How the Heart of the Home is Getting Smarter

What struck me at the Consumer Electronics Show is the ability for innovators to continue making technology that has been around for decades fresher, newer and more intelligent. Check out the video below for my take on the ever evolving heart of the home: the kitchen.

To see more of the fabulous innovations featured at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, visit

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Essential Nursery Room Ideas

Designing a nursery is exciting! As you begin to plan for your new baby’s space, consider some of these nursery room ideas to give you a head start on designing and decorating.

Choosing the Right Room for Baby

Choosing a room that will become your nursery may be an obvious choice or an agonizing decision. Whether you have a few spare rooms to choose from in your DFW home or are struggling to create a space in your already cramped place, use these tips to figure out where to plan your nursery.

  • Heating, Air and Ventilation: New babies are especially susceptible to heat and cold. Evaluate spaces in your home to ensure you choose one that can be maintained at a proper temperature.
  • Easily Accessible: Accessibility is key for you now and baby later. In homes with bedrooms on different levels, accessibility can be a key decision factor — are you going to go up or down stairs every trip to the nursery? Could you choose a space on the same level as your room while your child is an infant and move them to a bedroom on another floor as they grow older?
  • Privacy: If you have additional people living with you in your home, remember that baby will need to have private, quiet space to accommodate falling (and staying) asleep and distraction-less feedings. You’ll also want a place that can keep a majority of your baby gear self-contained.
  • Lighting: Whether flooded with natural sunlight or aided by overhead or standing lamps, having a nursery with lots of lighting is important.

What’s in a Color?

Once you’ve picked a space, your next step is to choose the main color for your nursery room. This color can influence furniture picks, wall hangings, and matching accessories. Don’t feel like you have to follow conventional color schemes (e.g., pinks and blues). Instead, think about what colors you already love and what overall theme you want to create.

Try out some of these potential nursery room ideas for your color palette.

  • Deep hues: For a twist on conventional colors, consider using a deep blue, hot pink, vibrant green, or sunny and bright yellow for the walls.
  • Rich earth tones: Use a rich golden tan color, a smooth chocolate brown, or a forest green shade for an earthy palette.
  • Complementary color: If you’ve already chosen a character or theme to build your nursery around, pick a complementary colors associated with that theme to be your main wall tone.

Fill It Up

Last (but certainly not least) is filling your nursery with furniture for the baby — and for you! Here’s a list of must-haves for your new baby space.

  • Crib: When it comes to the crib, you have two major choices to make: Would you prefer a crib that will simply and only be a crib, or one that convert into a bed as your child grows older?
  • Changing table: You’ll use this item almost a dozen times a day as your little one goes through diaper after diaper. If your space is limited, consider using a changing pad on top of a dresser instead.
  • Rocking chair: This piece is as much for you as baby. Between rocking to sleep, sitting while nursing, and catching a few winks while baby dozes, you’ll want to make sure your rocking chair is comfortable. Consider chairs that come with a separate rocking ottoman or that can recline.

You’ve got a space, know your color palette, and have a head start on choosing furniture. Congrats! All of your basic nursery room ideas are covered.

Image Source: Flickr

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Soundproofing a Room: How to Reduce City Noise in Your Home

In a busy city like Philadelphia, the vitality of urban life can interfere with the quiet enjoyment of your living space. If noisy neighbors or loud street noises filter into your new home or apartment, soundproofing a room can be a sanity saver. Here a few suggestions to help you block excess noise.

Add Textiles to Mute Sounds

The easiest and cheapest way to mute sounds from outside or other apartments in your building is to add heavy fabrics to your living space. Heavyweight material like velvet curtains or product made exclusively for sound dampening work best. Light-blocking curtains available at Bed Bath & Beyond contain extra layers of fabric that also work to reduce noise. To cover a shared wall, specially made fabric acoustic tiles or even canvas prints can add to your decor while serving to reduce noise.

Flooring Options

Certain flooring options work better than others when soundproofing a room. For an easy solution, place area rugs over hardwood flooring to dull some of the noise rising from apartments below. If you’re looking to add new flooring, cork flooring is well known for its sound-absorbing properties. Carpeting absorbs noise as well as providing cushion and added heat retention in the cold winter months.

