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.

 

Why We Love Seattle Series: Frye Art Museum

Art Museums are always a labor of love by those who create them for their communities – especially when they are created, curated and then opened to the public free of charge. Charles and Emma Frye were avid art collectors and patrons of the arts, and following Charles Frye’s death in 1940, their extensive collection was gifted in perpetuity to the people of Seattle via the opening of the Frye Art Museum.

In addition to the Frye’s Founding Collection, they host a rolling calendar of exhibitions from many varieties of art, children’s storytelling hours that are augmented with art, musical concerts, classes, workshops and many other events – all free of charge. To discover what wonderful things they have scheduled this month – their 65th Anniversary – take a look at their Calendar of Events.

For a really lovely afternoon, grab lunch at the Gallery Café, tour the exhibitions and then visit the Frye Store for something gorgeous and unique to add to your own collection.

 

12 Tips for Making Your Bedroom Cozier

At the end of a long day, your bedroom should be a sanctuary of comfort that welcomes you in. But, as a room that guests rarely see and in which homeowners spend most of their time with their eyes closed, its upkeep frequently gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Thankfully, there are some little design tricks that can make a big difference. Turn your bedroom into a restful retreat when you up its coziness factor with a few of these easy ideas.

  1. Layer textures. Sheepskin rugs, a down comforter, plush pillows and knit blankets can add softness to the room that will make you want to sink right in. Lift these textures upward, with a canopy, a tufted headboard, billowy curtains and hanging textiles (like a weaving) so even the walls and ceiling feel snuggly.
  2. Pick the right paint. Dark, saturated colors make a room feel like it’s embracing you, which is ideal for setting a sleepy environment. But if you’re nervous to commit to a dark color on the wall, choose a pale dusty blue, sage green or another light natural color for a soothing tone (just steer clear of energetic hues). Have you ever wanted to sleep on a cloud? Go with all-white paint and decor which makes even a basic bedroom feel soft and spa-like.
  3. Personalize it with reminders of the places and things that make you feel at home. Do you have a fondness for flowers? Bring floral patterns in on your textiles. Do you dream of vacation at the lake? Frame a photo of your favorite spot! Photos or paintings of uncluttered natural landscapes—like a sunset reflecting on water or a hammock under the shade of an oak—can rekindle memories of relaxation and are perfect for creating a sense of calm.
  4. Add mood lighting. Soften the light to mimic dusk for an intimate mood with dimmer switches, lamps, lanterns or even string lights. Just make sure you can reach the switch from bed, so you don’t have to disturb your peace to get up and turn it off when you’re ready to roll over and fall to sleep.
  5. Skip metallic finishes. Choose warm natural decor options like wood and fabric instead of cold, manufactured metallic. This goes for everything from your bedroom furniture to window treatments. Faux wood blinds, especially when paired with floating curtains, fit with a cozy aesthetic and let you filter out harsh sunlight and maintain privacy for a truly sheltered slumber.
  6. Bring on the books! Stacks of good reads invite you to snuggle in and get lost in another world. A true retreat is a room with plenty of books that begs you to stay.
  7. Fix up—or fake—a fireplace. If your bed sits hearth-side, embrace this romantic accent with styled logs and a decorated mantle. If you don’t have such a luxury, create a faux fireplace to add comfort and warmth through your decor: Arrange oversized candles and lanterns safely within a homemade hearth to bring in that cozy fireside feeling without changing the structure of your home.
  8. Keep the room uncluttered. When you want to settle in, a mess distracts you from finding comfort, so minimize the amount of stuff that makes it to your bedroom. Watch your nightstand, which often becomes a catch-all, by making a point to re-home any wandering wares now, and put things away as soon as they enter the room in the future. If you’re apt to let laundry pile up, keep it behind the closed doors of your closet so it doesn’t crowd your peace.
  9. Create a sense of timelessness. Tuck clocks and electronics away so they’re nearby if you need them, but their wires and harsh silhouettes aren’t reminding you of life outside your sanctuary. The hush that falls in a room devoid of gadgets will allow you to easily disengage from the stresses of reality.
  10. Rethink your bedding. Add a pillow-top pad to your mattress so it feels like your bed is hugging you when you climb in. Or, bring in a contoured body pillow which actually can hug you! Linen sheets feel luxe compared to cotton and are a simple swap to boost your bower. Many people also swear by skipping the top sheet while dressing their beds, which allows them to burrow directly into a fluffy comforter.
  11. Appeal to your sense of smell. Aromatherapy can have a huge impact on your perception of a space, so find some soothing essential oils or a sweet candle to blanket the room with an ambiance you adore. As soon as you open the door, you’ll be eager to plunge into your little oasis.
  12. Nestle into nooks. A window seat, a reading nook or an upholstered seating area are all inviting spaces that can draw you in from the doorway. The more intimate alcoves you can create, the cozier your bedroom will feel!

