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Apartment Living

A Cozy New Rug Collection

A Cozy New Rug Collection

Hello friends! Praise be, the election is over and I just marked my birthday over the weekend – my official holiday season milestone. Whenever the calendar passes November 8, I feel like I can finally turn 100% of my attention to all things holiday. Obviously, the holidays are going to look and feel very different than years past. Perhaps instead of the holiday season, we should start referring to the next few months as the hunker down season. Because that’s what holidays in the time of Covid are going to require of us. But I’m not entirely mad about the idea of holing up at home. I’ll take a very valid excuse to look for ways to make my home as cozy, comforting, and beautiful as possible.

Enter the new rug collection from Beni Rugs, designed by my style soul twin, Colin King.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

Called the Shape of Color, this new rug collection offers eleven Moroccan style rugs. Each rug features shocks of color inspired by Tangier and Marrakech. The hues are deeply saturated in simple geometric shapes or big bold stripes.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

While I typically eschew color, rugs are a wonderful spot to inject something fresh into a room. I used a bold colored rug in my own living room. The particularly nice thing about a rug – it’s an easy way to reenergize a space without really having to change anything else.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

There are a few secrets to picking out a rug. First, you want to think about size. A common mistake is getting a rug that is too small. You want all (or nearly all) your furniture in a space to sit on your rug. That helps a room feel anchored and like everything is working together. A too-small rug will actually make a small space feel even smaller!

Next, you want to think about foot traffic. If you’re looking to put a rug in a high foot traffic area, you’ll want to ensure any rug you select will withstand an onslaught of dirt and use.

Finally, when adding a colorful rug to your space you don’t need to “match your decor. You just want to keep everything in the same design family. Do you decorate with mostly warm colors or cooler tones? That will help you pick your colors.



 

If you’re looking to upgrade the coziness of your home before the holidays hit, I definitely think one of these rugs would be a great way to do it. I’m already debating which one I might add to our house. I do have a home office refresh in the works! If I pick out one of these rugs – I’ll be sure to share.

How are you planning on sprucing up your spaces for the holidays?

images c/o beni rugs

Published at Tue, 10 Nov 2020 20:10:40 +0000

The Calm Before the Storm

It feels extremely odd to focus on design this week, but I’m considering it a form of self-preservation today. We all need to do what calms us as we prepare for the inevitable storm ahead. Please tell me you’re voting today or tomorrow if you haven’t already. Click here to find your polling place. Every single vote matters – even if you think your vote won’t make a difference where you live – I promise you it will. Please please please vote.

While we all await our fate, please enjoy this stunning project designed by my go-to gal Lauren Nelson. It is incredibly soothing.

I have major entry envy.

Both a guest house and private tasting room for Petrichor Vineyards in Santa Rosa, CA, Lauren put her magic touch of approachable sophistication mixed with laid-back elegance in every single space she touched. Subtle Morrocan vibes, classic well-made pieces, and a muted yet saturated color palette work beautifully. I particularly love the use of the deep, rich blue tones in the updated kitchen. All the natural light and vaulted ceilings keep the space feeling open and bright despite the darker hues.

Lauren is the queen at beautifully impactful simple moments. This vintage chair and stunning cabinet make me feel like I’m somewhere in Italy.

Even though we’re in the heart of wine country, I am loving the Moroccan vibes peppered throughout the home.

This bedroom has such a mix of textures and styles, yet everything, from the rug to the bed to the curtains to the sconces all play harmoniously.

This officially might be my favorite bathroom vanity of all time. The counter top sink, the sconces, that faucet and yummy texture on the walls…it’s all delicious.

This space is going to serve as my moment of zen – I plan on revisiting it regularly between now and the end of the election day – whenever that may be. I hope this home tour brings you both some calm and some hope. I truly believe we have the capacity to bring ourselves back from the brink. We just have to show up and make our voices heard.

photos by bess friday courtesy of lauren nelson design

Published at Mon, 02 Nov 2020 17:31:23 +0000

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Apartment Living

The Best Neighborhoods in Chicago

The Best Neighborhoods in Chicago

Find the best place to call home in the Windy City.

Chicago is known for being home to a number of Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries, including finance, retail, transportation and food processing. It also has world-class hospitals and universities, a robust tech scene and several welcoming start-up hubs and incubators. And, of course, a handful of great Chicago neighborhoods.

The best neighborhoods in Chicago feature a welcoming atmosphere, alongside award-winning restaurants and bars, coffee shops and independent businesses whose shopkeeper’s will ask you how you’re doing when you stop in. The difficult decision isn’t whether to move to Chicago. The hard part is deciding in which neighborhood to move.

Here are 10 of the best neighborhoods in Chicago to consider.

Andersonville, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Some people might find A’ville, as Andersonville is sometimes referred to, a bit too north for their taste and that’s fine with residents who live along tree-lined streets and frequent their local indie coffee shop, gift and home décor boutiques and restaurants along Clark Street.

It’s a popular area among LGBTQ residents, too. The current owners of Women and Children’s First bookstore, which has been around since 1979 and at this Andersonville location since 1990, consider themselves intersectional trans-inclusive feminists. They curate their bookshelves of more than 20,000 books on feminism, books by and about women, children’s books and LGBTQIA+ literature.

Kenwood, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Located on the South Side and just north of Hyde Park, Kenwood was once home to Muddy Waters, credited to be among the Chicago Blues pioneers, as well as Louis Sullivan, known as one of America’s greatest architects. The tree-lined streets of Kenwood are lined with 19th-century mansions and architecturally-significant apartment buildings.

The Burnham Nature Sanctuary is just one of the many reasons to escape to the outdoors within the 100-acre urban wilderness that makes up the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Then, check out Goree Cuisine for a Sengalese meal before popping into Carver 47 Cafe half a block west for a drink made from ingredients from their in-house garden.

Lakeview, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Lakeview is all over the board when it comes to neighborhood personalities. At one point, Wrigleyville seemed to be the place where every college graduate decided to move so they could be closer to cheering their beloved Cubbies. It still attracts a younger crowd but there are plenty of seasoned residents who’ve learned to live with the crowded bars and congested streets whenever a baseball game is in play.

Just west of Wrigleyville is more subdued. The stroller brigades take residence so expect to see strollers parked outside popular brunch hangouts or the kid-friendly boutiques that line Southport Avenue.

Then there’s Lakeview East, also known as Boystown since it’s a popular LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood and where Pride Parade and the annual Halsted Street Market Days takes place. The recent controversy over the Boystown name resulted in a new name for the area: Northalsted. The jury is out whether that name will stick.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

The Lincoln Park neighborhood is home to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park, a 1,208-acre park situation along Lake Michigan. It’s a tony neighborhood filled with million-dollar single-family homes along tree-lined streets. Thanks to its close proximity to Lake Michigan, it’s also home to several high-rise and low-rise apartments that range in rental rates.

Locals love strolling along the South Pond, which some call the Lincoln Park Lagoon, or visiting the animals in the free Lincoln Park Zoo. Shoppers who love independent stores will appreciate the cute indie shops along Armitage Avenue as well as a mix of locals and chains along Clark Street near Diversey.

Lincoln Square, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

For those who want more of a family community feel, Lincoln Square is loaded with single-family homes, condos and apartment buildings and families with kids who are attending local public and private schools. This is very much a community at heart.

Neighbors and families often meet up at Welles Park to watch Little League games and many a new parent has brought their wee one to Wiggleworm classes at Old Town School of Folk Music just south of the park.

Logan Square, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes

What was once a quiet neighborhood with a large immigrant population has become more gentrified as young and hip Chicagoans who don’t want to pay the higher rental rates in Wicker Park or Bucktown head farther north to Logan Square.

Having a few stops along the Blue Line and easy access to both Milwaukee Avenue, which runs through Logan Square, and the Kennedy Expressway makes it convenient to live here and get around other parts of the city relatively quickly.

Locals love having their own farmers market along Logan Boulevard and tons of shops along Milwaukee Avenue, including a food co-op, boxing gym, tons of independent restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as well as their own movie theater.

Near South Side, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

The Near South Side includes the South Loop, Printers Row and Chinatown. Within walking distance to the Loop and Lake Michigan, it’s popular among both professionals who live in the business district and families who love the convenience of the location since it also includes the Museum Campus and a healthy dose of restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

The South Loop is filled with mostly high-rise apartments and condo buildings. Printers Row, formerly part of the printing and publishing industry, is comprised of industrial-era brick buildings that have been converted into residential lofts. Chinatown has a mix of apartment buildings and single-family homes — the large Asian population that lives in this community appreciates having easy and walking access to restaurants and grocery shops stocking sizable selections of Asian sauces, meats, seafood, vegetables and more.

South Shore, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

The South Shore is one of Chicago’s 77 defined community areas which includes several neighborhoods within the area. It lines Lake Michigan, and residents love the easy access to Rainbow Beach, as well as the South Shore Cultural Center, a 65-acre park with a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, culinary center, nature center and a variety of cultural programming and classes.

