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Apartment Living

How to Clean Grout: 5 Steps to Sparkling Tile

How to Clean Grout: 5 Steps to Sparkling Tile

Grout is a construction material that is used to fill the space between tiles, and with normal wear and tear it tends to get pretty dirty. Since it’s typically a lighter color and has a porous competition, grout is particularly prone to showing dirt, mold and stains. The good news is that it’s not difficult to clean grout, and in several steps, you can have sparkling tiles once again. Below you’ll find step by step instructions for how to clean grout and learn how to keep it clean long-term.

How to clean grout

Cleaning grout just requires a good grout cleaner, a scrub brush and a little elbow grease. So throw on a pair of rubber gloves — especially if you’re handling chemicals — and let’s get started.

Step 1: Remove surface dirt

scrubbing grout with brush

Scrub the grout using warm water and stiff-bristled brush to remove as much surface dirt as possible. If you don’t want to invest in a special grout brush, you can always use a scrub brush or even an old toothbrush.

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Step 2: Mix a cleaning solution

spoon full of baking soda

Purchase a commercial grout cleaner or make a homemade cleaner.

One proven DIY cleaner is made from two parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide. Try adding a teaspoon of dish soap to this mixture to help cut through extra greasy grime.

You’ll want to avoid acidic cleaners as they can dissolve or pit the grout as well as oil-based cleaners, which can leave a film that will attract dirt.

Step 3: Apply the cleaner and let it sit

brushing cleaner on floor with broom

Pour the commercial or your DIY solution over the grout, and depending on what cleaner you use, let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Scrub the tile

gloved hand scrubbing grout

Use your brush to scrub the tile again. Since the grout is porous, make sure to scrub hard so that you reach the tiny spaces dirt and grime may have seeped into.

Step 5: Rinse away the cleaning solution

woman mopping floor

Wash away the cleaner with a mop or wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Best DIY grout cleaners

There are a handful of DIY grout cleaners that you can make from just a few ingredients you likely have on hand. If you don’t feel like venturing out to the store, try making these grout cleaners at home.

  • Baking Soda and Water:
    • Mix equal parts to create a paste
    • Scrub directly on grout
  • Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide:
    • Mix two parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide
    • Let it sit on grout for 5-10 minutes, then scrub and rinse
  • Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap:
    • Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish soap
    • Let it sit on grout for 5-10 minutes, then scrub and rinse
  • Heavy Duty Cleaner:
    • Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 7 cups warm water
    • Apply to grout and let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse

Additional grout cleaning tips

Everyone has their own method for cleaning, but these additional tips will help ensure that your tile stays in optimal condition.

  • Clean grout regularly — weekly or biweekly — to prevent the buildup of mildew, dirt and mold
  • For frequent cleaning, you can create a natural solution using two parts baking soda and one part water instead of hydrogen peroxide
  • You might also consider applying a grout sealer. It’s easy to apply and is water-resistant, so it will repel moisture and prevent mold and water damage.

Although cleaning can be tedious, sticking to a regular cleaning schedule will help keep your apartment beautiful and functional. Visit our blog for more cleaning and maintenance tips.

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Published at Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:07:27 +0000

Where to Find the Best Steak in Omaha

Between starting a new job and finding a place to call home, it’s a challenge to choose the right place to eat. When looking for the best steak in Omaha, NE, explore the local restaurants. From The Drover to Johnny’s Café, Omaha is home to some of the best steakhouses in the country.

Cities like Kansas City, Austin and Fort Worth will challenge Omaha, but the Big O is the place for some of the best, most succulent steak you’ll enjoy.

Finding the best steakhouses in Omaha

Nebraska is the nation’s second-leading cattle producer, so it makes sense that it ranks as one of the best places for steak. Why send the best cattle out of state when you can share it here? Even the top mail-order steak company calls Omaha home. With a call center in southwest Omaha and online deals, Omaha Steaks International earns more than $450 million in sales annually.

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As a new resident to the city, after finding your home, you’ll want to seek out the best steak in Omaha. It’s not where you can find a great steak, it’s more like at which top steakhouse do you dine tonight?

Johnny’s Café

Johnny

Source: The Walking Tourists

Omaha’s oldest steakhouse — and one of the oldest restaurants in the city — Johnny’s Café is approaching 100 years in business. The third-generation, family-owned restaurant features some of the best steaks in Omaha.

Once a saloon, Johnny’s Café was located next to the world’s largest stockyards. Today, the stockyards may be gone, but Johnny’s reputation as one of the top steakhouses in Omaha lives on. Johnny’s Café maintains its vintage appeal, with a steer head emblazoned in the lobby carpet, as well as saddle stools in the bar.

Classics, such as the 22-oz. porterhouse, T-Bone and the Omaha strip, remain popular with diners of all ages.

Cascio’s Steakhouse

Casico

Source: Cascio’s Steakhouse

Located in Omaha’s Little Italy, Cascio’s Steakhouse is one of the few remaining Italian steakhouses in the city. Open since 1946, Cascio’s is a third-generation family restaurant. Popular with visitors during the College World Series and celebrities in town for concerts, Cascio’s has a mini museum with autographed jerseys, shirts, programs and other memorabilia.

Try the fresh ravioli as an appetizer. Then, enjoy entrees such as the New York strip, tenderloin brochettes or the classic prime rib. Dinners come with a side of pasta, but you may be tempted by Cascio’s other Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs or chicken Parmigiana. Cascio’s makes its own red sauce, simmering it all day in a 60-gallon barrel.

Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery

Brother Sebastians, Omaha, NE

Source: Visit Omaha

Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery makes you think what a steakhouse would look like if monks ran it. Designed to resemble the Spanish missions in California, the restaurant even outfits its wait staff in uniforms resembling monks’ robes.

At this romantic spot, you can enjoy an intimate dinner in any of the mission-like rooms, such as the library or barrel room. Home to delicious steaks and fresh seafood, the restaurant is also known for its prime rib.

With an impressive wine collection, Brother Sebastian’s wine room is located near the lobby, so you can get a closer look at your choice.

The Drover Restaurant & Lounge

The Drover Restaurant, Omaha, NE

Source: Facebook.com/The-Drover-Restaurant-and-Lounge

Home to one of Omaha’s original salad bars, The Drover remains popular with celebrities and locals after 40 years. Known for its whiskey-marinated steaks, The Drover gives the appearance of dining on the range with its western décor.

Among the items making The Drover one of the top steakhouses in Omaha are the whiskey filet, whiskey sirloin and prime rib.

Gorat’s Steakhouse

Gorat

Source: Facebook.com/GoratsOmaha

Omaha’s second-oldest steakhouse, Gorat’s has been a top steakhouse for 75 years. Starting out as an old farmhouse before the city expanded, Gorat’s was a destination restaurant right away. As it grew, Gorat’s added additional rooms to become the classic it is today.

Serving Omaha Steaks products, Gorat’s menu features a peppercorn-crusted New York strip, as well as its popular 22-oz. T-Bone. Billionaire Warren Buffett, an Omaha native, often dines at Gorat’s and has his own reserved space. If one of the richest people in America dines here, you know that Gorat’s has some of the best steaks in Omaha.

Anthony’s Restaurant

anthony's steakhouse omaha

Source: Facebook.com/AnthonysSteakhouseOmaha

You know you’re at Anthony’s Restaurant when you see the giant cow above the entrance. The youngest of the classic steakhouses at 53, Anthony’s is known for dry aging its premium Angus beef for three weeks before it finds its way to your plate.

With steakhouse classics like filets, sirloins, ribeye and prime rib, Anthony’s steaks are mouth-watering good. The twice-baked potato makes for a perfect side for your steak. Enjoy the house band at the Ozone Lounge before or after dinner.

J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood

J. Gilberts, Omaha, NE

Source: The Walking Tourists

One of Omaha’s newest steakhouses, Kansas City-based J. Gilbert’s in the Capitol District quickly caught on with diners. Perfect for a romantic evening or special occasion, J. Gilbert’s wood-fired steaks are moist and delicious.

Diners have the option of ordering steaks a la carte with sides, or as a pre-fixed menu with three courses. J. Gilbert’s also offers unique sides, including lobster mac and cheese, salt-crusted baked potato and creamed corn with bacon. Have the valet park your vehicle, saving time searching for downtown parking.

Bon appetit as you seek the best steak in Omaha

You’re sure to work up an appetite as you explore Omaha. Between the national chains and local restaurants, it’s easy to find a good steak. However, to enjoy the best steak in Omaha, you have to make a trip to one of the best local or regional steakhouses. Don’t forget the sides and maybe an appetizer and dessert.

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Published at Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:00:57 +0000

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Apartment Living

Home Spa Basics: How to Pamper Yourself Without Leaving the House

Home Spa Basics: How to Pamper Yourself Without Leaving the House

If there’s one thing we could all use right about now, it’s a good rest — and nothing says relaxation more than a spa session. However, with your next trip to the spa postponed until further notice, why not take matters into your own hands?

