Getting your home ready for Back to School

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The lazy days of summer have come to an end! As your family launches into back to school season, there are some steps you can take to ease the transition.

Photo: PBS.org

Photo: PBS.org

Start by taking a look at wherever you consider to be your command central station and make sure it is ready for the onslaught of new activity. Clear out old paperwork to make room for the new. Set up a file system for school notices and activity reference paperwork and consider a bulletin board for papers that will be referred to frequently. Consider color coding activities by family member.

Photo: Houzz.com

Photo: Houzz.com

Where will the kids do their homework? If there is not an official homework zone, make sure you are well stocked on supplies in the kitchen or near where the kids will usually be working. This is a great time and opportunity to clean out that junk drawer!

Image: HouseBeautiful.com

Image: Housebeautiful.com

This is also a good time of year to spend a little time de-cluttering the kids’ bedrooms. Go through their clothes for what fits and donate what does not. Make a list in advance of what needs to be purchased right away vs. what can wait until later in the season to simplify shopping. Don’t forget to label new purchases with each child’s name to guard against the inevitable items that will land in lost and found!

Girls Back to School Looks

Photo: Jcrew.com

How does your mudroom look? What about the garage? Do an inventory of everything and check the condition of sneakers, cleats, helmets and sports equipment.

Photo: HGTV.com

Photo: HGTV.com

Organize the pantry and pull out your recipes for easy make-ahead weeknight meals. As you start to pack school lunches again, you’ll want to replenish container supplies that are worn out or missing.

Bye bye Summer; hello Fall!

Tips for Moving into your Dream Home

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your new home is ready and you can’t wait to move in. If only you could snap your fingers and have all of your furniture and possessions magically transported from one place to the next! Of course it’s not that easy, so time to take a deep breath and get moving. The process may feel intimidating, but the end result will be so worth it!

Photo: MarthaStewart.com

Photo: MarthaStewart.com

A top notch mover can really ease the process and help ensure that your treasured possessions make the move in good shape. Ask for recommendations and check references. Don’t forget to create an inventoried list of antiques and valuables for insurance purposes just in case.

Photo: ArchitecturalDigest.com

Photo: ArchitecturalDigest.com

Moving is a great opportunity to cut back on clutter and start anew. Begin going through your house and closets as early as possible to weed out items that do not need to be moved and should be donated to charity. You will also want to start eating the food in your pantry and freezer so there is less to pack from the kitchen.

There are so many change of address notifications that you will need to make. Schools, doctors, insurance companies, utilities…it helps to create a checklist and keep adding to it as you think of things. Completing a change of address form with the postal service is a must.

Photo: Idealhomegarden.com

Photo: Idealhomegarden.com

When it comes to packing, an early start is helpful as well. Start with items that you use less frequently. You can never have too much bubble wrap and packing tissue! China and breakables will be more protected in rigid plastic tubs than cardboard boxes. Place heavier dishes on the bottom. Align plates on their sides and place bowls upside down – this protects them better structurally. Don’t forget to label kitchen knives and other sharp objects clearly so they can be carefully unpacked.

Photo: bhg.com

Photo: bhg.com

Find out what kinds of blankets and materials the mover will use and consider supplementing with your own for an extra layer of protection. Plastic furniture bags can be very helpful to prevent fabrics from being soiled by dirty hands. If there are castors or wheels on chairs or sofas, make sure they are wrapped to prevent them from falling off and getting lost.

Photo: Ecobox.com

Photo: Ecobox.com

You may want to pack a suitcase or a few boxes to transport yourself of items you couldn’t live without for even a day. If you have pets, pack their food, water dish, etc. in a clearly labeled box to be opened right away. (Don’t forget to update their tags and microchips!)

Photo: bhg.com

Photo: bhg.com

Once all the boxes have been unloaded, try to resist the urge to rush the process of unpacking. Setting up a new home is more fulfilling and the end product will be more livable if you allow yourself the time to really think through ideal placement for everything, focusing on one room at a time.

