Home Ownership

Five on Friday: Portland's 2035 Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range land use and public facility investment plan to guide future growth and the physical development of the city. The original plan was adopted in 1980. The new plan aims to address the needs of a growing city and takes effect in January 1, 2018. 

1) What is Zoning?

  • Zoning is a way for the city to regulate development and enact its goals for the community and the environment.

2) What does that mean for homeowners?

  • Zoning will dictate what you can and can’t build on your property. For example: if your home is in an R5 Zone, it means you are allowed one dwelling for every 5000 square feet of land. Zoning will also affect the landscape around you. If your home is in an R1 zone, you might see multifamily developments being built next door.

3) How will the Comprehensive Plan affect homeowners?

  • It depends on the zone. Some areas, especially along transit corridors will see increased density, more mixed-use construction, and taller buildings. Other neighborhoods won’t be affected at all.

4) Where can I find out if my zoning is changing?

  • Here's a link the plan's map: https://www.portlandmaps.com/bps/mapapp. Per the site's FAQ page: "The Comprehensive Plan Map shows a long-term vision of how and where the city will grow and change over the next 20 years to accommodate expected population and job growth." In other words, it shows the future, while the site's Zoning Map shows what is allowed today.

5) Can PGR help me better understand this?

  • Of course! Give us a call.

FYI: we have an open house this Sunday, 9/17, from 1-3p for a brand new listing. Visit us at this amazing, mid-century 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in SE Portland; listed for $450k. Trust us. This one won't last long. You'll want to see it ASAP!


Have a fantastic day and a wonderful weekend, friends!
follow us on
facebook // instagram // pinterest // twitter

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!


follow us on
facebook // instagram // pinterest // twitter

Five on Friday: This Beautiful Day

Investment properties are purchased for numerous reasons. A vacation home. For an elderly parent or college-age child. An income property. Today we’re incredibly excited to share Lisa Ng’s story about her and her husband’s beach rental purchase in Lincoln City, Oregon. Lisa, Portland dweller and the creative force behind the lifestyle blog This Beautiful Day, wrote about their experiences and decision making process in a series of informative blog posts about purchasing, building, and furnishing their property. 

1. When you first moved to Portland, what surprised you the most about the local real estate market?

I was surprised at how hot the real estate market was. We put an offer in on a condo and two other offers came in at the same time. The winning bid had put in an all-cash offer with no conditions - including waiving a bank appraisal. A few of the units we saw would likely require a bit of updating to make it look more modern and to our tastes - so factoring that into the budget, coupled with the bidding wars and rising prices - we decided to look for a different solution.

2. What led you to look at investment properties instead of buying a traditional first home?

We are ok with renting for now, so we decided to look at a vacation rental that we could lease out on airbnb instead. We wanted to make our money work for us. Many of our friends are airbnb hosts and we’ve used airbnb many times when we travel. It was a tried and true model for us, especially on the coast where demand is high during the warm summer months. We were lucky to have found the Olivia Beach development in Lincoln City. Our brand new 3 bedroom home on the coast was still cheaper than the 700 square foot condo we bid on in the Pearl District.

3. When you bought the property, it was still under construction. What was biggest lesson in working with a construction team long-distance? 

We were so lucky to be working with such an amazing builder, contractor, project manager and crew. Before we bought our beach house in Lincoln City, we met with another developer and they were SO rude to us and our real estate agent. I’ve never had such an icy interaction with someone whose job it was to sell something. Obviously, they were turned off by us and we were not the type of buyers they were looking for. 

If you experience anything like this - RUN!

My advice is to go with your gut and work with the BEST team possible. When I met the folks over at Olivia Beach, they were SO accommodating and just really nice people that we could see ourselves collaborating with. I look back and think, we were meant to have that first negative interaction - because it led us to the right team and the right people.

My other advice is to get on the phone and talk things out. Don’t rely on solely email to convey design ideas. Save Pinterest pictures, send them to your construction team so they know exactly what you’re asking for. You’re also going to want to go out to the site at least every other weekend because projects move fast and you want to keep an eye on things. Do build that into your schedule and don’t plan any crazy travel.

4. How did you set a budget and priorities for furnishing and decorating your property? What was important to you and Paul during this process? And how have you budgeted to replace items if they're damaged by a renter or from general wear and tear?

