Blog :: 2015

It's All About the Journey ... Fireplaces - Cozy and Cost Effective

What’s more comforting than sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night? Fireplaces can instantly change the mood of a room, making it more cozy and romantic , and as a bonus may also give an extra source of heat. There are lots of choices to provide the glowing warmth of a fire, some that don’t require a chimney or flu.

Now that I’ve “sparked†your interest, let’s take a look at the broad category of indoor fireplaces.

 

WOOD BURNING

open hearth fireplace Traditional Open Hearth Typically made of stone or brick, these types of fireplaces have existed for centuries. You can feel the heat, smell the wood burning and hear it crackling. They are not as effective at heating the room as some of the more modern varieties. Also, if you don’t already have a fireplace, it will require a fair amount of construction to put in the opening and chimney for proper venting.

Enclosed Fireplaces enclosed fireplace These indoor fireplaces feature a large glass panel to view the fire as it burns. You have less heat escaping up the chimney and more entering the room. Enclosed fireplaces provide more warmth while still having the ambience of a wood burning fire.

fireplace insert Fireplace Inserts These are inserts that fit into your existing fireplace opening. They are enclosed, enabling you to easily turn an inefficient open hearth heating system in to one that is more fuel efficient.

Wood Burning Stoves wood burning stove Although not technically a fireplace, wood burning stoves are an alternative to burn wood for heating without needing a fireplace. It will, however, require a pipe to vent the smoke through the chimney to the outside. You will also need to install a noncombustible floor pad and wall surrounds.

pellet stove Pellet Stoves pellets for pellet stove

These stoves are generally small, and the bags of pellets are inexpensive and come in quantities that are about the size of a mulch bag, making them easy to store. They're also easy to operate; they on­ly require loading pellets and igniting the flame. Because the fire is contained in a heat box there is a minimum of smoke, which lessens the smell in your home and prevents the outside of the unit from heating up. Wood pellets are made from recycled materials and are heavily compressed, which reduces the moisture content. Dry fuel creates more heat, causing the pellets to burn hotter and cleaner than their wood counterparts. A word of caution - these stoves run on electricity, so if your power goes out, so does your stove.

 

GAS

direct vented gas fireplace Direct-Vented Built-in Fireplaces This gas fireplace can be vented through an existing or newly construction chimney or you can alternatively use a pipe to eliminate more costly changes in the house’s structure.

Ventless Built-in Fireplaces ventless gas fireplace Ventless built-in indoor fireplaces are the simplest to install as there is no need for a chimney or vent. However, though every effort is made to make it clean burning, it is possible that some contaminates from the gas will enter your home without a vented system.

 

ETHANOL

ethanol fireplace Fireplace Conversion If you have an existing fireplace, you can get an ethanol burning insert that will slide right in. Depending on your preference, there are options for a more traditional or modern appearance.

Wall mounted Fireplaces wall mounted fireplace 2 With this style, you can actually hang your fireplace on any wall that you choose, making it double as a heating source or a centerpiece of a room.

 

ELECTRIC

electric fireplace

Electric fireplaces are the most cost effective option on the market. They are easy to install and require no ventilation. Another added benefit - most allow you to turn the heating function on or off while maintaining the ambiance of a fireplace. Available in a traditional mantel surround or built within a media cabinet, they can be operated by remote control and some have different varieties of fire effects.

Doesn’t it sound nice to grab a glass of wine, curl up with a blanket and sit by the fire? With all the options out there, it’s possible for everyone to enjoy!

It's All About The Journey ... The Dining Room ? Back to the Future

formal dining room dining room transitional informal

Dining Rooms appear to have taken a back seat and have been looked at as a formal space that only gets used once or twice a year, so are they really that important? From my experience, buyers are usually looking for a separate dining room-whether it’s a formal or more informal space. There’s an appeal to having the option of hosting a family holiday or dinner party an intimate setting with the knowledge that this room may not get year round use. According to one real estate agent, “The issue of where to put the dining table kills more deals than anything else in real estate. If a family is moving, the dining table is the one thing they say they can’t part with.â€