The Japanese Garden within Jackson Park is another oasis within this city. Since the Stony Island Arts Bank re-opened as an art gallery, media archive, gorgeous library and community center in 2015, it’s quickly become not only a gathering space for the community but a place for scholars, artists and researchers to engage with the rich history of the South Side.

West Loop, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

As the name implies, West Loop is west of the Loop, and what was once an industrial meatpacking district has become one of the hottest and most expensive parts of the city. Developers razed those warehouses and replaced them with shiny new luxury condo and apartment complexes. Even Harpo Studios, which used to air the Oprah Winfrey Show, was demolished to make way for the new McDonald’s corporate headquarters.

It took some time for businesses to follow but once people started filling in those tall buildings, and corporations like McDonald’s Corporate and Google Chicago Headquarters moved in, daycare centers, puppy boutiques, florists and bike shops starting filling in those first-floor retail spaces. Randolph Street quickly became known as Restaurant Row with its high-end restaurants and bars.

This is a busy neighborhood so if you like the hustle and bustle of city living, West Loop might be a good fit for you.

Wicker Park, Chicago, IL

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

As one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, Wicker Park is known for its quirky shops and equally quirky residents. At the heart of Wicker Park is the Flat Iron Arts Building, which houses artist studios, tattoo parlors, galleries, creative businesses and restaurants. While the building is open daily to the public, the first Friday of the month is when the artists open their doors and invite the community in to see their work.

The area has become more gentrified and the low rents that once attracted the artist community have given way to larger condo buildings. Night and day, the area is bustling with activity, whether it’s locals heading to Quimby’s Bookstore for the latest ‘zine or meeting up with friends over coffee at Wormhole.

The best Chicago neighborhood: Yours

Chicago may have 77 community areas with unique neighborhoods within them, and choosing the best Chicago neighborhood can be hard. The best part of living in Chicago is no matter where you live, the entire city is accessible to you to have fun and explore.

Published at Wed, 11 Nov 2020 14:06:01 +0000

The Best Neighborhoods in Austin

Bursting at the seams with breakfast tacos, live music, high-tech jobs and vibrant youth culture, Austin has been topping best-of lists for decades.

While old-timers strive to “keep it weird,” the constant influx of new residents has introduced a flourishing restaurant, bar and hospitality element to many of the best neighborhoods in Austin.

In a place known for friendliness and fun, no matter where you land, you’re sure to find your groove. There really isn’t a bad part of town, which can make it hard to choose a neighborhood. Never fear, the following list will help you find your feet in this quirky capital.

crestview austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Midtown Commons at Crestview Station

Crestview is known for being family-friendly. It’s a quaint older neighborhood filled with bungalows and ranch-style homes boasting tidy, well-kept yards. The tight-knit district enjoys proximity to community gardens, parks and top-rated schools.

In recent years, younger professionals have moved into the area, and a flurry of hip eateries and boutique retail have popped up in response. The local dive bar Lala’s Little Nugget is a crowd-pleaser, and an enclave of Asian groceries and restaurants infuse some delicious diversity along Lamar. With a combination of old and new housing, there is something in Crestview for everyone.

downtown austin

The flashiest area code in town by far, this neighborhood is immediately recognizable for its towering glass high rises. Vibrating with life day and night, this is truly the epicenter of the city. Unlike downtowns in neighboring big cities, Austin’s downtown offers a healthy work/life balance.

This neighborhood is nestled against Ladybird Lake and the greenbelt, so fresh air and nature are never far away. You’re also within walking distance to live music at Moody Theater and a luxury spa day at Milk & Honey. The price tag is steep, but the payoff is worth it for singles and professionals who want to be where the action is.

hyde park austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Su Casa Apartments

Central to everything, Hyde Park is an Austin original. This enclave is hands-down the most well-preserved historic neighborhood in town and features a stunning collection of Victorian homes, mid-century bungalows and clapboard carriage houses.

The area offers chic and practical shopping and dining, including upscale Italian at Asti and local cheese from Antonelli’s. A mix of families and students keep Hyde Park diverse, and the small-town feel makes it one of the most sought-after ZIP codes.

mueller austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Mosaic at Mueller

The former home of the original Austin airport, Mueller is now the largest mixed-use development in the city. With an Alamo Theater within walking distance from kiddo paradise The Exploratorium, this area is ideal for singles, families, professionals and even seniors.

With ample park space, a farmer’s market and multiple public pools, this neighborhood is as engaging as it is convenient. You’ll find every type of housing at every price point.

north loop austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Flora Apartments

A quaint neighborhood brimming with vintage homes from the 1950s, North Loop is home to a nice slice of old Austin and a meaty helping of newcomers, too. A thriving local business scene is central to the area, with Epoch Coffeehouse and The Parlor pizzeria at its core.

Local bars and restaurants run the gamut from high-end to lowbrow, and there are plenty of boutique shops. Proximity to the University of Texas at Austin makes the neighborhood attractive to students, but the safety and local amenities also draw families and young professionals.

north university austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Venue on Guadalupe

Also known as North Campus, North University is quieter and more diverse than UT’s rowdy West Campus with its Greek societies. This neighborhood is extremely bike-friendly. And, its tree-lined streets are home to a mix of students, faculty, young professionals, families and retirees.

Local dining options range from funky hometown favorites like Torchy’s Tacos and Thundercloud Subs to eclectic Ethiopian and Japanese options. Housing ranges from duplexes to upscale condos, making this a comfortable landing spot for anyone looking to call Austin home.

riverside austin tx

Source: Rent.com / The Breakers on the Lake

This community has affordable neighborhoods with easy access to Downtown. Just south of the river, Riverside features a mix of housing and wide-ranging demographics. Many young professionals have moved into the new, modern riverfront condos, while students live in large apartment complexes further east.

Expect a blend of ethnic and budget shopping, along with bars, clubs and riverfront outdoor activities like stand-up paddleboarding and boating. Emos host raucous live indoor shows and the boardwalk trail at Ladybird Lake gives a unique vantage point of Downtown.

south lamar austin tx

Source: Rent.com / Thornton Flats

Trendy, hip and happening, South Lamar was once a humdrum part of town known best for used car lots. Now, it’s one of the most vibrant parts of the city, where singles, artists and creatives flock for inspiration, recreation and affordable living.

From two-stepping at the Broken Spoke to award-winning sushi at Uchi, there’s plenty for everyone here. If you don’t mind the traffic and noise, South Lamar serves up live music, bars, boutiques and local food better than anywhere else in town.

westgate austin tx

Source: Rent.com / 4704 Sunset Trail

Westgate is a small, classic Austin neighborhood that offers diversity, green space and plenty of shopping. This little pocket of the city is home to a community of families and empty-nesters.

With modest and rustic homes sitting beneath ancient oak trees, the proximity to schools, a sports complex and amenities galore attract residents who want access to the city without the noise and crowds. Meanwhile, foodies flock to Central Market, and Cavender’s Boot is fun to visit, even if you’re not in the market for cowboy duds.

zilker austin tx

In the rolling hills of Austin, just outside of the hustle and bustle of the nearby park of the same name, Zilker is an enclave of quiet and calm encased in greenspace.

While shopping, nightlife and dining are all a stone’s throw away, this community also attracts residents who love Barton Springs Pool, hiking the greenbelt and enjoying the nearby bike trails. Anyone who can afford the entry price is lucky to live in this verdant neighborhood in the hills.

Find the best Austin neighborhood for you

Despite a reputation as a party town, Austin is a complex city filled with every type of neighborhood you could imagine. Finding the right fit for you may take a bit of research, but whether you’re seeking a peaceful hideaway or a hipster hotspot, you can find it in the capital of Texas.

Published at Tue, 10 Nov 2020 21:52:41 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

Love Country Chic Style? 12 South’s the Place for You

Love Country Chic Style? 12 South’s the Place for You

The 12 South area has a vibe unlike any other in the Metro Nashville area. It’s got beautiful parks and a host of diverse restaurants. But what makes it truly unique is the smattering of locally-owned boutiques, western-wear and vintage shops lining the main drag.

There’s certainly a lot to see and do. It’s no wonder so many new Nashvillians choose 12 South to put their roots down. So let’s take a look at the cool things 12 South has to offer and what to expect if you decide it’s the place for you!

Where is 12 South?

Bordering Belmont Blvd and Melrose, with a splash of 8th Ave S. to its northeast, 12 South is actually one of the city’s smaller neighborhoods. Its main drag is about ½ mile of 12th Ave S. It’s a highly residential area, with lots of bungalow-style homes lining the shady streets. There are a lot of apartment homes in the community’s hub as well.

People move to the area for its distinctly southern personality, walkability and its close proximity to plenty of other neighborhoods in greater Nashville.

History

Like many other neighborhoods in Nashville, 12 South has had its ups and downs. Before the 2000s, it wasn’t the fashionable hotspot you’ll see today. In fact, there wasn’t much to see there at all but some older single-family homes.

