Empty Nester? 8 Steps to Prepare for Shifting to a Smaller Space

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We know it’s back to school time but what if you find yourself becoming an empty nester? Perhaps your kids are off to college or out of the home completely. We have advice for getting yourself ready to move to a smaller space.

Shifting to a smaller space means scaling down your stuff. If you only have room for half or even a third of your belongings in your new space, some major downsizing is in order. Use these tips to make the process less intimidating and stressful:

Start Early – Give yourself three to three to six months to gradually scale down your stuff to avoid the temptation to pack up everything during the last-minute rush as you count down to moving day.
Avoid Overwhelm – Pace yourself!  Set aside an hour or two every day to go through each drawer, closet and box to decide what to get rid of.
One Space at a Time – Instead of whirling through the entire house pulling things out of closets and dumping boxes, be systematic. Always finish one area before moving onto the next.
Sort Smart – Use the “three-bin system”: label three bins as “keep,” “sell” and “donate” to allow you to quickly organize items as you go through each room.
Be Ruthless Think hard about what you actually need, especially in rooms like the kitchen that tend to accumulate duplicates. Then, purge everything else.
Plan Your Space – Get a copy of the new floor plan, and measure and place your furniture to see what you can realistically fit.
Donate to Charities – Call and find out what your favorite local charities will take as donations.  Many even list on their websites what they are currently in need of and what they absolutely do not want.
Sell What You Can – Take valuables to an antiques dealer or auction, list desirable everyday items online (its amazing how much can be sold that way…just be sure to price it low so it will sell) and hold a garage sale for smaller household goods. You might even turn a profit from your move!

If you follow these steps your space will not only be cleared out; the process is really cathartic! And, if you’re selling your larger home, now you are ready to list it.  It will be much easier to “stage” when you list with your local realtor.

Check back for more helpful information. You can also check out our website (www.greenroseent.com) to see some of our projects for; Rehabbing, Interior Design, and Landscaping.

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Exterior Renovation: restored, repaired & some replaced shingles and clapboard….and a new coat of paint!

Just a quick note to keep you posted on the progress at our current rehab project with which we are turning an old, “estate condition” 8-bedroom home in to a fullyenovated & new 6-bedroom, 4 bath home in historic Glen Ridge, NJ.
Here is a picture of the outside of the house as it looks this week.
A new paint job with Benjamin Moore's "Van Deusen Blue"

A new paint job with Benjamin Moore’s “Van Deusen Blue”

Remember that old, mossy green vinyl siding & the wrought iron columns and railings (below)?  Its all been removed (and recycled) and we restored the house’s original clapboard siding and shingles and painted it a wonderfully new (Benjamin Moore “Van Deusen Blue”) color!   Also, as you can see from the picture above, we’ve installed all new windows (and replaced the 1960’s porch bow window with 3 double hung windows to replicate the original bay configuration).
The vinyl siding was ugly and unflattering.  We removed it and found (what we'd hoped for) the original shingles and clapboard.  They needed some repair and replacement....but it was worth it!

The vinyl siding was ugly and unflattering. We removed it and found (what we’d hoped for) the original shingles and clapboard. They needed some repair and replacement….but it was worth it!

This is the house as we purchased it (above).  Vinyl siding…(when it first came on the market)….only came in one style….simulated clapboard.  So what had been a first story of clapboard and two stories of cedar shingles….became one big vinyl “clapboard” building.  A BIG DETOUR from its original details!   In years gone by, when homeowner’s grew tired of continually painting a house, they often resorted to (then, state of the art) vinyl siding!  No more painting….but it often completely covered up original details of the home!
In the next picture, you see the home, naked, (but in its original “birthday suit”)…..after its vinyl siding had been stripped off!  We knew what was underneath all that ugly siding….but did not know the condition that the original clapboard and cedar shingle siding was in.  It turned out to be a big job, but our terrific painter assured us he could restore it…and he did!  Now, the home’s exterior glistens in all its original glory!
To reduce the "top heavy" feel of the 3 story addition, our design included bringing the shingles up higher under the 3rd story windows

To reduce the “top heavy” feel of the 3 story addition, our design included bringing the shingles up higher under the 3rd story windows

Here you can see the raised roof under the 3rd story windows which our architect designed to visually reduce to bulk of the 3rd floor dormer.  Painting tip:  Below, you can see the painter applying the primer paint coat (that’s not the final blue).  Using a tinted primer creates better coverage and ensures that the final paint coat covers more evenly!
Tinted primer paint is going on, making the final coat coverage a lot better!

