Posted on: November 22, 2016
Elfant Wissahickon Realtors represented the buyers of this lovely Yoga studio. Please visit if you are so inclined.
If your dream afternoon includes hitting a hot yoga class, grabbing a matcha latte and maybe snagging a new pair of leggings, I’d like you to say hello to Chestnut Hill’s Rebel, otherwise known as your new heaven on earth. Rebel houses a yoga studio, an activewear boutique and a healthy canteen (that’s basically a cafe with a trendier name) under one roof. See? Heavenly.
Rebel, helmed by yoga instructor Sue Pinto, opened pretty quietly at 8020 Germantown Avenue earlier this month. The space features a 400-square-foot yoga studio offering a range of heated and non-heated classes; a 700-square-foot retail space, where shoppers will find activewear brands like Spiritual Gangster, Beyond Yoga, Alo and more, along with jewelry and accessories; and a canteen slinging cold-pressed juices from Stripp’d, Inspired Brews kombucha on draft, drinks like matcha green tea lattes and gluten, dairy, and sugar-free baked goodies from Pure Batch.
I repeat: heaven on earth.
And if yogis intimidate you in the same way bike technicians intimidate me (anyone else?), fear not. Per the press release, Pinto’s goal in opening Rebel is to provide a judgment-free environment where newbies and seasoned yogis alike feel comfortable. “Rebel will be fun, warm and feel like a community. It’s not intended to be an exercise factory. I want this to feel like a home away from home,” Pinto says.
Rebel’s grand-opening party is going down on Friday, November 18th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to the Facebook event page, folks can expect light bites and cocktails, along with discounts on yoga classes and boutique items. Here’s to hoping it’s warm enough to enjoy a drink in the garden. (Did we mention there’s ALSO a garden? Because there is.)
Posted on: November 3, 2016
Cold weather on the way means winter lawn care for your backyard.
Although spring lawn care gets all the attention, fall lawn care is the make-it or break-it season for grass.
“I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.”
Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.
Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.
If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.
A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.
Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.
Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.
Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.
Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.
A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.
Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.
Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.
A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.
Posted on: October 27, 2016
Is your front entryway ready for Halloween visitors? Keep everything fun and accident-free with these seven safety tips.
Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween — as long as it’s just a trick.
To help you avoid any real-life scares — such as falls, fires, and traffic accidents — around your property this All Hallows Eve, play it safe while you’re setting up your Halloween lights and decorations.
Here are seven simple precautions recommended by John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle, a Gloucester, Mass., mansion that draws thousands to its renowned 20-room haunted house every Halloween season.
1. Light the Scene
Providing plenty of illumination ensures that your visitors can see where they’re walking, helping to avoid missteps and falls. Pettibone suggests using the highest wattage bulbs your outdoor lighting fixtures can safely take (check the label on the socket), and adding landscape lights every few feet along your front walk.
“We use the solar-powered kind because there’s no wiring needed,” he says. “Just push them into the ground, let them soak up the sun during the day, and they’ll light up the walk after dark.”
2. Secure the Footing
Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions that could trip youngsters focused more on tricks and treats than watching where they’re going. That means moving potted mums and jack o’lanterns out of the way, and hammering down any nail heads protruding out of your steps.
If you have a concrete stoop, which can get slippery when wet, apply friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to ensure stable footing, says Pettibone. He also stocks up on chemical ice melt ($20 for a 50-lb. bag) just in case of an early freeze.
3. Tighten the Railings
If your porch railings are wobbly or broken, family members and friends may know not to lean too heavily on them, but Halloween visitors won’t. So hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem. It’ll make your home safer for guests all year round. Because more strangers come to your front door this night than the rest of the year combined, now is the time to take care of it.
4. Eliminate Fire Hazards
Don’t put real candles into your carved pumpkins or paper lanterns. “That’s a fire waiting to happen,” says Pettibone. Instead, pick up a bulk pack of LED-bulb faux candles, which emit a yellowish, flickering, battery-powered light that looks amazingly similar to the real thing — without the danger.
5. Secure Your Property
To prevent burglaries and Halloween pranks — especially on mischief night the previous evening — make sure to keep all windows and doors (other than your main door) locked shut.
You might have an electrician add motion-sensor lights around your property, so anyone who walks down your driveway or around into the backyard will be discouraged from intruding any farther.
