DIY Projects & Home Care

Light the Candles & Deck the Halls

We're kicking off December with a hot cocoa in one hand and an umbrella in the other while holiday window shopping on Alberta... and we wouldn't want it any other way.

1) Holiday Hygge: Hygge, in a simplest translation, is a super cozy feeling, which is perfect for the holidays. We found two articles that best describe it. One containing DIY projects for the home or to make as gifts - also ideal if you're trying to keep your own or visiting kiddos busy during a rainy afternoon. Not feeling crafty? We understand; the other article contains great hygge gift ideas (BTW zero judgement if you gift yourself any of the items... like the blankets... or a wreath... or some candles...).

2) Holiday Happenings: Expecting company this month and want to avoid cabin fever? We hear you loud and clear. We found a few calendars and activity guides you may want to bookmark for future reference: Portland Monthly's Holiday Guide & Mt Hood Activity Guide; Travel Portland's December Event Calendar; and Thrillist's Portland Holidays & Christmas Guide.

3) Holiday Spirits: Our very own Chelsea McAllister has an incredible Tres Leches Eggnog recipe you'll want serve at your holiday gathering. 

Be sure to follow us here on the blog and on Instagram as we share a few of our favorite holiday activities and recipes throughout the month.

IN OTHER PGR NEWS: Join us in St Johns tomorrow (12/3) from 1-3p for an open house at a darling 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home. Can't make it? Give us a call to schedule a walk-thru.

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Finding Home : Heather

"Finding Home" is a collection of interviews with our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home. 

Today Heather, PGR realtor and Claire's sister, shares why her home was "The One," a discovery made 10 years after purchasing, and why a finding a great floor plan ranks high when searching for a home. 

1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home? 
As soon as we walked in our house, I knew we needed to make an offer. The open floor plan, great location near Mt. Tabor, room to grow and ability to renovate all sealed the deal. 

2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary when purchasing your home? 
No trade-off as it was purchased 17 years ago. However, there are always trade-offs today at any price range. 

3. Was there an unfortunate surprise/issue you discovered *after* moving in?
The biggest surprise we discovered after living in the house almost 10 years were the two cesspools in the backyard that needed decommissioning.

4. How did you fix it?
We've done an extensive amount of work on our house and for every project we have hired contractors to do the work.

5. Would you have changed your mind about the purchase if you had known this would've happened?
No, there are very few repairs that would steer me away from any house. I think finding a neighborhood, floor plan, and layout is much harder than facing any needed repairs or work. 

Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Heather!

IN OTHER PGR NEWS:

We have a few homes on the market: a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom ranch home in Southeast Portland's Powellhurst neighborhood; 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow in Milwaukie, OR; and a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom Tudor home in Gladstone, OR. Click the links for details. Interested in touring one? Give us a call!

 

Would you like to share your home search adventures, remodeling tales, or how you made your house a home with us on our blog? Send us a quick note and we'll be in touch! We'd love to hear from you!

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Getting Ready for Holiday Guests


The holiday season is officially upon us, which means the March of Guests is about to begin. Whether it's for a party, an open house, or a long weekend, we're sharing a few tips to help get your home holiday-ready this season.

1. Signature Scent: Skip the candle and create a scent that suits your home perfectly. Here are four scents you can simmer on the stove as you get ready for visitors - or to help you relax.

2. Stock Up: Get your fridge and pantry ready for the holidays by stocking up on delicious - and practical - goods. Need some ideas for last-minute snacks? Here are 10 great ideas for when a neighbor drops by or to quickly recharge after an outing with visiting family. 

3. Set the Stage: Not quite ready to haul out the boxes and bins full of holiday decor? Or wish to keep your decor minimal yet welcoming? We hear you loud and clear. Here are 10 simple ideas to get your home holiday guest ready.

Have your home on the market during the holidays? A simple wreath on the door, a mat to wipe wet shoes, and a standing coat rack in the entryway's corner will help potential buyers feel welcomed during an open house.