Tinted primer paint is applied, making the final coat’s coverage to be even and consistent!  Note:  in the final fenestration, we have opened up the small window on the left side of the porch as well as replaced the 1960’s bow window on the right side of the porch with the historically accurate (d double-hung) bay windows.

A new paint job with Benjamin Moore's "Van Deusen Blue"

A new paint job with Benjamin Moore’s “Van Deusen Blue”

Still to come…..beautiful black window shutters and the mahogany front porch with big new white columns and authentic ipe wood railings).  Stay tuned!
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“FYI”……“COMMON MYTHS ABOUT APPRAISALS…..and more!

Good Morning everyone!

We’re all about real estate and what makes the process easier and enjoyable.  Having the right information is KEY for anyone selling their home ….or buying it!  We’ve always gotten a lot of good information from the author of this featured piece and we thought you’d be interested too!  Why not have an enjoyable and easier real estate transaction, right?

So……here is a great REAL ESTATE “FYI” from Lynn Barber at Douglas Elliman!  

“COMMON MYTHS ABOUT APPRAISALS IN THE HOME-BUYING PROCESS”

“LOW DOWN PAYMENTS FOR FEWER FIRST-TIME BUYERS” , and

“HOW WILL THE WINDING DOWN OF FANNIE AND FREDDIE AFFECT HOMEBUYERS?”

Click here and learn about:

FYI Newsletter 04.02.2014

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CLICK BELOW (on FYI Newsletter) FOR THE FULL “FYI” ARTICLES…… 

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Disappearing Motorized Window Shades….Privacy & Much More!

When you have particularly wonderful views and also are looking for something other than the  traditional-style window draperies, what are your choices?

How do you have privacy without traditional draperies?

How do you block out the afternoon sun without traditional draperies?

One of the alternatives to draperies or blinds is a window screen/shade which can be used solely when you need it and disappears when you don’t.

In a recent condo design job, the GreenRose Design team needed to give the owners two types of window treatments…..one to partially cut the afternoon sun (while preserving the view)…..and one to completely block out the sun…..for those days when “sleeping in” is the priority!  Since the condo for which we were hired to redesign was to undergo a complete renovation, we designed new ceiling sofits (running across the front of the windows & sliders) which were built to both contain recessed lights as well as to conceal the window screen/shades.

screens rolled up behind sofit

This shot,taken from directly underneath, shows the (white) ceiling soffit (at the top of the picture) built to hide the rolled-up screens along with their motors as well as to house recessed lights for dramatic down lighting.  The rolled-up screens are behind the soffit, but directly in front of the sliding door.

The GreenRose Design came up with two separate screens….one for cutting the sun, while maintaining the view…..the 2nd for total black out of light!

When picking window screening there are a couple of things to remember:

If you want to maintain some of the view while blocking the sun, select a darker fabric.  Although it seems counter intuitive, lighter fabrics actually disburse the light rays and, as such, create more of a blocked view.  And while lighter fabrics offer more of a “privacy block” during the day….they aren’t designed to completely block out the light.  When the morning sun hits them….they again disburse the light which is passing through them and they light up!

Darker fabrics, on the contrary, don’t disburse the light rays as much…more of the light rays pass through…as does more of the view, which is exactly what these homeowners wanted!  Keep in mind, however, that “view” goes both ways….so the view INTO the apartment is also more noticeable, especially at night!  So if you want more privacy…then choose a lighter fabric.  Make sense?  Here you see a darker fabric “sun screen” partially down to show you the difference the shade makes.  It cuts the glare of the sun, while preserving that wonderful vista!

The darker the fabric....the better the view!

The darker the fabric….the better the view!

And here you see the screen completely down…a great sun screen while still allowing those inside to enjoy the view!

Sun Screen Shade completely down.

Here you see the second screen partially down which, when completely down, is used to “blackout” the view….and the light!

As you can imagine....when this shade is down, you'll have a complete light block and privacy screen.

As you can imagine….when this shade is down, you’ll have a complete light block and privacy screen.

Total Block partially down

This shot (above) shows the “black-out” screen partially and it also shows the “sun screen” even further rolled down.  The GreenRose Design double track design allowed for either, or both shades to be up….or down!

