Local Expert Whitney Jones Explains Her Interior Design Philosophy

It’s a conundrum we’ve seen a lot: renters don’t want to spend a lot of money tricking out their space, but they still want an apartment to feel like home. That’s why we’ve teamed with local interior designer Whitney Jones of Whitney J. Decor to get her expert advice on how to jazz up your apartment smartly and affordably – and with gorgeous results. In the first of our two-part series, we talk the basics of what to buy and how to rethink your approach to decorating. Stay tuned for our next post when we delve into specific DIY projects and the best places in New Orleans (and online) to find decorative accents, furniture, and more.

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Jones, who rents an apartment, recently redid her living room using pops of color and pattern. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)

1st Lake Properties: Obviously, we’re proponents of renting, and we think it’s important that a rented space feels like home. We’ve taken great care to create beautiful landscaping, smart floor plans, and other welcoming details across our properties – how else can someone make a rental feel like home?

Whitney Jones: First, I always like to say that I think it’s a misconception that we whouldn’t spend money or we shouldn’t invest in home décor just because we rent. I believe that if you can afford to get quality pieces, you should invest in them because those pieces can move with you. Things that require custom fitting – like custom draperies or rugs – are things I wouldn’t suggest for a rented space because you don’t know if they’ll work in a home or in your next apartment, but there are other things you can purchase that can take your space to the next level.

1LP: What are some examples of the types of things renters can purchase that will make a big impact?

WJ: A quality sofa or quality artwork. They are something you should invest in because those pieces can move with you. And pillows! Pillows are a really good way to update a space and make an apartment look totally different without spending too much money.

1LP: Let’s say a renter has $500 they can use to ‘jazz up’ their space. How should they use it?

WJ: I just redecorated my own apartment! I’d say $500 would be a good budget to buy art, new pillows, and also draperies. I think one of the things for apartment renters that we forget altogether is drapery. It can be expensive if you get them custom, but if you purchase ready-made panels from a store like Target or JC Penney, you can really shape a window. Draperies really ground a room.

Jones says art and decorative pillows are an easy and affordable way to change up the look of your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)

Jones says art and decorative pillows are an easy and affordable way to change up the look of your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)

1LP: Draperies, really? We wouldn’t have guessed that!

WJ: They are a game-changer. As for solid or prints, I think personally, and especially in an apartment, prints are the best way to go. A lot of times you bring in interests by actually putting some pattern on the wall – most apartments come with mini blinds, so putting a plain curtain on top of it doesn’t really add a big effect. Even a colored panel just doesn’t do enough. Bringing in some pattern and texture allows for that big pop and serves as another work of art depending on the kind of curtain you use. It lets you show your personality and brightens things up while having a little bit of fun. Curtains already ground a space, and by having a pattern, it really brings a pop of interest to a small space, which is needed for apartments – sometimes they can all look the same! Curtains are an easy, beautiful way to differentiate yourself stylishly.

You can use complimentary or contrasting colors along with a bold, printed curtain to define your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)

You can use complimentary or contrasting colors along with a bold, printed curtain to define your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)

1LP: Should people consider hiring an interior designer even for a rented space?

WJ: I definitely think that it’s a lot better to work with a designer and decorator even if you rent, because you can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headaches in the end. You give a designer a budget, and they can have your apartment laid out for you without you having to lift a finger. There’s a really big misconception that we’re super unaffordable but that’s not the case – a lot of designers work in relation to your budget. For me as a designer, anything you should buy should be something you buy to KEEP, and an interior designer can help you find those pieces that’ll move seamlessly with you as you transition from apartment to apartment.

Next week, we pick up the conversation with Whitney about DIY, how to plan for decorating, and how to avoid feeling “stuck” when it comes to revamping your space. Follow her on Instagram at @whitneyjdecor or visit whitneyjdecor.com.

 

 

 

 

Where to Eat Lunch in Metairie and Kenner

The midday meal is an oft-forgotten one. Sometimes we eat it quickly and mindlessly at our desks at work, other times we blow through a drive-thru as we use our lunch break to conquer errands like going to the bank or the post office. While most people look forward to breakfast or dinner, lunch is the middle child of the food spectrum. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With so many great, local lunch options in Metairie and Kenner, you can take a REAL lunch break and enjoy some REAL food while you’re at it. Is it noon yet?

Get to the Greek

Mediterranean eats are a popular lunchtime choice, because you can opt for something light like tabbouleh and hummus, or enjoy a full-on feast with a decadent, savory gyro. In Metairie and Kenner, there are a few standouts.

Byblos Located on Metairie Road (one of several locations around Greater New Orleans), Byblos has an attractive but casual atmosphere and authentic Mediterranean menu items. Start with the muhumra dip – a mix of red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses – for a flavorful vegetarian appetizer.

