How to Step Up Your Entry Design With a New Welcome Mat

Right before the guests ring the doorbell or give the front door an old-fashioned knock, they step on your welcome mat. This mat serves two purposes: catching debris and adding style. Here are some ideas for how to give this entry detail a refresh before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begin.

 

Welcome Mat 1: Caela McKeever, original photo on Houzz

 

Say Hello

A lettered mat can help you say exactly what you want to say when someone comes to your door. Obviously nothing says hello more than the word “hello.”

The simple greeting might also draw visitors’ eyes to the ground and remind them to take off their shoes before they step inside.

 

Coordinate Colors

If you have a colorful front door, use that as doormat inspiration. If your door lacks color, maybe it’s time to paint it.

Door paint: Scarlet Ribbons, Dulux

 

Welcome Mat 2: Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction, original photo on Houzz

 

The whole mat doesn’t need to match the door. This striped mat draws on other colors found on the home’s exterior.

 

Welcome Mat 3: Rustic Porch, original photo on Houzz

 

Think Outside the Rectangle

Many front doors feature rectangular doormats, but other options exist. The semicircle mat in the photo works nicely with the rustic rockers, porch swing and shutters.

 

Welcome Mat 4: Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc., original photo on Houzz

 

Roll Out a Rug

A big, bold rug in front of the door adds color and life to this home’s entry, designed by Garrison Hullinger.

A large porch rug can also make the space feel like another room of the house. If you add a few chairs, people can stop, relax and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, more rug means more chances for it to pick up any water or dirt from the shoes of incoming guests.

 

Welcome Mat 5: Seattle Staged to Sell and Design LLC, original photo on Houzz

 

Play With Patterns

An intricate design gives guests a reason to notice this front door mat. A mat’s design can also pull together all the elements of a porch, such as the front door, mailbox, planted blooms and exterior paint.

“I chose the mat because it is fun, colorful, and it accentuated the colors of the house and the plants,” says Shirin Sarikhani, the owner of Staged to Sell and Design in Seattle.

 

Keep It Natural

If the entry is already bursting with details, such as eye-catching hardware and light fixtures, a neutral mat will help keep the attention on them. Natural doesn’t have to mean boring.

 

Welcome Mat 6: Grandin Road, original photo on Houzz

 

Personalize the Space

This contemporary monogrammed mat is hard to miss. “Don’t be afraid to choose a doormat with personality, says Kate Beebe of Grandin Road. “Work some wit and whimsy into your entrance, and choose something that will put a smile on your guests’ faces.”

She also recommends picking a mat that covers at least three-quarters of the entrance’s width and allows the door to open easily.

 

Change With the Seasons

While you are changing the front porch decor, swap a plain doormat for a festive option.

After the holidays, clean off your seasonal doormat and store it until the following year.

 

Match Materials

Doormats come in many materials, including ones that mimic entryway hardware. A rubber mat offers the wrought iron look without the weight and expense of the real material.

The punched-out spaces in a rubber mat also catch a lot of little pebbles, which can then be easily swept away with a broom.

 

Make It Feel Like Home

Doormat options are pretty much endless, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works for you. 

 

By Brenna Malmberg, Houzz

Spreading Holiday Cheer this Season

 

Our Windermere offices really love the holiday season. It’s a time when they can get together to collect food, host holiday events, and raise money to help those in need in their communities. From putting together Thanksgiving meals, to hosting food drives and auctions, our agents really get into the spirit of giving. Here are just a few of the events taking place throughout our network during the holiday season.

 

Jump Into the Holidays Bazaar

On November 19, the Windermere Kelso/Longview office hosted its first holiday bazaar to benefit the Windermere Foundation, to provide support to local non-profits in the community that serve low-income and homeless families. More than 20 vendors participated in the bazaar, offering items to purchase for holiday giving. Over $1,300 was raised at this event.

 

Thanksgiving Meals for Dorothy House

For the past 15 years, brokers from the Windermere Bellingham-Bakerview, Bellingham-Fairhaven, Birch Bay-Blaine, and Lynden offices have gotten together to provide the ingredients to put together full Thanksgiving meals for Dorothy House, a local safe housing community for domestic violence victims. This year they assembled 24 meals for Dorothy House, which has 22 apartments for women and children.