Some Not-So-Simple Solutions to Consider

If you work from home or sleep during the day due to a second- or third-shift job, soundproofing a room may be more of a necessity than a personal preference. The best noise reduction solutions may require a greater monetary investment, but with some additional home improvements you can block a large percentage of noise creeping in to your home. Window soundproofing can be completed through the use of acoustic seals. Products like the Climate Seal Acoustic Series window inserts claim to reduce noise by 80 percent. Installing a second drop ceiling using acoustical tiles is another solution. The hollow space between the two ceilings works to kill sound vibrations emanating down from higher floors, while acoustical tiles provide additional noise reduction. Although the drop ceiling tiles are often used for basements or in commercial settings, they can provide a significant sound barrier in apartments as well.

Everyone’s tolerance level for noise varies and solutions are available from simple to complex. If you’re searching for a home or apartment in Philadelphia and have concerns about the surrounding noise level, keep in mind that many products are available to assist with soundproofing.

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6 Cozy NYC Comfort Foods to Keep You Warm This Winter

It’s chilly outside, which means you’re probably craving comfort food. Don’t let the cold temperatures keep you locked inside when there’s so much good food to be had out there. These six NYC comfort foods will keep you warm and toasty in this winter.

Hot Chocolate at City Bakery

This Flatiron-area bakery and restaurant (whose brownie was once prominently featured on Sex and the City) is so serious about its hot chocolate that they host an annual hot chocolate festival in February, with flavors like caramel and bourbon hot chocolate. But every day of the winter, their signature thick and creamy hot chocolate topped with a homemade marshmallow is available for slurping.

New England Clam Chowder at Ed’s Chowder House

This Upper West Side spot — located directly across from Lincoln Center — offers several different types of chowder, and a sampler option (which includes three different varieties) if you simply can’t make up your mind. There’s also a “chowder bar” serving lobster rolls, steamers, and more from 11:30 a.m. till midnight. It’ll bring back memories of warm, sunny Montauk, no matter how cold it is outside.

Matzoh Ball Soup at Second Avenue Deli

Fluffy matzoh balls, noodles and carrots dress up this iconic deli’s simple soup, one of those perfect comfort foods that’s sure to warm you up. To us this is just about the best “Jewish penicillin” you can find. Dunk in the deli’s famous challah bread and you’ve got yourself a meal. (Note: There are two locations of the deli — one on the Upper East Side and one in Murray Hill. Neither is on Second Avenue.)

Ramen at Ippudo

Ramen is practically a religion in NYC, and the warm bowls at the East Village’s Ippudo NY won’t disappoint. This one’s an American version of a Japanese chain, and you can actually watch the housemade noodles being made downstairs. If meat, veggies, and noodles are your thing, look no further.

Hot Apple Cider at Union Square or Tompkins Square markets

GrowNYC’s outdoor markets — which include Union Square Greenmarket, Tompkins Square Greenmarket, and more across the boroughs — offer hot cider from ruit and farm vendors that can help keep you warm during the fall and winter seasons. Grab a steaming hot cup of cider while running errands or enjoying the colder weather.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup at Bouchon Bakery

This sandwich and soup combination is the stuff (foodie) dreams are made of. Located at this Thomas Keller-owned bakery in and cafe in the Time Warner Center, the sandwich — made with gooey fontina and Gruyère cheeses on crusty bread — finds the perfect complement in the optional bowl of tomato soup. Go ahead and dunk.

Image Source: Flickr

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The 1 Thing I Want in My Home from CES 2015

I’m a simple man with simple needs. Yes, I need this and you would feel the same way too if you saw it in person.

It’s a Sony Bravia 85 inch 4K TV that I came across while at CES 2015, and it’s gorgeous. Take a look and behold it’s beauty in my video below.

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10 Texas Sayings That Are Quintessentially Texan

There are some Texas sayings that every Texan knows by heart. Texans simply have their own way of talkin’. If you’re lucky enough to be a Texan, you no doubt have these iconic Texas sayings down pat. And if you’re new to the Lone Star State, here’s a rundown of the words and axioms you should immediately work into your vocabulary.

