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Supplement to Jewish News October 20, 2014

H O M E


HOME Celebrate Your Home!

Dear Readers,

W

ith the cooler months on their way, we’re all likely to spend

Also featuring Michael Aram

more time indoors at home, making it

William Yeoward

a perfect time to update the feel of a

Rogaska

few rooms. Some people swap pillows

Herend

and slipcovers with each season, oth-

L’Objet

ers change furniture around. In this

Varga

section, interior designer Francine

and more!

Morgan offers some easy suggestions

Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email news@ujft.org www.jewishVA.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Beth Weiner Gross, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader

for freshening up your living spaces. For those considering selling their homes, Linda Fox-Jarvis advocates The Shops at Hilltop North 1628 Laskin Road Virginia Beach (757) 422-3313

investing in a few home improve-

Miles Leon, President Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President

ments before putting your house on the market. When those dollars are spent smartly, she says, homes sell faster and for better prices. Her rec-

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ommendations might make all the difference is how fast a home sells.

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With concerns about the environment on everyone’s mind, we have two articles that offer tips on how we can all make a difference, whether

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It’s always a good time to relax and enjoy your own home. We hope this section puts you in the mood to do so.

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HOME

To improve or not improve? by Jewish News staff

W

hen it is time to sell, homeowners are often faced with the dilemma of whether or not to invest in improvements to entice wouldbe buyers. For some, it might seem a waste of money, sort of like throwing a party and not attending. Still, when spent on the right area, these dollars might be the best a homeowner spends. “When a homeowner wants to sell, there are certain improvements I recommend that will help them get the highest possible asking price,” says Linda FoxJarvis, CRC. Other renovations, she notes, might be too costly and won’t net a return.

Passing the buck A natural thought for homeowners is that it is best to let the new owners do their own improvements. In fact, when cosmetic issues are needed such as paint and carpet, often sellers will say, ‘I don’t know what colors they will want, let the buyer make their own improvements, I will make an allowance.’ “The problem with this thinking,” says Fox-Jarvis, ”is that when the buyer looks at a home needing these types of improvements, half of them will be turned off. They cannot see beyond the cosmetic issues, they want a move-in ready home, and will move on to the next home. The other half can see past the cosmetic issues and visualize the potential, but they will also see it as ammunition to negotiate on the price. And

what they will do is estimate two to three times what the actual cost will be for that improvement, taking into consideration the aggravation of making the repairs themselves and will make a low ball offer. So my recommendation is to make these cosmetic repairs so that the home sparkles, competes well with other properties on the market, attracts the buyers who are looking for move-in ready and don’t want to do the work, and will help the seller get closer to top dollar for their home.” Fox-Jarvis, managing broker of Linda Fox-Jarvis and Team, RE/MAX Ambassadors, says that walls and floors give the overall first impression and suggests neutral colors and making sure that all walls and floor coverings are in good condition. “The next biggies are the kitchen and the baths,” says Fox-Jarvis. “Buyers want them updated and will pay top dollar for them. With the kitchen, buyers want upgraded appliances and counter tops. The

big thing now are stainless appliances and granite counters.” These upgrades make a huge difference in how the home shows and to potentially getting the highest possible price.

How much to spend? What needs to be considered is the cost of the improvement or repair versus if that improvement/repair is not done. How much lower must the sales price be and how much lower will a buyer probably offer? If the sales price will exceed the cost of the improvement, then it is recommended. “On the floor coverings, I always say that if you are replacing carpet or vinyl, you can put in builders grade or a little above builders grade. The carpet will look new and smell new and that is what helps the home show well. If the seller does not make this improvement, the buyer is going to estimate the cost of the highest quality floor coverings and offer lower, including additional for labor, inconvenience, etc.” says Fox-Jarvis.

Planning Ahead For those who plan ahead, say a couple who knows they will sell when their last child heads off to college, those improvements can be made a few years in advance, so they can be enjoyed. Sort of like getting to attend the party they are hosting. “I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to owners who said, ‘This has always been on my list to do and I wish I had done it earlier so I could have gotten the

Linda Fox-Jarvis, CRC

benefit of the improvement.’ If advance planning is involved, the owner is able to make more substantial upgrades that will really make a difference in the selling price, and will have the time necessary to recoup the costs in increased appreciation. I often have appointments with sellers who are just trying to get a feel for the market and what they should do to improve their property, and yet will not be putting it on the market for a good amount of time.” It is important to realize that what buyers consider is the asking price of the home and the condition and upgrades, compared to the prices of other similar properties that are on the market, and those that have recently sold. “That is the key,” says FoxJarvis, “being competitive in terms of price and condition.”

