Welcome Home, Mrs. Klein!

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Floral Park, NY elementary teacher Josephine Klein has had to rely on a cane or wheelchair to get around her home. With no handicap accessible exits, her family worried that should an emergency happen, Josephine would be unable to get out of the home on her own.

Here’s where George Oliphant and his team of designers come to the rescue. George turns the Klein’s backyard into a beautiful oasis, equipped with a handicap lift to allow for easy accessibility in and out of the home. Of course, one of the sweetest touches George adds to the space are the terracotta pots, painted by each child in Mrs. Klein’s class, which he incorporates seamlessly into the design of the new patio.

True to form, Josephine expresses her gratitude to George not for coming to her rescue, but for the rescue of her family: “While you may be thinking you’re rescuing me, I think you’re rescuing the whole family. I had no idea they worried so much.” And Mr. Klein is most thankful for bringing his wife’s independence back. “You’ve given her freedom,” he says.

When asked what Home Sweet Home means to her, Josephine Klein puts it perfectly when she says that home is “the place where you feel most peaceful.” We hope she enjoys this new tranquil backyard oasis.

A heartwarming story for a very deserving family, click here to view the complete segment of George to the Rescue.

Welcome home, Mrs. Klein!

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Leaving Home and Going to College

The following is a guest blog post from Julie Allison, a Syracuse University senior and Coldwell Banker Commercial summer intern. 

When it came time to apply to colleges, I knew for sure that I wanted to be somewhere different than my home state, New Jersey. So when I was accepted to Syracuse University, I readily agreed to separate from everything I knew to live in a quad with three other girls. I was very excited but also nervous to go somewhere I knew nothing about besides the brutal winters that everyone seems to mention.  Little did I know that would be one of the many challenges of going away to school.

The excitement of starting a new chapter lasted for some time until I finally realized, you’re not in Jersey anymore Julie. There were a lot of new things to adapt to including: complete freedom, sharing a bedroom and bathroom, dining hall food and living on a floor with 30+ other people. These challenges also came with more responsibility especially when dealing with money, time management and people.  One of the most difficult adjustments I had to make was sharing a room with someone I hardly knew. Add the stress of a homework load I had never experienced before and I quickly became very homesick.

Within three weeks I even found myself on a plane, yes plane, on my way home to see my family and friends. I really missed my family, friends and the delicious bagel sandwiches that no one in Syracuse could ever seem to replicate.

But there is undeniably something Syracuse has that New Jersey just doesn’t for me, the opportunity to grow, become an adult and meet and learn people from various parts of the world. Throughout my time in college it became easier to adapt once I realized the lessons I learned from leaving the comfort of my home. I’m happy that I was ultimately able to meet new friends who helped me find a place where I could get some delicious pizza (thanks, Varsity!).

Freshman year was a time of important life lessons and once I came to grips with all of the opportunities there are for me at college, being away from home turned out to be just as sweet. I also now have a newfound appreciation for my family and their unconditional love and support…and obviously the home cooked meals!

There’s no place like home, but there’s something quite comforting about the journey and lessons you learn when you decide to leave.

college cover photo

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14 Incredible Outdoor Living Spaces

I’m not sure about you but I adore being outdoors during the summer months. Imagine with me, if you will, the beautiful feeling of a breeze grazing your skin and how great the sun feels too. Magic! Pair that with being surrounded by family and friends and you’ve got perfection.

Here are 14 incredible outdoor living spaces, pulled from Coldwell Banker listings, that I think embody what it means to have the ultimate outdoor living space.

First–keep in mind if you are pondering over whether to add an outdoor living space or kitchen to your home, the potential, or lack thereof, for return on investment. If you happen to live in geographical areas that don’t experience many warm months you might end up losing in the long run. If the outdoor space will not be a feature used much, it won’t be very valuable to the home.

 

Pacific Palisades, CA $11,380,000

 

Honolulu, HI $3,900,000

 

Malibu, CA $11,750,000

 

Medina, WA $4,588,000

 

San Antonio, TX $675,000

 

Mercer Island $5,695,000

 

Malibu, CA $24,950,000

 

Traverse City, MI $5,500,000

 

Boca Raton, FL $4,999,000

 

Heath, TX $2,275,000

 

Prospect, KY $895,000

 

Woody Creek $5,995,000

Miami Beach, FL $19,000,000

 

Aspen, CO $19,500,000

To see more beautiful outdoor spaces and kitchens check out our Pinterest page!

