Sunday, January 31, 2021


I first ran across this term in Madame Lautrec's French class my freshman year of high school. Translated, the term means 'foot on the ground'.

Pied-à-terre. It was (and is) a fun term to pronounce, but back then I didn't quite get it. Mme Lautrec explained that a pied-à-terre is a small, rather compact unit located in the heart of the city, ideally just steps to everything, and used quite often as a second home. I grew up in suburbia Portland in a small lake community. We had large homes on large lots. At 14 I couldn't figure out why anyone would need a second home in the city, especially when my city was only 20 minutes away.

After traveling the world on business, I understood the 'necessity' of having a small unit in the city. Due to my length of stay and/or lack of any hotel rooms, I stayed many times in charming pied-à-terre in Luxembourg, Paris and Manhattan.

Perhaps the sweetest part of a pied-à-terre is how beautifully appointed they tend to be. I am not sure if it has to do with the modest size of these units (less square footage to decorate well) or the fact that the owners tend to be in the social-economic stratosphere. Either way, they are jewel boxes of (first, second or third) homes.

Here are some of my favorites from around the globe. These wee homes pack a punch way above their weight in size.

Paris Left Bank
Paris Right Bank

Sao Paulo

Pied-à-terre have many similar characteristics.
  • The city center is on its doorstep
  • Small in size ... Big on style
  • Lots of windows maintaining the illusion of lots of space
  • Lovely city views
  • Compact and well appointed
  • In a secure building
These characteristics combine to make for an ideal second home (simply lock-and-leave) or as a flip key (short term vacation/business rental). 

But let's not forget the beauty of living large in a small space. Less square footage to clean, decorate, heat and pay taxes, mais oui! Many books have been written on the health and benefits of living in smaller homes!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

flooded basements

                                          -- An Afghan Proverb

Christmas was approaching and with the usual baking, cooking, cleaning and all the decorating that comes with a holiday like this you can imagine my words when I discovered water streaming into our finished basement.

The water was rushing in faster than my daughter and I could vacuum it up. We weren't making a dent in what appeared to be the sinking of our home.

This had happened before. In 2012. At that time a drain fed by one of our downspouts was clogged. Lucky for us, we were able to connect with a local plumber and within 30 minutes they were on-site and able to identify the cause via a drain-scope and fix the problem by using a hydro-vac to clear the drain.

This time, it appears water is finding its way through a small crack in the foundation. A crack I thought about having looked at last summer, but, ugh, didn't - as a real estate agent I know better - ha ha! Luckily, I was able to schedule two different foundation companies to come out this week to inspect/access the problem and hopefully get it taken care of quickly. 

As we wait, I've made sure to minimize any more damage. I have removed all the wet carpet and padding (Junk B Gone has hauled it away), pulled off the baseboards and brought in dehumidifiers to air out the basement! A good thing too as torrential downpours this past week have brought in more water, albeit a trickle, but we need to stay vigilant to minimize any drywall damage and minimize any potential environment for mold to take hold. 

Whenever you see signs of water it is important to act quickly. Keep these tips in mind if you find water infiltrating your home:

The first step is to get rid of the water. If it isn't too deep you can usually suck up the water with a wet-dry shop vacuum.

To prevent mold growth and additional damage, you must dry out your basement as quickly as possible. Dehumidifiers are your best option, because they remove moisture from the air as well as the walls, carpet and other items. Renting industrial strength dehumidifiers from a restoration company is best. Have several running at once for several days. If your basement has air conditioning, turn it on, it acts as a dehumidifier as well. Set up several fans to keep the air moving - this will help to dry the space out more quickly. Depending on the severity of the flood, it may take up to two weeks for the basement to fully dry out. Be sure to leave the dehumidifiers and fans running to move this process along.

Depending on the water damage, it might be best to hire a restoration company, which helps restore homes that have suffered flood, fire and other serious damage. These companies have heavy duty equipment that can remove the water and dry out your basement as quickly as possible. If you have a finished basement, and there has been damage to the floor, walls, or other areas, a restoration company can also replace or repair these items.

While rainwater flood isn't as dangerous as one due to sewer backup, there may be dirt, debris and other contaminants in the water that pose health risks. When the basement is dry, disinfect all areas and items that were exposed to the floodwater. Dilute chlorine bleach with water to create a disinfecting wash, and use a sponge to apply it to all surfaces. Rinse the bleach mixture off, and let the basement air-dry again.

Depending on the type of homeowner's insurance policy you have, you may be covered for water damage in your home. In our two cases it did not. If you are covered, the insurance company will likely send an agent to examine your basement and determine the extent of the damage before they process the claim.

I hope you never have to use these tips but if you do be sure to act quickly and call in some qualified professionals to help you. Here are a few who have earned my trust.

Action JacksonFischer Plumbing
Damage Restoration Companies:
Servpro911 Restoration Seattle

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Monday, January 4, 2021

some winter calm

Decorating for the seasons runs through my veins. But as romantic as that is, I waste no time when the holiday passes. You will never find a jack-o-lantern on my front porch on November 1st! I'm not sure what creates this need to wipe the slate clean so quickly. It might have to do with how much passion I pour into celebrating each and every holiday so that when it is over so are the decorations.

Christmas can stay put until the Epiphany but then it's time to remove anything green and red, holly or bough, bells, ornaments, wrapping and more. It all gets safely stored in color coded bins for next year.

Between Christmas and Easter, I relish stripping the house down to nothing and giving it a good scrub in preparation for some neutral touches and a refreshing palette.

This time of year I love bulbs, and Paperwhites are my favorite. There is something so relaxing about the creamy white blossoms and heavenly scent.  Planted in simple pots, anything green gives a nod of what's to come.

Large baskets that once held firewood, boxwood and wrapped presents are emptied and left to stand alone. I find that there is something unexpected about a vacant basket sitting in a room and the texture reminds me of the bare branches just outside the windows.

Bowls of fresh fruit, especially in rooms other than the kitchen, add the perfect touch of color.

The fireplace gets cleaned out and scrubbed down and the windows get a fresh washing (we need every bit of light during these short, grey Seattle days).

I rarely move big pieces of furniture. It took a while for me to figure out where they work best and I use them as the anchors in each of the rooms. I do shift small tables and lamps around. Then I add stacks of my favorite books and a soft throw.

This change out is done dilly dallying for me! I want to make sure I have ample time to sit in one of these cozy corners with a good book or a pile of magazines and enjoy the winter quiet....this is home - this is as good as it gets!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur