4 Holiday Decorating Ideas for Your NYC Apartment

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and it certainly is a wonderful time of year in New York City. Townhouse stoops are decorated with greenery, lights twinkle on trees, and the energy of holiday shoppers is palpable in the shopping districts. Seeing such lovely displays of holiday spirit all over the city may inspire you to bedeck your own NYC apartment in festive cheer! Here are a few holiday decorating ideas to help you create a festive feeling in a small space:

A Tiny Tree

No apartment is too tiny for a Christmas tree! You can easily find trees in a variety of sizes, from tabletop, to two- or three-foot trees, and larger. Check Whole Foods Market or just walk around your neighborhood! As the holidays approach, you can’t go more than a few blocks without running into a big stand of people selling trees from all different tree farms. The smaller trees tend to go quickly, so be sure to snag yours early, or ask the sellers to give you an idea of their schedules so you don’t miss the newest batches. If you don’t want to lug your tree home, there are several tree farms with websites from which you can order a tree to be delivered to your doorstep! It doesn’t get much easier than that. Try Tyler’s Trees or SoHo Trees.

Holiday Lights

When it comes to holiday decorating ideas, nothing is more festive or cozy than strands of tiny, golden holiday lights twinkling away. These can be strung up around a window, threaded around a doorway, draped across a curtain rod or over a headboard … whatever looks good to your eye! You can find these festive lights at many stores and websites — Ikea is a good place to start.

Greenery

In addition to a putting up tree, you can place greenery all over your apartment. Little boxwood topiaries look lovely year round, but they can be made especially festive with a simple red or black-and-white striped bow. A wreath hung from your door also brings a lot of holiday cheer to a space, without taking up a lot of space! Filling a bowl with pieces of greenery and pinecones can create a festive centerpiece as well.

Hang Cards

Another idea is to hang holiday cards that you receive from friends and loved ones. By hanging them on the wall, you save valuable counter and tabletop space. If you have a little pinboard, you can pin them up. If not, just put them on your wall in a neat configuration with gold washi tape! It will look colorful and festive, and it will remind you of all the people in your life who wish you good cheer.

Image Source: Flickr

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Home Tip of the Day: Keeping the Guest Bedroom Organized During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of getting together with friends and family to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. If you’re hosting overnight guests at your home this holiday season, here’s an easy way to keep your guest bedroom neat and organized!

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series. Happy hosting!

 

Header image via Bedroompedia.com

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Burglary Prevention 101

Christmas is a popular time for people — including homeowners — to close the shades, turn on a light, lock up the house and travel across the country. Most come back to their home the way they left it; some are not so lucky.

A home burglary happens every 13 seconds in the United States, and the holiday season is no exception. A staggering 66% of burglaries occur in residences, which leaves traveling homeowners at high risk — especially if they haven’t taken preventative measures.

So what should you do to protect your home against a burglar? Consider hiring a home security professional to install an alarm system. And, check out this infographic on how to beat burglars this holiday season:

Provided by HomeAdvisor

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Emerging Trends in High-End Home Design at DesignMiami/

Guest post from Hillary Hertzberg, member of the leading luxury real estate team The Jills®

People from all over the globe flock to Paris and New York City during fashion week to catch a glimpse of the upcoming trends strutting down the runway. DesignMiami/ is the exceptional collaborative runway for high end home design. Leading galleries from around the world come together to exhibit emerging furniture, lighting and design trends with museum quality displays. DesignMiami/ celebrated its ten year anniversary this year which brought together thirty-five of the world’s leading galleries. The result was an unparalleled platform for collectible design.

Design_Miami

A clear theme this year was man’s relationship with nature as seen in powerful installations and moving design.

Within instants of entering the DesignMiami/ tent, you couldn’t help but feel the magnetic pull towards the Thinning Ice/ Jeanne Gang and Swarovski installation. Illuminated cracks in the polar white floor and a media wall of 25 LCD screens with different glacial images created an icy atmosphere, starkly different from the tropical warm weather outside the tent. Large white tables with pockets of crystal formed the center piece of the exhibit, representing the diminishing glaciers and holes in the polar ice formations. It was a truly beautiful display of a not so beautiful truth. The purpose of the exhibit was to get people talking about climate change and it did exactly that and more.

Swarovski

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The installation “Ephemera, by Viennese designer Mischer’traxler for Perrier-Jouët, was comprised of a long wood table with a seemingly dull display of leaves, trees, insects and other plants and static mirrors on the wall. Suddenly, the installation came alive as the forms on the table rose up in full bloom. Then, in the next instant, they died back down, just as unexpectedly as they had risen. In a similar vein, digital leaves grew and shrank across mirrors at all different times showcasing the constantly changing stages and cycles of nature.

Nature_Table

Another trend at the fair was the use of unorthodox and atypical materials for sculpture and furniture.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or one man’s trash is what Jay Sae Jung Oh used to create treasured pieces. In her “Savage” series, she combines and tightly wraps various discarded objects together in a very intensive process to create an exquisite and luxurious finished product. Her Savage Chair piece, made of tightly wrapped leather, was appropriately positioned directly in front of the words “NEW & USED” on the wall of the display.

New_Used New_Used_3 New_Used_2

Year after year, the trends seen at DesignMiami/ make their way into homes across the city and way beyond. Looking forward to seeing what’s next!

HILLARY H HEADSHOT_2smallHillary Hertzberg is a real estate agent with The Jills®, the number one real estate team in America as ranked by the Wall Street Journal. 

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6 Winter Home Energy Conservation and Insulation Tips

Brrrr! It’s getting cold outside, and that means it’s time to turn up the heat in your home. As much as you want to keep your home toasty, you don’t want the utility bill that comes with having the heat turn on every five to ten minutes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep the warm air from escaping and the cold air from coming in. Here are some tips to increase your energy efficiency and insulation while keeping your house warm and cozy:

Comfort Control of Virginia, Inc.

#1 Clean or replace your furnace filters

According to a recent article on winterization tips, you should clean and replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis. Dirty furnace filters prevent warm air from flowing through the ducts and vents into your house, which makes your furnace work harder and increases your utility bill. By cleaning and replacing your furnace filters on a monthly basis, you will save a little money on your bill and a lot of money in simply preventing the need for a furnace replacement.

You can also replace your temporary filters with a permanent filter. Electrostatic or HEPA filters trap around 90 to 100 percent of debris — and they control bacteria, mold and pollen from getting into the air where they may cause illness or irritation. While these filters can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, they’re a worthwhile investment that offers long-term benefits.

#2 Get your furnace serviced

You should have your furnace maintained and repaired as needed. Having your furnace serviced annually can cut its fuel usage by almost 10 percent, which can save you more money on your heating bill. If you didn’t have your furnace maintained by a heating professional in the early autumn, call one now to inspect your furnace and filters for any issues. A professional will also look at your radiators and elements for any dust, breaks and other problems and fix them as necessary. Having this done could save you from spending $3,300 to $4,600 on a new furnace or finding yourself in a freezing cold home in the dead of winter.

#3 Fix drafts and leaks

Leaks and drafts in windows and doors significantly compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. Escaping air forces your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm, which causes it to turn on every five to ten minutes. To solve this problem, a professional can caulk and install weather-stripping around your windows and doors for around $460. You should also identify and seal leaks around your chimney and any pipes leading into or out of your home.

#4 Lay down additional insulation

Tomahawk Pest Services, LLC

Your attic’s insulation should be between six and 13 inches of loose fill or seven and 19 inches of fiberglass. Measure how much insulation you have; if it’s below the minimum for the material used, add more to keep your home well-insulated and keep your utility bills down. It’s easier to go with loose fill insulation, as it’s made of a flexible material that can fill crevices and joists. You can rent a blower to lay down loose fill insulation, but it’s complicated, and you run the risk of stepping through your attic. It’s probably easier to have an insulation professional come in to do the work.

#5 Lower your thermostat

To conserve energy and save money on your utility bill, you should always turn down the heat when you leave the house. You can save up to 5 percent on your utility bill for every degree your heat is reduced. A programmable thermostat can also help regulate the temperature inside your home, which can save you as much as $200. Talk to your utility company about smart meters to help save money on your utility bills.

#6 Call a home energy auditor

If you make changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency and insulation and are still seeing expensive utility bills every month, you can call a home energy auditor to go through your home and identify any problems you may have. A professional will know how much energy your home consumes, where your insulation is lacking and what you can do to increase your energy efficiency. Look for an auditor that is sponsored by the government and may therefore charge less for an audit than others. After you perform a complete audit with the help of a professional, you can choose which projects to complete to increase your home’s efficiency.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

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World’s Most Expensive Homes – Episode 5: Palazzo di Amore

In the Coldwell Banker video series, World’s Most Expensive Homes, we’ve taken you to some exotic places. From South Beach to Aspen to the Virgin Islands to Napa, you’ve seen some of the most luxurious places to call home on planet Earth.

But none of them quite compare to what you’re about to see.

In this episode of World’s Most Expensive Homes, you step inside the $195 million Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills, CA. Listed by superstar Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agents, Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula, this property is truly a marvel.

With a little help from our friends at Tesla, we take you right up the driveway and into the most expensive home for sale in the United States. I challenge you to spot which of the shots is actually a walk-in closet and not a living room. Let me know if you can spot it in the comments.

I could tell you about all the amazing things you’ll see, but just take a look for yourself and then explore some other episodes of World’s Most Expensive Homes on Coldwell Banker On Location.