We set a budget and we did go over as we decided to spring for a few upgrades. Everything just adds up, so get ready for it mentally. It was important to us have fresh, new furniture and decor. I’ve seen rentals online where it looks like furniture just goes there to die. You won’t get a great rental return with mismatched cast-offs and we were aiming to be a more upscale property to differentiate ourselves from what is already out there. So we shopped at a lot of budget-friendly places with lots of style like Target, World Market, Ikea, Wayfair and West Elm. Our pieces turned out great, but didn’t cost so much that we would be disappointed if we had to replace them after a few years of wear and tear.

I really wanted to create a space that was a dream home that we would want to rent and we’ve had tons of guests compliment our furniture and decor. It’s 10x nicer than our rental apartment!

5. Aside from a fully booked calendar and word-of-mouth, part of owning a successful vacation rental are renters who return on a regular basis. What’s your advice about creating a space people will want to return to year after year? 

People want to book a relaxing place that’s just as nice as their own home or even nicer! Make sure your property feels like home and don’t forget all the little details like spices in the cupboard, tea, kitchen gadgets etc. Resist the urge to add clutter - guests want blank space to place their own things down.


Bonus Q #1: Why did you pick Airbnb as your rental portal? What made you decide to manage the property personally instead of hiring a 3rd-party management firm?

Management firms can take 30% or more plus a restocking fee for supplies. That really cuts into your profit. Definitely consider whether you have the time and energy to manage your own property during the busy summer months. I like airbnb because I can screen my guests and make sure they are well-reviewed before I decide to share my home with them.

Bonus Q #2: What would be your top three recommendations for someone looking to buy an investment property and turn it into a vacation rental? 

Make sure you have a decent size budget to work with for furniture and decor. Find an amazing housekeeper that is reliable and that you like working with.  Be prepared to spend a few months getting this project off the ground.

Thank you so much Lisa for sharing your story with us (and the amazing images above)!

Interested in seeing Lisa and Paul’s beach home? Please visit their page

If you're considering buying an investment property and have questions about the process, the type of loans available or financing, give us a call! We'd be happy to help you explore your options.

Five on Friday: How To Have a Private Mortgage Insurance Removed

We realize talking about home financing isn’t a super sexy conversation, nor is it nearly as exciting as awesome landscaping ideas or great neighborhood bars. But before you click that little “x” to close this window, hear us out. This topic is worth exploring because it may save you some cash on your monthly mortgage payment.














Yeah. We thought that might get your attention.  

First, here are two important terms to help with this slightly-more-interesting-then-a- snail-race financial conversation.

  • LTV: Loan-To-Value is a percentage calculated from the loan amount divided by the purchase price. So, if you put down 15% when buying a home, in simplest terms for this discussion, your LTV would be 85%. And - here’s the important part! - this number decreases over time as you pay off your mortgage loan. This value decrease is a very, very good thing.
  • PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance is what a lender will require you to have for your loan if you put less than 20% down on a home.

Here are five ways you may qualify for a lower Loan-to-Value (LTV) thus having your Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) removed from your monthly mortgage balance - and giving you a reason to pop the champagne. 

1. If you are getting ready to buy a home, if you place a down-payment of 20% or more, you may not be required to have PMI written into your loan terms. Each lender has different guidelines, so it’s worth asking about their PMI requirements.

2. Prepay your mortgage loan, aka make extra payments on your mortgage, to build equity in your home.

3. If you remodeled your home or completed a major home restoration project, it’s worth have your home appraised. You may discover the remodel/restoration decreased your LTV.

4. If your neighborhood – or area – has seen an increased value, request a home appraisal.

5. Once your home’s equity reaches 20%, you can request to have your PMI removed (YAY!) – and once it’s below 78%, your lender should remove it if you’ve met all their requirements per the loan and the Homeowners Protection Act.

Have questions? Give us a call!

And a quick heads up: we're hosting two open houses this Sunday, 6/11/17: a beautiful 1930s one-bedroom condo in the NW District (open house: noon to 1:30p at 2743 NW Thurman #4, Portland 97210) and the other, a 3-bedroom in the hopping Woodstock neighborhood (open house: 1:30-3p at 6523 SE 84th Ave, Portland 97266). Visit our homepage for links and details. You won't want to miss these! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

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: Claire's Podcast Debut!

Our very own Principal Broker, Claire Paris, was recently a guest on Christopher Cumby and Allan Wich's podcast Think Bold, Be Bold. Read on below for a preview of their chat and be sure to clink the link to the podcast to hear the whole thing!

1. It seems like recently sellers get to call the shots and buyers are in competition to impress them for homes. What is your take on that?