The icing on this “design” cake is that we were able to motorize the screens so that each room had both a wall switch to control them and a remote control as well.

This wall switch controls both shades, individually....and together.

This wall switch controls both shades, individually….and together.

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So the owners were thrilled….they had options…..and they could also control these options remotely from their living room sofa or bedroom suite!  And the best part was that when these blinds weren’t needed….they were tucked up away behind the soffit…there was no trace of them at all!  Just that remarkable view!

How do you have privacy without traditional draperies?

 

Our next blog, coming soon, will be covering some of the many ways that GATES can add the privacy and security to your driveway and property while still having a great design style!

We’d love your comments and feedback on all of our blog posts!  Thanks!

The GreenRose Design Team

 

 

 

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Colonial Master Bedroom Expansion in historic Glen Ridge!

A recent project involved an addition to a colonial home in Glen Ridge built in 1920.  Back then, the house was considered modern and “state-of the art.”  By today’s standards, however, the Master Bath and two closets in the Master Bedroom just weren’t large enough!

The homeowners wanted a large modern bathroom along with plenty of closet space too!  OK, so as to avoid the “cobbler’s-children-have-no-shoes” scenario, we, the GreenRose Guys, are actually the “homeowners” and our GreenRose Design concept was beautifully executed by one of our favorite local architects!

The plan involved extending the house over the existing “den” (which had formerly been a side porch with a concrete foundation).

Before....3 season porch had been converted to a family room....but the renovation planned the extension out over that.

Previously….a side-porch had been converted to a year round family room…. the renovation planned the extension out over that porch now family room.

After.....the new, upper level created a huge area for the new master closet as well as a study/studio both off the master sleeping area.

After…..the new, upper-level created a huge area for the new master closet as well as a study/studio, both off the master bedroom.

 

This view shows the new private, rear lower porch...off the family den....and the upper porch off the Master Study....as well as a new door from the rear 2nd bedroom

While the addition was exactly the same footprint as the sunroom below, the design also extended the structure to add two wonderful new porches overlooking the rear yard & gardens.  In this shot, taken from the rear of the house, you can see the new upper porch off the master study, (which also serves one of the other two bedrooms on the 2nd floor)…and the new lower porch off the den.  

Now to the inside views….Where two windows were previously, two pocket doors were planned; one would lead to a study with access to the new upper porch.  The other door  (on the right) would lead to the huge new master closet!

Previously two windows looked out over the roof of the side den on the lower level

Previously these two windows looked out over the roof above the den on the lower level

The pocket door on the right leads to the large new walk-in master closet....the pocket door on the left leads to the study/studio with a door leading to the new, upper porch.

The finished addition shows the pocket door on the right (which leads to the new, huge walk-in master closet)….the pocket door on the left leads to the study/studio with a door leading to the new, upper porch.

On the other side of the bedroom, what was previously a hallway (with two original closets on either side – shown below) which led to the original 3 piece bathroom…..vanity, toilet and tiled stall shower…. was transformed.

The two old closets flanked the short hall to the small "prewar" master bathroom

The two old closets flanked the short hall to the small “prewar” master bathroom.  The new plan removed both closets….and reutilized all that space, creating a large, new steam shower with a bench & 3 (hidden) toiletry niches tucked away on the inside wall (on one side) and a large new double vanity on the other.

The new plan took out both closets….and opened up all that space creating a large new steam shower with a bench & 3 (hidden) toiletry niches (on one side) and a large new double vanity on the other.

One of the original master closets on its way to becoming the new steam shower.

One of the original master closets on its way to becoming the new steam shower.

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Closet is gone, with a brand new steam shower in place with a limestone “tatami mat”  shower floor.  (Discussed below at the very end of this blog).

Note:  when planning a steam shower, it is a very important to consider whether it is tiled with real stone or with porcelain.  Where you aware that real stone absorbs much more heat and, as such, requires a much larger steam generator than would be required for the same sized steam-shower tiled with porcelain tile?  Real stone requires approximately one and a half times the steam generation to make up for that higher absorption level!  That’s an “issue” to be considered with real stone….which we integrated into this project sparingly for the “tatami matt” floor pattern to which we applied the “1 1/2” principal noted above to our calculation for the appropriately-sized steam generator.

The original location for the single sink and medicine cabinet.....

The original location for the single sink and medicine cabinet…..with an original closet behind…was replaced with…

The custom white Russian oak double vanity with custom built granite trench sink sits under the 3 recessed medicine chests.

