A Place in the Sun, Part 4: Let Your Patio Tell the Story of Your Summer

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees…I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

You said it, Fitzy.  Summertime is more than just shorts and swimming pools.  From June to August, life’s personality gets more vibrant.  Old Man Winter is all about baking and hiding under blankets.  But Summer brings out the kid in all of us, dreaming of Slip ‘N Slides and backyard BBQ’s.  

If you paid heed to anything we said in Parts 1-3, then you’ve taken care of the ‘responsible’ stuff, the adult stuff.  Now it’s time to have a little fun, and let your imagination turn your patio or deck into a warm weather oasis (on a budget).

 Keep Things Comfy, and Create Your Calm

It’s hard to wash away the stress of the work week if you don’t have a comfortable spot to retreat to.  You can find inexpensive patio furniture at IKEA, but know what to look for.  Be frugal, but don’t skimp on quality.  Your outdoor pieces have to stand up to the elements, so look for strong cushions and fabrics.  Make sure what you buy is easily portable, for storage out of the sun when not in use.

Now how ‘bout a little ambiance?  Plant some mature lemon grass in your garden and around your deck – it’s a natural mosquito repellant.  And if your space is short on shade, a quick DIY misting rack or waterslide can be finished in a matter of minutes, to keep everyone calm and cool.

Time to Light Up the Night

Just because the sun has set, doesn’t mean it’s time to call it a night.  You can’t enjoy S’mores in the daytime, can you?  Well, I guess you could, but it just seems wrong.  You have multiple options for backyard lighting, depending on your budget.  But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, inexpensive solar lights or candles create a warm look that sets the right, quiet mood. 

But in general, people tend to gather, and your back yard needs a centerpiece.  A simple, DIY fire pit can be built within hours, and for only about $50.  Always practice safety – let the fire burn down completely if you can before heading inside.  But if you need to extinguish quickly, use a shovel or stick to spread the ashes evenly, then pour water over the pit, making sure to completely saturate the fire.  Stir the ashes and saturate one more time, until everything is cool to the touch.

Now you’re ready for the Summer!  Sit back, pour something over ice, and spend the time with those who mean the most to you, because it won’t last forever.  The nights will inevitably cool, and your tan lines will slowly fade.  But the memories of Summer can last a lifetime, as long as you create them at home.


Make Your Next Move With Us

“It’s inspiring to be a part of something unique, something bigger than yourself, that the industry hasn’t seen before.  d’aprile properties is about camaraderie; you’re given all the tools you need to flourish in your own business, but everyone takes part in making each other successful.”

–Mark Koehler, Top Producing Agent, d’aprile properties 

Why do we do what we do?  The backbone of d’aprile properties’ company culture is a strong blend of collaboration, dedication, and focus on client service.  We are a group that embodies energy and effort.  The professional success story of each and every one of our agents is our primary focus, but not at the expense of any one individual’s life balance.  Through group training, information sharing, and team collaboration, we look to professionally empower each and every d’aprile broker – while allowing the freedom to succeed as an individual, spouse, or parent as well.

Always, we are a family, one that is constantly growing.  Our search for dedicated, passionate individuals never stops.  Our latest office location – opening in the heart of Lakeview this Spring – will better allow us to serve our Northside Chicago customers.  But beyond the city’s limits, our branches throughout Chicagoland, Wisconsin and northern Indiana represent our dedication to strengthening the relationship with our client base throughout the Midwest.

Your personal horizon will move farther away the longer you sit and stare at it.  It’s time to make your next move, with us.  Anyone looking for the chance to pursue their dreams need only call; we’d love to share our experience with you, and welcome you to the family.


A Place in the Sun, Part III – Despite What Momma Said, It’s What’s on the Outside That Counts

 

Doesn’t your house just FEEL better?  You’ve opened it up, aired it out, and in doing so banished Winter and every trace of the melancholy funk it leaves behind.  Well done you!  Time to make a sandwich, kick back, and put your feet up, right?