Now, many of those homes (some from the very early 1900s) have been restored. Within a decade, well over 20 new businesses have opened. Needless to say, today’s 12 South neighborhood is a thriving hub of commerce and activity.

Lifestyle

Very family-oriented, the sidewalks of the 12 South area are full of young families with strollers. You’ll see plenty of young singles also frequenting the many trendy bars and restaurants in the neighborhood. The vibe is very laid back, fun and friendly.

Things to Do

Whether you’re in the mood for some shopping, playing on the playgrounds and green spaces of Sevier Park, or bar hopping at many of the strips’ fun establishments – there’s a lot to do in 12 South.

Shopping

12 South is a mecca for fun and funky western wear and a ton of other diverse specialty shops. So many, in fact, we’ll just point out a few. You’ll have to come and see the rest for yourself. Reese Witherspoon’s southern-inspired clothing store Draper James is in the heart of the main drag. As is Imogene & Willie, a store devoted almost exclusively to denim in all its best forms.

Serendipity is also a neighborhood staple, offering up all kinds of eclectic clothing, jewelry, gifts and books. They also offer the Dolly Parton prayer candle we could all really use right now. You’ll find Judith Bright, a specialty jewelry boutique with a cult following throughout the Southeast. You can also duck into Ceri Hoover for luxury leather shoes, handbags and other accessories.

12 South is home to White’s Mercantile (a general store with food, home goods, clothing and more). There’s Halcyon bike shop for the cycling enthusiast, and Wags and Whiskers, offering up holistic pet foods, treats, toys and a DIY dog wash.

Fitness and outdoor fun

Sevier Park is the community center (literally) for fitness and outdoor activities in the 12 South neighborhood. The Sevier Park community center is a full-service fitness center, including a gym, group exercise/dance classes, indoor and outdoor walking and running tracks, outdoor playgrounds and more.

On Tuesday afternoons from May to October, Sevier Park hosts the 12 South Farmer’s Market. There you’ll find a vast amount of locally grown farm-fresh produce, edible goods and more than a few of the city’s best food trucks.

Where to Eat & Drink

A vast diversity of great restaurants and bars line 12th Ave S, from Lebanese cuisine to authentic gourmet Paletas and everything in between. You’ll also find more than a few coffee shops, a tea bar and some bakeries you won’t be able to resist. Oh, and you should know that brunch is HUGE around here.

Edley’s Bar-B-Que

With 3 locations in the Nashville metro area, Edley’s is a hometown icon that’s been voted best barbeque in Nashville by the Nashville Scene’s readers poll multiple years in a row. Pulled barbeque sandwiches, huge platters, gorgeous sides and lots more can be found on its massive menu.

Urban Grub

This place is everything you’d want in a comfortable fine-dining atmosphere. They’ve got their own butcher shop, fresh oyster bar and gorgeous indoor/outdoor dining spaces. Order traditional plates, or opt for building your own charcuterie platter with their signature meats, cheeses and seafood if you’re in the mood for a little bit of everything.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

If you need ice cream, Jeni’s is the place to go, hands down. The creativity of their flavors alone merits the line you’ll usually find down the block in the summertime just to get into the place.

Real Estate Snapshot

While 12 South apartments are pricier than the Nashville average by roughly $180, it’s nowhere nearly as expensive to live there as in other areas in the city. An average 850-900 square foot apartment home will set you back approximately $1,609. Which is a steal when you look at everything 12 South has to offer – all within walking distance.

Transportation

The metro bus system has plenty of stops along 12th Ave S, making it a convenient place to live if you prefer to leave the car behind.

Schools & Employment

There are plenty of public elementary, middle and high schools serving the 12 South area, and there are plenty of private schools as well. The esteemed private Belmont University is a quick couple of blocks away.

Employment in the area is fueled mainly by its local businesses. Still, its close proximity to many of the surrounding areas means you could work just about anywhere in the city with a reasonable commute via car or bus.

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Published at Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:57:35 +0000

3 Ways to Make Your Wardrobe Stay-At-Home Friendly

As much as getting dressed up for work was something some of us enjoyed (while others not so much), working from home has limited the extent to which we can embrace fashion and take full advantage of our wardrobes.

However, the home office does come with its advantages. Specifically, all those comfy clothes that, just a few months ago, we wished we could wear to work but couldn’t are now our go-to choices. But, unfortunately, being too comfortable doesn’t always help with productivity. So, here are some ways to make the most of your closet while working from home!

Organize by type of clothing

One of the easiest ways to figure out what to wear is to organize your closet by type of clothing. Not only does this allow you to quickly grab what you need to wear each day, but it also enables you to keep what you don’t need right now stored properly in one place. Likewise, it’s also important to organize your clothes by season because, depending on the temperature in your home, you may be wearing layers or just a T-shirt and shorts.

Keep comfortable clothes handy

Being inside all or most of the day, you may not want to wear jeans or dressy clothes. For this reason, comfortable, looser clothes are a better option. Whether it’s some joggers, sweatshirts, T-shirts, leggings, or elastic-waist or wide-leg pants, you’ll definitely want to keep them easily accessible in your closet. Also, be sure to consider the material of the clothes. Given that you’re going to be spending a lot of time in them, you won’t want anything uncomfortable, so avoid stiff and synthetic materials.

Feel good in what you wear

For some of us, getting too comfortable in our clothes — especially when working from home — can reduce productivity. For this reason, throwing on a pair of comfortable jeans and a hoodie can do the trick to allow you to be comfortable, but not as “loungy.”

Along the same lines, you should also like what you wear. After all, what we put on should make us feel good, and that shouldn’t change based on who is or isn’t there to see us. To that end, a good indicator of whether you’re wearing something you feel completely comfortable in — both physically and emotionally — is whether you would step out of your home to go to the store without changing.

Finally, while we’ve been spending more time inside lately than we normally would, it’s important not to give up on our appearance. So, wear clothes that not only allow you to be comfortable, but also that make you feel like you’re ready for anything — right from the comfort of your own home! And if you are currently looking for your next home, check out apartments for rent on RENTCafé.

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Published at Fri, 30 Oct 2020 11:23:31 +0000

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Apartment Living

10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

Wedged between New York and D.C., Philadelphia has long been one of America’s most overlooked and underrated cities. The Birthplace of America, Philly is the nation’s sixth-largest city and one of its top cultural, culinary, employment, sports, music and education destinations. It’s a fresh, cosmopolitan city, and living in Philadelphia means you have nearly anything you could imagine to do, eat, visit, see and cheer for.

Philadelphia is a unique and diverse city, much more than the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks and Rocky. It’s an inviting, connected community compromised of nearly 100 distinct neighborhoods from the gleaming skyscrapers of Center City to the rowhouses of South Philly to the rolling estates of Chestnut Hill. Whether you’re packing up for your move to Philly or just considering a relocation to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, there are many wonderful things you need to know about living in Philadelphia.

1. Philly has a great climate if you like having four seasons

No matter which season you enjoy frolicking in, Philly is the perfect climate to experience all four seasons. Philadelphia is a temperate Mid-Atlantic city with the best of all worlds, just 50 miles from the Jersey shore and 70 from the Pocono Mountains.

Summers in Philly can be hot and muggy at the peak of the season, with average highs just under 90 during July. Winters are cold but not bitterly, with daily temps during the holiday season straddling the freezing line. Rain can be expected a quarter-to-third of the days each month, with about 20 inches of snow each winter.

septa train philadelphia

2. Commuting is relatively easy by car or public transit

Philly commuting is convenient compared to most of its Northeast Corridor counterparts. The average one-way work travel time is just more than half an hour, with more than 20 percent using public transportation.

For automotive commuters, Philly’s transportation network couldn’t be simpler. Interstate 95 lines the eastern edge of the city, the I-76 Schuylkill Expressway divides West Philly from the rest of Philly and I-676 (Vine Street Expressway) and US Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard/Expressway) run east/west through the city. Broad Street, America’s longest straight boulevard, forms Philly’s north/south backbone.

SEPTA operates a convenient public transit system, which includes a number of commuting modes. This includes the Broad Street Line subway and Market-Frankford elevated train, which travels north/south and east/west, respectively, 131 bus lines and eight light rail and trolley routes.

3. You have to learn how to talk Philly to live here

Every city in America has its own dialect quirks, but Philly has a language all its own every newcomer must eventually absorb. From your first “yo,” you’ll quickly learn every jawn (which can literally mean any person, place or thing).

“Jeet?” is what you’ll be asked if someone wants to know if you’ve eaten yet. They may want to share a hoagie (don’t ever say “sub”), grab pasta with gravy (tomato sauce) or a cheesesteak “whiz wit” (covered in melted cheese and fried onions). Wash it down with some wooder (what comes out of the sink) or a lager (ask for that and you’ll get a Yuengling beer).

Where are you going to go? Maybe “down the shore” to the Jersey beaches, out to Delco (Delaware County) or to Center City (never call it “downtown”) on the El (the elevated train). That’s where yiz (plural “you”) are headed.

And everyone loves talking about the “Iggles” (or “the Birds,”) the championship football team.

