Watson International


How Sellers Can Ensure a Safe and Successful Experience During the Covid-19 Pandemic

None of us understood what this year would look like when it began. The changes that have been brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have left some home sellers feeling particularly overwhelmed. Other sellers abandoned the concept of selling altogether once the pandemic erupted, which led to the largest inventory shortage in history in cities like New York where housing supply dropped by an unprecedented 90%. This of course caused a rise in property values — which is a fantastic opportunity for sellers who chose to continue or begin sale efforts during this time — but we can leave this topic for another piece. Read on as we explore all you need to know about ensuring a successful and safe experience if you happen to be one of the sellers aiming to capitalize on the inventory shortage.

Begin with the Basics

There are a few things all property owners need to do when they are selling during a pandemic or not, and those things remain the same: clean, declutter, and depersonalize. Since those things are familiar ground, and they lay the foundation for everything else, they are the perfect place to start.

A thorough cleaning is always a must since it implies to buyers that your home is well-maintained. Give your home a deep cleaning, scrubbing everything from top to bottom, inside and out. To ease this part of the process, put together a convenient arsenal of cleaning supplies. Unfortunately, given current shopping situations, this can prove challenging.

While cleansers might be hard to come by at the grocery store, Cleaning Products Reviews explains how to mix some solutions yourself that they claim to be safe and effective against COVID-19. You’ll want to have them handy in the event anyone wants to view your home via a virtual tour, and for others who might come to your property, such as any repairmen, your home inspector or a real estate agent (in jurisdictions where city and state governing bodies permit such professionals to physically enter properties, of course). Keep in mind that in the case of the latter, cleaning afterward is as critical as cleaning prior. Also keep in mind that the CDC offers a list of approved cleansers to mitigate the contagion in properties; be sure to obtain these CDC approved options if at all possible.

Decluttering is next. Reducing the amount of furniture and other belongings in your home allows buyers to focus on the house itself and envision what their own things will look like in the space, which is especially important for an online video presentation. This will make it easier to keep the property clean and it gives you a headstart on packing as well. This also leads naturally to depersonalizing the space.

Depersonalization takes your personal influence away, removing house hunters’ inclination to wonder about who lives in the space and encouraging them to consider it as their own. As Allstate explains, removing strong color schemes, collections, personal photos, sports trophies, and so forth, helps buyers think about living there with their own belongings.

Projects with Punch

In the course of covering your basic preparations, you might decide it’s time to take on a few DIY projects. Now is a perfect time to tackle certain types of projects, keeping in mind safety and health. For instance, arranging a master bedroom so it appears more spacious or replacing kitchen hardware are simple DIYs that efficient, economical, and do not jeopardize your health to complete. On top of all that, these kinds of nuanced changes can make a lasting impression on house hunters.

If you’re unsure about what is working well in your area, take a look at your local housing market. You can learn a lot by studying trends. Contact a broker in your immediate area that can consult with you who what styles and aesthetics appeal most to the target market in your specific location.

Tech Tips

When it comes to the tech side of your presentation, keep in mind that quality counts. This is vital, especially if house hunters intend to skip an in-person tour — or in some locations like NYC, where they aren’t permitted yet by the mayor or governor to even necessarily enter a space physically. Work with your broker to help them create a virtual tour that includes things like still images of highlights and unique features, and schematics that provide the dimensions of various spaces. Your real estate agent will be able to help you with more details regarding what your local buyers are most interested in, but remember that quality is the key.

2020 got off to an unforeseen start, but it has also presented unforeseen opportunity to property sellers. Properties are still selling — for an average of about 8% higher than this time last year due to historically low inventory — and with the right strategies, yours can be one of them. Tackle the standard must-haves, incorporate new strategies, and find ways to stand out. Soon, this phase will just be a memory, and the sellers who capitalized on it will be a very happy group.

Author: Suzie Wilson, Happier Home

Home Project Ideas For A New Decade

If there’s one perfect moment to update your home, it’s at the start of a new decade.  Whether it’s as simple as adding new art to your wall or as involved as gutting your entire kitchen – we’ve got you covered!  From bold hues and hand-crafted accents to throwback details and classic motifs, here are some fun and inspiring trends to spice up your home for 2020!