4. Schedule It Out: A packed agenda can feel overwhelming for some visitors, but having a general plan for a group outing or two helps prevent cabin fever from hitting your home. Bonus points if you post it on the fridge for all to see. Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our bookmarked pages: Portland Monthly's weekly events update, Williamette Weekly's calendar, Red Tricycle Portland for family-specific activities, and Oregon Live's holiday event guide. Need a holiday cocktail? We'll check out Eater PDX for a few ideas.

How do you get ready for holiday house guests? Have an annual tradition? Please share below!

IN OTHER PGR NEWS: We have a few open houses coming up this weekend! Check back here tomorrow for details, or visit our Facebook page and Instagram feed for updates!

3746 SE Washington, Portland OR (click for details)

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Finding Home: Claire

Over the next few months, we're sharing stories from our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home. 

1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home?
My brother and I had been looking for a year. It was 2001 and a seller’s market, which meant properties sold quickly and for over listing price. We were looking for something we could fix up. Andy and I walked into the house and it was a wreck: blue walls, weird wall paper, dirty carpeting and more. We saw past all of that to the built-in bookcases and china hutch, the hardwood floors, and the fantastic layout. We were sold.

2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary to make to purchasing your home?
Our budget was low, so we’d already agreed to compromise on condition. But this house could be fixed up and look beautiful.


3. Any lessons learned while remodeling?
I had my mom layout the kitchen perfectly and we went to a discount cabinet store (long before Ikea was here!). They didn’t have one of the cabinet sizes my mom had instructed us to buy. I figured if I added the inch and a half the cabinet that was in stock to another cabinet, it wouldn’t make any different in the length of the cabinets, so why not? I didn’t realize my mom had centered that particular cabinet so the stove began past the windowsill. So instead, the windowsill was broken with the stove.

It was a small error, but it was a big lesson in paying attention to the details. Every time I go in my kitchen, I think about it.

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We have THREE open houses this weekend! Two in Gresham and one in Portland. Click to preview a lovely ranch-style home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (Gresham; listing price: $310k)a well-maintained 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom ranch-style home (Gresham; listing price: $269,900), and a sweet 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow in Portland's North Williams neighborhood (listing price: $375k).

Would you like to share your home search adventures, remodeling tales, or how you made your house a home with us on our blog?
Send us a quick note and we'll be in touch! We'd love to hear from you!

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Five on Friday: September Edition

It's September! Time to say good-bye to the Summer and hello to the Fall. Here are five items we're tackling, excited about, and celebrating this month.

  1. The Eagle Creek Fire. It's already consumed enough heartbreak and we don't want to dwell on it, so instead we're helping take action to support the communities affected, the firefighters and first responders, and the Gorge itself. The are three ways to get started:
    - "Here’s Where to Eat, Drink, and Donate to Support Eagle Creek Fire Relief Efforts", Portland Monthly Magazine
    - Follow Friends of the Gorge.
    - Follow Red Cross Cascade Chapter
  2. Hit Refresh: we're bringing in a few new plants into the fold to help clean the air inside. Our favorites: placing a potted lavender plant in the bedroom and a peace lily in the living room.
  3. Project #1: it's that time to take advantage of the cooler, sunny days and check your home and make necessary repairs. From replacing old weather-stripping to removing dead branches to cleaning and repairing gutters, it's best to tackle your home's fall maintenance list before the rains arrive.
  4. Celebrate Fall: Looking for an activity to get you in the fall spirit? Visit Philip Foster Farm in Eagle Rock for their Fall Harvest Cider Squeeze on September 16 or Sauvie Island's numerous farms to enjoy their fall harvest. 
  5. Project #2: if you haven't heard yet, Equifax, a major consumer credit score provider, was cyberattacked. If you haven't checked yet to see if your information was impacted by this security breech, please take a moment to do so. Also, this has served as a good reminder to protect your information online. It's not as much fun as picking apples with family and friends, but, these it's an important task to take care of ASAP.

Have a fantastic day, friends, and we hope you enjoy the weekend!