4. Philly is the City of Museums

More than any city in America, history lies down every street, many of which the Founding Fathers once walked. Independence National Historical Park, the most historic square mile in the nation, includes important sites like Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, City Tavern, Christ Church, Franklin Court and more.

Nearby in Old City are the National Constitution Center, Museum of the American Revolution, Betsy Ross House, the first U.S. Mint, Elfreth’s Alley and National Museum of American Jewish History.

But Philly offers so much more, including world-class museums dedicated to art, culture, science and education. In the Parkway Museum District, must-visit attractions include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky steps), Franklin Institute Science Museum, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum.

Elsewhere around the city are amazing spots, including the Mummers Museum, Academy of Natural Sciences, Magic Gardens urban mosaic, Mütter Museum of medical oddities, Eastern State Penitentiary and even the Museum of Pizza Culture.

Philly cheesesteak

Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

5. Philly cuisine is much more than cheesesteaks

Sure, everyone loves cheesesteaks and every Philadelphian has their favorite steak joint. But Philly also claims a slew of other iconic dishes.

Hoagies are a party staple, but many swear by the roast pork sandwich, with provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe, as the city’s signature sandwich. Philadelphians eat 12 times as many pretzels as the average American and you’ll find soft pretzels in the Philly figure-eight style on every corner.

Breakfasts wouldn’t be Philly without scrapple or pork roll, two pan-fried pork-based dishes. And dinner can include tomato pie (cheeseless rectangle pizza on focaccia served at room temperature), Old Bay-flavored crinkle-cut crab fries or snapper soup, which is exactly what you think it is.

For dessert, grab a “wooder ice” (kind of like Italian ice but not) or a Tastykake (more of a lifestyle than a snack food line).

And Philadelphia isn’t just for casual eats — some of America’s greatest restaurants live here. Israeli spot Zahav was named Best Restaurant in the country, and Pizzeria Beddia the Best Pizza in America. Other award-winning spots abound, including South Philly Barbacoa, vegetarian destination Vedge and 20 restaurants citywide from decorated chef Stephen Starr.

But all cross-sections of Philadelphians can agree on one thing — everyone loves Wawa, more of a culture than a convenience store, with more than 40 locations throughout the city.

6. Philly is the best music city on the East Coast

There would be no American music without Philadelphia. The city is home to one of the nation’s greatest music histories as the birthplace of Philadelphia soul, American Bandstand, Gamble & Huff and “Rock Around The Clock.” Artists hailing from Philly span the spectrum from Hall & Oates, Chubby Checker, Patty LaBelle, Boyz II Men and Will Smith to The Roots, Meek Mill, Diplo, Dr. Dog, War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dead Milkmen and Joan Jett.

Philly is also one of the best cities in America to see and hear live music, with a slew of iconic music venues of every size. Music pours nightly out of legendary clubs, such as Milkboy, Johnny Brenda’s, Boot & Saddle and Kung Fu Necktie, concert halls like The Fillmore, Union Transfer, Theater of Living Arts and Tower Theater and outdoor amphitheaters with stunning vistas BB&T Pavilion and Mann Center.

7. Philly is one of America’s great college towns

Philadelphia is one giant college town. There are more than 340,000 college students living in Philly spread across nearly two dozen four-year campuses. Thanks to college sports, Philly’s top five major universities (that make up the Big Five) are nationally known and include Temple, St. Joseph’s, La Salle, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova (which actually sits outside the city).

University City in West Philly is home to Penn, as well as Drexel and the University of the Sciences. And scattered elsewhere around the city are historically-black Lincoln University, Chestnut Hill College, Thomas Jefferson University (on two campuses), Pierce College and Holy Family.

There are also a number of creative and performing arts schools in Philadelphia, including the University of the Arts, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Curtis Institute of Music.

Phillies

Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

8. Sports are life in Philly even if we like to boo

You may have heard. In Philadelphia, we love sports. Unlike cities like New York or L.A., Philly has just one team in each of the major sports, so every fan is on the same page. Except for college basketball where the city is divided among a half-dozen Division I programs.

Philadelphians bleed team colors and everyone from every walk of life pays attention. Often, the city’s collective mood is based on yesterday’s result. So, if you want to walk into nearly any conversation in Philly, be sure to know the Birds’ playoff chances or who your favorite Flyer is. But Philly fans don’t take lack of hustle or effort lightly, and a subpar performance will bring out the notorious boo-birds.

9. The cost of living in Philly is pretty good

As the sixth-largest city in the nation and keystone of the Northeast Corridor, you’d expect Philly to be expensive. Actually, it’s pretty average. The overall cost of living in Philadelphia (as of Q1 2020) is just 110 percent of the national composite. Compare that to its neighbors like New York (246 percent), D.C. (160 percent) and Boston (148 percent). In fact, Philadelphia’s cost of living is cheaper than many major cities like Denver, New Orleans, Miami, San Diego and Baltimore.

The same goes for housing, as well. Philadelphia is only 13 percent over the national index average for housing costs, much more affordable than other East Coast cities and metropolises around the country like Phoenix, Dallas and Portland. For renters, an average Philly one-bedroom leases for just $2,127 a month (compared to the national average of $1,621), just a pleasantly-surprising 17th most-expensive in the nation, cheaper than Sacramento, Boston, Seattle or Oakland.

10. Philadelphia is one of the great American cities

Philadelphia is a beautiful, friendly, progressive city for anyone moving here or just thinking about it. It’s a hub for technology and finance and home to a dozen Fortune 500 corporations.

It’s a retail center with high-end city malls, vintage and boutique shopping corridors and Jewelers’ Row, the oldest diamond district in the nation. It’s a haven for those seeking outdoor adventure, including massive Wissahickon Valley and Fairmount Parks. And a destination for family fun at spots like the Please Touch Museum and America’s oldest zoo. It’s even one of America’s most walkable cities.

Living in Philadelphia

Philly is a great place for lovers of music, beer, history, shopping, sports, theater, coffee, biking, art, dining and more. Whatever your passion, you’ll find it living in Philadelphia.

And with a head start on what’s listed here, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and find out quickly why we’re known as The City that Loves You Back.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in October 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
Header image courtesy of Michael Hochman.

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Published at Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:00:46 +0000

How to Reheat Steak Like a Master Chef

We’ve all been there: You wake up the day after an amazing night out or a well-executed dinner party, thinking longing thoughts about the leftover steak in the fridge.

But how does one go about restoring the tantalizing tenderloin to its former glory without inadvertently turning it into a disappointing and rubbery throw-away? The answer is that there isn’t just one way. Depending on what equipment and time you have at your disposal, there are several ways to achieve a satisfying and restorative effect.

The best methods for reheating steak

Before jumping in to reheating steak, it’s important to consider what different cooking methods do to your food.

The oven, for instance, leverages dry, hot, moving air to heat your food from the outside in. This, of course, runs the risk of dehydrating the food in the process.

The microwave, by contrast, uses radiation to heat your food from the inside out by exciting the water molecules that keep your food moist to begin with. This, too, comes with the risk of irreparably altering the texture of your meal.

Finally, contact heating, as in a pan, uses a single, hot surface to heat your food quickly from the outside in. But the single surface often lends itself to uneven heating. This should not discourage but inform your process. It’s far simpler than it seems to work with these particularities to achieve a truly optimal and delicious effect.

How to reheat steak in the oven

reheating steak in oven

Again, remember that the oven tends to dehydrate easily. Thus, it’s important to use a “low and slow” approach. Reheat the steak at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. This will ensure moisture retention and even heating.

  1. Preheat your oven to a low temperature like 250 to 275 degrees
  2. Place your steak on an elevated rack inside of a baking sheet to allow the air to move around all sides of the steak
  3. Place the tray in the oven and let the steak warm until it reaches an internal temperature of 110 to 130 degrees, about 20 to 30 minutes
  4. This should be perfect, but if you want the crust to feel crispy again, feel free to quickly sear the steak in a grill pan over high heat for about 30 seconds per side

How to reheat steak in a frying pan

reheating steak in frying fan

Pans are great at heating food one side at a time. But if you’re trying to get ready for your lunch break in a hurry, you don’t have time to flip and wait.

  1. Start by using a large pan with enough room to add your steak with plenty of real estate to spare
  2. Scoot the steak over so that it’s touching the wall of the pan, then scoot the pan over so that the part of its bottom that the steak is sitting on is not directly under the burner. This will make sense soon.
  3. Add about one-quarter cup water to the opposite side of the pan, the side over the burner, making sure not to let water pool under the steak
  4. Crank the stovetop up to medium, cover the pan and let the steak cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once
  5. This will avoid heating one side of the steak and will instead encourage a gentle heating of all surfaces of the steak
  6. If you desire a crispier surface, feel free to quick sear the steak afterwards using the same method as is listed above

How to reheat steak in an air fryer

reheating steak in air fryer

With the advent of new kitchen tech comes new means by which to cook and re-cook everything under the sun. An air fryer, for instance, uses the same basic premise as a convection oven (hot, moving air) to cook your food in a manner that produces a similarly crispy texture to frying but without all that oil.

  1. Since we’re talking hot, fast air, cooking quickly to avoid dehydration is a must
  2. Pop your steak in the frying tray, and set the fryer to 370 degrees
  3. “Fry” your steak at that temperature in three-minute sprints until the internal temperature of the steak reads 110 to 130. This will ensure food safety and a nice medium-rare to medium doneness.
  4. No re-searing necessary

How to reheat steak in the microwave

reheating steak in microwave

We would be remiss if we did not note that cooking steak in the microwave, even the second time around, is truly sacrilege. But if you insist, just know that you’ll likely sacrifice a little bit of tenderness in the service of convenience.

  1. Start by slicing your steak into uniform slices or portions to ensure even heating
  2. Place your steak on a microwave-safe dish, and sprinkle a little bit of water on the plate
  3. Cover the plate with plastic wrap
  4. Set the microwave to medium power. This will ensure the steak doesn’t turn to jerky on the outside before the inside is even warm.
  5. Medium power will require a slightly longer cook time so nuke it in minute-long sprints until the internal temperature of the steak reads 110 to 130 degrees.
  6. Feel free to re-sear for texture

Select your method and dig in!

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a truly bad steak. No matter how you choose to reheat steak, take into consideration what your cooking method means for the heat and texture of your finished product. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong. Warm up some mashed potatoes as a side and dig in!

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Published at Mon, 26 Oct 2020 13:00:48 +0000

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Apartment Living

A Small, Chic Icelandic Apartment Is an Absolutely Dreamy Minimal, Modern Home

A Small, Chic Icelandic Apartment Is an Absolutely Dreamy Minimal, Modern Home

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Name: Jewells Ramona Chambers and husband, Gunnar Örn Ingólfsson
Location: Mosfellsbær, Iceland
Size: 753 square feet
Type of Home: Two-bedroom apartment
Years Lived In: 2.5 years, owned

It’s been a long, hard year. And while I’ve definitely been daydreaming about running away from it all to live in an A-frame, on the road in an RV, or off the grid in a tiny house, I’ve also been fantasizing about leaving the country! I’ve always dreamed of living abroad one day, especially in a country that is vastly different than the U.S., and one that features stunning landscapes would be a bonus. Travel is important to widening your horizons and understanding different cultures and people, but just visiting a place for a few days usually isn’t enough time. Living abroad would give me the opportunity to really get to know a place. And in a year where I’m not sure when I’ll ever be able to travel again—let alone move to a foreign country—dreaming vicariously through Jewells Chambers’ Iceland home is sustaining me.

Jewells is the founder and creator of All Things Iceland, an award-winning podcast and YouTube channel. She gives travelers (and hopeful travelers) the “inside scoop on Icelandic nature, culture, history and language.” This native New Yorker ended up in Iceland after falling in love and marrying an Icelander, Gunnar Örn Ingólfsson, who is a psychologist. Together, they live in this minimal and modern two-bedroom apartment in Mosfellsbær, a suburb that is a 20-minute drive to downtown Reykjavík.

Jewells says that on paper, they have 753 square feet of living space. “Because we live on the top floor and some of the walls slant, there is a certain percentage of the height under the walls that are not counted in the official number,” Jewells explains. “If it were counted, the size would be 968 square feet.” HOWEVER you count her home’s square feet, though, clean white walls, big windows, and lofted ceilings make the space feel much larger than it is.

Jewells confesses that their style is very simple, but that’s precisely what makes the whole home so lovely and relaxing. Though the home could certainly be described as “minimal,” it exudes coziness. It’s a great example of allowing one’s home and one’s style to be a canvas that highlights the lives living inside of it… and the gorgeous views of movie-scene-worthy landscapes outside. The views from the apartment’s ample windows and skylights are actually perfect for enjoying gluggaveður, an Icelandic word that translates to “window weather,” and refers to the vibe of curling up all cozy-like while enjoying nice-to-look-at but not nice-to-be-in weather.

The whole home has great examples of how minimalism can make the decor that is incorporated so much richer. The cozy bedroom with the cute built-in is the perfect backdrop for some of Jewells’ YouTube videos and makes me wish I had a slanted wall of storage. The oversized paper stars in the windows give off the cutest Nordic vibes. Sheer white curtains make the views and light feel soft and dream-like. And the ample open space around a curated selection of meaningful art allows the individual pieces to shine beautifully. While Jewells says their current home isn’t her dream dream home, it is comfortable, welcoming, and bright, important aspects to any good home. And in a year where I’d kill to travel anywhere, Jewells and Gunnar’s home—and the gorgeous, exciting, adventurous landscapes and culture surrounding it—make it a dream home to me!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Our style is very simple. We like having white walls, some art, neutral colors for furniture, and not a lot of clutter. It’s nice to pop in a statement piece but we’ve kept the decorating to a minimum.

Inspiration: We are inspired by spaces that are functional, bright, and comfortable. We see our home as a space that makes others feel like they can relax and have a good time.

Favorite Element: The high ceilings and brightness from the multiple windows in the apartment. It is not common in Iceland to have very high ceilings. That element makes the space feel so much bigger. Also, the windows on the slanted walls and in the living room brighten up the space a lot. That brightness makes a big difference during the long, dark winter nights.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge is that a fake wall was built around the kitchen, so there is not a lot of flow from the kitchen to the rest of the house. The upside is that the fake wall lets us have more cabinets in the kitchen, but it would have been nice to have a more open feel. We have just decided to accept it because the pros outweigh the cons.

Proudest DIY: We received the big, black couch in our living room for free from Gunnar’s brother. However, there were some broken springs in it. Gunnar and his friend fixed the springs and the couch is like new. For a little bit of sweat we got a practically new couch, that normally costs thousands of dollars, for free.

Biggest Indulgence: Gunnar is a big fan of electronics and the biggest indulgence purchase we’ve made so far is buying a 65” television. Funnily enough, we don’t watch a lot of TV, but it is awesome when we do. The colors are amazing and it sometimes feels like we are almost inside of the picture.

Describe what a “dream” home means to you. Do you consider this to be your “dream” home? A dream home to us is a place that has amazing views of mountains and water, is on one level so that our moms can easily access it, is a single family home, has a studio for Jewells’ projects, a game room for Gunnar, an exercise room, two bathrooms, five bedrooms, an open floor plan for the kitchen, dining room and living room, as well as a glass-covered patio that acts as a sunroom, and a big private garden. We would also like to have an apartment on the property that we can rent out or use if we have a lot of guests staying over. The most important aspect of our dream home is that it feels comfortable and welcoming. Our current apartment is comfortable, welcoming, and bright. While it is not our dream home, it does feel like it was the perfect starter home for us.

What was your idea of a dream home when you were a little kid? How close is this home’s version to your childhood dream? As a young girl, I wanted a 20,000 square foot home with a pool, access to the beach, huge kitchen, lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, huge grounds, and a game room. I was just regurgitating what I saw on TV. At this point in my life, I do want more space but I don’t think we need anywhere near the amount of space I say on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” It makes me laugh now to think about it.

What is your best advice for finding/creating a dream home? You’d be surprised at what you think is your dream home until you go there and realize that maybe it wasn’t all that you dreamed of. I think keeping in mind what is non-negotiable for you regarding a home is important and then allowing yourself to be flexible with what is on that market that meets your absolute needs. Houses have a vibe and it’s important to let yourself be open to the vibe of the home and its surroundings. Also, it’s amazing how much fresh paint and new glass panes can make a difference in a place.

Thanks Jewells and Gunnar!

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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Published at Thu, 22 Oct 2020 16:00:08 +0000

7 Genius WFH Solutions From the 2021 IKEA Catalog

Nicoletta Richardson

Senior Associate Editor, News and Culture

In her spare time, Nicoletta loves scrolling through Airbnb, doing at-home workouts, and nurturing her plant babies. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among others. A graduate from Fairfield University, Nicoletta majored in English and minored in Art History and Anthropology, and she not-so-secretly dreams of exploring her family lineage in Greece one day.

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Published at Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:15:06 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

Choosing The Best Self Storage Facility: A Guide For Los Angeles Residents

Choosing The Best Self Storage Facility: A Guide For Los Angeles Residents

Los Angeles is a popular city to move to, known for big dreams, big salaries and — for those who earn them — some very big houses. But folk here sometimes find they have to downsize, move to temporary accommodation, or perhaps make space at home for their growing families. In all these cases, self storage comes to the rescue, helping people store furniture, cars and other belongings for a time.

Household furniture and vehicles can be kept at storage facilities until their owners can move to more spacious accommodation. And while gardening and skiing in the San Gabriel Mountains are great seasonal activities, the equipment needed could be kept in storage and out of the house for most of the year. There are different storage options for different purposes, and LA residents need to know what size units are available to them, what the advantages of the different types are, and how much they cost. There are storage facilities all across LA, with a variety of different attributes, and residents can choose one that is just around the corner or one further afield that offers more exactly what they require. Here we provide a guide for Angelenos who want to maximize the advantages they can get from self storage right now.

