Fall Weekend Guide to Napa Valley
The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing into beautiful shades of red and orange and wine country is calling. Fall is one of the best seasons to plan a weekend trip to see all that Napa Valley has to offer. This area has hundreds of wineries that attract millions of visitors each year. Still, this region of California has more to offer than wine. There are plenty of outdoor adventures, relaxing spas and shopping areas to make for a busy trip.
Visitors to Napa Valley can leave the car behind and try an alternate way of getting around. The Calistoga Bike Shop offers both rentals and tours of the area. People looking to go on their own adventure can look to the shop for advice on which places to check out. Rentals start at $28, and helmets, locks and rack bags are included. Ride through Sonoma County on horseback for a unique way of experiencing the natural features of the area. Stables pair riders with gentle horses for trips all year long. One option is riding through wine grapes, apple trees and towering oak groves at Rollin F Ranch. Or people can take the seaside route, riding past the sand dunes along the Sonoma coastline.
People can get a taste of history while traveling through the region on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The rail cars on the train have been restored to their original glory dating back to the early 1900s. Couples can plan trips with an intimate dinner as the stars shine overhead. Or people can put their sleuth caps on and solve the murder mystery dinner. The Santa Train is also a family favorite. Leave the ground behind altogether and tour Napa Valley through a hot air balloon ride. Imagine rising up above the vineyards as the fog clears and the sun rises just over the hills. If this sounds like a perfect start to the day, then make a reservation for this unique tour. Many companies offer champagne mimosas and breakfast after the trip as well.
Take a night and enjoy live music or a film on the big screen. Silos Jazz Club is an intimate space where visitors can listen to rock and blues while sipping local wines. This venue has performances nearly every night. Upcoming acts include the Second Street Band, jazz pianist Mike Greensill and surf rocker John Wheeler. The Cameo Cinema is an elegant theatre that shows both independent and studio-released films. This theatre dates back to 1913, and it has since seen serious upgrades both in 1996 and in 2009. Visitors rave about the theatre’s sound system and seriously cheap popcorn.
Those looking for heart-pumping action should head to the Sonoma Raceway for NASCAR. This track hosts one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which takes place on a road course. Other events at the raceway include the Verizon IndyCar series, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and motorcycle races by the American Federation of Motorcyclists. Video game enthusiasts might recognize the track. The track first appeared in “NASCAR Racing” in 1994 and has since shown up in several other racing games.
At least a half-day of the weekend trip in Napa Valley should be dedicated to a quick Sacramento trip. Just an hour’s drive away, the city dates back to the rough and tumble Gold Rush era. Visit Old Sacramento for a taste of history from the Wild West. Sacramento is the capital of California, and people can explore the origins of the state at the stunning State Capitol Museum. The city is hugged by two rivers, the Sacramento and American River. Visitors can rent a kayak or grab a fishing pole and enjoy a nice day on the water. Great weather makes going to the Drive-In theatre a great activity all year long. Catching a movie there won’t break the bank either, tickets are priced at $7.95 for adults and $1.25 for kids ages 5-11.
Relax after a long day at one of the various spas in Napa Valley. Dr. Wilkinson’s is a hot springs resort that has helped Californians unwind since 1952. Their signature service is the mud bath. The mud is mixed with volcanic ash and lavender, and it cleanses the skin while visitors sit back with cucumbers to cool the eyes. Mud baths end with a 30 to 60 minute massage by their expert staff.
Try some of California’s freshest produce at Oxbow Public Market. This 40,000 square foot area has a mix of food vendors and cafes along with an outdoor deck that provides views of the nearby Napa River. Indulge the sweet tooth at Anette’s Chocolates. Enjoy a freshly baked loaf of bread from The Model Bakery. Or sort through the hundreds of spices at Whole Spice to find the perfect accent to a meal.
Come for the wine and stay for the adventure for a memorable weekend in Napa Valley.
Source: Jeremy Alderman
What is an HOA?
It’s important to learn more about the neighborhood HOA, such as annual dues, community amenities, and restrictions when looking to buy a new home. The goal of the HOA is to help maintain home values and the overall aesthetics of a neighborhood.
When looking for a house, many buyers tend to take into account costs associated with owning a home such as insurance, utilities, and taxes. One thing buyers may not think to consider is whether the house is in a neighborhood with an HOA, what the dues are, and how the association is run. Many buyers may be aware of association dues and regulations in multi-family developments such as condos or townhomes. But, it’s becoming a new normal to find HOAs in developments with single-family homes
What is an HOA?
