I’ve long admired German designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s Kubus storage containers. Designed in 1938, the stackable kitchen containers, in a thick Bauhaus-ian style glass, feature corresponding glass lids. The containers are still airtight without the gaudy plastic or wildly multi-colored tops. Sometimes those things are fine, but when your storage containers sit out on your countertop, shouldn’t they be as beautiful and well-made as any table lamp or centerpiece dish?
In the past, we’ve profiled our favorite plastic-free storage containers for the kitchen, but for the purists and glassware enthusiasts out there, here’s our list of all-glass containers that fit the bill.
This International Women’s Day, get to know ten women who are opening doors for themselves and for other women in the highly competitive fields of architecture and real estate. Each of these women has carved a unique path to success, but all are united by their professional drive, their passion to support other women, and their sheer tenacity. In the words of Jessica Miller Essl, founder of M2G Ventures, “anyone that gets in your way is just that, in your way.”
Kara Mann, Founder and Creative Director of Kara Mann
Since establishing her own design firm in Chicago in 2005, some of Mann’s notable projects include designing a home for Virgil Abloh, a pop-up shop for Goop, Hotel Chelsea, product lines with Baker furniture, and most recently, her first ground-up condominium development, 1000M. Having broken ground in 2019, Mann created the interior layouts and finish selections for the residences as well as designed the 40,000 square feet of indoor, outdoor, and amenity spaces.
We are cognizant of the need to continuously develop a woman leader…[at] the local, the state and national level, and that’s a part of what the Women’s Council of Realtors helps to do…develop the next wave of leaders.
Nykea Pippion McGriff, Broker at Dream Town Realty
Nykea Pippion McGriff is passionate about real estate and her hometown of Chicago, where she works as a broker with Dream Town Realty. In addition to her work as a broker, Nykea serves as the National Association of Realtors appointed Federal Political Coordinator for the 1st Congressional District of Illinois and is the 2018 President-Elect of the Women’s Council of Realtors Illinois (WCR). She also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Realtors, Chicago Association of Realtors, and IDFPR Real Estate and Disciplinary Board.
Marianne McKenna is an invested Officer of the Order of Canada and an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Conservatory. Her impressive roster of projects include Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Northwestern University, The Royal Conservatory and the Conrad New York. With a focus on engaging community through design and concert hall architecture, Marianne’s current projects include an expansion for The Brearley School in New York City, renovation of the iconic Massey Hall, Boston University’s Data Sciences Center and the 130-year-old Bloor Street United Church.
We are fast-moving beyond the first waves of liberal and pragmatic feminism that made access and education available and gave voice to women and made them visible. A more broad-based, philosophical feminism that values talent, focus, and the ability to listen more broadly will be at the forefront of changes within the profession of architecture.
Highlyann Krasnow, Partner at MNS
Afterstarting her career as a broker fresh out of college, Krasnow worked to become the only female partner at MNS, a sales and rental brokerage that has sold or rented more than 12,000 units totaling more than $10 billion in real estate throughout New York City. Additionally, Krasnowhas also launched her own eco-friendly interior design firm, The Design High, a women-run company and the exclusive design wing of MNS.
Real estate has largely been dubbed a ‘male-driven industry,’ though this is changing at a rapid pace and should by no means steer women away from the field.
Arlinda Dine, EVP of New Development Marketing at Modern Spaces
At New York City-based real estate group, Modern Spaces, Arlinda Dine oversees new projects from conceptual and financial projections, through sales and beyond. She has worked on numerous large-scale projects, like One Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Edge, where she was actively involved in every aspect of the development process, from negotiation and pricing, to marketing and sales. Over the past two years, she has spearheaded the marketing and sales efforts for Skyline Tower, the tallest building in the borough of Queens.
Real estate is still a male-dominated profession, but major firms…are finally starting to recognize the value of diversifying their workforce, and we are slowly starting to see things change. It will take time, but diversity is becoming more widespread in our industry.
Natalie Diaz, Chief of Staff at Time Equities Inc.
