Safeguard Your Home from an Earthquake


Safeguard Your Home from an Earthquake

As our neighbors in California recently experienced, it pays to safeguard your investment and protect yourself in a natural disaster. Here are a few tips to help prevent damage and recover faster after an earthquake.

Gas Appliances: If you have gas appliances, look into flexible connections or gas shut-off valves on lines that fuel them. Flexible connections allow movement, while metal or hard plastic connections can easily break.

Water: Install an automatic water shut-off valve. Much like a gas shut-off valve, this will trigger your water line to shut off in the case of an earthquake. Water heaters are expensive to replace, so make sure yours stays put in a natural disaster by securing it to the wall. A simple restraint, under $20 at most hardware stores, straps the water heater to a wall and is an easy DIY project that takes only a few minutes and could to save you thousands.

Foundation: Is your home bolted to the foundation and adequately braced? If not, there is a chance it could slide off the foundation during an earthquake. The cost of this security can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand but can make a huge impact on how well your home fares in an earthquake.

Glass Safety: Stepping through shards of shattered glass can make it difficult for your family to make a safe exit in an earthquake, so tempered or laminated safety glass is a good choice for large windows or sliding doors. Safety film offers a cheaper alternative, but it is difficult to prevent air bubbles from being trapped under the film, so professional installation is advised.


Read more on earthquake preparedness at

Create Your Own Outdoor Kitchen Space


Extend your living area and build a backyard entertainment space for summer guests by creating an outdoor kitchen.

Plan to surround your grill or cooktop surface with a prep area, storage for plates and utensils, shelving areas for nonrefrigerated condiments and food, and appliances if budget allows. Select the grill or cooktop on the front-end of your planning, as the construction and setup process will factor onto overall dimensions and layout.

With the addition of counterspace comes the benefit of cabinetry to create extra storage for added accessories like cutlery, outdoor dishware, a blender, or kegerator. Due to the weather changes and dampness in the Pacific Northwest, not just any variety of cabinet will do. Look into weatherproof cabinets—popular styles include the industrial look of 304 stainless steel, the practical structure of marine grade polymer, or a refreshingly natural teak.

If space allows, upgrade with add-on features to expand the capabilities of the kitchen with these popular appliances:

• Pizza Oven
• Dishwasher
• Ice machine
• Kegerator
• Fryer
• Built-in ice chest

Flooring is an important consideration in the outdoor kitchen and dining area. You’ll want to allow easy flow between spaces. Opting for concrete flooring is cost-effective, while stone or tile may add some expense but allow for creativity in design. Play with the color and textures of stone and tile to tie in the surrounding nature

Another important area to consider is the gathering space. Incorporating seating behind a counter or bar can be a great alternative to a large sofa or bulky furniture. When construction is complete, you’ll have a new way to enjoy summer moments and create long-lasting memories with friends and family.

Storing Gear in Your Pacific Northwest Home


Storing Gear in Your Pacific Northwest Home

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, there is a good chance you have a lot of gear. Camping, hiking, mountain biking, surfing, and kayaking—the outdoor activities are endless. You could literally plan a new excursion every weekend and never hit the same Oregon or Washington destination twice.

During the work week, when not trekking out to a new waterfall or renting a yurt on the coast, where do you put all your gear? Don’t let the chaos left behind from your weekend stress you out—check out these tips for storing gear in your home.


TIP 1: First of all, declutter. We tend to acquire a lot of gear over the years, so get rid of that extra bike helmet, old tent poles and the hammock with a hole in it. Only keep what you actually use.

TIP 2: Remember your backpacks and bags can act as storage when they are not being used. Keep your bag packed to save space and streamline your departure.

TIP 3: Use a laundry basket in the corner of your shed or garage to store oddly long items like oars or ski poles.

TIP 4: Buy plastic totes or bins and organize by activity and season.

TIP 5: Add multi-shelf racks in your garage, shed, or storage room.

TIP 6: Install a peg board to store hangable items like rock climbing gear and cast iron cookware.

TIP 7: Store your kayak, stand up paddleboard, or bike in a way that maximizes space. Don’t let gravity hold you down, think hooks on walls or even the ceiling of your garage.