 

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Five on Friday: Our Favorite Things, The July Edition

There's something about summertime in the Pacific Northwest: it's absolutely the best time to be here. It's unbelievably beautiful in wine country, on the passes, and up at Mt. Hood. The coast is the perfect getaway to cool off from the city heat. And there are so many activities happening here in town and throughout the surrounding areas. We rounded up five (or so) favorites to share with you.

1. Fourth of July: Looking for a way to celebrate the 4th while watching the fireworks? Here's a list of the area's shows, including Fort Vancouver's show and the Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo. 

2. JSO's Cathedral Park Jazz Festival: Head to Cathedral Park, under St. John's Bridge, July 14-16, to attend this amazing Portland tradition (and it's free!).

3. The Big Float: Grab a life-jacket, bring a floatie, and jump in the river for The Big Float on July 15. After a beach cleaning party, join 3,000 other people for a fun-filled float along the Williamette River. (Yes; the water is fine.)

 

4. Noon Tunes: take your lunch to Pioneer Courthouse Square and enjoy a free concert (and some great people watching)! Concerts start on Tuesday, July 11. 

5. Oregon Brewers Festival: Did you know July is Oregon's Brewers Month? It's a full month of craft beer lover events and capped with the Brewers Festival, one of the nation's longest running beer festivals. If you enjoy craft beer, you won't be disappointed thanks to the 88 beers assembled from near-and-far to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, July 26 - 30. Insider's tip: hit up the festival on the early side to avoid the weekend crowds.

PS: Not into craft beer? If you prefer to have wine wet your whistle, then you should check out the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, July 28 - 30. 

PSS: Don't forget about all the concerts and movies in Portland's parks throughout the summer, making it an ideal and easy way to entertain visiting family and friends.

What's your favorite in-town activity during July? Or what's your favorite PNW summer getaway? 

Visit us on InstagramFacebook & Twitter for updates about open houses! And follow us on Pinterest to gather ideas for your home. We're currently pinning 15 impossible-to-kill outdoor plants to our curb appeal board; all are ideal for outdoor planters or to pop in the ground. Perfect low-maintenance options if you're getting ready to put your house on the market!

Five on Friday: Keep Cool, Portland!

If getting out of Dodge for the entire weekend isn't an option as the temperatures rise, here are five ideas to keep cool during this weekend's heat wave in Portland. 

1. Summer Breeze: We already know being strategic with opening and closing windows and window coverings on hot days can help keep your home cooler, but did you know your ceiling fan also help cool your home? Set it to rotate counter-clockwise to push cooler air down. Another option: create a draft in your home by using an attic fan or window fan to help force the hot air out by drawing in the cool air overnight and early in the morning.

2. Jump & Slide: Let the kids - big and small - have fun by making your own slip'n'slide. Place a kiddie pool in the shade for a little protection from the sun between runs.

3. Day Trippers: Take a day trip to one of the many nearby nearby waterfalls and enjoy the coolness of old growth forests. Want an easy hike with kiddos in tow? Check out one of these trails or visit the always cool Audubon Society of Portland, located in Forest Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Splish-Splash: Visit one of Portland's many splash-pad parks or community pools

5. Escape: Take a mid-day trip to the movies (pro-tip: buy your tickets online to avoid the lines or sold out shows!), visit a local library or book store. Adults only? Grab a deck of cards and visit a local hotel bar. They always have the AC on. 

Bonus: Here are 20+ no-cook meal ideas so you can leave your oven off and step away from the grill this weekend. Enjoy!

Bonus Part 2: we have an open house this Sunday, from 11a - 1p, at this sweet Woodstock bungalow with an amazing backyard

Five on Friday: Backyard Ready

If you’re busy preparing your backyard for Memorial Day weekend guests – or prepping your home to sell this summer – here are five ways to make sure your home's outdoor space is ready. And thanks to the amazing weather this weekend and upcoming week, you won’t have to worry about rain interrupting your hard work. 

  1. All Hands on Deck: If you have a deck, it’s best to take a good look and see if it’s in need of repairs or time to re-stain it. This Old House explains the process and why each step is important. Have a brick patio? This handy video and article can help you make the necessary repairs. Pro Tip: If you’re repairing, cleaning *and* staining a deck, give yourself enough time to make sure it’s completely clean and dry between each step.
  2. Check Those Containers: Thanks to a harsh winter, you may have noticed some of your outdoor container plants haven’t bounced back yet. Before you replace them, take a moment to check if they’re still dormant
  3. Fresh Appeal: The great thing about refreshing your home's curb appeal is it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Quick ways to create curb appeal: use outdoor containers to frame your front door or plant Impatiens along the porch. Wish for some more ideas? Check out this article from Apartment Therapy with 15 curb appeal DIY projects (we love the modern house number idea!).
  4. Lawn Love: Chances are you’ve already mowed your lawn a few times this spring. If you notice there are some spots that haven’t fully recovered from the winter, here are a few tips to get it back in shape.
  5. Backyard Ready: Light the (BBQ) fires! Whether your plans include having the neighbors drop by informally or invites were sent out, we found a few articles to help keep gatherings effortless: 16 Backyard Party Tips15 Easy Pitcher Cocktails, and 20 BBQ Recipes & Tips 

Have a patio or yard care tip that could benefit others? Maybe you have a secret way to get your yard to bounce back after winter? Or you created gorgeous curb appeal on the cheap? We'd love to hear it and share the tips with others!

Hope you enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend. 

Five on Friday: Ross NW Watergardens

This week we are excited to share out conversation with local landscape designer, Ben Bowen of Ross NW Watergardens. Ben is a third generation landscaper and part of a family-owned business.

1. How do you consider the architecture of a home when you are designing a landscape?

It really depends on the client. Some people want a landscape very true to the style of their home; if they have a craftsman, then they want something classic. While other people may not care at all. They may have a very traditional home but they want a modern design for their yard that may not necessarily fit the style of the house. Sometimes the fit between the landscaping design and the house is seamless; other times you get a little more creative to make the styles work together in a way to make visual sense. If you do that well, it seems like you can make almost any style you want work. Whether the styles merge easily or not, there's usually things about the house that you're trying to accentuate or hide.

2. Can you give an example of what techniques you use to accentuate or hide parts of a house?

Sure; ranch style homes can have nice windows but will also have some long expanses of just bare wall. It's a great backdrop for some plantings, so picking where you put those involves some strategy. A lot of the newer homes that infill homes are too tall for some of the lots they are on. It can feel like they are looming over you as you approach the house when you have a two-story house eight feet from the sidewalk on a 4000 square-foot lot, the proportions can seem off. You can help soften that transition by utilizing tall, narrow plants. It goes the other direction too. Plants can also be a wonderful way to edit what you can see looking out from your house. Tall plants can be great for neighbors because they give a lot of privacy. Bamboo is usually the answer. 

3. How do you balance a client’s lifestyle with their landscape ambitions?

 Modern landscape and design-build project by Ross NW WatergardensAs far as maintenance goes I try to get a good sense of how much time they spend in their yard, including how much they want to be leisure versus working in the yard. Knowing their lifestyle helps to figure out what is the most sustainable design for the customer. When clients are planning to pay for someone else to maintain the yard, I design whatever they want and don’t weigh the two factors [leisure vs maintenance]. If they are going to do the maintenance themselves, then there are a lot of compromises that need to be made between beauty and labor. I find most people want to spend their Saturdays enjoying their landscape, not working in it. It helps that most people are realistic about how much work they will put into their garden, which really guides all those complex decisions.

4. Do you use edible plants in landscapes?

There is a lot of interest in edible plants in landscaping. I get asked this question often. There are lots of ways to work edibles into the landscape and I always try to do it in a way that works with everything else that we have chosen. I love to use blueberries because the shrub itself, even without the fruit, is very attractive. We plant quite a bit of persimmon; it's a beautiful tree and even if you don’t use the persimmons, they look so cool in the fall. In the fall, the fruit stays after you lose the leaves so it looks like a bunch of miniature pumpkins. If you were so inclined you could plant it just for that reason.   

