“Pinspiration” for Your Dream Home

Pinterest has become one of the hottest social platforms in 2012. It is a place for consumers, brands, bloggers and even celebrities to enjoy joint content curation. Users enjoy creating boards for various topics which often include interior design, party planning, style finds, tasty recipes and much more!

I discovered Pinterest seven months ago. As I started using it I  was brought back to my middle school days of spending hours looking through my mom’s magazines cutting out inspiration for outfits and typography that would eventually be included in a massive collage on one of the walls in my bedroom. I quickly realized that this was a more organized and grown up version of the posters I had made as a teen. After hours of pinning decor ideas, beautiful pieces of furniture and amazing elements I would love to have in my home, I realized just how perfect Pinterest is for dreaming of my future home or finding inspirations to update my existing one.

 

Pinterest is a place to share beautiful photos and lifestyle stories in a scrap-booking format and I personally have made it my place to organize the dreams I have for my ideal home. Some of my pins are realistic and some are a bit far fetched. (pinning them for when I hit the lotto one day..a girl can dream right?) This is part of what makes Pinterest so fun!

 

My "Home Ideas" board has a variety of pins ranging from dream closets to near genius space saving ideas.

Recently, Coldwell Banker Real Estate has launched its own presence on Pinterest with this very concept of real estate dreaming in mind. When you visit pinterest.com/coldwellbanker, you’ll come across what is possibly the most amazing collection of real estate dreaming on the web. We’ve taken photos of various rooms, garages, closets, swimming pools and yards from our inventory of listings to inspire you to dream of how you might want a room in your house, or even your whole house, to look someday. We even have a board for man caves…yes, Pinterest is a place for men too!

Here is a look at one of my favorite pins from our Delightful Decor board:

This wine cellar is one of the many gems in a home, from my hometown Livingston, NJ, that I found listed on coldwellbanker.com. My dream home will definitely include a wine cellar like this!

Whether you are a home owner looking for creative ways to spruce up your pad or a dreamer who is planning every detail of your future home, Pinterest is a fun and easy website to use.

 Check out our page and explore beautiful pools, kitchens fit for an Iron Chef and my personal favorite board…dream closets.

Have you created a dream home board? Please share some of your favorite pins in the comments section!

 

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Here’s to Pets

Meet Thor and Jager

“Here’s to pets…and all the things that make a house a home.”

Meet our big Blue Weimaraner, Thor (Nordic God of Thunder, his name when adopted),  and our Shorthaired Pointer pup, Jager (“hunter” in German).   They are two in a long line of dogs in my life since I was two years old, and they are an integral part of the value of our home for my wife and me.

Pets, whether they’re dogs, cats, or other, are special to so many of us and we couldn’t imagine a life without them.   Their unconditional affection, eternal forgiveness (at least with dogs… I’m not so convinced about cats…sorry cat owners, but I’ve been there, too), and ability to make the day’s stress  melt away with the wag of their tails renders them incredible companions and quasi therapists.

Now there are plenty of renters out there today with pets, but based on a recent experience I can once again confirm that pets and homeownership go together best.   When moving from Florida to New Jersey 18 months ago, we originally intended to build, so we purchased a home site and went looking for a house to lease during construction.   In search after search, whether online or in print, we were all too often faced with disappointing restrictions on pets.  Periodically we’d find a landlord who would allow a “small” dog with a larger deposit down, but small doesn’t apply when you have two dogs with a combined weight just shy of 200 pounds.

Although we finally found a house to rent, I believe Thor and Jager knew something wasn’t right.  This was temporary.  This wasn’t home.   We’re all creatures of routine, and relish our independence and privacy.   We all prefer to set down roots and bask in the familiar.

And we could learn a thing or two from our pets.   You see, over these last few years, they didn’t become obsessed with the latest newspaper articles on prices or ponder daily fluctuations in household equity.   They were just concerned about whether dinner would be on time and which one of them would get the prime sleeping spot in front of a sun drenched window.   A long-term perspective will eventually show they were the wiser.