"...The first thing obviously starts with a conversation with whomever the other agent is to find out what is motivating the seller because that's always the question. Obviously, price motivates the seller but sometimes there are other things. Especially in Portland where the seller is worried their house they've owned for 25 years is going to be bought by a developer and raised to the ground and replaced by a high-rise. You know there's a lot of people that don't want that..."

2. I think you have a particularly cute example of some of those tactics you mentioned that my daughter utilized when she was buying her house. Can you share that story?

"Oh my God, it was the cutest thing ever. Seriously the cutest thing ever. So, my nephew was in Allan's daughter's kindergarten class and when she was writing her offer for her property she had her students write letters to the seller. So, I had like 30 letters delivered to the seller in little kid’s handwriting - with pictures of chickens and goats - about why Ms. Wich should get the house. It was pretty cool. I think it really did help. I really do; it worked!"  

3. What one thing do you see coming down the pike that you think is going to change the industry?

"That’s a good question, I think ironically, I think it's actually interest-rates right now. That's going to get people to go back to the basics and work. In 2007, I don't think Realtors had that much value. I really felt like anybody could do the job. I mean there was nothing to do, loans were free and easy. You just had to sign your name. Now loans are actually more difficult, and more increases in the interest rate is going to further complicate that."

4. What about the over-valuation of property?

"...Everybody you talk to has a different story but right now the projection is 115 people a day moving to Portland, Oregon. So, crazy! With our urban growth boundary, which is artificially keeping the prices high - but I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Then obviously with interest rates still low, I think a lot of the things are still putting pressure on prices to stay where they are."

5. What’s your favorite book?

"That’s a good one, I would say Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink."

Bonus question: 1. If you were going to a brand-new country, never been there, didn't research it, and we're pretty much going in the blind what is the one absolute thing that you would have with you, for sure?

"A toothbrush."

Bonus question: 2. What is your favorite quote?

"The one I have on my wall is the Goethe, the one that says, 'Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Begin it now.'"

Bonus question: 3. What piece of technology has helped your business the most?

"DocuSign; it's an electronic signature program. It is terrible to say, but it has made my life so much easier."

Bonus question: 4. What is one thing would you like to leave the audience with today, something that they can go out and do today that will make their life better, more efficient, more effective, maybe more economic, from an entrepreneurial standpoint?

"For me, personally, I will say that it is not going to be anything mind-blowing but I think it’s just another back to basics. I find that for me and for most people, there is something on your list that you are avoiding and you are doing a bunch of other stuff instead of it. I would start the day with whatever is on your list that you’ve been dreading, that you don’t want to do. Just start it, do five minutes of it and then if you don’t finish it that’s fine but just do five minutes of it and keep going back to it and see where you get."

Click here to hear Claire's full interview on Think Bold, Be Bold!

BTW: You can vote for Claire under the "Best Realtor" category in Willamette Week's Best of Portland 2017 awards! 

Five on Friday with Purringtons Cat Lounge

We had the pleasure of sitting down with local business owners Sergio and Kristen Castillo the owners of Purringtons Cat Lounge located in NE Portland. Read on to find out all about their awesome business and how pet ownership can change your home.

  1. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your business?

We saw a video of a cat cafe in Paris and thought it was such a great idea. Tokyo is known for them probably because people live in small quarters and it is not always a responsible option for them to have pets. Small home dwellers still love animals and cat cafes are a great way to have that interaction. We didn’t really see that as a reason to have a cat cafe in Portland, we more expected it to be good for people who cohabitate with people who are allergic. However now, with a lot of changes to the city, our business might also be good for people who don’t feel like their housing situation is stable enough for pets, or with the push for infill we might find people have less space in their homes and the cat cafe is a good alternative.

People often are forced to surrender animals to shelters because of their health or finances and it is such an insult to injury to have to lose a source of comfort during a stressful time and it is awful for the pets to have to be in a shelter and away from their family.

     2. While we are on the topic of rent increases and changes, what effect does that have on pets?

We haven’t seen too much of it yet, but we imagine with the rapidly increasing rents in Portland and property owners being more restrictive with their rental policies we will probably see an increase in owner surrendered cats to shelters. As people get priced out of their apartments they must seek new places to live and in a market with so many renters willing to pay well owners and managers can be very selective and often place restrictions on pet ownership for renters. People are charging rent for cats now. This puts people in the difficult position of having to choose between a beloved pet/family member and the practical necessities of having a place to live that suits their needs. That’s the benefit of being a homeowner. If you own your home you can do whatever you want, and a house is not really a home until you have a cat.

