How do you live in your home?

Living in your home involves much more than just occupying a space. Design plays a pivotal role in creating a harmonious and aesthetic environment within our living spaces. When done correctly, it has the power to bring tranquility to your bedroom, enhance the functionality of your kitchen’s meal prep area, and create a cozy ambiance around your garden’s fire pit. It’s about more than just appearances; it’s about how a room makes you feel.

Additionally, for many of us, it’s in the kitchen where we cook our favorite recipes, infusing our homes with the comforting aroma of cherished dishes and adding to the overall warmth and charm of our living spaces.

For most homeowners, their home represents their most significant investment. As the custodian of your home’s health and value, you bear the responsibility of making informed decisions that not only preserve but also enhance its worth, all while ensuring the happiness and comfort of your family.

  • Treasure Seeking at the Famous Paris Flea Market, Les Puces
    At the beginning of June, my very good friend and client, Liz Lewis Haller, and I spent a day at the Paris Flea Market, known as “Les Puces de Saint-Ouen” […]
  • Preparing for Spring
    The weather shifts weekly, even daily, it seems. Only a few weeks ago, Mother Nature showcased no less than three seasons all in less than seven days – put together. […]
  • Trinity Solar Speaks
    Recently I caught up with Lisa Parla of Trinity Solar, one of the esteemed exhibitors of 2023 The Resource Home Trade Show. While I love the idea of solar, I […]
  • How to Finance a New Home or Your Home Renovation or Both
    An Interview with Guy Aboutboul of Guaranteed Rate Over the last year plus, the housing market’s conditions of higher interest rates and low inventory have resulted in a conundrum for […]
  • From the Archives…A Menagerie of Curiosities Finds a Home in New Jersey
    A Collection of Natural Curiosities, Textiles, and Victorian-esque Oddities That Wes Anderson Would Adore. Margot Tenenbaum greeted me at the door, as she so often does when I visit and […]
  • That Stunning Garage Reno We Dream Of: An Interview with Maplewood, NJ Resident, Jeremy Frechette
    There are two common relationships we have with our garages; one that fulfills its original purpose as a car house, and one that emerges when we former urbanites decide storage […]
  • That Rando Toilet in the Basement; Compiled Musings on the “Pittsburgh Potty”
    We thought we’d start the new year with a little levity.  Maybe you’ve seen, or even have one of those awkward, kind of creepy freestanding toilets in the basement. And […]
  • Sarah Gee’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide
    Still on the hunt for thoughtful holiday gifts? Sarah Gee of Sarah Gee Interiors shares a few of her favorite things with us. She uses many herself – which we […]
  • It’s Back! Our Holiday Tipping Guide
    We tried to break it down for you, but here’s an underlying secret – there is no one right or wrong answer to the question “what should I tip my (insert service provider here)?” […]
  • Winter Warmth, Chicken Pot Pies
    One of Carla’s favorite winter-time meals is a warm, creamy chicken pot pie. The recipe is pretty quick and easy, and is definitely one the kids can help with, especially […]
  • Interest in Interest [Rates]
    Interest rates. These days, this topic is front and center among realtors, buyers, sellers, and of course, mortgage lenders. We have some essential information from Dave Pressel, a long-time Maplewood, […]
  • The Art of Installing Art
    It seems local talent is woven into the very fabric of South Orange and Maplewood, NJ. One of the niche connoisseurs we are lucky enough to call a neighbor is […]
  • Tips on Using the Maplewood Memorial Library Digital Archive
    If you are interested in the history of your SOMa NJ home and community, Maplewood Memorial Library has many ways in which to aid historical research. Through generous grants made […]
  • How-To: Hazardous Household Waste Disposal (aka Paint!)