Ultimately, we decided not to build, but instead purchased a charming older home on several acres where Thor and Jager can while away the hours scouting for anything furry that moves.   And at the end of the day, they can curl up in front of the fireplace with the assurance of knowing they are finally home again.  So can their dad…..

Take a look at the Coldwell Banker TV spot titled “Pets.”

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Here’s to Kids

Matthew & Michael enjoying home

“Here’s to kids…and all the things that makes a house a home.”

Through Tom Selleck’s voice on the new Coldwell Banker commercials, we are reminded just how important our children are in defining our homes.  We share their joys, their disappointments and yes, let’s face it, age a little more each day when their playful moments together erupt into their inevitable fights.  Family game nights, movie nights, homework at the kitchen table, bedtime rituals… it all happens in our home.

There is no denying we live for our kids and our homes are THEIR castle.

In my case, our castle got a bit bigger last year.  After years of saving and getting the courage to do it, we did a renovation.  Our house is a 1950 construction that simply didn’t have a lot of space.  My wife and I, along with our two boys (10 & 7) previously spent most of our time in a 8 x 12 rectangular room that housed the couch – which was really a loveseat -  and TV.  Usually it was two on the couch and two on the floor.  As the boys grew, we realized we needed more room.

Some asked us why we wouldn’t move to a larger house.  That was an easy one to answer.  We are “roots people” and we love our neighborhood and love our house.  So that left the daunting task of an addition.

And we had to move out for five months.

This began my own personal rent vs. buy journey.  To me, there is no comparison.  Homeownership wins.   But because of the recession, we are reading a lot about the rent vs. buy decision.  There are even terms being thrown about like “rentennials,” a supposed generation that will refrain from homeownership because they believe it doesn’t make economic sense.

But if you only look at homeownership through the eyes of appreciation vs. stock market returns, I believe you are missing the key point of homeownership – the emotional side and the ability to make your house a home.

The apartment we rented was nice.  It was a one-bedroom across town from our house (actually the rent was more than our mortgage).  It had a sizeable loft where the boys slept.  The landlord was a good guy.  Yet it wasn’t ours.  It wasn’t home.  The heat was overpowering and the windows leaked cold air.  The stairs creaked.  The walls were so thin we watched TV on mute after the boys went to sleep.  There was nothing I could do about it, and it’s a good thing we didn’t have our dog, Allie, yet cause most apartments, including this one, wouldn’t allow pets.

And the boys, we spent five-months trying to keep them on “mute,” constantly reminding them to be quiet so we didn’t bother the man living below us.

I couldn’t wait to go home.  And it’s not because I just hated paying rent…the thousands of dollars I’ll never get back.

And because we owned our home, we were able to make it better.  We knocked down walls to open it up.  Our kitchen now looks into the new family room and we have a new master bedroom and bathroom.  The colors we chose on the walls are great.  And our new big-screen TV on the wall just sparkles.  The pride – and that clearly is a personal emotion – that I have in our home is off-the-charts.

And let me tell you, our boys are now back to being loud…just like they should be!

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Here’s to Kids

Matthew & Michael enjoying home

“Here’s to kids…and all the things that makes a house a home.”

Through Tom Selleck’s voice on the new Coldwell Banker commercials, we are reminded just how important our children are in defining our homes.  We share their joys, their disappointments and yes, let’s face it, age a little more each day when their playful moments together erupt into their inevitable fights.  Family game nights, movie nights, homework at the kitchen table, bedtime rituals… it all happens in our home.

There is no denying we live for our kids and our homes are THEIR castle.

In my case, our castle got a bit bigger last year.  After years of saving and getting the courage to do it, we did a renovation.  Our house is a 1950 construction that simply didn’t have a lot of space.  My wife and I, along with our two boys (10 & 7) previously spent most of our time in a 8 x 12 rectangular room that housed the couch – which was really a loveseat -  and TV.  Usually it was two on the couch and two on the floor.  As the boys grew, we realized we needed more room.

Some asked us why we wouldn’t move to a larger house.  That was an easy one to answer.  We are “roots people” and we love our neighborhood and love our house.  So that left the daunting task of an addition.