    3. Speaking of cats and homeownership when we first spoke you sent me a hilarious video tied to a tradition in Russia related to home purchases and cats.

  There are many beliefs about cats around the world and I think the one in Russia is that a cat entering through the threshold is good luck. One mortgage company capitalizes on that and has new homeowners pick out a cat to adopt that they bring to the home when their agent gives them the key. The cat is supposed to enter the house and it is lucky or a sign of a good home. I think that is a   little too much pressure for a cat, though. They shouldn’t be forced to provide goodwill or a good vibe for your house. They would just do that anyways without any sort of preconditions because cats are awesome like that. What if they don’t want to enter the house? Do people back out of a transaction?   Does it mean that something is wrong with the house?

  Maybe some cats can double as home inspectors. We adopted out a cat that knows when the diabetic child in his family has low blood sugar, maybe some cats can smell dry rot. I don’t know about adopting cats out with houses though because you don’t know if sensing a good purchase will be one of that cat’s special skills.

All jokes aside, though, a house really isn’t a home without a pet. 

     4. How do you help a cat get settled into a new home?

It takes cats some time to acclimate to a new space. At Purringtons we did a big build out, so when we first moved cats into the cafe they were really staying in back in the area that guests don’t spend time in and we got a little worried. I think the construction smells in the cat lounge were not really inviting to them. Once there started to be people here and other smells, like brewing coffee, they started to venture out into the cat lounge.  

I think it is probably a similar experience getting a cat settled in a new house, or after a renovation project. Give them time to adjust to changes, they are so sensitive to ambient sounds and smells. Newly adopted animals can take a long time to be fully settled in and you can expect the process to be even longer when there are other animals in the family.

As a homeowner, you can help the transition by enriching your space for your cat, making it more stimulating and inviting. Shelves mounted under window ledges so that your cat has a good vantage point, catios so they can get fresh air and take in the outdoors; there’s a lot you can do for making your house fun for kitties. Keeping them busy with toys and designated areas is also a great way to minimize damage to your home. Entertained cats with access to appropriate places to scratch like posts are less likely to scratch up furniture and home fixtures.

     5. You mention Catios to keep your cat entertained. Can you elaborate more on your opinion of indoor or outdoor for pet cats?

In Portland, we have urban coyotes on top of all the normal dangers to pets outside, like cars and inclement weather. There have even been some frightening reports of people hurting other people's cats. If you want your pet to be safe, we recommend keeping them inside or using a catio to let them explore the outdoors without the risk. Don’t let your cats roam outside because the lifespan for an indoor versus an outdoor cat is considerably longer. Of course, everyone knows an exception or two to that rule, but you have no way of knowing if your outdoor cat will be one of the lucky few that live to an old age without incident.

It’s our policy to only adopt cats at the cafe out to homes that will keep them indoors because we want to keep these animals we care about safe. We recommend homeowners consider a catio as a great option that might not be available to renters. There are some great companies around town that install them; a lot of their work is featured in the Catio Tour hosted by the  Feral Cat Coalition if you want a preview before you commit. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like, but either way, your cat will enjoy the option to go outside safely.

      Bonus question 1. As much as a cat is an excellent addition to a home they can also wreak some havoc on a house. Any advice for homeowners eager to have a pet and not damage their wood floors?

  One of the behaviors that can cause the most damage to a home is inappropriate urination.  If your cat is urinating outside of the litterbox there is usually a reason. It may be health related, like they have a UTI, or maybe you are not keeping their box clean enough, or it is in a location they don’t like.  Don’t be discouraged if you struggle with this with your cat, just focus on figuring out what is causing the behavior so that you can fix it and your home's floors will stay beautiful. All behavior has a cause, so if you are experiencing a behavior from your cat that may cause damage to your home don’t give up on your pet. You can find out what is causing the behavior and address it so that you can have both a lovely home and a happy pet.

If you ever find yourself having a rough day, I recommend you browse the Purringtons Instagram for some uplifting images of sweet kitties loving the cat cafe life and finding forever homes. Don’t forget to friend Purringtons on Facebook and bookmark their website to keep up to date on all the events they host! You don’t want to miss a movie night, wine tasting, or yoga with cats. If you are ready to find a forever home for a kitty we can help; No matter what stage of the process you're in, we are happy to assist you finding that perfect corner for your furry friend’s scratching post.



Five Questions on Friday with Designer Ashton Ford

This week we had the pleasure of asking local designer Ashton Ford of AshtonForDesign some of our burning design questions over a delicious coffee.  Ashton, a hands-on local designer, works in residential and commercial spaces to create impactful, comfortable, and functional environments.