Vintage Accents

What goes around comes around, especially in relation to home décor trends.  According to Bria Hammel, CEO of Bria Hammel Interiors, “One thing we’re starting to see is more of a nod to vintage and traditional detailing.”  Bringing this design theme to fruition can be as simple as incorporating some furniture with spooled legs, spindles, and other early 1900’s staples.  Adding vintage accents in moderation is a fun way to add charm to any home.

Non-White Kitchens

If there was one staple design trend in the 2010’s, it was the all-white kitchen.  But in 2020, we’re seeing a shift from the classic all-white to softer tones.  This includes natural wood cabinets, islands, and shelves.  Greyscale themes and sandy neutral tones are trending now.  In addition to this, there has been an uptick into contrast, for instance adding a black countertop to a kitchen with light cabinets.  Adding contract is a unique way that homeowners can achieve a bright and airy atmosphere while still maintaining some anchorage.

Fun Bathroom Design

If you have an urge to use a splash of color or funky design on the walls in your home, try it in one of your bathrooms!  Bathrooms are a great place to experiment and have fun with, since the rooms can themselves be an accent or encompass their own theme.  Redesigning a bathroom or powder room can be a fabulous way to exercise your creative energies without overwhelming yourself or the rest of your property.

Bold Black and White

Combining black and white creates an immediate emotional response while remaining timeless.  Combine with gold to create depth.  If a design element such as a dramatic herringbone black and white foyer or dining room floor would too intimidating for you, you can start small by tiling the bathroom floors or shower tiles for instance.

Real Plants

Go green with some fun plants throughout the house.  As most of us know, it may be hard to create liveliness in a home, especially living in New York City where there may not be a whole lot of surrounding nature.  Live plants help give personality and add another layer to a space.

Furniture with European-Inspired Details

German and Italian influences can be found in the arms of couches, knife-edge welts, metal legs, and more.  These small furnishing features will be both attention-grabbing and interesting.  These details are timeless!

Author: Ava Howard

How to Conquer Your Clutter Without Breaking a Sweat

Tidying and organizing your home can feel like a major undertaking, especially if things have gotten a bit out of control. If you have accumulated more “stuff” than you know what to do with, take heart. There are some simple strategies for conquering clutter, and once you get a handle on it, chances are you’ll never look back.

Amateur-Friendly Ideas

When your household is really disorganized, you might be tempted to call in reinforcements, such as a professional organizer. However, by finding a decluttering method that works well, you can avoid letting things get out of control all over again. For instance, some people choose the “one” method, where they get rid of one thing daily, whether it’s a full box, a bag, or a single item while others prefer to go room by room. Another idea is to sort things into specific categories, such as items to discard, items to put away, and items to re-home. Keep in mind that you will most likely need several decluttering sessions for your project, but making steady progress can help build momentum.

Capitalize with Cleaning

As you sort piles and sift through items, you’re bound to unearth some dirt and debris. This is the perfect time to give your home a thorough cleaning, wiping away the dust and cobwebs so your cleared spaces shine. You can assemble a handy cleaning caddy and keep it close to where you’re working, giving things a once over when you finish for the day, or taking breaks to scrub as needed. Some people prefer to hire a cleaning company to come by periodically; that way, you can focus all your energy on decluttering.

Do You Love, Love, Love It?

When you have a lot of “stuff” to sift through, it can be challenging deciding what to keep and what to throw. The experts at MarthaStewart.com point out that our belongings can reflect an emotional attachment that actually weighs us down. We often hang onto possessions out of a desire to cling to the past or to prepare for an unknown future event. Letting go of things that don’t bring joy can be freeing, and some studies indicate we lower our stress and anxiety levels when we part ways with clutter. If you hit a stumbling block, one idea is to ask yourself if you love, love, love it. Items that don’t warrant three loves? Those have to go!

Pump Up the Volume

De-cluttering can be a big undertaking, and it’ll feel satisfying to watch your own progress. However, sometimes things can bog us down. On days you don’t feel like dealing with the clutter, consider putting on some music to help keep your work light. Psych Central points out that playing music can be a mood booster. Aim for something upbeat, as our minds and bodies respond naturally to the sounds and rhythms. Whether you opt to slip your phone into your pocket to blast your tunes or use another device, you can select an online playlist that’s perfect for household chores, or you can customize your own.

What to Do with the Castoffs

Once you have piles of things you’re ready to part with, re-homing them can feel like another hurdle. There are actually plenty of good options to consider. For things that are still useful, consider selling them or donating them to charities. Items that are too worn or are broken can often be given away for others to up cycle, or you can recycle them. There is an abundance of opportunities, and you can feel even better knowing your old items are being put to good use.