Follow Coldwell Banker’s board Outdoor Living on Pinterest.

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How To: Get Rid of Bugs and Insects at Home

Summer is in full swing which  means enjoying heaps of outdoor activities like swimming and barbecuing. Often times, however, our excitement gets halted by a variety of annoying bugs and insects. Thankfully there are at least five things you can do to alleviate the nuisance and get back to enjoying some fun in the sun . Check out the infographic below.

final

Step 1: This is one of the biggest reasons people experience an influx of bugs and insects around their property. Did you know the mosquitoes (quite possibly the most irritating creatures in existence) nest in still water? 

  • Emptybuckets/planters with sitting water
  • Clean out gutters 
  • Change bird-bath water every couple of days
  • Fix puddles 

For more tips on getting ready of mosquitoes check out our post The Ultimate Guide to Winning the Battle Against Mosquitoes.

Step 2: This may sound alarming at first but attaching a bat house to a tree on your property is probably one of the greatest things you can do. Bats are pertinent to maintaining a healthy ecosystem and they consume large amounts of bugs and insects. Perfect!

Step 3: Bird seed is a great way to attract birds and treat them to a little yummy snack. But did you also know that mosquitoes are a part of a bird’s daily diet?

Step 4: Set up an extension cord and hook up some fans. The air rotation discourages bugs and insects that fly from coming to the area. 

Step 5: Natural essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and basil are great at repelling bugs that bite. Get a spray bottle and mix together one of the aforementioned oils of your choice with some water and apply to the skin. This is a safe and organic which also makes it ideal for kids. 

For more eye-awakening facts, visit the Farmer’s Almanac 

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How To Plan For a Successful Move with Children

Guest Post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

Summer is almost here and for families it’s the most popular time to move to a new home. In fact, May was National Moving Month. Nearly 40 million of us move in the summer and begin planning our moves in May.

It’s no secret, no one likes to move and that includes your kids. Moving is one of the most stressful times in life. It brings a lot of change, to do lists, financial concerns, and for your kids it means making new friends and maybe adjusting to a new school. Way before you break out those card board boxes, use these pointers to help your kids get through the moving process.

There are four steps to a successful move with kids: timing, transition, getting the kids involved, and an adjustment period.

 

Timing

First consider the timing of your move, this is probably the most important element.

  • What grades are your children in? If your eldest is about to be a senior in high school, it may be best to let them live with a trusted relative to finish up high school with their friends. If your youngest is about to enter middle school, this is an ideal time to move since they will be entering a new school either way.
  • Is school on a break? Much better to time a move with kids when school’s out.

Transition

Second, make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for your kids.

  • Make the new home the kids’ own. Allow them to walk through the new house before the move. Let them feel that they are part of the decision. Allow them (as much as possible) to choose their own bedroom, paint colors, and play the imagination game with them: “Let’s imagine what this room will be like when it’s yours? Where will your stuffed animals go? Where will the bed go?” etc.
  • In the old house, talk about how their favorite toys, games, etc. are going to be in the new house too. This is not the time to clean out the closet and discard unwanted clothes and toys. You don’t want your kids associating loss with the move. If you need to de-clutter your kids’ room, do that way before the subject of the move comes up.
  • TALK and LISTEN to your kids. Ask them what they are excited about and what things they are going to miss. Address their concerns; “What are we going to do about that? How about…”
  • Before you move out, sit down with your children with a map. Show them where the new house is and have them help you plan the trip and then have them follow the map as you make your way to your new home.
  • Stay connected to friends, neighbors and family back home. Arrange webcam time with the children’s friends before you move to the new home, it will help make the transition easier when they know they can keep in touch with their old friends. And, set up a play date for the old friends to come over for a sleep over.

Get Them Involved

There is no easier way to keep kids happy than giving them a feeling of control – get them involved!

  •  Have them arrange their own room. Draw out a floor plan of the rooms in the new house and let the children make paper doll furniture and arrange what they want in their room.
  • Encourage your kids to pack themselves so that they are involved in the moving process. They can have their own boxes and suitcases that they are responsible for. Give them color codes or fun stickers to stick on the boxes that belong in their room. You can oversee this.
  • Give each child a backpack to fill with overnight items so that you don’t have to dig through boxes. Include their toothbrush, pjs, favorite stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, remember to put the children’s medications in mommy’s purse or back pack for safe keeping.
  • Give them one box to pack freely with the stuff they want, that will be the first box that they open in their new room

Get Them Adjusted

Last, is the adjustment to the new home and neighborhood, an extremely important phase of a move as it sets the stage for your new life in your new home.

