naples homeowners

Creating the Perfect Home Office Space

According to the New York Times, 43% of Americans worked from home at least part of the time in 2016. Experts predict that this could increase to 50% by 2020. Therefore, creating the perfect home office space becomes a priority for Naples and Marco Island homeowners. Here are a few key components you’ll need to set up your home office space and be as productive as possible throughout your workday.

Several elements come in to play when creating the perfect home office space for your Naples home. It must be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing in order to make it a place you want to work in.

Home Office Space Essentials

Dedicated Home Office Space

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First and foremost, you’ll need a dedicated space specifically used as a home office. One of the requirements necessary to utilize a home office deduction on your taxes is that you use the space exclusively for business and nothing more. For example, an office that doubles as a guest room might hinder your ability to deduct part of your household expenses for the home office. Consult your tax accountant or preparer if you have any questions about this.

Proper Lighting

If you’ve spent any time in a traditional office setting, you know how harsh overhead fluorescent lights can be on your eyes. Sometimes, you might need a stronger light source for particular projects. Other times, a softer light works just fine. Since this is your personal home office, you get to choose which light fixtures work best for your circumstances. Home improvement stores offer a wide variety of lighting choices. Discuss what you need with a sales associate to help determine which fixtures to install in your Naples home.

Comfortable Furnishings

Plan on working full-time from home? Even a few hours a day wreaks havoc on your body. Therefore, you need comfortable yet supportive furnishings for your home office. Test out several chairs. Make sure the desk can handle all the work you must complete. Include storage bins or other organizational tools to keep all of your supplies in order and available when you need them.

Technology Must-Haves

Since you’ll be working remotely from your Marco Island home office, you’re going to need a good internet connection. If you work in multiple windows at one time, you need a higher speed connection than browsing for recipes or checking your Facebook status require. Also, as technology develops, you might need to update your computer every couple of years to keep up. Consider using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse if you do a lot of typing every day. These help reduce the fatigue in your fingers and wrists.

Personalizing Your Space

Finally, you’re going to want to personalize your space. Just because it’s a home office doesn’t mean it has to be stuffy. Add pictures, artwork, and miscellaneous tchotchkes that mean something to you. Make this a space that you want to work in. Since you’re the only one there, you get to create whatever kind of a work environment you desire. Your only limitation is your imagination.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Creating an Outdoor Space Everyone Can Enjoy

As our population ages, more and more people begin looking at expanding their living area to accommodate people with mobility issues. Last year, the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability/UCED released their Disability Statistics Annual Report. In it, they reported that 12.8% of the American civilian population was disabled. Just over half of these (51%) fell into the 18 to 64 age group, with 41.4% in the 65+ age range. Therefore, it seems appropriate to make your living area as accommodating as possible for family, friends, and inhabitants. This includes creating an outdoor space that everyone can enjoy. But how do you do that? It’s easier than you may think.

Make your outdoor space accessible to all of your guests, including children and people with physical limitations by using these simple suggestions.

Making Your Outdoor Space More Mobile-Friendly

Ramps

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Sometimes, even one step provides an unwelcome obstacle for people with limited mobility. One way to make your home more mobile-friendly is by installing ramps. A slowly sloping walkway makes it easier for people with walkers or wheelchairs to maneuver around both the interior and exterior of your Naples home. While private homes aren’t required by law to be handicapped accessible, following official recommendations by the ADA helps you assess how your home fits these guidelines. Arch Daily provides a simple breakdown of making your home’s design more handicapped accessible.

Walkways

Speaking of walkways, your outdoor space should provide clear, wide pathways for everyone to move through. Yes, pavers, cobblestones, and mulch are pretty accents. However, they make it harder for anyone with a limited range of motion to navigate. This includes anyone on crutches or using a cane. Crushed limestone provides an attractive alternative that is also mobile-friendly. And don’t forget to keep weeds and brush trimmed back from all walkways. Rambunctious children fall prey to errant weeds as much as anyone else. It’s very easy to snag a foot or be hit in the face by overgrowth.

Gardens

Do you enjoy gardening? It’s a great way to stimulate your mind. Some studies show that gardening helps reduce dementia in seniors by as much as 36%. It’s also a wonderful way to teach children where their food comes from. And it looks pretty, too. But it wreaks havoc with your hands, knees, and back. One solution to this is to raise your gardens. Another is to plant vegetables or flowers using a trellis (peas, beans, star jasmine, and wisteria are great for this). Talk to your local garden center or home improvement store for tips on raising your gardens in your outdoor space.

Even if your physical health is excellent at the moment, that could change as you age. You may even know friends and family with physical limitations. A good Naples homeowner wants all their guests to enjoy themselves. With summer in full swing, that means many backyard barbecues. Make your outdoor space easy for all abilities to maneuver by concentrating on the three areas listed above.

Do you or someone you love have a physical limitation? What would you suggest Naples homeowners install to make it easier for guests with physical limitations to relax and enjoy themselves when visiting their home? Please share your ideas and stories in the comments below. Thank you.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples Homeowners: Identifying Potential Foundation Problems

Homes require maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. But, sometimes, repairs can be costly. Correcting foundation problems ranks high on the list of expensive fixes. However, identifying potential foundation problems early might save Naples homeowners thousands of dollars. While huge cracks quickly throw up red flags, foundation issues aren’t always so easy to spot.

Foundation problems can be some of the costliest to repair for Naples homeowners. Learn how to identify potential foundations early on.