It’s ok to eat takeout for a while – you have enough on your plate. Your dream home is coming to life. Enjoy it!

Maximizing Space in your Home

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As consumers become more aware of their footprint in their world, the days of the mega mansion are being replaced by a trend towards smaller homes. With this trend comes an increasing need to maximize functional space, and built-in cabinets have never been so popular.  Built-ins can be leveraged throughout an entire house to create found space, convenience and access. Virtually any nook or alcove can be turned into inviting storage and seating. Think shelving, benches, cubbies and cabinetry!

Well designed and thought out cabinetry is critical for a functional kitchen. At Milton we will walk you through the process, beginning with learning about your own unique needs. Do you have a collection that you would like to display, or do you prefer more hidden storage to keep clutter out of sight?

When space is limited, flexibility is especially important. There are many creative ways to build versatility into a design.  We think this extendable kitchen island is a clever idea:

bhg.com

Photo: bhg.com

What do you like to cook? Which small appliances get used every day and which can be more tucked away? Appliance garages can be built around your own unique needs and preferences.

Photo: Atlantahomesmag.com

Photo: Atlantahomesmag.com

It is often the little details that make all the difference. A built-in charging drawer is a great idea, as is strategic placement of electrical outlets out of sight – allowing for the seamless look of an uninterrupted backsplash.

Photo: houzz.com

Photo: houzz.com

And we love the concept of this pull-up plug:

Photo: houzz.com

Photo: houzz.com

Do you need a place to tuck a sponge out of sight? What about dishtowels, both clean and dirty?

Photo: houzz.com

Photo: houzz.com

There are so many creative ways to maximize precious space and add storage. These built-in stair cabinets are a smart solution.

Photo: Realsimple.com

Photo: Realsimple.com

The bottom line? The right built-ins help to define and finish a space, both visually and functionally.

Of course the designing of your dream home should include spaces that are allocated for your own particular passions and pursuits.  We love that Julia Child had a walk-in pastry room!

Photo: Architectural Digest, circa 1976

Photo: Architectural Digest, circa 1976

How would YOUR dream built-ins allow you to live better? We’d love to hear about it!

Location, Location, Location!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We’ve all heard this age old expression and somehow it just feels more true year after year. What is a dream home without the right location? And the right location has always been at the heart of Milton’s philosophy. A great neighborhood can make a world of difference, and Milton is known to have the best locations within any neighborhood. Significant acreage, established streets and coveted cul de sacs are all Milton trademarks.

Westport, Connecticut is where New England charm and tradition meet the sophisticated suburbs of New York City. This comfortable and relaxing shorefront community along the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound offers rolling hills, expansive waterfront views, and natural forested areas, not to mention numerous recreational activities and cultural opportunities.

Westport's Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. Photo: Fairfield After Dark

Westport’s Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. Photo: Fairfield After Dark

Westport offers a wide variety of charming and sophisticated neighborhoods with something to appeal to everyone.  As the premier luxury home builder in Westport, Milton knows this town inside and out. We understand the nuances by neighborhood and receive many calls about what is currently available and where – so we created a new quarterly email format to provide an easy update at a glance.

Milton Email

Sign up for Milton Email here. And let us know if this quarterly email is helpful; we would love your feedback. Send us an email or comment below.

Of course what to look for in a neighborhood depends on your own unique needs. Within walking distance to school can be a huge perk for families. Proximity to a train station adds greatly to the quality of life of a commuter. Many people, especially recent transplants from the city, love to still be able to walk out their front door and go shopping or grab coffee without needing to jump in a car.  It all depends on each buyer’s own personal needs and wishes.

This month we asked award winning Fairfield County Realtor Jillian Klaff, who resides and specializes in Westport for some insight:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

JILLIAN KLAFF: Westport is a very desirable town. All of the schools are good, although buyers will sometimes choose specific neighborhoods because of a certain school district they want to be in.

