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Tip Jar: 2 Sweat Free Tips to Personal & Home Improvement

I have two sweat-free activities you can do in Philadelphia that will shape you up and beautify your home. That's right. You can improve your self and your home simultaneously! How, you ask? By tapping into the Creative Right Side of your brain, that's how! This winter, rather than hibernating like a bear, embrace your inner artist and get inspired through homemade art and home design.

Make Art
This month try taking an art class such as painting, ceramics, knitting or photography at the Philly Art Center. Your personal creations will be real live works of art. Hang or display your artwork in a prominent room in your home and watch how it totally transforms your space! There is nothing more fabulous than real live art.

Visit the Show
Did you know that January 14th is the first day of the Philadelphia Home Show? This event is a real opportunity to feed the mind not the belly.  Go to this event and embrace your HGTV & DIY inner child. "Get inspired. Get educated. Get started."

So get off the couch and exercise the Right Side of your brain! Try these two sweat-free Tips to Personal & Home Improvement in Philadelphia.

[image from Philadelphia Home Show]


Tip Jar: Clean Out That Closet!

For this week's tip jar, we transformed some tiny closets! From a closet mess (check out the before video!) to a closet success. Our condo closets were a HUGE problem for being so small. The incredibly Cool Condo Lifestyle is really "all that" and we would not trade it in for anything but admittedly most condos will lack closet space. Where other homeowners who live in traditional urban rowhomes can compensate for smaller closets by using their basement, attic, or spare room, Condo and Apartment Dwellers have to make the most of their small space.

Here is our personal solution for our closet challenges. Our 4 closets including our hall coat closet, our laundry room, and our 2 bedroom closets were filled to the gill and a mess. So, we hired a company to organize these spaces. The cost was only $1,300. The estimate was complementary, the installation was only a couple of hours, and the results are amazing.

We now have more space and we can easily find items, some of which we forgot we owned ! Now we can actually close the coat closet, things are not falling on our heads when we open the doors, and they look so fantastic.

Custom fitted closets add practical value and also increase the net value for homes whether they are a Condo like ours or any other style.

Next on my list is new paint throughout. Hmmm...what color to choose?


Tip Jar: Don’t Go in the Basement!

"Don't go in the basement!" I shouted. So loud that even the cats hid behind the couch. I can scream that at the top of my lungs on the comfort of my own couch watching my favorite horror flick but I can't say that to a client when I am showing them a home they may potentially buy.

Dark, scary underground lairs can give even the the strongest constitution a chill. Admittedly, we've seen some terrifying basement situations in real life, and the most hair-raising part? A lot of it can be easily prevented or fixed...

1) Get lit. Obviously the number one problem with most basements is that they are below ground, often without any windows, and usually that one blinking lightbulb with a string dangling from it. Or eerie lighting that makes your skin look ghastly, which may be even worse! So please, try for some natural-looking lighting and remember that the basement should be lit more heavily than the rest of the house. We like recessed lighting for basements the best.

2) Get a life. Add some life to the not-so-fresh-smelling basement by adding plants to circulate and clean the air. The only thing living in your basement should be a potted plant that can survive with little sun and needs to be watered only once a month. Stop by City Planter in Northern Liberties to find the perfect potted fit.

3) Get a grip. Why do people always hide their crap in the basement? Go through your treasures, decide what's junk, and get rid of the evidence! If you must keep items, then organize them with shelves or stackable and labeled bins.  Ditch your antique doll collection with disembodied limbs.

4) Get on the floor. We've seen enough shaggy, damp carpet in old basements and cheap carpeting in newer basements to know that carpets are bad news! Carpet in the basement can be a breeding ground for weird smells and potential mold issues. Go with polished cement or nice tile.

5) Get some spidey sense. Cobwebs should be reserved for Halloween only. Here is an easy solution on how to rid your basement of those tangled webs.

How do you make a basement seem bright and welcoming? Let us know in the comments!


Tip Jar: Get Hooked on Boots

School is officially back in session and  apparently so is the cool weather. Today I had to dig deep into the recesses of my storage nook to find a pair of rain boots I had tucked away last spring. My open-toed shoes and strappy sandals would have been no match for today's cool and rainy forecast.  Oh, how I missed them! The tall ones, short ones, high heeled ones and flat ones, the suede and leather, shiny and pleather. I love them all!

Soon it will be time to pull them all out of their boxes again and move them to the front of my closet. Boots are Big this season. They are also BIG. They take up a lot of space.  I did a little research to find tips on the best way to store those boots!

Think Tall. Those shoe storage containers are rarely big enough to hold your faveorite over-the-knee pairs. The Transformer Boot Storage Organizer (available at Target) looks like the perfect fit.

Hang Tough. A boot hanger from the aptly named Boot Hanger Company is a boot's best friend.

Box 'Em Up.  Boots were made for boxes, right? The only problem with storing boots in their original boxes is that you may have a hard time identifying the boots you are searching for. These clear boxes from Amazon will solve the mystery and will also better protect your boots from dust and moisture, plus they have vent holes to keep those booties smelling fresh!

Keep It Clean. Rain, snow, slush, grime. This Tiered Boot Tray, available on Amazon, will prevent your muddy wellies from dripping all over the floor. Ideal if you have a "mudroom", entryway, or entry closet.  You'll thank us when the first snow falls.

How do you store your boots come fall?

[image via Bootique, the Boot Hanger Company]


Greenable Grows with 3 New Locations

We're sad and yet happy for Greenable Green Building and Design Center in Northern Liberties.  Wiping away a tear because the sustainable design firm is shuttering the doors of Greenable on 4th Street, yet rooting for its move to three exciting locations. Greensaw Design & Build shares the space with Greenable and plans on staying at 820 N. 4th Street and expanding into the entire building.