The custom white Russian Oak double-vanity with custom-built, granite trough sink which sits under the 3 recessed medicine cabinets.

…. a big new wonderful double lavatory (trough)with 3 recessed, triple medicine chests all framed in a custom built frame, and custom built vanity with plenty of storage!

The area (below), which had previously been a toilet and a tiled shower…

Master Bath Shower B4

The midway point....

progress…the midway point….

New toilet & bidet just before the shoji screens were installed

New toilet & bidet just before the shoji screens were installed

became the new toilet and bidet “room,” later tucked behind floor to ceiling sliding shoji doors (built by the same local craftsman who built the double vanity and medicine chests frame).

Note: The 15 x 31 inch  “sandstone” tile is actually beautiful porcelain tile!  Real sandstone is wonderful, but has some real ramifications, which must be considered…..one of which is that it is very porous.   As a result, being porous and organic render it highly susceptible to mold….which grows very easily in the warm, moist environment found in most bathrooms.  With this beautiful “ceramic version” of sandstone, that issue is avoided.  We achieved the look of real stone…..without the shortcomings.

The new sliding shoji doors give privacy and add to the zen-like atmosphere of this beautiful, new master bathroom/spa!

The new sliding shoji doors give privacy and add to the zen-like atmosphere of this beautiful, new master bathroom/spa!

 

 

Glen Ridge Shoji

Ahh.....just beautiful!

…..just beautiful!

One last thing…..the “tatami style” area of the floor is actually a mosaic limestone tile.  We designed the space to include this feature to reduce potential slipping.  Just to the right of the “mat” tile (behind the wall) is the new steam shower to which the same tatami mat tile was used on it’s floor as well.  The close grout lines inherent in the “mat” create a “slip-free” zone, even when completely wet!  Beauty and functionality…all in one place!

When all was done it was exactly what the homeowners, well, exactly what we were looking for…..a large, modern master bath with all the amenities in a serene and zen-like space!  Beautiful!

 

 

 

 

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Building a Stairway to heaven(ly) Lake Mohawk!

This is the view of Lake Mohawk (NJ) yesterday from the house we are currently renovating….but “how do you get down to the lake?,” is the bigger question?

View to the Lake (Mohawk) from the mid-century house project we're working on!

View to the Lake (Mohawk) from the mid-century house project we’re working on!

Recently, when considering whether or not to replace the old, rickety stairs to the lake at our current Lake Mohawk project, we turned to our trusty, veteran deck & stair-maker and asked his opinion.  Do we fix them…..or replace them?

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He pointed out to us that the existing staircase wasn’t well-built and, more to-the-point, probably not up to today’s “Code”.

When “flipping homes” as we do, one must be well-versed in what the “Code” requires!  The Code is a collection of statutes  required by the law per the construction and building administration, on both the State and the National level.  As the GreenRose Team flips houses, we must be certain to meet Code requirements or we’re simply wasting time and energy….both of which cost money…right?!    In addition, we have found that often, those standards based on Code which are required of a homeowner may be slightly more (let’s say) lenient than when the project is being renovated by professional investors!  That’s why we at GreenRose Fine Homes always follow what the Code requires and look to meet and often exceed Code Requirements!  But I digress….

The old stairs had many strikes against them:

"Code" dictates that risers on stairs must be uniform

“Code” dictates that risers on stairs must be uniform

Risers!  There was no consistency to the “rise” of the steps….i.e. the height between the steps….from one level to another.  You can’t have some steps at a 7″ rise and then steps at a 5″ rise as it creates a hazard, putting it’s climber in danger of tripping and falling!  Also, that inconsistency between riser height makes the stairs that much uglier!

Fasteners!  Some of  the stringers (the cut-out supports which hold the stair tread on both sides) were incorrectly attached with nails when they should have been clamped!  Other parts of the stairs were correct but …. all in all …. they were just plain ugly!

Railings!  The hand railings were not strong and did not provide the sense of security that one looks for in a hand rail.  Further, they did not have balusters and the side restraint boards were too far apart leaving too large of a gap to prevent kids from falling through.

Note:  It’s typically OK to skip side restraints if there is no “fall” there…that is, no drop…..but, with the slope of the rear yard….there were plenty of sections with substantial drops!

Can you imagine yourself walking down all that way on old and unsafe stairs!?