 

Woodinville Winterfest

For over 10 years, the Windermere Woodinville office has hosted a holiday event at its office featuring photos with Santa and refreshments. This year, their annual event was a part of the November 27 Woodinville Winterfest and included a Woodinville Wine Country wine and beer garden, and local bites. Cash and toy donations were collected for The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

 

An Evening with The Great Gatsby

This past month, the Windermere Stellar offices in Vancouver, Washington hosted their fourth annual live and silent auction to benefit the Children’s Justice Center. Nearly $200,000 was raised at this event. Through the Windermere Foundation, over $481,300 has been donated to the CJC over the past four years, which has helped them expand their family outreach and support program.

 

Windermere Wreath Fundraiser

The Windermere Ellensburg office is holding its second annual wreath fundraiser. Fresh 24-inch wreaths handmade by Snowshoe Evergreen can be purchased from the Windermere office from November 28 until supplies last. All proceeds benefit the Windermere Foundation, to assist local non-profits that provide services to children in need in the Ellensburg area.

 

16th Windermere for Kids Event

Since 1998, brokers from the Windermere Bellevue, Bellevue South, Bellevue West, Issaquah, Redmond, and Yarrow Bay offices get together to hold a “Windermere for Kids” event in lieu of a company Holiday party. With help from local non-profit organizations, 100 children in need between the ages of 7 and 12 are selected to participate. Each child receives a $225 gift card to Target and is partnered with a broker who helps the child select gifts for members of their family. And a gift for each child is purchased as well. The gifts are then taken to wrapping stations that are manned by Windermere brokers. While the children wait for their gifts to be wrapped, there are photos with Santa, crafts, food and beverages to keep them busy. Almost $250,000.00 has been donated throughout the years. 

 

Free Santa Photos & Dickens Carolers

The Windermere Northlake office hosted its annual holiday event on December 3, featuring free photos with Santa and Dickens Carolers. Food donations are collected each year to benefit Hopelink, a non-profit social service agency that provides services to families in need in North and East King County, WA.

 

Windermere Stellar Lloyd Tower Silent Auction

The Windermere Portland – Lloyd Tower office is hosting a silent auction benefiting the Windermere Foundation on December 8. This night market will be full of gifts to bid on, including wine bundles, dinner parties, sporting events, gift certificates,  and more.

 

8th Annual Spaghetti Feed/Auction

Hosted by the Windermere Snohomish office on December 10, this fun community event features live music while Windermere brokers cook and serve the meals. Tickets are $10 for a full dinner with dessert. Proceeds benefit the Snohomish Food Bank.

 

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Holiday Program

The Windermere Mercer Island office will host its 19th annual event for Mercer Island Youth and Family Services on December 12. The office gathers wished-for gifts and delivers them to MIYFS, which serves hundreds of local families.

 

3rd Annual Food Drive for Contra Costa & Solano Counties

From October 1 through December 15, agents from the Windermere Walnut Creek-Diablo Realty and Windermere El Sobrante offices are collecting food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties. Nearly 100 agents will collect food donations during this drive. The food bank serves 188,000 people each month and distributes over 50,000 pounds of food every day. Last year, these offices collected nearly 1,000 pounds of food. They hope to surpass this number this season.

 

Windermere Professional Partners Holiday Food Drive

Each year, the Windermere Professional Partners offices in North Tacoma, Central Tacoma, University Place, and Gig Harbor hold an annual food drive  to support a local food bank. All four office locations serve as donation drop-off sites, and agents also distribute paper bags throughout the community for the public to fill and bring in donations. This year the drive will support FISH Food Bank in Gig Harbor, as well as Families Unlimited Network in University Place.

 

5th Annual Gingerbread House Contest

The Windermere Wailea office is hosting its 5th Annual Gingerbread House Contest to benefit the Windermere Foundation. Drop by their office in the Shops at Wailea to view all the gingerbread houses created by the office’s agents and their families, and cast a vote for your favorite one. Voting ends on December 20. Ballots submitted will be entered into a raffle drawing for a $100 gift certificate. For every live/in-person vote cast in the office, a dollar will be donated to the Windermere Foundation.

 

Thank you to everyone that supports the Windermere Foundation. Through these events, drives, as well as a variety of other fundraisers held by our offices throughout the year, the Windermere Foundation is able to continue to support non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

If you’d like to help, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.