And we had to move out for five months.

This began my own personal rent vs. buy journey.  To me, there is no comparison.  Homeownership wins.   But because of the recession, we are reading a lot about the rent vs. buy decision.  There are even terms being thrown about like “rentennials,” a supposed generation that will refrain from homeownership because they believe it doesn’t make economic sense.

But if you only look at homeownership through the eyes of appreciation vs. stock market returns, I believe you are missing the key point of homeownership – the emotional side and the ability to make your house a home.

The apartment we rented was nice.  It was a one-bedroom across town from our house (actually the rent was more than our mortgage).  It had a sizeable loft where the boys slept.  The landlord was a good guy.  Yet it wasn’t ours.  It wasn’t home.  The heat was overpowering and the windows leaked cold air.  The stairs creaked.  The walls were so thin we watched TV on mute after the boys went to sleep.  There was nothing I could do about it, and it’s a good thing we didn’t have our dog, Allie, yet cause most apartments, including this one, wouldn’t allow pets.

And the boys, we spent five-months trying to keep them on “mute,” constantly reminding them to be quiet so we didn’t bother the man living below us.

I couldn’t wait to go home.  And it’s not because I just hated paying rent…the thousands of dollars I’ll never get back.

And because we owned our home, we were able to make it better.  We knocked down walls to open it up.  Our kitchen now looks into the new family room and we have a new master bedroom and bathroom.  The colors we chose on the walls are great.  And our new big-screen TV on the wall just sparkles.  The pride – and that clearly is a personal emotion – that I have in our home is off-the-charts.

And let me tell you, our boys are now back to being loud…just like they should be!

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Here’s to Backyards

Here's to backyards

There are plenty of reasons why people buy a particular home. Could be the size. Could be the location. But one element that’s often not talked about on a property description can be a major part of the enjoyment that a home gives. I’m talking about the backyard.

Backyards are memory makers. Don’t believe me? I asked my circle of friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share their top memories of their backyards either as a kid or even today. The response was overwhelming. From childhood moments to memorable occasions to just relaxing, the backyard initiated an onslaught of stories.

Steve Ostrom from Roseville, CA talked about how his backyard as a kid was the perfect setup for wiffle ball field with a built-in swimming pool acting as out of bounds and a 7th inning stretch cool down. Others mentioned forts, games of tag and even riding the lawn mower with their parents. One friend even had a zip line in his backyard. I think I need one of those…

My friend, Lindsay, talked about a rock wall. Yes, a rock wall. It was something that her father and her built on the weekends around a tree in their yard. They carved their initials into it when they were done and now there’s a piece of her childhood forever entrenched in the yard of that home for generations to come to enjoy.

Some memories involved food (one of my favorite subjects) where the backyard played host to BBQ’s, family get togethers and even where they made homemade ice cream. And backyards have no limitation as far as seasons are concerned. Whether it was fall, winter, spring or summer, there were moments to be shared from all respondents involving pools, snowmobiles, sledding, piles of leaves and planting gardens.

For me growing up the backyard was a place where I developed my love for the game of baseball. The kids in the neighborhood would come play wiffle ball. My friends across the street, Jeffrey Goodman and Matt Ferrari, would come over and we’d play home run derby until it was time for dinner. I dented our neighbors garage enough times to have him take away tennis balls and broke my fair share of windows playing “tennis baseball.” (it’s basically baseball but you use a racket instead of a bat)

But some of the best moments were Sunday afternoons when I’d play catch with my dad. I used to plead with him to throw “diving catches” where I would stand on one side of the yard and he would throw a fly ball to the other side of the yard that would force me to dive and make a Ken Griffey Jr-esque catch. Avoiding trees while chasing down balls was all part of the fun. I can still see him running down balls in the street when I would try and overthrow some fastballs to him. Eventually I was forced to chase down the errant throws.

Usually our catch games would end with my dad trying to help my pitching control by throwing a “simulated inning” which normally ended with me walking the bases loaded. I had control issues.