A little pampering session can do wonders — not only for your body, but also for your mind’s wellbeing, with stress relief being the ultimate goal. The good news is that you don’t need to book a session at an expensive resort. Instead, you can transform your comfy apartment into a personal self-care sanctuary. Whether you’re thinking of a long, warm bath or a quick face mask to take the edge off, we have just the tips to create the perfect spa ambiance — within the comfort and safety of your own home.

So, get your cucumber slices ready and let’s start with the basics:

1. Make Room

Set aside a specific area in your home for your pampering ritual. The easiest space to convert into a relaxation pod is the bathroom because it already has many of your spa essentials, such as warm water and fluffy towels. Or, maybe you’re a stay-in-bed type of person who likes to slap on a 30-minute face mask and a cooling eye pack while taking a power nap. If so, then the bedroom is the perfect space to take your mind off things and focus on yourself.

2. Set the Mood

If you’ve ever been to a spa, you know that certain stimuli are a must. In particular, scent and sound play a crucial role in setting the relaxed vibe you desire.

To begin, stock up on your favorite fragrances in the form of oils, candles, reed diffusers, sprays and anything in between. Then, pay attention to how you react to certain smells. As a general rule, choose lavender or ylang-ylang for their calming properties, or eucalyptus, mint or citrus for a boost of energy.

Then, select the right background noise. You don’t have to have meditation music and Tibetan singing bowls if that’s not your thing. Whatever sounds are calming to you are the right ones to use. That could mean a soothing acoustic mix, your favorite Top 40 playlist or even white noise.

3. Pick Pampering Products

Oils, cremes, masks, serums, bath salts, lotions, essences, bath bombs, body scrubs and calming pillow sprays — just to name a few — are part of any spa’s arsenal. However, you don’t have to go overboard with products — you won’t be able to use them all before their expiration dates, anyway. Rather, just make sure you have the basics, and keep in mind that hydration is the foundation of a good spa session. If you’re not sure where to begin, simply focus on a nice aromatherapy bath and lotion quickly afterward. Take a peek at Aura Cacia for some inspiration for your next bath.

Now, get your fluffy robe and let’s find out more about what makes an at-home spa session:

1. A Nice Bath

A good soak is essential to wash away the day and clear your mind. But, there are different types of baths you can take for the true spa experience at home:

Entire-body baths ease muscle tightness. Go beyond bubble baths and use bath salts, flower petals, essential oils or Rocky Mountain Soap bath bombs for a more colorful and relaxing session.

Lower-body baths stimulate circulation due to the temperature difference in your dry, upper body and your lower body that’s soaked in hot water.

Soaking your feet fights accumulated tiredness. Pair it with a nice foot massager from Homedics and you’ve got yourself the perfect remedy for swollen feet and painful soles at the end of a long day.

Steam baths offer a sauna experience you can easily recreate. Use either the steam setting on your shower or turn the water on the highest temperature to fill your bathroom with steam. Then, breathe in, close your eyes and empty your mind.

2. A Good Scrub

Scrubbing removes dead skin cells and leaves your skin fresh and ready to absorb the nutrients that follow in the next products in your routine. This means that, after a good prep with a scrub, skincare products like toners, serums and face oils will be more likely to work properly and benefit your skin.

Similarly, if you’re planning a full-body scrub, check your pantry because ground coffee and brown sugar are your best allies. Follow with a hydrating body lotion and feel the weariness leave your body.

3. A Soothing Mask

Masks are a staple of any spa trip. Whether you’re a fan of full-body packs or a trusty mud mask, chances are that you already know about the benefits of masks — as opposed to just lathering a product and going about your day. Certain ingredients take longer to activate, which is why you need to give them a few minutes.

In particular, face masks complement a good skin routine and help prevent breaking, blemishes and dullness. Plus, it’s easy to make your own with all-natural ingredients or choose your favorite from the endless supply currently on the market.

But, your skin isn’t the only thing that can benefit from masks. Your hair often reacts to how stressed and tired you are, too. As a result, you might find yourself needing to fight breakage and dehydration. Depending on your hair’s needs, give yourself a good scalp massage, put on a DIY or store-bought hair mask and let it work its magic while you relax.

4. Some Well-Deserved Sleep

It’s not news that sleep comes easier after a warm bath. But, what you may not know is that a self-care routine can continue even while you’re asleep. Creating a soothing ambiance is as crucial to a successful spa session as it is for a good night’s sleep.

So, turn to fragrances that are known to help people drift off and incorporate them into your sleep routine by spraying them onto your pillow. Alternatively, you could also invest in an oil diffuser like the ones from Vitruvi and use essential oils designed to comfort you and put you into sleep mode, such as lavender or chamomile.

Having a beauty routine is great for your skin. Plus, with everything going right now, having a routine of any kind is something you can control. However, a spa session is more than just sticking to your regular beauty routine as the focus is more on your mental wellbeing. So, keep in mind that the products you use are less important than remembering to breathe, clearing your mind and patting yourself on the back because you conquered yet another day.

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Published at Fri, 31 Jul 2020 07:00:28 +0000

Enjoy Some Victorian Charm in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill Neighborhood

Dubbed the “Garden District of Philadelphia”, Chestnut Hill is the old, beautiful neighborhood that somehow feels both comfortable and luxurious. Victorian houses with shaded, wrap-around porches radiate out from a charming “Main St” style strip of shops and restaurants.

Mature oaks and pines are gracefully perched on sloping lawns and along residential streets. With Wissahickon Valley Park next door, Chestnut Hill feels miles away from the busy, concrete streets of downtown Philadelphia, but it’s really just a quick train ride from the conveniences of city life.

Where is Chestnut Hill?

The entire Southern and Western corner of Chestnut Hill is bordered by the lush green space of Wissahickon Valley Park. Mt. Airy, another desirable residential neighborhood and Olney – Oak Lane in Philly flank the other sides of Chestnut Hill. This is the last area of Philadelphia County before entering into Montgomery County.

History

Originally added to the city in the 1850s, Chestnut Hill started out as a retreat for wealthy Philadelphians to get out of the city during the peak of the summer’s heat. Much of the area is layered in history and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. It features sprawling, green lawns and magnificent mansions, some of which date back hundreds of years.

In the time since, developers have taken an interest in revitalizing the neighborhood while retaining its old-world charm. Like Ken Weinstein, who has invested money and resources into bringing old buildings to life. One of his most popular projects among locals, The Trolley Car Cafe, served up milkshakes and delicious diner food before recently closing in the adjacent neighborhood. He’s also invested in former factories and historically designated properties and tastefully rebuilt them as apartments.

Lifestyle

What to do

Germantown Ave is the main thread of Chestnut Hill, resembling a Main Street in a small, country town. It’s lined with restaurants, galleries and boutiques, and hosts festivals and pop-ups throughout the year. Small stone buildings house local ice cream shops and bakeries, with locals often spending sunny afternoons strolling down these quaint blocks.

Running along the border of Chestnut Hill, Wissahickon Valley Park offers plenty of trails and outdoor recreation for all levels. It connects all the way back to Fairmount Park closer to downtown, making it the largest urban park space in the country. On weekends the park’s green spaces and trails are packed with picnicking families, cyclists, joggers and hikers.

Several festivals visit the neighborhood throughout the year, including a Home & Garden Festival, Fall Arts and even a Harry Potter event where the area turns into Hogwarts.

Where to eat & drink

A modern take on the local farmer’s market, Market at the Fareway is a hidden gem for foodies. Tucked behind Germantown Ave., it has local food and drinks stands, like Chestnut Hill Brewing Company which serves wood-fired pizzas in addition to locally made beers, and its own produce markets. A Tibetan dumpling stand and cinnamon bun bakery are also local favorites in the market. Originally established in the 1980s, the market has grown and changed throughout the years, but still remains one of the best spots to grab a quick bite in the neighborhood.

Moving to Chestnut Hill

Real Estate Snapshot

At $1,524, the cost of renting in Chestnut Hill falls pretty close to the city’s average. It’s about double the lowest rents in the city, in Whitaker and Northwood, and is a bit lower than Philly’s average of $1,652.

The neighborhood tends to be home to more affluent Philadelphians, making the price of owning a home a bit higher than in some other neighborhoods, but rentals remain reasonable. It’s a bit less connected to the rest of the city than other neighborhoods, with properties and homes spreading further apart, making it the perfect place for those who love the comforts of city life but don’t want to sacrifice their privacy.

Transportation

Chestnut Hill is the furthest neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the city, yet it’s still conveniently located just outside the urban center of Philly. It’s a quick 30-minute drive, train or bus ride away from Center City. SEPTA bus routes and two separate regional rail lines end in Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill East and Chesnut Hill West at stations of the same name. Driving is an easy trip along Lincoln Drive and I-76. A bike path also runs through nearby Wissahickon Valley Park, going all the way down the Western bank of Schuykill and connecting Chestnut Hill to each neighborhood it passes.