5. How do you balance budgets and requests?

I try to balance the budget, climate, and style. For a lot of people, the budget is the most important. Depending on exactly how important budget is, I can make decisions about how to balance everything else. I feel like over time I have become good at reading people’s priorities. As we adjust the plan, I work with them to find their priorities and educate them about the costs and benefits of the different directions we could go with the design. It’s a very collaborative process and it is really rewarding to see the final product and hear client feedback about how they enjoy their outdoor space.

Bonus Question 1: The climate in Portland has been more extreme lately. How has that influenced your designs?

There have always been some plants that have been borderline evergreen for Portland but if we have more winters like this last one, they'll no longer be evergreen options. Hebe is an example of that; it’s a very popular plant that used to be considered an evergreen in Portland. I now must be more careful with what goes dormant during really cold winters. Hot summers just mean more water and more work, which is ok. It’s much more disappointing to have spring come around and think that your plants are dead - but they aren't.  

Bonus Question 2: Are you seeing any changes in your client's requests recently?

Portland is experiencing a lot of growth which is leading to some shifts in the demographics. People are moving from Seattle and San Francisco and bringing requests for modern homes and modern landscapes to go with them. These designs are really low-maintenance and attractive with clean lines, plantings that are function first, and a lot of hardscapes. As they get more popular I expect to see the effect snowball and we will get even more requests for these types of projects.

Bonus Question 3: What are your favorite Portland neighborhoods to look at landscaping?

Portland is a city where people really enjoy the outdoors and use their yards. All over Portland, there are more specific homes, not areas, I’ve noticed and really like. I enjoy the mid-century modern style and the landscaping that goes along with it. I think it can be distinctive and interesting. There are some great neighborhoods in Southwest Portland for those styles. It’s amazing how one person’s landscaping can influence and inspire the landscaping for the homes around it. There’s a six-block stretch of homes on North Flavel Drive where people have taken their landscapes and done interesting things with them, and they coordinate as a neighborhood. I don’t know how these things catch on but it is cool to see and I could imagine it spreading.

If you find yourself in need of some expert landscaping design or if you are looking for some inspiration be sure to check out Ross NW Watergardens on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Houzz, and their Website!

Five on Friday - Easter Edition

Is anyone else excited about the forecasted sunny weekend ahead? We’re absolutely thrilled – Claire officially moved her Easter dinner outside; Brigitte’s egg hunt will officially be in the backyard instead of the living room; and rumor has it Janikka will be exploring Washington Park in the sun. Here are five ways to enjoy this Easter weekend with family and friends.

A New Tradition

Create a new tradition by visiting the Portland Japanese Garden Easter weekend. The Garden has officially switched to their summer hours and is now open from 10a – 7p Tuesdays through Sundays, which means you’ll be able to round up your out-of-town guests, explore the brand new Cultural Village and enjoy zen-filled moments thanks to the spring blossoms.

Make Sweet Unicorn Eggs

Looking for a unique way to decorate your eggs? We’re crazy about these DIY unicorn eggs from Little Inspiration that will bring magical fun to this weekend's festivities.

Forge & Discover

Looking for a new hutch in your entryway or a dining room table with charm? Definitely, make the 15-minute drive north to the NW’s Largest Garage Sale & Vintage Sale at Clark County Event Center. A quick tip: bring cash to see if you have

Bunny Games

Keep the littles entertained after their egg hunt or while waiting for dinner to be served with a few of these games easily played at the table – and who knows, maybe the adults will get into the action too.

Local Favorite: A "Dairy" Good Egg Hunt

The Alpenrose Dairy Annual Egg Hunt is on Saturday, 4/15, starting at 10:30 am – with hundreds of eggs hidden on the grounds for kiddos to find. Be sure to visit their site for details.

Are you following us on Instagram? We'll be featuring the details of a few Open Houses this weekend - so if you happen to be out and about, please stop by! 

What are you plans this weekend? Have a favorite Easter or Spring tradition? Please share below! We’d love to hear it!