Are you ready to pare down? When you have more “stuff” than you know what to do with, figuring out a good decluttering method can get you on the right track. Make sure you have fun with it, and in no time, your home will be tidy and organized.

Written by Suzie Wilson

How Busy Families Can Prepare Their Homes for Successful Showings

Parents are often stretched pretty thin these days. When you add selling a property to work, school, and routine obligations, it can feel downright overwhelming. Putting a few well-thought-out strategies in place can save you a lot of stress when you’re planning to put a house on the market, and it can help you score a successful sale.

De-clutter and Deep Clean

When potential buyers come to see your home, having it tidy and shiny from top to bottom will make the best possible impression. Start by de-cluttering, including the kids’ rooms, and putting extraneous items in storage. Psych Central recommends having the conversation with your children about moving early on, and suggests giving youngsters small tasks to help them feel part as if they are a part of the process. Let them make some decisions on what stays and what gets packed. When paring down toys, encourage kids to keep toys that can be picked up quickly, as opposed to things like building block sets and glittery crafts.

Staged for Success

Once your cleaning is complete, the challenge becomes staying ahead of clutter and dirt. With the proper foundation established, Angie’s List points out you canstage your houseeffectively in just 15 minutes. The last thing you want is to turn away a showing, so be ready for showings ahead of schedule. Keep a basket handy for picking up toys, throw open the window coverings to allow in natural light, and have a trash bag for catching loose ends. Leaving a spot in your trunk means the basket and bag can go with you if necessary. Also, keep anair freshenerconvenient and address any odors from food, pets, trash, diapers, and the like. Also, be sure to ask your real estate professional if they feel Professional Staging would benefit your particular property. Watson International, for example, has a sister Staging Company that can help best prepare your space.

Hide in Plain Sight

When people come to view your home, they will look in virtually all nooks and crannies. They will open closets, kitchen cabinets, and even your oven. However, you do have a couple of reasonably safe hidey-holes in the event you are caught completely off-guard. Somelast-minutestorage solutionsinclude your washer and dryer, under beds, and if your sofa is against the wall, you might slip some things back there as well. It’s not a desirable solution, of course, but in a pinch, sometimes it can save the day.

Dealing with Decor

If you let your kids pick their decor, you likely have some redecorating to do before putting your home on the market. Generally speaking, potential buyers prefer depersonalized homes, decorated with age- and gender-neutral decor. One of the least expensive and most effective ways to achieve that look is with paint. According to some studies, certain colors are more appealing to buyers than others. Shades of blue are popular in bedrooms right now, or you can go with traditional logic and aim for neutrals, such as tans or grays. It’s fine for buyers to see that children live in the house, but make things as spacious as possible, and steer clear of themes, family photos, and collections. Painting is usually best in a clean and uncluttered environment, and once completed, you’ll be ready for house photos and listing for sale. Be sure to ask your broker for any color schemes or decor features that he or she recommends. Watson International for example has a General Contracting Company that can handle jobs as large as gut renovations and as small as a simple paint job to prepare homes to go on the market.

Preparing a home to sell can be stressful no matter what, but especially when you have kids. Declutter, deep clean, and depersonalize, then be ready for those last minute showings. Even busy families can not only survive the process, but find themselves to be moving into their new dream home in no time!


Written by Kristin Louis

Fresh Start to Active Living around NYC in 2019

New York City: the concrete jungle where dreams are made, stars are born and numerous Marvel movies and shows take place. Whether you’re a lifelong resident of the city looking to add a layer of physical fitness to your routine or a newcomer who stepped off the bus three months ago and haven’t left your desk yet, we’ve got the fun outdoor and active living activities that you need to get out and stay active in 2019.

Running through the city

Running through NYC, dodging people and tasting the scents of differing neighborhood culinary scenes as you move from block to block—there’s nothing like it. If you’re new to NYC, you might not know that the city has numerous active running groups that meet all across the City’s five boroughs. From Central Park to the gritty streets, you’ll be able to have everything from good long jogs to green space for sprinting. Some of the best places to run in NYC include:

  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Hudson River Greenway
  • High Line Park
  • Central Park
  • Prospect Park
  • Morningside Park
  • Coney Island’s Boardwalk
  • Carl Schurz Park
  • Queensboro Bridge
  • Roosevelt Island
  • Van Cortlandt Park
  • The East River Greenway

If you’re running in a high-traffic area or at night, remember to wear reflective gear. And, as with all of these activities, stay hydrated. After you try it out, if you think running’s an activity you’ll spend time on, you should consider signing up to join a local running/jogging group or registering for any one of the city’s marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks or 5Ks.

