How to Beat the Winter Blues By Bringing Mother Nature Indoors

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on February 4, 2019

stuck inside winter blues

Did you know that Mother Nature is actually good for your health? Science tells us— it’s a fact!

And while we are so fortunate to live in a place so dedicated to preserving the natural beauty that surrounds us, we can’t always have access to it in these colder months. With the days still short and the sunlight still scarce, it’s no surprise that just about all of us, to some degree, can succumb to those pesky winter blues.

Lack of sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiencies and even impact our brains’ ability to create serotonin, among other issues. Luckily, there are several simple ways to use Mother Nature (and even replicate some of her healing effects) to relieve these sluggish winter blues.

Several studies have proven that having a connection to nature, whether it be through indoor plants or artwork emulating a natural environment, can decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. And even if you are feeling happy and healthy this winter, using Mother Nature to freshen up your space is a boost for anyone’s mood! From indoor plants to nature prints and natural hues, read on to learn how to bring life and light back into your life this season.

Liven Up Your Home — Literally!

 

houseplants

Plants are a necessity for life on earth, as they greatly improve the air quality surrounding our planet. This applies to indoor plants, as well. The simple addition of a houseplant can do wonders for your mental and physical health. A 1989 NASA Study found that several common houseplants can remove carcinogenic chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde, from the air. A similar study reported in Psychology Today showed that the presence of indoor plants to be beneficial in many different settings, from work to schools to hospitals. The findings of the study found plants to play a key role in:

  • Lowering systolic blood pressure
  • Improving reaction times
  • Increasing attentiveness
  • Raising productivity  
  • Improving overall well-being
  • Improving perceptions of the space
  • Lowering levels of anxiety

The simple addition of a houseplant can do wonders for your mental and physical health, but not just ANY plant! Listed below are the top houseplants for best improving air quality, your mood, and are easiest to care for. Fortunately, these plants are all fairly common and can be found at our local nurseries year-round.

houseplant infographic

Branch out.

 

natural wood decor

Wood you believe it? Adding natural wooden elements to your interiors is proven to create similar healing effects to those of indoor plants:

  • Improves air quality by moderating humidity
  • Improves emotional state
  • Lowers blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels
  • Elicits feelings of warmth and comfort

There are several ways to incorporate natural wood into your home’s interior.

Bringing in live-edge, or reclaimed, wood is a great way to start. Adding a piece made from reclaimed wood to your home establishes a rustic look that harmoniously connects your living space to Mother Nature herself. It also adds a unique sense of character to your space, as each piece maintains the natural shape of the tree. You can find (or make, if you’re the craftier type) tabletops, headboards, shelves, accent pieces, or even use it for your flooring if you’re considering a remodel!

natural wood decor

Even using wood as an accent piece or part of your decor brings those natural elements inside your space. You can take branches and transform them into charming wall-mounted works of art or put them in a vase. If you have a fireplace (even if it’s non-functional) you can make an elegant display of your firewood.

Lighten Up!

 

natural light

Research shows that the most likely culprit for the winter blues is lack of sunlight. Our brains release more melatonin during the shorter winter days, which causes that sluggish feeling we know all too well. While we may not be getting much sunlight, you can increase the natural light within your home. Several studies have shown natural light to have a myriad of positive effects. It:

Fortunately, there are several creative ways, ranging from very small to pretty large, to beat this battle of the blahs with your home lighting.

decorative mirror

Utilize mirrors. Help light bounce around the room by placing mirrors around the home. Check to see where the sunlight will directly reflect against the mirror to cast the maximum brightness between the walls. You can add to the mirror effect by choosing accent pieces with a metallic sheen (i.e., silver candlesticks or brass sconces).

Open your drapes. Going au natural with your windows and doors not only significantly opens up the space but also greatly increases the natural light. Letting the sun be your alarm can also reset your sleep cycle by getting your circadian rhythm back on track.