Formal Dining Room with Round Table

In today’s world where everyone is busy and having ANYTHING ready to eat is a major accomplishment, is a separate space allocated only for dining really practical? Well actually it’s that very reason to give Dining Rooms their props! To have a place to retreat after a long day and be able to close the door on the “dirty dishes†(if only temporarily) gives people a chance to sit down, forget about the stresses of the day and reconnect over dinner. Many people also grew up in houses with separate dining rooms so when it comes time to buy, they might want a piece of home that reminds them of their childhood. Also most new construction features open floor plans and there’s a pent-up desire for a home with separate dining rooms and kitchens.

family dininmg

Does that mean the open floor plan is a thing of the past? Absolutely not. Buyers still like an open feeling and gathering spaces that flow from one room to another. It can all depend on the size of the home. If you have limited space, the dining room can sometimes be the first thing to go because it is not a room that is used every day. If you’re an empty-

+3nester you might not want to see a house with a dining room at all because the honor of hosting holidays can be passed down to the next generation! Another option if you find you are using the Dining Room less and less is to re-purpose, until the need arises to entertain more often. Perhaps a playroom for young children or a home office would better suit your immediate needs.

dining Room repurposed as library Dining room as Craft room

The concept of separate spaces for cooking and eating is proving so attractive that architects are concocting twists on the idea, among them what they call hybrid kitchens, which can be open or closed using pocket doors. In essence, what research has shown is that people want a little of both. The cook might not want the chaos of cooking and serving around a bunch of people in one room, yet they still want to be in touch with what’s happening around them.

Dining Room with pocket doors Dining Room with Barn Doors

 

So if you were thinking the Dining Room is a dinosaur of days gone by, think again. Buyers are going back to the future on this one!

It?s All About the Journey ? Loving Your Living Room

Living in the Northeast we tend towards the “traditional†when it comes to our homes. One of the most traditional spaces you’ll find is the “formal†Living Room, usually located close to the Front Door. This area is where so much of our home life happens … or not.

There are tons of ideas of how to use this space to fit your lifestyle whether it’s lounging, storing, playing, entertaining or re-purposing because you have other space you use more frequently. No matter what the case, you should create a space that you love spending time in, but will also resonate with buyers down the road.

LR2

Depending on your home layout, your living room can serve many functions. If you have a separate family room, the living room is often a formal sitting area or parlor used for reading, relaxing and entertaining guests. If it’s the only living space you have, it’s also used for watching TV, playing games and spending time with family and friends. Regardless of its purpose, any good space has comfortable seating, a coffee table and a focal point such as a fireplace, entertainment center or picture window offering a view of the outside world.

lr5 Mandarin_Oriental_Miami_Mandarin_Suite_living_room

If your living room is your primary gathering area it will most likely serve several purposes. Here are some things to think about - it’s important to incorporate plenty of storage to accommodate all of your “goodiesâ€. Options range from built-in bookshelves and cabinets to freestanding, decorative pieces. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and infuse the space with your personality through color, rugs, artwork, curtains & lighting. Just keep in mind that when it’s time to sell, neutral works best so colorful accessories may be the way to go instead of flashy paint colors.

lr tree1

If the majority of your time is spent in a separate Family Room the question of how to use the “formal†living room often arises. Here are some of the most popular ideas:

* Move your Dining Room into your Living Room. If you entertain large groups of people, this will allow you to open your table a little more and often times take advantage of a fireplace or pretty view, while enjoying friends and family over a holiday or celebratory meal. If that leaves you with a smaller, unused Dining Room – you can turn that into a cozy office or library.

  • living room as dining room
  • An at-home office, especially if you are one of the many people who now telecommute. Since this space is usually separate from the rest of the house it can offer some peace & quiet and make for ideal working conditions. The addition of French doors can give it a feeling of privacy.

  • living room as office
  • Along the same lines as an office, a library or reading area is a popular choice. This would be easy to set up, especially if you already have furniture. You can arrange it as cozy reading groups and then if you need the room for company, shift the furniture back for entertaining.

  • living room as library
  • Other ideas include a gym, a separate playroom for younger children, a billiard or game room, craft room, music room, theatre room, adult “lounge†with a bar set up – let your imagination run wild.

living room as playroom living room as music room

Any of these options are good at suggesting alternatives for potential buyers. This will help them envision the increased options for the use of this space and not struggle with the thought of paying for a room they’ll never really use.

