Tag Archives: home

The Why and How of Spring Cleaning

Brooke Stone, Founder and CEO of GYST, shares her exploration of spring cleaning, organization tips and advice from GYST Assistants about how to jump start your efforts.

I have a confession. I’m one of those maniacally organized people who, in spite of a demanding  job and two little ones, cannot sleep when the house hasn’t been returned to order. My house is  organized. There. I admit it. My containers match, I fastidiously use a label maker and you know  what, I love a good surface wipe. But, even though my house is pretty organized most of the  time, I still get that urge to turn the place upside down and go all Container Store on it every April. Why?! Trust me, I do not need another single thing to do. And, every year when I’m knee deep in a pile of stuff while both of my kids nap (I know what’s WRONG with me) I think -  WHY?! Why do I feel compelled, driven even, to participate in full blown spring cleaning whenever the tulips pop?

Turns out there are strong cultural roots pulling us towards trashing our homes only to immediately set them right again when the sun starts shining. This practice is shared around the world, supported by biology and part of deep rooted American traditions. In the Jewish faith the house is rigorously cleaned in anticipation of Passover and Christian faiths suggest various cleaning rituals starting on lent and throughout the days leading up to Easter. Iranian New Year, Nowruz, falls on the first day of spring and dictates a thorough house cleaning too. For the agnostic among us, longer, sunnier days mean less melatonin fogging our brains, and less melatonin means more available energy. And for the history buffs, during the long winter frontier families’ homes would become covered with soot from the fires used for cooking and heat.

When the weather was finally warm enough to open the windows these homes got a through  scrub down to remove that soot layer.

Now that I’m convinced spring cleaning isn’t just me killing time I don’t have, I’m going to break  down how you can make it happen this spring in spite of all of the other things demanding your  time and attention (because you know you want to…).

1. Set Your Goals: Pick one or two priority areas that need your attention the most and define your goals for the space.

2. Out, Sort, Distribute – Repeat: Pull everything out of the space you’ve chosen and set it out so you can see as much of it as possible. Sort your belongings into three piles: Keep, Donate, Lives Elsewhere. Organize the “Keep” pile, drop off your “Donate” pile, and ferry the “Lives Elsewhere” stuff to its rightful home.

3. Keep It Simple: If you have limited time and competing priorities, what sparks joy for you might be getting that one cabinet in order so you don’t have sippy cups raining down upon you every time you open it.

Our team of expert, skilled and savvy GYST Assistants had a few things to say on the topic too.  GYST Assistants are excellent spring cleaning partners and even better than doing it yourself is delegating to an expert. GYST Assistants will help you set up organizational systems that are efficient, effective and easy to maintain and Bell Family Company families enjoy exclusive access to GYST Assistants on a project basis. Give us a call at (917) 912-9206 or say  hi@gystplease.com to learn more.

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Written by our guest partner, Brooke Stone, Founder & CEO of GYST

Own Unique Artwork With Help From Sugarlift

Looking to jazz up the walls in your home? Imagine having unique and original artwork that no one else has had their hands on. Talk about a conversation topic for your next dinner party!

Our friends at Sugarlift help to find the best emerging artists to fill up those empty walls that have been staring blankly back at you. Read our Q&A below with the Sugarlift team to learn more!

Q: Finding the perfect artwork for your wall can be time-consuming and challenging. How does Sugarlift help simplify the process?

A: Finding the perfect art is actually much more complicated than it used to be. Collecting art was once done by a smaller group of connoisseurs who were spending much more on acquiring art from galleries or auction houses. The rest of us were living with framed posters (think Martini and Rossi or Dark Side of the Moon) or paintings done by our friend’s cousin.

Today, a myriad of online options bring art to a wider audience. But endlessly browsing online presents its own challenges. Our clients come to us after spending hours and hours scrolling through websites and still not finding something they love. Or they find an artist they like but don’t see any pieces that fit their space. In addition to that, framing and hanging art can be difficult if you don’t work as a part-time art-handler.

We designed Sugarlift to simplify the whole process. Clients who are looking for art are connected with a human art advisor who helps them navigate all of the options and decisions along the way through a free and fun service. We not only recommend hand-selected artists to fit your aesthetic tastes, we consult on the appropriate size, hanging, and even help with executing custom commissions. It’s our mission to help more people live with great art!

Q: What are a couple unique options for artwork in a child’s bedroom for someone looking for something a bit different?

A: The most important thing to know about the process of finding the right art is that it’s very subjective. What you like may be the opposite of someone else, and that’s okay!

When I think of children’s rooms, the go-to artwork seen across the Instagram universe often features photos of baby animals or illustrated prints. These can be fun, cute and playful, which is usually the feel people are going for in kids’ rooms—so they work!