Install a skylight, floor-to-ceiling windows, or replace wall space with glass. Though these are much larger projects to take on, if you’re planning a home renovation, this might be something to consider. This brings a considerable amount of natural light where otherwise no light would be able to enter.

natural light

Consider a light therapy lamp. Especially if the above suggestions aren’t as feasible for your home. Light therapy has a proven track record for treating the symptoms that come with seasonal affective disorder and depression. These lamps come in a variety of sizes and price points and can easily be found, even on Amazon.

Change Your Hue

 

green accent wallColor is much more than just visual experience. Color is actually a psychological experience that can drastically alter mood and emotion. And though it affects different people in different ways, certain shades evoke a similar response from most people. The colors you choose for your home will definitely set the tone for your home. From an accent wall to painting an entire room or hallway, using Mother Nature’s hues in your decor is a great way to radiate cheer during these winter months.

yellow accent wall

  • Green — Calm and relaxing, green is the color of Mother Nature herself. It is known to symbolize growth, harmony, freshness and strong emotional correspondence. Green is considered beneficial to the mind and body and is even known to have a calming effect.
  • Blue — Blue is notoriously cooling and calming and most commonly associated with the sky and heaven. This hue is idealistic, spiritual and sincere.
  • White — Painting your walls a bright white can drastically brighten and open up your space. White is typically associated with light, goodness and cleanliness, therefore creating a sense of contentment.  
  • Yellow — The color of sunshine is unsurprisingly associated with joy, happiness and good energy. Yellow produces a warming effect and stimulates mental activity. However, when using such a bright hue, you will want to keep it smaller, as 4 bright yellow walls can be overwhelming.
  • Orange — Orange combines the vibrant energy of reds with the cheer of yellows. You should also follow the same rule when painting with orange as with yellow, less is more.

Go Artificial

 

nature print home decor

When the reality outside your window is gloomier than you’d like, you can welcome the outdoors with a photograph, print, or painting of your favorite landscape. Even stimulated views of nature have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.

nature print home decor

Maybe it’s a photograph of the ocean horizon from a vacation you went on that you want to enlarge. Or perhaps you saw a gorgeous painting of palm leaves that you’d like to hang. You get to choose which tone you’d like to set when choosing your art. A field of flowers on a bright, sunny day conveys a much different mood than a dark and mysterious forest or even the crashing ocean waves at the shore.

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New Year, New Tech: The Best Smart Home Technology for 2019

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on January 11, 2019

smart homeWith technology continuing to be a growing presence in every aspect of life, the home is no exception especially as new technology becomes available. And new technology is not just a cool gadget — it is also built for functionality in and around the house and office.

Homeowners are continuously presented with a versatile selection of new systems to turn your average home into a smart hub, and setting this up can be as basic as putting a smart speaker in your living room, or as complex as an intricate network of connected devices. Really, making a smart home is up to you, and you can personalize it to your level of comfort.

Whether you want to simply beautify your home or tighten your security, there are clever new technology gadgets that can help you achieve your goals in no time, but wading the waters of smart home products, which fall into dozens of categories, can be daunting. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best products around.

Here’s our roundup of the top new tech that will elevate your home in the new year.

Smart Thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat

nest learning thermostat$249 at Nest.com

Standard programmable thermostats save energy only if they are programmed correctly. Studies have shown that most residential users never program them, or they use the home function to override the programming. According to a 2010 survey from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 89% of respondents rarely or never used their programmable thermostats to set any sort of program. Are you included in this large percentage? Good news, you can save energy with a smart thermostat.

The Nest Learning Thermostat adapts as the seasons change and learns your preferred temperatures throughout the day. Shortly after installation, the temperature settings will acclimatize according to your preferences — for example, cool at night as you hop into bed and a warm 72 degrees in the morning before your cup of coffee. And, when you head to work, Nest uses your phone’s location to determine if you’ve left and enters eco mode, saving energy and reducing your bills by up to 15%.

Smart Thermostat (On A Budget): Nest Thermostat E

nest thermostat e$169 at Nest.com

When you think of the “smart thermostat,” most people think of the Nest Learning Thermostat, mentioned above. That’s because Nest was among the first companies to combine machine learning with heating and cooling your home, and has since been hailed the best smart thermostat manufacturer. However the Learning Thermostat might be out of a lot of peoples’ budgets. That is why Nest has come back with their new, more affordable take on the smart thermostat with the Nest Thermostat E.