This scenic town wins awards with the quality of its school system. Photo: Greatschools.org

This scenic town wins awards with the quality of its school system. Photo: Greatschools.org

The neighborhoods all have their own unique benefits.

GREENS FARMS is prestigious and near the train. This is the oldest neighborhood and “original” Westport.

Westport is just slightly over an hour to Grand Central Station by train. Photo: Westportmoves.com

Westport is just slightly over an hour to Grand Central Station by train. Photo: Westportmoves.com

For those who don’t mind being a little further out to get more privacy and land, COLEYTOWN provides more peace and quiet. It is not really as far as people perceive.

On the other hand, there are many clients who need to be close to the train or would like to be able to WALK TO TOWN. I have found that buyers wanting to be close to town do not care about having a lot of property. They like to be close to the action and want their commute time to be as little as possible. Many young families from Manhattan are often nervous about feeling lonely and isolated when moving from the city, so they seek a neighborhood feeling and a sense of community.  They are also attracted to brand new construction. Supply here is limited so prices can be higher for these homes.

Westport downtown: a quaint atmosphere with upscale shops makes for easy windo shopping. Photo: Virtualtourist.com

Westport downtown: a quaint atmosphere with upscale shops makes for easy window shopping. Photo: Virtualtourist.com

LONG LOTS is very central and close to schools. These tend to be smaller lots, but often on desirable cul de sacs.

Buyers seeking new homes BY THE BEACH area naturally want to have as great water views as possible and easy access to the beaches. After the massive storms in the past few months, I find buyers want to be out of a flood plain area and want to make sure a house is raised to above flood level heights to simplify insurance. There is also great demand for generators; all Milton homes have them, so this is a given.

A view from Westport's popular Compo Beach. Photo: Panoramio.com

A view of Westport’s popular Compo Beach. Photo: Panoramio.com

Whatever section of town a home is in, my buyers want to make sure it is not on too busy a street. They prefer to be branched off from the main road, they seek flat back yards and walk out lower levels, and love transitional  design concepts. Above all, buyers appreciate getting a brand new home and have often done their homework on new construction and builder reputation – so I find that many are already familiar with and excited by Milton. It is very rewarding to connect a family with their dream home. If you are in the market yourself, you have come to the right place by researching Milton!

Outdoor Living Done Right

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Outdoor living spaces are different from indoor living spaces in one very important way – they are outdoors! You will want to consider the elements that are indigenous to your home’s exterior environment in order to create outdoor spaces that are perfectly situated and framed by natural beauty. Start by assessing your primary use for the spot: will this be for entertaining or your own daily relaxation, and are you expecting this space to be used for one season, two, three or four?

The right seating arrangements are as important outdoors as in. You want to create areas that are comfy and accommodating while also visually inviting. Pay attention to the amount of open space around seating to balance the flow and maximize the expansive ambience of being outside. Aligning furniture within an area to maximize function is important, but you’ll also want to take a step back to see if the overall grouping is aesthetically pleasing.

Pops of color in pillows and furniture are a good way to add character and visual interest. For easier maintenance, opt for mold resistant fabrics that won’t fade in the sun. A great rug is an easy shortcut to defining a space, and you can find plenty of handsome options that are designed for outdoor use. Keep the everyday setup simple but flexible. You can always bring out additional touches and décor when entertaining.

Photo: GQ

Photo: GQ

Quality landscape lighting allows you to set a scene at the flick of a switch. But it is also fun to customize the mood with candles and lanterns. And of course it is hard to top the allure of sitting around an actual fire. An outdoor fire pit creates an instant destination for delightful conversation and a natural sense of entertainment. Al fresco marshmallows or hot dogs, anyone?

What else does your dream exterior include? For many, a pool or spa adds greatly to the experience of enjoying the outdoors. The style and design you select may depend on your ideal usage, which could be anything from entertaining friends to lounging in the sun on a lazy afternoon, or playing water games with the kids – whatever floats YOUR pool float!