Natalie Diaz joined Time Equities Inc. (TEI) in 2011 as the Executive Assistant to CEO Francis Greenburger. Natalie now holds the position of Chief of Staff. In her role as COS, Diaz works with both the CEO and President of TEI to create and/or refine company-wide policies and procedures to support efficient internal operations and interdepartmental communication. Diaz oversees all marketing and communications for the firm. Last year, Diaz founded the Women’s Equity Committee (WEC) at TEI and is passionate about increasing inclusion from diverse female voices.
Working in a male dominated industry, I quickly realized to rise above it, meaning I didn’t dwell on the fact that I am in the minority. Kick ass and you will rise above it. Anyone that gets in your way, is just that, in your way.
Jessica Miller Essl, Co-President, M2G Ventures
Sisters Susan and Jessica Miller founded M2G Ventures in 2014 to invest in distinctive, mixed-use and industrial development projects in Fort Worth, TX. To date, the firm has handled over $60 million in property, primarily in the urban center of Fort Worth. M2G also specializes in limited strategic consulting for legacy projects, and has been selected as the exclusive retail and restaurant partner for the $200 million redevelopment of the Horse and Mule Barns located in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Maile Aguila, Senior Vice President of Residential Sales for Swire Properties Inc
With over 30 years of real estate experience, Maile Aguila has led sales efforts for the company’s Brickell Key developments, an impeccable record that has generated more than $800 million in revenue for the Tequesta Point, Courts Brickell Key, Carbonell and Asia condominiums. Currently, Maile is focused on the sellout of two premier residential towers, Reach and Rise Residences at Brickell City Centre, the $1.05 billion mixed-use development in Miami.
Your gut feeling is your compass, and it is informed by the powerful combination of your heart, mind and body. Tune into it and don’t let anyone tell you not to pay attention to it.
Elana Friedman, Chief Marketing Officer for AKA
As the Chief Marketing Officer of AKA, Elana Friedman takes under-the-radar hotels and puts them on the global stage. She is known in the hospitality industry for her creative ideas, such as the first-ever outdoor hotel bedroom for serviced residences AKA, which led to an influx of worldwide visitors seeking the best of both worlds — a well-designed residence with the amenities of a hotel — for longer stays. The outdoor bedroom became so popular that it set off a trend and has been duplicated by other hotels. Elana also was the first to create a luxury mobile suite, which she launched with an Airstream 2 Go at AKA Beverly Hills.
Find your passion and be willing to work hard. Don’t give up when it gets tough, and it will. Surround yourself with great people with whom you can be vulnerable. Most important, strive to find and be your authentic self. Life is a journey, and we are all works in progress.
Florence Quinn, President and Founder, Quinn PR
As President and Founder of Quinn PR, Florence Quinn serves as the luxury agency’s strategic and creative director. Her agency of the same name focuses on real estate, travel, and hospitality, and was named one of the “Most Powerful PR Firms of 2019” by Observer. Florence’s ability to anticipate trends and strike at just the right moment has allowed her to grow a one-woman firm to the 70-person, multi-million-dollar, award-winning company it is today. With offices in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, Florence Quinn continues to inspire her team to achieve excellence.
In a few weeks, I’ll be moving into a newly-renovated rental house that comes completely devoid of window treatments; an interior that’s bare and naked to the street. It’s left me feeling vulnerable and a little stressed. The task: How to tastefully outfit 12 windows without breaking the bank. After all, I am only renting! The answer: simple white roller shades for a near-effortless option that feels unobtrusive and less committal than fabric curtains. For added privacy, without blacking out the room, here are our 10 favorite light-filtering roller shades in prices ranging from $15 to $300 plus each.
N.B.: For more about roller shades and installation see our post Remodeling 101: Simple Roller Shades.
In New York City’s always-competitive real estate market, fixer-uppers are the answer to finding the right space at the right price. As evidenced by our before-and-after renovation “reveals” every week, a property can become a dream home with a little TLC and a general contractor you can communicate with and trust. We’re obsessed with scouting on-the-market properties from NYC’s real estate marketplace StreetEasy. Here, we share a few of the currently available homes that will inspire your search.