What storage unit sizes are available in LA?

There are plenty of unit sizes to choose from in LA, including those as small as 3’x3’ and 3’x4’ for holding a few boxes of paperwork. For storing additional items, for example seasonal clothes or small pieces of furniture, the 5’x10’ and 5’x10’ sizes are popular. For accommodating the contents of a one- or-two-bedroom apartment, 5’x15’ and 10’x10’ units can be ideal, while 10’x15’ to 10’x25’ units are available for larger homes.

People often keep cars in storage units, either because they don’t have a garage or a driveway or on a more temporary basis because they are moving to a new house. The common 10’x20’ lockup-garage-size units are popular for this, though RVs may need something larger and a smaller vehicle might squeeze into a 10’x15’. Anyone lucky enough to own a boat in LA can use a specialist storage unit, perhaps a 10’x30’ size and with a ceiling higher than the usual 8’.

Self storage unit with possessions outside

What should you expect to pay for self-storage in LA?

LA storage units rent for anything from $25 for a tiny unit to as much as $2,500, for example for a 30’x60’ unit at Downtown Mini Storage. The average street rate is $186 per month for a non-climate-controlled 10’x10’ unit, with only San Francisco demanding higher rents. Climate control adds to the price: for example, 5’x10’ units at East Hollywood’s BA Self Storage cost $166 if they have it compared to $141 without it.

Housing your car in a storage unit might cost well over $300 in the city. However, cheaper ones can be found away from the center, for example for $240 at this StorQuest facility in San Fernando — climate control probably won’t be necessary, unless you intend to store a valuable model for a long period of time. Simply parking your car on a designated spot at a facility’s premises could cost less than $100, for instance at this Extra Space facility near Long Beach. Boat owners would usually have to pay more for both indoor and outdoor spaces.

The storage industry in Los Angeles offers about 4.6 square feet per person, according to Yardi Matrix data, less than some cities but more than New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Corresponding to this relatively low inventory — and the high costs generally in LA — storage street rates can be higher in the City of Angels than in other large US cities.

What range of amenities is available at LA self storage facilities?

When determining whether a storage unit is suitable, one important factor is how it is accessed: a swing door is fine for most items, but one with a roll-up garage-style door is necessary if bulky objects will be loaded inside. Some have external doors which a moving truck can be driven right up to, while others are situated inside the building, maybe not on the ground floor and requiring a trip in an elevator. Many operators offer dollies to help customers move their stuff around. LA storage facilities offer this entire range of amenities.

Very many self storage operators have adapted rapidly to the changing pandemic situation, implementing rigorous cleaning schedules and making several procedures contact-free. The service kiosks a lot of them installed have helped with this. An increasingly popular service is ‘valet’ self storage: the storage company collects and delivers a customer’s belongings so they never actually see the facility — this is very convenient, making traveling unnecessary and limiting potential infection risks. Local LA firm Russell’s Moving and Storage, for example, offers this service.

What should you pay special attention to when choosing a storage facility?

Security is a vital aspect of self storage, and you might like to check out what precautions a facility has installed before you decide to store your belongings there. Up-to-date locks and gates with electronic access are a good sign, as is the presence of surveillance cameras and maybe security guards too. Individual units may be fitted with alarms, and some operators, for example Guardian Storage in Fullerton, combine both video and infrared detection with high powered lighting for maximum protection against intruders.

If economics are a major reason for renting a unit, and stored items won’t need to be retrieved often, an out-of-town facility can be considered — at Storage Etc in Diamond Bar a non-climate-controlled 10’x5’ unit costs less than $100. Insurance is another consideration: some storage operators insist on it and many offer it. When belongings are not of high value it may not be necessary, or perhaps a renters’ policy can be used to cover the stored items, but if you own any expensive artworks it’s worth properly insuring them in storage.

Hopefully you will always be able to pay your unit’s rent until you need to close it, but if not, a good facility should enforce the rules concerning delinquency correctly but with understanding. To evaluate a storage operator’s attitude toward clients, check out the review section of their website for positive comments — such as at Fort Storage near the Fashion District — and also ask for recommendations from your local buddies.

Couple with storage boxes outside home

LA offers a wide range of storage units for a variety of different purposes. While prices may be higher than in some US cities, the cost per square foot will always be a lot cheaper than residential LA property, making it a great way to economize without having to throw away favorite belongings. Anybody with valuable possessions they don’t currently have room for can put them safely in a unit with climate control and can take out insurance, while those with just a few boxes and bags of stuff can easily find a cheaper option. And any lucky locals with an RV or a boat can take a touring vacation or a romantic weekend trip from a local marina to Catalina Island knowing that self storage has their backs, providing a home for their precious conveyances. By choosing the right facility, unit and location, and by being aware of all the potential benefits involved, Angelenos can make self storage an integral part of their way of life.

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Published at Tue, 20 Oct 2020 10:11:15 +0000

A Guide to Recognizing and Avoiding Rental Scams

As a renter, it is important to know how to protect yourself against those who may try to take your money fraudulently. While the internet has increased flexibility and ease in finding apartments for rent from trusted sources, unfortunately it has also created an environment where scammers thrive. In 2020, a massive shift to heavy reliance on virtual property tours and online research has created new opportunities for scammers to take advantage of renters.

Since the beginning of the year, local Better Business Bureaus have issued warnings in multiple areas across the country of a spike in rental scams. Local authorities have cautioned renters to pay even more attention when apartment hunting, because scammers are using the social distancing rules to avoid showing apartments and promote fraudulent rental listings. Rental scams have been signaled in every corner of the country, from Boston to San Diego, from Arizona to Washington state.

As an apartment listing website that prides itself in offering 100% verified listings directly from property managers, we at RENTCafé are committed to ensure a safe and worry-free apartment search. Which is why we have put together this comprehensive guide to help you recognize and avoid rental scams.

Navigate the contents:

What is a Rental Scam?

According to the U.S. government, a rental scam is when “either a property owner or potential tenant misrepresents themselves” through fake ads, applications and so on. While there are other types of scams, today we’ll focus on recognizing scams as a renter and protecting yourself against such risks. Unfortunately, there are a variety of ways in which scammers try to steal your money, primarily through either a non-existent rental or via a stolen ad from another website.

Types of Rental Scams

apartments for rent online

Among the various types of rental scams, watch out for hijacked ads and phantom rentals. These are often prominent on Craigslist, where there are no filters to help you find legitimate listings.

  • Hijacked Ads

In some cases, scammers will steal an ad from an existing rental and revise the contact information so that you reach them when trying to contact the owner. These copycat ads will appear on different websites, as well, so make sure you check to see whether the internet listing service you’re using has 100% verified listings.

Another way scammers hijack ads is by gaining access to the email accounts of various property owners. Therefore, it’s important to confirm that you’re talking to the real owner.

avoiding rental fraud

  • Phantom Rentals

Other scammers simply create a fake ad on a non-existent rental and promote it as real. Typically, these are the ones that have a significantly lower rent than average or amenities that should raise the price. If an offer looks too good to be true, find out what caused that drop in price and always check out the apartment with your own eyes before committing and sending any amount of money.

Another scam that’s common on Craigslist is illegal subletting. Be careful about this one. Unlike the others, these scammers will have access to a rental to show you — but they’re not the legitimate owners and have no right to rent it to you. To avoid this situation, research who the real owner of a unit or building is.

How to Spot a Rental Scam

There are plenty of other ways in which you can be deceived into thinking a rental is legitimate when, in fact, the person you’re talking to has no intention of renting it to you. To that end, pay attention to these red flags when discussing a rental with a potential landlord:

  1. They Refuse to Meet You

visit apartment in person

Scammers usually steer clear of meeting with you because they want to minimize the chance of being identified. As such, they will refuse to meet with you in person or — in the context of the pandemic — even show their face during a video call. This is a red flag because a legitimate landlord would want to see their potential tenant and evaluate you, as well, in order to establish the required level of trust between the owner and the occupant of a home.

  1. They Ask You to Wire Money

A major warning sign is when someone asks you for money up front — before you’ve signed anything. For instance, a scammer might claim that they’re not in the country and require you to mail them money with the promise that they’ll mail you back a key. Don’t do it. Instead, cease all communications and report it as a scam. Furthermore, wait to pay your security deposit, rent and any other fees until after you’ve seen the property, met the landlord and signed the lease.

  1. They Ask You to Pay for a Credit Score Check on a Referral Website

Another common type of scam is related to credit reports. Specifically, some scammers ask their unknowing victims to obtain a credit report through a link they send you in an email. The link then redirects the renter to a screening company, where the renter is supposed to pay for their evaluation via credit card. Consequently, the scammers get a commission through the referral campaign, although they clearly have no intention of renting to you — if the rental you’re applying for even exists.

  1. There’s No Screening Process

As a renter, you should be prepared to undergo a screening process involving your credit score and a background check. If there is no such process for the property you want to rent, that should raise a lot of questions. That’s because landlords are very careful about whom they let into their apartments, and you want a landlord who is concerned and experienced. Conversely, a landlord who skips the rental application and credit check is not going to have either of those traits.