Can you imagine yourself walking down all that way on old and unsafe stairs!?

…..oh……Did I mention they were really ugly?  And the color was just wrong!

Rickity Railings with no side restraints!

Rickety Railings with no side restraints!

The ultimate determining factor for replacement to us was all of the above …. and that they were …. you guessed it …. UGLY!

One the simplest tenants of real estate sales is this …..“If it ain’t pretty….it won’t sell!”  The old stairs zigged and zagged their way down to the lake in an inconsistent manner, cutting through the glorious wild growth along the side of the cliff.  The risers were all over the place, some of the stringers were rickety, and a few of the handrails were loose!

Nasty old stairs from the lake to the house!

So….Out with the old and in with the new!  We turned back to our trusted architect, Jonathan Perlstein of OASIS Architecture, Montclair NJ for the design and to our veteran deck and stair-maker (Bob Kiefer, Decks by Kiefer) and had him come up with a proposal based upon what we felt would work well with the rest of the new deck railings we had designed to be installed and hired him to build them!  In short, ….remove the old stairs and build new, strong, Code-compliant stairs which would run in a straight line down to the lake .

And here we have the new stairway….(paralleling the tram tracks….which you can see just to the left of the new stairs below).

If you look closely you can see the (white) space where the old stairs used to zig and zag down to Lake Mohawk.

They’re now almost complete!  The new stairs are compliant with Code!  Strong!  And really good-looking!

The hand railings are made of solid mahogany which will match perfectly with the brand new railings set to replace all of the old railings on the existing 3 decks off the house.

Solid Mahogany railings are not only beautiful but durable!

Solid Mahogany railings are not only beautiful but durable!

Note:  the rest of the (pressure treated) lumber on the lake stairs will eventually be stained to match the upper decks and work well visually with the real mahogany railings.  Also note…..you can see where the old stairs once ran down to the lake.  Now….all of that space will, come this Spring & Summer, become an open view of green-space for the owners to enjoy for years to come!

 

 

Brand new stairway to heaven(ly) Lake Mohawk!Here you have the new stairs….including the mahogany handrails and stainless steel cables (running horizontally) instead of (vertical)balusters, giving the railings a thoroughly-modern, visually-stunning, and view-enhancing “look”!

This rendering (courtesy of OASIS Architecture) of the finished home shows how the new (lake stairs) will coordinate with the new railings & deck! Visually much more appealing than the railings there now.

 

7 Rocky Terrace:  rear elevations, renderingClean, new, safe and…..beautiful!

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Fixing mistakes made over the decades….another Glen Ridge NJ faded lady!

 

Today we purchased this faded lady, located in historic Glen Ridge NJ!  The GreenRose Design, Landscape and Fine Homes Teams will again be coordinating their talents to transform it into a modern “vintage” home with 6 bedrooms, including a large master suite, 4 full baths, a modern & large new kitchen and all modern amenities!

 

We believe this Dutch Colonial, in Glen Ridge NJ & built in 1910, had the dormer built on some time in the 50's.

Here is the next Green Rose “sow’s ear” which we purchased today!  The “silk purse” will be on the market for Spring 2014!

Built in 1910, the home has, over the years, been subject to a number of poor design choices.    Let’s start with the vinyl siding which covers all of the original clapboard lumber.  Notice the vinyl on the 3rd floor dormer, running along the roof line rather than horizontally!  All that faded green vinyl siding will be stripped off.  If the clapboard underneath can be saved, we’ll save it, repair it and paint it a new, beautiful color way!

Next, lets look at the front porch…..the wrought iron (replacement) columns and railings must have made design sense back when they were installed, no?

Obviously the wrought iron columns and vinyl siding must have made sense when they were added!

Now imagine it with its new large white columns, mahogany porch, historically correct wooden railings with white balusters!  It’ll be beautiful once more!

Next mistake……you can’t tell from this photo, but the solid brown front door, while a nice one, would be better placed on a Spanish casita!

With the "Spanish" front door opened, you can see the 2nd, inner door, which is original and which is what our replacement outer door will look like

With the “Spanish” front door opened, you can see the 2nd, inner door, which is the (half-glass) original and which is what our replacement outer door will look like

Next, look at where someone placed the porch sconce lights!  Once the vinyl siding is removed, we’ll move the new lamps to a position off the door trim to their new, correct positions.

Next, take a close look at the window on the left (facing) side of the porch.  Can you make out that what is now an orange, plastic window approximately 2×5, was originally a large approximately 5×5 foot window!?