1. Y’all

“Y’all” is a contraction for “you all,” and it’s the very heart of Texan speak. If you want to address more than one person, it’s never “you guys,” it’s “y’all.” (“All y’all” will also work.)

2. Howdy

In place of hello, say “howdy.” It’s a greeting as Texan as cowboy boots and the Alamo. It’s friendly and casual, and it works quite well with a “y’all” at the end — howdy, y’all!

3. Don’t mess with Texas

You’ve no doubt seen this phrase on everything from T-shirts to belt buckles. It’s been the unofficial slogan of the Lone Star State since 1985. While the rest of the country thinks it’s just a catchphrase, true Texans know it’s part of an anti-littering campaign.

4. Everything’s bigger in Texas

It’s true. Everything is bigger in Texas, from people’s hair to their pickup trucks. Dallas leaves no doubt that it’s a big, bold city — it installed giant letters B and G throughout the city. Tourists can stand in between the letters for one big (and cool) photo opp. Which leads to the next famous Texas saying …

5. Bigger’n Dallas

You’d use this expression when you want to say something is immediately noticeable. “Look at him up there bigger’n Dallas!”

6. Fixin’ to

This is basically the state verb of Texas. There’s really nothing to fix, though — this Texas saying means that you’re about to do something. Example: “I’m fixin’ to leave.”

7. All git-out

This means to a great degree, exceedingly, or as much as possible. As in: “She was happier’n all git-out!”

8. This ain’t my first rodeo

When you’ve been there and done that, this is the Texas saying you’d use. It means you’re no fool. You know exactly what you’re doing.

9. Hissy fit

You don’t want to mess with a Texan who’s throwing a hissy fit. This is an all-out tantrum with hollerin’, feet stompin’ — the works.

10. Coke

Texans never ask for a soda, soft drink, or pop. It’s Coke — no matter what kind of carbonated refreshment they want.

What It Means To “Talk Texan”

What goes into talking Texan? A lot of things: syntax, cadence, pronunciation, and vocabulary. Most important to remember is that the “g” in the suffix “ing” is silent — therefore, “fixing to” becomes “fixin’ to.”

That traditional Texas twang — think Matthew McConaughey’s slow, Southern drawl — is evolving, though. Researchers at UT Austin found that about 80 percent of Texans had a classic Texas accent in the 1980s. Only about a third of Texans do today.

The unique Texas dialect may be evolving, but these 10 iconic Texas sayings endure. And if you’re moving to the DFW area, get ready to hear them on a regular basis.

Image Source: Flickr/Texas State Library and Archives Commission

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Moving Across Country? Here’s Your To-Do List

Whether you have three months or three days to prepare for moving across country, you’re facing a monumental task. Spending a few hours devising a step-by-step plan limits your stress during the actual move. Here are a few items to help you get started.

Start Packing

You can never finish packing too early. Collect and save empty boxes as soon as you know that you’re moving. Don’t skimp on packing materials like bubble wrap and sturdy boxes or you’ll risk damage to your items during transport. Also, take into consideration things you don’t need to pack. If you’re moving to a warmer climate, you can probably shed some of your winter-weather gear. Host a garage sale, sell unwanted items online, or drop off donations for a local charity.

Set a Date of Departure and a Date of Arrival

If you’re relocating for work, discuss with your move dates with your employer. Ask if any moving assistance is provided as part of your relocation package. Determine your date of arrival and make sure to call the utility companies and turn on the power and water. No one likes pulling up to a cold, dark house after a 20-hour drive.

Select Method of Transportation

You and your belongings may or may not be moving across country together. If you’re driving a personal vehicle or rented truck, keep your most valuable and personal items with you. Create a folder with all important documents as well: directions, contact phone numbers, personal identification, and financial data. Allow moving vans to carry furniture and boxed items. If you have time you might want to type up an inventory of everything traveling without you. Deciding the best way to move pets is another important step in the process. Consider how they’ll handle a cross country drive or if they need to be transported separately via an airplane.