Identifying Potential Foundation Problems

Doors and Windows

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Some squeaky doors and windows only need a squirt of WD-40 to work properly again. However, if you find it increasingly difficult to open or close them, this could be an indicator of a bigger problem. The same goes for gaps between the window frame and walls. As a foundation shifts, it distorts the alignment of your Naples home’s frame. Take care of these issues early to save big bucks later on.

Floors and Walls

Next, keep an eye out for floors or ceilings that sag or slant. Shifting weight puts more pressure on other areas of your home, creating sagging. You can use a level to see whether your floor is slanting or not. If the slant continues to increase over a period of time, call a pro in to check it out. Another indicator of a potential problem is a bowed wall. However, don’t mistake a large paint blister/bubble for bowing. That should also be addressed since it could be from heat or water damage. But it does not mean there’s a foundation problem. Have you noticed nails pulling away from the drywall? If this happens regularly, it could be due to foundation problems.

Smells

Musty, moldy smells may point to a plumbing problem. On the other hand, they can also signify a potential foundation issue. If you see mold or smell mildew, try to locate the source of the moisture right away. Check for leaks around the windows or other areas that might be letting moisture gather in the area.

Chimney

Finally, have you looked up at your chimney and thought that it appeared to be leaning slightly? That might be the beginning of a foundation issue. If your chimney moves too much, it could fall over and rip a hole in your roof. Or, worse yet, it could tumble down, raining bricks on unsuspecting people down below. As soon as you notice that your chimney is leaning to one side or the other, contact a specialist to come out right away.

Large cracks are the most obvious signs of potential foundation problems. Call a pro if you see any of the following around your Naples home:

  • Any crack more than 1/8″ wide,
  • Cracks that are narrow on one end and wide on the other,
  • Create a 45 degree angle or run horizontally,
  • Have any leaking water coming from it, or
  • Cracks that run in a “stair-step” pattern on the inside or outside of your home.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples Homeowners: Minor Updates Create a Major Impression in the Kitchen

Kitchens represent the heart of a home. But totally gutting and remodeling one costs tens of thousands of dollars. Naples homeowners can use minor updates to create a major impression in the kitchen. And most of these projects can be completed over the course of one weekend by you alone.

Looking to update the look of your kitchen? Don't want to break the bank to do so? Luckily, Naples homeowners have several options available.

Naples Homeowners: Minor Kitchen Updates That Add a “Wow” Factor

Pulls/Knobs/Handles

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Probably the easiest way for Naples homeowners to update the look of their kitchen is by adding or changing out the pulls, knobs or handles on drawers and cabinets. Concentrate on one finish for the entire room. One that complements your faucet or appliances would be a good choice. Or, for something a little more kitschy, look for porcelain/painted knobs. Always make sure to count how many of each you’ll need before you go shopping. You don’t want to come up short.

Fresh Paint

Another simple solution for Naples homeowners to update their kitchen is with a fresh coat of paint. Make sure you tape off the cabinets, counters, backsplash, appliances, etc. before you paint, though. Otherwise, you risk slopping paint onto these surfaces. Sometimes, the preparation done before you paint takes longer than the actual act of painting. But, it’s worth the time it takes to do the job right. You can always hire a pro to paint. However, this may cost you thousands of dollars to do so. The choice is yours. If you take the DIY route, talk to your local home improvement store about how to prep and paint correctly. A little homework goes a long way.

One of the hottest trends right now is to paint one wall with chalkboard paint. It comes in a variety of colors and can be a fun addition to the room. If you’re not that adventurous, painting one portion of a wall and adding a frame allows a space for your menu, grocery list, weekly activities or anything else you might need to remind your busy family members about.

Cabinets and Shelving

Another kitchen update Naples homeowners might want to consider is painting the cabinets. If they’re in good condition, a coat of paint turns dated cabinetry into a modern masterpiece. For a more sophisticated update, take out the center of your cabinet door and replace it with an opaque glass insert. Over the last couple of years, open shelving became a designer trend. Instead of ripping out all of your cabinets, take down one small section and replace it with simple shelves. Stack your prettiest dishes, cookbooks, potted herbs, or anything else you want to show off here.

Add a Backsplash

For a little more money, add a backsplash in your kitchen. Home improvement stores provide dozens of options. Many of these options are both affordable and can be done by Naples homeowners themselves. Talk to the associate at your local home improvement store for any tips and tricks. You only need to invest a few hours of your time to make a major change in your kitchen’s appearance.

Switch Out the Faucet

One area often overlooked in the kitchen is the faucet. It doesn’t take much effort to switch it out for a newer model. And you literally have hundreds to choose from. Go fancy with a touchless faucet. Change out a solid faucet for a pull-out one with extendable sprayer head. Replace a brass finish with a rubbed bronze or brushed nickel. In just an hour or two, your kitchen faucet will look decades younger.

Add or Update the Lighting

Finally, overhead fluorescent lights are out! Pendants create focused lighting and are great for hanging over an island. Recessed lights add extra illumination without overpowering the area. You might even want to think about adding undercabinet lighting for an elegant soft glow during evening hours.

Any of these simple updates create a major impression in the kitchen of Naples homeowners. Relatively easy and much lower in cost than a major overhaul, most of these updates can be completed over the course of a weekend. A low investment of time and money, a big impact on your kitchen’s appearance. That’s cost-effectiveness at its finest. Which project will you be tackling first?

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos