Why We Love Living in Seattle: Lesser Known Parks Worth Discovering

Kubota_Garden

Kubota Gardens

Hidden in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a stunning 20 acre landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. Master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. His vision has undeniably permeated the horticulture culture of the Puget Sound area and remains as one of the most enduring and beloved landscaping designs in countless home gardens.

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Parson’s Garden

It’s the most romantic park in the city, and still one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets. Stroll among the flowers, picnic on the lawn, or just climb up a tree for a private moment. The intimate and natural setting makes this a lovely spot for small gatherings, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a wedding during your visit.

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A Sound Garden

Located on a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Northeast Seattle, giant pipe-like structures murmur, whistle, and howl when the wind blows through them at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration center on Sand Point Way.

Designed and built by sculptor Douglas Hollis, it is one of several art installations to be enjoyed on the NOAA campus. And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes: the Seattle band Soundgarden was named after this inspiring piece.

Visiting the NOAA campus is free, but security is tight. Make sure to bring a photo ID with you in order to get a day pass, and be prepared to have your bags searched. You also have to park your car and hike about a half mile to get to the art installations, but the walk is well worth it.

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Thomas C. Wales Park

Once the site of a gravel pit, the Thomas C. Wales Park is an urban wildlife habitat and public art installation on Queen Anne. Adam Kuby’s five “Quarry Rings” that punctuate the site not only allude to the landscape’s history but create bird and nesting habitats within the park, as well. Walk the path through the park to get the best view of each of them.

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Lowman Beach Park

Located a few blocks north of the more popular Lincoln Park in West Seattle, this little gem will not disappoint you. It is a waterfront park with about 300 feet of beach area, plus an acre of land above it with tennis courts and swings. Take a picnic lunch or launch a kayak from the water’s edge.

2017 Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

A fur-ocious competition with the most paw-some and glamour-ruff dogs outside of Paw-llywood

To say Seattle is a dog lover’s city is putting it mildly. Off leash dog parks, pubs that allow dogs, dog-centric parades, and doggie daycare centers have become the norm for our fair city. With all of these dog lovers in one city, naturally the arrival of the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show is a highly anticipated event. This year it will take place on March 11 and 12 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Signature events will include everyone’s favorite: best-in-breed, as well as agility and obedience trials. These events are fun for dog lovers to watch, but the list of demonstrations this year also sound pretty entertaining. These are events that are not judged; they are purely educational and entertaining. Topics range from obedience, fly ball, herding and other typical dog sport themes, but there are two unique demonstrations that really stand out:

First, Amy Trotter the Pig will be hogging the spotlight and demonstrating her remarkable obedience, rally and agility exercises.

Agility Pig

The second wildly popular event is the Dog and Person Dance Demonstration, which is just as fun and crazy as it sounds: choreographed dance performances between owners and their dogs. Hopefully the four-legged dance partners won’t have any trouble, considering they have two left feet.

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For more information on the show and ticket sales, visit their website at:  Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

Maximizing Your Curb Appeal

Never underestimate the importance of a pretty face.

When it comes to buying or selling a home, first impressions count. While major renovations or additions can affect your home’s value, you don’t need to add a new pool to improve your home’s desirability. In fact, improving your home’s curb appeal through relatively low-cost, but simple, changes, can significantly improve its standing in the market. A curbside “face lift” is always money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own benefit.

House numbers

Updated house numbers: Adding new, elegant numbering to your home’s address signage can create a flattering statement. Choose larger numbers in simple, unfettered designs for maximum appeal.

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Keep it neat: The first glance at your home should reveal a neat, clutter-free exterior. Remove any standing objects, trash, or items in disrepair, and keep the exterior area as tidy as possible.

Front door

Try a new door: Though a new door is a costlier investment than, say, house numbers, it can spruce up your home’s exterior, and even help your home look newer. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brightly colored doors. At minimum, keep your existing door clean and in tip-top condition by replacing knobs, hinges and doorbells if they’re in disrepair.

