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Seeing Green

High-dollar development brings city to country with all-inclusive, inventive approach. Choosing where to live (for those who can) used to be about making decisions and concessions. Country? City? The once-vast expanse between? Want to walk to see live music and go to dinner? You’ll need to live near a city center and deal with traffic and [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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High-dollar development brings city to country with all-inclusive, inventive approach.

Choosing where to live (for those who can) used to be about making decisions and concessions.

Country? City? The once-vast expanse between?

Want to walk to see live music and go to dinner? You’ll need to live near a city center and deal with traffic and crime. Want to have woods outside your back door and go fishing after work? You’ll have to forego the lively nightlife and conveniences of living in a metropolitan area.

But what if there were a place where you really could have it all?

Developer Dan Griffin believes you can, and he’s crafting it into existence.

When Griffin talks about Evans Farm, a smile sneaks into his voice, and he takes on a buoyancy that betrays his excitement. He and business partner Tony Eyerman are building their own future, and that of thousands of their neighbors.

And it’s shaping up to be an urban utopian oasis in the middle of a rural expanse.

The name of the game at Evans Farm is “new urbanism,” a social concept and design movement that centers itself around a traditional village prototype. One where services, commerce, and gathering places are all within walking distance of the home.

Griffin’s mental collage of a friendly past and a progressive future blooms into the best of both worlds, and he wants it all right outside his resident’s doorsteps.

“We have restaurants, we have salons, we have the YMCA, we’ve got a brewery, we’ve got a recreational facility that is structured from a historic barn. Out the back will be a carved in amphitheater where, on Friday nights, residents will be able to walk right down the street and sit on the lawn and have Friday night movies. There will be a bridge out over the main road where people will be able to walk over to the beach and marina at Alum Creek. It de-emphasizes travel by vehicle. That’s what the new generation wants right now. They want to walk to work or ride their bike. After work, they can walk to a restaurant, or walk to the grocery store, or take a golf cart there. [This is] a place where houses are pulled up closer to the street, where people can walk for services. It’s Granville, it’s Old Worthington. When people would first settle an area, they’d settle real close. It was all walkable. Business and personal life were all in one place. We see it on TV when you look at Mayberry.”

Griffin consistently name-checks the TV town that has come to embody the idealized American community of old. So enmeshed is this ideal that some of Griffin’s team are literally building their lives around it:

“There are a bunch of us [Evans Farm designers, builders] moving in here. You’re going to have a bunch of different people with a bunch of different needs. I’m a hunter and fisherman. I’m an outdoors person; my wife’s the city girl. And she can’t wait to live here because we’re going to have the best of both worlds. If I want to take a hike, we can do it from here because we’re connecting to the park. You’ll be able to walk or take a horse all the way to Cheshire. So it fulfills every country [aspect] as well as nice restaurants. We’ve been contacted by four of the city’s best restaurants to [establish themselves] here.”

Griffin and his team seem to be like veritable kids in a candy store when it comes to designing the town of their dreams.

“We’re building a restaurant with a little platform out the back next to the railroad station so when people go out there and sit and the train goes by, they’ll be eye-to-eye with the conductor. We’re building lakes that have solar powered fish feeders on them. You’ll be able to kayak on a few of them.”

It seems that the developers have left no stone unturned, figurative or literal.

“We’re doing paths through the woods where we mark and label every tree and plant so the school can teach the kids the agricultural side of life, and teach them what’s out there in the world—de-emphasize the computer,” Griffin said. “We’re building an elementary school and a preschool that sit right in the middle of our development so kids can walk to school safely.”

This hyper-engineered community has been planned to the finest detail: from their six- to eight-foot-wide sidewalks built specifically for baby carriages, cyclists and runners alike to be able to share the lane without anyone stepping off to the side, to “functional” front porches (required to be at least eight feet deep) that must be built 24-36 inches off the ground, so that passers by are at eye level with their seated neighbors.