Flooded with soft lighting, plush textures and other comfy touches, your bedroom environment will envelope you at day’s end. And, perhaps even better than the idea of your bedroom refresh itself, is knowing that none of these tips take longer than a weekend to complete! So, slide into your slippers as you settle on which cozy updates you’ll select for your new favorite room of the house.

 

Katie Laird is the Director of Social Marketing for Blinds.com and a frequent public speaker on Social Media Marketing, Social Customer Care and profitable company culture. An active blogger and early social technology adopter, you can find her online as ‘happykatie’ sharing home decor, yoga, parenting and vegetarian cooking tips.  If you’re interested in faux wood blinds like those described by Katie, please go to the Blinds.com website.

Windermere Donates $35,000 To Help #TackleHomelessness

The regular football season is officially over, and while the Seahawks didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, they did take home the title of NFC West champs. We can think of a number of reasons to be proud of the Seahawks, but the biggest one for us is the $35,000 they helped us raise to #tacklehomelessness.

As the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks, Windermere and the Seahawks decided to partner on a cause that is important to our community. The result was our #tacklehomelessness campaign which saw Windermere donating $100 for every Seahawks home game tackle during the 2016 season. An additional donation was made in honor of Bobby Wagner, the NFL leader in tackles this season, for each of his 167 tackles. All of these tackles added up to an impressive $35,000.

The recipient of the $35,000 donation is YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides essential services to homeless youth. The money raised will help fund YouthCare’s Residential Care Programs, which provide both housing and tailored support services to youth transitioning from homelessness to stability and independence.

Our partnership with the Seahawks and YouthCare fits perfectly with the mission of the Windermere Foundation, which is to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where we have offices. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional support to homeless youth in our area thanks to the Seahawks, YouthCare and the #tacklehomelessness campaign.

See you next season and GO HAWKS!

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State finished the year on a high with jobs continuing to be added across the market. Additionally, we are seeing decent growth in the area’s smaller markets, which have not benefitted from the same robust growth as the larger metropolitan markets.

Unemployment rates throughout the region continue to drop and the levels in the central Puget Sound region suggest that we are at full employment. In the coming year, I anticipate that we will see substantial income growth as companies look to recruit new talent and keep existing employees happy.

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 19,745 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2016—up by a very impressive 13.4% from the same period in 2015, but 18.7% below the total number of sales seen in the third quarter of the year. (This is a function of seasonality and no cause for concern.)
  • Sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with home sales up by 47%. There were also impressive sales increases in Grays Harbor and Thurston Counties. Jefferson County had a fairly modest decrease in sales.
  • The number of available listings continues to remain well below historic averages. The total number of homes for sale in the fourth quarter was down by 13.7% compared to the same period a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will continue to be a seller’s market. We should see some improvement in listing activity, but it is highly likely that demand will exceed supply for another year.

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HOME PRICES

  • Demand continued to exceed supply in the final three months of 2016 and this caused home prices to continue to rise. In the fourth quarter, average prices rose by 7.1% but were 0.4% higher than the third quarter of the year. The region’s average sales price is now $414,110.
  • In most parts of the region, home prices are well above historic highs and continue to trend upward.
  • When compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County. In total, there were eight counties where annual price growth exceeded 10%. We saw a drop in sales prices in the notoriously volatile San Juan County.
  • The aggressive home price growth that we’ve experienced in recent years should start to taper in 2017, but prices will continue to increase at rates that are higher than historic averages.

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DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by 15 days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2015.
  • King County was the only area where it took less than a month to sell a home, but all markets saw decent improvement in the time it took to sell a home when compared to a year ago.
  • In the final quarter of the year, it took an average of 64 days to sell a home. This is down from the 78 days it took in the third quarter of 2015, but up from the 52 days it took in the third quarter of 2016. (This is due to seasonality and not a cause for concern.)
  • We may experience a modest increase in the time it takes to sell a home in 2017, but only if there is a rapid increase in listings, which is certainly not a given.