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Lighting: Good lighting can give your home’s exterior a cheap makeover and make first impressions more positive. Try path-side lighting in your entryway, or selective lighting to accentuate particularly beautiful landscaping, such as blooming flowers.

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Landscaping matters: Landscaping may be the single most important component of a home’s curb appeal. First things first: Plants in poor condition immediately detract from your home’s appearance, as do weeds. Commit to maintaining whatever landscaping you choose in prime condition. If your budget allows, you might consider a professional landscaping service. Homes with more “sophisticated” landscaped exteriors can be perceived as having a larger market value.

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Check Your Mailbox: In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore. You can spend a pile of money for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox, but a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price.

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Know your neighborhood: We don’t want to encourage you to worry about the proverbial Jones’, but knowing the context of your neighborhood is important to creating curb appeal. Create an exterior that complements the neighborhood and nearby houses.

How Often Should You Replace Household Items?

Some things get better as they age – like wine and cheese. However, this concept does not apply to many of your household items that you use on daily basis.

The experts tell us that if we don’t routinely purchase new mattresses, pillows, and kitchen sponges we could actually be doing damage to our health. From food storage containers to HVAC filters, you might be surprised how frequently you should be replacing these items.

Throw Pillows: Every Two to Four Years

A lot depends on the wear and tear, but if you clean the pillows inserts every four to six months and replace the covers if there’s a stain, you can get more mileage out of them. Plus recovering them gives your space a renewed sense of style.

Mattress: Every Seven Years

Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every seven years. In seven years, the mattress will most likely not be providing you the most comfort and support. Keeping your mattress in a dust mite resistant cover will also keep your mattress fresh and less likely to cause allergy-like symptoms to develop.

Bed Pillows: Every Two Years

Just like your mattress, pillows are a haven for dust mites. Zipping your pillows into a pillow protector underneath your pillow covers will not only keep the pests at bay – it will protect it from oils from your skin and prolong the freshness of the pillows in between washing them.

Duvet: Every Five Years

In colder environments a thick comforter is a necessity for many months of the year. To keep them in good condition – and some style to your bedroom – it’s a good idea to use a duvet cover. While a cover might need to be replaced over time, it’s far more affordable than dry cleaning or purchasing a new down comforter.

Towels: Every Two to Three Years

Eventually, even the most expensive towels will get thin and lose their absorbency. Depending on what kind of water service you have, they might also get a little funky from well water or rough from chlorine.

If you notice they’re losing their absorbency—or worse, starting to smell—it’s time to donate them to an animal shelter and treat yourself to new towels.

Bath Mat: Every Two Years

This actually gets more wear and tear than your towels, but you should replace it for similar reasons: It’s less absorbent or it starts to fade or smell.

Kitchen Sponges: Monthly

Bathed in soap, water and food particles multiple times daily, sponges are pretty disgusting. No, really. Filled with bacteria and mold, they’re the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. You can extend the life by placing them into a dishwasher or soaking them in a little hot bleach water but if neither of these solutions appeals to you, consider replacing them altogether with a dish brush.

Plastic Food Storage Containers: Every Two to Five Years

Be on the lookout for scratches and cracks. If you spot one, toss the container now to steer clear of food spoilage or germs. If you are not fond of disposable containers for environmental and health reasons, glass food containers are readily available, easy to clean and safe for reheating in microwaves or ovens.

Smoke Detectors: Every Ten Years

If it chirps after you’ve replaced the batteries or there’s no sound when you perform the monthly test, it is time to replace them. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries in all your smoke detectors at the same time to avoid monthly trips to the hardware store.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Every Five to Seven Years

Most carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms are backed by a five- to seven-year warranty, but they typically emit a chirping or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life. This signal differs from the one that indicates a low battery. If there’s a problem with the unit, a model with a digital display will show an error message, and one without a digital display might flash LEDs in a particular pattern.

Heat Pump: Every 12 to 15 Years

Some experts say it’s all about energy efficiency, so replacing your heat pump every 10 to 12 years will keep your electric bills down. Others say maintain it well and keep it running until it literally dies on you and you can get another 3 to 5 years from it. Make sure you have the correct size for the heat and cooling load it will have to provide, based on square footage of your home.

