern aesthetic. Even traditional kitchens can benefit from a servo drive trash bin. Nudge the cabinet door with your knee and the receptacle magically appears.

8. Lighted interiors. Interior lighting is no longer limited to glass-front cabinets displaying lovely dishes. Pantry and base cabinets are often 24 inches deep with dark crevices, limiting the visibility of their contents — and what isn’t readily visible often doesn’t get used. Consider lighting the interiors of your deeper cabinets not as a luxury but as a necessity, like the light in your bedroom closet.


9. Touch faucets. Often found in public bathrooms, touch faucets are gaining popularity in kitchens, and they are very useful. When hands are full, or perhaps contaminated with raw chicken, touch the faucet’s body with an elbow or the back of your hand to turn it on. Touch it again and off it goes. Touch faucets make water more easily accessible for multitasking cooks.


10. Working sinks. Many clients are requesting sinks that double as work stations. These working sinks can be as small as 36 inches wide and as large as 80. Fitted with accessories like cutting boards, colanders, bowls and drying racks, they’re designed to improve function in the kitchen.


11. Black stainless. Every few years, appliance manufacturers debut a new appliance finish in hopes of starting the next big trend. Stainless steel is currently king. Anyone remember oil-rubbed bronze appliances from a few years back? Nope, neither do I.

The latest entry vying for market share is black stainless. It’s impervious to fingerprints, and that is a big, big selling point. Its main drawback is that when scratched — and it will get scratched — the underlying color is stainless, as in silver.

I’ve specified black stainless appliances twice in the past six months. Will black stainless have staying power? Only time will tell.

Written by Barbra Bright


December 21, 2017   No Comments