To see other amazing homes or ones for sale in your area, visit coldwellbankerpreviews.com.

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Kicking Off Hanukkah 2014

To most Hanukkah represents one thing and one thing only.  Adam Sandler singing his infamous Saturday Night Live Hannukah song.  But clearly there is much more to the holiday than what he classically called “Eight crazy nights.”

Hanukkah is actually a minor Jewish holiday that honors the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews fought back against the Syrian-Greeks.  After emperor Antiochus outlawed Judaism in 167 B.C.E., the Jews retreated before re-engaging in battle.  They overtook the Syrian-Greeks and wanted to “cleanse” the Temple by burning oil in the menorah for eight days.  But they only had enough oil for one day, which by a miracle, lasted the eight full days.

The holiday has only “recently” become a major one largely due the commercialism of Christmas as Jews have an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with gifts too.

Beginning tonight, Jewish families around the world will begin the celebration in their homes at sundown (because Judaism uses a lunar-based calendar).  Here are a few of the traditions you would see at a Hanukkah celebration:

The lighting of the Menorah – the Shamas (usually the one in the middle) candle is the lead and after being lit is used to light one candle for each of the nights of Hanukkah.  Start with one candle on night one and move on to the appropriate number for each night.

 Kids spinning the Dreidel – It’s a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side that form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here.” Each side represents “take all,” “take half,” “put in” or “do nothing” as the children play for Hanukkah “gelt,” usually chocolate coins.

 Fried foods – To represent the oil, you will likely find mountains of potato pancakes called latkes.  Dip in apple sauce and you have pure goodness!

 Gifts – At a Jewish home you are likely to find tons of presents.  At least eight for each person piled somewhere near the menorah.  But believe me, not every gift is an Xbox One.

So as you drive home tonight, think about how lucky the Jewish kids are this year because they are getting their presents starting 10 days before Christmas.  But on the flip side, think of those same kids as you unwrap your gifts on the 25th while we look on in envy!

Happy Hanukkah!

 

Cover image via lovefromtheoven.com

 

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Holiday Attractions in Philadelphia Mix Old and New

Philadelphians love to celebrate the holidays, and each year the city hosts an abundance of seasonal events. Spectacular decorations deck both homes and businesses around town. Many traditional holiday attractions in Philadelphia (like the Thanksgiving Day Parade) have delighted Philly residents for years, but a few recent additions, including pop-up winter festivals throughout the city, have joined the seasonal lineup. Here are a few can’t-miss holiday attractions you’ll want to experience.

Try a Whirlwind Center City Holiday Extravaganza Tour

With a little advanced planning, you can spend a day in Center City and take in many popular holiday attractions in one quick trip. Stop by the Center City Macy’s to watch the Christmas Light Show with daily shows beginning every two hours through the holiday season. After the lights dim, ride the escalator to the third floor of Macy’s and stroll through Dickens Village, a 26-scene recreation of A Christmas Carol. On your way out of the department store, take note of the store’s seasonally decorated windows before hiking up to the Comcast Center to watch the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, shown on one of the world’s largest LED displays. If you’re in town on a Saturday in December, check out FrostFest at Sister Cities Park, which includes live holiday music, carriage rides, and cool winter-themed science experiments sponsored by the Franklin Institute.

Tree Lightings

Many city and suburban towns and neighborhoods host tree lightings to kick of the holiday season. The Christmas tree in Rittenhouse Square is one of the largest and most festively decorated in Philadelphia, strung with 5,000 lights. Other holiday trees on display in the downtown area include the Love Park tree, which is part of Christmas Village, an old-fashioned open-air German holiday market. To escape the chill, stop by the Shops at Liberty Place’s multi-story holiday tree or sample the hot chocolate bar at the Ritz-Carlton on December weekends.

Ice Skating Options

If ice skating is on your holiday to-do list, check out the new Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park, next to City Hall. One of the newest holiday attractions in Philadelphia, the ice rink offers reasonable admission prices, skate rentals, and extended holiday hours. A second popular option is the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing, part of the holiday celebration known as Winterfest. The Penn’s Landing ice rink is surrounded by a scenic winter garden, and fire pits have been added to keep visitors warm during the chilly weather.

Day Trips

Looking for a city escape? Many surrounding towns also provide holiday entertainment. Longwood Gardens hosts an awesome display of lighted trees and fountains, both indoors and outdoors. If you’re traveling through Bucks County, don’t miss the Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Display, in Yardley, a drive-through experience of holiday decorations featuring more than three million lights. You can also day-trip out to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for holiday events in Chocolatetown. Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane opens most of the smaller rides and provides holiday entertainment and lighted decorations. Santa’s reindeer also make an appearance in Hersheypark this time of year.

During the holidays, it’s nice to take a break from shopping to spend time with family and enjoy the decorative attractions in and around Philadelphia. This joyous season is special for so many reasons, and you won’t need to travel very far to find the magic of the holidays.