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CONCLUSIONS

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This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2016, I actually moved the needle a little more in favor of buyers, but this is purely a function of the increase in interest rates that was seen after the election. Higher borrowing costs mean that buyers can afford less, which could ultimately put some modest downward pressure on home prices in 2017. That said, the region will still strongly favor sellers in the coming year.

 

Winter Gardening – Preparing For Spring

During this time of year when the holiday activities have faded and foliage everywhere is bare, many of us tend to get restless in anticipation of the arrival of spring. Master Gardeners know that gardening during the winter (climate permitting) is therapeutic for your garden and your soul.

Getting a jumpstart on planning, prep work and keeping perennials safe and warm during these months will pay off when warmer temperatures arrive with the first buds of spring. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to get you back into the garden now and keep your cabin fever at bay.

  • Rework your garden design. Were there areas last year that didn’t provide enough sun to some plants and too much to others? Was there wasted space that you’d like to incorporate this year?

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  • Start a garden journal to record your seed/plant orders and keep track of progress on your garden design. Sketch your garden design and decide which plants should be planted in zones based on full sun, partial sun and full shade.

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  • Shop local nurseries for asparagus roots, strawberry plants, and bare-root roses and fruit trees. These can be planted as soon as the ground is no longer frozen.

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  • Top-dress lawns and garden beds with compost and cover root crops still in the ground with an extra layer of mulch.

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  • Sow beets, carrots, radishes, cress, bok choy, and garden peas directly in the garden; cover the planting rows with dark compost to warm the soil.

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  • Sow seeds of herbs, such as dill and parsley in a greenhouse or sunny window. Veggies starts like tomatoes can also be done this way, rather than buying the starts later.

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  • Sow seeds of annual flowers (delphiniums, snapdragons, and larkspur are good choices) anywhere you want flowers for cutting or as a background for other plants.

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  • Feed the birds and provide them with some unfrozen water.

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  • Finish pruning trees, perennials and roses.

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  • Sit back and dream. Your work now will lay groundwork for a gorgeous garden later!

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Tiny Houses – A Big Trend

If you are even a casual fan of TV channels like HGTV, you’re sure to have noticed our nation’s current real estate obsession: Tiny Houses. Tiny House living can offer more financial freedom, more mobility, a lower environmental footprint, and an emphasis on experience over stuff. People who have adopted this lifestyle typically want to live a simpler, more pared-down life, and the rest of us want to watch them do it.

These homes have come a long way in the past five years. Designs for them have gone from extremely simple structures that are more affordable than the average new car, to extensive thought and design – including “Smart” Tiny Homes that can live “off the grid” using solar power and water recycling.

To the contemporary Tiny House purist, the structure is very small and simple. This usually means less than 300 square feet and a loft for the bed.

The “Tiny Living” model (shown below) is offered by Tiny Home Builders. They offer everything from pre-built homes and basic shells to tiny house plans.

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Keeping the home on wheels allows everything from moving whenever the mood strikes you, to overcoming issues with building codes that require permanent structures to have a larger square footage.

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Interiors are designed to be simple, providing basic needs and amenities without a lot of flourish or detail.

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Sleeping lofts are the norm, so if you have an issue with climbing stairs or ladders then a larger model with a main floor sleeping option is definitely a better choice.

A great example of how far they have come with regards to space and amenities is the Farallon model by the Tumbleweed Tinyhouse Company.

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They offer two sizes with a usable space option of 218 square feet or 246 square feet and the roof is just begging to have solar panels installed.

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Not only does this model provide what looks like a decent amount of counter space, it also has a main floor bed and bath, unlike many other tiny homes that only provide a sleeping loft.

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The cost for this kind of tiny living starts at $62,950 – $72,950.

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Many people who adopt the tiny house lifestyle say that communities are the key to a happy and successful living environment. Another trick to living large in small spaces is to have great public places to go to – preferably by foot or bike. Creating a micro-friendly community requires careful planning, walk-ability, and dedicated public spaces, but for those who achieve this trifecta of tiny living, the rewards can be anything but tiny.

 

Artfully Organizing Your Bookshelf

When it comes to organizing a bookshelf, there are a multitude of directions you can go. For example, a simple Pinterest search will turn up endless results of bookshelves stylishly organized by color, but what if that entails separating books from within a series? For some of us, that’s like separating our children. Ultimately, how you organize your bookshelf is a personal choice based on your own aesthetic, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some tips to help give your reading space photo-worthy style.