There are different definitions out there for a Homeowners’ Association and many operate differently from one another. A Homeowners’ Association, or HOA, is an association that works to maintain and oversee the common areas of a neighborhood or property complex. It’s fairly common to find them in neighborhoods that offer amenities such as a community pool, gated access, a playground, tennis courts, etc. The HOA is typically a volunteer-based board made up of homeowners living in the neighborhood. Many HOAs have committees that coordinate neighborhood events, review proposed changes homeowners wish to make to their property, enforce the covenants, and more.
Get to Know the Rules
The covenants, conditions, and restrictions are different for every HOA. Some rules commonly seen in HOAs are in regard to the overall appearance and aesthetics of the neighborhood, such as the appearances of houses and lawn maintenance. Some also have restrictions regarding street parking or where residents can park their boats and RVs. Others may deal more with coordinating neighborhood crime watches and events.
When considering a house, it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions to get a better idea of what is allowed and not allowed in the neighborhood. It’s becoming more common for HOAs to have a website or social media page, which is a great place to learn more about the community. For example, some mandate there can be no cars parked in the yard of any house in the neighborhood. If a homeowner wants to paint the house a new color, change the landscaping, or add on to the property, the owner has to submit the proposed changes to the HOA for review and approval. The committee will review the proposed changes to ensure they fall in line with the covenants of the neighborhood. While these may seem rather burdensome or trivial, the HOA was designed to help maintain home values and the overall aesthetics of a neighborhood.
How are HOAs Funded?
Many HOAs require annual, quarterly or monthly dues. Those dues will vary based upon the size of the neighborhood and amenities. Dues are used for a number of things including maintenance of common spaces such as neighborhood entrances, playgrounds, pools, etc. In gated neighborhoods, many of the items that would normally be maintained by the city or parish must be maintained by the HOA. These items may include roads, sidewalks, and street lighting to name a few. Some HOAs will hire a property management company to oversee the collection of dues and coordinate maintenance issues.
Another thing to consider is whether the house is located in a new development. There may not be many amenities or common spaces to maintain as the neighborhood is being developed, so dues may be minimal. The developer may cover some of the associated costs while the neighborhood is still being developed. The true cost associated with running the HOA and maintaining the neighborhood may not fully come to light until the neighborhood is near completion and the developer turns the HOA over to the new residential board.
It’s important to pay the dues on time. Depending on the bylaws, late fees and interest could be tacked on to the bill and the HOA could place a lien on the property if the dues are not paid. The HOA could also foreclose on the property for nonpayment of dues.
After the Closing
Contacting the HOA should be a priority on the Post Move-in List as it is important to provide contact information to the HOA. It’s also a great time to get more information regarding upcoming neighborhood events or other ways to get involved. The HOA cannot operate without residents who are willing to give of their time.
It’s also a great idea to attend neighborhood events such as an ice cream social, an Independence Day parade, Halloween trick-or-treating, and a Christmas party. These events can serve as a great way to meet neighbors and build relationships.
It’s important to remember that the volunteers who serve on the HOA are your neighbors and friends. Like you, they want what’s best for the community. Every homeowner benefits from a well-cared for neighborhood.
5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall
Wow fall homebuyers with these easy staging ideas from HomeAdvisor
Selling your home in the fall means adding small seasonal elements to make your home feel warm and welcoming. And, what better place to do that than in the kitchen? Here are some ideas to help you make your kitchen — and your home — appeal to fall homebuyers:
Fall counter decor
You should always keep the countertops nearly clear when potential homebuyers are walking through. In fact, you should keep it down to about two to three essentials if you’re living there from day to day. For the fall season, you can add small elements like placemats, fruit and leaf decor (window drapings, vase, etc.).
The smell of leaves, apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon evoke the cozy feelings of fall. Candles are nice and actually baking something “fall-like” before a showing is a sure way to make potential buyers feel more at home during a showing.
Colors of fall
Depending on the current condition of your home, you might consider a fresh coat of paint. What color you decide to use may or may not be influenced by the season. While you should always lean towards neutral colors, you might consider accent walls or cabinets in browns or dark tones of red or green if you think they would work. The cost to paint an interior room is about $380, though prices will vary depending on the size of the room.
Bringing nature in
If there are windows in the kitchen, make sure to keep them clean. Depending on the weather outside during a showing, you might open them and let the fresh air in. It helps to create a flow between nature outside and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in the kitchen. If your budget allows, you might also accent the windows with fall-like window treatments to create an even easier flow. If you don’t have these treatments, a professional home stager can sometimes find them for a reasonable price.