Bicycling through NYC streets

Another great way to stay active outdoors on a daily basis is cycling. The average person burns between 450 and 750 calories per hour of moderate cycling, making it a great way to lose weight. Over the past few years, NYC’s government has spent time and money investing in a bicycle-friendly infrastructure, and its paid off. Every day, hundreds of New Yorkers cycle to work instead of driving or relying on public transportation.

If you’re going to be biking in the city, be sure to study the bike paths, bike lanes, and greenways available to you as a cyclist. Being aware in advance of any of your cycling travel will cut down on mistakes and help you focus on the road. You should also invest in a high-quality bicycle lock and a reliable helmet.

Recreational Sports

If running and cycling aren’t for you, and you prefer team sports, NYC Social’s perfect for you. With sports spanning from basketball and skeeball, they make it easy to sign up for a team and get started. You can even search for teams according to your neighborhood and the day of the week that you’re able to meet. Social sports teams are a great way to learn a new sport, make some new friends, and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

Unlike solitary activities like running and cycling, recreational sports demand you collaboratively interact with others, making them great places to practice your communication skills, learn about leadership, and network with team members after practice.

Kayaking in NYC’s waterways

Surprised to find out you can go kayaking (or canoeing) in the Big Apple? One of the most underrated activities NYC offers is the ability to travel and see the city from its waterways. Some boathouses even offer free kayaking lessons during the summer. If you’re interested in kayaking, check out a place like Manhattan Community Boathouse in Hell’s Kitchen, which offers first-come, first-serve lessons for beginners or the North Brooklyn Boat Club in Greenpoint, where you can volunteer to become a deckhand after you’ve gotten a good amount of training and lessons. There’s also the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, the Downtown Boathouse, and the scenic and less urban Kayak Staten Island.

Getting fit through fitness classes

Worried that being in a fitness class will remind you of your years in the back of the class during gym class? Don’t. Everyone has that fear, and fitness classes are a great way of realizing that there are more people just like you than you think. Best of all, New York has plenty of local fitness classes that are tailored to what you’d like to do, including martial arts, boxing, cardio, yoga, dancing, swimming, pilates, and general fitness. This range ensures that you’ll find at least one take to do that you enjoy, but you should also take the opportunity to learn something new and outside of your comfort zone.

Start today

Whichever way you decide to get fit, make sure you’re following through with all the hard work you’re putting your body through by eating healthy and consuming nutritious meals. By transforming your New York lifestyle to be healthier and more active, you’re more likely to enjoy your life in the city and continue your activities for a long time to come.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

Your Home’s Open House: Staging Preparations Sellers Overlook

Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

An open house is your chance to show real estate agents and potential buyers your property’s best side. Staging your space is a huge part of that. A properly staged area should be clean, decluttered, and depersonalized. The depersonalization part tends to be one aspect homeowners have the most trouble with, but everyone has their own personal blind spots.

That’s why the help of a professional stager can come in handy. Stagers know what people want to see when they walk through the door of an open house, and they know how to execute that vision. Hiring a home stager can help sell your abode quicker and for more money—all for the small fee they charge.

Cleaning for an Open House

When a residence is clean, it doesn’t just look its best; it also smells its best. Scent plays a huge part in our emotions because we connect fragrances to memories. When your home smells good, open house visitors will make positive emotional associations with the property.

Hiring a housecleaner before your open house is a great idea. Professional cleaners have seen it all and know how to clean better than anyone, including yourself. Having someone else do a nice base clean makes it easier for you to see all those little details that need some extra love. Pay particular attention to the kitchen—the crown jewel of any dwelling. Clean refrigerator shelves, on top of cabinets, and appliance surfaces. Make sure there are no food stains or smudges on cabinets and drawers. Even go so far to take the trash can out to clean and deodorize. It’s the details that can make a huge difference!

Decluttering for an Open House

Believe it or not, there is also a psychological motivation behind decluttering for your open house. Clutter instigates feelings of stress and anxiety. When a person walks into a showing, the only feelings you want them to experience are joy and interest.