Sorting by color:

  • One color per shelf (a blue shelf, a green shelf, and so on). If you’re having trouble filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in craft paper.
  • A gradual “rainbow” flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
  • A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the whole bookcase is filled. This is time-consuming, but impressive.

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Sorting by size:

  • Large, heavy books should be shelved on sturdy shelves, below head height.
  • Start by placing the tallest and largest books on the lowest shelf, placing smaller and smaller books as you move upward. This creates a tidy, organized appearance. On some bookcases, this is a necessity to adapt to the height of each shelf.
  • Large decorative objects and oversized books look best if they are spaced out between different spots in the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. They also make excellent bookends and will help to keep books in place. A zig-zag pattern works well.

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Design effects to consider:

  • Create a dark backdrop.The bookcase will look more striking if the backdrop is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of the bookshelves to create this vivid effect. This can be anything from basic black to pale beige. For open-backed bookshelves, hang a cloth between them and the wall.

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  • Stack books on top of each other on some shelves, and vertically next to each other on others. Shelving books in different orientations by varying the position of the books is eye-catching and chic.

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  • Try a pyramid of books, topped with a small trinket.

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  • Leave plenty of empty space. Gaps often look better than a shelf clogged with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases placed in the middle of a room, which need a large amount of space to let light through.

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First Time Buyers, Millennials, and What to Expect in 2017

 

By Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist at Windermere Real Estate

I believe that the big story for the coming year will be first-time home buyers. Since they don’t need to sell before purchasing, their reemergence into the market ensures that sales will continue to increase, even while inventory is limited. Thirty-one percent of buyers currently in the real estate market are first-time buyers, but it would be more ideal if that figure was closer to 40 percent.

Why don’t we have enough first-time buyers in the market? With Baby Boomers working and living longer, we aren’t making much room for Millennials to start their careers. Plus, the major debt that the younger generation owes on student loans ($1.3 trillion today) hugely impacts the housing market. But the bigger issue is lack of down payments. Before the recession, many Millennials could look to their parents for help with down payments; however, these days that is not as much the case.

I would also contend that the notion of Millennials being a “renter generation” is nonsense. In a National Association of Realtors survey, 75 percent of them said that buying a home would be the most astute financial decision they’d ever make; however, 80 percent said they don’t think they could qualify for a mortgage. I do believe that Millennials will eventually buy, but they’re delaying their purchasing decisions by about three years when compared to previous generations, which is about the same amount of time they’re waiting to start families as well.

Mortgage rates have risen rapidly since the election, and unfortunately, I do not see a turnaround in this trend. That said, they will remain cheap when compared to historic averages.  Expect to see the yield on 30-year mortgages rise to around 4.7% by the end of 2017. For those who have grown accustomed to interest rates being at historic lows, this might seem high, but it’s all relative.

If I were to gaze all the way into 2018, my crystal ball takes me to the dreaded “R” word. Like taxes and death, recessions are another one of those unwanted realities that inevitably comes to visit every so often. Irrespective of who was voted into the White House, my view remains the same: prepare to see a business cycle recession by the end of 2018, but, rest assured, it will not be driven by real estate, nor will it resemble the Great Recession in any way.

Inspired By Nature: Pantone 2017 Color of the Year

pantone-color-of-the-year-lee-eiseman-quoteEach year the Pantone Color Institute declares a color of the year that ultimately influences trends in all facets of design; including architecture, interior design, graphic design, and fashion. This year they chose Greenery which is shade #15-0343 in the Pantone color spectrum.

A symbol for fresh, new beginnings it also has a feeling that reflects the mindfulness of healthier food resolutions, growing vegetarian trends, and an appreciation for the outdoors.

Here are some ways the 2017 Color of the Year can be incorporated into spaces within your home:

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The vivid color of Greenery is perfect for adding a punch of color to the exterior of the home, like painting your doors.

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An accent wall can immediately brighten interiors and plays beautifully with muted furniture.

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For a smaller commitment to the color, buy a few accent pillows and throws while indulging in lots of fresh flowers and greenery in vases.

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Bringing Greenery into your Kitchen can be done in many ways: rugs, table runners, accent pieces, and chairs.

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Don’t be afraid to mix other colors! There are a myriad of ways to use Greenery. Visit Pantone for color pairing suggestions and inspiration.