146 West 121st Street
Located in a neighborhood that routinely sees homes sell for upwards of $4 million, this five-story townhouse in South Harlem is a find. It is currently set up as an SRO (single room occupancy) and has one tenant in place already. It has 11 rooms, eight bedrooms, and three baths and is in need of a renovation, but has original details like fireplaces and wood floors and woodwork. It is a great opportunity for a multi-family investment.
46 Mercer Street #7W
This condo has sweeping views of SoHo—you can see all the way to Hudson Yards. Its 13-foot-high ceiling is pretty impressive as well. Oh, and did we mention the space is primed and ready for renovation? It has been completely gutted, so feel free to bring your general contractor or architect when you check it out to help you envision what your dream apartment could look like. Right now, there is a floor plan for three bedrooms and three baths—but this 2,000-square-foot space can really be what you make of it.
68 Middleton Street
This legal two-family home has a walk-down basement and separate front entrance. It is a three-bedroom-over-two duplex and has an existing footprint of 1,650 square feet. Another property ideal for multi-family investment, its location in popular Williamsburg is just a short walk from the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants and stores, but still has a quaint residential vibe.
1478 East 28th Street #1PP
Renovating a small space can help maximize its potential. Even though this studio apartment is diminutive, it has outsize potential. It has a steady stream of natural light from its living room and bathroom windows—and a large closet to boot. Re-envision the kitchen and spruce up the bathroom and you will have the perfect studio in Midwood, Brooklyn.
5601 Riverdale Avenue #4T
This co-op in Riverdale is great for commuters, with easy access to the bus, Metro-North train, and major highways. With a little updating, this studio will be a steal, as it also boasts hardwood floors, two rooms, and a bathtub/shower combo. Plus, it is conveniently located near a major shopping plaza and numerous dining establishments.
1 Metropolitan Oval #6E
This large one-bedroom condo in Parkchester is appealing for its locale (it is close to shops and restaurants) as well as its potential. It is spacious, featuring a large living area that can take on different configurations, a nook near the kitchen that can be converted into an office or dining space, and a bedroom that can accommodate a king-sized bed and other furniture.
418 Ilyssa Way
A family room/den, laundry on the top floor, central air—and situated on a cul-du-sac…what more could you ask for? This single-family townhouse in Arden Heights has three baths and two bedrooms and plenty of natural sunlight. The galley kitchen could use a refresh. See some galley kitchen ideas from past Sweeten renovators here.
140 Daleham Street
Located on a charming, tree-lined street, this Cape-style detached house in Great Kills sits on a 50×100 lot. The homeowners have already done some of the work for you: it has a new roof and windows, as well as maintenance-free Trex decking in the spacious backyard. The basement is ready to be renovated to make it even more family-friendly. The property currently has three bedrooms, one bath, and a wood-burning fireplace—a cozy home in a desirable Staten Island neighborhood.
53-51 66th Street
This detached Colonial in Maspeth, Queens is a good home for a small family, with its three bedrooms, a finished basement, a detached garage, and a fenced-in backyard. It also has lovely wide-plank floors and three large bedrooms. Some rooms could use updating from an aesthetic standpoint, but the “bones” of a nice family home are all there.
7618 69th Place #3D
This two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Ridgewood comes with a lot of top perks for city living: views of the Manhattan skyline, a gym, a rooftop deck, a playroom, two elevators, and your own private parking spot. Inside it features 14-foot ceilings, large windows, wood floors, stainless steel appliances, and a washer & dryer. It is move-in ready but the kitchen could use some TLC. (These 11 Sweeten kitchens renovations may spark inspiration.)
Here’s how to line up your renovation with your fixer-upper purchase.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.
Whatever you’re currently looking for—a bureau, an extra place setting of your grandmother’s china, the elusive perfect coffee table—changes are good you can find it on Craigslist. It may not be exactly what you envisioned, but you’ll pay far less than retail. You may only have to travel around the block to retrieve it. And you’ll keep a perfectly good something in use rather than headed to landfill.