The purposeful design of this village has specific goals in mind: connection, safety, prestige. Other urban centers have walkability, but Evans Farm has had the luxury of removal from an established core. Older urban models have been cobbled together through decades, the good piled next to the less savory bits of city life. And in the rural areas of central Ohio, we have the pendulum swinging decidedly the other way, providing unique challenges—lack of nightlife, long commutes to everywhere from work to the grocery store. These extremes pose the trade-offs that home buyers must navigate. In recent years, buyers have chosen the middle ground of suburban sprawl, but this has seemed to lack a solution to the city vs. country decision model. Griffin wants to give people options in everything from housing to hobbies.

“People want a community, so you have to have multiple housing opportunities. We’re starting with a clear slate. I think we have an opportunity that [places like] Clintonville didn’t have, which is [being] recreated in an environment that adds some little special things. [In Clintonville] how close are you to grabbing a fishing rod and heading to the lake? How close are you to walking to a state park without crossing a main road? There’s a little of that detail that we’re able to capture because we don’t have anything but that clear slate of land.”

All this meticulous planning comes at a price. At Evans Farm, hitting the million-dollar mark on your home would not be a tall task. The residences start at the high $300,000s for multi-family units, and climb from there into six figures. These price-points obviously will put Evans Farm out of reach for some, but the developers aims to pop the gated community-type bubble that could result from the highly insulated and all-contained lifestyle development.

“We have fun cause we meet with neighbors all the time. We meet with the local people, whether they’re moving here or not. We’re putting classrooms in our Ag Center, [which] is going to be used by a lot of the local groups like 4-H. It will have gardens and classrooms that we’ll share with the school system. We’re connecting the Orange Township bike trail all the way through our development so people don’t stop in the middle of Lewis Center and turn around. For People that live on Old State [Road] all the way through this Lewis Center area, this will be their gathering spot. We’re connecting trails to local communities so people don’t have to move there but can be part of Evans Farm. Even the general public understands what an incredible opportunity we have to build something they don’t have. We’ve got over 27 businesses now that are going to open up and start construction this fall. So that quaint little Lewis Center village that people knew at one time is going to be recreated architecturally and with local businesses by the end of 2019.”

And people are buying in: 120 of the 142 lots in Phase 1 are already spoken for, and they haven’t even put the streets in yet. 2,000 lots on 1,300 acres will house an estimated 6-7,000 people when all’s said and done. The infrastructure has been placed, and foundations are being laid. Residents will begin moving in next summer.

Griffin gazes further into the future as he pulls influence from the past.

“It’s how our grandparents grew up. They stayed in one place and had Thanksgiving dinner in one house. But society has changed, and we have started spreading out quicker. We can build a place here that takes the best of all the places we’ve ever dealt with and puts them in one package for generations. Way after I’m gone, people will drive through, and it’ll become a destination place. This is great fun for me, as you can tell.”

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Home & Garden

State of the housing market: Top buyer questions answered

614Now

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"When the mind is in a state of uncertainty, the smallest impulse directs it to either side."--Terence, ancient Roman playwright

Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help our clients navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered by yours truly, The LKW Home Team, Lauren Lucas & Jennifer Kessel-White.

1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the seller of the home. Currently homes are still available for your agent and you to walkthrough. For protection purposes, The LKW Home Team provides gloves and sanitizer for our clients. The most common trend we are seeing is no overlapping showings, so only one group at a time will enter the house (the buyers and agent) and the next showing will wait for the previous potential buyers to be finished. We are of course, offering virtual tours; this is where we will tour the home for you via Facetime, Facebook Video Messenger, Zoom and more. Hey, we have put multiple homes in contract via virtual tours, so no worries! We have high expectations for our clients, and will measure, and search every nook and cranny.. we GOT YOU!

2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. We will provide gloves and hand sanitizer for you, and will keep our safe distance.  During the tour, we suggest designating one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. This should be a fun and exciting experience, so have no fear, we are amateur jokesters, your biggest cheerleaders, and provide an honest opinion that only your mother-in-law would appreciate.

3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? – To start, we hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, we will FaceTime you with cocktails and support, and listen, we will suggest options and have your lender work their butt off to find any other option possible to help. 

Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. If your financial loan can not be completed due to furlough or loss of job, there would be no penalty to the Buyer.

4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – Yup, I mean we are about to cross the finish line, and you need those measurements for that massive Ikea order, we get that, and are happy to help with those answers or meet you for a walkthrough. It’s very common for the buyer to have easy access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections and appraisals are common reasons to visit the home during escrow. 

5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, (hey, whatever happened to Miss Cleo… ) but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. We are still showing and listing homes on the daily. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it.

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you’ve been waiting for during this time. In the meantime, we will tune in with Dr. Acton and Governor DeWine each day at 2PM! 

The Columbus market was ranked 7th hottest market in the nation for March, and 38% of new listings are going into contract in the 7 days! Columbus is still booming, and we are here for it! 

Written by Lauren Lucas and Jennifer Kessel-White of the LKW Home Team, Keller Williams Classic Properties. We are ready to get the drill out and post the for sale sign in your front yard, or bring the gloves and sanitizer and/or virtual tour to you so you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home. Call us at 614-321-9262 or email us at [email protected]

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Home & Garden

Amp up your home style with color and quality from Georgie Home

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Move over, Pantone Color of the Year! A new local business offers a coordinated collection of quality home goods designed in rich color palettes, so consumers can easily and affordably elevate their home style.

Georgie Home, launched by Lauren Wagner and Laura Sullivan, offers thoughtfully designed home and lifestyle products. The company is dedicated to producing high- quality, simple, friendly goods to make your home feel fresh.

“We wanted to create something where we felt really good about the quality and offer products we’d want to have in our homes. We didn’t want something that you just run to a big box store and buy,” Wagner said.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Wagner and Sullivan’s journey to launch their company was relatively quick. The pair worked together as graphic designers at a national company headquartered in Columbus in the early 2010s. As they searched for inspiration and created mood boards for work projects, they realized they had a similar vision.

“We’d get excited and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do our own thing some day?’,” Wagner said.

A few short years later, that shared vision was realized when Georgie Home’s first collection launched in November 2019. Phoenix is a line of hand and bath towels in coordinating colors and patterns. The duo started with towels because it’s an easy way to bring a bit of luxury into the home, and high-quality towels will last. While most high-quality towels are plain, Georgie Home offers something unique by combining quality with patterns.

“When you reach a certain age, it’s nice to have a little bit of luxury, and you might as well get something that you will have a while for just a little more money,” Wagner said.

FOR THE LOVE OF COLOR

As designers, Wagner and Sullivan are passionate about color. And when they first started working professionally, there weren’t a lot of ways to feed that passion.

“I was having trouble coming up with color palettes and there weren’t a lot of online resources, so I started creating my own,” Wagner said. “I would find images that inspired me and pulled my color palette from that.” She began sharing these online in a blog about a decade ago, a collection that has evolved into an Instagram account.

As one can tell by Georgie Home’s collection, their current favorite colors (because, like all of us, Wagner said it changes over time) are sage and ochre (a warm yellow- brown) for Wagner, and dusty blue for Sullivan.

CREATE A COZY, PERSONAL SPACE WITH COLOR

Carrying color over into home decorating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Wagner suggests using neutral colors such as whites and greys for walls, flooring, and furniture, and using pops of color throughout your space with items like throws, pillows, and wall hangings. She also likes to add natural elements such as dried flowers, which are trendy now.

“I keep my walls the same and change up everything around it,” she said. “My taste changes over time and this lets me update my décor without painting.”

This approach also makes it easy to decorate for the seasons.

“I will add things for the holidays, and I’ll add color in the summer and greenery in the winter,” Wagner said. “I keep it simple–I won’t change my wall hangings, but I’ll update my dining room table, my mantel, and towels.”