The door to the left of the window, now an orange, plastic "window" was originally a large (probably) double-hung window....which we plan to restore.

The window to the left of the door, now an orange, plastic “window” was originally a large (probably) double-hung window….which we plan to restore.

You can just about make out the outline of the original window, closed up behind the plaster board.  We'll open that up, restore the original window size and bring lots of light into the grand entry foyer!

You can just about make out the outline of the original window, closed up behind the plaster board. We’ll open that up, restore the original window size and bring lots of light into the grand entry foyer!

The original window, as wide as that orange replacement….dropped down to just about two feet above the floor!  Can you imagine how much light that will bring in to the foyer when we open it up?

The porch will be completely rebuilt with new (appropriate) white columns and balusters with wooden hand rail….and a large, beautiful, new mahogany deck.

This run-down porch will be completely rebuilt with new white columns and mahogany topped railings with white balusters.

This run-down porch will be completely rebuilt with new white columns and mahogany topped railings with white balusters.

The “bay” window is also (obviously) not original to the house.  We will be putting in all new, double-glazed windows though out the house…..and we will probably replace the bay with 3, side-by-side double hung windows.

The porch will be completely rebuilt with new columns and railings....and a mahogany deck surface.

The porch will be completely rebuilt with new columns and railings….and a mahogany deck surface.

One last funny detail on the outside of the house…….a wonderful 3 car garage…..with no driveway to get cars to it!

Nice big 3 car garage (with new roof and electric service) but no drive-way to call its own!

Nice big 3 car garage (with new roof and electric service) but no drive-way to call its own!

With the magic touch of our contractor….this slightly out of alignment will be standing up straight with a great new driveway leading to it!

Now lets take a quick look at some of the inside!

IMG_2163Check out the paneling!   Original, right?  Don’t worry….when we’re done it will all be gone!  We’ll probably close the door at the landing which now leads to the kitchen.  Since we’re opening the kitchen up to the living room, making it more accessible, we’ll close off this door, remove the paneling and restore this wonderful space back to its former glory.  In the process, the kitchen will have a lot more useable cabinetry and counter space too!

IMG_2170 IMG_2182One of the things we like to include in our rehabilitation of vintage homes is a piece of stained glass!   the window at the landing, at the bottom of the stairs in this picture….will be one big, beautiful piece of stained glass.  Frankly, the view out that window is to the back of a neighbor’s garage, so we won’t be blocking anything while still letting in light, color and some “vintage” charm!

Here’s a shot of a front living room wall where we’re positive there was once an archway to the foyer.  We will open the arch, again restoring this home to its original architecture.

There's an arch way buried in that wall!

There’s an arch way buried in that wall!

Here’s a picture of part of the kitchen as it is today!   And there are the back stairs….which we’ll close off (from the front entry landing) allowing the new kitchen design to include L-shaped cabinetry there (plus a nice big island) again, all open to the living room.   And how about those drop ceilings!?   Another design mistake which had (once upon a time made sense & were) installed in most of the rooms throughout the house!  Another one of those earlier design choices which we’ll remove and reveal the higher ceilings as they were originally built.

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This is the living room wall we'll remove to open it to the large new kitchen.

This is the living room wall we’ll remove to open it to the large new kitchen.

Here's that same wall from the kitchen side.  Going, going......will be gone! Here’s the same kitchen wall which now divides the large kitchen from the living room……going, going…..will soon be gone!

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Someone really loved paneling!   Here’s the opening for the back door to the kitchen which will be opened up, widened and will lead to a new elevated deck for the family to enjoy!

Stay tuned!  This one is going to be great and coming on the market in the Late Winter/Early Spring of 2014!

 

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Our latest project! Presenting 120 Central Blvd, Brick NJ

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GreenRose Fine Homes is proud to present our latest total renovation!  Located in the Jersey Shore 55+ community of GreenBriar, in Brick, NJ, this two bedroom two bathroom home has been completely renovated!   Ready for the discerning buyer(s) who want a home that is brand new and ready to move in to.  The home has a new Timberline roof with built-in anti mold technology, new landscaping, new front and rear patios, a completely new paint job, and a complete redesign!

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The home includes all new hardwood floors throughout the living areas, newly carpeted bedrooms and completely renovated bathrooms.   A new (natural gas) heating & central air conditioning and new hot water heater deliver comfortable living all year round!