Plan Your Rest Stops

To avoid reaching a point where you’re too tired to continue driving and then not being able to find a highway hotel that looks comfortable and clean, try to plan out how far you’ll travel each day. If you’re bringing pets along for the ride, you may be limited as to where you can stay, so search for pet-friendly hotels and make reservations.

Add a Few Cushion Days

Many people choose to move over a holiday or long weekend to take advantage of the extra day or two to facilitate their move. Starting a new job the day after a big move is difficult. Chances are, you won’t even know where your work clothes are the day after move-in. Give yourself some cushion by building a few extra days into your trip if at all possible. Your van may break down, some of your belongings may get lost, or you may get lost. Once you arrive, take a deep breath and enjoy your new home.

And, finally, if you’re planning on moving to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love welcomes you!

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Purchasing NYC Real Estate: Welcome to the Jungle

Purchasing NYC property isn’t like purchasing property in any other part of the country. Unless they’re buying entire brownstones or townhouses, most people in NYC are either purchasing co-ops or condos. If you haven’t started climbing the property ladder yet but feel that you’re just about ready to enter the mad, mad world of NYC real estate, you may be wondering if it makes sense for you to buy a condo, if you should put your money into a co-op … or if you should just rent instead.

Buying a Co-Op

The vast majority of people who own property in NYC own co-ops. When it comes to numbers, 75 percent of owners own co-ops, while 25 percent own condos. Here’s what you need to know before going the co-op route.

  • When you buy a co-op, you’re actually buying shares in the corporation that owns the building that the apartment is located in. In other words, you don’t technically own the physical apartment. To put it another way, it’s like you’re an investor in the company that actually owns the building. Once you make your purchase, you’ll have a proprietary lease entitling you to live in the building.
  • In addition to what will probably be an extensive loan application and approval process, you’ll also need to go through a rigorous application with the building’s board.
  • In addition to your monthly mortgage, you’ll need to pay monthly maintenance fees to the building. These fees will cover things like a doorman if there is one, insurance, common area cleaning, salaries for the people who work in the building, and real estate taxes.
  • Many co-ops prefer that you come to the table with at least a 20 percent down payment.
  • Co-ops tend to have strict rules that you must adhere to, including ones pertaining to pet ownership, interior renovations, and renting out the apartment. If you’re planning on using your apartment as an investment apartment, you may find it difficult to do in a co-op that has strict rules against renting or limits the amount of times you can rent. The co-op must also approve the tenant you’d like to rent your space.

Buying a Condo

Although more people own co-ops than condos, the gap is narrowing, since most new inventory being built is almost always sold as condos. Here’s what to know if you’re considering a condo.

  • When you buy a condo in NYC, you’re actually buying the apartment itself instead of buying shares in a corporation the way you do with a co-op purchase.
  • You’ll pay monthly common charges that differ somewhat from the monthly maintenance fee co-op owners pay. Common charges are generally lower for condo owners because the costs don’t include building mortgage costs.
  • The buying process tends to be somewhat less stringent when it comes to buying a condo than it does when buying a co-op, but you may still be asked to fill out an application consisting of questions similar to the ones filled out by co-op applicants.
  • Rules regarding subletting apartments are pretty lax for condo owners, so if you’re dreaming of building your little real estate empire by subletting your apartment, a condo may be the easiest way to make that happen.

These tips should help you decide whether you’re interested in purchasing NYC condos or co-ops, or if you’d prefer to rent an apartment in the city.

Image Source: Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman

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Our Top 10 CES 2015 Innovations For Your Home

As we walked around the Consumer Electronics Show, many people asked “what is a real estate company doing here?” We were so glad they asked, as our content team was certainly on a mission. We set out to discover the latest and greatest in smart home technology and home entertainment. From improving life at home, to increasing the value of your property with these innovative products, the future of home is certainly bright.

Over the course of the week, we experienced a plethora of innovative technology. From a television screen made completely out of Swarovski crystals, to robots so life-like it was almost hard to believe they weren’t human, 2015 felt more like 2025. Out of everything we saw at CES, here’s our ten favorite products that could make their way into your home soon.