Slow your roll there, Dagwood.  There is a big difference between what makes up your house, and the entirety of what makes up your home.  After all, isn’t Summertime sort of defined by what happens in the back yard?  What good is a clean, fresh interior when all your neighbors see is the Klopek’s house from The ‘Burbs every time they look out their window?  It’s time to put down that cold beverage, and grab a hat and some work gloves.  We’ve got more Summer-izin’ to do outside!

It Ain’t Easy Being Green (in the Midwest)

Let’s start with the obvious – look under your feet.  That yellowish brown straw is your grass, friend.  The cold and snow have put a stranglehold on your lawn, and just like any tree or shrub, your grass needs to bring air, water, and nutrients into its root system.  Aerate your soil by perforating it with a spike or plug aerator.  Doing this in the Spring when the ground is moist ensures that the grass will heal and fill in any open holes after soil plugs are removed. 

Follow that by using a firm rake to remove any lasting thatch or leaves that may be preventing sunlight from getting through to your grass.  Finally, use those gloves to clear underbrush from around the trees and shrubs in your yard.  You’ll not only eliminate clutter, but also keep bugs at bay by taking away the places they like to hide.

Feed Your Lawn…Feed It

Your lawn now has one of the three basic necessities that all living things need to…you know, keep on living.  But just like your Uncle Louie thirty minutes before Thanksgiving dinner, your lawn can get ‘hangry’ if not properly nourished with the other two.  Start by inspecting the heads and valves on your sprinkler system for leaks and/or clogs, and check the water pressure to make sure you’re covering the whole area.  If your system is on a timer, you may need to adjust the schedule to accommodate Spring timeframes.

Now time for the main course.  The easy part?  Unlike Louie, your grass only needs grub twice a year.  The hard part is knowing what type of grass you’re dealing with.  ‘Cool-season’ grasses should be fertilized in early Spring and early Fall, while ‘Warm-season’ types are better in Spring and Summer (check THIS link for identifiers if you’re not sure which type you have).  Make sure to cover the entire yard, without overlapping any areas.  Finish up by turning those sprinklers on, and letting the water help the soil absorb its food. 

You’re almost finished!  Check back next Tuesday, for the final touch.  It’s time for the finishing touches….


A Place in the Sun, Part II: Open Up Your Home, and Let the Summer IN!

 

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

That means we can stop cleaning the house, right? 

‘Fraid not.  You and your family have spent most of the winter indoors, with all of the windows and doors sealed tight.  But now the weather’s warming up, the sun is shining, and after months of being shut in together, you’re realizing that your house has gotten a bit…well, funky.

Never fear!  Nothing freshens up your home faster than simply opening it up, and letting Mama Nature inside to do her magic.  So send the kids to play outside – that’s the green area they’ll see out the window once they put down the iPad – and follow these steps to fill your home with the promise of summer!

Open Door Policy

Windows and doors seem like a good place to start, don’t they?  Allow that perfect summer breeze in by cleaning your screen doors and window screens; they’ve spent months playing catcher to all of the dirt and debris thrown at your abode by fall winds and winter storms. 

Now focus on the framework.  Changing temperatures and increased moisture can warp screen and door frames, especially if they’re made of wood.  Add a little lubrication to the hinges and latches, then tighten everything up to make sure things open and close as they should.

Go with the Flow

You’ve let the air in, now make sure that it keeps moving freely to every corner.  Check your ceiling fans – which way do they spin?  Chances are you can adjust the rotation; blades moving counter-clockwise will push cold air downward to help create a natural breeze.

But the fan alone won’t be enough to keep you and your family cool the whole season, so be sure to replace your air conditioner’s filters every 90 days.  In fact, it’s a good idea to have a professional come out and give your A/C a tune up once a year.  They’ll check for leaks and ensure that your house stays nice and cool during those scorching summer days down the road.