When it comes to outdoor living, regardless of what you already have or what you plan to build, the idea is to get outside and savor the warmer weather and beauty of nature as the temperatures rise. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Milton: It’s in the Details

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

At Milton, we believe that there is nothing better than attention to detail. Thoughtful details are the hallmark of quality construction and exquisite finishing touches often mark the difference between good and the best. Part of the fun in designing your own dream home comes in exploring what speaks to you personally and compiling a wish list and collection of images that inspire you. Architectural details that you admire can be customized to reflect your own tastes and ideal aesthetic.

What does your dream style look like? Hint: finely detailed does not have to mean ornate. Beautiful design is often stunningly simple but with luxe elements and meticulous attention to detail. This bathroom with precise millwork and beautiful limestone floors is a great example:

Photo: Canadian House and Home

Photo: Canadian House and Home

We also love the inclusion of the side wall mirror in the bathroom to help expand the space.

Generous mirrors easily lend a sense of indulgence to a room while at the same time enhancing functionality. Closet doors are a great place to add them!

Speaking of doors, this is a key opportunity to make a striking statement, both inside and out. A beautifully designed front door is like a smile – a welcoming first impression for your house.

Doors can be used creatively to create welcoming spaces outside of the home as well. Bold and graphic cedar fence doors really set the mood in this Southampton garden:

Inside, quality hardware and fixtures contribute greatly to innovative design. You can use them to create contrast and a visual counterpoint, or to continue a theme. We love how the circular hardware complements the graphic appeal of this bathroom:

Photo: Houzz

Photo: Houzz

The right furnishings are important as well. A chorus of similar shapes can create harmony and make a room feel complete. In this bedroom, the square angled side tables combine with the square pattern of the silver leaf framed headboard to provide a sense of tranquility and order.

Photo: Architectural Digest

Photo: Architectural Digest

Think of your ultimate goal for a room and select details that will complement that objective. Remember that they can be whatever you want them to be as long as they are well executed. Meticulous attention to detail will make all the difference in your final product – enjoy the process and don’t be afraid to mix it up. We’d love to see what is inspiring you!

Great Garage Ideas

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For many of us, our garages serve primarily as parking spots and storage depositories. While we pass through these spaces multiple times a day, it is easy to neglect them from a visual perspective. Yet given how much focus we put on the right finish and attention to detail throughout the design of our homes, why shouldn’t we give our garages the same attention? At Milton, we believe that the perfectly outfitted garage is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. You don’t need to be afraid to open the doors!

The most important step to a well organized garage is to get clutter off the floors. Bringing as much as possible up and into designated sections and systems conserves space and makes everything easier to find.

Image courtesy: Elle Decor

Image courtesy: Elle Decor

Cabinets are our favorite way to reclaim the serenity of a space. Custom built cabinets provide the cleanest look and greatest efficiency. We love natural woods for longterm performance and durability or the modern look of metal, like stainless steel.

Image courtesy PremierGarage.com

Image courtesy PremierGarage.com

A more casual alternative that provides fun flexibility for easy labeling (and relabeling!) can be achieved with chalkboard paint. Give your kids each their own cabinet and inspire them to put their things away.

Image courtesy Better Homes & Gardens

Image courtesy Better Homes & Gardens

Bikes deserve their own designated parking spaces. Racks are great to add vertical capacity and can be cleverly placed around a variety of space restrictions.

Image courtesy Martha Stewart

Image courtesy Martha Stewart

Want an immediate solution to tidy things up and hide some of the visual chaos? There is always the good old curtain trick!

Image courtesy Better Homes & Gardens

Image courtesy Better Homes & Gardens

For flooring, think easy to maintain, stain resistant, and durable. Yet there is no need to sacrifice beauty in the garage – pick a surface that adds style and complements the rest of your home.

Image courtesy PremierGarage.com

Image courtesy PremierGarage.com

Once you’ve allocated space for tools and all of the kids’ toys and equipment, don’t forget to leave room for your own favorite toys and hobbies – a gardener’s corner is a popular option.