TIP 8: Use your gear! There is no point in creating space for it if you don’t get out and explore the Northwest. Hang up photos of your excursions on the wall of your storage room to keep your sense of adventure alive.

5 Porch Updates to Increase Your Home’s Value


5 Porch Updates to Increase Your Home’s Value

With a few affordable updates, create a welcoming front porch that draws buyers to come inside. Small changes to the design and care of your home will differentiate it from competing listings lacking curb appeal. These simple and cost-effective updates can help increase your return on the sale of your home.

Paint the front door or replace it with one that adds character to the home. Midnight blue, cheerful orange, and Miami blue are popular colors in 2019, while fire hydrant red or a glossy black are considered timeless.

Replace and update hardware. The front porch is a focal point of your home and value can be found in revamping minor features like handles and kickplates. These accents are low-cost, easy to replace, and make a big difference in making your home look well-tended.


Update light fixtures to modernize the home and light up the space. Popular fixture finishes include rubbed bronze, aged brass, matte black, and copper. Increased lighting is inviting, adds security, and wards off burglars, allowing buyers to subconsciously feel safer.

Tame your lawn. A lush, green lawn acts as a “red carpet” leading up to your front porch. An unruly patch of grass can overwhelm buyers and turn away visitors on Open House day, so keep it trimmed and tidy. Enhance the size of your yard by mowing a diagonal. To create this pattern, begin in the corner diagonally and walk toward the center. This will create elongated lines and appeals to buyers.


Optimize your space. If you have the space, add two chairs or a loveseat on the porch for an area to relax. An outdoor rug can tie it all together. Enhancing the front porch space will make the home appear larger and help buyers see added value.


Eco-Friendly Spring Gardening Tips


Eco-Friendly Spring Gardening Tips

The Pacific Northwest prides itself on maintaining our natural resources and keeping our lifestyles eco-friendly. According to the Planet Natural Research Center, 40-60% of nitrogen from fertilizer runoff ends up in ground and surface water. It’s important to read labels on chemicals and common lawn and garden fertilizer to create a safe and healthy home for your family. Here are our top chemical-free lawn and gardening tips for this Spring.

Want a Lush & Healthy Lawn?
Raise the blade on your mower 3 inches to allow for longer grass and reduce the stress on your lawn. Leave the lawn clippings to decompose as a natural fertilizer. This helps crowd out weeds and maintain moisture in the soil, keeping your lawn healthy. 

Ready to Plant Your Garden?
Become knowledgeable on your yard, notice where the afternoon shade lands and which areas have clay soil vs. rich mulch. Above ground garden beds are great alternatives for clay-rich soil. This advantage will determine the success of your plants and ensure longevity. The Portland Metro area’s last spring frost date falls around March 11th and the Seattle Metro area’s last frost falls after March 17th. Once frozen ground is no longer a threat, you can plant your starters in the garden.  

Alternatives to Roundup
Toxic weed killer is harmful to our water supply, crops, pests, and animals. Try safe alternatives like orange oil, a natural acid you can spot treat weeds with. Add one cup of orange oil to one gallon of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. This method is more efficient in a sprayer and strong enough to kill tough poison ivy. Vinegar is a great alternative, but you may need to look for a stronger version for weeds. Look for horticultural strength vinegar, with 10-20% acetic acid, this will make a much better impact on stubborn weeds than the kind we use on our salad. Be sure to wear gloves and protection from potent vinegar burns.  

Alternatives to Fertilizer
Corn gluten meal is often something people keep off their plate, but it doubles as a clean fertilizer to use on a yard with children and pets. This pre-emergent weed control can be used in a spreader with a ration of 20 pounds of corn gluten meal to every 1,000 square feet of yard with a spreader opening of 95%. Because it acts as a pre-emergent, make sure you start this process early in the spring, before weeds appear to keep them away. 

Build a Pollinator Garden
Now that your home is a safe, pesticide-free area for plants and animals, you can build a pollinator garden. This will attraction will create a welcoming environment for honey bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Start by planting effervescent lavender, vibrant hibiscus, low maintenance sunflowers, and zinnias. If you’re looking to add pollinators to help your vegetable garden bloom, try adding basil, oregano, mint, and garlic chives to the area.

