Dana Claflin - ERA Key Realty Services

Posted by Dana Claflin on 7/22/2021

Whether you buy one or make it yourself, bird baths make an excellent addition to any yard or garden. While the decorative aspect of a bird bath is important, it’s also important to consider the ease of use. Whether birds visit and use your bird bath will depend on several factors concerning its location. Here we’ll go over the major things to consider when finding a place for your bird bath.

Safe From Predators—Including Humans

Birds will only visit bird baths they deem safe. Drinking, bathing and preening their feathers are all things that put them at risk and therefore need the most comfortable environment possible. The easiest way to find a safe place for a bird bath is to avoid wide open areas where they might be exposed to predators. Place the bird bath somewhere close to trees, shrubs or bushes where a nervous bird can easily retreat.

You should also consider human presence when placing bird baths. While it might tempt you to place the bath right next to a window for optimal bird watching from indoors, proximity to windows can be dangerous for birds who may get confused and fly into the glass. Lots of movement through the window is another thing that can startle a bird from their restful bathing and make them less likely to return. Place your bird bath in a lower-traffic area of your garden and safely away from windows to make it safe and comfortable.

Close to a Water Source

Whether your bird bath has a built-in fountain or is simply a basin of water, it will need to be close to a water source. Bird baths that include bubblers, misters or dripping elements will need a constant source of running water and therefore need to be hooked up to a hose or other systems. Bird baths that are just vessels for still water need to be close enough to the hose that you can easily refresh and refill it without having to carry water an inconvenient distance. Keeping the water fresh is much easier when it’s within easy reach and good cleaning habits will help prevent standing water issues as well as keep it pleasant for your bird visitors.

Away From Bird Houses and Feeders

If you have other bird-attracting features in your garden, you will want to place the bath an adequate distance from them. Bird feeders and bird houses can coexist in the same outdoor space as long as the birds have enough room to move around. Most experts recommend a minimum of 6 or 7 feet separating your bird amenities as the proximity can make them nervous and less likely to stay.

These are just three of the most important things to consider when finding a place for your bird bath. Other factors like climate, visibility and sun exposure are also worth some thought to make sure your visiting birds are happy and comfortable when visiting your outdoor space. With a well-placed bird bath, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of feathered friends all throughout the year while providing them a perfect place to relax.

Posted by Dana Claflin on 7/20/2021

Virtual home assistants can be versatile, even if they're still somewhat seen as a novelty to some homeowners. To really get the most out of them, though, you need to first understand what it can do. We'll look at how your home assistant works and how you can add more efficiency to your routine by adjusting how you use it. 

Link Your Information 

This is the most important thing that you can do with a smart home assistant: the more you have on one system, the easier it is to control. So if you have home automation, such as an automated security system or lighting, you can input that information to make it easier to maintain functionality. You can also link your financial information, making it possible to buy what you need by just making the request.

Integrate with Everyday Tasks 

If you want to dictate your to-do list to a technology that will record it all, smart assistants can be a great way to capture the details. So instead of missing one ingredient for a new recipe or forgetting to call the plumber to fix the leak in the bathroom, you never miss a beat.

Assistants are also great for setting timers, making phone calls and reminding you to stick to a schedule. Many people find that their productivity improves when they use these assistants, making it easier to stay on track without feeling overwhelmed. 

Get More Information

Traffic back home, weather, your work schedule: you can use smart home assistants to give you the information you need to get up and running daily. Similar to your to-do lists, this can be everything you need to prepare for your day. You can also make your updates more aligned with your priorities, whether they're a technical necessity or not.

Maximize Your Home Entertainment 

Books, movies, podcasts, music: there are ways to link your services and control your home entertainment with nothing more than your voice or a smartphone. Use virtual assistants to increase the volume, play in surround or select a song you might love.

Remember the Features 

These features make it possible to mute the device, change the default names and teach the AI more about your personal preferences. It all makes for a more intuitive experience.

Posted by Dana Claflin on 7/15/2021

Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

Are you thinking of investing in a new construction home? This is a great time to think about building it smarter. Unlike retrofitting an existing home with smart add-ons, new construction gives you the opportunity to integrate smart technology directly into the home's function and feel. Here are some top smart home technologies everyone is requesting right now in new homes.

Smart Lighting

Instead of just having one smart bulb lamp in your existing home, you could have a builder put smart lighting throughout your home, so no matter what room you're in, you can manage the lighting by voice or smartphone. You can often program lighting preferences for individuals and allow multiple people to manage the lighting through voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.

Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats are more than programmable thermostats. At a very basic level, they allow you to manage your thermostat from anywhere, but you can also get thermostats that can learn about your energy usage and help you become more energy-efficient without sacrificing comfort.

Smart Security/Monitoring

You can certainly pay for remote monitoring through a company if you want that added protection. But today's smart security systems are designed to make DIY monitoring an option. They can inform you when your package arrives, alert you of an unauthorized entry, detect water leaks, provide doorbell video services and more to keep your home and family safe. 

Smart Locks

You can get smart locks as part of a whole-home security system or as a stand-alone. Smart locks can safely let a delivery person or guest inside and lock the door behind them when they leave. They can unlock your door automatically when you or an authorized person walks up to the door, so you don't have to worry about fumbling for your keys or phone when you're carrying a bag of groceries. You can also unlock smart locks when an app either at the door or remotely.

Smart Faucets

With smart faucets, you can pre-select how much water comes out when you wash your hands to avoid waste. You can activate the faucet via sensors or voice and get usage reports to understand where you're washing money down the drain. 

Smart Appliances

From the dishwasher to the dryer, appliances are now connected devices you can manage through voice or smartphone. These can help you more efficiently manage your cleaning and food prep time. If you're buying a new home, make sure it has smart appliances in it. 

Smart Meters

If your home produces some of its own energy, in some communities, you can sell the excess back to the electric company when your system produces more than you need and then use that money to pay for electricity when your usage is outpacing production. You could see a negative amount owed on your next electric bill with this smart technology.

Features for all of these technologies vary by brand, so be sure to read what the smart technology can do to make sure you get the features you want and check reviews to make sure they work as they're supposed to since a lot of these technologies are newer. 


Categories: technology   Homebuyer  

Posted by Dana Claflin on 7/8/2021

If you’re looking for a comfortable, casual way to bring the beach home with you any time of year, coastal design style might be for you. This airy and approachable interior design style celebrates all the best the coast offers: sun, surf, sand and a relaxing yet invigorating atmosphere. While coastal design varies depending on region and preference, there are some basic elements you’ll want to use as your guide. Here we’ll go over the essentials of coastal design and decor so you can use it in your own home.

Neutrals & Blue

Coastal design takes its inspiration from the ocean, so it’s no surprise that the color blue is essential to the style. Whether you accent with blue or make it a primary color choice, the key to any coastal design space is the color of the ocean. Light neutrals are also popular and combine well with blue to create a fresh and energetic look. Opt for mixed shades of white, cream, sandy beige and light browns. For a sophisticated but traditional twist, mix navy blue with bright white, or go more boho with a foggy grayish blue paired with rich wood tones.

Comfortably Casual

Coastal style is casual and laid back. You’ll see this represented in fabric choices, furniture style and room layouts. Linen and cotton are essential fabric choices for a relaxed, beachy vibe. Opt for fabrics with comfortable textures but that are resistant to wrinkles. Mimic the weathered look of driftwood with unfinished, faded wood furniture and accents to make the space feel lived in but not worn down. Wicker furnishings are a lightweight and practical way to add casual charm. Placing your furniture in ways that promote conversation, lazy afternoons and sharing home-cooked meals will go a long way in creating the perfect beach house aesthetic.

Look to Nature

For decor, think about the textures found in coastal areas. You can either use the same materials or simply mimic them with others for a more personal or modern take on the style. Think heavy rope in knots, delicate netting, coral, shells and sea glass. The more natural elements you can combine in your decor the more authentic your coastal setting will feel. You can also carry this concept through things like wall art and other decorative accents. Frame old-fashioned scientific drawings of sea creatures or shadow boxes filled with shells, stones and other curios. Paintings and prints of the ocean and boats are never a bad idea with coastal decor—try putting together an eclectic gallery wall to collect your coastal “findings” all in one place.

These are just the basic tenets of coastal design style and you have lots of room to be creative. The most important aspect of this style is to bring the beach indoors no matter how far away the beach might be. Draw inspiration from your local environment or environments far away and combined with the above tips you will create a perfectly comfortable coastal getaway in your own home.

Posted by Dana Claflin on 7/6/2021

Image by yen lai from Pixabay

Sometimes the summer heat can make it hard to enjoy playing outside. If you don’t have your own pool you might rather stay indoors where the temperature is cooler. However, there are lots of fun ways to play outside and still keep cool. Many of the most popular backyard games and activities become warm-weather essentials by just adding water. Here are some ideas for adding water to outdoor activities:


Dodgeball is a classic backyard game you can enhance with water. It’s simple rules make it easy for anybody to learn on the spot, and when you add water it can help everyone stay cool while staying active. To turn backyard dodgeball into a perfect hot weather game, simply replace the ball with water balloons. Water balloons break easily (which adds to the fun) so make up a large stock of them before you start playing.


Make a piñata out of water balloons and take turns trying to hit it. You can either hang a bunch of individual balloons or tie several together to create a larger target. Use anything from a stick to a broom to try to knock them down and get everyone wet. Add an extra challenge by adding a blindfold. You can also create a points system based on balloon colors and compete for the highest score.


Usually you play limbo with a long stick or pole, but you can easily recreate this game in a way that will keep everyone cool and laughing. Good water pressure is crucial to being successful at this game, so if the stream from your hose is weak try using a power-washing attachment for a stronger stream. Just make sure it’s not painful if you get hit! Hold the nozzle out to create a horizontal line of water for people to try to sneak under. Lower it gradually to increase the difficulty.

Target Practice

There are a number of different target practice games you can set up with water. One option is to throw darts at a board with water balloons attached. You can DIY this easily with a large piece of cork board. Arrange the balloons of different colors around in patterns or at random and assign point values for some competition.

If you have water guns, you can set up target practice with lightweight items like paper cups or empty cans. Line them up and compete to see who can hit the most of them within a set time limit. You can also hang or place the targets in tricky places to add a challenge.

It’s important to remember to clean up after any games you play with water balloons. If you use paper cups or aluminum cans for target practice make sure to recycle them accordingly. If you have a lawn, playing games on it will water it at the same time and save you water. All of these things will help you stay cool while having fun and taking care of your environment at the same time.