Schools & Employment

The gorgeous campus of Chestnut Hill College, a private 4-year university, is set on 75 acres along Wissahickon Valley Park. It opened almost one hundred years ago and, as a predominantly Catholic school, only became co-ed in 2001.

Several private schools provide educational options for younger children in the area as well, including The Crefeld School and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy. Chestnut Hill also has well-regarded public options, such as Central High School and Science Leadership Academy.

As in many neighborhoods of Philly, residents often head into Center City for corporate jobs, though Chestnut Hill College is a large employer as well.

Check out all the available apartments for rent in Chestnut Hill and get ready to pack your bags for this lovely neighborhood.

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Published at Wed, 29 Jul 2020 08:38:30 +0000

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Survey: Pandemic Hinders Plans for 43% of Renters Ready to Buy a Home

Survey: Pandemic Hinders Plans for 43% of Renters Ready to Buy a Home

COVID-19 continues to impact the U.S., affecting not only our health, but also our financial and life decisions. For those who wanted to take the leap from renting to buying this year, their hopeful plans are quickly changing. At the start of 2020, 11% of renters said they were ready and planning to buy a home this year, according to a recent survey conducted on RENTCafe.com. Conditions were looking up for Gen X renters, 15% of whom were making plans to buy a home this year, as well as for 14% of Older Millennials.

However, the pandemic has obstructed the path to homeownership for 43% of renters ready to buy, our survey results revealed. On top of high home prices, this is yet another deterrent forcing many renters to further delay or give up on the most important archetype of the American Dream. The survey, which ran at the end of May 2020, asked 7,000 renters about their housing plans before and after the coronavirus hit.

Of those who decided to continue renting, the largest share had plans to downgrade to a smaller apartment, driven by Gen Z-ers and Baby Boomers. However, Millennials and Gen Xers had bolder plans, a high percentage of whom expressed a wish to upgrade to a larger apartment in 2020.

Economic uncertainty causes 43% of would-be home buyers to change plans

Meanwhile, 43% of prospective home buyers who said they changed their plans quoted economic uncertainty as the top reason for doing so, followed by loss of income as the second most cited reason. Given the unprecedented times we’re living in, even the few renters who were determined to make the commitment to buy a home this year are now getting cold feet. Moreover, as many as 50% of Older Millennials, the most likely demographic to become homeowners, were forced by the pandemic to let go of their dream.

The least concerned were Baby Boomers, of whom only 37% reconsidered buying a home. As a generation that has already weathered financial uncertainty with previous economic crises, a considerable percentage of them are decided to find their footing amid financial uncertainty and not let current events stop them from owning a home.

Nearly one-quarter of renters now believe they will never buy a home

As part of the survey, we also asked renters about when they planned to buy a home. While most respondents, 56%, were optimistic about buying in the next 5 years, as many as 23% said that they’re never buying. Considering the current market conditions, renting appears to remain the lifestyle of choice for many. Half of Baby Boomer renters expressed no intention of ever buying again. The less costly, more convenient renting lifestyle may play a role. With renter households over 60 increasing considerably in the past decade, Boomers seem to be getting more and more comfortable with renting.

On the flip side, Millennials are most eager to buy a home in the near future, particularly the older cohort, with as many as 68%, or two-thirds of Older Millennials planning to become homeowners in the next 5 years. Long-considered renters-at-heart, Millennials have reached a point when they are set on making the transition.

Considering the survey results, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has had a real effect on the housing plans of most people. The general tendency is to avoid taking many risks during this period of uncertainty and to choose a more economically safer approach. This is clear across all generations, despite some of them showing more stoicism than others.

To get an expert’s opinion on important issues related to renters’ housing choices, we spoke with Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix:

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to Gen Zers and Younger Millennials who want to become homeowners sooner?

A: The buy vs. rent analysis is partially financial and partially emotional. The financial part of the analysis is difficult to work out because of future assumptions. However, one also needs to understand the level of risk and flexibility that come with each option as well as individual desires before making a purchase versus rental decision.

Q: There’s a large share of renters who think they’ll never become homeowners. Why is that?

A: When it comes to the complexities of real estate investment, personal finances, and future economic time horizons, the conventional wisdom of buying being better than renting does not always hold true.

Many renters don’t think that they’ll ever own a home because they might not afford additional expenses that come with this decision, such as interest, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance for the entire ownership period. On the other hand, renting consists only of monthly rent and a possible one-time deposit, therefore economically, renting might make more sense than buying a home.

Q: In your opinion, what is the number one reason Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers do not purchase a home and rent instead?

A: As more Millennials are moving up the earnings ladder, get married, and start families, housing is increasingly taking center stage. Although they have a higher number of graduates than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, they are less likely to own a home. Some of the barriers to homeownership could be delayed marriage, student debt, and choosing to live in high-cost cities.

Q: Is it a good idea to buy a home now? In which cities?

A: This would depend on financial considerations and the targeted area of purchase. In more than half (59%) of housing markets nationwide — 442 of 755 U.S. counties — renting a three-bedroom property is now more affordable than buying a median-priced home.

The lowest median home prices would be in the Houston metro area, Orlando metro area, or Chicago metro area, all three boasting a high percentage of Millennials.

Doug Ressler is the director of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix, where he is responsible for the creation of business and statistical research models for the commercial real estate industry. Previously, he was an analyst at the multifamily market research company Pierce-Eislen. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Methodology:

RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.

The survey data was collected through an online questionnaire posted on our website between May 20 and May 27, among a total number of 6,963 U.S. respondents. 

The respondents were asked individual questions about their housing choices and some demographic data such as age.

We used the following age ranges for each generation: Gen Zers: 18-25, Younger Millennials: 26-30, Older Millennials: 31-40, Gen Xers: 41-55, Baby Boomers: 56-75.

For customized data and other requests, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Published at Thu, 23 Jul 2020 07:00:17 +0000

15 Awesome Kitchen Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

Whether you’re a home chef or just getting started in the kitchen, you surely know the excitement of cooking with a new utensil. And while the basics are fun — testing that chef’s knife you always wanted, or seasoning a new cast iron skillet — sometimes you just want to buy something that will bring a little novelty to your food prep. If you’re looking for nifty tools to make your life easier and keep your kitchen cleaner, here’s the ultimate list of quirky kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed.

We all know the pain of throwing out half-eaten produce, but we can leave it in the past. Food huggers come in all shapes and sizes and will keep your cut produce fresh for much longer. Plus, they’re reusable, so you can ditch the aluminum and the plastic wrap and use them as lids for other kitchen items as well. 

Souper Cubes are the sturdiest freezing containers around. They were created especially for freezing stock, sauces and stews in perfect portions and with no spillage, but you can pretty much use them for everything — including as baking trays! Whether you want to save an opened bag of berries from freezer burn or make some delicious egg muffins, Souper Cubes are to help. 

If you have an eye for design and hate how messy it is to grate garlic, nutmeg, hard cheeses and other flavor powerhouses, the grate plate should be at the top of your shopping list. This handy utensil is beautifully designed, easy to use and clean, and will ensure you never mistakenly grate your fingers again. 

If you haven’t gotten on the vegetable noodle bandwagon, do your health a favor and get started as soon as you can. This handheld spiralizer will turn most vegetables into noodles in no time, so you can use them as you would use any type of pasta. It’s also made from stainless steel for durability and is dishwasher safe.

The era in which we had to use a colander or get dirty with a pot lid to strain pasta and veggies is over. The Snap’N Strain is a flexible, clip-on strainer that fits a wide range of pot sizes and allows you to strain anything directly. It’s compact, it keeps the mess to a minimum and will make your weeknight pasta dishes even easier. 

You don’t need a space-hogging juicer to make your own orange juice anymore. The FreshForce Orange Juicer has a two-gear mechanism that makes the process fast, easy, and yields 20% more juice than other devices. On top of that, it’s easy to store and comes with a modern design you’ll be delighted to use. 

If you regularly get annoyed at the number of lids you have to organize, you’re not alone. The universal lid will save you time and storage space and is extremely durable — it might be covered with silicone, but the core is made of stainless steel, so you can also use it as a trivet. 

With SpreadTHAT!, toasted bread got infinitely easier and a lot more delicious. This warming knife will help you cut and evenly spread hardened butter on your toast in no time. The best part about it is you don’t need to charge it since it conducts the heat in your hand. 

If you want to keep your hands smell-free while cooking or just want to chop garlic a lot faster, the GarlicZoom is for you. All you need to do is load it up with a couple of cloves, roll it on the counter a for a few seconds, and you’ll get perfectly chopped garlic every time. 