Like all treasure hunts, Craigslist shopping comes with challenges: you have to be willing to search and schlep, and to meet up with a stranger. Caveat emptor, yes, but for many, it’s the answer: take a look at The House That Craigslist Built, Philadelphia Story, and Buzzfeed Founder Peggy Wang’s Renovated Rowhouse.
JP Frenza and his wife, Kristen Kiger, became CL devotees when they decided to save the 1939 Red Rose, a shuttered motel and tavern down the road from their weekend place in the Catskills town of Roscoe, NY, on the Beaverkill River. While keeping their day jobs—JP works in tech, Kristen is a graphic designer—they bought the local gathering spot as a passion project, and partnered with Melissa Garrison Kawecki, who manages daily operations and serves as in-house stylist.
To get the place back up and running, they needed club chairs, butter knives, and bathroom sinks, among many other things—just about all of which they found at bargain prices Craigslist. Three years of tactical buying later, JP offered to share what they’ve learned along the way.
Photography courtesy of the Red Rose Motel.
1. Crack the search term code.
Once you know what you’re after, it’s crucial to figure out what to call it—and how others might label it. We discovered this when our initial search for a Chesterfield sofa turned up cigarette tins and overcoats. On Craigslist, you often get radically different results based on the words you use. By typing “leather couch,” “leather sofa,” brand names like “George Smith,” and the popular “sofa with nail heads” we found what we were looking for.
2. Set your radius.
You can find most household basics for sale on Craigslist close to home. But for more unusual or important pieces, we learned to broaden our reach. We also discovered that the more well-off the community, the better the stuff—and the prices, because these sellers tend to just be looking to unload. So in addition to searching in the Catskills and Upstate New York, we looked in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut—Darien, for instance, was worth a few hour’s drive (broken up by a good lunch and often a hike on the way home). And for farmhouse antiques, we went on Craigslist in Rochester, NY, and then road tripped.
3. Create a search schedule.
If you only go on Craigslist from time to time, you miss things. We’ve found it’s more efficient to check systematically: we do our searches on Monday mornings, Tuesday nights, Wednesday mornings, and so on. We haven’t discerned a key time of day to check, but have noticed that Thursdays tend to get the most new listings, especially from people hoping to get rid of things by Sunday. So be prepared to pounce. And if you urgently need something, check on Thursdays at the beginning and end of the day.
4. Check out moving sales.
Craigslist is a great source for estate and moving sale listings and you can target them by town. Under Garage Sale, sellers also list apartment and house clear-outs with photos of the items that have to go. A guy who was leaving the country gave us a roll of kilims for free because he didn’t want his landlord to have them.
5. Stay selective.
We keep a running list of things we need, and at times, in our eagerness to cross off items, we’ve ended up paying more than we should have—only to later find an even better version of the same thing for less. If you can, it pays to be patient.
6. Be polite and present a plan.
I can’t tell you the number of times the seller told us we were the only ones who made the transaction easy. We begin by writing a note: “Is the item still available? If so, we’re interested and could come pick it up at your convenience.” People on Craigslist are typically getting rid of things on a deadline, so we always mention we have a truck and can pay in cash. We bought a 12-foot antique pine table for $200 this way.
Craigslist sellers often have to deal with no-show buyers. After assuring that you mean business and will pay in cash, you can do some bargaining: “I can come whenever is good for you; will you take $200 for the chairs listed at $250?” Sellers typically counter with $225. Don’t insult: some people know what they have and what it’s worth, others don’t know but are wary. So when the item in question is something I really want, I pay the listed price—in general that’s considerably less than the prices at popular flea markets like Brimfield.
8. Play it safe.
It’s scary dealing with strangers, especially when it comes to going into apartments and houses. Let sellers know they’re dealing with a human being: I always mention that my wife and I can pick up—that puts people at ease, and when a family shows up, so much the better. I give sellers my phone number and an hour before I’m picking up, I have them text me the address. And when possible, we suggest a neutral location to meet: we’ve done many transactions in grocery store parking lots.