  •  Host a party in your new neighborhood and invite children of the same age as your own kid(s) over so that they can make friends. It’s as easy as a pool party, pizza party, or cookout. Try and host the party the first weeks of being in your new home.
  • Take them for a drive by their new school, the local ice cream place, playground, if they have a hobby such as dancing, show them that there is a dance studio here too, so that they see their new neighborhood has all the same things as the old.
  • Set up a tour of the new school and to meet their new teacher before school starts.
  • If you move in the beginning of the summer, sign the little ones up for camp or other local activities where they can meet the new kids before school starts. It also keeps them out of the house so you can continue the unpacking!

Here are more and tips on how to keep the kids entertained on move day.

Wishing you and your family happiness in your new home!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com

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Welcome Home: The Leggios’ New Kitchen

“Kitchen MacGyver” Arlene Leggio makes school lunches for the local high school in her kitchen that is held together by tape and paper clips. Always doing things for others, Arlene’s daughters finally wanted their parents to come first. George Oliphant and his ‘George to the Rescue‘ team arrive at the family’s Islip, NY home to cook up a modern, updated and functional kitchen for the Leggios.

When asked what “Home Sweet Home” means to him, Tom Leggio says, “Home is where I want to spend the rest of my life.” And I don’t blame him, the kitchen George creates for the family is a chef’s dream.

See the gorgeous kitchen renovation on the full episode of George to the Rescue: The Leggios’ New Kitchen.

Welcome Home, Leggio Family!

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Taking a Moment to Reflect on What Memorial Day Means

seanColdwell Banker SVP of Marketing, Sean Blankenship, takes a moment to reflect on what Memorial Day means to him. In a recent conversation with his grandmother, Sean discovered more about his late grandfather’s time in the military…

This year I asked my grandmother Elizabeth Gaynor, on my mother’s side, to tell me a little about my grandfather’s military service.  While growing up, my grandfather never talked much about war; he was a very proud man who loved his country.  It wasn’t until after his death that my grandmother shared bits and pieces, even memorabilia, from his days serving his country.  And now I’m sharing a piece of that history, along with a link to a YouTube video about the B24 Liberator bomber, with a bit of history about Ford Motor Company, that I bet many of you didn’t realize.

Lt. Col. Lee R.  Gaynor III, United States Air Force

While in high school with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (yep, for real), Lee decided he wanted to volunteer for the Navy with his buddies when he was 16 and not yet graduated from school.  His mother would not sign the papers because he was too young.  He joined the Army Air Corps. His first overseas assignment was with the 15th Air Force in Italy as a ball turret gunner in B24 Liberator (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKlt6rNciTo).  They flew the Hump, bombed Ploesti, Vienna and many more.

After WWII he was discharged, then recalled during the Korean War, with a tour in Japan as Headquarters Adjutant. As Aide to the Commanding General  of Tachikawa AFB, Lee met many Japanese Officials including Admiral  Nomura.

There was a remote tour in Saudi Arabia in his future where he was again Squadron Adjutant.  Their mission was to teach the Saudi Air Force warfare.  The men lived under Saudi law with no immunity or U.S. protection.

Lee’s assignments within the United States were quite varied – like Office of Special Investigation (OSI), Inspector General, Missile Procurement during the Atlas and Titan missile programs and before retiring was Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF) in Washington, DC.

I’m glad to have this piece of history to carry with me and pass along to my children. My grandfather was more like a father, he raised me, and I will forever miss him.

 

Cover image via Flickr user Chris Yarzab

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Welcome Home: Everett Siblings

The Everett siblings became homeowners overnight after their parents passed away in a tragic accident during Superstorm Sandy. Zoe Everett, the eldest of four, took on the brave task of not only serving as guardian of her three siblings, but also managing their large Randoph, NJ home.

Wise beyond her years, Zoe sums up her struggle with managing the house: “I think the hardest part with the house is that it’s just large and unpredictable, but that’s with any house. Home ownership is just unpredictable.” How right she is!