Natural lighting elements
Lighting is an essential element of home staging, no matter the season. In fall, in particular, it’s all about enhancing the twilight or sunset and complementing of all the fall colors. For lighting in your kitchen, consider accent and track lighting. Or, you could install recessed lighting on a dimmer switch, which will allow you to control the brightness of the kitchen to complement the mood outside.
Source: Andrea Davis
Everything You Love About Fall at Home
If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.
Fall at home is all about cozy nights around the dinner table, afternoons of playing in the fallen leaves, and mornings taking in the crisp autumn air. If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.
Did you know there was a right way to rake leaves? Now you do.
Thinking about listing your home in October? Why the Fall Selling Season is Better than You Think
Heating bills. Halloween candy. Fallen leaves! 25 Thoughts Homeowners Have During Fall
We could go on forever, but here are 7 Reasons to be Happy it’s Fall.
How to Use your Senses to Transition your Home from Summer to Fall.
Don’t cry because summer’s over. Instead, turn your summer place into an autumn oasis.
What if there was a gutter cleaning robot?
10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children
If you have kids (or are planning to) and you’re shopping for a house, your what-to-look-for checklist is probably already a mile long. To avoid getting swamped by the home buying process, focus on what you really want from your home. Beyond the basics of location, price, condition and school district, what would really make a home a great fit for your family? Consider adding these 10 items to your home buying wish list — and then share your own ideas in the Comments.
1. Entry storage. From the strollers and car seats of the baby stage to the sports gear and backpacks of the older years, a never-ending parade of stuff comes with having children in the house — and the more places you have to put this stuff when you walk in the door, the better! Look for a house with built-in entry storage, from closets and cabinets to cubbies and shelves. Having an entry out of view of the rest of the house is ideal, so you can enjoy your home without staring at the gear in the entryway all the time.
2. Convenient laundry. A laundry in the basement may not be the first thing you notice at an open house, but if you have young children, you might want to give the laundry zone a little more thought. Having the washer and dryer on the main level — in a mudroom or off the kitchen, for instance — comes in incredibly handy when you’re wrangling small children who go through more wardrobe changes in one day than Lady Gaga. A laundry near upstairs bedrooms is another good option, since this will likely mean a lot less schlepping of heavy baskets up and down the stairs.
3. Stairs that can be safely gated. Speaking of stairs, if you are looking at homes with more than one level, pay attention to the stairs and railings. Look for stairs that can be gated easily at the top and bottom, and sturdy railings without any wide gaps. Airy, open staircases may look beautiful, but if you can’t easily block them, life with a little one will be very stressful.
4. Ditto for the kitchen. While being able to see what’s going on in the living room while you chop veggies for dinner is a definite plus, it still pays to consider how you can gate off the cooking area to keep curious little hands out. Door openings that are larger than standard size may require custom (read: costlier) solutions. Of course, you may decide you don’t need to separate this area … but it never hurts to think about it before you buy.
5. Built-in storage. Built-in storage means more places to neatly stash your family’s stuff, without worrying about anchoring tall, topple-prone pieces of furniture to the wall. Ideally, look for built-in shelving in the living room or family room with open shelves above and closed cabinets below.
6. Kid-friendly bathroom. We’re not talking about a themed bathroom here, but a functional space that will work well for your family. Look for a bathroom with a tub and plenty of room to maneuver — you may be spending a remarkable number of hours perched on a stool beside that tub, so comfort and spaciousness count! Other details to look for include a bathroom mirror that comes down close to the sink (so little ones can actually see themselves), and storage space for bath toys and extra towels, and if you have a large family, multiple faucets are a big plus.
7. Bonus space. When you have kids, extra space is always a good thing. Look for an area of the home that has the potential to be used in a number of different ways, from playroom to home office to nursery for a future sibling. If the space (attic, basement) is not finished, find out what it would take to make this area usable in the future.
8. Fenced yard. Even a small yard can offer big possibilities to a child, from building play forts to digging in the dirt. For your own peace of mind, look for a backyard that is fully, securely fenced, so you can let creative play happen without worrying your little explorer will go toddling off toward the street.
9. A view of the outdoors. Being able to take care of a little chore inside and still have a view of your child playing can be a huge help. A bonus benefit of having a good view of your outdoor space — whether through generous windows, sliding glass doors or French doors — is that it will encourage you and your family to actually use it!
10. Master suite. As a parent, having a space to call your own is so important. Sure, you may end up sharing the space with a toddler who had bad dreams or a random pile of Lego bricks more often than you would like, but knowing that this space is officially yours is worth it. Look for a master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a spacious closet. French doors leading to your own private balcony or patio? Major bonus.