The Nest Thermostat E proves that you don’t have to shell out a ton of cash for a smart thermostat. It does away with a few of the more unnecessary features, but it keeps the majority of the smarts and saves you a whole lot of money.

If the Nest Thermostat E is compatible with your setup and you don’t care about the lack of Farsight, which lights up the Learning Thermostat’s display to show you information when the thermostat detects you’re nearby, then the Thermostat E it an excellent option.

Smart Security: Sengled Smart LED Floodlight

sengled led floodlight$149.99 at Sengled.com

Alarm systems years ago were inconvenient, confusing, and even a bit of a hassle to deal with. Luckily, home security systems have come a LONG way over the years. In fact, they have become much smarter, making your home become much easier and much more convenient. Whether you’re out on vacation, at work, or even just running errands, the right security system can make ALL the difference in keeping your home and loved ones safe.

The Sengled Smart LED Floodlight includes Wi-Fi and a built-in camera complete with night vision and motion detection. You can get an alert on your phone when any motion is detected and monitor your home from anywhere using the compatible app. In addition, the lightbulb comes equipped with a built-in microphone and speaker, so you can two-way talk with family and look out for your pets.

The best part about this system? It won’t break your budget.

Smart Plug: The Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug

belkin wemo insight smart plug$49.99 @ belkin.com

The smart plug is more than just a way to control devices plugged into it. It’s also a way to monitor your energy usage, and get estimates on how much powering certain devices in your home is going to cost. Our pick for the best smart plug goes to the Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug.

This plug is great if you’re trying to save some money and be a bit more energy conscious. While it is a bit on the bulky side, you may be able to live with it for all the dollars/pounds you save on your monthly energy bill. It also comes with a compatible app so you can control it from your phone.

It also connects to wide range of smart home platforms, from IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest and Samsung SmartThings.

Smart Lock: August Smart Lock

august smart lock pro$149 – $279 at August.com

Keyless entry to your home is gaining popularity for increased security and ease of use (not to mention, all those times we accidentally misplace our keys), and smart lock brand August offers that access with its total control home lock system. The August Smart Lock allows users to lock or unlock their home from anywhere at any time via the smartphone app. The lock’s step-up option, Smart Lock Pro, can even be voice activated, compatible with Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

And while there are plenty of smart locks out there designed to completely replace your old lock in favor of a keypad or new keyhole, some people want to keep the ability to use their older keys.

That is where August comes out on top with the August Smart Lock Pro, which fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key when you (or your landlord) wants to, while still adding the benefits of a smarter lock.

Though not cheap, it is hailed by many as the best manufacturer of these smart locks, and for good reason.

Smart Doorbell: Nest Hello

nest hello$229 at Nest.com

In addition to its home climate control technology, Nest offers excellent home security options as well, including its smart doorbell— Say hello to the Nest Hello.

Residents using Nest Hello have 24/7 access to high-definition video streaming from their doorstep. The camera in the doorbell has night vision for when it’s dark out, 160-degree views and visitor detection alerts. The smart doorbell also includes a speaker and microphone that allows you to speak to people at your door without having to be there. You also have the option to prerecord messages, look back at previous footage and receive special detection alerts and visuals for visitors and packages. Not bad for a doorbell, right?

Smart Smoke Detector: Nest Protect

nest protect$119 @ nest.com

Nest doesn’t just make great smart thermostats and doorbells: it also offers smoke alarms that can connect to the rest of your smart home. The Nest Protect looks great with its new re-design and offers great connectivity through Wi-Fi and IFTTT.

The Nest Protect will alert you if there’s a fire, even if you’re on the other side of the world. The accompanying app is well designed and easy to use, too – though hopefully, you’ll never need it. It even has a Split-Spectrum Sensor and tests itself automatically. Nest also guarantees your smoke detector will last up to a decade, making the $119 more than worth it.

