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Home Maintenance

Five Tips to Being a Great Houseguest

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving and staying with friends or family, keep in mind the following tips to being a good houseguest.  It will make your visit more enjoyable and reduce stress of your host. If you are traveling for Thanksgiving and staying with friends or family, keep in mind the following tips to being a good houseguest.  It will make your visit more enjoyable and reduce stress for your host.

1. Bring Your Welcome With You

Your hosts have done a lot of preparation in anticipation of your visit – including cleaning the house, accommodating sleeping arrangements and preparing meals for your visit.  Show you appreciation by arriving with a gift.  Whether it be a nice bottle of wine, a scented candle or a gift basket – bring something that your host will enjoy.

Always Bring A Hostess Gift

2. Be Your Own Tour Guide

It’s fun to visit a new town and explore when you are on vacation.  However, keep in mind that your host most likely is not on vacation and may have work and other daily responsibilities. Research interesting places to visit in the host town.  You can invite your host to join in but don’t take it personally if they can’t join the fun.

3. Don’t Make A Mess

A good houseguest understands and respects the fact that they are a guest in someone’s home.  Don’t expect your host to pick up after you. Make  your bed each morning, wash out your coffee cup, clear the dishes after dinner and keep common areas free of your stuff.

4. Be A Helper

Hosting guests is lot of work.  A good houseguest will help out when and where they can.  Whether it is unloading the dishwasher in the morning, running to the grocery store for needed items or help setting the table. Perhaps, a family member needs a ride somewhere.  Be a helper where you can.  It will relieve some of the stress of your host and allow you to feel like you are helping.

5. Send A Thank You Note

Once you are back home – send a written thank you note to your host and let them know how much you appreciated their hospitality. 

Home Maintenance

Holiday Hosting Guide

Hosting family and friends for the holiday season is supposed to be fun, but oftentimes we find ourselves feeling like it is more of a job than a time of togetherness. When you have people staying for a few days or a week, planning is everything. Doing a little prep work before your guests arrive will make it so you too can partake in all the excitement. 

By Lynn Norusis

Prep your home

  • A deep clean is always a good idea when it comes to the holidays or whenever you have guests coming over. Make sure to declutter any items that are not going to be used and give all windows, baseboards and trims a wipe down. And clear out the coat closet so everyone can stow away their bulky coats.
  • Make sure to have plenty of seating for both the table and in the living room. You can move around extra chairs that you have throughout the house for living room seating on those nights everyone gets cozy for a holiday movie. Plan for all of the adults to have a seat. For tweens and younger, floor pillows are a good, easy option.
  • If you have guests staying the night, prep the guest room or guest space with useful items such as a basket of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soaps and towels), a surge protector for extra outlets, extra pillows and blankets, a tissue box and a nicely scented candle.
  • In the main areas of the home put out information for your WiFi log-in. One should be placed in the guest room, the living room and kitchen.
  • If possible, post a schedule of events the entire group will be participating in. This will help your guests plan their extracurriculars for their stay. If you will be working while guests are visiting, leave some information on nearby activities or events. If they are going to be using Metro to go into the city, pick up some farecards for them prior to their arrival.

Stock the pantry

Holiday Hosting tips
  • Clean out the refrigerator and pantry to make space for all of the holiday cooking and stocking. If you have a secondary refrigerator or freezer, clean that out as well so you have room to stock pile some pre-made meals for those busy days.
  • Pre-make dinners for nights that people will be floating in and out of the home. Leave a post-it note on the top with reheating instructions so it is easy for anyone to pop it in the oven.
  • Set up a coffee and tea station in a corner of the kitchen so anyone can make themself a warm drink. A single serve maker is a great investment to have on hand to make it easy for your guests.
  • Stock up on snacks such as cheese and crackers, granola bars, pretzels, pastries and yogurts to help with the different schedules people in the house may have. Not everyone is hungry at the same time so having these items easily accessible will allow for anyone to either grab-and-go or be able to find something to eat without having to ask.
  • Label a shelf in the pantry or refrigerator as an off-limits space so you can store any groceries or ingredients you will be using for the holiday cooking. The last thing anyone wants during the holidays is to have to run to the store because someone used all the eggs you need to make your holiday cookies.

Pantone announced Living Coral as the Color of the Year so we set out to get expert tips on how to bring it into your home.

Each year the creative color geniuses over at Pantone analyze trends and announce a color that people will be turning to for their decor and fashion choices. Overcome by what they call “the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life” they see people seeking out solace and connectivity in an engaging way. They describe living coral as a visual representative of “our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits.”

“Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial PANTONE Living Coral hit a responsive chord.”

-Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the PANTONE color institute

Sally Kjos of GreyHunt Interiors had this to say about the 2019 color that will be seen throughout homes this year.

“If I’m being honest, I was a little surprised by Living Coral being [Pantone’s] choice; not because I don’t appreciate this vibrant shade but because I feel it was an already a been there, done that design trend- back in the early 2010’s. However, I do think that since desert-y (clay/terracotta) color pallets are on the rise, Living Coral is just a pinked-up twist to that. And because of that twist, I’m sure it will kick off modern and hot trends we haven’t seen before. “

Incorporating living coral into her own designs, Kjos says she would do so subtly by adding a velvet pillow “to richen its shade, giving it an even livelier pop.” And then going one step further by pairing it with a cheetah print for even more flare.