9. Don’t forget to mine “free.”
At the top of the Craigslist page, click the For Sale drop-down and scroll past “Antiques” and “Electronics” to “Free Stuff.” Here, you’ll find everything from surplus building materials to baby clothes. We’ve found some really good stuff for the taking: a woman across the river from us was renovating and told us we could have her Pottery Barn leather sofa “if you can get it out of here by tomorrow morning.” It was perfect for one of our rooms.
10. Keep searching.
Yes, our project is complete, but like so many who get hooked on Craigslist, our hunt continues. Members of this club seem to always have a holy grail that keeps us going. Ours is a classic Swedish-style sauna—one we can take apart, move, and set up at the motel. Potential sellers note: we do our own hauling and are willing to travel.
Reuse is better for the planet than buying new. Here are four more buying guides:
A speed oven is like the InstaPot of the oven world. Somewhere between a convection oven and a microwave, the speed oven offers the best of both worlds. Here’s a list of our 10 favorites models; for more on how speed ovens work see our post Remodeling 101: Beyond the Microwave, the Speed Oven.
Warren Buffet’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders published on Saturday featured the usual folksy wisdom from the “Oracle of Omaha,” and gave a glimpse into the earnings of its HomeServices of America affiliate, the nation’s second-largest real estate brokerage.
HomeServices net income grew to $160 million in 2019, compared with $145 million in 2018. That’s a gain of 10%, fueled by a years-long acquisition spree.
Last year, for example, HomeServices purchased one of its own franchisees, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, increasing its Florida footprint by 40 offices and 1,750 agents.
Buffett, the fourth-richest man in the world, according to Forbes’ real-time ranking, didn’t offer any pearls of wisdom related to his real estate brokerage business. The explanation of HomeService’s income gain in the annual report that accompanied his letter was pretty dry.
Some of it was due to a bump in refinancing activity, the report said. Like many brokerages, HomeServices offers mortgage, title, escrow and insurance services.
“The increase was primarily due to higher after-tax earnings at existing mortgage businesses due to increased refinance activity and earnings attributable to recent business acquisitions, partially offset by lower after-tax earnings at existing brokerage businesses primarily from lower units and margins,” the report said, the only discussion of the brokerage in its 144 pages.
HomeServices is part of Berkshire’s energy subsidiary, Berkshire Hathaway Energy – previously known as MidAmerican Energy. The parent company Buffett leads owns a wide range of businesses, including Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, and Duracell.
Overall, Berkshire Hathaway reported $81.4 billion of net income for 2019, $53.7 billion of that coming from net unrealized gains in the stocks it holds.
Buffett did show some of his signature dry wit in a discussion about losses stemming from a fire at one of the French factories operated by Lubrizol, a chemical company Berkshire Hathaway bought for $9 billion in 2011.
Luckily, insurance will cover a big chunk of the losses, but the insurer is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett said.
“One of the largest insurers of Lubrizol was a company owned by . . . uh, Berkshire,” Buffet wrote. “In Matthew 6:3, the Bible instructs us to ‘Let not the left hand know what the right hand doeth.’ Your chairman has clearly behaved as ordered.”
I’ve been in the market for a good area rug for years. In fact, I’ve never owned one. I’ve always been lucky with good-enough wood flooring to sit with my indecision—and without a living room rug. The trouble is: area rugs are expensive. It’s a massive commitment, taking up 9 by 12 feet in a room and costing thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to spend under $1k on an area rug, but would still like one fairly well made and neutral in tone, here is our list of favorites.
Shopping for more rug styles or price points? See our posts:
One of the best things I bought last year was a small opaque glass table lamp for the bedroom. It emits a smooth, calming glow that, particularly when put on a dimmer, is one of the greatest ways to ease into a restful sleep at the end of the day. (Not to mention that diffused light is very flattering for romantic moments.)
This lamp style is typically made with an LED or halogen bulb diffused through an opal glass shade. I opted for the FLOS Glo-Ball, but there are so many others; some which are completely cordless and are great for a dimly-lit outdoor dinner party as well. Here are our favorites.
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