HVAC filter: 1-3 months, Depending on Season and Usage.

If you are running your heat pump or forced air unit year-round, it is more likely to clog, so you should replace your filter once a month. This is especially important if you have pets or someone in your home who suffers from allergies or respiratory issues.

Fire extinguishers: Every 10 years

Portable extinguishers may lose pressure over time and become ineffective whether or not they’ve been triggered, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If your extinguisher is rechargeable, have it serviced every 6 years or when the pressure is low. (Look for service companies online under fire extinguishers.)

 

 

New Features vs. Character

We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes:

The neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

Design and layout

If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost.  But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature tress and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-care garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing your decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.

Windermere Foundation By the Numbers

For the past 28 years, the Windermere Foundation has been helping those in need in our communities through donations to local organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families. In 2016, the Windermere Foundation raised over $2.2 million in donations, bringing the total to over $33 million raised since it started in 1989.

Last year, 35 percent of the donations to the Windermere Foundation came from agent commissions. That’s because every time you use a Windermere agent to buy or sell a home, they make a donation to the Windermere Foundation. The other 65 percent came from additional donations made by Windermere agents, employees and the community. Because of these donations, the Windermere Foundation was able to fulfill 664 grants and help 410 organizations that provide help to those in need.

And every dollar donated is put to good use! As you can see from the infographic below, even small donations make a big impact and help us fund things like food bank meals, school supplies for underprivileged students, and resources for children in crisis.

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If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button.

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation

 

First Sign of Spring: The NW Flower and Garden Show

February 22 – 26 at the Washington State Convention Center

Just when we need it most, the NW Flower and Garden Show arrives each February to provide us with a breath of spring air; providing inspiration, education and motivation for gardeners – new and old. Whether in a backyard, flower box, or rooftop, this is where green lovers go to discover ideas while having fun.

Embracing the upcoming show’s theme, “Taste of Spring”, this year some of the Northwest’s most respected designers will incorporate elements of the theme into big, blooming gardens, as the show celebrates food, trends in organic and urban gardening, sustainability, and a variety of culinary experiences, such as outdoor dining.

In addition to the regular show, which includes grand garden exhibits, seminars, and the very popular Garden Wars, they have added a tasting room in the Marketplace, a container garden contest, and a garden-themed baking competition for local bakeries.

Tasting Corner

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The Tasting Corner will feature samples (and sales) from local merchants that specialize in gourmet food products of the Pacific Northwest, including infused oils and salts, floral elixirs and honey.

Container Wars

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Master Gardeners are tasked with creating three luscious planted containers—each drawing from identical plants—in under one hour. Container gardens are a fabulous addition to any outdoor space, be it a small deck off your condominium or part of the landscape in your backyard.

Bouquet of Cakes

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The cakes will feature artistic, unique and celebratory special event cake designs inspired by elements of flowers and gardens.

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Whether you are a new gardener in need of sensible advice or a seasoned pro, you’ll find scores of inspiring seminars and hands-on demonstrations filled with valuable education and entertainment. Dig in and learn how to solve your landscaping challenges, create livable outdoor spaces, and grow edible gardens for year-round enjoyment.

Windermere Monthly Luxury Breakfast

This week, more than 100 Windermere brokers from all over the Puget Sound area met at Broadmoor Golf and Country Club to discuss the local luxury real estate market, premier their newest luxury listings, and hear from the featured speaker, Stephanie Pfeffer Anton, Executive Vice President of Luxury Portfolio International. Stephanie discussed a number of things related to luxury consumer trends, but her insights into the younger generation of luxury homeowners were especially interesting.

Wealthy Millennials have predominantly grown up in affluent homes. They know luxury brands very well and, for the most part, are not enamored by them. For them, money buys more than a luxury home or luxury car: It buys time with friends and family, and having amazing experiences that they can share with each other. This behavior is likely even more commonplace in an area like Seattle where understated affluence is the status quo amongst the area’s wealthiest residents.