  1. The Listing is Shady

If the listing itself has typos, excessive punctuation or grammatical errors, that might also be a sign that it’s fraudulent. Professional property managers or serious landlords will have an accurate, quality description. So, if the listing is poorly written, chances are that you’re dealing with a scammer. Be especially careful about the supposed deal if it’s paired with a price that is much lower than the average rent for a similar unit.

How to Avoid Rental Scams

avoid rental scams

  • Always Use Apartment Search Websites with Verified Listings

Not all internet listings websites are created equal, so be sure to use one where scammers are not able to post listings. At RENTCafé, we understand the mental comfort that this feature gives our website visitors when searching for their next home. That’s why all rentcafe.com listings are verified, coming directly from property managers. We don’t advertise single units posted by individual owners, rather, all apartments and single-family rentals listed on rentcafe.com are provided by property management companies.

Scammers may hijack ads from trusted websites and post them on less secure websites. Fortunately, you can do a reverse Google image search of the property you find to see if it appears on multiple websites under different names or displaying different information. In that case, you can contact the original listing owner or your local authorities to report the fraudulent ad.

  • Meet the Landlord & See the Apartment in Person

The best way to prevent yourself from falling for a scam is to meet the landlord and see the apartment in person before you sign the lease. Be prepared to ask questions related to the rental and living there — such as details about payments, maintenance requests and refund policies — and see how the landlord responds.

Even during the pandemic, solutions have been found to minimize social exposure, such as self-guided tours. This is an important last step before signing any contract or making any sort of payment. That’s because you need to make sure that the place is real, the person you’ve been in contact with has access to it, and everything is transparent so you know what you’re paying for.

  • Get Everything in Writing

Before you send any money, review the terms of the rental, including the price of rent, all fees and maintenance. Ask for a copy of the contract for yourself, as well, but only sign it after you’ve researched the owner and the agent to verify their identities.

How to Report a Rental Scam

how to report rental scams

If you come across a rental scam or fall victim to one, contact the platform in which you found the listing to make sure they take it down. You can also reach out to the Federal Trade Commission and your local law enforcement agency. And, because these take place on the internet, you can also send a report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), as well. The IC3 works with the FBI to take down any scheme that occurs on the internet, including rental scams.

Be aware that scammers are out there and be skeptical when you spot a deal that seems too good to be true. Do your research and don’t give in to the excitement of the moment — most scammers will also pressure you into thinking that you’re losing the deal. Instead, remain calm and be patient. If you see any of the red flags listed here, cut all connections and don’t be afraid to report the listing to prevent others from falling for rental scams.

Expert Advice on Rental Scams

Lawyers and realtors also have advice for dealing with scammers and reporting rental frauds. In particular, they say to never confront a scammer directly. Rather, these experts recommend educating yourself on how to spot these fraudulent listings and knowing how to safely report them. We thank them for their collaboration; click on their names below to see their full answers.

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Published at Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:02:16 +0000

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Apartment Living

UDR Blog | A Part of Life

UDR Blog | A Part of Life

Apartment living is a lot more fun when you have a furry friend to share the experience with. Dogs can take a decent chunk out of your paycheck, so you need to make sure you budget for everything, including vet costs, food and more, before you bring a new pup home.

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UDR Blog | A Part of Life

Apartment living is a lot more fun when you have a furry friend to share the experience with. Dogs can take a decent chunk out of your paycheck, so you need to make sure you budget for everything, including vet costs, food and more, before you bring a new pup home.

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Apartment Living

Covid-19 Home Quarantine: New York City versus Taipei

Covid-19 Home Quarantine: New York City versus Taipei

Currently, both New York City and Taipei have 14-day quarantine mandates in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Home Quarantine In New York

Individuals arriving in NYC from a list of 30 high-risk states, or from abroad, must stay at home in isolation. Unfortunately, NY Times reports the enforcement is rather lax. People who receive the quarantine paperwork after arriving in Manhattan can freely go to parties, parks, and other social events with seemingly no restrictions.

Home Quarantine In Taipei

There are two ways to quarantine after arriving in Taiwan. Individuals can stay in government subsidized quarantine hotels, which range from budget hostels all the way to luxury 5-star hotels. The option has become so popular that there are online spreadsheets detailing availability, and calls to widen the program to all hotels. There are plenty of great blogs and vlogs documenting this process – plenty of folks break up the hotel room boredom by spinning up youtube channels.

The other method is the home quarantine, which will be our focus.

Day 0: Airport Arrival

Prior to your flight, you should fill out an online form detailing where you will be staying during your quarantine, complete with your passport info and cell phone. Once you land, your phone receives a text message linking to your completed home quarantine document. You show your phone at various airport checkpoints and local CDC officials near your “home” receive a copy of the document.

Gotchas: No Local Sim? Did Not Complete Form? No Problem

In case you didn’t properly research the process, you are still ok! You can fill out an electronic or paper home quarantine form upon arrival. The amount of airport / CDC staff to passenger ratio is quite good – plenty of people who can offer help in English or Mandarin.

For those without local phone numbers, the CDC has partnered with cell phone companies to sell you a subsidized data and phone plan: 30-days of unlimited data and 7 hours of voice calling for $35. The booth to buy these sims are conveniently placed in the pre-immigration area.

For those coming from the US, we recommend bringing two phones and carrying both. Your primary phone which will retain your US phone number – and a secondary phone to utilize your new Taiwan SIM card. That way, you will still receive calls and texts to your primary phone and old number, but CDC can call you and track your GPS on the second phone. You will also use the second phone to make local calls, use data such as Google Maps, and enable hotspot mode for your primary phone.

Quarantine Taxi And Getting Home

Normally, freedom begins once you clear customs. However, after you retrieve your luggage, they direct you to the subsidized quarantine taxis. Some choose to have family pick them up, which is allowed (5am for the JFK-TPE flight!).

The government subsidizes taxi rides and quarantine buses so that residents can quickly and safely arrive at home. For Taipei residents, the cap is $35 from the airport, a modest savings over what is normally about $50 depending on your location. However, the subsidy is substantial if you live in the eastern or southern parts of the country.

You don’t need to do anything to get the subsidy, the driver will take care of all that paperwork once you sign some form. The driver is also pretty concerned for his or her own safety, and will spray you once more from head to toe.

Home Free – For Now

By the time you are home (or at your Airbnb, until Sept 22nd), it’s time to download Uber Eats and Food Panda – two critically useful apps to help stock up on supplies, groceries, and food during the quarantine. It’s also a good time to get some rest – things will seem surprisingly quiet for the first day.

That’s because the official quarantine and fun begins on Day 1 through Day 14 (more on that later). Your arrival date is simply Day 0, therefore expect to stay 15 nights in your quarantine accommodations.

Published at Mon, 07 Sep 2020 06:11:10 +0000

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Apartment Living

7 Places to Get Custom Home Decor That’s Actually Affordable

7 Places to Get Custom Home Decor That’s Actually Affordable

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Custom home decor sounds like it costs a fortune, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. A crop of new-ish, direct to customer companies have changed the made-just-for-you game for the better. Sure, some of these offerings may still give you sticker shock compared to the cost of mass-produced, big box furnishings. That said, by eliminating the middleman—namely showrooms with “to the trade” models of sale, these brands have brought the cost of custom decor down without compromising on the quality that bespoke products are generally known for.

Most importantly, you get exactly what you want: hand-picked items that fit your aesthetic and the way you live, from fabric and material choice to dimensions and sometimes even cushion fill on upholstered pieces. Custom pieces can also be ideal for when you’re dealing with challenges in your layout or need to eke out extra room or storage in a small space. Whether you’re looking for linens and banquette cushions in special fabrics or sofas and window shades in very specific sizes, you can find something bespoke for less from one or all of the companies on this list.  

Looking to outfit a window seat, bench, or even a breakfast nook? Cushion Source should be your first stop. You can find styles in both indoor and outdoor fabrics in a myriad of colors and patterns, and pieces can be ordered in whatever seat length you need. Coordinating pillows are also available, and the site also sells custom drapes, bedding, table linens, and patio umbrellas. Custom bench seats and seat back cushions rated for indoor applications start in the low hundreds.

Thanks to BenchMade Modern, it’s possible to get a custom sofa in a matter of just four weeks—not four months. With 14 collections and over 100 performance fabric and leather options, you’re bound to find something that’ll suit your tastes. The best part? You can specify sizing in increments of five inches, so you can get as much sofa as you want or need in terms of both length and depth. You’ll even receive a life-sized printout of your design by mail to try on for size before you buy. Ottomans and chairs are available as well. Prices start around $1,500, but keep in mind that these pieces are made by hand in Dallas, Texas, and delivered free of charge right to your door. There’s also a risk-free, 100 day return period.