Holiday Décor Trend: White-on-White Luxe

 

From a stunning mantel display to an elegant table setting, you can capture the magic of the holiday season in festive touches that are certain to make your home even more merry and memorable. The white-on-white design trend is definitely at the top of most luxury designers’ lists these days, and this extends to Christmas décor, as well. For some stylish inspiration, take a cue from these beautiful holiday decorating ideas.

table-dressing

This year it’s all about seasonal glamour, metallic flourishes meet elegant finishes for a luxury look to perfectly complement Christmas time at home.

 

gold-silver-white

Metallic decor is very popular for decor today because it’s stylish and gives a refined and elegant touch to any space. Silver and gold are the most used shades but copper has become a leader recently because of its soft and warm shade. 

 

copper-and-white

White and gold décor can be bland without a deeper anchor color. Black accents lay low while bringing out the brightness of the white and metallic accents.

 

white-and-gold-2

A huge part of the white on white decorating trend this year is the flocked Christmas tree.

 

holiday-home-tour-monika-hibbs-1

If you are feeling devoid of color, adding a small amount of red to a flocked tree makes a huge impact.

 

red-and-white-and-silver

A light touch of pastel blue gives a softer impact while evoking the feeling of Christmas at Tiffanys.

 

05-aqua-blue-silver-and-white-christmas-decor

With all this white on white minimalism, you might start to feel a little snow blind – or simply bored. Another trend on the horizon is blue and green, inspired by the favored Peacock décor from the Victorian era.

 

28-white-stockings-an-ornament-garlands-of-various-shades-of-blue-and-green

The vivid colors are stunning on a white tree and blends very well with metallic accents in the home.

 

matching-colors-1

 

So what do the experts advise for decorating a tree? Here are a few tips to help guide you:

When in doubt, go for more lights. Nothing beats a well-lit tree.

Take a break and step away from the tree. It never hurts to revisit an hour later. You can often make just the right tweaks when you come back and look at something with a new set of eyes.

Don't take decorating your tree too seriously. It is a tradition and is meant to evoke memories. Showcase your personality with your favorite ornaments and have fun with it.

Do what you love. You can be as creative as you want with your Christmas tree, so decorate it with whatever you’re into; shells, birds, or anything else. Just because you’re trimming a tree doesn’t mean you have to incorporate traditional standards.

 

 

5 Midcentury Modern Homes That Make the Most of Their Small Design

Midcentury modern homes were small out of necessity. Money was in short supply after World War II, so architects and builders had to keep houses compact yet functional to stay within homeowners’ budgets. At the same time, lifestyles were changing. Smart architects took on a new approach and designed homes with an open feel, which differed greatly from the boxy designs of the previous era.

Related: Why You Should Embrace Your Midcentury Modern Kitchen

 

Midcentury Modern 1: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

I’ve been enamored with midcentury modern homes since my childhood in California, where I was privileged to spend time in the intimate houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Mark Mills. Mills was the on-site architect for Wright’s famous Walker House, or Cabin on the Rocks, in Carmel, California, pictured. It was during this time that Mills learned an important lesson from Wright: Reject a larger house in favor of a modest home with flowing spaces and no excess.

The following ideas show how midcentury modern homes beautifully make the most of their space in ways that can easily be incorporated in homes today.

 

Midcentury Modern 2: Wheeler Kearns Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

 

1. Open floor plan.

Above all else, the open floor plan is the defining characteristic of midcentury modern homes. Closed-off rooms gave way to flowing spaces that strung one room to the next to form fluid kitchen, living and dining areas.

In a small home, the key to making the open floor plan work is to understand which rooms need privacy, and when. Of course, bedrooms and bathrooms need separation from the main areas of the home, but it’s also good to consider other areas that need privacy: for example, a study where a parent can work without interruption while the kids play nearby.

In this lake house by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the common areas are located in a centralized area, while the more private areas are off to the side or tucked away on another level.

 

Midcentury Modern 3: Balodemas Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

2. Expanded sightlines.

The tendency of midcentury modern homes to have open floor plans speaks to the elegant details often seen within these houses. Without trying to be too sparse, midcentury designers included functional details in their homes that were as uncomplicated as they were beautiful. Finding the balance between sophistication and openness was in the hands of the architect.