1. Sengled
The innovative minds at Sengled believe a lightbulb has way more potential than only providing us with light. A lightbulb can be a speaker, a wifi booster, or even a security camera. Installation is easy, and the price point makes these affordable for almost anyone.

2. 4K TVs
Nothing quite compares to the image quality of the 4K televisions we saw at CES – not even the fanciest of 1080p HDTVs. In 2015, 4K content on subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix will be readily available, so now is probably the time to jump on the 4K train.

3. LG Styler
Any working professional knows how expensive dry cleaning bills can be. The LG Styler steams and refreshes your clothes, reducing the amount of visits to the dry cleaner per month. We have a feeling these will be popping up in ritzy hotels in the near future, and possibly even make their way into people’s home laundry rooms over time.

4. Iris app
Having the power to control anything in your home with a touch of a button sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi film. The Iris app by Lowe’s connects to various security, lighting, and devices which allows you to conserve energy and plan ahead. about Iris here.

5. Tagg Tracker
Anyone with a pet knows a house is not a home without our furry friends. The Tagg Tracker is a GPS system attached to your dog’s collar so owners can keep a close eye on their pet – even from afar. It alerts you immediately if your pet leaves the “safe zone” at any time. Aside from keeping your dog safe, it also monitors health and physical activity to keep pet parents well informed.

6. Powerbot Vacuum Robot
Is this the future of cleaning services? The vacuum robot spins, cleans, and sucks up dust in your home all on its own – now if only we could find something similar to scrub the toilets for us!

7. iFit home gym
If working out with a bunch of sweaty strangers and paying a pricey monthly gym membership isn’t your thing, the iFit home gym might be the perfect solution. The app tracks your physical activity and provides a variety of workouts you can do in the comfort of your own home. The only downside? Way less room for excuses as to why you didn’t work out!

8. SleepIQ bed for kids
One trend we noticed about technology in the home is that it gives parents the ability to closely monitor their children’s activities, even when they’re sleeping. The SleepiQ bed for kids allows parents to monitor their children’s sleeping patterns, and know when they are restless during the night or getting out of bed. The cutest feature? The app checks for monsters under the bed to assure your child there’s nothing to be afraid of. Aww.

9. Panasonic Magic Mirror
Can you pull off blue eye shadow? What about that orange lipstick that’s so on-trend for the season? Panasonic’s makeup mirror allows you to try on different looks without the fear of commitment. You’ll never waste another dollar on the wrong beauty products again!

10. FlexDuo Oven
I find one of the biggest challenges when it comes to cooking a meal at home is my timing. My chicken may be ready, but there’s still 10 minutes left on my veggies. The FlexDuo oven by Samsung allows you to cook two dishes simultaneously so you can impress your guests at your next dinner party.

If you could pick any of these items and have it in your home today, what would it be? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CBCES and let us know! To see a full list of our favorites, click here.

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Real Estate Headlines with a CES Twist

The Coldwell Banker Blue Matter team has returned from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show and there’s one thing we know for certain: the home of the future is here today. From home automation to robots to smart appliances, science fiction is a reality for those who want their homes to be. So for your weekly dose of real estate headlines we wanted to highlight some of the top posts we published during our time at CES.

Everyone’s heard about the smart home, but what about a smart garden?

The Smart Watch just might be the control center for your home.

Vintage vinyl with a modern style and sound is the perfect addition to the audiophile’s home.

Will the future laundry room take some of the dirty work out of cleaning clothes?

These LG vacuums are like having your own cleaning service.

Lowe’s Iris app might be the best smart home system out there.

Your driveway is now your personal basketball trainer thanks to 94Fifty.

Forget about Rosie from The Jetsons. Your home will soon need Jarvis from Iron Man.

Soon you’ll be able to ask your bedroom vanity “Which outfit or makeup style makes me the fairest of them all?

You can cancel your gym membership because iFIT is turning your home into the ultimate gym.

Go get a 4K TV. Like right now. Go.

And finally, be sure to watch our Day 1 recap video. And you might as well watch the Day 2 recap video as well.

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