A Little Pillow Talk

You tend to focus mainly on the ‘gathering areas’ of your home.  But just like any hotel, bedrooms and guest rooms need to be turned over on a regular basis.  Open up the windows for several hours, and swap out heavy comforters for some lighter linens.  Toss any non-foam pillows in the dryer (covers on) with a fabric softener sheet.  Five minutes, and they’ll be freshly fluffed and ready to welcome any sleepy head staying in your house.

Now tilt your head back, close your eyes, and inhale deep.  Oh that’s goooooooood.  Not a hint of gym socks or litter box, just the sweet perfume of summer’s impending arrival.  It should just smell clean.

Come back next Tuesday.  Time to head out into the yard, and get a little dirty. 


Fly the W, Always

There’s an old joke that asks, “Why are Cubs fans the best fans to date?”

Because they never expect a ring.

Ouch.  As painful as it is to admit here in Chicago, it has been a long, long time since the Cubbies last brought home a World Series victory.  107 years, to be exact.  That means the sun has risen more than 39,000 times since the Boys in Blue last popped the champagne.  Eighteen different Presidents have sat in the Oval Office.  Haley’s Comet has come and gone.  Twice.

Ask your average Illinois resident, and you’ll get a colorful assortment of catalysts for this century-long drought, a feat unmatched in modern professional sports.  Some choose to blame farm animals.   Others cursed a 26-year old human resources worker from the Northern suburbs. 

But the fact of the matter is, after watching their team play more than 16,000 games since it’s last championship, the North Side’s long-suffering fan base has every reason to be jaded.  They are well within their right to greet each new Opening Day with a collective ‘Meh’.    Double digit decades’ worth of disappointment take their toll, and in this day of inherent skepticism and faux outrage, it’s a wonder even the most ardent fan doesn’t give up on the game altogether.

But a funny thing happens on the way to 1060 West Addison.  This city, built on a foundation of integrity, hard work, and sense of community, refuses to give up on their so-called “Loveable Losers.”  Fans continue to pack the seats of historic Wrigley Field, game after game, season after season.  They do so – not with a fool’s hope – but with a genuine sense of pride in their team, its venue, and their fellow fanatic brotherhood.  It is an attitude that permeates not only the city’s love of sport, but it’s outlook toward daily life.  From its sense of family to its entrepreneurial fire, Chicago simply never gives up on anything it considers its own.

That’s a testament to the spirit of this great city and those who populate it, be they born and bred Chicagoans, or transplants looking for a place to finally settle in and call home.  Hopefully, on a clear fall day in 2016, the city will be rewarded for its loyalty (and its patience) with a chance to revel in the glory of its favorite sons.


A Place in the Sun – Part One

Ah, the schizophrenic weather patterns of Chicagoland in April!  Only in the heartland can a peaceful 70-degree, Dr. Jekyll kind of sunny afternoon turn into the mindless rage of a Mr. Hyde-like evening hailstorm only hours later.  It goes without saying that living in the Midwest requires thick skin, and the ability to plan ahead.  There are no two words in the English language that can bring a chill, both literally and figuratively, to the spine of the average Chicagoan quite like lake-effect.

So to say that we here at d’aprile properties get excited for Summertime is something of an understatement.  Some might say we get irrationally excited.  Some would even go as far to say that putting on shorts and driving on the freeway with the windows down because the temp hit 40 degrees for the first time since Halloween is a wee…bit…mad. 

Well, in the face of those Debbie Downers we proudly cry “AU CONTRAIRE!”  Because in reality, the clouds parting in April are the first sign that margaritas on the back porch in June are only two short months away.  And chances are, while your mind may already be poolside, your home isn’t quite ready for the warmer weather.  In fact, raise your hand if you just winced painfully, realizing that there may or may not be a couple of holiday decorations that haven’t found their way into your garage yet.

Be it ever so cruel, Summer lasts only a dozen fleeting weekends.  If you’re not careful, Labor Day will sneak up behind you and scream “BOO!”, leaving you shaking your head as you begrudgingly get the kids ready for school.  But by thinking ahead, and getting your home into summer-mode, you’ll put you and your family in a position to cherish each and every minute of the season. 