Decluttering should happen both inside and out. Improve your curb appeal (more on that later) by picking up any toys, decorations, and yard tools, and putting them where they belong. If you have a coat rack or hooks at the front door, put away any clothes or accessories hanging there. You also want to remove visual clutter—go ahead and pack up your hanging hooks, photographs, and other artwork on the walls. Recycle the old mail and paper that clutter up countertops. Go through your kitchen and get rid of cookware, dishes, and storage containers you won’t be needing. It’s even important to declutter storage areas like closets. These are selling points that you want to highlight, so you can’t just shove everything out of sight and out of mind.

Depersonalizing for an Open House

You want people attending your open house to walk in and picture their own family living there. If you don’t take measures to depersonalize, you’re making it that much more difficult for them to realize that vision. While putting away all those things that make the house your home can be bittersweet, just think of it as pre-packing that will cut down on the work you have to do before you actually move.

Remove your personal photos, including any family portraits or professional shots you have framed. You should also pack away any trophies, plaques, awards, and framed certificates such as diplomas. If you have personal collections out for display, go ahead and tuck them somewhere safe and out of sight. The same goes for toys, sports equipment, and exercise equipment—these all qualify as personal items. Don’t forget to remove valuables and any indications of smoking, pets, or politics. Only keep the basic things you need and decorations that highlight your home’s features.

Don’t Forget the Outdoors

As much as the interior matters, it’s the exterior that draws people in. Spend a little time sprucing up the front door, cleaning the windows, and repairing small issues that might be noticed by a keen-eyed buyer. HomeAdvisor has more ideas on how to enhance curb appeal, even if your outdoor space in minimal.


An open house is the perfect occasion to draw up interest in your property. Make sure it looks its best with a thorough and professional cleaning. Clutter is proven to cause stress and anxiety, so ensure good vibes by clearing out all the junk. Finally, make sure others can see themselves living there depersonalizing and packing away items.

Suzie Wilson
The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House coming soon!

Top 5 Upcoming Fall Activities Around NYC

New York City is an exciting place with more than enough to keep anyone occupied, tourist or resident. But while the sights like the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, or the Empire State Building are always present, some things take a bit of timing. There’s plenty to do year-round in New York, although fall tends to be the best time for the biggest and most exciting events in the city. Whether you like culture, pop or not, are looking for a party, or want to be entertained from the stage, fall in NYC is going to be where it’s at. So check out these five events happening in the city this fall, and pick out the ones you just know you can’t miss.

While the Big Apple is a diverse and varied place, there’s one thing that really binds it together: a love of coffee. It saturates the city, where there’s coffee shops on nearly every corner and nearly all of them are a unique, loving take on the beverage. Well, it goes a step farther than that: the New York Coffee Festival is a celebration of all things black, bean, and brewed. Taking place from October 12th to the 14th this year, the New York Coffee Festival is an adventure through nearly every style and taste of coffee that the city has to offer. The festival includes contests and demonstrations of things like latte art and barista skills, but also street food, live music, and coffee cocktail bars. It’s a perfect storm of things a coffee lover will love, but also plenty for everyone else to do—regardless of how you take it, cream, sugar, milk, or black.

Starting in November, New York City will turn overnight into the comedy capital of the world. From the fifth to the eleventh, the New York Comedy Festival begins with shows from some of the biggest names in comedy through twenty different venues in the city. Some of these big names include Conan O’Brien, Tracy Morgan, and Gabriel Iglesias, so you know it’s going to be an all-star cast of laughs. Even still, the shows aren’t just limited to the most famous, the festival is slated for 200 or more comics across a hundred different shows, providing more than enough for the discerning comedy fan. Naturally, with a festival of that size, you won’t be able to do it all, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying it as much as you can. It’s a week of nothing but laughs and a good time.

If you’re planning on being in the city for Halloween, don’t miss the 45th annual Village Halloween Parade. It’s a night of costumes and fun dedicated to a happy, celebratory spirit around the creativity and liveliness of everyone participating. Participation is limited to those in costume, so now’s the best time to get creative and come up with your most extravagant and interesting costume and bring it to life. There’s a costume contest for the parade, only requirement is to show up, put your best foot forward with your costume. For those not into costuming, there’s also opportunities to volunteer as a puppeteer for one of the many parade puppets and performers.

Comic Con
One of the biggest events in New York that just about anyone can get behind is the New York Comic Con, famed as the biggest pop culture event in America. At the Javits Center, thousands will show up in costume and comic t-shirts to meet their favorite superhero, Sci-Fi, fantasy, and other stars. Plenty of artists, fan and professional, arrive to show and sell their talents of capturing all the world’s favorite shows and books in ink. Comic Con is also famously where sneak peaks and announcements are made on upcoming TV shows and projects, so attending could get you on the cutting edge of the year’s most anticipated entertainment. Kids as young as 6 are allowed at NYCC so be sure to scope out local discounted group tickets online if you are planning on bringing the kids and their friends. Panels are announced in advance, so it’s easy enough to plan around hitting all the talks and events you want to keep up with.

Film Festival
While we’re on the subject of pop culture, maybe you’re a connoisseur of the silver screen. Naturally, this fall in New York has the perfect event for you: the New York Film Festival. Premiering some of the newest and best films, the New York Film Festival isn’t just limited to the United States. Several international films, including those from South Korea, China, France, and Poland, are also on the main slate for their US or worldwide premieres. Fiction isn’t the only thing being screened, too, as a good portion of the festival is dedicated specifically to documentaries, should those be your particular interest. And for those not looking for the new, the festival also has a dedicated set of revivals, screening classic films dating back to the 1950s that have been digitally remastered for modern viewing.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

Top 10 Hot Entertainment Around New York This Summer

In New York, there is a seemingly endless number of things to do. With one of the most famous cities in the world a short drive away from anywhere in the state, and plenty of festivals and events going on upstate, you will find it hard to be at a shortage of entertainment this summer.

Here are the top 10 things to do this summer in New York, from waterfalls to annual festivities to the Big Apple.

Take a Trip to Niagara Falls (or any other waterfall in the state)

Niagara Falls is known the world over for its spectacular scenery and awe-inspiring magnitude. It’s also only a few hours drive from just about anywhere in New York – while the town around Niagara Falls may be a little kitschy, if you haven’t already seen this wonder of the world, be sure to check out group deals and make a visit this summer.

Check Out the Chinese Lantern Festival in Syracuse

The Chinese Lantern Festival is an annual festival taking place over much of the summer in Syracuse organized by the local Chinese-American community.  With free admission, an abundance of foods and culture to experience, and a very unique cultural experience, there’s nothing but great things to say about the Chinese lantern festival.

SummerStage at Central Park

SummerStage is a popular seasonal outdoor venue that hosts various artists from multiple music genres. The summer line-up of artists includes over 50 shows, with a range of free and ticketed performances available. Some of the headliners for the summer music festival are Jason Mraz, O.A.R & Matt Nathanson, and Dispatch. There is a free concert just about every couple of days, so be sure to see the full line-up before you head out to the festival to see who’s who.

Experience Taste of Buffalo

Many cities hold “Taste Of” festivals every year to encourage tourism and visitors to places they might not have otherwise been to. Buffalo, being a well-known city already, holds one of the best festivals of the kind in the state. The entrance fee is minimal, and with free music, an abundance of amazing food options, and plenty of fun things to do for families, Taste of Buffalo should definitely be a destination this summer.

Manhattan Rooftop Bars/Lounges

Does anything beat a balmy summer evening overlooking the city lights? Manhattan is home to multiple world-class rooftop hangs – perfect for a romantic evening, client outings, or friendly social gatherings. Some of our favourites in and around the city include Gansevoort, Viceroy, 230 Fifth, (and so many more). Most NYC rooftops will feature live music, a pool, and an overall luxurious atmosphere. Treat yourself!

Summer in the Hamptons

Eat, drink, play and relax in the Hamptons this summer. If you’re looking for live music, the Surf Lodge is renowned for its chill outdoor summer concerts, and the tasty local seafood here comes freshly off the fishing boats of Montauk Harbour. The 3rd annual Rosé Crawl will last through the end of June, which features a self-guided, exquisite local wine tour. Snag a glass or three and catch a beautiful shoreline sunset.

Camp and Hike at the Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondack Mountains are a gorgeous, oddly circular mountain range beset in a national park. Camping, hiking, and outdoor sports are commonplace at these mountains, but what makes it extra special is the lack of disturbance. It is surprising how many people are in the park without coming across too many of them, helping to let you get lost in nature all the more.

If You Haven’t Already, go to the Great New York State Fair

The Great New York State Fair is a hotspot for upstate New Yorkers every summer. Admission is only $10 for a vast array of theme-park-style rides, amazing foods (that are all definitely bad for you), live entertainment and a myriad of other things to do at this famous fair. Starting in August, the festival goes on for about 13 days just outside Syracuse, so start planning now!

Visit One of Many Film Festivals

There are so many film festivals going on this summer in New York that the it really ought to change its nickname from The Empire State to The Film Festival State. Jokes aside, just about every suburb and neighbourhood in New York City is hosting some kind of film festival this summer, and most of the medium-large towns and cities in upstate New York have their own festivals going on. Be sure to look up all the options and find one close to you to see what local filmmakers have been working on!

See a Different Side to the City at Summer Streets

For the first three weekends in August, New York City closes off its streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park to traffic and instead dedicates the streets to sustainable means of transportation. That sounds like a bit of a bore, but with 300,000 people all riding bikes, walking, skating and running, as well as lots of local businesses coming out to the street to offer their goods, summer streets feels like a breath of fresh air in a city constantly in anxiety. Take a day to see the city without so many cars on the road – you might see it in a different way.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

Hidden Gems Around NYC

Just about everyone knows New York City for Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. But The Big Apple has so much more to offer for people looking to escape the crowds. The following are places off the beaten path for tourists or locals who want to see a new side of the city.

New York’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world, with more than 470 stations and about 5 million daily riders on weekdays. The system is also constantly expanding and experiencing upgrades. Visitors can get a taste of the old subway system with a tour of the now- closed City Hall subway station.

The Old City Hall stop dates back to the 1940s when Fiorello H. La Guardia, for whom the nearby airport is named, was mayor. Many of the city’s old movers and shakers used this stop until slow ridership led to its eventual closure in 1945. Today people can tour the stop through the New York Transit Museum. Plan this trip well in advance, as tours often fill up quickly and
visitors are required to pass a background check.

When tourists first flocked to New York in the late 1800s, their first stop was Niagara Falls and their second stop was Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This 500-acre cemetery is the final resting place for many baseball stars and New York notables. Some big names include artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, musician Leonard Bernstein and politician William “Boss” Tweed.

At its most popular time, carriages would pass through for family outings or views of the cemetery architecture. Today it is a place where people visit for a break from the busy city life. The cemetery is free, but visitors can pay $15 for a historical trolley tour.

Grand Central Station is a beautiful New York destination to visit in general. It has high vaulted ceilings, ornate chandeliers and intricate details sculpted into the walls. It also has several places to shop and dine nearby. But what most people don’t know is the station has a secret “whispering gallery.”

Located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, the whispering spot is made possible through the architecture in the archway. People standing on either side of the arch can talk into the wall
and hear each other as clear as day. Don’t be surprised to catch a marriage proposal at this location.

Eataly is a huge Italian marketplace with some of the best Italian cuisine downtown. It’s not exactly the most obscure attraction but it's a neat little atmosphere with some incredible food and is home to authentic Italian groceries and dining. Eataly is still fairly new to the city, having opened in NY back in 2010, but has locations all over the world.

South Street Seaport, the historic seaport on the East River, is one of the coolest fish markets downtown on the east side of Manhattan. The area thrives with architecture, shopping, views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city, and of course, features an upbeat fish market.

Located on the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park City is Pier A Harbor House, a beautiful restaurant right on the water. It makes for a great afternoon with tasty seafood and some neat surrounding parks to walk off the buttery lobster lunch.

An iconic American food restaurant, Tavern on the Green in Central Park, has attracted prominent people throughout the decades. This dining hot spot has even been mentioned in popular movies like Ghostbusters. Tavern on the Green was recently reopened in 2014 under new ownership.

Many people are familiar with Randall’s Island, which hosts big music festivals such as the Governor’s Ball and Panorama. But the nearby Roosevelt Island has a piece of New York history rarely seen by visitors.

The Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island was once the principal treatment center for a disease that hit the city hard in the 1700s. The building is now abandoned, but it is still worth a visit for history lovers and photographers interested in the eerie atmosphere. Expect to see 19th-century Gothic architecture hidden under moss vines. There is an ongoing project to refurbish the ruins, so it is fenced off from entry.

Accessing Roosevelt Island is a unique trip in itself. At the same price of a one-way subway fare, people can take the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram for a new view of the Manhattan skyline. The tram passes by the Queensboro Bridge at 3,100 feet, it holds up to 110 people and makes about 100 trips throughout the day. The tram takes the same MetroCard as the subway system.

After the fall of the famous Berlin Wall in 1989, pieces of it were shipped out to various locations around the world. One section is notably on display inside the Newseum in Washington D.C. Another large piece is in the heart of New York City outside 520 Madison Avenue.

This five-panel section is located around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art and it is one of the largest sections still intact. While the side that faced East Germany is blank, the other side features work by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. The wall is on display in an open plaza and it is available to the public year-round.

The Dream House is an art space few New Yorkers know about located in the heart of Tribeca. This installation is supported by the Mela Foundation and the combination of light, scents and sounds transport visitors from the stresses of city life. The space is a third-floor apartment, and it’s often identified by its neon-purple rooms. For a small donation, people can enjoy the room for as long as they want.

No place does the color “millennial pink” quite like Pietro Nolita. This 1950s-style Italian eatery has pink tables and chairs, rose-colored pots for the plants and pink plates. Their menu is centered on being environmentally friendly, as well as healthy. Dinner options include a fusilli al limone and ricotta meatballs with tomato sauce. This place is a popular Instagram brunch spot, and they offer a tasty dolcezza drink which is a mix of white peach and Prosecco.

Written by Jeremy Alderman

3 Ways to Stage Your Home if You’re a Pet Owner

A house that suggests that it’s inhabited by a pet is one of the top turnoffs for a potential buyer. So as much as you love your animals, you’ve got to remove all signs of their existence if you want to sell your home in a timely manner. But don’t take this step personally—people are turned off by pets for various reasons. For example, even if you don’t have an animal that sheds or has a lot of dander, a visual cue that a pet is present could prompt someone to think your
home is a breeding ground for allergens. There’s also smell and cleanliness factors to consider. So, before your realtor starts showing your property, make sure it’s properly staged for success.

Consider Making Advanced Arrangements for Your Pet

If possible, make arrangements for your pet to be removed from the home during the showing period. While it’s definitely an easier way to keep your home in tip-top shape, it’s also harder on you and your furry friend. If a kennel or trusted friend or family member is not an option to take in your pet, at least remove him from the home during the actual showing. Just keep in mind that you’re going to have to conduct regular cleaning, deodorizing, and decluttering in between appointments.

Depersonalize Your Space

Along with food and water bowls, cat trees, bedding, cage/carrier, leash/muzzle, and toys, you’re going to need to remove items like photographs and any memorabilia that indicate you own a pet (e.g., an “I Love Dogs” sign). Another indicator is a doggie door, so make sure you seal it up. If you own a cat and you absolutely can’t temporarily move her out, make sure you hide the litter box or invest in an incognito model that doubles as a piece of furniture. Just make sure it’s clean and odor free.

Get Rid of Pet Odors and Stains

Eliminating odors and stains is a lot more difficult that putting toys in a box, but it’s not impossible. If you opt not to get a professional cleaner to do the dirty work, implement these steps:

  • Sweep and mop all hard floors to remove hair, dander, and dust particles. Make sure you do this lightly so you don’t kick things up in the air.
  • Vacuum everywhere, from hard floors and carpets to furniture and curtains.
  • Remove stains and steam-clean the carpets with a pet-friendly cleaner and remover.

Just make sure to move your animals to another room during this process.

  • Wash all your linens, including bedding, couch cushions, and pillow cases. Anything that’s not machine washable should go to the dry cleaner.
  • Even though you’ll be storing it away, wash your pet’s bed and blankets so there aren’t any odors lurking from a storage space. If you’re concerned because you want to retain the scent so it’s easier for your pet to get adjusted to his new home, ask a friend or family member to hold on to the items for you, or keep them in the trunk of your car.
  • Open the windows and air out your home. Change all the air filters as it’s likely that they’re clogged with dust, dirt, and hair which contributes to odors.
  • Apply a couple of coats of a stain- and odor-sealing paint to areas on walls (usually near baseboards) where any urine stains may exist.
  • On the day of the showing, simmer herbs, essential oils, and fruit on the stove. Dab some essential oils on cotton balls and strategically place them in hidden areas around the house. Light a few lightly scented candles—nothing too overpowering as it can be a turnoff for buyers.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional stager to assist you. Use this experience as an opportunity to consider ways to make your next home a bit less cluttered and as fresh smelling as possible. A home that looks like it’s run by a pet instead a person isn’t the best environment, even if it’s not for sale.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Written by Seth Murphy

Seth loves hands-on DIY projects and sharing what he has learned with others. He first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work.