Image courtesy Martha Stewart

Image courtesy Martha Stewart

The opportunities are endless. Car collectors may find inspiration in the Italian jewelry scion Nicola Bulgari’s garage bedroom, which overlooks a birds-eye view of his prized collection:

Image courtesy Architectural Digest

Image courtesy Architectural Digest

Or you can take creative liberties in an entirely different direction – who said a garage has to house cars? Check out this former garage that has been converted to a trendy but family friendly lounge. It’s your space – do what you want with it!

Image courtesy Houzz.com

Image courtesy Houzz.com

Anything is possible. Have fun dreaming, and let us know how we can help!

Selecting the Right Builder

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Living in your dream house is easier than you might think. Though we’d love for you to select Milton, we are here to help in whatever way we can so here are some expert tips to help guide your decision.

PLANNING: When building a new home, you have the opportunity to create floor plans customized to your own family’s needs.  Finding the right site for new construction or finding the ideal site on an existing property is an important consideration. If you’re looking for renovations, you have an opportunity to dramatically improve your quality of life by customizing your environment to how you live, work, play and dream.

Make sure your builder asks questions like, “what is your typical day like?” and “what is most frustrating about your current home?” They should meet with every member of your family and get to know what they like and don’t like so you have a living space that is not only livable but lovable for everyone!

Work stations in a Milton colonial

Work stations in a Milton colonial

You want an expert to help you navigate through the myriad of options and address concerns like energy efficiency and durability of materials, and of course compliance with all applicable codes and regulations – so make sure you have someone with years of experience building quality homes.

CONSTRUCTION: We all want the best, and good quality construction is critical. Many good builders offer a package of services. The quality of the offered services will have a critical effect on your enjoyment of the house. Warrantees, design, architecture…all things that you need to take in to consideration.  Make sure the builder is properly licensed and insured, and expect solid communication: everything should be clearly spelled out in terms of work components and timelines.

It's all about the details in this Milton New England transitional

It’s all about the details in this Milton New England transitional

Quality craftsmanship is the most important part of your investment – artisan details speak for themselves! Make sure you contact references, look through their client photos and even visit a site to see the final product. Make sure you choose the references – the last three projects they worked on and the timeline they worked on them (this will give you an idea that their work is consistent and you are in control of who you talk to rather than just be introduced to their happiest clients.)

DESIGN: Design makes the difference, both inside and out. Working with a well-rounded builder provides a true advantage here. Do they offer a design center that stocks samples, from plumbing fixtures and tiles to built-ins and trim details for your review in one convenient location?

Do they get your personal aesthetic? Are you going to have to do all the design grunt work or are you choosing a builder with a qualified team to provide assistance in making your visual dream a reality?

SERVICE: A good builder delivers extraordinary quality and stands by their work. References will attest to well-managed timelines, excellent service, and closely communicated budget expectations.

With Milton, you are hiring a team of professionals from architect to carpenter, cabinet maker, plumber, electrician, landscape architect and interior designer, all whom have an established background of successful experiences. Your comfort is key – both throughout the process and when it comes to enjoying the end product. Milton’s comprehensive commitment to doing whatever it takes to make you happy begins with your first visit and continues well after you move in.

We’d love to help you. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

Quick Holiday Decorating Ideas

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Tis the season to enjoy extra quality time at home with family and friends. To cozy up your rooms for toasty nights indoors and savor the festivities in style, we have a few tips sure to gratify any cravings for extra visual stimulation and indulgence.

Holiday décor often begins at the front door to make the entrance to your home feel extra welcoming. For many, a traditional wreath does the trick – but we think traditional with a twist is even better. How about a door decked out in something lush and luxe like soft moss?

Likewise, boxwood wreaths and magnolia leaves along the mantle are always pretty, but you can also think out of the box and place holiday greenery creatively. We love the novelty of a bedecked chandelier in the kitchen.