Take, for example, the stairs in midcentury modern homes. In this remodel of a midcentury home by Balodemas Architects, they preserved much of the original stair and design. The riser, or the vertical part that connects the stair treads, was simply left out for a lighter appearance. The stair was no longer in a hall but fully opened up and integrated into a room. Walls were often dispensed with entirely. Instead, partial-height screens inspired by Japanese shoji were used to subtly separate spaces.

 

Midcentury Modern 4: Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

3. An instance to avoid “open.”

While photographs of midcentury modern homes often feature great walls of glass, what’s often not shown, perhaps because they are not as photogenic, are the equally generous opaque walls.

These walls are key to the home’s aesthetic success. They provide a protective backing to the composition, since the opaque side of the home often faces the road, as with this house by Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects. Although the back of the house is open, with lots of glass and a sense of ease between inside and out, the street-facing side would never give that away. An opaque wall creates a boundary to the outside world while extending the perceived size of the home. Walls of glass are expensive, so opaque walls are also an economical design move.

 

Midcentury Modern 5: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

4. Everything in its place.

Thoughtful storage is a another key aspect of what makes a small midcentury home completely livable. Most midcentury modern homes, particularly those on the West Coast, had no basements or attics, so storage closets needed to be located among the main living spaces. In part, the answer was to do more with less by having well-designed storage throughout and daily items close at hand, as in this kitchen. This has to be married to an ethic of keeping only what you need and having periodic yard sales.

 

Midcentury Modern 6: Koch Architects, Inc. Joanee Koch, original photo on Houzz

 

5. Display with a purpose.

In a small home with innovative but limited storage, it’s important to have display areas for the pieces that don’t need to be tucked away in drawers or closets. This was done beautifully in midcentury modern homes by integrating display areas as a means of aiding with the potential conundrum of scarce storage.

This restoration by Koch Architects shows this exact notion at work. Every other step in the stair has an integrated bookshelf. This would make a perfect rotating library with a range of titles easily seen while ascending the stair.

 

By Colin Flavin, Houzz

What to Expect in Housing Affordability

What keeps Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, up at night? Housing affordability. As the U.S. Population moves towards both coasts and the Southwest, putting upward pressure on land prices and the value of homes, we will see a greater cost of living, which could directly impact the work force and economies in those areas. Gardner weighs in on how West Coast cities can improve housing affordability through policy and infrastructure changes.

 

Windermere Winter Drive Collects over 3,500 Items for Homeless Youth

 

As part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, 38 Windermere offices* in King and Snohomish Counties collected new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. The recipient of these donations was YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

An estimated 3,500 items were collected during the four-week drive. We are thankful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by the participating offices—there was even some competition among them to collect the most items. Taking that title for the most donations was the Windermere Shoreline office which alone collected 665 items! Some of the donations were even hand-made by members of the community, like the 10 sets of hats/scarves knitted and donated to Windermere’s Mercer Island office, and the homemade Seahawks scarves and hats that were donated to the Property Management – South office. These generous donations will go a long way towards helping to keep many homeless youth warmer this winter season.

Jody Waits, Development and Communications Officer at YouthCare, was overwhelmed with excitement by all of the winter gear that was collected: “This is AMAZING! We received a truck – a literal truck – full of donations,” she said, adding, “Windermere’s amazing donations provide homeless youth with cold-weather items they would not be able to afford to purchase on their own. Helping a young person feel warm, dry, and safe, frees them up to focus on achieving other goals, and connecting to their future potential. We are very grateful for Windermere’s partnership with YouthCare.”

We are also incredibly grateful to Gentle Giant Moving Company, who partnered with us for this drive, and generously donated their time and trucks to pick up all of the donated items from our offices and deliver them to YouthCare.

 

Thank you to our participating offices, and all those who donated, for making our winter drive a success!