The awesome design alone would make any home chef want to get a Swanky. But this quirky kitchen tool also comes with great functionality: it floats! So next time you want to serve some soup or portion some pasta sauce, you can just let it swim around your pot and declutter both your prep and serving area. 

Yeah, we all know how to slice up an avocado. But with the OXO avocado slicer, you’ll be done faster than you can say “guacamole.” With this nifty tool, you can halve your avocados, remove their pits and get the perfect slice for your favorite avo toast recipe. 

Whether you’re a budding home baker or already a pro, the Whisk Wiper is a must. It’ll easily scrape all food off your whisk so you can reuse it immediately. The Whisk Wiper also protects your counter from spillage and has an ergonomic shape that can clean the corners of any bowl. 

The fry wall does exactly what its name says. This amazing splatter screen will ensure you can cook sauces, meats and anything else without getting your stove or counter dirty. Get ready to spend a lot more time cooking, and a lot less time cleaning. 

Cherries and olives might seem like a strange combo, but this ergonomic tool will make a huge difference in your kitchen if you’re a fan of either. The OXO Cherry & Olive Pitter will quickly remove the seeds in both, while its built-in splatter guard will direct any splash downwards.

Are you the type of person who needs to cut everything perfectly for any recipe? Or are you just getting started in the kitchen and need a bit of help when it comes to a julienne slice or a brunoise dice? The Obsessive Chef cutting board will help you prep your veggies like a pro, with exact measurements for any slice and dice operation.

If you’re looking for a new rental with a fantastic kitchen to try all these tools in, check out thousands of verified listings for apartments near you.

Published at Wed, 22 Jul 2020 10:32:41 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

Which NYC Neighborhoods Received the Most PPP Loan Money?

Which NYC Neighborhoods Received the Most PPP Loan Money?

Yesterday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) released detailed loan-level data regarding the loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). This disclosure covers each of the 4.9 million PPP loans that have been made under the program.

Digesting this massive data set, we’ve analyzed the PPP loan data by NYC zip code and compared the disclosure with U.S. Census data to assess which neighborhoods received the highest and lowest percentage of PPP loans as compared to the number of qualified businesses in that zip code. As detailed below, PPP funds did not assist all neighborhoods equally, with neighborhoods such as Greenpoint, the Financial District, and Carnegie Hill receiving a disproportionate number of loans relative to the number of qualified businesses.

In this study, we also break down the business sectors and NYC neighborhoods receiving the highest number of loans and retaining the highest number of jobs as a result of this sweeping federal program.

Top and Bottom 5 NYC Zip Codes By Percentage of PPP Loans to Businesses

Comparing the disclosure provided by the SBA with available U.S. Census data, we found large disparities in the proportion of PPP loans received by certain NYC zip codes relative to the number of qualified businesses (less than 500 employees) located in those zip codes.

For instance, Greenpoint (Zip Code 11222) received 1,394 PPP loans for its 1,782 qualified businesses – a rate of 78.2%. By contrast, Flushing (Zip Code 11355) only received 913 PPP loans for its 2,381 qualified businesses – a rate of 38.3%. In effect, Greenpoint’s PPP loan / qualified business ratio was double that of Flushing*.

Below is a chart highlighting the top and bottom 5 NYC zip codes ranked by percentage of PPP loans to qualified businesses:

Jobs Retained By Zip Code

Based on the SBA’s disclosure, a staggering 1,390,686 jobs were “retained” in NYC as a result of the PPP loans. We’ve taken this data and created an interactive map showing the number of jobs retained in each zip code.

As one might expect, the top 5 zip codes ranked by jobs retained all fell in the Midtown Manhattan area.

 

Number of PPP Loans By Zip Code

According to the SBA, 147,371 PPP loans were granted to qualified NYC businesses. Below is an interactive map showing the number of loans granted in each zip code.

Similar to the jobs retained ranking above, the top 5 zip codes ranked by PPP loans received all fell in the Midtown Manhattan area, while Long Island City (11101) and Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights (11201) being some of the outerborough zip codes receiving the most PPP loans.

 

Top Business Sectors Receiving PPP Loans in NYC

The SBA disclosure includes information concerning the business sector of each PPP loan recipient. With this data, we ranked each NYC industry by the number of PPP loans received.

Below is a chart ranking each NYC industry by the number of PPP loans they’ve received through the program:

 

PPP Loan Data by Loan Range

The interactive table below summarizes the PPP loan data by loan range. You can sort the table by clicking on the column header, or search for a specific zip code using the search bar.

Not surprisingly, zip code 10001, which includes part of Midtown and specifically Hudson Yards, one of the largest commercial real estate developments in New York City, received the most number of PPP loans, and 31% of the loans approved in zip code 10001 were above $150K. Meanwhile, while there were only 1,133 approved PPP loans in Bowling Green (zip code 10004), over 40% of the loans were above $150K.
 

Methodology

This report examines the Paycheck Protection Program Loan data released by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which includes two datasets, PPP Loans of $150,000 and above, as well as PPP Loans under $150,000. For loans above $150,000, the release consists of loan-level data, including business names, addresses, NAICS codes, zip codes, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, lender, jobs supported, and loan amount ranges as follows. For all loans below $150,000, SBA released all of the above information except for business names and addresses.

We grouped the loan data by zip code and loan range and further analyzed the business sectors using the NAICS Code structure and titles released by the U.S. Census Bureau. For the number of business establishments, we utilized ZIP Codes Business Patterns (ZBP) data released by Census on an annual basis. We filtered the data by employment size, and so any establishments with more than 500 employees were excluded from this report.

 
*For this analysis, we compared the top 50 NYC zip codes as ranked by the number of qualified businesses located therein as reported in the most recent Census ZBP data.

Published at Tue, 07 Jul 2020 12:30:44 +0000

RentHop 2020 Subway Rent Map: Rents Are Dropping at Major MTA Stops

New York’s MTA subway system is an integral part of most New Yorkers’ lives. With as many as 5.5 million riders each weekday, it truly is the backbone of the city. It should be no surprise that it is one of the first things that people consider when looking to rent an apartment. Proximity to the right trains means shorter commutes and more time spent doing what you love. RentHop’s data scientists love maps and rental data, and so we’ve mapped out rental prices by subway stop to assist in your apartment hunting endeavors.

Our key findings this year include:
  • Rents remained the same around 28 MTA stops, increased at 257 stops, and fell at 159, or 36%, stops. This number is 10% higher than in 2019.
  • As landlords were pushed to offer more concessions in response to the lackluster market performance caused by the pandemic, more stops in Manhattan this year experienced price cuts, including 28 St ($3,635, -11.3%), 34 St – Herald Sq($3,600, -7.6%) , 86 St ($2,978, -6.7%) , and Times Square ($3,299, -5.1%).
  • Even with a significant YoY decrease, Union Square continued to be the most expensive stop in the NYC metro area. Median 1BR rent at this stop currently sits at $4,750, 6.8% lower than the same period in 2019.
  • New developments continue to be a key driver of rental rates. In Brooklyn, median 1BR went up at several stops, including 36 St ($3,050, +9.1%) , Hewes St ($3,050, +9.1%), and Marcy Av ($3,150, +5.0%).

The Interactive Map Below Shows All Rents, Stops, and YoY Price Fluctuations

 

Find our map useful? Check out the static map at the bottom for a quick snapshot of the data and for easy sharing.

Major subway hubs like Union Square, Fulton Street, and Atlantic Ave/Barclay’s Center give nearby residents flexibility and convenience when traveling or commuting to different places. They also make it easy to convene and get home from anywhere after a long day of work. It’s no wonder these subway stops ranked among the most expensive stops on the RentHop subway rent map.

Median 1BR Rents at Major NYC Subway Hubs
  • Union Square 14 St (4/5/6/L/N/Q/R/W) – $4,750, YoY -6.8%
  • Times Square 42 St (1/2/3/7/N/Q/R/S/W) – $3,173, -2.4%
  • Grand Central (4/5/6/7/S) – $3,500, -2.8%
  • West 4 St (A/B/C/D/E/F/M) – $3,556, +7.9%
  • Herald Square 34 St (B/D/F/M/N/Q/R/W) – $3,600, -7.6%
  • Fulton St (2/3) – $3,824, +2.9%
  • Fulton St (4/5) – $3,800, +2.8%
  • Fulton St (A/C/J/Z) – $3,805, +3.0%
  • Jay St – Metro Tech (A/C/F/N/R/W) – $3,523, +0.4%
  • Atlantic Ave – Barclay’s Center (2/3/4/5/B/Q) – $3,364, -2.4%
  • Atlantic Ave – Barclay’s Center (D/N/R) – $3,452, +0.1%
  • Broadway Junction (A/C/J/L/Z) – $2,000, +6.7%
  • Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Av / 74 St – Broadway (7/E/F/M/R) – $1,950, +2.6%

36% of MTA Stops Experienced Rent Drops, 10% More than Previous Year

2020 has been a rough year for New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in the city skyrocketed 18.3% as of May, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer. This inevitably had a severe impact on real estate, pushing down rental rates across the city. As people relocate to other metro areas and suburbs, landlords across the boroughs are having trouble filling up the vacant apartments, especially those who own and operate luxury rental buildings.