We’ve had clients who want to replace pieces like these as their kids grow up. For example, we had a client replace baby animal photos with a large crashing wave taken by Brooklyn-based surf photographer Matthew Clark. Her nine-year-old picked it out himself! Another fun idea is creating a gallery wall of both contemporary artists and works made by the kids. Art doesn’t have to be so serious, and whose children aren’t making amazing abstract paintings?

Q: The playroom is an essential and frequently used space in a family’s home. What types of artwork would look or work best in that room?

A: This is definitely a question for someone not New York-based! In our apartment, the playroom doubles as the living room, dining room and part of the kitchen. And I thought we have a pretty comfortable apartment!

In a dedicated playroom, it’s fun to think about uplifting artwork. It’s an art and a science to determine which artwork will be energizing, but you can typically count on bright colors and dynamic compositions to achieve this goal.

Some unique options would be to include art by street artists like Eelco van den Berg or fun prints by collaborative artists such as Chiaozza or Gentleman’s Game. These artists incorporate play into the process of making the art, and why shouldn’t that idea translate into the space?

Q: Some people have a clear idea of the artwork they want and others need a lot of direction. How do you guide customers to find the perfect piece(s)?

A: This is very true. Some of our clients start without any idea of what they want. It’s our job to show them options and listen to their feedback. We don’t all have the vocabulary of an Art History PhD, so it’s important for us to listen and continue to refine the options we are showing.

What is also true is that when you find the right art for you, you don’t need an art history degree to know it. Living with art you love is an uplifting experience and should be accessible to all!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Home Life in Greenwich, Connecticut

Have you been thinking more and more about moving outside the hustle and bustle of the big city? How does Greenwich, CT sound?

In our final week of talking all things real estate, we partnered up with Margaret Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, our experts of real estate in the Greenwich, CT area (don’t worry, Bell Family has sitters in Greenwich)! Read below for our Q&A, and then find yourself browsing their listings like I did.

Q: What are some common requests that families make when looking for a home?

A: When looking for a new home, families prioritize neighborhoods, school districts and extra curricular activities available to their children. Greenwich has an abundance of sports, social and education resources for all ages. Parents who work in the city ask about access to the train and highways, and about services that make their lives manageable – references for nannys, dogwalkers and doctors and dentists.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home do they come with a clear idea what they are looking for or do you steer them to a home best suited for family?

A: Today’s buyers are smart and have a list of features that they are looking for in their new home.  They know how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want, they have an idea of what size home and property they desire. When buyers don’t know the town well, we help them pinpoint which of the many areas of Greenwich – each with its own lifestyle – meets their desired location needs, which is information not available on the internet.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: We have each lived in Greenwich for over 30 years and raised our own families here. We share resources about schools – public and private, extracurricular sports programs and the fabulous Greenwich public parks, which include a golf course, three local beaches, marinas, a town pool, paddle and tennis courts and hiking trails.

Q: Life with kiddo’s can get hectic and spare time can be limited.  What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day.

A: We make the homebuying experience very efficient by understanding our buyers wants and needs and price range. Together we develop a finely tuned profile of the “perfect” home. We then preview homes on the market on their behalf and call them to see the right one when it becomes available. We can add the most value when our clients trust us to be their eyes, ears and advocates.

Learn more about Margi Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, and be on your way to calling Greenwich, CT home.

Sharon and Margi (2)

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

 

Tips and Time Savers for Home Buyers

We continue with our real estate topic this week through a Q&A with Mary Kirby, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Learn great tips about home searching, buying, and how to make it a stress free process.

Q:  What are some important rooms for a growing household(s)? 

A:
1. Open concept den, kitchens with an island and stools
2. Bathtub
3. Bedrooms on the same floor
4. Quiet street
5. Close proximity to parks, library, eateries, school

Q: When working with a Buyer with children to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for?

A: Generally they have an idea of specific criteria. We then pass along information to the buyer on finding the ideal town or neighborhood by asking questions such as: private school vs public school, public transportation or dependence on car, commute time to work, budget, forever home vs starter home.

Q: What are some tips you give to Buyers with children looking for a new home? 

A: Get to know the neighborhoods. Go out to lunch, stop in the stores, and visit playgrounds to get a feel of the different neighborhood vibes. A lot of times, prospective buyers end up in a completely different neighborhood than they had originally shown interest in.

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Finding and trusting a local market expert realtor is key. In such a fast paced market, we typically preview potential homes for our clients, face-time/take videos, send weekly updates on open houses, new listings etc. Once you have chosen your ideal neighborhoods, you should dedicate about two months towards searching for that perfect home. It is also important to be pre-approved by a mortgage lender prior to searching, so you are ready to submit an offer.

To work with Mary and the Douglas Team, click here for more information.

Mary Kirby

 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Realtor Brings Home-Buying Tips to Families

We recently partnered with Joe Quiros, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass Real Estate and Co-Founder of The Joe + Kelly Team, to learn more about the home-buying process, and to share tips with families who are out hunting for their next home.

Q: What are some common special requests that family’s make when looking for a home?

A: The most common request is, and always will be, school district. The NYC school system is intricate and presents many challenges, and while some parents will choose to send their children to private school for middle and high school, a great public school for the K-5 years is always highly desirable. Our advice for parents with children is to really do their homework on what school districts they would be happy to live in, and then focusing on properties in those areas. Homes in great school districts can demand a premium, and we want to avoid situations where clients are comparing properties in lesser school districts, conceivably getting more value, but being disappointed in the options that they would actually be comfortable living in.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for, or do you help steer them towards a home best fit for families? 

A: We always coach our clients that it’s a process of elimination, not a process of selection, and in order to go through that process, it’s best to keep your search as broad as possible in the beginning and then whittle it down as you see more homes. We’ve had clients who completely gut renovate and design their homes to the inch, and even then, there are things they wish they had done differently. So the idea of a ‘perfect home’ doesn’t really exist at any price point. With that, while every client should have their wish list, it’s important to figure out what items on that wish list are most important, and which can be compromised on a bit and the only way to figure that out is by going out and seeing properties. While we’re there to guide and advise against making a bad investment, to point things out that they may not have noticed, and to make sure they’re not missing anything on the market, ultimately the client is the only person who can figure out what’s most important to them and their family.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: One of the things that we always remind our clients is that real estate mirrors life. Marriage and having children are two of the biggest changes in anyone’s life, and making sure that you have a home that you can grow into is vital. While no one can truly predict the market, typically, if you hold an asset for several years, it’s going to appreciate and end up being a great investment. So, one of the things we try to coach our clients on is making sure, to the best of their abilities, that the home will be a place they can grow into and that matches their life plans. That way, they can live there long enough to allow it to appreciate, while being happy and comfortable while they’re there. Aside from that, having a doorman can be great for older children who are traveling to and from school alone; A children’s playroom is a great opportunity to meet other parents of young children within your building; And having local parks makes it easy to get the kids outside and get some of that energy out!

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Being prepared as best as possible is one of, if not the most important things for any serious buyer. If they’re taking out a mortgage, the first step is always to get pre-approved by a bank. Pre-approvals are different that pre-qualifications, as a pre-approval takes more time and documentation, but holds more weight when understanding what your purchasing power is and when putting in an offer. Once that’s done, having an open and constant dialogue about what properties you like to see is vital for efficiency. One of the tools the Compass offers called ‘Collections’ allows us to communicate specific properties in real time and is almost like a Pinterest of Real Estate. It’s a great tool for keeping organized and staying focused on which properties you’ve seen, which properties you want to see, and which properties you’re not, or no longer interested in and is so much more efficient than the dozens of email threads that typically are the case when searching for a home. Using that spare time to go through the properties on Collections can take as little as five minutes and once you’ve accumulated an adequate list, it’s a matter of us scheduling as many of those properties within that block of time as possible.

To learn more about The Joe + Kelly Team, click here.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Home Organizing Is Done & Done!

Done & Done does your home, too!

With a move and a baby on the way, it’s near impossible to find time to organize my closets and pack. I have so much unnecessary stuff that I needed to pitch, but it’s hard to throw away memories and find the time. There is a chance I might be making excuses…

I finally asked one of my clients who owns an organization company to help. She booked an appointment with me right before the holidays, so I could start the new year off right! Kate and her team started with my baby’s closet full of everything from toys, clothes, luggage, blankets, boxes of old photos – you name it – it’s in there.

She pulled out the endless number of towels I had, and went through what to keep and what to donate. The keep items were perfectly folded in a hotel-like way back into the closet. I had no idea how many holiday hand towels one person could accumulate. Bye!

We all know kids’ toys take over a NYC apartment fast; I stuffed all of mine in the closet. Everything was pulled out and assed; do I really need this?

Then came the boxes. We started filling them with items we didn’t need until after our move; kids clothes, blankets, old pictures, toys no longer age appropriate… off they went into labeled boxes.

It took about 2.5 hours to get everything together and organized, then off they went wishing me well in the new year with a fresh start of no clutter! Below is a before and after of the closet.

Baby closet-before

Baby closet-after-1

“It’s important to have an organized home since babies and children are by nature somewhat unpredictable. Having an organized home allows for a feeling of control and the ability to handle anything that might occur at any given moment.”

Book your appointment with Kate’s mother, Ann, and mention Bell Family to get 10% off! Promo ends March 1st.

To learn more about Done & Done, click here.

Written by our Founder & CEO, Lindsay Bell