Smart Sleep: Wellnest Lumi

wellnest lumiPreorder for 50% off at wellnestgroup.com

Did you know that you can even use technology to improve your sleep? Wellnest’s Lumi is a smart sleep light that combines sleep tracking technology (a motion tracking belt) with a smart wake-up light to facilitate users into both a comfortable sleep and a well-rested, on time wakeup. The typical blue/white light emitted by screens on our cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm, or your sleep/wake rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. But on the flip side, red light, like the one used in the Lumi light, stimulates melatonin production, and thus aid you fall asleep easier and deeper.

By way of the Wellnest Lumi app, users can see the tracked data on nearly every aspect of their sleep: number of tosses and turns, number of breaks, heart rate, sleep duration, and more. This data is stored so users can understand their sleep pattern and learn how adjust their routines to optimize how they sleep.

Smart Dog: SpotOn

spoton collar$1,495 at spotoncollar.com

Imagine where you and your dog could go together if you could make any location as safe as your own backyard. The good news for our furry friends is that, you can! After all, why should smart home technology be limited to us humans? SpotOn aims to keep our four-legged family members safe with its virtual fence and dog training collar. The SpotOn Collar technology uses satellite-based perimeters to allow owners to set a specific “fenced in” area for their pets. The collar then contains and tracks the pets. This piece is as portable and as important as your pets.

Though this one is a pricey investment, we all can agree that our furry family members are worth it.

Smart Irrigation: Orbit B-Hyve

orbit b-hyve$99 @ https://bhyve.orbitonline.com/

While smart irrigation systems may not necessarily be something new in the budding green industry, it’s no secret that these types of technological tools are becoming more prevalent when it comes to landscaping. According to online survey research collected from Orbit, almost 70% of Americans claim they know how long they should water their lawn, but the report shows that the same group drastically underestimates how much water they use when irrigating.

Orbit’s B-Hyve Smart Irrigation System helps you water smarter by is adapting your lawn’s watering needs based on the surrounding climate, thanks in part to its WeatherSense technology that receives local weather data and automatically adjusts watering times and amounts accordingly. The B-Hyve gives you total freedom to control it via its app from anywhere you need to be. Save time, money and water with the best smart irrigation device on the market in 2019.

Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo 2nd Generation

amazon echo$99.99 @ amazon.com

Amazon’s original Alexa-powered speaker became the first smart home product for millions of people around the world. This sequel is even better— and we’ll tell you why. It’s affordable, especially compared to the smart speaker systems on the market today. It’s stylish, with new fabric finishes to fit within the interior design of your home. And Amazon is constantly upgrading and updating Alexa, especially now that so many alternatives on the market are directly competing with the Echo speaker family.

The Echo 2nd gen assimilates with your Amazon account, after which you can ask it to do a seemingly endless amount of things like order food, set alarms, turn on lights, read the news, make phone calls and, of course, control your other smart home devices – making it a super useful addition to your smart home devices list.

Smart Lighting: Philips Hue

philips hueStarter Kit on sale for $159.99 @ https://www2.meethue.com/en-us

Smart lighting is actually surprisingly helpful and does some pretty amazing things: turn off when you leave the house, turn on when you come home, make lights warmer or cooler throughout the day, flash to notify you of events or new information and even change colors, making lighting even more useful than normal. Our top pick of all the smart bulbs on the market is the Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Kit.

The Philips Hue bulbs can adjust to over 16 million different colors, transforming your home into the perfect party venue, bringing a bedtime story to life, and much more. As far as the white lights go, users can utilize over 50,000 shades of warm to cool white light to put them in the mood to work, play, or relax — no matter what time of day it is. Users can start their mornings off on the right foot with cool, energizing bright white light, or settle down for the night with golden tones. They can even program the lights to turn off and on to their personal settings automatically with the mobile app, no matter where they might be.

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Rob Rice Homes – Campus Peak

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What do Cle Elum, Port Orchard and Lacey have in common? Besides being cities in Washington, they are all locations where you can buy a newly constructed home on a golf course. A quick search of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows that there are fewer than 40 brand new homes for sale throughout almost […]

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