Tag Archives: Spring

Window Boxes

Window Boxes

A Year Round Gardening Affair

Few features impact a home’s curb appeal like beautiful window boxes overflowing with vibrant, seasonal colors. For centuries, window boxes have been ubiquitous in European villages, adding exterior charm and warmth to all forms of architecture. Window boxes eventually traveled to America with Colonial settlers, and today we add them to our homes as exterior adornments and added layers of information on our primary facades.

To successfully complement the architecture and complete the look of home, it is important that the window box is scaled properly. For visual appeal, we recommend that the box extends the full length of the window from the outer edge of the casing. This effectively “anchors” the window. A window box that is too short will look awkward and out of place with the home’s aesthetic. Another important consideration is the material from which the casing is made. We typically use Azek, which looks and feels like real wood, but is weather resistant and will not peel or rot in the elements. Additionally, it can easily withstand the weight of heavy potting soil so will not sag or bend and is essentially maintenance free.

Window boxes soften a home’s hard architectural edges and help celebrate each season with splashes of color. We encourage homeowners to update planting material every few months to highlight the changing moods and temperatures of the year. There are several excellent landscape design companies with whom we partner and Donaroma’s on Martha’s Vineyard is our favorite island resource. We recently talked with Donaroma’s designer Cammie Naylor about window box ideas for clients on the island. Ms. Naylor describes window boxes as “a constant theater,” and an opportunity to add bright punctuation points to a home’s exterior throughout the year. She and the designers at Donaroma’s take several factors into consideration when creating a homeowner’s window box design. Among others, these factor including season, sun exposure, and the homeowner’s personal taste.

As we welcome spring, flowers like daffodils, tulips and pansies are favorites – their bright, recognizable forms and colors instantly announce the season’s arrival. In the warmer days of summer – roughly Memorial Day through Labor Day – classic, crimson geraniums are an island favorite as they love the heat and are relatively drought tolerant. The seasons of fall and winter offer additional opportunities to freshen and update window boxes with mums and kale in the fall and small evergreens and pine bows during the holidays. No matter what time of year, Ms. Naylor recommends keeping the planting elements from 3-4 to ensure visual balance of the window box, stating, “it calms the eye to see symmetry and repetition.”

We all appreciate viewing a home with stunning window box displays, but the fact is, it takes care and consistent watering to keep them beautiful. Many of our homes feature both first and second floor window boxes, so we recommend our clients consider adding an automatic “drip” watering system (pictured below). Water ascends from a hidden, clear tube (or copper covered) that snakes up the side of the house and works on a timer from the home’s irrigation system. Using a self water system effectively ensures the window boxes are watered consistently during the busy days of spring and summer.

Hats off to the glorious window box, which provides year-round curb appeal, creative expression and architectural enhancement.

Happy planting!

Spring (Cleaning) is in the Air Part 2

Spring (Cleaning) is in the Air Part 2

A Streamlined Refresh for Exteriors

Last week, we shared strategies for making interior spring cleaning tasks a bit less daunting. Today, we continue the theme of manageable cleaning tactics – this time for the home’s exterior. As mentioned, most people feel happier and more balanced when living in organized, clean spaces and this idea extends to a home’s exterior. During the winter months, many outside areas of a home are neglected or inaccessible. Understandably, no one wants to clean window screens or gutters in the freezing cold. So, now is the time to take on these projects and create an outdoor living space that feels refreshed, inspired and organized. This will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, it will provide an inviting environment for your family to enjoy in the months ahead.

 

Surrounding Property

  • Inspect driveway and walking areas for freezing/thawing damage
  • Check pergolas and fences for needed repairs
  • Clean and fill flowerboxes
  • Add potted plants to entry and outdoor living spaces
  • Add new candles to hurricanes and lanterns
  • Make a list of anything you need additional help with

Home’s Exterior

  • Remove window screens and clean with vacuum brush (alternately, spray down with garden hose)
  • Clean windows inside and out; best to do on a cloudy day
  • Clean gutters and downspouts as the first defense against costly water damage (may require professional help)
  • Clean exterior woodwork and make any paint/stain touch ups
  • Clean accumulated grime from outside of garage doors
  • Clean outdoor lighting; replace bulbs if needed
  • Schedule roof maintenance

Deck, Porch, & Patio Areas

  • Clear away cobwebs from corners and ceilings
  • Inspect wood for signs of decay and make any needed repairs
  • Power wash deck and porch
  • Apply a coat of sealer to deck
  • Wash bluestone to remove debris or mold
  • Clean outdoor furniture (if stored, brush away dust and cobwebs; if left outside, spray down with garden hose)
  • Clean or replace furniture cushions
  • Wash grill grates (be aware of the dangers of wire grill brushes! Here is a link to other options); if gas, refill propane
Once you feel satisfied, sit down and admire the day(s)’s accomplishments. Before long, it will be warm enough to entertain outside and enjoy your home’s beautiful outdoor living spaces. You are ready.

Spring (Cleaning) is in the Air

Spring (Cleaning) is in the Air

A Streamlined Refresh for Interiors

Yesterday marked the first, official day of spring. Longer days and melting ice spark joyful anticipation here in New England. The change of seasons also means it is time to think about spring cleaning. People feel happier and more balanced when living in clean, organized space. But, we know for many, spring cleaning can be a daunting task. To make it less formidable, we will break it down into manageable steps. This week, we’ll focus on your home’s interior and provide a specific list of areas on which to focus. First we’ll include tasks for refreshing the home overall, and then we’ll break it down further by rooms. So don’t feel overwhelmed- you’ve got this. Put on your favorite music and before you know it, the yard will be blooming, windows will be open and your home will be sparkling.

Refresh throughout the home

  • Wipe down doors and trim work
  • Clean interior and exterior windows – let the light in
  • Spot clean walls and touch up any scuffed paint
  • Clean and treat floorboards- especially if you’ve had wet pets in and out all winter
  • Clean ceiling fans and light fixtures

Entryway and mudroom closet

  • Store your winter gear including snow boots, heavy jackets, hats and gloves – if it wasn’t worn this winter, consider donating
  • Thoroughly vacuum closet floor and re-organize any storage bins
  • Corral small items into baskets

Kitchen

  • Empty the refrigerator and throw out expired food. Wash drawers and shelving with warm, soapy water
  • Purge the pantry and clean all shelves and drawers. Forgotten crumbs can attract unwelcome visitors like ants and pantry moths
  • Remove all appliances from counter and clean behind each one
  • Remove build-up on kitchen cabinets – try Parker & Bailey Cabinet Cream or something similar
  • Polish stainless steel appliances – always with the grain
  • Deep clean microwave and dishwasher; be sure there is no trapped food
  • Check countertops to see if they need of sealer (stone) or catalytic finish (wood)

Living room and dining area

  • Deep clean rugs and upholstered seating
  • Remove all books and displays from shelving and clean
  • Polish silver
  • Add fresh flowers to dining table

Bedrooms

  • Purge closets of winter clothes, shoes and accessories – consider donating items not worn by family members
  • Remove heavy winter blankets from bed and change to lighter linens
  • Flip all mattresses

Bathrooms

  • Change shower curtains
  • Purge worn towels or bath mats
  • Organize vanity – dispose of expired medications and cosmetics
  • Clean tiled areas and check grout for discoloration
  • Clean mirror thoroughly
When you have finished, sit down and relax. You’re almost there. Next week we will focus on spring cleaning for outdoor living spaces. Soon you and your family will be enjoying a streamlined, sparkling, clutter-free season.