Ardmore, 41 Rittenhouse Place, opening September 9th

Kennett Square, 116 South Union Street, opening Fall 2011

Philadelphia, 2200 Walnut Street, opening Fall 2011

Way to grow, guys!  They've simply gotten too big for their current space and they're bidding adieu with a massive Warehouse Sale on green building materials, bamboo flooring, reclaimed doors and furniture, plumbing fixtures, artwork and more! So if you're currently searching for items for a new project, we highly suggest you get over there, say goodbye, and stock up on supplies! Plus 25% off stock-of-the-shelf items.


Tip Jar: Stay Excited in the Bedroom and Beyond!

West Elm, you are so square!
IKEA, you're just not meant for long-term.
Crate and Barrel, you are so predictable.
Restoration Hardware, for the 100th time, I am not Ernest Hemingway.

There is a lot to say about cherishing and nurturing your One True Love in relationships, but falling in love with just one furniture store or one furniture style, that is the definition of uninspired.

So, if you're feeling a little bored with your old IKEA kitchen and your so-yesterday West Elm living room, this tip's for you.  The cure to that worn-out relationship is to spread the love.  Mix it up. Try adding something new and unusual to your current collection of furnishings.

Two of my favorite furniture styles are Bauhaus and Danish Modern. You can take the Euro-Utility style of IKEA and mix in a statement piece from Restoration Hardware to create an unexpected and exciting feel in any room. Or, put a curvy decorative cocktail table next to the straight lines found in either a Bauhaus armchair or a simple design from West Elm.

The sky is the limit but for those that need a few pointers, here are a few of the tips that can help you get started:

1) Choose and or identify the one main style furniture you currently have or want in the room. For example: Some people have mostly antique furniture or mostly furniture from IKEA.

2) The easiest thing to do is to tie most of your furniture styles together by repeating one dominant color. For example, you may have different styles of furniture but they are all in the brown and beige family.

3) Always use the element of contrast to create a focal point or to add interest. That might be contrast in stye, a pop of color , or the use of texture.

Which furniture styles do you like to mix?


Tip Jar: Knock Knock. Who’s There?

Knock Knock. Who's there? Boo. Boo Who? Don't Cry! Today's tip will cheer you up after that knock-knock joke.

Why did I start with such a groaner? To drive my tip jar point home. Unlike my knock-knock intro, your front door is no joke when it comes to the beautification of your home.

In Philadelphia, door decor is, for some people, somewhat of a status symbol, for others a way of communicating their personality, and yet for others their front door is a terribly neglected part of the home. Many people use their front doors to differentiate their home from other rowhomes on the block. It is not unusual to see people all over the city decorate their doors with holiday themes or even salvaging retro doors to create a unique and welcoming entrance. But there is nothing more sad than a neglected, paint-stripped, or plain old ugly door. Your front door needs love, too, and whether you realize it or not, it says a lot about you.

In case you need some help, here are a few tips to keep your front door from being a senseless victim of my knock-knock jokes.

1) Choose a unique color for your door, one that really pops.
2) Add a beautiful outdoor wreath made of natural weatherproof materials so it lasts.
3) Try decorative accessories such as stainless steel address numbers or a nice accent mailbox.
4) A custom door or salvaged door makes an amazing statement but is a bit more costly.


Tip Jar: Curb Appeal in the Concrete Jungle

[photo from our awesome Collins Street properties!]


Tip Jar: Don’t Let the Walls Cave In on You, Paint Them!


Back to our powerful painting transformation over at 912 E Passyunk Avenue in Bella Vista.

We swapped out the red, which made the hallway appear narrow, for a widening gray. Ahh, much more spacious already!

Perhaps the most neglected part of a home is the hallway. Scuffs, poor lighting, bad paint colors all can make an already small hall space seem even smaller and claustrophobic.

  • Remember, dramatic color is great for your wardrobe but not always for your walls.
  • Avoid dark colors or colors with too much pigment. Avoid hanging too much artwork or oversized pieces in a small hall.
  • Add accent mirrors, light paint colors, and bright lighting to open up a hallway.



You Know it is Time to Paint when…


You Know it is Time to Paint when…

1) Your guests say, "Wow, these colors are definitely, how should I say it? Umm... Creative! Yeah . That's the word."

2) Your mother picks the ugliest painting at the Flea Market and says, "This would look great with your lime green ceiling."

3) The prospective buyer's Realtor leaves showing feedback like this, "The black and orange walls were too bold for my client's taste."

A fresh coat of paint or a new color can change everything about a room. We headed over to a home for sale in Bella Vista to see how we could transform this property with a little bit of color. We had received some feedback particularly about the colors of the walls, so we called on the experts at Busybee Design to do a color consult with us. They came to the rescue and we have no doubt that this property is going to look dramatically different after its color makeover!

The after photos will be posted next week. Stay tuned to see the power of a fresh paint job!


Create Your Own Living Wall, Now 54% Off!

Our favorite plant purveyor in Northern Liberties, City Planter, always has a quick solution for brightening up the sometimes-dreary, windowless urban bedroom, that too-small kitchen, or a neglected outdoor space. Trust us, we've seen it all...

Now, City Planter is offering a plant kit that will put some life back into any drab apartment.

The Create-Your-Own Living Wall is basically a giant plant holder with 10 spots for your plants of choice, depending on what look you are going for. Have a color scheme in mind? A location you want to emulate? Need something easy to care for? Book your appointment with City Planter and they'll help you create the perfect living arrangement (ha, ha). They also deliver, in case you were worried about getting it all home.

Today's local Philadelphia Daily Candy deal offers 54% off a wall of your own: $59 (regularly $129)  gets you more green for less green.


Creating an Urban Oasis? Think Local. Visit City Planter!

[image via City Planter]


Phone: 215.253.6818