However you decide to utilize this space, here are some tricks to get the most out of it:

Decorate with mirrors, strategically placed to make a small room feel larger and to help reflect light and add ambiance.

living room mirror

  • Draw the eye upward to show off the room’s vertical dimension as well as the horizontal. Floor-to-ceiling drapes, special moldings or a grouping of small to midsize artwork invite the eye to roam beyond the eye-level horizontal space

  • living room coffered ceiling

  • Use neutral colors on floors, walls and ceilings. Soft hues tend to illuminate a room by reflecting light and will add instant sophistication plus create a calming environment.

cape lr living room neutral colors

No matter how you use your space, here’s a chance to rekindle your Living Room love.

It's All About The Journey ... Thanksgiving ? Time for Turkey, Stuffing and?Staging

Geri Turkey

Everyone wants a home where your guests feel welcome, relaxed and right at home. You know you’re successful in creating a welcoming atmosphere if you end up with a house guest that never wants to leave! You may dread that situation as a host, but as a seller you hope a buyer not only wants to spend more time in your home but can envision themselves living there.

Selling during the holidays provides a perfect opportunity for potential buyers to see your home as their future gathering spot! Here are a few Thanksgiving decorating tips that will have buyers gobbling up your home. (Yes, I went there)

 

Set the Table (this may be the only time of year this suggestion makes sense)

thanksgiving table

Let your buyers’ picture themselves sitting at a beautifully set table and enjoying the ambiance of the holiday. This shows your home’s potential for entertaining which is sometimes hard for buyers to envision. Bring out the fine china, linens and pretty serving pieces. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, this will also give you a head start in preparation for Turkey Day!

Less Is More…Usually

thanksgiving fireplace

Thanksgiving is a holiday where most people overindulge. As Jay Leno quipped, “You know you ate too much for Thanksgiving when you have to let your bathrobe outâ€. During holiday selling season, you have a little more leeway to display family items, decorations and photos that are normally put away in a staging scenario. People tend to feel nostalgic for family at this time of year and a few of these items can make your home feel cozy and inviting.

A “Peel†to the Senses

thanksgiving simmer pot

Simmer pots are one of the easiest ways to make your home smell amazing. Just fill a saucepan with water, bring to a boil then add your favorite autumn scented ingredients. Allow to simmer gently on the stove top, topping up the water when needed. Soon the scent will fill your entire house. Don’t have time to keep an eye on the stove? Bake a pie or cookies - even "slice and bake" will do or the oldest trick around is to put a dab of vanilla or almond extract on a lightbulb-the scent will be heated when the light is on and will permeate throughout the house. Word of caution - it's easy to overstep the line on this one.

Nature’s bounty

fall fruit2

Seasonal fruits can make beautiful and inexpensive decorations. Fill a bowl with green apples, mason jars with cranberries, or create a centerpiece of nicely arranged gourds.

 

Everyone is busy at this time of year, especially holiday home sellers. By using a few simple tips your buyers will walk away with a good feeling about your home and you’ll be thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's all about the Journey ... Step up the look of the Staircase

The stairs may be the last place a homeowner thinks about updating. But stairs often dominate the landscape, and updating them can bring a fresh and modern perspective to your home. A few changes can take your staircase from drab to fab!

Remove the Carpet or Add a Runnercarpet coming off stairs

custom-cream-carpet-stair-runner

Since stairs are used so much, the carpet can look dingy and worn. Replace the carpet with hardwood or even new, updated carpet in a neutral palette. If the hardwood is in good shape but you like the look of carpet, adding a runner can provide an instant update.

 

Paint the Stairs

painted stairs

If you take the carpet off and don't like what you see underneath, paint the stairs in a fun color to coordinate with the rest of your entry. If it’s the main foyer be careful to use a color that will be appealing to a wide variety of buyers.

 

Paint the Risers

painted risers

If you want to keep your treads in natural hardwood, it is easy to add some color or design by just concentrating on the risers. A coat of white paint refreshes scuffed risers. Adding a color can make a bold statement. (Think strategically, your goal is to sell the house, so the same rules apply to painting risers as painting the entire staircase).