Image Source: Flickr/Kevin Burkett

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Top 4 Things To Do In Dallas TX This December

When it comes to festive fun for the holidays, there’s no shortage of things to do in Dallas, TX. The city comes alive with enchanting events for families and couples. If you live in the Dallas area, make the most of the upcoming holiday season by checking out these can’t-miss events.

1. See Missile Toes at Galleria Dallas | Through December 20

Only in Dallas can you watch Missile Toes, the ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus. He takes to the ice beneath a dazzling 95-foot-tall Christmas tree — the tallest indoor Christmas tree in the United States, boasting almost 250,000 lights and over 10,000 ornaments. It’s the perfect spectacle as you take a break from all your holiday shopping.

2. Visit the trains at NorthPark | Through January 4

The holiday season isn’t complete without seeing a locomotive chugging down the track. With 1,600 feet of track depicting such familiar Texas destinations as downtown Dallas and the State Fair of Texas, plus iconic American landmarks as the Grand Canyon, Route 66, and San Franciscio’s Golden Gate Bridge (and even the North Pole!), the trains at NorthPark can’t be missed. It’s the most elaborate toy train exhibit in Texas, and it draws more than 50,000 people each holiday season. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for kids 2-12 and senior citizens (kids under 2 are free).

3. Sip afternoon tea at The Adolphus | Through December 31

Get ready to raise those pinky fingers — O Christmas Tea at The Adolphus is one of the most fun things to do in Dallas TX during the holidays. You’ll feel like royalty sipping a variety of flavorful, spiced teas and nibbling scones, pastries, chocolate truffles, and more. The hotel is gloriously bedecked in holiday decorations, complete with a classical pianist playing holiday tunes on the hotel’s 1893 Steinway piano, which once formerly belonged to the Guggenheim family of New York. Reservations required; Tuesday–Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4:45 pm; $40.

4. Take a carriage ride through Highland Park | Through December 31

There’s no better way to take in the stunning lights and homes of Highland Park than in a horse-drawn carriage. When you climb aboard, you get to cozy up with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy the twinkling lights and beautiful homes on a one-hour tour. Christmas music drifting through the air adds the perfect festive touch. Reservations required; daily from 6 p.m.–9:45 p.m.; $180–$250.

Image Source: Flickr/Keerthivasan Rajamani

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5 Activities in NYC This Holiday Season You Won’t Want To Miss

Holiday season is a busy time, but here are five activities in NYC you’ll want to carve out some time for (plus a couple more, for extra holiday cheer). Hey, they don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. And if you call New York City home, it’s easy to see why.

The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet | Through January 3

A magical evening that brings toys to life and leaves visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head? It’s hard to think of a holiday performance more iconic than George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The elaborate staging and Tschaikovsky’s beloved score transport viewers to the Land of Sweets. This New York City Ballet production runs through January 3. Tickets range from $35 to $260.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular | Through December 31

The only thing that might be more iconic than the Nutcracker — at least in New York — is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which premiered in 1933. Expect the Rockettes and their internationally known high-kicks, along with a living nativity, a dazzling snow scene, as well as the charming ragdolls who make up Santa’s workshop. Tickets range from $45-$299.

Rockefeller Center Tree | Through January 7

While you’re at the Radio City Music Hall, don’t forget to check out the Rockefeller Center tree. This massive tree (this year’s is 85 feet tall) arrives from Pennsylvania in November. In early December, tens of thousands of fans flock to Rockefeller Plaza for the tree lighting ceremony. The tree’s 45,000 LED lights are powered by 300 solar panels installed on the roof of 45 Rockefeller Plaza. The tree will remain lit and can be viewed until January 7.

Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall | December 22

On Monday, December 22, New York’s Oratorio Society will perform one of the most Christmassy activities in NYC. The iconic presentation (the one with the “Hallelujah” chorus) is one of the composer’s most well-known pieces. Tickets range from $45-$162.

Wait, wait, there’s more!

Holiday Markets

When you need a break from the big box stores, visit one (or all) of the open-air gift markets, which feel like a little bit of Europe in the middle of Manhattan. Check out these three:

  • The Union Square Holiday Market (through December 24), which specializes in handmade items, like jewelry, bags and leather goods.
  • The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (through January 4), located right next to the skating rink, which includes more than 125 boutiquey shops offering everything from clothes to jewelry, home goods, local foods, and more.
  • The Columbus Circle Holiday Market (through December 24) also includes unique gifts from artisans, with things like handmade chocolates and toys.

Holiday Windows

One of the most popular activities in NYC during the cold wintertime is actually outdoors: Gawking at the holiday windows. The city’s iconic department stores — Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel among them — pull out all stops in imaginative window displays that draw tourists and New York natives alike.

Image Source: Flickr/Bob Jagendorf

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