Three Factors to Selling “There are three factors to selling a home,” says Fox-Jarvis, a 33-year-veteran in the field. First, is price. Next is condition, and the third is marketing. “You can have the right price and condition, but if you don’t have the right agent aggressively marketing your home, no one knows about it and it won’t sell. On the other hand, you can have the right agent marketing, but if the price and condition are not competitive, it will not sell either. If you are not competitive on price and condition, you are just helping sell the other homes on the market, by making them look like a better value than yours,” she says. It’s a lot to consider, but then again, selling your home may be the largest transaction you ever make.

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Creating a space that incorporates prized possessions might be a bit more of a challenge for designers, but the assignment is not at all unusual. After all, it is those artifacts and memories that often make a house feel like a home. ”I like to work with what people have,” says Francine Morgan, a local interior designer with more than 30 years experience. “Mixing the old with the new gives a room an eclectic look. “I always like a room to be coordinated, but not to match-match,” says Morgan. On the other hand, she notes, “Rooms shouldn’t look like a garage sale…that pieces don’t match at all, coming from so many eras.”

Morgan has her own version of the “3 Rs,” only hers are the “Recycle 3 Rs.”

First, Re-Arrange. Morgan says the simple act of moving items around in a room, or from room to room, can make a space feel fresh. “Whether art, accessories or furniture, changing their location can make a big visual impact.” Second, Re-Finish. “A trend today is to give furniture a highgloss lacquer finish,” says Morgan. When furniture is painted, she says, the impact is tremendous, really altering the look of the piece. Of course, traditional furniture re-finishing is another option. Doing so certainly freshens up older furnishings. Third, Re-Upholster. It might seem obvious, Morgan says, but new fabric really does change everything, without completely starting over. Morgan’s “3 Rs” can transform a room, without a transformative budget, she says.

Where to begin? The initial areas to consider changing in a room, says Morgan, are the floors and wall colors. “The first thing I do when I meet with a client is to find a smashing rug and from there we can build on the colors around the room, including on the walls.” Wall coverings, notes Morgan, are big again, and all types, including wall paper and grasscloth. “Designers are using wallpaper again everywhere. For so many years, it was faux painting. Now, that’s in the garbage!” If clients are willing, the next items are a variety of moldings. “Crown molding for where the walls and ceiling meet, chair rails and wainscoting, are three design elements, whether from plaster or wood, that all dress up rooms,” says Morgan.

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making a room feel larger is not a lot of clutter. “Most people are getting rid of the accessories,” she says. (Maybe that cherished great grandmother’s vase needs to safely be put in a cabinet.) says A nd, Morgan, get rid of the heavy big furniture. Excessive furnishings can really close in a room. Recessed lighting, she says, makes ceilings look taller, while hanging chandeliers do the opposite. Save them for a foyer, says Morgan. Bulky draperies and other window coverings also make a room feel smaller. Morgan says a lot of people are just using privacy screens now and are foregoing other traditional window treatments. Also, Morgan says that keeping walls

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ardly a day goes by that we aren’t surrounded by talk of the environment and what each person can do to better live at home in harmony with it. “We’re seeing more and more people who realize that, if each of us does what we can every day, collectively, we can have a tremendous impact,” says Lynda Chervil, a thought leader and green technology advocate whose book, Fool’s Return, mirrors real-life efforts to develop sustainable energy sources. “All the people carrying reusable grocery sacks, people who’ve quit the plastic water bottle habit, folks heating their pools or houses with solar panels—that’s what we should be celebrating.” This year’s March Gallup Environment poll found that 42 percent of Americans believe the outlook for the environment has improved, up from only 26 percent in 2008. Chervil, who studies the science behind green technology, says environmental awareness has ramped up production of affordable goods that can shrink individuals’ carbon footprints. She shares four devices she says would make nice gifts: •H  ybridLight Solar Flashlight: These flashlights never need batteries, can be charged from any light source and they always work. The 120 lumens model will burn for eight hours on one charge. HybridLight’s flashlights are so reliable, the Boy Scouts’ Utah National Parks Council endorse them—and they come with a lifetime guarantee. For every 10 hours of use, 100 HybridLight flashlights avert 60 pounds of toxic battery landfill waste. An added very cool note —HybridLights has a mission to light up corners of the world with little or no electricity. Recently, the company supplied everyone in a Kenyan village with their own flashlight. Prices start at less than $20.

•B  edol Water Alarm Clock: Imagine a water-powered alarm clock that’s loud enough to scare you out of bed! Bedol’s water clocks run strictly on tap water— no batteries, no nothing else. The energy comes from a natural reaction between the water and two metal plates. The smallest clocks in the line run for six to 12 weeks before the display begins to fade, indicating that the water needs to be changed. Occasionally, you also need to clean the metal plates with vinegar. Prices start at $19. • i Go Green Power Smart Wall: We’ve all heard of the “vampires” in our homes that suck up power whether we’re using them or not—everything from coffee pots to laptops. Stem the bleeding with this surge protector that cuts the suck by up to 85 percent. The unit, which plugs into the wall, has four outlets, two of which are always on. The other two automatically power down when the attached appliance is not in use. Prices start at about $12. •P  ama Eco Navigator Satellite Navigation system: This GPS system also saves gasoline by providing the most energy-efficient routes to your destinations, and feedback on your car’s performance, so you can adjust your driving habits to improve your gas mileage. It also saves all your routes, so you can assess their fuel efficiency. Watch for pricing and availability on Amazon. “Most of these items are not only budget priced, they save you money in batteries, electricity and fuel,” Chervil says. “Not only are you doing something great for the planet when you use green technology, you’re taking a load off your wallet.”