        1. You provide design inspiration to Portlanders by creating content for your website AshtonForDesign.com, contributions to ‘Where's Your Living Room?’ Living Room Realty’s online magazine. When you are looking to get inspired where do you go?

Inspiration is everywhere.

Physically getting out there and seeing spaces is the best way for me to get inspiration. Taking note when something is done well and/or when something can be done better. Talking to friends or strangers about these characteristics of a space. What’s their opinion?

You shouldn’t ever limit yourself to one form of inspiration. I subscribe to a few magazines, including  Interior Design and PNW publication called Gray. I’ll flip through these to discover new products, styles, and great projects that other designers are accomplishing. When you see or read something you like, scan it into your computer, or find it online to bookmark. That way you will always have it to reference. There are also great apps for your phones that allow you can scan directly to your email, laptop, or desktop.

And... Instagram! Social media is such a great platform to get inspired. If you see an image you like, or you start following someone, it will pull up other content that’s in line with your style.  People can be critical of Pinterest, and to each their own, but I keep boards of inspiration, color contrasts, industrial beauty, or whatever specific design element I am interested in. It’s a great way to organize ideas so that I can refer back to them. Especially when I have an opportunity to put them to use. I make digital and physical files for projects, which help identify a cohesive direction. Imagery (and sketching) is a very useful tool to communicate design ideas to clients and contractors. When I begin a project, I’ll create a layout of inspiration to get clients’ imaginations going and they start to identify what suits their taste. The layout inspires conversation.

2. In some of your writing, you offer a lot of design ideas for renters, what kinds of design upgrades are options for people once they buy a space that are usually not options when renting? What are some design advantages homeowners can take advantage of?

Paint, I know it’s cliché, but it makes a big difference and can change the overall appearance of a space. It is so easy to pick paint and have it done before you move in. This way you don’t have to deal with moving furniture around and risk damaging things.

Lighting is so important as well. You can have an amazing looking home but if you don’t have good lighting you won’t be able to appreciate it. When you’re renting, it isn’t usually worth the cost to install new fixtures, nor is it permitted...so you are more limited in the lighting changes you can make. When you own a home, however, it makes more sense to invest in new fixtures and, if need be, have them wired to exactly where you want them and not where they were for the previous owners.

Those customizations are the first changes I recommend in a new house. After that, you can start to think about materials like tile, counters, flooring, etc.  It makes a big difference when they are upgraded or modified. These things can get expensive, but remember that things can always be done in phases to maximize your budget. Be on the lookout for remnants or discounted materials around town. For example, you might see that you need 50 square feet of tile for your kitchen backsplash. Remember this quantity when you are perusing the tile showrooms, who sometimes heavily discount tile leftover from past projects.

Personalizing your home with accessories, like rugs, can have a big impact and you can start with discount rugs and upgrade to wool and silk as it becomes affordable. The obvious or not-so-obvious upgrades are decorative objects such as artwork, plants, and the like. Have fun exploring your city’s many shopping venues and personalize your home as your budget allows.

3. You write in your bio that you are interested in the psychology of space. With that interest in mind, how do you think the psychological effects of a space play into a home purchase? How can buyers adjust a space to influence their emotions in a positive way?

It’s easy to dismiss the huge effect that lighting has, but it influences everyone, whether they are conscious of it or not.  People often don’t recognize bad lighting until it has been replaced with better lighting. Then they realize how much more relaxed or motivated they feel in the space. I think that one of the innovations we will soon see in homes are intuitive lights that change throughout the day to positively affect the end-user.

Cooler light may increase productivity and warmer light will help people reduce their energy as the day settles into the night. Bulbs that can change color temperature and wattage output seem like a natural step into the future of custom interior design. Until then, homeowners should try to identify what kinds of light make them feel best and set up their home to fit their needs in each room. You’d be surprised at how many colors an LED now comes in.

Along with lighting, spatial layouts will affect individuals differently based on their needs and personality.  For example, some people find that an open floor plan lends itself to better productivity, while others find open floor plans a bit overwhelming, making it difficult to focus. These personality types might prefer smaller or designated areas for work. Floor plans that are more segmented may also be good for people who live with others and may need to make some specific spaces their own private area. Also, remember that many things in a house can be changed to fit your wants and needs. Whether you have a large open space or a series of rooms, you can create a dynamic plan that suits and inspires yourself.

