Why the Backyard is Moving Out Front – and How to Get in on the Fun

While a backyard can offer seclusion and privacy, a respite from the noise and grind of daily life, more and more homeowners are relaxing in front of their homes in an effort to cultivate deeper community connections capable of propelling more fulfilling, healthy lives.

Not that this should come as a surprise given our over-scheduled lives, the stranglehold of digital technology, and our general yearning for simpler times. In fact, there’s even a name for this community-fueled, get-outside movement: Front Yard People.

The Front Yard People champion, as the name suggests, being in front of the home rather than stuck behind closed doors, shielded behind a privacy fence, or handcuffed to a computer screen.

And for good reason.

A heightened sense of community can spark feelings of belonging while also adding shots of purpose and meaning to everyday life. In addition, simply being outside can promote emotional and physical well-being. Various scientific studies over the years have shown outdoor time to have a positive effect on energy levels, blood pressure, creativity, and stress.

Interested in becoming a Front Yard Person? Here’s how to bring the “front yard revolution” to your community:

Don’t Overthink It:

You don’t need to glam up, prepare a massive meal, tidy your home, or conquer any extensive to-do list. Rather, simply take your normal routine – reading a magazine, drafting plans for the next workday, a family card game, or having a glass of wine – to your front yard. That’s it.

Make It Easy to Engage:

From a dog bowl filled with water to sidewalk chalk for kids, offer folks a reason to stop and chat, if even briefly. A lemonade stand, popsicles, cookies, coffee, and more can all pull people in and jumpstart connections. Another clever option: station a “Little Free Library” in front of your house.

Create a Comfortable Gathering Space:

Design a space that’s conducive to interaction and lingering. Provide seating, even if it’s simply patio chairs or a picnic table, in which people can face one another and gain some protection from the elements. Have a spot for people to place food or drink. Offer bug spray or light citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Don’t Be Afraid to Spread the Word:

Drop a few casual invitations to neighbors that simply mention you’ll be out front tonight with the kids (or your significant other or a new bottle of wine). Encourage them to stop by if the opportunity strikes.

Light the Way:

Especially as night falls, good lighting serves to both welcome visitors and ensure a safe environment.

Make it Routine:

Be out front regularly, which increases opportunities for interaction and, hopefully, inspires others to similarly be present and visible in the front of their homes. With some momentum, you might even suggest a new neighborhood tradition like “Front Yard Fridays” complete with bingo, a craft beer swap, baking contest, or arts-and-crafts projects for kids

Video Link: The Today Show – Front Yard People

To Love It or List It?: 4 Key Questions When You’re Deciding to Renovate or Move

To renovate or move?

‘Tis the question for many homeowners contemplating the years ahead.

As needs and priorities change and lives evolve, a home that once seemed charming and complete may be falling short in contemporary times. That might call for a renovation or addition to make the home more functional and modern. Or it might lead to exploring a move, perhaps to new construction and a home built in your image.

When deciding to renovate or move, consider these important questions:

1. Does your current home’s location still fit your needs?

If the neighborhood isn’t meeting your current needs – such as subpar safety, schools, or recreational opportunities or forcing a

dreadful work commute

– then a new master suite or expanded kitchen won’t change those pressing concerns and important quality-of-life issues.

2. Do you have the stomach for a renovation?

Renovations, especially plans involving various rooms and mechanicals, can run upwards of six months, if not more. Months of eating carryout, living amid noise and dust, dealing with contractors, and forced compromise can challenge even the most calm and composed individuals. If the mere thought of enduring such a plight makes you queasy, a move could be in order. When purchasing new construction, in particular, you just move in and unpack with much greater clarity on costs.

3. What hurdles might a remodel bring?

A remodel

will require time and money

– that much is certain. But a remodel can also bring unexpected hurdles that derail plans and heighten costs. For example, local building codes might prohibit the addition of a front porch; an inspector might require the installation of a new electrical system; or the homeowners association might restrict plans for the backyard. Though it can be difficult to anticipate all of these potential roadblocks, investigating them thoroughly before signing off on a renovation could swing your decision to stay or go.

4. What’s happening in your local market?

The decision to move or renovate can also be influenced by the local real estate market. Learning about

comparable home sales

in your area provides insight into demand and the potential value of your home. If your current neighborhood is trending upward, then selling now – and letting someone else potentially deal with the renovation dilemma – could provide you the resources necessary to land your dream home today.

4 Steps to a More Organized Garage

We ask a lot of our garages – to hold bikes and athletic equipment, outdoor furniture and tools, garbage cans and recycling bins, and, of course, cars.

As a result, garages can become a cluttered mess. Following a few battle-tested organizational principles, however, can transform your garage from a jumbled dumping ground into a tidy and orderly home for your cars and so much more.

Step #1: A Savvy Start

Schedule a day or weekend to go through everything in the garage, dividing items into one of three piles: keep, donate/sell, or toss. Then, further separate the “keep” pile into categories like garden supplies, sports equipment, hand tools, holiday decorations, and so on. This coordinated effort allows you to get a grasp on what you have and eliminate frivolous, space-clogging items.

Step #2: Create a Plan

After deciding what stays, sketch a plan – at least mentally if not on paper – defining where specific items will go. Keep accessibility in mind as well as the location of windows and switches and how often you use items. For example, seasonal items are often best stored out of the way, while trash and recycling bins should be easily accessible with a clear path outside.

Step #3: Know Your Storage Options

From store-bought containers with lids, coated wall hooks, and shelving to DIY options like concrete-forming tubes crafted to hold hockey sticks and baseball bats, consider the myriad ways to store your goods. Holiday decorations, for instance, often sit well in storage bins, which can either be clear and/or labeled for easy identification. Automotive supplies like oil, windshield fluid, and car wash solution, meanwhile, might sit together on open shelving.

Step #4: Look Upward

Garages offer limited floor space, especially with the presence of cars. That makes verticality that much more important to maximize square footage. Ceiling-mounted storage solutions and shelving enables space-saving, off-the-ground storage, while pegboard, slatwall panels, or track-based systems provide customizable opportunities to store things up and down a wall.

Sit back and smile.

With some advance planning, a creative mind, and versatile storage solutions, you can transform your garage from a disaster zone into a clean and streamlined space where everything has a place.

Buying New: Top Reasons Homebuyers Ditch the Resale Market and Embrace New Construction

From one American Dream-chasing generation to the next, many homebuyers have faced the same, challenging dilemma: to buy an existing home or to opt for new construction.

While existing homes maintain their appeal, generally – though certainly not always – featuring a lower initial price tag and closer-to-town locations, new homes continue to capture the attention of discerning homebuyers.

Here’s why:


While a newly constructed home might run upwards of 10-30 percent more than existing properties in a given area, that new home will also arrive without the hidden and not-so-hidden costs that frequently come with an older home.

On a new home, the roof shouldn’t need to be replaced for a quarter century; the furnace and central air conditioner should last at least 15 years; plumbing and electrical meet the latest standards; and enhanced energy-efficiency features reduce utility costs. The ability to avoid major out-of-pocket expenses helps promote a healthier pocketbook and peace of mind.

Built for Safe, Contemporary Living

There’s surely something to be said for old-world craftsmanship and the art of homebuilding. The historic Chicago bungalow, after all, isn’t a revered home style because it lacks durability and character.

Homes pushing 50, 70, or 90-years-old, however, often come with decades’ worth of temporary fixes and even safety hazards like lead paint. New homes will feature energy-efficient elements like windows and HVAC systems; will be built to code to ensure safety; and will include modern homebuyers’ most in-demand elements.


When you purchase an existing home, you inherit the previous homebuyer’s taste. If they liked wood paneling, dark cabinets, and gold faucets, then that’s your style – at least temporarily. Altering the home to your liking, though, can be time-consuming, costly, and filled with frustration and stress.

A new home purchase, however, represents a blank canvas. You pick the flooring and cabinets, the countertops, paint colors, and bathroom vanities. Your fingerprints – literally and figuratively – sit all over the home.


Much like new cars have a smell, so, too, do new homes – and it’s not the smell of the previous owner’s cats or nicotine habit. A new home is just that – new.

Today’s most successful, responsive builders pack their homes with universally prized elements of modern life – thoughtfully designed floor plans with open-concept layouts, mudrooms, three-car garages, ample storage spaces, and bigger, brighter bedrooms and bathrooms to name a few – as well as on-trend amenities like master suites and gourmet kitchens.

And amid the “newness,” some treasured, historic elements like crown molding, rich hardwood floors, archways, and covered front porches can be seamlessly integrated into the home’s design for those sought-after touches of charm.


While some buyers will receive a home warranty with the purchase of their existing property, such warranties frequently have a short life span. And if the seller didn’t pony up for the warranty, it’s just another added expense for the homebuyer.

Reputable homebuilders, on the other hand, will stand behind the structural integrity of their construction and craftsmanship. Such warranties can protect your home from any immediate repairs and provide a timely, no-cost fix to problems that might arise.