Without a backyard I might have still enjoyed the game of baseball, but I’m absolutely sure that the reason I love the game today is because of the moments and memories made on that green grass in Succasunna, NJ.

While my own boys may not plead with me for “diving catches,” my wife and I chose a home that had a yard where we could be sure they would have their own moments to look back on.

So let me close with a video of our TV ad that we call “Backyards.” Here’s to backyards and all the things that make a house a home. Share you favorite backyard moments in the comments.

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Video: The Gift of Home for Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day 2012. Out of curiosity I went on to YouTube to see if anyone had put a real estate related video featuring a Valentine’s Day themed home that was for sale. What I found was a nicely done video from Coldwell Banker South Hills in the Pittsburgh, PA area.

The video is simple and straightforward but it stands out because no other real estate companies are thinking of Valentine’s Day as a time when people are thinking about buying a home. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Love is in the air. Cupid is slinging arrows. Who isn’t dreaming about a beautiful place to come home to?

Take a look at the Valentine’s Day homes video below and I’d be very curious to hear of any home shopping stories for Valentine’s Day past.

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A Valentine’s Day Story of Home

A Valentine's Day Story of Home

Roses, chocolates, jewelry and dinner reservations are in abundance this week. In case you’re late to the game tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. While it’s typically a holiday that people leave their homes for to go out and enjoy the evening, we have some unique Coldwell Banker stories about people who’ve found love at home.

One of the best stories comes from Colleen Lawler of Coldwell Banker Gundaker in the St. Louis area who has a tale that might very well be the focus of the next Nicholas Sparks novel:

“We have the world’s cutest couple who both had garden style condos in the same area.  She bought one and later he bought one in the same complex.  As chance would have it they met as neighbors and  became friends. Turns out being friends was only the beginning. Soon they started dating and one thing led to another and they got engaged.  They contacted my team to list both of their units and get one sold so they could get a house before the wedding. Their wedding wishes were granted as we were able to sell not just one, but both units.  

Fast forward a couple of years, and they are now renting that first house they bought together and are living in their dream home in the country which they also bought through Coldwell Banker.

Oh and by the way…they now have the world’s cutest baby girl.”

Who doesn’t love the boy meets girl/become friends/fall in love/get married/have beautiful babies storyline? I’m telling you Hollywood is already writing the script for this romance for release on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Home is a place for many stories and memories and for this couple it just happened to be where they found love.

If you have any Valentine’s Day worthy stories about your home, please share them in the comments.

 

Photo provided by Flickr user Crickontour

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A New Look for Finding Home

A new design for the coldwellbanker.com home page

Today we released a new look for our award winning website, coldwellbanker.com. The home pages has been updated with a much warmer and home-related look than we’ve ever had before. When you visit coldwellbanker.com you’ll notice that when you click on the home search tab or the agent tab the visuals in the background highlight what it is you’re searching for. We’ve also simplified the menu options, updated our highlighted sections and added a few other touches here and there.

It’s kind of like we repainted our entryway, installed some brass hardware to the front door and added a few nice accents from Crate & Barrel to brighten up our main foyer.

This is just the first of a number of changes coming from Coldwell Banker Real Estate in the coming months. Coming in March we’ll unveil what we believe is a significant and timely change in the real estate conversation. More to come, but for now we hope you enjoy this new design for coldwellbanker.com as you look to buy, sell or just dream about that new home.

Here’s to all the things that make a house a home.

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Can a Video Game System Change Your Home?

The new Xbox 360 dashboard could very well change your home.

There’s a common complaint from many people out there today that video games are somehow bad for you. Well Microsoft is looking to prove that the Xbox 360 can change your living room and the connectivity of your home.

I was at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January where one of the major innovations that everyone was focusing on was how to connect innovations within your home. How can my TV let me search the Internet? Can I take what’s on my computer and share it with the devices in my family room? Tons of manufacturers had expensive devices that could accomplish this and different plans for accomplishing this in the future. But this week the Xbox 360 made most of what was showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show obsolete.