 

 

*Participating Windermere offices

 

Auburn-Lakeland Hills, Bellevue, Bellevue Commons, Bellevue South, Bellevue West, Burien, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Kirkland Central, Kirkland Yarrow Bay, Kirkland-Northeast, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Property Management - South, Redmond, Renton, Seattle-Ballard, Seattle-Capitol Hill, Seattle-Eastlake, Seattle-Green Lake, Seattle-Greenwood, Seattle-Lakeview, Seattle-Madison Park, Seattle-Magnolia, Seattle-Mount Baker, Seattle-Northlake, Seattle-Northgate, Seattle-Northwest, Seattle-Queen Anne, Seattle-Sand Point, Seattle-Wall Street, Seattle-Wedgwood, Seattle-West Seattle, Services-Marketing, Shoreline, Snohomish, Woodinville

 

9 Options to Remove, Hide or Play Down a Popcorn Ceiling

Don’t love your popcorn ceiling? You’re not the only one stuck with some unwanted stucco overhead. There are many options for moving on from it, but not all of them are equally effective — or equally easy. To help you decide how to address your popcorn problem, here are some top ways to remove, cover or distract from stucco ceilings.

 

Related: How to Decorate Your Ceiling

 

Popcorn Ceiling 1: The Kitchen Source, original photo on Houzz

 

From the 1950s to the 1980s, so-called popcorn ceilings (with their prickly stucco texture resembling the popular movie theater snack) were a major architectural staple in America and many other nations.

Eventually the asbestos commonly used in the application was found to be toxic, and demand severely dropped.

However, a textured ceiling does have its advantages. It reduces echoes and hides ceiling plane imperfections, which is why it’s still used (in asbestos-free formulations) today, as shown in the bathroom here.

Despite its practical uses, popcorn ceilings, for many people, are considered an unfashionable eyesore, especially with contemporary demand for “clean lines.” Also, popcorn ceilings can gather dust and be difficult to clean or repaint, which means they don’t always age beautifully.

But don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of options.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 2: Designs by Gia Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

 

Ceiling Scraping

The good news is a sprayed-on stucco coating can be scraped off to reveal the original ceiling surface, a process usually known simply as “ceiling scraping” or “stucco removal.” A specialist typically does this because (here’s the bad news) the process can be somewhat costly at around $1 to $2 per square foot. It’s a messy, labor-intensive process, hence the high cost.

Also, in some cases, the results may not achieve the crispness of a ceiling that had not been stuccoed in the first place, especially if the stucco has been painted over, which greatly complicates the removal process.

Even in the best cases the exposed ceiling will typically require at least some smoothing and patching to create a more even and crisp final product, which makes this an extensive and relatively challenging undertaking for DIYers.

While ceiling stucco no longer uses asbestos in modern applications, homes built before 1980 (or even in the early ’80s while old stucco products were still stocked) may include asbestos. If there is any doubt, a professional asbestos test should be conducted before any resurfacing, which could release heavily toxic dust.

 

Ceiling Replacement

One of the simplest alternatives to scraping is removing and replacing the ceiling drywall. Alternately, you can have the ceiling layered over with new drywall. The drop in the ceiling plane will often be minimal, and this method can encase asbestos rather than releasing it into the air, delaying the issue, if not resolving it.

Redrywalling a ceiling will cost closer to $4 to $6 per square foot, but the results will be more predictable.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 3: Diament Builders, original photo on Houzz

 

Covering Stucco

Speaking of layering, there are many other materials besides drywall that can be installed over a popcorn ceiling, many of which add extra personality to a room.

 

Related: Keep Your Cottage Cool

 

Beadboard. Classic beadboard makes a charming ceiling treatment, and not just in a rustic cottage. Painted white, the subtle texture of beadboard paneling works well in traditional spaces or modern ones, adding a layer of depth in an unconventional place.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 4: Spinnaker Development, original photo on Houzz

 

Panels of beadboard often cost less than 50 cents per square foot, making this a very affordable option, especially for handy DIYers.

For a contemporary twist, try finishing the ceiling in a gloss paint, as shown here. This slow-drying finish will take more labor to complete, but the results have incredible depth and elegance.

 

Warm wood. If you’re not into painted beadboard, try multitonal wood for a rich, inviting treatment that’s great for a den or sitting area. Contrast it with white molding and crossbeams, or let the wood speak for itself. This approach works well with rustic decor, as a gentle touch in a modernist space or somewhere in between.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 5: Bravehart Design Build, original photo on Houzz

 

Pressed tin. Whether you use true pressed tin tiles or a fiber substitute, this classic ceiling look recalls speak-easy style and makes a great cover-up for a kitchen ceiling. You can paint it white or pale gray to keep the look breezy, or an inky dark hue (like charcoal or navy) for moody atmosphere. Or choose a metallic finish for extra sheen and drama.