Source: CB Blue Matter Victoria Keichinger,Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill
Walking Trails Overtake Golf Communities
A golf course is no longer the showpiece of a master-planned community. Instead, buyers are showing a greater preference to live near extensive trail networks and shared gardens. Developers are responding with new developments that are pushing out golf courses in favor of other outdoor areas that foster a sense of community.
Read more: What Will Replace Golf Course Communities?
“What we’re seeing is this trend toward helping people interact with each other and helping them interact in natural environments,” says Ken Perlman, a principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in San Diego. “There is a real desire to be outside, to have their space, and to get their breath of fresh air.”
In response, developers are adding in more walking trails in a community. But the trails can’t just be in a straight line, they say.
“When you talk about trails, they should be meandering,” says Dean Naef, president of Rise Communities, based in Katy, Texas. “No one wants to be on a linear trail where they can see what’s coming. We want curvilinear where the landscape changes. We like to create monuments along the way, respites to work out on, or take a rest to enjoy art.”
The New Home Company’s upcoming Russell Ranch community in Folsom, Calif., is adding mountain biking and hiking trails that rise and fall with the topography. A community known as Daybreak, outside of Salt Lake City, will use its mountain backdrop to have a looping walking trail and a separate bicycle lane for riders. The community also features public gardens, kayaking, and 30 miles of trails.
Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that millennials are a big driver behind the trend of more nature incorporated into developments. More millennials rate living near parks and recreation facilities more important than do older generations.
Source: “A New Kind of Green: Developers Trade Golf Courses for Hiking Trails, Gardens to Draw Buyers,” Construction Dive, National Association of Realtors, REALTOR magazine
More Love Less Clutter: A Guide to Moving in Together
Read this before moving in with a significant other
It’s sweetheart month and you’ve found the one! Sure there’s music, trumpets and fireworks, but mostly it’s just about finding that someone who you want to share your remote control. When you find that special someone that feels like home, moving in together is often the next step. While cohabitation is an exciting step forward in any relationship, merging two homes, decor styles and closets can be a challenge. Moving in with your significant other is more than just moving in with a roommate, it’s about finding a balance and creating a home together.
So, how do you reduce the landmines scattered through the experience of moving in together? Like most things moving related, it’s all about the planning. Tackling difficult decisions before the moving trucks arrive will prevent your shared space from turning into a war zone on moving day. Here are eight tips for making moving in with your partner more about the love and less about the stuff.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Instead of speaking negatively or critically of your partner’s furniture or strange collector items it’s probably a good idea to ask why he/she is attached to certain things. Is it a family heirloom? Moving unearths a lot of memories and emotional baggage and sometimes it’s hard to deal with it all at once. Listening and showing an interest goes both ways, make sure you are as invested in his/her important items as much as they are. Perhaps, giving it to a family member or putting it into storage is an option. Asking ahead of time in a respectful manner will give each other time to think in a cool-headed manner.
Pick a Floor Plan
Before your move, it’s a good idea to make a simple floor plan of your new place and decide how to use each space. Take important measurements beforehand and plan out what furniture fits where. You might find his couch fits better than yours into the new space. A floor plan will also help the movers move your items and boxes a lot faster.
Try to pick an aesthetic you both agree on using Pinterest boards to pin styles you both like. If you have very different styles, find a neutral style that can fuse both in the details. You might love shabby chic details while he’d prefer modern industrial loft style, but together you create industrial farm house, that blends the two together.
Before you pack take an honest inventory of both places. If you have duplicates decide which is in better condition or which fits best in the new shared home. If you are choosing to start fresh sell, recycle or donate your unwanted items. Finding out what you have already, what you need and what you can’t do without, will help you scale down on how much you are moving before you move.
Give Yourself Some Space
Moving in with your partner might mean taking time away from your things. If there are some items that neither of you will compromise on, but they don’t fit into your new shared space, put them in storage for a while. If after six months you still miss or want that item, you can discuss it again with your partner. If after the time apart you realize you don’t miss the item as much as you thought, take it out of storage and donate or recycle it. When it comes down to it, ask yourself who would you miss more? Your partner or your things?
Closet space is often a sore spot for couples when moving in together. Moving is a perfect time to de-clutter and clear out all of that clothing you don’t wear. Remember the less you have the less you have to pack or move. Divide your items into three piles: donate, trash and keep. De-cluttering is a cathartic experience so it’s only right you do it yourself, don’t see it as a chance to attack your partner’s closet.
His & Hers
It’s important to create a space to call your own when you’re moving in together. Although you’re probably moving in together to be closer, remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder! Find a little space to call your own; where you decide what goes and how it’s used. Whether it’s a workspace decked out with your unique style or a reading nook with piles of your sassy pillows, a little space for yourself will allow you to later regroup and compromise regarding the rest of the shared space.
Home is Where Your Heart Is
A new home is a like a blank canvas. Joining two styles creates great possibilities to create something new together. Once you have the basics installed in your new home, as your joint style takes form only buy new decor items little by little,. Try to make something crafty together. Whether you design or order your wall art together, these joint experiences will be the beginning of many happy memories together.
Remember: Love conquers clutter!
Source: LINDSAY LISTANSKI CB Blue Matter/ Laura McHolm
Which weekend projects have the best return on investment?
Lace up your work boots, weekend warriors—it’s time to get busy! If you’re looking to improve your home’s value or make money back when you resell, you’ve come to the right place.
You’d be surprised at how much you can boost your ROI just by choosing the right kind of home improvement project. Unlike what you may have heard before, there’s no need to go for a full kitchen remodel or an addition when trying to boost your home’s value. There are plenty of improvements out there that could return nearly all of the money you put down when you resell—without having to pay a contractor first. So get out your drill, saw, and calculator and get started with one of these projects that you can have on the books in a mere 48 hours or less!
Kick Tired Outdoor Decor to the Curb
As the first thing buyers see when you sell, exterior decor ranks high on any homeowner’s list of improvements. In fact, many landscaping projects will return you over 100% of your investment.
Adding a new stone or brick patio, lining a pathway with pavers, or even just buying some brightly-colored planters and trimming the hedges all add significantly to your home’s desirability quotient. Even your greenest home repair newbies are well-equipped to handle most landscaping jobs!
Fluff Up Your Attic Insulation
It’s easy to get wrapped up in projects that deliver instant results—but buyers will be looking at more than your home’s aesthetics. Your property’s internal systems, like your plumbing and heating, will all be on the line, too.
Even if you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, there are a number of different updates you can DIY for long-term energy savings on your utility bills. Specifically, many older homes can benefit from attic insulation projects, which you can tackle yourself after learning the ropes.
Improving your attic insulation can net you an energy savings of anywhere from 10 to 50 percent. In older homes, builders often used insulation with an inadequate R-value, or they left attics unconditioned with no insulation at all. Considering that energy-efficient homes tend to have higher property values, particularly in locations where electricity costs are high, upgrading to an R-value of 30 to 60 is definitely a project that gives back—both in terms of finances and through a cozier home!
Give Drafts the Cold Shoulder
A great project to pair with your insulation upgrade is an attic floor sealing update. In fact, many parts of your home can probably benefit from air sealing, which keeps conditioned air from slipping through cracks and gaps in the walls and floors. In the attic, pay particular attention to the gaps around holes for wires and pipes, recessed lights, and your furnace flue or duct chase way.
Make sure to head downstairs and check for cracks that may have formed in your window caulking. Some 40 percent of heating and air conditioning may be lost through a home’s windows, so even minor updates here can make a real difference. Be sure to use silicone caulking, which is water resistant and won’t shrink as much as acrylic will over time.
If your windows are badly warped, drafty, or show signs of condensation between the glass, it may be time for a full window replacement. You’ll probably need to engage a contractor for that—but there are many energy efficient windows available today that can keep your home snugly fit—especially since you won’t be worrying about your utility bills.
Front door replacements have some of the highest ROIs of any home improvement project out there—the overhead is low, since your average steel entry door costs between $200 and $500. But the returns are high. In fact, in some regions, a new front entry door can net over 100 percent of your initial investment!
The beauty of this project lies in how simple it is. No matter your skill level, you can probably wrestle a door off its hinges and install a new one—and it won’t take you a whole weekend. A door can easily be dressed up with an eye-catching coat of exterior paint or some flashy hardware. Plus, if you’re replacing a hollow-core door, you’ll see some energy savings as well, since solid models are much more energy-efficient.
Lighten Up a Little
Anything you can do to brighten up darker rooms will add lots of appeal to your home. In particular, homebuyers have been drawn lately to bright, open interiors that offer plenty of options in the lighting department.
Painting is one of the cheapest ways to get there. At $40 per gallon, you’re definitely not going to break the bank with this project. If you think you might put your house on the market soon, go for a neutral tone that will appeal to a wider audience—but don’t think you have to stick to just plain old whites and beiges. Many designers now consider light blushes, pale blues, and silvers as part of the neutral palette, and these colors will open up darker interiors as well. That’s one way to let in the light—without weighing down your credit card bills!
Source: Coldwellbanker.com/Erin Vaughan/Alexandra Filiaci