Throughout the home it can be helpful to take a step back and think about whether a room looks and feels as warm as it can. It’s easy to cozy up any setting with the addition of luxe accents and throws – think cashmere, wool, mohair and chenille in a richer color palette. For a seasonal touch, add a strategically placed bottle or two of elegant liqueur or a luxe box of chocolates for a subtle signal of indulgence.

Any room with a fireplace is an obvious choice to become an inviting sanctuary on a snowy day or frosty night. Make sure there is plenty of comfortable furniture placed near the fire – even right up to the hearth. Then create a couple of seasonal focal points with just a few touches of embellishment – accents like berries and bright flowers easily brighten and add liveliness.

Photo: Houzz.com

Photo: Houzz.com

Speaking of fireplaces, an outdoor firepit can turn a patio into more of an all-season living space and give you reason to sit and enjoy the view of your outdoor decorations. Just bring out some pillows and blankets when entertaining for extra comfort and coziness!

When it comes to entertaining, setting the table has long been a favorite way to inject creativity and artistic flair while making a holiday statement. Mixing traditional and untraditional elements within a theme or color story can create a visual feast for the senses. We like the incorporation of the Asian dishes with the more traditional pattern on this Hanukah table.

Photo: HGTV.com

Photo: HGTV.com

A display of gifts is always a treat, regardless of which holiday you celebrate. If you don’t have a tree, try arranging packages in a tower on a table or cart.

Photo: HGTV.com

Photo: HGTV.com

Not to be overlooked is the importance of the right lighting in bringing it all together. We recently shared some of Marybeth’s favorite light fixtures. During the holidays, make sure lighting is positioned around visual points of interest to illuminate what you most want to accent. Candles are a great way to add depth and texture along with seasonal fragrance. Create an interesting vignette by grouping candles with other décor in unexpected combinations.

The bottom line? Just do something that makes you smile. Take a minute to reminisce and resurrect a decorating tradition from your own childhood for an infustion of nostalgia and a reminder of places, experiences and family. Don’t worry if a temporary holiday addition contrasts with your overall decorating style. This is the time to mix the old with the new for a modern juxtaposition – sometimes it is the unexpected touch of whimsy that adds just the right amount of warmth and personality. Enjoy every minute!

Choosing the Right Light: Illuminating Ideas for Shorter Days

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As we approach the December 21 winter solstice and our daylight hours continue to get shorter, this is the time of year when the right light in our homes adds so much to our comfort and sense of well being. As with all aspects of home design, the quality of lighting really matters. From acting as an architectural accent to setting the tone for an entire room, the right ambience begins with the right fixture. In this month’s email, Milton Architect and Decorator Marybeth Woods shares some of her current favorites; below are a few more.

Beautiful lighting lends depth and texture to an interior – think dynamic and dramatic or engaging and expressive; the goal is to create a sense of balance to complement the natural mood of a room. Today you’ll find plenty of options for every room in the house that do not compromise on design or functionality, especially important for rooms like the kitchen. In the living room, pick something you love and go for the wow factor with a statement chandelier that creates a strong visual focal point.

Marybeth’s pick: Iron Beaded Chandelier by Arteriors Home

Consider giving your existing light fixtures a makeover with new bulbs. Different bulbs produce different lighting effects and tones, from clean whites to cool blues to warm yellows, so you can customize the feel and intensity to your taste. At Milton, we are strong believers in the power of dimmers – changing a simple on/off switch to a dimmer creates a sudden new range of options, literally putting light control at your fingertips. Use these in every room of the house! Then change things up at a moment’s notice – make it softer and sexier by dimming to lower, flattering soft shadows and you’ll save on energy too!

Marybeth’s pick: Teardrop Sconce by Robert Sonneman.

For another easy quick update, sometimes all a lamp needs is a new shade. Just don’t forget that lamps and shades are all about proportion – for best results, bring the old shade (and/or lamp!) with you when you shop to make sure the size of your new shade will continue to complement the design of the lamp.

Marybeth’s pick: Clear Glass Table Lamp by Currey & Company

What are your own favorite fixtures and lighting techniques? We’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a light and bright holiday season!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.