HOME

Amid drought, Jewish groups push conservation agenda by Anthony Weiss

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Devorah Brous’ San Fernando Valley home is shaded by green trees, studded with 19 fruit trees and patrolled by a pair of affable chickens that strut around the backyard. But at the moment, she is eager to show a visitor her dying lawn. Comparing the withering grass to a thriving orange tree a few feet away, Brous, the founding executive director of the Jewish-led interfaith environmental and food justice network Netiya, says, “It’s survival of the fittest.” For Netiya—Hebrew for “planting”— and other Jewish environmental groups, California’s debilitating drought has tied together a number of issues that have been gaining prominence in the Jewish activist community: sustainability, social justice and ethically and environmentally responsible food production. Their efforts range in size and scope. In San Diego, the local branch of Hazon had children paint rain barrels that will capture rainwater for irrigation as part of the environmental group’s Sukkot festivities. Meanwhile, in Pescadero, south of San Francisco, the group Wilderness Torah, a Jewish community and education nonprofit

focused on connecting Jewish ritual with the outdoors, hosted a panel discussion on water usage as part of its annual Sukkot on the Farm festival. After the panel, there was a ceremony based on an ancient Temple rite in which the high priest would draw water from the spring and offer it at the altar in hopes of bringing seasonal rains. Participants circling around a fountain “bless the waters of the world and call in the rain,” says Suzannah Sosman, festivals manager for Wilderness Torah. But the main thrust of the work of Jewish groups working on drought relief is water conservation, capture and reuse. “I don’t think people are necessarily aware of how to save water other than turning off their faucets when they’re brushing

their teeth,” Sosman says. Netiya, which organizes religious communities to create sustainable gardens on underused in stitution al lands, has installed gardens at 11 congregations around Los Angeles, including at Ikar, where Brous’ sister, Sharon, is the founding rabbi. All the gardens include drip irrigation, a technique invented in Israel to conserve water during the irrigation process. This summer, Netiya conducted a

series of five workshops focused on water conservation and gardening. At a recent workshop, volunteers helped install a water-capture system that will disperse rainwater on the grounds of a Los Angeles church. At another Netiya event, attendees continued on page 22

Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill

serving Tidewater’s unaff iliated Jews and spiritual seekers as

Lifecycle Officiant Jewish Educator & Tutor rabbicantorejg@gmail.com 215-359-7806

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HOME continued from page 21

helped put in place a greywater irrigation system at the home of Devorah Brous that recycles used water from her washing machine and funnels it to her herb garden. “Every time I turn on the faucet, I’m thinking about all the water that’s not going back into my landscape,” Ashley

Sullivan, who is Jewish and who attended the greywater installation, says. “We use so much perfectly good water once, just rinsing our hands.” For other organizations, water conservation is not simply a response to the drought but a perennial concern. Urban Adamah, an urban farm and

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educational center in Berkeley, not only uses drip irrigation but also began roughly a year ago to grow some of its plants using aquaponics, a system that utilizes 80 percent less water than conventional agriculture. “Even though we’re in a drought now, we’re sort of in a perpetual state of drought in California,” says Adam Berman, the executive director of Urban Adamah. “Our mission is to teach sustainable agricultural practice, of which water conservation is a key part, even in good years.” Brous, in turn, hopes to spark a broader conversation in the Jewish world about the relationship between food and the environment. In the process, she plans to reach out to Stewart and Lynda Resnick, billionaire residents of Beverly Hills, in a bid to bring them into a conversation about food and resources. The Resnicks are among the largest landowners in California’s Central Valley,

.

as well as among the largest growers of water-intensive crops such as almonds, pistachios and pomegranates. (A JTA request for comment placed with the Resnickowned Roll Global Corp. was not returned.) “Are these boutique perennial crops things that we should be growing in California, or should we grow something else?” Brous asks rhetorically. “There are questions we should be asking.” Judaism originally grew out of the life of a desert people, and though much of Jewish life has long since moved into towns and cities, its foundational texts still speak of ethical principles for caring for land and water. Brous begins her workshops with relevant readings from the Torah, as well as the Koran and the Christian Bible, and she hopes that they can serve as the basis for a renewed Jewish conversation about water, food and environment “It’s still in the text,” she says. “It’s extraordinary spiritual soil to grow from.”

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