Compared to only 115 stops in 2019, this year, 159 stops, or 36%, saw price reductions, some of which are in the wealthier neighborhoods in the city. Median 1BR rent dipped 11.3% at 28 St (6 Train), as luxury rental buildings offered more concessions to attract new tenants, including Prism at 50 East 28 Street (YoY -5.2%) and Instrata Gramercy at 290 3rd Ave (YoY -9.3%), which doubled the concessions from one month’s free to two months. Similarly, buildings around 34 St – Herald Square also increased incentives, including EOS at 100 West 31 Street and Epic at 125 West 31 Street, which in turn drove down the rents by 7.6%. Stops in the Upper East Side also experienced notable price fluctuations, with median 1BR rent decreased 8.4% around 96 St (Q) and 6.7% at 86 St (4/5/6).

Gentrification remains a key driver of NYC rental rates. Median 1BR rent jumped 10.1% at 36 St stop (D/N/R Trains), from $1,998 to $2,200. This fluctuation is likely due to the Hyland, a new development launched early this year located at 194 21 St in Brooklyn that features bike storage, gym, parking, and a modern roof deck. Meanwhile, median 1BR rent rose 9.1% at Hewes St (J/M) and 5.0% at Marcy Ave (J/M/Z) respectively, mostly driven by the DIME, a 23-story, 177-unit high-end rental building located at 275 South 5 Street, Brooklyn.

These stops saw some of the largest rent drops on one-bedroom apartments
  • 28 St – 6 Train – $3,635, YoY -11.3%
  • 62 St – D/N – $1,550, YoY -8.8%
  • 96 St – Q – $2,839, YoY -8.4%
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway – D – $1,800, YoY -7.7%
  • 34 St – Herald Sq – B/D/F/M/N/Q/R/W – $3,600, YoY -7.6%
These subway stops saw some of the most drastic rent jumps
  • 36 St – D/N/R Trains – $2,200, YoY +10.1%
  • Hewes St – J/M – $3,050, YoY +9.1%
  • West 4 St – A/B/C/D/E/F/M – $3,556, YoY +7.9%
  • 161 St – Yankee Stadium – 4/B/D – $1,995, YoY +7.8%
  • Beverly Rd – Q – $2,041, YoY +7.4%

Methodology

To calculate the median net effective rents for the map above, we used RentHop’s rental data for one-bedroom apartments from March 16 through June 15, 2019 & 2020, MTA Lines and Stops data, and GIS data for subway stops compiled by CUNY – Baruch College. To get accurate prices near the subway stops, we looked at least 50 non-duplicated rental listings within half a mile of a subway stop and then calculated the median rents. If there were less than 50 non-duplicated listings, we expanded the distance to 1 mile of a subway stop.

Condensed Map for Easy Sharing – Click on the image for the full map!

Click on the Map For High-Resolution Map

Published at Tue, 23 Jun 2020 16:30:25 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

How to Clean a Shower

How to Clean a Shower

Showers can get gross quickly. They easily gather grime, not to mention mold, which can make them feel exactly the opposite of hygienic. Worse yet, achieving a clean shower can often feel like one of the most challenging parts of cleaning your bathroom. That said, with just a few simple bathroom cleaning tools and solutions you can find at most supermarkets, you can quickly get the job done. Here’s how to thoroughly, easily clean your shower.

clean shower

How to clean your showerhead

Fill a plastic grocery bag or large resealable plastic bag with white vinegar. Wrap and seal this bag around the showerhead overnight. Remove the bag the next morning and run the showerhead to remove any deposits that have obstructed water flow.

How to clean your door or curtains

For a dirty shower door, a paste of one cup baking soda and just a few drops of distilled white vinegar can make a potent scrubbing agent. After generously applying this thick paste to your shower door for an hour, return with a microfiber cloth to remove the paste. Then, with a separate microfiber cloth, rinse and buff the door dry.

For shower curtains and liners, a typical cycle in a washing machine should do the trick. If you need to scrub soap residue or mold from your curtains and liners, add a few towels to the wash. These towels will naturally abrade the mold and soap residue off your curtains and liners. Additionally, curtains and liners should be air-dried instead of machine-dried.

How to clean your shower tub

If your shower isn’t a standing shower but instead a tub, you may find cleaning significantly easier. A simple scrub-down with your cleaning product and rag of choice should be enough to remove grime and stains from your tub. However, for especially dirty tubs, you may want to completely fill your tub with scalding hot water, then drain the tub and scrub it down with bathroom cleaner. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing and cleaning.

How to clean shower tiling

Perhaps the most challenging part of achieving a clean bathroom is removing buildup from the tile in your shower. Find an all-purpose cleaner and spray it on any areas of your tile that need to be cleaned. Then, run your shower at the hottest temperature possible for five minutes. Turn off your shower, then exit your bathroom and close the door to trap the steam (make sure your exhaust fan is off). After 20 minutes, return to wipe down all your tile. Use a microfiber cloth, and work your way down from the highest surfaces.

How to clean shower grout

Shower grout easily accumulates dirt and grime, but these substances don’t always come off easily. You’ll need a grout brush, rather than just ordinary rags and microfiber cloths, for proper grout care. Dip your brush in undiluted bleach, then aggressively scrub your discolored, dirty grout. For moldy grout, you may want to use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in addition to bleach. After you scrub your grout, rinse well with water. If possible, ventilate the bathroom, as bleach can be harmful to inhale.

Do you have any special tips on how to clean a shower? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Thu, 09 Jul 2020 13:09:26 +0000

Three Small Apartment Clothing Storage Hacks

If you’ve lived in a small studio or one-bedroom apartment, you know how tough it can be to make space for all your clothes. Small apartments can be limited on closet space, not to mention floor space for additional items such as coat racks, shoe racks, and dressers. With these three small apartment clothing storage hacks, though, chances are you’ll find yourself fitting all your clothes in your small apartment with ease.

small apartment clothing storage

1. Under-bed storage

In small apartments, you only have so much floor space available. That’s why thinking vertically helps when it comes to small apartment clothing storage. Take a look around your apartment at the objects occupying the most floor space – is there any way you can fit other objects under them?

When it comes to your bed, chances are the answer will be yes. The space between your bed frame and your floor can provide more than enough room for storage bins (especially if you elevate your bed frame using bed risers). These under-bed storage bins make great homes for clothes, especially clothes you’re not wearing at the moment – a bin full of neatly folded and organized winter sweaters, for example, fits nicely under your bed and can stay there until the next time winter rolls around.

2. Top shelf storage

Many apartment closets come with a top shelf that provides plenty of storage space. That said, anyone who’s attempted to stack clothes on these top shelves knows that doing so can get messy and unorganized sooner than later. Perhaps more annoyingly, piles of clothes stacked too high on these shelves can easily come tumbling down, ruining all the careful organization work you’ve put in and making it difficult to use all the shelf space available.

Just as with under-bed storage, you can use storage bins to keep your top shelf organized and neat. If the same large, plastic tubs that can fit under your bed also fit your top shelf, you can easily use the same bins, but other options such as foot-by-foot storage cubes with lids may be better suited for turning your top shelf into a well-organized, easily stackable small apartment clothing storage space for socks, underwear, and other modestly sized garments. With proper top-shelf storage items, you can effectively add an extra shelf or two to your closet.

3. Benches, trunks, and ottomans

The best apartment storage hacks simultaneously expand the space you have available for stashing away items while adding decorative flair to your apartment. Benches, trunks, and especially ottomans can easily pull off this pair of needs while helping you maximize your small apartment clothing storage.

A bench at the foot of your bed that both looks nice and is tall enough to gently disguise storage boxes under it can help to streamline your small apartment clothing storage. A trunk that at first appears to be just a pretty decoration can likewise include ample space for coats, linens, and more. A large storage ottoman may be best of all for small apartment clothing storage, as not only do ottomans look especially natural at the foot of a bed and provide additional seating, but they also tend to mask their double use as storage far better than benches and trunks do.

How do you make space for your small apartment clothing storage? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Mon, 06 Jul 2020 13:06:40 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

It looks as though social distancing will no longer be the new norm, but the way that we will now be living our lives. It was only 2 months ago that we had never heard of PPE, unless we worked in healthcare or unless you were a scientist, flattening the curve was about weigh loss. Mostly about flattening our stomachs. So here we are all settled at home wondering how to move forward. (Source: NAA)

But what about the folks who were thinking about moving or who were in the middle of a relocation? Any sort of housing transition is stressful enough without having to deal with a national health crisis. But during social distancing it could be additionally stressful.  Take heart, there are many technologies that can help us lease an apartment while keeping you and your apartment community staff safe.

There are many digital advertising sources that you can access from the safety of your living room or kitchen. You can search by typing the word “apartments” into any browser. This will give you a very broad search. After you feel comfortable with user experience with an Internet Listing Service provider, narrow your search by location, price, floorplan size, schools and amenities. Or you use a “long tail search”. For example, a “two-bedroom apartment in Richmond, Virginia with a pool”. This may be more time efficient than a more generic search such as “apartments”. It will provide a short and more refined list of apartment communities that fir those criteria.

Another new aspect to think about during physical and social distancing, is the systems that the community uses to communicate with their residents after you move in. Can you pay your rent on-line? How do they let you know about any community events or repairs? Many communities use Call Assist 24/7. It’s a way that you can send a video or photo of your emergency service request to the on-call maintenance technician.  This will keep you informed via text throughout every step of the process. You will even get a photo of the technician coming out late at night. How cool is that!

Most listings have virtual tours of generic units or their furnished model. Seeing a furnished apartment is always a good way to get a feel for what the space may look like with your own furnishings. (Source: Realtor.com) Many leasing agents are happy to use zoom, skype and Facetime to show you the actual unit that is available if it is currently vacant. Ask the agent to walk through the community as well so you may see the location of your apartment home. Is it close to the pool or does it have a view that you like? Google maps is a great resource for information on shopping, parks and interstates. If you are moving locally, go drive through the apartment community at different times of day to see where the sun sets or where the bark park is located. So there a lot of great resources to help you navigate through finding the perfect new apartment home during Covid-19. Be safe and have fun!

Published at Thu, 23 Apr 2020 12:40:08 +0000

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Published at

Categories
Apartment Living

EVERYDAY PEOPLE WITH SUPERPOWERS!

EVERYDAY PEOPLE WITH SUPERPOWERS!

EVERYDAY PEOPLE WITH SUPERPOWERS!

Have you ever met a real live hero? When we were children, our heroes were larger than life. Take Superman for instance a fictional character created in 1938 with Action Comics. He had the following powers: superhuman strength, agility, heat vision, X-ray vision, superhuman breath that could freeze things or blow like the wind. Best of all he was “the man of steel” who could fly! We have been idolizing heroes in movies, books and folklore for centuries. We could sure use one now to swoop in and solve all our problems.

But now due to Covid-19, we are seeing a new brand of hero. Or are we seeing everyday people doing random acts of heroism? We have been studying heroism for years. What happens during a dangerous event that causes that one person to risk his own life for someone he has never met? In a crowd the “herd mentality” where most people do not want to get involved as it none of their business, makes anyone who steps up to help a hero. Mr. Rodgers said “Always look for the helpers” when in trouble.

Cardinal Property Management carefully navigated through the uncharted waters of the pandemic by creating transparency between their corporate office and their on-site management teams. Through discussion and surveying their employees about concerns and fears, Cardinal Group created a benevolence fund called “Cardinal Heroes”. Their people can nominate a coworker that they believe has acted as a hero. These are leasing and maintenance teams on the front lines in apartment communities without any superpowers doing extraordinary acts of heroism. This has given their teams a sense of pride and a feeling of community in a time when it is too easy to go down the rabbit hole into despair.

Nurses, doctors and emergency first responders unlike Superman did not even have enough personal protective equipment to handle the onslaught of sick overwhelming their hospitals. Then heroes from all over the country began to sew masks and create makeshift PPE out of what seemed like thin air. People trained in any related medical industry went to help on the front lines at great personal risk. First responders were working double shifts even with the very real fear of their own health and safety. But like Superman they had the power of their convictions and the courage to see them through.

From the people who are employed by grocery and pharmacy stores, to our on-site property management teams helping to keep our apartment communities open, these people are unsung heroes. Seemingly normal people who under the most extraordinary of times provide vital services so we may have a roof over our heads and food on our bellies. Churches and food banks and their parishioners are providing food to their communities. Celebrities and young children are donating time, PPE and funds to help the close to 15% of unemployed workers due to social distancing mandates and business closers. So, you see we all have the superpowers of love, creativity, compassion, bravery, strength of conviction and valor. Superman would be proud of us! He knows that there is a little bit of him in all of us. Will you be  a superhero to someone?

Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 12:30:48 +0000

LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS DURING COVID-19

LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS DURING COVID-19

Is there a bright side to the global Covid-19 pandemic? Should we even think about looking for a bright side? The answer is absolutely “yes”. The downside of this situation can feel overwhelming and desperately sad. There is no shortage of bad news, but there are many reasons and benefits to remaining hopeful now and moving forward.

All over the world people found ways to connect during social distancing. From the Italians who sang arias from their balconies to neighborhoods in the US who met on their streets for dance offs.  We learned to use new technology such as Zoom or Facetime for virtual happy hours and dinners. From a safe 6 feet apart, you can go for walks with friends and family.  Have balcony fun and get to know your neighbors that live in your apartment building. My daughter has befriended a senior lady on the second floor of her apartment building. This daily interaction reduces isolation especially for her and creates smiles.

Do you feel the silence?  During snowstorms when plane traffic is halted, silence feels like a warm blanket. Now the birds are in their element with less cars and planes in the air. With more time in our lives to explore new interests, bird watching as a hobby is on the increase. They are much easier to hear and spot when we do not need to filter through all the man-made noise. We can rediscover nature.

We can see clearly now and breath better in many cities all over the world. The media shows us photography of blue skies in Los Angeles. NASA says that the atmosphere is significantly cleaner. With the reduction of non-essential travel, the drop in pollution has been significant worldwide.  Cleaner air promotes better health for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory related illnesses. This year with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are seeing many places with the best air quality in decades.

Did you catch up on all the projects that you thought that you never had time to do before?  I have cleaned and organized everything from my attic to the linen closets and the food pantry. I thought that I had plenty of canned goods only to find that a can of green beans expired in 2018. My hurricane provisions from 2019 had expired too. Knowing exactly where I stood with non-perishables will help me be ready for hurricane season 2020. Catching up on my “to do list” had given me a feeling of accomplishment and control during a time when we have no control over a global pandemic. It was a more positive way to spend my time than binge watching news and obsessing about the pandemic. Trust me I spent too much time going from streaming news to local news providers. (Source: Bright Side)

To find the bright side of the any bad situation, it is best to try to have a positive attitude. It will not be an easy thing to do. Even if it is only for a few minutes a day, looking for the bright side can help you not to go down into a rabbit hole of despair. There are so many health benefits with a positive outlook. Can you chat with a senior shut in? Could you donate to a non-profit or support local shops and restaurants? Can we find ways to sustain clean air and continue to commit to a healthier global environment? That remains to be seen. I know that some good will result from Covid-19 pandemic. But it will be up to each of us as we find the new norm to be positive. I’m betting on us to win!

Published at Thu, 07 May 2020 12:21:47 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

How to Disinfect Your Home in the Time of Coronavirus

How to Disinfect Your Home in the Time of Coronavirus

There’s
everyday clean, guest clean, and then there’s COVID-19 clean.

To get down the absolute nitty gritty on how to disinfect your home, you’ll want your big guns: bleach, rubbing alcohol, and hot water.

The
Best Disinfectants

For your high-touch surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control recommends a bleach solution diluted with water, or a 70% alcohol solution.

Follow
this bleach recipe: 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water, or 4
teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.

Make sure to properly ventilate when disinfecting with bleach.

And check to see if your bleach has expired. Who knew it could? After
about 9 months to a year, and if it smells less bleachy, it’s lost its disinfecting
power. Time for a new jug.

Tip: Don’t mix bleach with anything other than water; otherwise, it could set off a dangerous chemical reaction. For instance, bleach + alcohol is a deadly combo.

How to disinfect your home if you don’t have bleach? Regular old rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol) works, so long as it’s at least 70% alcohol, according to the CDC. The alcohol concentration will be listed on the bottle. Rubbing alcohol you buy should already be diluted, unlike bleach.

Is There a Such a Thing as Too Much Disinfectant?

According to an EPA fact sheet, studies have found that using some disinfectant products can cause germs to become resistant.

The EPA has issued a list of disinfectants on the market that it believes are effective in killing COVID-19. Look for the EPA registration number on the product and check it against this list to ensure you have a match.

Erica Marie Hartman, an environmental microbiologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., whose research focuses on resistance, confirms soap, bleach, and alcohol are your best bets.

What about the various disinfecting wipes on the market (at least if you can find them)? Hartman says the active ingredient in many of those is an ammonium compound, which could become resistant to viruses over time.

Surfaces That Need Your Attention

With your preferred disinfectant, wipe down high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, tables, remotes, banisters, toilets, sinks, and faucets daily or more often, if someone in your home is sick.