Many companies now provide faux pressed tin and other panel systems specifically designed to cover stuccoed or damaged ceilings. They typically cost $1 to $5 per square foot.

To have a professional install these materials for you, expect to pay several hundred dollars extra.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 6: The Morson Collection, original photo on Houzz

 

Other Options

Lighting. Sometimes the best way to deal with ceiling stucco is to de-emphasize it, and <a href=‘http://www.houzz.com/photos/ceiling-lighting’>smart lighting choices</a> can go a long way toward that.

Notice how the lighting hitting this stucco wall emphasizes the texture. Great when the effect is desired. To avoid highlighting unwanted ceiling stucco, choose lights that aim downward, rather than upward or outward, so light is cast on beautiful surfaces below and not on your ceiling itself.

Try pot lights, or semi-flush-mounts (or pendants) with an opaque shade to aim light downward rather than multiple directions.

 

Paint. Ultimately, the best way to deal with a popcorn ceiling may simply be to learn to live with it. Think about it: How many people do you know who live with popcorn ceilings? I bet you can’t specifically remember who has it or doesn’t, because unless a ceiling is highlighted, we don’t typically spend much time looking at it.

Try painting the walls and the ceiling the same color to blur the lines between them, and then create drama at ground level to draw the eye down. You’ll soon forget about your stucco altogether.

 

By Yanic Simard, Houzz

Ten Ideas for New Thanksgiving Traditions

 

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new traditions, but sometimes the situation calls for it – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have a family now and want to start traditions of your own. So what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?

 

  1. Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.

While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.

  1. Take time for yourself before time with family.

As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.

  1. Remember loved ones who have passed.

Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. Look through old photo albums and recall funny, tender or important achievements of those who are gone but not forgotten.

  1. Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.

Cover the table with butcher paper. During the meal, distribute pens and ask each family member to write down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper and then take turns reading them out loud. We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.

  1. Let everyone toast!

Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!

  1. Have the kids serve dessert.

Let the bigger kids get in on the action of serving to their family.  Put them in charge of delivering dessert and coffee after the meal. The oldest can plate and pour while the younger kids can take orders and serve. It keeps them busy after the meal while the adults talk and gives them a broader sense of appreciation for the holiday.

  1. Have Thanksgiving dinner early.

Planning for a 3 p.m. dinner shifts the momentum of the day. An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed.  An earlier dinner also accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.

  1. Take a long walk together after dinner.

No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the cool, crispy (and hopefully dry) autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.

  1. If it’s just two of you, really treat yourself.

It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Make it special by treating yourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than you would normally use if you were cooking for a large group.

  1. Stay connected with family members far away.

If you can’t be with your loved ones on Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call or Google Hangout before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening.

 

This article originally appeared on WindermereSeattle.com  

 

Helping Fight Holiday Hunger in Our Communities

The holiday season is a time in which Windermere offices across our network come together to help those in need in their communities. Here are just a few of the events that our offices are involved in this month to help fight hunger.

 

The Windermere office in El Sobrante, CA is hosting an in-house Holiday Food Drive this season. They held their kick-off event on October 1 and will continue to collect food donations through the month of December. They are accepting nominations from the local community to help select families to receive the donations. Monetary donations are also being collected and will be used to buy food items before delivering to the recipient families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Any extra food items will be donated to the Richmond Rescue Mission.

 

The Windermere Real Estate Professionals office in Boise, ID participated in their third annual “Pick a Pumpkin Feed a Family” event that took place October 12 through November 1. Pumpkins purchased for the office “pumpkin patch” were given to those who donated food during the event. Donations benefitted The Idaho Foodbank, the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho.

 

The Windermere office in Kingston, WA is holding its annual holiday food drive for local families in need. Donations are being accepted at the office now through November 21. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and weekends from 10am to 4pm.

 

The Windermere Stellar offices in Portland (Portland-NW Johnson, Lake Oswego, Portland-Lloyd Tower NE, Portland Heights, Portland-Raleigh Hills, West Linn, and Portland-Moreland), are holding a food drive from November 7-28 to benefit Take Action, INC. Take Action INC provides backpacks full of food to low-income children in the Portland metropolitan area schools each weekend during the school year. They pack and distribute backpacks of food to low-income children so that they don’t have to go hungry over the weekend. Last year, they served 620 low-income families. On November 29, Take Action, INC will receive the food items collected during the drive, along with a $2,000 donation from Windermere Stellar and the Windermere Foundation.

 

The Windermere office on Vashon Island, WA is coordinating a food drive on November 20. The Basket Brigade, an annual event that they have sponsored since 2000, provides Thanksgiving meals to families in need. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, agents from the office stand in front of a local grocery store to collect food (or cash) donations for these meals. The Vashon Thriftway and Vashon IGA help provide the turkeys and pies, but the rest of the meal items are donated to the office by members of the community. Agents fill and decorate the baskets, which are then delivered by Saint Vincent de Paul volunteers to the families in time for them to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

 

 

The Windermere Sequim-East and Windermere Sequim-Sunland offices are holding a food drive now through November 30 to benefit the Sequim Food Bank. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at 842 E Washington St or 137 Fairway Drive. Proteins like canned meats, dried beans, and peanut butter are always needed. The food bank serves individuals and families living within the Sequim School District. 

 

Thanks to events like these food drives, as well as a variety of other fundraisers held by our offices throughout the year, the Windermere Foundation is able to continue to support non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

If you’d like to help, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.

Prepare for Winter and the Holidays With This November Home Checklist

With Thanksgiving approaching and the winter holidays just around the corner, there is a lot to look forward to (and prepare for) at this time of year. Batten down the hatches for winter weather and get a jump on holiday hosting prep, so you can relax and savor the many simple pleasures of the season, from big family dinners to walks in the crisp air outdoors.

 

November Checklist 1: Cummings Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

Get a jump on holiday prep. If you plan to host this holiday season, take a bit of time now to prepare a few things in advance. Launder and iron the fancy linens (roll up freshly ironed linens on old wrapping paper tubes to prevent wrinkles), drop off the kitchen knives for a professional sharpening or polish some silver — you’ll thank yourself later.

 

Replace floor protectors on chairs. Don’t let dining chairs do damage to your hardwood floors: Check their feet and add or replace floor-protecting pads if needed. Felt pads come in self-adhesive and nail-in varieties; if you’re using the self-adhesive type, be sure to clean the base of each chair foot thoroughly and allow it to dry before applying.

 

November Checklist 2: Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors, original photo on Houzz

 

Deep-clean bathrooms. Aim to schedule a deep cleaning of the bathrooms a week before entertaining, so that a quick surface wipe-down will be all you’ll need to get things looking spotless again on the big day. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, goodness knows there are plenty of other things to worry about — like how you’re going to fit a turkey and five side dishes in the oven!

 

Check the sump pump. If you have a sump pump in your basement as protection in case of flooding, be sure to check it and make sure it is working properly before the rainy season really gets going, and repair or replace it as needed.

 

November Checklist 3: Bohler Builders Group, Inc., original photo on Houzz

 

Show some kindness to feathered friends. Nonmigrating birds can use some extra help when wild food becomes scarce and water sources freeze. Stock up now on birdseed so you can keep those feeders full, and consider providing a water source as well —refresh it daily to prevent mosquitoes.

 

Related: Give Backyard Birds a Home This Winter

 

Remove the last of the fall leaves. Aim to fit in one final raking and gutter-cleaning session once the last leaves have fallen — but before the first snow.

 

Inspect the home’s exterior and cover gaps. Cover any gaps you find around the exterior of your home that may be large enough for a mouse to enter —it doesn’t take much space for these little critters to sneak in. Cover exterior vents with hardware cloth, and attach door sweeps to the bottoms of exterior doors to stop furry creatures from squeezing in when the weather turns chilly.

 

November Checklist 4: Wright Design, original photo on Houzz

 

Stock up for winter. If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, taking the time now to stock up on winter gear and supplies will mean less stress when that first big storm hits.

●Check snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed.

●If you use a fireplace or wood stove, order firewood.

●Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt.

●Restock emergency kits for car and home.

●If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

●If your home has an emergency power generator, review safety standards (the American Red Cross has helpful tips) and check that it’s working properly.

 

Check paths, stairs and railings for safety. Slips and falls on ice and snow can happen anywhere, but they’re even more likely if the footing is uneven or a railing isn’t sturdy. Take a walk around your home’s exterior, paying special attention to walkways, stairs and railings, and make repairs as needed.

 

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz