Archive for the 'Life' Category

Living Room Mood Board

Living Room Mood Board, originally uploaded by Refined Designer.

I created this mood board with a warm contemporary vibe being the target end result. My goal is to recreate this look in our living room on a modest budget.

Review of Realtor® Doug Francis of Northern Virginia

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Where to start in the home-buying process?

This year my fiance and I made the decision to purchase our first home through Realtor® Doug Francis of Vienna, VA. Initially, we didn’t know where to start in choosing a real estate agent, so we turned to a trusted friend of ours whom recently went through the house hunting process himself. He mentioned he had used Doug for his search and had nothing but great things to say; even mentioned how technologically savvy Doug is! Naturally, with our investigative instincts, we began our research at dougfrancis.com. We instantly knew that if this is a man who is willing to provide both buyers and sellers with an abundance of trusted online resources, then he must work even harder as an agent. From there, we made the initial contact.

The first meeting

Doug began our conversation by greeting us in a friendly manner and proceeded to define the role that he plays in our house search. From there he asked us our needs and wants in a home. We conveyed to him our wish-list as well as our desire to have a family, so that he’d have a clear idea of what type of home we wanted… it was comforting knowing that he seemed to know the right questions to ask. His ~20 years of industry experience certainly made us feel confident that we indeed made the right choice. He even recommended a fantastic lender to us in his network, so that we could secure financing. After all, he advises any home buyer to be as competitive as possible! (Take note: great advice…)

Looking at homes

Over the next several months, Doug took us around to dozens of houses in the Northern Virginia area. In each house he would point out the things to watch out for and the things to be appreciative of… a trait that is especially unique to Doug’s professionalism as a seasoned one-of-a-kind real estate agent. When spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, we definitely didn’t want the truth sugarcoated, so it made it reassuring to know that Doug would be honest with us. It wasn’t all business. Every now and then, we’d have laughs over my disappointment at the lack of HGTV cameras in the houses we were looking at (buying a house is not like they show it on TV, by the way). He made the whole process fun, enjoyable, and headache-free. Of course, many people, including us, dread the paperwork side of home buying, but it was relatively painless. If we weren’t too sure of what the fine print meant, he thoroughly broke it down for us, thus allowing us to make a choice that was wise for us.

Bottom line?

You won’t be disappointed. Doug goes above and beyond what is asked for in his line of work. He is passionate, personable and listens well. He is meticulous with his research and delivers results — all his picks for us lined up with our budget, wish-list, and location. When paperwork or correspondence came our way from the seller’s agent, he was there to act as a liaison on our behalf right away. We didn’t feel alone in this process, and we have Doug to thank. If you are considering using Doug Francis as your buyer/seller agent, we highly recommend using him. Oh and us? He found us a beautiful home that we will love for years to come.

He has a Web site at www.dougfrancis.com. He provides you with first timer advice, do’s and don’ts, and handy links to the MLS searches.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section!

[Photo] Tree railing

Tree railing. Photo courtesy of Design You Trust.

What a clever way to bring nature into your home: it’s a railing in the form of a tree and its branches. It certainly is a refreshing way to bring the beauty of the outdoors into your home. People brought up a good point, would this pass a building code inspection?

As seen on Design You Trust, extracted from Design Fetish.

Wireless Audio & Phone System for Bluetooth Hearing Aid Wearers

Streamer Device

Oticon ConnectLine system Streamer

Have a problem hearing your favorite TV show? As a follow-up on the wildly popular Bluetooth Hearing Aids post, thought the readers would like to know about a new product for bluetooth hearing aid lovers. Oticon has launched a new high-tech wireless device that helps hearing aid users sync up to their favorite technology. It’s called the Oticon ConnectLine system. Bluetooth technology has already been known for successfully syncing up to cell phones, music players, and PCs. However, the Oticon ConnectLine system now offers a solution for those who wish to stream audio from their TV and landline phones directly to their hearing aids.

Oticon ConnectLine Phone Adaptor

There are two components offered in the system: the ConnectLine Phone Adaptor and the ConnectLine TV Adaptor. Connecting these systems is a small device that the hearing aid wearer wears called the Streamer. The small device syncs with either Adaptor. For example, once the TV Adaptor connects to the audio output of a TV, the user can do a one-time pairing that allows the devices to connect. This in turn allows the user to hear anywhere within a 30-foot range, similar to how the iCom device works with a cellphone. Same method works for the Phone Adaptor.

Oticon ConnectLine TV Adaptor

The ConnectLine System currently only works with the following hearing aids: Oticon Dual, Epoq and Vigo Connect. For more information about the new wireless options from Oticon, visit OticonUSA.

I personally haven’t tried the system, but if you have, how is the sound quality? I’m curious if the streaming audio truly is high-quality without interruptions.

[VIDEO] A Glimpse into the Life of a Freelancer

A truly fantastic representation of how us freelancers feel when a client tries to take the cheap way out. It’s undermining to the individual and to the web industry. This video depicts various scenarios that all send the same message to each and every industry out there. Whether one runs a freelance business, an upscale dining venue or a music store, no one should have to expect to pay or earn less than the true value of a product or service.

Oreo Cookie Cake Pan

Picture 1

Oreo cookie lovers, rejoice! You can imitate the look (and taste, if you wish) of an oreo cookie with this cake pan. Available at Williams-Sonoma for $29.95.

Tumblr: A Place to Dump My Wedding Ideas

Apple Votive Candles

Apple Votive Candles

I’m always coming across things I love and gotta have, but most of all don’t want to forget! Thanks to a trusty coworker, she turned me on to Tumblr. Tumblr is a place that I’m using to dump all the photos, links, and blogs that I come across for wedding inspiration. Most of it is fall-inspired wedding ideas. Go on, have a look at my ‘tumblelog.’ Have any fun wedding or party ideas you want to share? I’m all ears!

What type of wedding venue is right for you?

Picture 2

For the past several weekends, my fiance and I ventured around my hometown in Delaware in search of the perfect place to have our wedding reception.

If anything, I’ve come out of this experience with one strong bit of advice for brides-to-be around the globe: it’s important to choose a place that represents the couple — not a place that the parents insist upon booking because they like it.

As it turns out, the place my well-meaning mother thought was me, was my definition of “a nursing home with motel 6 paintings.” Pretty strong words I know (When that happened, I coined myself “Bridezilla” — oh the horror!), but I honestly couldn’t picture us getting married there. In total, we visited four very different venues, which may seem like too few, but it was all we truly needed to make a decision. Without further ado, here’s the breakdown of each type of venue:

The Club House
“Old Elegance”

This place was the very first place we visited. I initially thought I had no real preference of a wedding venue, but when I saw this place, I quickly learned that this was not the one for us. This particular venue helped me to realize that I wanted a large open space where guests could walk around and mingle, not a series of small rooms that would force guests in a confined area with no where to move. Appearance-wise, it was an old and rustic building nestled in a quaint part of town, which sounds nice, but after surveying the age of the building, we realized that there were no elevators, proving to be an accessible nightmare to our older guests in attendance. In addition, the carpets, drapery, and furniture were very dated and simply not what a modern couple would like. As mentioned, it is “old elegance.” Right for someone else, but for us, we knew we had to move on.

The Ritzy Hotel
“Upscale Fabulousity”

This was the second place we visited, and was the opposite of the first place in every way imaginable. With gold-embossed high-vaulted ceilings and crystal chandeliers, this venue was definitely as classy as they come. With every “ooh” and “ahh” we encountered, it simply just didn’t feel like us. We are not showy, over-the-top type people, so having a wedding reception here would have made us feel out of our element. Not to mention, our guests probably would have “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” more over the decor of the actual place than the event itself. Not worth competing with, especially since we plan to have a wedding that incorporates small and personalized details that represent us or those close to us.

The Country Club
“Full of Character”

After striking out with the first two, we really didn’t know what to expect, except that this next place had to fall somewhere between the two extremes. And you know what? It sure did. When we walked into the country club, we just felt something click. The main room was a large and spacious ballroom with a balcony along one wall, appropriate for throwing a bridal bouquet. The opposite wall was lined with french doors that opened into a fully glass enclosed atrium with hanging crystal chandeliers. The curtains were very modern and overall, it was absolutely exquisite. We truly thought this was it, but …no.

The Golf Course
“The One”

We ended up choosing the last place we had visited, which was my father’s pick all along. We had initally scratched it off the list after we heard that it had a $26,000 minimum. But, with golf course views, a water fountain, floor-to-ceiling windows, and one of the state’s best chefs, this was truly the one for us. What really got us, was that we were able to get it for a fraction of the price because we chose a Sunday. Sunday of Columbus Day weekend to be exact. That way most of our guests still have Monday off and out-of-town guests won’t have to take Friday off for the rehearsal dinner. Most of all, this was the one where we saw ourselves and our guests enjoying their evening the most.

Fall Wedding Mood Board

Since I’m in the beginning stages of planning a wedding, I’ve started to visualize what might be nice for our special day. Here’s what I call a wedding mood board. I’m open to any bits of advice you may have for fall weddings.

Wedding Mood Board, originally uploaded by  Refined Designer.

Fall Wedding Website Idea

Well, we’ve made a decision. We’re getting married in fall of 2010, rather than 2009. Being a web designer, of course I’ve already thought up a wedding website idea! I created a layout and color scheme that encompasses fall colors. What are your thoughts of the proposed website idea? What kind of navigation links do you think are most important on a wedding website? Comments are welcome!

wedding_comp2



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