Contact time is another key aspect of surface sanitizing. “Disinfection isn’t instantaneous,” says Hartman. [For a bleach solution], you want to leave it on the surface for 10 minutes before wiping it off. ” 

By the way, new research from scientists at the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies, shows that at least some coronavirus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

But a report in “The Washington Post” notes that the most likely period for infection from the virus on surfaces is in the first 10 minutes to one or two hours.

Not All Floors Can Handle Bleach

For your nonporous floors, like those in the bathroom, the CDC recommends mopping with the bleach solution. 

Avoid bleach on hardwood and other porous floors because of staining. Instead, use a disinfecting wet mop cloth without bleach.

Cleaning Isn’t Disinfecting

From the you-might-be-surprised files: Disinfecting with bleach isn’t actually cleaning. If you also need to clean your countertops of dirt and grime, do that first with soap and water. Then use the bleach solution or rubbing alcohol to combat the virus.

Killing Microbes on Clothes

Most washing machines today do a bang-up job on dirty clothes with cold water, which is best for energy savings. But, and especially if you have a sick person in your house, the hot-water setting followed by a high-heat dry for about a ½ hour to 45 minutes is best for virus eradication.

Don’t forget about your laundry hamper. Wipe it down like you
would other surfaces. You can also use a reusable liner bag, which you can
launder with the clothes.

What If I’m Selling My House, and Inviting More Germs In?

How to disinfect your home when it’s for sale? Virtual showings and tours are the ideal, and your agent can set those up.

However, if there’s a need to have someone come in, talk to your agent who will work with you to establish a hygienic protocol, including requiring visitors to wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when they arrive, and to remove shoes or wear booties before entering. Removing shoes not only reduces dirt coming in, but potentially germs.

In addition, many agents are eliminating open houses.

After any showings, practice your surface wipe-down routine.

Finally, when you work with disinfectants, practice some self care. “Alcohol and bleach can be very aggressive on your skin, so wearing rubber gloves can help protect your hands,” Hartman says. 

Related: 9 Cleaning Tasks That Homeowners Tend to Overlook


Published at Tue, 17 Mar 2020 14:46:32 +0000

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Apartment Living

6 Little Ways Home Stagers Make Your House Look Brighter

6 Little Ways Home Stagers Make Your House Look Brighter

For city dwellers, brick walls are an all-too-familiar view outside windows. My own Boston apartment virtually has no natural light. The kitchen has a petite window that looks out to bricks (bricks in need of a pressure clean, I might add), while my bedroom windows peer into the neighboring building. Needless to say, natural light is on the list of must-haves for my next apartment.

Whether it’s a windowless nook or a room in the back of the house, the absence of natural light can be drab—especially during stay-at-home orders. Every room deserves to be brightened up, even if it takes some extra TLC. Here, home stagers share tips to make your home look brighter. 

For walls and floors, the lighter the better

The first step to making your space brighter is—you guessed it—light paint. Melissa Morrissey of Boston Modern Staging + Design recommends Benjamin Moore’s Simply White or Gray Owl if you’re not ready to make the leap to plain white walls. If you’re more of a pop-of-color person, you don’t have to stick to neutrals. Anne Kenney, president and CEO of home staging company, Anne Kenney Associates, says any pale color could work with an eggshell finish. And make sure to keep the ceiling white.

To complement the walls, white or light tiling in the bathroom and light wood throughout the rest of the house will suffice. Kenney says area rugs can do the trick in a home with darker floors. 

Let there be (artificial) light!

Kenney says placing floor lamps and table lamps—with white lamp shades—in two or three corners of the room is essential. “You’re going to want to be able to increase or decrease the amount of light depending on the day. So [use] a three way light or a dimmer that goes up to 150 watts,” she says. The higher the wattage the better, but make sure your bulbs are warm and uniform.

Decorate furniture with colorful accents

For furniture, keep it simple with white or neutral colors. Donna Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, says, to make room for fun with accents. “If you’re going to use a monochromatic color scheme, vary the textures of everything so that it adds some interest to the room,” she says. One way to do this is by layering textured pillows on the couch. Reflective surfaces like mirrored coffee tables or metallic/glass pieces also increase the amount of light in any room, Dazzo says. 

Add another item to your cleaning list during the pandemic: windows. Kenney says this does the trick to really brighten up any space. “People should take out their screens when they’re showing their homes—you don’t realize how much the screen is blocking light,” she says.

And in the battle of blinds versus curtains, both win if you use them properly. If you require less privacy, Morrissey recommends sheer curtains. Otherwise, any type of blinds will do, including sheer accordion shades that allow for light to pour in. 

Hang a mirror, mirror on the wall

Mirrors. Mirrors. Mirrors. Hanging these is the age-old trick to help reflect whatever natural light there is in a darker room. Whether it’s a series of vertical mirrors or one large horizontal one, Kenney says to keep them thin and “the bigger the better!”

Use wall hangings to let your personality shine through with fun patterns or tasselled, textured pieces. “You don’t need to go crazy with a bunch of them,” Morrissey says. One very large canvas over your bed or a piece in the living room will brighten and dazzle.

It’s always a good decision to decorate with plants. “Any apartment is going to be feeling a little—particularly during these times—lifeless, so anything natural you can bring in is fantastic,” Kenney says. Be it a large succulent or tropical floor plant, any live beauty will lighten your home.

Published at Tue, 23 Jun 2020 15:00:00 +0000

How to Paint a Tile Floor for a Budget-Friendly, Colorful Upgrade

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

You already know that painting walls can totally change a room on a shoestring budget. But paint can be used to create budget transformation on other surfaces, as well. Painting floor tile has become a creative way to add some personality to bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms, or any other space with tile flooring. Truly, some of the before-and-afters of painted tile floors are unrecognizable (in a good way).

If you take your time and do it correctly, painting your tile floor is a great money-saving DIY project—but, speaking as someone who has painted their kitchen tile floor before, trust me when I say it’s imperative that you don’t skip out on the prep work. Know that it’s going to take a hot minute to complete this project—so if you’re working in a high-traffic area of your home, perhaps consider relocating for the amount of time it takes you to complete the project.

“The beauty about painting is you can change the perspective of any room, and it’s economical,” says Jonathan Rios, professional painter and owner of Rios Interiors in New York City. “It’ll bring something different, because if you have to renovate, the cost will be 10 times more than if you do it yourself.”

But the key question: Does it matter whether you’re working with laminate, ceramic, or vinyl tiling? “The good thing is, now with the products that are on the market, you can basically paint almost anything,” says Rios. The key is to pick and apply a good, strong binding primer.(more on that below). Here’s what you’ll need to paint a tile floor, and how to do it.

What you’ll need to paint a tile floor

How to paint a tile floor

If you’ve been living in your space for a while, you’ll want to do a good cleaning of the area before you even begin. We’re talking a full-on mop-in-the-bucket floor clean to remove any scum or grime that has built up over time.

Using 220 grit sandpaper, give a light sanding to the tile. That helps remove any grease or anything stuck onto the tile you weren’t able to get with a mop. It also helps the primer grip onto the tile. You can sand by hand, but if you’re working with a good amount of flooring then a handheld sand orbiter will make your life much easier. 

3. Thoroughly clean and prep the area

Time to clean again. Wipe away any sand grit you’ve created, and really take a second look at where any dirt could be hiding—like in the grout. If you don’t clean it away now, it’ll get mixed in when you start painting and then it will be a part of your life forever (speaking from experience here!).

If you want an extra barrier of protection, tape off the wall so that if your roller or brush taps the wall, you won’t accidentally paint the wall with your floor color.

4. Be strategic about where you start

You definitely don’t want to paint yourself into a corner, so be strategic about where you start. “Don’t start painting near the entrance,” advises Rios. If the furthest thing from the door is the tub or shower, start there, and then paint by backing your way out of the bathroom.

“If you are painting tiles in the bathroom in the shower area or a place with a lot of humidity, in the end, it won’t last 100%,” warns Rios. But the key to it lasting as long as possible is to use the correct primer. He recommends a strong-bonding primer that will adhere to otherwise hard-to-paint surfaces such as INSL-X Stix, KILZ, or Fresh Start from Benjamin Moore.

After the first coat of primer has dried, apply a second.

“An epoxy paint will last longer than a water-based paint..or you could use a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint,” says Rios. “It will hold better than a regular wall or ceiling paint.”

Once your top coat of paint dries, if you want to go back and add stenciling or designs, this is the time. Otherwise, enjoy! While painting your tile is not a forever-fix—especially in high-traffic areas—it’s still a project worth doing. And it’s much cheaper than replacing your current tile with different colored or patterned tile! “Don’t be afraid to explore,” says Rios. “At the end of the day, it’ll be something that’s worth it.”

Published at Tue, 23 Jun 2020 15:00:00 +0000

Categories
Apartment Living

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

antiracism on apartment34

This site was started to celebrate what could be called life’s frivolities. Design, fashion, food, travel. Some would argue, and I am certainly among them, that these aspects of life and culture are, in fact, incredibly important components of self expression, mental health and wellbeing, connection, and community building. They are crucial parts of life’s joys.