6. Set the Scene
In addition to spooky items like cotton cobwebs and half-buried skeletons, consider a few safety-related scene-setters. Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. “We use yellow caution tape to tie open the door,” he says. “You can order it online and it works well with the Halloween theme.” A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide caution tape is about $8.
You’ll also want a working doorbell, so if yours is broken, either hire an electrician or handyman to fix it — or install a wireless doorbell in its place.
7. Enhance Street Safety
Four times as many child pedestrians get killed on Halloween night than a normal night. So limit the danger as much as you can by clearing parked cars off the curb to allow better visibility and placing a reflective “watch for children sign” at the edge of the road. For for high-traffic roads in Halloween-intensive neighborhoods, consider posting an adult in the street with a hand-held traffic control light to help maintain safety.
Posted on: October 26, 2016
Sale of Note: Grace Kelly House
Elfant Wissahickon Realtors would like to thank the Principality of Monaco and the Kelly family of Philadelphia for placing their trust in Elfant Wissahickon and giving us the opportunity to act as their agent on this meaningful purchase. East Falls’ Grace Kelly House is a Philadelphia cultural landmark. It has long been a place that delights people when they pass by.
This past summer, John O’Connell was asked to represent Prince Albert of Monaco (the son of Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier) and his interest in taking title to the ancestral property. The prince and his many Kelly cousins have for some time wished to return the handsome brick colonial at Henry Avenue and Coulter Street to family ownership and to see to it that both the home and its grounds are restored to its original condition, the storied property enjoyed during Grace Kelly’s childhood.
Even a property with historical significance can be affected by a fast-paced real estate market. In order for the Kelly Family to acquire the property, they had to compete with other buyers. As a result of the skill and patience of John O’Connell and the Kelly family, the sale was successfully negotiated and this historic landmark was returned to the family.
The day after settlement, the flags of the United States, the Republic of Ireland, and Monaco flew over the main doorway fronting on Henry Avenue.
“I have no doubt,” said John O’Connell, “that Philadelphians and especially the people of East Falls, will be pleased to see this magnificent house restored and reunited with its elegant past.”
Elfant Wissahickon Realtors has extensive experience in sales of properties of historical significance. Please be in touch if you would like to learn more.
Posted on: October 21, 2016
Posted on: October 11, 2016
Gain storage space and usable square footage by installing pocket doors.
Pocket doors maximize under-utilized areas around doorways and transform them into smart storage spots.
The swing of a standard interior hinged door eats up as much as 10 square feet of floor space. That’s not to mention the unusable wall space the door occupies when open. By gliding on a track that disappears into the wall, pocket doors reclaim that space and increase the usable square footage of your home.
Is the additional space worth it? It’s not exactly an open and shut case. For starters, unless you’re dealing with new construction, you’ll need to demolish a wall. Here’s what else you need to know before giving the sledgehammer a heave-ho.
Benefits of Pocket Doors
Space. With more available wall space, you have room for furnishings or freestanding storage. However, avoid penetrating the pocket-door wall to hang shelves or artwork—nails or drywall anchors might damage the door or prevent it from sliding. Instead, use adhesive-backed wall hangers. (Easily removable versions that don’t damage walls and hold up to 20 pounds are available).
Aesthetics. Create a clean, airy look when you do away with bulky hinged doors. Door styles are limitless.
Functionality. People of all ages and abilities can operate pocket doors easily.
Drawbacks of Pocket Doors
Privacy. Because they don’t close as tightly as hinged doors, pocket doors don’t seal out sound well from one room to another.
Mess. Installation of a pocket door means demolishing and re-framing a wall, so plan to haul a few wheelbarrow loads of old drywall and wall studs out of your house.
Before demolishing the wall, investigate what you might find inside: plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling ducts. If rerouting these is an option, it will come at a price—anywhere from $300 to $800. You’ll also need to determine if the wall is load-bearing, and if the door opening needs to be reinforced with a header.
What Do They Cost?
Top-quality pocket door kits feature heavy-duty, ball-bearing nylon rollers guaranteed to not jump off their tracks, and studs wrapped in metal to prevent warping. Kits are available to fit 2×4 or 2×6 wall construction. Kit cost: $150 to $350; add $350 to $550 for professional installation, depending on the complexity of the demolition work.
Make sure your door opening is square, plumb, and level. Cut corners on hardware quality or installation procedure and you’ll risk having to redo it all down the road.