Here’s where NBC’s George To The Rescue makes his entrance. Contractor and designer, George Oliphant, arrives with his crew to help the Everetts manage their cluttered house and turn their kitchen annex and office into rooms better fit for this family of four.

It struck me that even though the Everett siblings have taken on a very grown-up responsibility, their household is still very obviously the home of four young adults. This is most apparent in their reaction to the transformation of their home. George converts the office once overrun with clutter into an organized oasis, which is quickly renamed “the girl cave.” Likewise, the large banquette table George designs for family meals in the kitchen annex is declared “the perfect fort table.”

While the Everetts may view their home through the eyes of teenagers, they have a very adult perspective on home. “Home to me is the people you’re surrounded by,” Zoe says. Hear more about what “Home Sweet Home” means to the Everetts in the video above.

A story that breaks and warms your heart all at once, watch the full episode of George To The Rescue: The Everett Family Rescue.

Welcome Home: Everett siblings!

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How the Tooth Fairy Gets Into Your Home

So we wanted to know…how exactly does the Tooth Fairy get in? Well, we think we found the answer…sort of. Based on our research we found a number of different ways the Tooth Fairy is getting in. Here are the most popular methods of entry:

By Door

Almost invisible to grown ups, camouflaged against skirting boards, this tiny door looks just like a plug socket from a distance. But to eagle-eyed little people it is immediately obvious that this is the entrance to the home of the Other People who come and visit the house. Learn more about this magical door available on Etsy here.

Tooth Fairy Door

By Window

Some Tooth Fairy specialists believe the Tooth Fairy comes in by way of window. They also believe leaving a sprinkling of glitter helps to signal that a lost tooth is ready for pick up. Note: The Tooth Fairy’s magic doesn’t require the window to be open.

tooth fairy window

via Jamie Dorobek

 

By Bathroom Mirror

You may not know this but the Tooth Fairy checks in from time to time to make sure kids all over the world are taking good care of their teeth. She often uses the bathroom mirror to make sure those valuable teeth are getting the care and love they deserve. The bathroom mirror is another one of her magical portals that allows her to get into a home.

via ivillage

No matter how the Tooth Fairy decides to get it is important to know that every single expert told us the same thing…the Tooth Fairy will ONLY enter a home if she knows the child is sleeping. How does she know? We just can’t reveal that secret.

 

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A Win Win Strategy for Decorating Your Child’s Room

Buying a home, whether it’s a family’s first house or a newer model, can be an exciting time for all involved. While parents may look forward to decorating their master bedroom or organizing a kitchen space to hold family dinners, kids may have their own “ideas” about how to creatively decorate their room. It is important for parents and children to work together so that the child’s room is unique to their taste while still reasonable for long term plans. This is especially true for young children who are likely to outgrow their own tastes and furnishings in a few years, according to the Wall Street Journal. There are several options and strategies available to parents that will allow them to avoid outrageous patterns, wall colors or fabrics while still striking a happy balance with their children. Take a look at how celebrity Kourtney Kardashian decorated her son’s room in a fun but tasteful way for her son Mason. (image via domainehome.com)

Focus on the Big Furnishings

Children often change their tastes repeatedly over the years, meaning that last year’s princess-themed bedding set may change to pink leopard or demure pastels the next. To avoid spending money on new furniture and accessories each year, parents should focus on buying neutral furniture that can match a child’s changing style. Purchasing plain desks, chairs, headboards and dressers can serve as a base for any other type of small accent pieces, such as carpets, mirrors and decorations.

The same holds true for choosing a wall color. Instead of agreeing to paint the walls electric blue or hot pink, compromise with children on pale pink or baby blue to give them more options when it comes to changing the color or decorating their space.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Once the bedspread, walls and furniture are taken care of, most children will decorate the rooms to their liking, with pictures, toys, books, ornaments and sports memorabilia representing most of their decorations, the Journal reports. This lets parents off the hook for purchasing more accent pieces and kids will have more freedom to decide where to put their personal items in their rooms.

Parents who are trying to avoid too much clutter in their kids’ rooms can also purchase colorful storage bins, small dressers and racks or shelves to both dress up the rooms and hold some their kids’ belongings. Storage bins that appeal to kids can be purchased inexpensively at several retailers, ranging from high-end furniture stores to big-box chains and home improvement stores.

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