To help in your efforts, every Tuesday this month we’ll be featuring one of a four-part guide to making sure your home, your property, and your mindset are ready for bikini season.  Following this rambling introduction, each post will focus on different ways to prep your palace for party season:

1.)    Open Up Your Home, and Let the Summer IN!

2.)    Despite What Momma Said, It’s What’s on the Outside That Counts.

3.)    Let Your Patio Tell the Story of Your Summer.

As the days get longer and the sleeves get shorter, make sure that your family is ready to spend the summer months making memories, not excuses.   Dust off your flip-flops and put on your sunscreen; it’s time to Summer-ize your home.  

Check back next Tuesday for Part Two.  When you decide to pour your first margarita is entirely up to you.


Breaking Down ‘The Bean’

The eye is a very quick instrument, much quicker than the ear.  The eye gets it immediately.

–A. Kapoor

Our great city of Chicago is often defined by its architectural idiosyncrasies that, when pieced together as a whole, help define its unique character and show off its flair.  From the old-school glamour of the Chicago Theater marquee, to the welcoming majesty of Navy Pier’s Ferris wheel – Chi-town deservedly flaunts its tail feathers.  It continues to distinguish itself as a center of culture and beauty amid the plains of the Midwest.

But have you ever stopped to think about the local significance of what is perhaps the city’s most recognizable landmark, that gleaming jewel at the center of Millennium Park known to most locals simply as ‘The Bean’?  One only needs to head to the Loop and gaze into its reflections to understand why the average Chicagoan’s chest swells when boasting about their beloved hometown.

Officially named ‘Cloud Gate’ by its creator, famed British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, The Bean was originally intended to represent a spiritual sense of immateriality through its reflective surface.  Taking inspiration for the sculpture from liquid mercury, Kapoor intentionally removed any hint of the surface’s seams.  The idea was that the structure would act as a gate, whose purpose was to bridge the space between the sky and the viewer. 

But for most of the city’s residents, The Bean has come to suggest an idea that’s a little more down to earth.  Across its exterior surface, the city’s skyline is reflected but distorted, bringing the tip of each mirrored building closer to the ground as you approach.  But once you enter the chamber (or ‘navel’) underneath, you’re greeted with a new perspective of yourself and those around you. 

No longer does the city seem so massive, its imposing skyline dwarfing bystanders from above.  Rather, you’re embraced by a view of the city that is much more grounded and personal, reflected in the smiles of those placing their hands on its cold, smooth surface.  The Bean reminds everyone, residents and tourists alike, that no matter how much time you spend elsewhere, the city of Chicago will always welcome you home.

 


Living in a Land of Virtual Realty

The shape of the real estate industry is constantly being molded by new technology.  These changes don’t come at a crawl, but rather in leaps and bounds – allowing realtors the opportunity each and every season to create new and unique ways to provide value to their clients.  Key card lock boxes offered the freedom to view properties at all times of day.  High resolution photography allowed sellers to show off the true beauty of their homes, no matter the season.  And virtual floor plans gave potential buyers a real feel for the flow of a particular home without ever stepping foot in the property.

Today, Virtual Reality is dramatically changing the way that people view property listings, thanks to a company called Matterport.  The startup has developed a unique camera that is geared toward professional real estate photographers.   Through the utilization of special software, the camera is able to capture 3-D images to create completely immersive virtual tours.  Customers view listings via the use of VR headgear, transporting them instantly into a virtual property of their choosing, without ever physically leaving the confines of their agent’s office.

Imagine the possibility of a person living in California – whose job will be relocating them to the Chicago area – being able to participate in a full-fledged tour of a city property, without ever having to jump on a plane.  With a step forward and a movement of their head, they can look closer at the backsplash in the kitchen to make sure it meshes nicely with the countertop.  Even more dramatic will be the ability to take a few extra steps out on to the virtual balcony, to see just how much they would enjoy having their morning coffee staring out at an incredible Chicago skyline. 