Posted on: September 22, 2016
Tips for a barefoot-worthy lawn that’ll ensure your home has uber curb appeal.
Ahhhh, that sensation of stepping onto a freshly mowed lawn sans footwear. There’s nothing like it.
Here’s how to ensure that grassy feeling from spring to fall.
Like so many maintenance jobs, everything goes smoother — and you’ll get better results — with proper preparation. Early spring is the time to get ready for lawn-growing and mowing season.
Sharpen mower blades to ensure clean cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens.
Sharpen mower blades once each month during grass-cutting season. Have a backup blade (about $20) so that a sharp one is always on hand.
Tune up your mower with a new sparkplug ($3 to $5) and air filter ($5 to $10). Your mower might not need a new sparkplug every season, but changing it is a simple job, and doing it every year ensures you won’t forget the last time you replaced your sparkplug.
Buy fresh gas. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol, so use regular grades of gasoline.
If you need to dump old gasoline, ask your city or county for local disposal sites that take old fuel.
Clean up your lawn. Time to get out the leaf rakes and remove any twigs and leaves that have accumulated over the winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris clears the way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.
Depending on your weather, your grass will now start growing in earnest, so be ready for the first cutting. Don’t mow when the grass is wet — you could spread diseases, and wet clippings clog up lawn mowers.
Fertilizing: Both spring and fall are good times to fertilize your lawn. In the northern third of the country, where winters are cold, fertilize in fall — cool weather grasses go dormant over winter and store energy in their roots for use in the spring.
For the rest of the country, apply fertilizer just as your grass begins its most active growth. For best results, closely follow the application directions on the product. You’ll spend about $50 to $75 per application for an average 1/4-acre lot.
Aeration: Aerating punches small holes in your lawn so water, fertilizers, and oxygen reach grass roots. Pick a day when the soil is damp but not soaked so the aeration machine can work efficiently.
Pre-emergent herbicides: Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking root in your lawn. A soil thermometer is a handy helper; you can pick one up for $10 to $20. When you soil temperature reaches 58 degrees — the temperature at which crabgrass begins to germinate — it’s time to apply the herbicide.
Watch out for grubs: Warm weather means that grub worms, the larvae stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, start feeding on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns show browning and wilting patches.
To be certain that the culprits are grubs, pull back the sod and look for white, C-shaped grubs. If you see more than 10 per square foot, your lawn should be treated with a chemical pesticide.
Milky spore is an environmentally friendly way to control some species of grubs. When using insecticides, read and follow all label directions, and water the product into the soil immediately. Cost is around $50 to $75 per application.
Grass-cutting tip: Your grass is starting to grow fast, and you might even be cutting more than once a week to keep up. To keep grass healthy, mow often enough so you’re removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.
Pesky weeds: Weeds that have escaped an herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork. Use a post-emergent herbicide only if you think the situation is getting out of hand.
Check out our guide to some common types of weeds and tips on how to get rid of them.
Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.
With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:
- Set your mower blade height to 3 inches.
- Deep and infrequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week.
Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.
- To check sprinkler output, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific amount of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.
- At least once each month, clean underneath your mower to prevent spreading lawn diseases.
- Although it’s OK to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they can decompose and nourish the soil, remove large clumps. Regularly rake up any leaves, twigs, and debris.
If your grass seems to be stressed out, check out our advice on what to do if your lawn is turning brown.
The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps. Follow these simple steps:
- Remove any dead grass.
- Break up the soil with a garden trowel.
- Add an inch of compost and work it into the soil.
- Add grass seed that’s designed for shade or full sun, depending. Spread the seed evenly across the bare patch.
- Use a hard-tooth rake to work the seed into the soil to a depth of about half an inch.
- Sprinkle grass clippings over the patch to help prevent the soil from drying out.
- Water the area; you’ll want to keep the patch moist, so lightly water once a day until the seed germinates and the new grass gets about one inch tall.
Your main job in fall is to keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. You can use a mulching mower to break up leaves and add the organic matter to your soil, but be sure to clean up any clumps so they don’t kill the grass.
In the northern one-third of the country, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Your grass will store the nutrients in its roots as it goes dormant over the winter, and your lawn will be ready for a jump start when spring warms the ground.
This is also the time to clean up your garden.