 

Update the Balusters (the spindles that come down from the railing to the floor) or Stain the Handrail a Darker Shade

Iron_baluster_before_and_after

dark stained handrail

Change the baluster or handrail if you have a bigger budget. If you don’t, a little sweat equity goes a long way. Consider staining an oak railing a darker color to give it a fresh clean look. If you have oak balusters, painting them white can contrast nicely with a dark stained handrail and take your staircase out of the 1980’s and into 2015.

 

Add a Newel Post

newell post

Adding an architectural element can create interest on a lackluster staircase.

 

Decorate the Wall in the Staircase with Artwork

solid color frames

Change outdated, mismatched frames and move them into modern frames in a uniform color and pattern.

 

Add Decorative Molding

molding staircase

Wainscoting adds a classic, timeless element to your stairway. Raised or flat panels going up the stair wall and underneath can add visual interest to an otherwise overlooked area. If your budget is tight, adding trim molding imitates the look of raised panels for a lot less money.

 

Take a look at your staircase with a fresh pair of eyes. Doing some of these improvements can have a dramatic effect on modernizing the entire foyer and adding a welcoming vibe to your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since stairs are used so much, the carpet can look dingy and worn. Replace the carpet with hardwood or even new, updated carpet in a neutral palette. If the hardwood is in good shape but you like the look of carpet, adding a runner can provide an instant update.

Paint the stairs.

If you take the carpet off and don't like what you see underneath, paint the stairs in a fun color to coordinate with the rest of your entry. If it’s the main foyer be careful to use a color that will be appealing to a wide variety of buyers.

Paint the risers.

If you want to keep your treads in natural hardwood, it is easy to add some color or design by just concentrating on the risers. A fresh coat of white paint refreshes scuffed risers. Adding a color can make a bold statement. (Think strategically, your goal is to sell the house, so the same rules apply to painting risers as painting the entire staircase).

Update the handrail.

Change the baluster or handrail if you have a bigger budget. If you don’t, a little sweat equity goes a long way. Consider staining an oak railing a darker color to give it a fresh clean look. If you have oak spindles, painting them white can contrast nicely with a dark stained handrail and take your staircase out of the 1980’s and into 2015.

Add a decorative ornament to the newel post.

Adding an architectural element can create interest on a lackluster staircase.

Decorate the wall above the stairs with new artwork.

Change outdated, mismatched frames and move them into modern frames in a uniform color.

Add wainscoting.

Wainscoting adds a classic, timeless element to your stairway. Raised or flat panels going up the stair wall and underneath can add visual interest to an otherwise overlooked area. If your budget is tight, adding trim molding imitates the look of raised panels for a lot less money.

Take a look at your staircase with a fresh pair of eyes. Doing some of these improvements can have a dramatic effect on modernizing the entire foyer.

 

 

 

It's All About The Journey ... Come In From The Cold!

76 Quarry Entry

Entryways and foyers create a transition from outside elements to the inner warmth of your home. You want buyers to feel welcome, comfortable and intrigued to see more. Don’t underestimate the importance of creating a welcoming entry.

Try these easy ideas to add vibrancy to your vestibule or fizz to your foyer and buyers will feel right at home!

 

Let there be Light

foyer lighting

For overhead lighting, suspend a pendant or a chandelier high enough so that the tallest person you can imagine won’t hit their head. Hanging it much higher loses its visual effect and if you hang it much lower it could cut off someone's head.

A table lamp also casts a soft glow that blankets your space just enough for you to function without causing a harsh glare. Keep the base slim so the lamp doesn’t feel overwhelming, especially on a slender console table.

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

foyer mirror

A mirror helps create the illusion of extra space. Make sure that it is in proportion to the dimensions of the foyer.

A mirror also reflects light and can bring the sun into a darker hallway. If you follow Feng Shui, do not place a mirror directly opposite the front door as this would send the Chi or energy in the home right back out.

 

Nook Look

foyer seating

If you have a little nook in the foyer, tuck in a table and a chair (or even just a chair) to give it a cozier feel.

Give the chair a pop of color by covering it with fabric in a lively pattern or a small pillow. This also provides a spot for people to remove shows in inclement weather.

 

Shut the Front Door

foyer door

Front doors make an impact on the outside and inside of your home. Consider painting the interior of the door a color that coordinates with the accessories in your foyer.

Ensure the door can open fully without encumbrances behind it.

 

Keep it Simple

foyer no clutter

An outdoor mat keeps the entry free from debris. Once inside, the foyer should be simple, neat and organized. An area rug can be added to warm up the space in colder months. Keys, coins, mail, shoes etc. should be organized and stored out of sight. A cluttered, messy entry is a big turn-off to buyers.

 

Which way do I go?

foyer runner

No one likes to enter a space and be confused where to go next. Consider a runner or artwork on the walls to cause the eye to go in the direction you want buyers to go.

 

Bring the Outdoors In

foyer plants

A potted plant, or a vase filled with fresh flowers brings life to the space. Make sure they are well-tended. Replace flowers before they become wilted and ensure your plants have adequate sunlight and water.

 

Follow these tips and buyers will feel welcome, relaxed and excited to continue the tour of your home.

Call me to find out how to get buyers to your front door!

It?s All About The Journey ? Making a Good 1st Impression

When we say “tis the season†people think of holiday festivities and celebrations around a roaring fire. Most people don’t think of the late fall and winter as the best season to sell a home, but if you have a “winter strategy†in place, it’s possible to sell your home at a price as good as you’d get in the warmer months.

People whose homes are on the market during the colder months are usually serious home sellers and likewise people out looking for homes during the winter are serious buyers. Also, if you are thinking of selling your home in the spring market, its’ important to understand “spring†in real estate time begins in mid-January through March.

Though the lack of color in the landscape at this time of year can be a challenge, there are tactics to create inviting curb appeal during the chilliest and snowiest of seasons. (Does anyone even want to remember last winter? That sends a chill down my spine!)

Here are some tips to make the outside of your home more appealing during the colder months that buyers will immediately appreciate!

mums fall planter

Keep your planters “in seasonâ€by the door. During the fall season consider pots of vibrant mums. As winter approaches, a touch of green goes a long way on a dreary winter day.

winter planter winter window box

cleaning gutters

Clean gutters, and make sure there are no places ice dams can develop. You want to demonstrate you are meticulous about maintenance and there will be no surprise repair issues during the spring thaw.

raking leaves

Keep leaves raked and piles away from walkways and driveways. A fall cleanup is always in order. Besides raking leaves this can include trimming bushes, seasonal plants and low lying tree limbs. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you abandon your lawn care including patching brown spots in the grass.

camelia winter hazel blue holly

Keep a Fall Garden. As your summer plants start to fade, replace them with fabulous flowering winter plants like Camelia, Winter Hazel or Blue Holly. If you don’t want to plant, use structural elements in the garden for winter interest. Large urns and planters, benches, rock walls and other garden structures will help buyers see the potential even in the snow.

doors

Paint the front door. Splash your entry door with bold color to brighten the façade. This makes your home look fresh and clean. Pick a semi-gloss exterior paint and don’t apply below 40 degrees.

front landscape6.33 front landscape2.23

Take pictures on a nice day Skies can be cloudy or bright but when it’s time to take pictures, a beautiful sunny day with blue sky and clean white snow makes your home look more attractive.

winter front porch lighted entry trees lighted planters winter porch2

Stage it outside Tasteful winter decorations and can make your home seem welcoming. Pick items that will appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Blow up snow globes and giant Santa’s probably don’t fit into this category. Consider understated, tasteful holiday lighting which can help light up walkways and increase security. For protected front porches and screened-in porches, keep the area fully furnished, turn on outdoor lights, and drape thick throws over the outdoor furniture. Patios and decks are also good areas to stage, especially with bright furniture and outdoor fireplaces.

snow covered chairs winter outdoor fireplace

Clear all snow off the driveway and walk. Even though this seems obvious, don’t forget about pathways around the property, as well as those leading to the front door. Potential buyers will want to walk out on your deck and around the back & sides of your home. Make sure the path to the lockbox is clear. Prospective buyers and real estate agents don’t want to tromp through feet of snow before entering your home. (And you don’t want the clean-up either). If shoveling on your own is a health concern, hire a service and make sure there are no patches of ice. It’s important that prospective buyers can get to and around your home safely.

shoveled driveway shoveled walkway

Paint your Mailbox It may be a fresh coat of paint or a mailbox of many colors, but it’s a detail that shows you care about your property. Make sure not to paint over house numbers that could impede postal service delivery.

mailboxes

Following these fall and winter strategy tips, will assure your house won’t be left out in the cold in any season!

It's All About The Journey ... Fall Back and Get Ahead of Winter

end of daylight savings time

Now that daylight savings is coming to an end, it’s a great time to go through the following checklist to make sure your home is ready for winter. You can refer back to this guide for yearly fall maintenance.

 

Put Away Outside Furniture, Planters, Garden Hoses, Etc.

covered lawn furniture

If you haven’t done so already, clean your outdoor furniture and accessories and store them away for winter. It makes set up time in the spring go much faster!

 

Clean the Gutters

cleaning gutters

Gutters carry rainwater from your roof down the side of your home and away from the foundation. When gutters get filled with leaves and other debris, the water has nowhere to escape. If it backlogs, you could end up with water inside your home which can create mold, or worse. If it freezes and icicles form on the gutters or along the roofline, this is a sign you may have ice damming, a problem many Northeasterner’s experienced last winter. This creates a nightmare you really don’t want to deal with!

 

Rake or Blow Leaves From the Property

raking leaves

Be mindful to clear all drains around and in front of your house, so they are free of debris and drain properly.

Have the Furnace and Generator Serviced

furnacetools generator

Have your heating system inspected by a professional. It may not be too late to avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task soon, before the heating season is full swing. In addition, don’t forget to change your filters if you have a hot air system. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can seriously increase your utility bills. If you have a hot water system, you may want to bleed your radiators to get the highest efficiency.

If you have a gas run generator, check the tank and make sure you have fuel for the winter. You should also run the generator to make sure it's in good operating condition-you don't want this to fail when the power's out!

 

Winterize Your Sprinkler System and Outside Water Lines

water system winterization

Take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems don't freeze and burst by draining them of water before the first freeze.

Here’s how to drain faucets: Close any shut-off water valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line of any water in the system. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.)

 

Check the Roof

roof inspection

Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters. Check shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating.

 

Replace Bulbs In Outside Lights

outside lights

It’s dark for 12 hours a day this time of year. Make sure your lights are up for the challenge!

 

Replace Batteries In Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

smoke detector batteries

Connecticut law requires a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home as well as a carbon monoxide monitor on every floor of your home. Make sure to test and replace the batteries to ensure everything is in working order.

 

Fix Broken Window Seals and Check For Drafts

drafty window caulk window weather stripping

A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

Get the Chimney Cleaned

chimney sweep

Have a professional clean and examine your chimney for any cracks, creosote buildup or necessary repairs. This applies to fireplaces as well as furnaces.

 

Fire Extinguishers

fire extinguisher

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label).

 

Tree & Shrubs

tree trimming protected trees

Have your trees inspected and call the power company to inform them of any limbs that may interfere with power lines, (they will come & determine if they need to be cut - usually for no charge). Check for weak or dead limbs that can break from freezing temperatures or heavy snow and cause damage to household structures. Now is also a good time for fall landscape maintenance-make sure shrubs and plantings do not block walkways & driveways when the snow starts to accumulate. You want to have good access to your house & entryways. You can also cover delicate plantings to protect them from harsh winter weather.

There may be additional items specific to your home, but following this list will give you a good start and help protect your home from most common costly repairs that result from New England winter weather.

If your home is on the market or coming on during the season, check off these items and home buyers will keep you on their list.

It's All About The Journey ... Wonderful Westover!