Again, color has a huge significance in design. Many of the things we are taught about color are sometimes not as accurate as we assume. For example, people say that blue is a very calm or relaxing color, but when applying a blue to a wall, it doesn’t always create that effect. When you think about fire, blue and white are the hottest colors, while reds and oranges are not. The reds and oranges can actually create a relaxed space if done correctly. It totally depends on the hue or saturation you choose as well as the final touch of finish. Blue can be a calming color...or…. it can be bold and reactive! Color is a major attribute of design.

Texture can also play a major role in the psychology of a space. Fabrics versus leathers. Woods versus metals. Plants versus no plants. People have memories and experiences associated with these materials and they should be taken into consideration when designing.

4. It seems that home shopping is aided by some creative thinking to see the possibilities of a space and how it would fit into your life. Do you have any advice for people who are not particularly creative and in the process of home shopping?

Recruit some extra help! Enlist the service of a professional; bring along your designer or seek out a creative friend who understands your style and needs.  They can help you envision how things could be transformed which makes finding a home that much easier and less overwhelming. This step may also help you budget better because a designer can assist in pricing out some of the recommended modifications, which you can then factor into the overall cost. A designer can also give you some helpful perspectives on the overall impact of changes that can be made, such as opening a kitchen to a dining room, creating a bigger master bathroom or providing more storage space. This is extremely important information to consider so you don't unnecessarily rule out a house that has great potential.

5. What do you think are the most cost-effective design changes to make?

Plants are one of the most affordable ways to modify a space. You can buy plants at several places around town for a relatively low cost but there are also a lot of ways to get plants for free! Ask friends if you can propagate their plants, which pretty much means ‘clipping a plant you know can grow roots in water.’ This easy task can add some natural greenery to your space. There is even a woman here in Portland, Julia Barbee, who coordinates a propagated plant exchange. It’s called Portland Propagation and it is awesome!

Add inexpensive life to a space with paint, pillows, a shelf of books/records, artwork that has been collecting dust, and more! Just remember that these things can be subtle touches or extremely dramatic statements. It’s totally up to the end-user how they want to feel in the space and how they want their guests to feel. Your space, whether it is your home, your office, or your commercial business; it is your personal creation. There really are no rules when it comes to decor. Confidence is the key to a successful space.

Bonus question 1. In some of your writing, you talk about shifting things around seasonally, which is an idea I really like. What are some practical ways homeowners can do this?

Sometimes seasonal décor ends up being holiday-specific and you miss out on changes that you could enjoy all season. Instead of just putting up holiday decorations, consider changing textiles like curtains, warm blankets, and table runners with the seasons to make a space airier in the summer and cozier in the winter months. Consider adding accessories to your mantle that set the mood for the whole season. Floral arrangements are a great way to reflect the seasons. A vibrant array of buds and luscious green stems or a textural beauty of branches with dried leaves. Possibilities are endless.

Changing out artwork is another great way to shift it up. Your home can feel fresh and seasonal with what you decide to display. Showcase pieces you’ve collected throughout your travels, but maybe never got around to framing or finding that blank space on your walls. You don’t always have to hang artwork. You can install what they call a ‘piano shelf’ anywhere your heart desires and lean them against the wall! This variety and rotation of art creates an engaging interaction with your home. It can keep things interesting and help you fall in love with your place all over again.

That being said, some behavior experts say that routine, such as keeping everything in its place or having a capsule wardrobe, frees more space in the mind for other things. So maybe the idea of changing things out varies in appeal from person to person. It’s worth trying out these seasonal changes in your home to see if you like it!

Bonus question 2. One dilemma homeowners often face is how to fit all the design elements they have into their home? Any advice for people looking to integrate items with sentimental value into their space?

Tchotchkes and those items that get passed down can be difficult to find the right place for. Grouping items together on a tabletop or displaying even three-dimensional objects on walls can be a great way to integrate these items into your home.

For example, my dad gave my husband and me a rock he had picked up during our wedding ceremony. He painted ‘09.06.15 - Josh and Ash' plus a little heart on it. It has some serious sentimental value so we needed to find the right place for it. We found a prominent place on our bar shelf, and it even works on a functional level as it can be used to hold down cocktail napkins.

Basically, your house is where you live, often where you work, and a place you share with loved ones, so it should be a home not just in a physical sense but in the cognitive sense too. Decorate and design your home with components that activated your senses and your thoughts. These details may, in turn, inspire your guests as well!

If you would like to know more about Ashton’s work you can follow her on Instagram, browse her Pinterest boards, and definitely bookmark her website!