One thing that really makes a space look pulled together is custom drapery. In the past, however, options for bespoke drapes that didn’t cost a small fortune were limited—unless you sewed your own or brought material to a tailor. Enter Loom Decor. In addition to offering bedding, pillows, and outdoor pieces, this e-tailer sells custom Roman shades and curtain panels in over 400 different fabrics. Prices are reasonable and the lead time is, too. Classic linen drapery panels start at $198, and you can expect your order to ship within less than a month’s time.

This woman-founded company specializes in smaller custom furniture items like ottomans, stool cushions, and headboards alongside standard fare like curtains and pillows. The shaped cushions, including spheres and pyramids, are super stylish standouts. The quality is great—many of Stitchroom’s pieces are installed in restaurants and businesses throughout the country, so items should stand up to heavy use. Pillow pricing starts at $45, and seating starts at $125, while headboards are available for $250 and up. Drapery starts at $175.

This retailer prints fabric, wallpaper, pillows, curtains, table linens, and more on demand using eco-friendly inks and artwork from thousands of different artists. You can even upload your own designs for the ultimate in custom home goods. Two-foot by 12-foot panels of wallpaper start around $72. Spoonflower does charge a little more for rental-friendly peel-and-stick styles.

You already know this artist-forward marketplace for their stationery and wall art, including new framed canvases. Did you know they also offer some custom home decor, too? Check out their Little Mint shop for personalized chairs and pillows for kids. If they don’t offer exactly what you want, you can also order fabric by the yard and DIY whatever you like. Cotton canvas cushions cost $44, while chairs are $148 each.

Over the years Ballard Designs has built up a pretty robust and fairly reasonably-priced custom furnishings collection alongside their catalog business and retail outposts. Shop everything from benches and barstools to sofas and headboards. Ballard also can custom make bed linens, slipcovers, bedskirts, and even vanity stool cushions and covers (all in a variety of sizes and fabrics). A custom x-bench, the perfect solution for that blank spot at the foot of the bed, starts at $349.

13 Decor Trends That Will Rule the Rest of 2020

Danielle Blundell

Home Editor

Danielle Blundell is AT’s Home Director and covers decorating and design. She loves homes, heels, the history of art, and hockey—but not necessarily always in that order.

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Published at Thu, 01 Oct 2020 15:00:07 +0000

2 Full Moons Will Be Rising in the Sky This October, Including a Halloween Blue Moon

Nicoletta Richardson

Senior Associate Editor, News and Culture

In her spare time, Nicoletta loves scrolling through Airbnb, doing at-home workouts, and nurturing her plant babies. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among others. A graduate from Fairfield University, Nicoletta majored in English and minored in Art History and Anthropology, and she not-so-secretly dreams of exploring her family lineage in Greece one day.

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Published at Thu, 01 Oct 2020 14:45:06 +0000

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Apartment Living

These 15 Sofas are Small Space-Friendly and Stylish

These 15 Sofas are Small Space-Friendly and Stylish

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

I’ve lived in a New York City apartment for over a decade, so I know a thing or two about squeezing a sofa into a small space—and coaxing it through narrow hallways and tight corners to get it there. (Who doesn’t remember the pivot scene from “Friends”?) And no, I’m not talking about dorm room-ready futons but full-fledged sofas, though you might spy a loveseat or settee in this mix.

Thankfully, I haven’t had to go the futon route since college, and that’s because companies have paid attention to the way people are actually living these days. Looking for a sofa for your small space? I’ve got just the thing. From mid-century marvels to bohemian seats, the fifteen options below are perfect for your teeny, tiny place:

Yes, you can maybe actually afford an Anthropologie sofa—at least this compact little guy seems within reach if you wait for a sale. There’s a 70-inch wide option for those of you working with really limited square footage, plus the deep, single cushion is perfect for kicking back and relaxing.

Buy: Denver Sofa, Starting at $1,998.00 from Anthropologie

2. Sven 2.5 Seater Leather Sofa

If you’ve been dreaming of a buttery soft, 70s-inspired tan leather couch, you don’t have to give that idea up because of your space constraints. Article makes this caramel stunner in a 72-inch wide footprint. I actually own the larger size, and I absolutely recommend it.

Buy: Sven 2.5 Seater Leather Sofa, Starting at $1,699.00 from Article

3. Leanna Tufted Loveseat

You can tuck this modern channel tufted loveseat into tight corners, and it’s oh so easy to maneuver around a central staircase in a walk-up building (speaking from experience). The gold-capped legs offer a small hit of shine, and the neutral velvet upholstery can hang with just about any style decor. The best part, however, just might be that sub-$400 price tag.

Buy: Leanna Tufted Loveseat, $399.99 from World Market

It’s tough to talk about small space sofas without mentioning IKEA. Everyone’s favorite Swedish retailer has a nice white farmhouse modern small space option for all you “Fixer Upper” style fans. Best of all, it’s less than $500 and currently comes in six different colorways!

Buy: EKTORP Loveseat, Starting at $379.00 from IKEA

Lest you think all the small space options on the market are clean-lined and boxy, Interior Define offers this shapely stunner for two, which features a curved back. At 60-inches wide, this option is futon-sized but feels decidedly more elevated.

Buy: Tegan Loveseat, Staring at $1,195.00 $1,015.00 from Interior Define

6. Avec Apartment Sofa with Brass Legs

7. Stone & Beam Lauren Down Filled Oversized Loveseat Sofa Couch

8. Chelsea Apartment Sofa

This pared-down option from Joybird has won my heart over with its good looks and fairly decent price point. It comes in a bunch of different colors and has a 365-day home trial policy. If you don’t like the way it sits, you can send it back and start over.

Buy: Chelsea Apartment Sofa, Starting at $1,993.00 $1,495.00 from Joybird

9. Caroline Chaise Lounge

On the hunt for a true space saver for your studio? Look at this cutie of a chaise, which is a perfect lounger for one and sports a subtle red ticking stripe. Push it into a corner or try it with a loveseat or another accent chair for an unconventional but super functional small living room layout.

10. Cavett Wood Frame Loveseat

Full disclosure: I’m not sure how Netflix and chill compatible this wood frame loveseat would be as your main sofa. But if your small space has a little extra room for a companion couch for guests, this guy would be a solid wingman.

Buy: Cavett Wood Frame Loveseat, $1,499.00 from Crate & Barrel

At just 60-inches wide and 35-inches deep, West Elm’s Andes Sofa comes in truly pint-sized proportions (though what you’re seeing above is a larger-scale version). Only trouble is that no fabrics are actually in stock in this custom size, but the amount of made to order color and fabric options available are well worth the six to nine week’s wait. Snag yours now while West Elm’s Friends and Family Sale pricing is in effect.

Buy: Andes Sofa, Starting at $1,299.00 $779.40 from West Elm

12. Emerson 78″ Flared Arm Loveseat

With its flared arms and exposed wooden base and legs, this red loveseat is all mid-century modern in style. Put one in your living room, and you won’t have to do much else for decoration.

This cane sofa is the Scandi meets boho sofa of my dreams. Yes, it’s a splurge, and you’ll probably want to pile on the pillows to make that woven seat back extra comfy. Make no mistake about it though—if you are looking for something sleek and stylish, this rounded ash wood design has that in spades, especially for its compact 65-inch frame.

Buy: Cane Sofa, $3,500 from Industry West

14. Otho 76″ Reversible Sectional

If you thought a small space couldn’t handle a sectional, think again. This traditional gray upholstered design has reversible sectional functionality, which makes it a great candidate for renters who aren’t in their forever spaces.

15. Novogratz Brittany 81.5″ Convertible Sofa

This major steal of a sofa is a little bit longer than the rest of the finds on this list, and that’s simply because it folds out into a full bed. If you can squeeze this style into your living room, you won’t regret having an extra place to put up guests when the time comes again.

Danielle Blundell

Home Director

Danielle Blundell is a New York-based writer and editor that covers interiors, decorating and organizing. She loves home design, heels and hockey (not necessarily in that order).

Published at Mon, 28 Sep 2020 23:15:15 +0000

These 3D-Printed Pumpkin Planters Will Get Your Succulents Ready for Halloween

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Listen up, plant parents. Halloween might look different this year due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up your children (we’re talking about your plant babies) for the season.

Florida-based Etsy store Print A Pot is selling a collection of 3D-printed planters that look like pumpkins. Made from a plant-based plastic, the pots become even more realistic once you transfer your succulents, making it seem as though they have oddly-shaped vines and stems.

The planters come in different colors and sizes. There’s the traditional bright orange, as well as cookies and cream, gold, and even wood, among others. As for sizes, the smallest pumpkin ($20) measures 3 x 3 x 2.5 inches, the medium one ($25) measures 4 x 4 x 3 inches, and the largest pumpkin ($32) measures 5 x 5 x 4 inches. You can buy all three options for $73, which would not only save you a few dollars but also turn your desk into a cute little pumpkin patch.

These gourds also come with a hole at the bottom to make sure your succulents don’t drown while trick-or-treating.

What will your succulent be dressing up as this year?

Published at Mon, 28 Sep 2020 20:47:04 +0000