Westover residents enjoy the best of both worlds – the beauty of the “country†with the neighborhood’s private, natural setting; and all the benefits of city living because of its close proximity to vibrant downtown, all forms of commuting, shopping, schools and entertainment. There are also two beautiful parks in this quiet corner of Stamford; one for history buffs that includes a “secret garden†and the other for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the unspoiled beauty of nature.

fort stamford plaque

Let’s start with a little bit of history. Fort Stamford, located on Westover Road, held historical significance during the Revolutionary War. Stamford was lucky enough not to be invaded by the British army as many neighboring towns were, but the threat of invasion was something feared by many Stamford citizens. In the fall of 1781, a Fort was built by the State to protect the Stamford-Greenwich area from British Loyalists or “Tories, and was completed in December 1781. General David Waterbury oversaw the construction of the 135 foot by 165 foot Fort that was manned by three hundred men. Thankfully, the need for the Fort did not last very long. Less than 1 year after its construction, in November of 1782, the preliminary articles of the Treaty of Peace were signed and on September 3, 1783, the formal treaty was signed ending the Revolutionary War.

fort stamford1

Since 1783, the Fort Stamford land was owned by private residents. After the death of the last private owner, Augusta Goodbody, there was concern over the property's fate and in 1972 the Stamford Board of Representatives approved the purchase of the property. In 1975 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

fort stamford2 fort stamford garden

Today, Fort Stamford is a quiet, beautiful park with a secret garden named the “Goodbody Gardenâ€, maintained by the Stamford Garden Club. Over 30 gardeners spend approximately 280 volunteer hours from March through November every season. The garden is resplendent in annuals and perennials and a lovely spot for a picnic, quiet reflection or a stroll around the grounds and serves as a beautiful wedding backdrop.

The more well-known park in Westover is Mianus River Park,- 300+ acres of mature forest and dramatic landscape with acreage divided between the towns of Stamford and Greenwich. The Mianus River Park is enhanced by the beauty of the 20 mile long Mianus River. The River flows south-southeast from Bedford, New York over a dam in Cos Cob Harbor and eventually finds its way into the Long Island Sound. The river is a source of drinking water for up to 150,000 residents in lower Fairfield County and adjoining New York, making it particularly important to maintain a responsible compromise between recreation and preservation for users of the Park.

mianus river map

The Mianus River is also an extremely popular river for fishing. Each spring and fall, the Connecticut DEEP stocks the river with thousands of trout. There are fishing regulations in place from September 1st until the third Saturday in April allowing for catch and release only. From the third Saturday in April until August 31, anglers are allowed to keep a maximum of two trout per day. The park provides countless opportunities for other outdoor recreational pursuits, including: hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and bird watching. Dog lovers are some of the park’s most avid visitors since your loyal companion is welcome to explore the trails, provided he/she is leashed at all times. You can enter Mianus River Park from the east entrance in Stamford off Merriebrook Lane.

mianus river park

The history of a portion of the Mianus River Park and the neo-Georgian mansion on the property begins with the scandal ridden and often tragic life of the flamboyant and internationally famous torch singer, Libby Holman. In 1931 Libby married tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds. Less than a year after their marriage, Zachary was shot & killed a party held at the Reynolds family estate in North Carolina. Libby was rumored to be having an affair with her husband’s close friend Ab Walker, and subsequently both were indicted for murder. The Reynolds family was averse to scandal (unlike the Kardashians), and persuaded authorities to drop the charges and the death was ruled a suicide. The inheritance left Holman and her son Christopher enormously wealthy. It was during the 1930’s that Holman purchased 55 acres straddling the Stamford-Greenwich border on the Mianus River and the mansion was completed in 1938, creating the estate known as “Treetopsâ€. Holman purchased adjacent parcels as they became available, expanding the estate to 110 acres. Today Treetops is owned by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Four Easements are held by the Stamford Land Conservation Trust, the Greenwich Land Trust and the municipalities of Stamford and Greenwich. My mother was Libby Holman’s social secretary for 2 years. She loved the high profile, artsy social gatherings, but her favorite thing about working at Treetops were the flowers – “ There were fields of daffodils every spring and the house was always full of fresh flowers which inspired me to always fill my home with flowersâ€.

treetops mansion treetops daffodils

Natural beauty, history, and a country feel with the convenience of city living make Westover one of the most desirable residential areas in Stamford. Westover is comprised of spacious single family homes, some on up to 2 acres of property. You will also find the exclusive private gated community of Westover Park, with homes dating from the 1930’s as well as Hycliff which offers residents access to an association pool, tennis court, and children’s playground, all of which are maintained through annual dues. The association also sponsors numerous social events throughout the year, including a Spring Egg Hunt, Summer BBQ, Halloween Parade, and a December Holiday Cocktail Party. Other home options vary from Antique Homes, Stone Carriage Houses, Colonials, Ranches, Contemporarys and newer construction.

So if you prefer a little bit of everything in a natural setting, come take a look at Westover …. it just might be the right fit for you!

It's All About the Journey ... Welcome to the West Side!

The West Side is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Stamford and as such has seen many transitions over the years. This neighborhood has a long history of being welcoming to many immigrant families wanting to establish roots in Stamford. Restaurants, food markets and establishments including local food trucks have found their niche in the eclectic demographics of the West Side. Many of us who grew up in Stamford (and are beyond the mid-century mark!) remember the West Side as “the†neighborhood for authentic Italian cuisine. I’m sure these names will conjure up memories of day’s past - Sabia’s Open Door, The Brass Rail, Bevivino’s - all familiar to long time Stamford residents. The last remaining (and still very popular) of these original family restaurants is the granddaddy of them all, Pellici’s. Pellici’s is a Stamford Landmark and has been at the same location on Stillwater Avenue since 1946. A loyal and expanding clientele continues to flock there for traditional Italian family fare - especially their baked chicken – a secret family recipe handed down for generations. It’s nice to see with all the changes coming to this neighborhood, a local favorite is still part of the fabric of our ever changing city.

pellicis

The health and wellness benefits to the community are substantial and many innovative ideas have already taken shape. In 2010, the one-mile district along the Stillwater Avenue commercial corridor was designated the “Vita Health & Wellness Districtâ€, with the goal of improving the health of the neighborhood. Vita is a priority focus for Stamford Hospital. Initially focused on residents of the West Side, Vita may become a model for the delivery of services throughout the city and beyond.

vita

Speaking of the Stamford Hospital, did you know that the exterior of the current hospital is used as the image for Pine Valley Hospital in the soap opera, "All My Children"?

all my children2

The new medical center is expected to open in late 2016 has been touted as a state-of-the-art facility. The redevelopment is expected to raise the profile of a hospital that is surrounded by world class medical facilities between New York and New Haven and is a branch of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and a major teaching affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

stamford hospital

For Stamford, and particularly the West Side, the new hospital is expected to deliver significant economic impact. The U.S. Department of Labor consistently recognizes the health care industry as a huge driver for job growth. With a roster of 2,400 employees, the hospital is among the top five employers in the City. Under the expansion, the hospital is expected to grow its staff, though it is still too early to know what the exact increase will be.

stamford hospital rendition

Fairgate Farm, located on 129 Stillwater Avenue, is an all-organic, volunteer-powered community farm and part of the Vita Health & Wellness District in Stamford, Conn. 2015 is their fourth growing season. Last year, more than 3.5 tons of organic fruits and vegetable were harvested. Volunteers take home much of what is grown and share it with their families and neighbors. Fresh-from-the-farm deliveries are also made to local agencies here in Stamford. Recipients include the Scofield Manor residential care facility, the New Covenant House soup kitchen, the Shelter for the Homeless, the women’s shelter at Inspirica and Community Health Centers.

fairgate farms fairgate farms kids

Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for the West Side. With the success of a revitalized South End, the West Side could be the next neighborhood ready to make the “leap into the future†and establish itself as the health and wellness hub of the city. Housing options are all inclusive and range from single family homes and condos to multi families and apartments. Charter Oak Communities, formerly the Stamford Housing Authority, has also developed new units and rejuvenated several streets providing attractive, affordable homes for many West Side residents.

So if you’re looking for an area in Stamford with growth potential, and a planned focus on health and wellness, come take a look at this neighborhood. Check out this wonderful townhouse – it could be just right for you!

21 Richmond Pl., #1

21 Richmond Pl., #1 - 2 Bedroom, 1.5 Bath Townhouse with 2 Car Attached Garage