    Information on how to dispose of hazardous household waste or toxic substances, like household paint, should be very easy to find. I recently set out to help a real estate […]
  • Making Moves | Buying, Selling, and Adaptation
    2022 is upon us, and it is undeniable that the national housing inventory crisis of the past few years has impacted the way we think about the real estate market. […]
  • 2021/2022 Real Estate Market Outlook
    In February 2021, Danbrot+Labianca’s newsletter column, The Real Real (Estate), about the real estate market outlook, started like this: “We are two months into 2021, and the market is showing […]
  • Researching Your Home’s History
    Originally published in this blog in December 2017. Ever Wondered Who Died in Your House? AREN’T YOU JUST A BIT CURIOUS?  Researching your home’s history can be rewarding.  If you’re […]
  • Trees Do Fall
    I love love love trees. In fact, when people talk about being “an ocean person” or “a mountain person”,  my answer is “I am a tree person.”  So I, like […]
  • Home Buying in 2021
    Well hello Essex County NJ homebuyers! We are two months into 2021, welcome to this year’s unusual melange of housing market variables. We thought we’d compile some defining factors at […]
  • Modernizing the Present by Honoring the Past
    Originally published in the 2020 Matters Magazine, Home & Hearth Edition. Insights from local professionals on doing right by our homes. Every home has a story. And around South Orange […]
    2020. Where to begin? Since Carla Labianca and I are a Real Estate Partnership, let’s begin with one aspect of the beast that was 2020 – the local real estate […]
  • Home Renovation COVID-19 Edition: How the Pandemic Shifted My Priorities
    Waaaay back in March (can you remember what life was like back then?) I was scheduled to kick off a relatively small scale kitchen renovation over here on Oakview Avenue […]
  • Real Estate Competition | Making an Offer
    Making an offer for real estate in Maplewood, South Orange, Montclair, or other Essex County commuter towns of New Jersey was not for the faint of heart pre-Covid-19, and even […]
  • Considering Our Homes from Quarantine
    Mere months ago it was rare for the majority of us to spend 24 hours a day hunkered down in our homes. Prior to COVID-19, our houses acted more like […]
  • Northern NJ Real Estate in the Time of Covid-19
    “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!” is an expression we use to describe the way the real estate market in the NYC bedroom communities of NJ Essex county commuter areas, […]
  • Curate, Don’t Decorate
    Greetings! I’m Sarah Gee, of Sarah Gee Interiors, an interior design studio based right here in SOMA. I am so happy to be the newest Inhabit Your Home contributor – […]
  • In Contemplation of Staging
    Considering Local perspectives Scrolling through listings or visiting open houses in different parts of the United States, one might see homes looking very much the way they look on an […]
  • Torrential Rainstorm, Flooded Basement & Burned Out Sump Pump
    The last week of March brought torrential rain to Maplewood, NJ, so much rain in fact, that at one point on Saturday, our one sump pump burned out. Earlier in […]
  • A Few Minutes in Maplewood, NJ
    A Look at Maplewood, NJ at the Turn of the Last Century Look what we found in the Maplewood Memorial Library? It’s a Real Estate marketing pamphlet written specifically for Maplewood, […]
  • How We Found No. 139 Maplewood Avenue
    Welcome to No. 139 Maplewood Avenue, our home. Let me tell you a story… “That’s the most perfect house around here.” I said to our Realtor as she drove Gary […]
  • Great Interior Design is An Expression of Who He Was, Even Harvey Keitel Thought So
    Great interior design is anything but static – it morphs with the ever-changing needs of the inhabitant/s. It is the exploration of space and the quest to fuse comfort, utility, and […]
  • Casa Vicens, My Visit to Antoni Gaudí’s First Residential Home
    It’s not hard to find one word that describes a visit to Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Vicens. Color. Overwhelming, brillant, color. Walking through the garden, past exterior walls of teal and yellow-colored tiles […]
  • The History of My Home | The Thompson’s 1907 – 1966
    The history of my home tells a unique story about a family in love with Maplewood, NJ. Do you ever wonder who lived in your home before you? Do you […]
  • Urbanites in the Suburbs Find Your Green Thumb
    Having lived my life in cities with no outdoor space to speak of, an ample backyard in the suburbs presented an unfamiliar yet intriguing canvas.
  • Nureed Saeed, Interior Design Outside the Lines
    A look inside the beautiful, fully reimagined mid-century modern home of Nureed Saeed, one of the top interior designers in New Jersey.
  • Designing for Small Spaces | A Handful of DIY Ideas
    Contrary to popular belief, designing for small spaces doesn’t mean you can’t go big, bold, and deep. So pick a wall and consider one of the following ideas.
  • Everyday Objects with Jess Davis
    A glimpse of how interior designer Jess Davis of Nest Studio juxtaposes modern sensibilities with vintage Victorian charm.
  • How to Hire Contractor Part Two: How to Plan for a Home Renovation
    Dave Kasdan talks about the key factors that all contractors need to understand to manage and successfully complete a project.
  • How to Hire a Contractor Part One: Ready for Your Kitchen Remodel?
    Nicole Sinclair, a project-manager-turned-home-renovator, discusses the highs and lows of home renovation.
  • Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies with Sea Salt
    This recipe is a variation on my standard Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Instead of toffee pieces, I’ve done pretzel pieces and even chopped maraschino cherries. (I like to save those for […]
  • An Outdated Colonial Goes Glam in a Stunning Home Makeover
    Alexis Goldstein is an artist by nature. A successful Director of Sales at a major digital property by day, her art hangs from the walls of her Maplewood NJ home […]
  • Spicy Asian Noodle Soup For What Ails You
    Spicy Asian Noodle Soup, A Family Favorite The fall cold season settled heavily upon the Labianca/McDaniel household.  With three sick kids sporting four infected ears among them and two sniffly […]
  • Understanding Steam Heat. Simple.
    Many homes in South Orange and Maplewood, NJ use steam heat, an outdated but very comfortable heat source is simple to understand, but requires routine attention for proper operation. Steam […]
  • If You Relish Pickles, You Will Love Our Pickled Vegetables
    Every year we host at least 2 big outside parties – the pig roast on the 4th of July and Oktoberfest in the fall. One of the first things I […]
  • We Nearly Sold No. 139
    A perk of practicing real estate is the Broker Open. This is when agents debut new listings or listings with a recent price modification or renovation of some sort or […]
  • Baskets of Hot Peppers in the Garden? Make Hot Sauce!
    Our garden this year has been a juggernaut – kale that grows faster than we can eat it, tomatoes everywhere, carrots with greens shooting up over our kids’ heads, and […]
  • 10 Tips for a Killer Outdoor Party
    If you’ follow this blog, you know that Gary and I like to throw parties – like the 4th of July Pig Roast. In the beginning of October, we host […]
  • How to Hunt for Flea Market Finds
    I have two gallery walls in the parlor of 139 Maplewood Avenue. I often get asked where I found the art that created them. They are nothing fancy, in most cases, […]
  • Four Chairs and a Pot of Annie Sloan Paint
    When we bought our first home, my parents gave us their kitchen table, a dark-wood, colonial type.I grew up with that table, just like my kids are – hours of […]
  • A Ballet Barre as Installation Art, A Young Ballerino Finds His Special Place
    Natural Elements Meets Industrial Design If you’re Linda Beck of South Orange NJ, you’re at home in natural environs where the simplest of scavenger hunts can turn up the most […]
  • Italian American Comfort Food, My Mother’s Baked Ziti
    Baked ziti is Italian comfort food. Several pounds of rich, delicious cheese, pasta, and my marinara sauce are the key components added to this dish. To me, there’s nothing so creamy […]
  • Successful Landscape Design is Child’s Play
    When Carla approached me to write about landscape design, I was unsure of an approach. I could discuss Aesthetics, Function, Feel, Grading and Drainage, Privacy,  Lighting,  Water, Trees/shrubs/Perennials, Native Plants, […]
  • A Bird Nest in a Tree? Yes! In the Attic? Not So Much
    For two years, we’ve lived in our Victorian with her sharp angles, steeply pitched roof, and openings so small that only a tiny house sparrow could fly in. In each of those […]
  • My Marinara Sauce
    It’s said that each Italian knows how to make good marinara sauce. It’s learned by watching the elders, but never participating in the act. They cook for YOU, they don’t […]
  • An Outdoor Bar Cart for Your Fine Lawn Party and Boozy Needs
    GOAL: Makeover a rusty mid-century modern three-tiered shelving unit on two wheels into an elegant outdoor bar cart for my stone patio. On our last moving run from our South […]
  • A Modern Farmhouse with Global Flair in South Orange, NJ
    Fresh & contemporary meets rustic & classic with a twist in this beautiful farmhouse. For this newly added family room, the homeowners had a vision for coastal style for their […]
  • Magnetic Chalkboard Wall
    GOAL: Create a large chalkboard wall to display the loads of artwork created by my three kids – all at the same time. Admittedly, this is gonna be a difficult […]
  • Congrats. You’re in Your New Home. Now What?
    Before you begin decorating your new home…   Most of us come from apartments and don’t have enough furniture to fill our new space.  We also have partners, kids, pets, […]
  • How to Paint a Bistro Set in Bright Yellow and Blue
    GOAL: To paint a bistro set that is peeling and chipping and turn it into a fun and colorful addition to my kid’s outdoor play area. My kids love playing […]
  • Building a Garage in Maplewood NJ
    Buying a home doesn’t usually involve building a garage. And building a garage is no small feat. It takes planning and hiring the right people to see that it gets […]