Protect Your Pacific Northwest Home From Mold 

Protect Your Pacific Northwest Home From Mold

 With rainy and humid winters, its no secret Pacific Northwest homes are susceptible to mold and mildew growth. If left untreated, serious health issues like respiratory or sinus irritation can form from exposure.  

Three things you should monitor to protect your home from growing mold:

1) Temperature: Mold thrives in environments between 41°–100° Fahrenheit. 

2) Moisture: Our wet winters and drawn out, rainy spring can bring mold as well. Make sure to keep your home’s humidity levels between 30–60%. 

3) Food: Bacteria or splattered food particles that don’t get cleaned up run the risk of becoming common breeding grounds for mold. 

Combat and Clean Up Mold

Monitor high use areas in your home that see a lot of moisture or house water. Washing machines without floor drains can cause a buildup of moisture underneath from either leaks or overflow and cause water damage as well as mold. 

Remodeling your bathroom? Water-resistant drywall for a tile backer will likely degrade over time when being subjected to moisture repeatedly. Instead, use cement backer board for a long-lasting mold-free product. 

Bathrooms are high traffic mold areas, cut down on spores by using moisture-wicking shower curtains. This prevents the harboring of soap or bacteria, which acts as a food for mold growth. As a good rule, leave your bathroom fan on for at least 30 minutes after showering. 

Humidifier machines can help with allergens by keeping pollen at bay, but it can also hinder allergy sufferers by distributing mold growth. Make sure to clean and treat your machine with an antimicrobial solution often. If you don’t need a humidifier, use a dehumidifier to get your home back to the safe levels of 30-60%. 

Mold and mildew can be strong adversaries if you want to keep your home and air healthy, but they can be easily defeated by knowing which areas of your home to monitor. 


Article inspired by Better Homes & Gardens.

Top 4 Paint Colors of 2019

Top 4 Paint Colors of 2019


    1. Refresh your home with a revitalizing coat of the most popular paint colors of the year. Captivate a statement wall in the wanderlust palette of cavern clay’s naturescape or revive your living room with an enthusiastic pop of living coral on a statement chair. The top four U.S. paint companies share their colors of the year.



      1. Pantone’s color of the year gives a nod to nature with Living Coral. This vibrant swatch plays on the influence of our chromatic ecosystem. Tie in Pantone complexion shades like Rose Dawn, Coral Sands, Burnt Henna, and Candlelight Peach. Continue the tropical color scheme by combining warm Martini Olive, Twill, Forest Biome, or Mauvewood by Pantone.




      1. PPG’s paint color of 2019 seeks timelessness over trend. Designers are showing deep blues as a compliment to the upcoming roaring ’20s in design (for 2020). The roaring 20’s design features deep blues mixed with brass fixtures and rich velvet is on trend. This year features the dark hue Night Watch, accompany this mysterious hue with Magic Dust, Blue Willow, or a warm Horseradish.



      1. BEHR’s 2019 color of the year is Blueprint, reminiscent of the night watch shade. This universal blue compliments earth tones like Mars Red, Kindling, and jewel tones like Ecological, Rasin’ in the Sun, and Vine Leaf.



    1. Sherwin-Williams paint collection color of the year features Cavern Clay. This tone is a bite of bohemian and has the liveliness of nature in a Southwestern desert landscape. The color experts suggest pairing with paint colors like Origami White, Moth Wing, or Dark Clove. A great trend with the Southwestern theme is an accent wall in Cavern Clay with stacked textiles either in rugs or throw pillows.

Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes this Winter


Our weather in the Northwest can wreak havoc on our homes and water pipes. The last thing you want to invite into your home for the holidays is a plumbing emergency. Take these steps to prevent a costly frozen pipe disaster. 

Outdoor plumbing tips

• Close all foundation vents and fill the vents with styrofoam blocks or wood to prevent cold wind from reaching unprotected pipes. 

• Disconnect garden hoses and be sure to drain all in-ground irrigation systems. 

• Cover outside faucets or hose bibs with insulation. Use molded foam insulation covers, newspaper, or rags and wrap in plastic. 

Indoor plumbing protection

• Check your attic, crawl space, basement and other non-heated areas to insulate and protect. 

• Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and in your bathrooms to allow plumbing to gain more heat from your home. 

• If you’re planning on heading out of town, put your furnace on a low setting to help prevent freezing pipes by keeping the temperature of the home slightly elevated. 

• When temperatures drop below freezing, use a slow drip of cold water to keep your faucet from freezing. 

What to do if pipes freeze

When a pipe freezes it can cause a buildup of pressure inside the pipe, causing it to burst and leak. Safely thaw plumbing lines with a carefully monitored heat lamp, hot wash cloth, or common hair dryer. When thawed, leave a small amount of water dripping to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

What to do if pipes break

• Shut off the main water line to prevent additional water from damaging your home. Open the faucets to relieve any remaining pressure.

• Turn off the water heater and shut-off the valve on the cold-water inlet. 

• If there is any water damage to the area, be sure to clean quickly to prevent mold. 

• Call a professional plumber to repair the issue.

‘Tis the Season to Sell Your Home


Winter is a time for rest and relaxation, but it’s also the most wonderful time of the year to sell a home before the competitive spring market picks up. These tips explain how to take advantage of the holiday shuffle and expose your home to more interested buyers for a quick turnaround.

Illuminate Interested Buyers
Classic soft white holiday lights will attract interested buyers and make any home look and feel timeless. With daylight savings creating dark showings, there is no better way to put your home on center stage than to brighten up the street with the warmth of your home wearing a layer of soft lights.

New Year, New Home
The winter rush brings good tidings and inspiration for new beginnings. Buyers anticipate being settled in their new home by Christmas, if not by the New Year. Work on decluttering and having minimal decorations to ensure buyers can envision their future holidays and their own decor in the home. Having an overabundance of holiday ornamentation or family photos can hinder that vision. Many families face job relocation at the beginning of the year, having your home on the market now ensures you can capture newly transferred employees as your audience.

Time Stops for House Hunters
This time of year, casual window shoppers are at the mall instead of strolling through homes they’ll never buy. Serious buyers take advantage of time off work and are usually willing to work around their house hunting schedule.

Tax Benefits
Shopping discounts bring benefits to the housing market too. Consult your tax advisor to learn more about tax benefits for buyers and sellers who close on a property before the end of the year.

Ask your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate broker about the many ways you can market your home with minimal disruptions during the holiday season.

Top 2018 Design Trends We’re Thankful For


The modern home is always evolving. Here are top 8 design trends we are thankful for in 2018.

A Pop of Color

Adding a pop of color in the kitchen allows for a featured item to be accented in a creative way without spending a lot of money. Try painting your island or lower cabinets a bright color. We’re thankful for this trend bringing a bit of a personal touch to any kitchen.


Hidden Appliances

Magic appliances are a new trend catching on to new homebuilders and designers. Homeowners are hiding ‘stainless steel fatigue’ with wood paneling to conceal large appliances. With these eye sores out of view, the space looks and feels larger. Imagine how clean your kitchen would look as you cook a Thanksgiving feast using your disappearing appliances.



A large piece of furniture featuring soft lines, ruffles, and even ruching creates an inviting space while allowing family to gather and fit harmoniously in one space.



Wallpaper has made a big comeback! High-end designers are picking this trend up and embracing it unlike ever before, by creating beautiful statement walls. You won’t see this artsy trend going out of style anytime soon.


Dining Rooms with an Open Floor Plan

Create an open floor plan dining room to instill an impactful sense of togetherness that flows through the space from kitchen to table and allows you to spend more time with family.


LED Lighting

With a new holiday season comes new advancements in tech gear. We’re thankful for the smart technology featuring LED tape lighting. Place a strip under your kitchen cabinets to illuminate your backsplash, counter tops, or to highlight your favorite kitchen gadgets.


Large Tiles

Make a statement with flooring in your bathroom, kitchen, entry-way and more! Play with intricate tile design playing with the lines of the room.


Detailed Ceilings

Creative ceiling designs can range from new crown molding, natural wood or stained shiplap, gold leaf detailing, and metallic painted ceilings. Discuss with an interior designer to find out which element would best complement the style of your home.



Article courtesy of HGTV. com

Images courtesy of

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