If you’re not sure where to start, Wagner suggests perusing Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration.

“There are a lot of home bloggers that are inspiring,” she said. “Find something that you love and recreate it.”

Wagner has a long list of local, chain, online, and brick-and-mortar stores where she finds her decorating elements. Locally, she recommends Jewelweed Floral Studio and Stump as great sources for plants, and Trove Warehouse and Elm & Iron for accessories and furniture. The outlet malls and Wayfair are great for budget-friendly options, and antique shops and Etsy are great if you’re looking for something no one else has. The big retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Pottery Barn Kids also have some great pieces.

WHAT’S NEXT

Wagner and Sullivan hope to move Georgie Home into the brick-and-mortar space. With the first collection launched, they are reaching out to retailers to explore wholesale opportunities locally and nationally.

They’re also planning for their second line, which will launch next spring or summer. The collection is likely to include placemats, table runners, and tablecloths. While they haven’t decided on a color palette, it will be fresh and coordinated, and inspired by the season.

Shop Georgie Home’s inaugural collection at georgiehome.com.

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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: Scandinavian style, minimal holiday decor in this Columbus cookie-cutter-home

Regina Fox

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Sam Berry is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about raising her daughter, Scandinavian design, photography, baking cookies, decorating her home, and sharing pics of it all on her Instagram page @chicincolumbus.

She recently moved into a builder-grade cookie-cutter-home in Columbus, which she and her husband are slowly turning into their perfect home. Keep reading read to learn how they're doing it!

614: What would you call your home style? 

SB: I struggle to describe my home style with one word or phrase. I recently took a design style quiz online that kind of opened my eyes to what my style actually is, because it’s all over the place. I love Mid Century Modern but I also like a touch of Industrial. I love Scandinavian design as well but I'm not enough of a minimalist to execute it well. I love a comfortable space that doesn’t feel too much like a magazine (not that I could ever live up to that expectation).

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4xpFyGgBfY/

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

SB: My favorite item in my home is the gold armchair I inherited from my late grandma. I have many memories of it in her home and love that I now have a place for it in mine. It is unique and embodies the Mid Century side of my home decor style (it’s also one of my favorite colors: mustard yellow). I also have a vintage Danish teak sideboard from Boomerang Room that I swoon over every time I walk by it. I would love to know who owned it before it made its way into my home.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2O48uogj3e/

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop? 

SB: I get my things from all over, but primarily I shop either new at Ikea and West Elm or secondhand via Craigslist/Instagram/Facebook Marketplace. I have found some great secondhand deals, which turn out to be some of my favorite pieces. My favorite places to shop for decorative accessories are Grandview Mercantile, Elm & Iron, and World Market.

614: What inspires your design style? 

SB: I am inspired, as I’m sure many are, by Instagram (@_forthehome, @beginninginthemiddle, and @reserve_home are some of my current favorite feeds) and Pinterest. I love that there are so many different design styles and people out there, so there’s a never-ending supply of inspiration. I have thousands of pins and dozens of saved Instagram posts that I often review when I feel the itch to tackle a project or redecorate a space. I love to take an image that inspires me and recreate it with the items I already own.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5p7KwvgNgg/

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating? 

SB: I try to avoid buying and displaying things that I don’t really love. I believe the items we own can be beautiful and functional at the same time. I actively try to pare things back to only those that “spark joy” à la Marie Kondo. In addition to limiting my decorative items, I also try to not solely follow trends unless they align with my style. 

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating? 

SB: Use what you have! I have so many items that were castoffs from my mom that I love so much so I make sure they have a place. I have added a few things over the years here and there as I come across them. Like the rest of my decor, I try to stick to only displaying those items that I love. I recently donated/threw out a lot of things I’ve been hanging on to that just don’t fit my style at the moment. Now I have room to replace them with things that fit better. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vtlI1gcRG/
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