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A large, open, all new kitchen, with stainless appliances and beautiful “absolute white” granite counters & stone mosaic backsplash, offers endless dining possibilities.   The “absolute white” really is white with quite a bit of grey and, in fact, looks like marble, but offers the density and durability of real granite!  Plus there’s a beautiful island for having a casual coffee or offering a full spread buffet; plus a built-in banquette of seating for your kitchen table!

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The master bathroom has been expanded and now includes a new marble topped double vanity, new triple mirrored medicine check and a large shower with marble and a comfortable built-in bench!

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This home is perfectly planned and detailed for the buyer(s) who want to move in to a home that offers all of the beautiful finishes and amenities they’re used to….all in the wonderful community of Greenbriar, in Brick, NJ!

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Curb Appeal! Landscaping in phases!

Everyone knows that the “curb appeal” of a home is very important.  In one of our recent Landscape Design projects, that curb appeal included the back yard of the home.

When the owners of this recent project called us last summer to evaluate what we could do with their yard, the exterior of the house had been completely renovated with new windows and a completely new paint job.  But this beautiful house sat forlorn in a yard with absolutely no charm.  Worse yet, because their “back yard” was, in actuality, their side yard, this empty side yard wasn’t being used or enjoyed by its owners.  On the bright side, we were presented with a virtual blank canvas!   The owners had already removed much of the overgrown plantings as well as a dogun and its chain link fencing, so the space was wide open for us the “create our magic.”

This picture shows the basic blank canvas before the slate stone wall was built.  What had been a chain linked fenced in yard/dog run was now cleaned out and ready for us!

This picture shows the basic blank canvas before the slate stone patio and stone walls were built. What had been a chain-link fenced-in yard/dog run was now cleaned out and ready for us!  You can see the new cedar fence at the rear that we added, hiding the ugly back yard of the house behind them.  You can also (barely) see the plants (in front of the cedar fence) that we chose as well as a Japanese Maple, a central point in the (coming) flower gardens, all of which we got into the ground to establish them this past Fall.

The owners had been clear with us from the beginning of the discussion…they didn’t want lawn, they wanted a large patio to enjoy as well as (to the extent possible) a carefree perennial garden!

All projects, landscapes included, must have a budget, and so in addition to discussing the wishes and needs of the homeowner, we always make it  top priority to discuss the budget. In this particular case, the owners wanted to get as much done as possible within a specific cost budget in the first season.  Then, they wanted to finish up the project in the following year with embellishments to improve upon the Base Year plan.  So we came up with the following plan for them.

Phase I:  In the Fall 2012:  Get basic work done.

  • Install a cedar privacy fence along the (angled) back boundry of their property.
  • Install a patio & new front walk (which includes a 1′ tall slate wall parallel to, but 2′ in front of the cedar fencings
  • Plant some perennial bushes in the Fall (which is the best time for this type of installation).

Below is a shot of the patio, cedar fencing and perennial plantings once completed.

The perennials include skip laurel (a hardy evergreen) and one of our favorites, climbing hydrangea!

The perennials include skip laurel (a hardy evergreen) and one of our favorites, climbing hydrangea, which will eventually spread out and along the cedar fencing, to create a wonderful living privacy fence/screen.

Its always a good idea to get bushes and trees planted in the Fall, thus giving them time to establish their root growth before the freezing season.  Then, the following Spring, they’re ready to grow and should take off!  We got our plants at good “end of season” prices from one of our favorite NJ wholesale nurseries.    They were planted for the winter….to await Phase 2.

Phase 2:   This past Spring:

  • Build a front retaining wall built to address the front yard’s slope & level the area for the perennial flower garden
  • Bring in dirt, pea-gravel and mulch… dirt to backfill the new terraced-wall, pea-gravel to create our circular garden path & mulch for the new plantings.
  • Install further plantings with Spring and Summer perennial flowers.

Here are some shots of the new front wall being built:

The wall, built on a solid crushed stone foundation is built straight and true thanks to the guide lines set out by the masons.

The wall, built on a solid crushed-stone foundation is built straight and true, thanks to the guidelines set out by the masons.

the stone is bluestone

We decided upon bluestone which is “dry set” without mortar, thus allowing moisture to come through the wall, helping to maintain the wall’s structural integrity.

The finished wall!   Ready for planting!