But I have never explicitly acknowledged on this platform that my ability to focus on such frivolous things is in large part due to my privilege as a white person with means, who lives in a major city. I am housing and food secure. I have a higher education. I benefit from access, resources and status that is unearned. My privilege is made available to me simply because I am white.

In the two weeks since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a collective reckoning with the systemic and institutionalized racism that has terrorized Black communities in the United States for 400 years.

I have spent the last two weeks listening, reading, and recognizing my contribution to the system that continuously oppresses Black people and People of Color (POC) on a daily basis. My inaction is a failing.

But here I am. A white woman with this blog. This platform. With followers on social media. From this point forward, I will be taking conscious action to combat racism in all aspects. A part of this conscious action is embracing my responsibility to share my views publicly. It is my duty to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations with you because staying silent is complicity. Remaining silent does no good, only harm.

I suspect I will get feedback that politics should stay personal. You came to Apartment 34 for inspiration on what color to paint your living room, not to discuss politics. But the personal is always political. I’ve certainly never shied away from sharing my personal views here, but saying that a lifestyle blog “isn’t the place to discuss racism” is a luxury of white privilege. We, as white people, are able to compartmentalize different parts of ourselves because our existence is not questioned. It is not threatened on a daily basis. We can choose to not think about these issues. Black people enjoy no such luxury.

I am hopeful you will stay to have these challenging conversations with me.

I apologize to my Black followers and to the BIPOC community at large, as I have not publicly used this platform to do the work of an ally. That stops today. I am still working to unpack my own implicit biases and identify where I fail as an antiracism ally. But because I have this platform, because I am a citizen who lives in a country built on the back of institutionalized racism, and because I am a human who cares, I have a responsibility to not only be an ally, but also be an advocate. An open, active, loud advocate for antiracism. An open, active, loud advocate for Black people. An advocate for the disenfranchised. An advocate for all POC who face daily oppression. And this work doesn’t just happen one time. It’s not a single post. It’s not attending one protest, making one donation or taking one vote. This must be a consistent, ongoing, commitment to keep sharing, showing up, protesting, voting and applying pressure from all sides until justice is done.

As a brand, public platform and individual influencer (no matter how uncomfortable I am with that term), I am putting forth the following:

  • At Apartment 34, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe.
  • Apartment 34 is an actively antiracist platform. To that end, we will not tolerate any racist comments or interactions in Apartment 34 owned spaces.
  • Apartment 34 will only work with partners who are also actively antiracist. Going forward, Apt34 will vet all potential partners to understand their hiring practices, their public stance on key issues and their philanthropic activities to actively lift up the Black community and other communities of color.
  • Apartment 34 will serve as a platform to amplify the work of Black designers, makers, artists and creatives not just now, not just occasionally, but on a regular and continual basis.
  • Apartment 34 will actively work to support Black-owned businesses through our purchasing power, links and work with freelancers.
  • Apartment 34 will work to keep the Creative industries accountable, to ensure that Black people have multiple seats at the table, that they are put in positions of leadership, that they are offered to share their expertise at conferences and on panels, and that their work is viewed within its own context, not only within the context of the white-dominant views of design work.

Finally, I still have a lot more personal work to do to examine how implicit racial bias shows up in my own life – a journey I am happy to share with you on the blog and on social media if you are interested (you can see all the resources I’ve shared to do saved on my Instagram Stories and this Google Doc is a list of incredible antiracism resources – I highly recommend you check it out) – but I’ve thought a lot about how Apartment 34 can make a tangible contribution in this moment, right now.

Here is what I’ve come up with:

If you’ve been following Black people on social media this week, or perhaps even had conversations with your own Black friends, you may have heard them say “do not ask me what you can do.” Or “stop asking me what you can do.” As a white person that can feel confusing as you’re just asking how to help, right? But in fact, by you asking, you’re putting all the onus back on the POC to educate you. You’re putting the work on them to dig up past traumas and explain them to you, when in fact, so many Black people have already so graciously, bravely and beautifully done that for all of us, in the form of amazing books about Black life in America.

So below I have compiled a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of Black literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that illuminate the Black experience. To qualify, I have read many, but not all of these titles so I cannot personally speak about each individual one. But I have added them all to my reading list – even the ones I’ve read many years ago. Because I need to have these stories etched into my mind and across my heart. I, as a white person, will never truly appreciate the Black experience because I cannot myself embody it, but I can do my utmost to be fully educated about it, to know Black stories so I can  empathize with the Black struggle to the best of my ability, and understand the history so I can be a better ally and advocate. We all can do this.

So you do not need to DM a black advocate on Instagram or text your Black friend. Simply pick up the work of these amazing Black authors (I have prioritized mostly women but there men too) who have given us an amazing gift with their words and stories.

While I encourage you to seek out Black-owned bookstores to purchase these books (here is a link to 124 Black-owned bookstores), all the links below are Amazon affiliate links. Amazon does offer access to those who cannot access a Black-owned bookstore in this moment in time. I will be donating 100% of any commission made from the purchase of a book listed below to The Conscious Kid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth. As The Conscious Kid explains,

“To counter racist socialization, structural racism, and racial bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible (Baron & Banaji; Derman-Sparks). Children’s books are one of the most effective and practical tools for initiating these critical conversations with children, and can also be used to model what it means to resist and disrupt oppression.”

All donations made to The Conscious Kid go to a dedicated fund for the organization to get children’s books from their list of “41 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance” into classrooms across the country.

A key step in ending institutionalized racism in our nation is teaching anti-racism to our children. It’s one of many many things we will need to do individually, and collectively, to begin to dismantle systemic racism once and for all.

100% commissions earned from the purchase of these books will go to The Conscious Kid.

image courtesy of ThirdLove

Published at Mon, 08 Jun 2020 22:58:23 +0000

Daydream Destinations – Villa Kuro

For years, our Gotta Getaway series has been a staple on this blog. Travel is one of my main forms of therapy. I use it to clear my head, get perspective and be re-inspired. Even during the times when I didn’t travel much, like when I’d just had a baby, I was constantly thinking about travel, planning it, wishing for it. While we might all watch our 2020 travel plans slip away and wonder when we might get to enjoy safe travel again, I do think it’s important to continue to dream, wish and plan – even if it’s for an unknown future.

So at the risk of torturing you (and myself!) I’m starting a new series – Daydream Destinations, basically as a way to bank a list of all the places that will be atop my travel wishlist once the world comes out the other side of this pandemic.

And I’m starting with a relatively attainable option – a stunning Airbnb tucked away in Joshua Tree – Villa Kuro.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34Villa Kuro on apartment 34

Set in the beautifully remote hills of Joshua Tree National Park, Villa Kuro is a much needed reprieve from your typical Palm Springs vacation rental. No swinging 60’s decor, no bright colors, no manicured lawns. Instead, this space is subdued. It is serene. It feels like you’ve been completely transported. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be transported right about now.

This stunning, tranquil space was actually on my radar before this all started. I’m kicking myself for not getting there when I had the opportunity last fall.

I love the white appliances in this kitchen – I think they’re making a comeback! The built-in niches also offer a laid-back, yet architectural storage solution. Wood beams in the ceiling warm up all of the hard surfaces.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34

Renovated with a nod to wabi-sabi, what was a 60’s ranch style house now features natural materials and textures, highlighted by oodles of natural light flooding through the oversized doors that connect you directly the desert landscape beyond.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34

I spy foraged branches! You see – the trend really does work no matter where you are.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34 Villa Kuro on apartment 34

A perfect mix of both custom, collected and vintage furniture add to the highly curated vibe of the home (the TV also comes pre-packaged with all your Netflix binging needs – but we may have watched everything that’s ever existed by the time we get here).

Villa Kuro on apartment 34Villa Kuro on apartment 34

But the piece de resistance of this vacation rental has to be the tea room – seen in the first image in this post. The designers realized the original garage had the property’s best views so they converted it into a tea room / meditation space, complete with a low slung table, woven mats for sitting and a desert zen garden. What I wouldn’t give for a little more zen right now.

I love the mix of woven elements  used throughout this house – lampshades, baskets, rugs – they juxtapose with the smooth plaster walls so beautifully. Also is anyone else noticing that backlight mirror in this bathroom? Genius move.

Being home is showing us how little we truly need to survive – food, family, a comforting environment – but I do think stepping outside the confines of our world offers points of view you really can’t acquire from your couch.

And I love Villa Kuro’s point of view.

While I’m certainly no medical expert, I’m beginning to consider staying in a vacation rental sometime over the summer. Vacation rentals in California are starting to become available again now. Maybe we won’t have to leave Villa Kuro in the day-dream category for too long.

images courtesy of villa kuro

Published at Wed, 27 May 2020 05:44:43 +0000