Todd Martz with Home on Cameron in Old Town Alexandria also sat with us to talk about the color of the year. Check out the video below and scroll further to see our picks for living coral home decor pieces.

So what are those extra pops we want to incorporate into our home to stay on trend in 2019? Check out our picks below.

How to incorporate the color of the year into your home decor

Home Maintenance

Design 101: Home Decor In and Out List for 2019

Staying on trend can be hard. We took the guess work out of the equation when it comes to how to style your home this year. Area interior designers break down the home decor ins and outs for the year ahead and give tips on how to implement them in your home.

Sallie Kjos at GreyHunt Interiors breaks down her tips for 2019:

Each new year rings in a long list of new trends, and old one’s on their way out. However, since trends tend to circulate, I always am weary to say something is considered ‘out’ because we each have our own styles or something we love that we can still incorporate into our home. No matter it’s timely popularity. My advice—if it looks good, it’s in! And if you need help making it look good, hire a designer. Ha! So, here are the ‘ins’ to 2019’s trends I’m spotting. If you love them, try them.

Mixed Metals: I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and even incorporated it into my own home. Mixing metals breaks things up from being too ‘matchy-matchy’, leaving your space feeling monotonous. 

Design by GreyHunt Interiors | Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Texture is Key: Texture captures our attention by creating dimensions to a space, creating warmth and the opportunity to feel something. It’s the best way to juxtapose clean lines by adding texture with ornate decor, fabrics, and furniture for not just a good design, but a great one. Just don’t overdo it with the fur!! 

Design by GreyHunt Interiors | Photo by Christy Kosnic

Bye, Bye Bob the Builder: Builder grade is the most simplified way to ‘customize’ your home. Bob built for thousands, but you’re one in a million. So, it’s time to take hold of your individuality and ditch the out of date builder grade. You can either completely gut with a full ‘reno to really get customized. Or if you’re looking for a more inexpensive way to update, try making some simple swaps with your hardware, lighting, mirrors, faucets, maybe even a new face of paint. Trust me, even those small things can make all the difference. 2019 is the time to get custom and curated, baby. 

Design by GreyHunt Interiors | Photo by Christy Kosnic

The 5th Wall: Ceilings have gotten their own attention, especially when it comes to architecture, with those coffered or beamed overheads. But what about the majority that are your typical flat white? How can you give them attention? Well for starters, it’s time to think outside that flat white box and add actually utilize this blank canvas. For some easy interest, simply add a pop of color with some paint. And if you’re really ambitious, go for a wallpaper- as subtle or striking as you’d like. The 5th wall has no limits.

Design by GreyHunt Interiors | Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

How to winterize your plumbing and who to call when disaster strikes

Baby it’s cold outside! By now you should have winterized your hose bibs. If not, now is the time. Do this as the cold winds pick up and temperatures plummet outside. If you don’t, you may risk disaster striking in the form of a burst pipe and flood inside your home.

I met with Restoration 1 of Centreville owner, Georg Schwarz, to discuss how and why we should all winterize our home plumbing and what goes into curing a water loss. Unfortunately I had a pin-hole leak in a pipe in my basement back in May 2018 and Georg was on the spot with dryers, dehumidifiers, HEPA filters, and the tools to get the claim to my insurance company. All was covered and we are now fully restored.

Check out this video so you too can avoid a costly loss and, if disaster strikes, you’ll know who to call.

How to winterize your plumbing and who to call when disaster strikes

Home Maintenance

How to winterize your plumbing with Liberty Plumbing owner John Sfreddo

In the words coined by Game of Thrones, “winter is coming”. There are special precautions every home owner should take in order to get ready for the dropping temperatures. I had a minute to chat with John Sfreddo, owner of Liberty Plumbing in Chantilly, and discuss what needs to happen in your home.

  • Drain and shut off the outside hose spigots
  • Be sure your sump pumps are functioning properly
  • For vacant properties be sure to fully winterize your home: shut off all water from outside of home, drain water heater, blow out the line, RV antifreeze all traps…aka call a plumber and get it done!

You can hear what John has to say here or contact him at or 703-263-0155.

Home Maintenance

How to prepare your lawn for winter: Interview with Raul Berrios and RulyScapes

Fall marks the preparation for a great lawn the following spring. According to Raul Berrios, owner of RulyScapes, we have a few more precious days for aeration, seeding and top dressing. Raul and his general manager, Zach, joined me for an interview in the rain to discuss fall preparation and a wholistic approach to lawn creation and maintenance.

In western Centreville RulyScapes works with a developer to transform raw land into beautiful 5-acre green lots for residential homes. Take a look at this interview where Raul and Zach took an abandoned golf course and turned it into a lawn so soft you do not need to wear shoes! From bush hog, to to dressing, to seeding, weed control and leaf removal, RulyScapes makes unruly lawns ruly.

You can learn more about RulyScapes at