Beautiful new retaining wall ready for plantings P1040264

 

Perennials:  Coryopsis, Lavandar, Russian Sage,

Perennials: Coreopsis ‘Galaxy’, Lamb’s Ear, Shrub Roses, Lavender, Russian Sage, Salvia, Evening Primrose & Creeping Phlox

Since the Phase 2 budget didn’t include a fully operatational Sprinkler System, we planned ahead and had the underground pipes installed before the work was finished.  In fact, the branch sticking up in the picture above (towards the top left corner) is the marker for access to one of the future Sprinkler System pipes buried beneath!  This way, the connections can be easily made when we get to Phase 3.

Coryopsis and lamb's ear will eventually grow into one another creating a broad sweep of color and texture.

Coreopsis and lamb’s ear will eventually grow into one another creating a broad sweep of color and texture.

 

Viola!  Phase 2 finished (in late Spring/early summer) for the home owners to enjoy all summer.

Highland Avenue Landscape finished....until next spring

 

Stay tuned for:

Phase 3:   This Fall:

  • Install an automatic sprinkler system

Phase 4:  This coming Spring (2014)

  • Install a white picket fence set 30″ back along the top of the wall (behind the row of lavender and the everbloom shrub roses).  As a backdrop to roses climbing on it, that fence will not only emphasize the plantings, but also give anyone hanging out on the patio a greater sense of privacy.
  • Install a fountain on the patio against the house.
  • Complete the perennial plantings.

Stay tuned!

 

 

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Midcentury Modern….demolition begun on lake house renovation…..Show us the Lake!


Let the demolition begin!

When renovating a home, important decisions have to be made about “how much to cut”, if anything at all.   As important as it is to respect the original details, sometimes the original design just doesn’t make sense & requires some major changes.  Such is the case with our latest project, a lakeside home on Lake Mohawk in Sparta, NJ. Perfectly situated high above the lake, complete with spectacular views, the original layout of the house sabotaged those views – which is really the point of being on (and above) the lake.  Instead of seeing the view when you walked in the house, you faced a wall, beyond which was another wall to a hallway, off of which were two bedrooms and 2 baths, completely blocking the view of the Lake!

The original design completely blocked the view of the lake as you walked in the front door!

It wasn’t until you walked down a half flight of stairs, down a hallway, and into one of the bedrooms that the extraordinary view was before you!

This magnificent view wasn’t visible until you walked into a bedroom on the first level of the house!

Oh, I forgot to tell you that what appears to be a simple ranch from the street…..is really a four and one-half story home (with an elevator) built along the side of a cliff!  On the first level were 3 bedrooms and no view until you walked to the bedroom!  It wasn’t until the 2nd level down that you came to the living and dining rooms, kitchen & entertaining rooms.  So, we decided that we would “flip” the two floors to bring the entertaining space to the top level while taking the 3 bedrooms (on the first level) down one flight.  In the process we would take out the ceiling and open it up to the peaked roof.   With the brilliant work of Jonathan Perlstein & Oasis Architecture of Montclair, NJ, our vision was put down on paper. In the immortal words of Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest, we decided to “tear down that BITCH of a wall and put a window where it OUGHT to be.”

Our design includes a new glass door which allows one to see through the house to the lake as you drive up, frosted-glass garage doors to increase the sense of air and space, and a new window above the existing two in the front family room.  New landscaping and a complete re-facing will complete the curb-appeal of this home.

A wall of glass, rising to the new open ceiling will offer a spectacular view of Lake Mohawk from the entry through to the open living, dining, kitchen & entertaining space.

A new deck off the top floor will make the Top Floor Living Space more livable! So, the first step…..demolition and removal of many of the original walls has begun… step 1 towards opening up the space!  Now, from the front door, even though mid-way through demolition,you can get a sense the more open first floor-plan.   Picture that ceiling raised up to the rafters with an incredible view of the lake! Here was an original bedroom… which will eventually become the new, sleekly modern kitchen, with sliders to a new deck!   And here is a picture of the same room on its way there!

This former bedroom will eventually become a new, sleek open kitchen for fabulous entertaining!

The former kitchen (below) will become a guest bedroom with en-suite bath….one of four bedrooms with their own bathrooms! Here’s the same room, after demolition!  This too will have sliders to the existing deck.

This will become a wonderful guest suite with new sliders to the deck just beyond!

So that’s the first step.  Stay tuned for updates as this fantastic project progresses!

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