But the VR headset isn’t even a requirement – the technology is already available on special tablets.  Soon, Matterport will also roll out a mobile version, allowing customers to view complete 3D tours right from their smart phone.  Never before has home searching been more accessible than it is today.  Imagine what tomorrow will bring…


A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

We all start somewhere. 

At d’aprile properties, we pride ourselves on being the go-to experts for real estate throughout Great Lakes region, with roots stretching across the entire Midwest.  But our foundation lies among the myriad of individual neighborhoods that make up the great city of Chicago. 

We began with a small office in the West Loop, and no matter how far across the country we look to expand, our work ethic was born and bred right here in the city.  Our personality and culture draw strength from the harmony between Chicago’s diverse districts, allowing us a unique insight into the broad spectrum of our clients’ wants and needs.

That is why we at d’aprile are proud to announce the opening of our new city office location, right in the heart of Lakeview!  Sitting a few doors down from where Lincoln, Greenview, and Barry all come together, our new branch provides a more localized vantage point for our agents to better serve their Northside clients. 

From booming Lincoln Avenue, across to North Halstead, and on through to the Lakeshore – the individual pieces of Lakeview come together to form a detailed portrait of city life.  While serving as a gateway to all the charm that Chicago has to offer, Lakeview still retains its proud, close-knit neighborhood feel.

Drawn in by the beautiful stretch of shoreline along its eastern border, residents are able to take advantage of highly regarded public and private school systems, as well as ample commuter lines providing access to the entire city, and beyond.  Finding a fulfilling work/life balance is made easy, as the community takes pride in serving the beating heart of diversity, art, and culture in the area. 

Whatever brings you to Lakeview – a desire to visit historical Wrigley Field or the bustling shops and restaurants of the Southport Corridor – be sure and stop by d’aprile properties to say hello.  We’re so proud to call this amazing community our home!


DOGGONE IT, TIME TO MOVE

OK, if you’re the type of person who hates change, raise your hand.

Wow.  Ok.  That’s….a lot of you.  Do you hold meetings?

But in all seriousness, we get it.  Major life changes carry with them a level of uncertainty, and uncertainty can fray your nerves and cost you precious sleep.  Let’s face it – nothing causes upheaval in your life quite like moving day.  Your home, that sanctuary of calm and safety, draped in a blanket of cellophane and stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts.  It’s enough to make even the most poker-faced among us twitch.

But think about this: if it causes YOU that much stress, what effect is it having on the furriest of your family members?  Whether you realize it or not, your pet is constantly pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down; they read your emotions better than any mood ring.  You’ve prepped your human children for the big day, so why would you neglect Mr. Whiskers?

Some tips from your friends at d’aprile:

Don’t Procrastinate – Pulling an all-nighter to pack the day before is a surefire way to stress your pet out.  Pack over time, keeping things as normal as possible.  And make sure to leave their bed, water bowl, etc. until the very end.  Also, don’t make drastic changes to their routine; feed and walk them as you normally would.  And remember to keep their toys, treats, and medication off of the moving truck, and with you for the journey.

Plan Ahead – There’s going to be a lot of traffic in your new home over the first couple of days, which could mean a lot of open doors and windows.  It can be easy for a jittery pet to to sneak out, so be sure to update your pets tags with your new address and/or phone number.  And just to be safe, keep a photo of your pet on hand, to show neighbors just in case they choose to hightail it out of there (terrible pun intended). 

Help Them Settle, GretelIt’s going to take everyone time to acclimate to their new surroundings, so now is not the time to trust your pets to always make the right choice.  Always take them out on a leash to explore their new territory, and try to return home the same way, at least in the beginning.  A little routine can go a long way to making them feel comfortable.

By thinking ahead and keeping a positive attitude, you can ensure that everyone – including your favorite Furball – settles into your new place quickly and easily.  Let the shedding begin.