The top three priorities of young luxury homeowners are travel, dining, and real estate – in that order. Their desires for a luxury home are somewhat different than their Baby Boomer parents before them.  For instance, in a world of social media, reality television, and constant internet access – and the attention that it brings – their number one priority in a home is privacy. But that’s not all. According to a study by Luxury Portfolio International, these are the top five amenities that younger generations look for in a luxury home:

  1. Privacy
  2. Large Master Suite with amazing bathroom
  3. Energy Efficient/Smart Homes
  4. Sustainable Living (convenience without wastefulness + social good)
  5. High-end kitchen appliances

Windermere is a proud member of Luxury Portfolio International, an exclusive affilition that enables us to market our $1 million+ listings to the largest network of independent real estate firms in the world. For more information about Luxury Portfolio please visit LuxuryPortfolio.com.

 

Inspired by Love

Red home décor accents are not just for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is here, the color red is seemingly everywhere, and you may have considered introducing red accents into your home décor to get into the spirit. The good news is that red isn’t just for holidays. In fact, the color red can actually add more energy to your interior regardless of the time of year. Here are eight ways that you can use red to spice up different living spaces.

Red bar stools look great in almost any color environment; from a vivid purple dining room, to a cool white-on-white kitchen.

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Make your living room really stand out by adding an accent chair in a passionate shade of red. Pair it with neutral colors and make it the star of the room along with cool items, such as a black and white accent pieces.

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In a black and white home, add a pop of red by choosing a Persian carpet in this wonderful color. The deep color grounds the living space and the intricate pattern masks spills.

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There is nothing more fabulous than a dining area with a dreamy chandelier, but if you really want to make this room the star of your home, add a fancy red table.

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This simple red cabinet becomes a statement piece by sticking to a monochromatic theme. A few white and off-color items on the shelves keeps monochromatic from becoming monotonous.

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Where better than the bedroom to add the romantic color of red? Go modern with bold, textured pillows mixed with softer colors.

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A glam red kitchen will bring romance into your home. This flirtatious and sweet kitchen will make you want to cook more with your loved one.

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Red is the perfect color for your bathtub if you want to make your bathroom feel more romantic. Highlight it by using minimalist lighting fixtures and gorgeous vintage wallpaper.

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Winter Fun for Seattle Kids

It’s cold, rainy and generally no fun outside for kids during the winter months. What else can you do to keep kids entertained, engaged and away from the TV? There are plenty of well-established options in the city like Seattle Children’s Museum, Seattle Children’s Theater, Woodland Park Zoo and the Pacific Science Center, but we looked around and found a few other options that are a little more adventurous and less known.

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Seattle Kids Tour

A professionally guided tour for visitors and locals alike, your Tour Guide will take you places that are naturally interesting to kids, and show them the city in a way that is specifically designed so kids can learn and relate to the city architecture, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum – and the infamous gum wall.

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Wings Over Washington

Mixing theater, laser projection, sound and movement – Wings Over Washington is a full sensory experience. Strapped into a seat that moves with the film and the music, you will see everything from the Seattle Great Wheel to the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, and a lot of amazing Washington scenery in between.

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Ice Cream Cruise

At first glance you might think that this trip would be too cold in the winter and best saved for the heat of summer. Fortunately the interior is heated and the crowds will not be nearly as deep during the off-season. Besides serving ice cream there is fun music, stories and tours through the Lake Union houseboat neighborhood, Gas Works Park, and even some spy ships! Fun for all ages and you can even bring well behaved dogs!

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Trapeze Class

Have you got some little monkeys with cabin fever tearing around the house? Emerald City Trapeze offers classes for everyone from 6 to 89 years old. Taught by expert Circus performers, this is a day you and your kids will not soon forget!

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iFly

For the seriously adventurous kids, there is iFly. Anyone 3 or older is allowed to participate here for a truly uplifting day. Climb inside one of their vertical wind tunnels and experience the sport of skydiving without the need for parachute or a plane.