The latest update to the extremely popular gaming system instantly turned the Xbox from a gaming machine into the simplest and most complete media center in any home. The new Xbox dashboard now integrates custom apps from featured providers that bring TV shows, social networking, photo sharing and even video conferencing into one device.

This is something TV manufacturers have been longing for and many high end homes have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to accomplish in the most sophisticated media centers. Now my 7 year old can accomplish all this by picking up a controller. With apps like YouTube, Facebook,  and Twitter, I can browse my social networks and watch virtually any online video through my HD TV in an interface that’s way simpler than what you find through most cable providers or TV-installed widgets. Not only that but the entertainment and video apps that were reserved just for viewing on my iPad can now be enjoyed on the big screen with soon to be released content from SyFy, HBO Go and MLB At-Bat.

Kinect, the motion based sensor add-on to Xbox 360, allows me to video chat with other friends and family on Xbox 360 so my entire family can gather on the couch and talk to our relatives in South Carolina that couldn’t come to visit for the holidays. All this and the ability to connect photos, videos and music from your computer to stream to your Xbox so it can play through your home theater system makes the Xbox 360 the true game changer for any family room.

Oh yeah, and it plays games too.

I truly believe this is just the beginning. Who’s to say you couldn’t use your XBox as a DVR in the near future as some units come with a 250GB hard drive? Are apps to control your home’s lights or security system that outrageous to think of being on a video game console? What about an Xbox version of Internet Explorer to let you browse any site of your choosing and control it with your voice or hand gestures using Kinect? And all of it can be controlled from your phone too…Wait and see. It’s coming.

You’re sure to see more companies join the likes of Netflix, Hulu Plus and even The Today Show, who are jumping on the Xbox 360 app store to get in early on this new platform. So don’t be fooled into thinking the Xbox is merely just a mind numbing device for playing grudge matches of Madden 12 or Call of Duty. It may soon be the central device for your entire home in the not too distant future.

Check out the video below to see some of the new features in action:

Photo courtesy of Digital Spy

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The Greatest Home Move Ever Made

The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor

Like many holidays, we often overlook the origins of why we celebrate Thanksgiving. My 7 year old is in 2nd grade and brought home a book about the first Thanksgiving that really got me to realize that it was possibly the greatest home move ever made.

The group of people we often refer to as Pilgrims weren’t too different from modern day families when it comes time to make a move. The Pilgrims didn’t move because of rising house values or to find a better investment, they moved to make a better life for themselves and their families. In fact they moved twice! First from England to Amsterdam, then finally across the Atlantic Ocean to America.

The Pilgrims departed in August of 1620 to find their new home. If you think your last move was a painfully long process, think about moving on a ship with 120 other people for about 4 months. While this may be the greatest home move, it was also one of the most painful as we know of the sickness, death and struggles they encountered to reach their new home. The worst part was when the finally go to their new place, it was the worst possible time of year to move in…winter. But even so, the Pilgrims banded together to weather the cold, harsh conditions because for better or worse this was the place they now called home.

After the winter passed, spring, summer and bountiful harvest arrived which brings us to what we refer to as the first Thanksgiving in autumn of 1621. Of the 120 passengers that embarked on the voyage, some historians say that only 52 remained to enjoy that harvest celebration. The reason for rejoicing was that they knew they had survived the worst and wanted to give thanks for their new home and the realization that this next year would be better than the last.

For anyone that’s moved into a home that’s less than perfect I think you can relate to the move the Pilgrim’s made although on a much smaller scale. My wife and I bought our house several years ago. It was far from perfect. We had to undo the horrendous decor, redo the former owner’s wanna-be handyman projects and gut a lot of the rooms. We spent money we didn’t want to, worked harder than we thought we’d have to, but in the end it was still our home. It’s hardly the hurdles that the Pilgrims of Plymouth had to face, but I can see why they made such a difficult trip and survived so many hardships for the ability to make a new home.

So this Thanksgiving as  you sit at the dinner table of whatever home you find yourself in, give thanks for the home that you’ve made,  for those that allow you to have the freedom to enjoy it, and for what the future holds for you and your home.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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