Acropolis This Veterans Memorial Boulevard staple serves up tried-and-true favorites like homemade hummus alongside creative dishes like Pork Corfu – a center-cut grilled pork loin served with feta cheese and roasted potatoes. You can eat the leftovers for dinner!

oysters

Chargrilled oysters from Drago’s. (Photo via Flickr user Wally Gobetz)

Classic New Orleans

Drago’s Seafood – Oysters, shrimp, and all sorts of Gulf seafood are what’s on the menu at this Arnoult Road restaurant in Metarie. Order the charbroiled oysters first, then try the tuna. It doesn’t get more boat-to-table than at Drago’s – the yellowfin tuna comes directly from local fisherman and is on your plate that very day. Try it just slightly seared to let the flavors shine through.

Martin Wine Cellar – No, we don’t mean a liquid lunch. But you can pick up a French-style meal with gourmet cheeses and charcuterie at this spot on Veterans Memorial Boulevard plus a variety of sandwiches, entrees, soups, and quiches. Try the half-sandwich special dressed to order and served with your choice of the soup du jour, a salad, or a side of fresh fruit.

R & Os – Italian-accented Cajun dishes are the specialty at this Bucktown spot. The roastbeef po-boys are an excellent lunchtime choice. No-frills seafood platters, spaghetti, and chicken parm are other winners, and be sure to order the Italian tossed salad with olives.

Pan-Asian Eats

Pho OrchidBanh-mi, spring rolls, and vermicelli bun are all great options for lunchtime – you can eat them at room temperature, cold, or hot! Pho Orchid bakes its own bread for the banh-mi, and the pho has a wonderful depth of flavor if you’re craving soup. Wash it down with a Thai iced tea or Vietnamese iced coffee, both of which have a nice kick of caffeine to get you through the rest of the day.

Kanno Sushi – Fresh, California-style sushi in Fat City is a reality with Kanno. Beautifully plated dishes make even an office lunch break seem like an escape to some sort of spa resort. The Protein Roll with tuna, snowcrab, avocado, and salmon is tasty and healthy.

Korea House Get your whole lunch in a single bowl when you order the bibimbap, a mix of fragrant white rice and toppings to your liking, including typical options like beef and a fried egg.

Working from Home 101: Succeed with These Tips

Doesn’t the idea of working from home sound absolutely incredible? Lounging in your pajamas, working with your favorite daytime television blasting in the background? Well, working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Because you really, truly are working. And sometimes, when you’re not in a traditional office setting, it can be hard to stay focused. We love that some of our properties feature dedicated home office spaces (or spare bedrooms that you can convert into a home office), so with that in mind, we’re sharing a few tips on how to create a beautiful, functional home office – plus how to stay focused when you’re at home.

home office

Staying productive and focused at home isn’t always easy, but these tips can help. (Photo via Flickr user David Martyn Hunt)

How to Stay Focused When You Work from Home

Treat it like a normal office day. One of the ways you’re able to be so productive at the office is the natural structure that the office environment creates. Try to mimic it at home by setting specific times for your breakfast and lunch rather than grazing in front of your computer all day.

Keep your family and friends in the loop. Your family and friends might be tempted to chat or plan to get together while you’re working from home. Of course, it makes sense to take advantage of work-from-home flexibility, but you can gently remind people that even though you’re at home, you’re still working.

Get to know your computer. When you’re working from home, you’ll likely be on your computer most of the day and can’t rely on coworkers at the office to help you out if you’re having an issue. Make sure you understand all pertinent programs on your computer before you plan to work from home.

Have a backup plan. Perhaps the Internet goes out or you find that you’re just too distracted at home. Try working in one of our common areas or even going to a local coffee shop for a change of scenery that might spur productivity.

Creating the Right Home Office Environment

Get organized! Organization is perhaps the largest component to working from home successfully. Make sure your home office is stocked with all the things you’ll need throughout the day – pens, paper, Post-Its… whatever works best for you.

Invest in a good chair. Rather than balancing your computer on your lap as you sit on the couch (sound familiar?) look into finding an office chair with proper ergonomic support. Your back – and productivity – will thank you.

Prioritize good lighting. Working from home means you can choose an area of your home that offers a good balance of natural light. Adding attractive desk or table lamps creates a sense of ambience while also helping you to avoid straining your eyes.

Renting on the Rise: Renters are Set to Surpass Homeowners

“The housing bust taught us to be wary,” says the Washington Post in a recent article about falling homeownership rates – rates that are expected to continue to fall until the amount of renters exceeds the amount of homeowners in the United States.

“Viewed another way,” the article continues, “a big surge in renters is coming.” As a premier apartment company with communities throughout Greater New Orleans and the Gulf South, we’re excited to accommodate the expected uptick in renters. We believe renting is a worthwhile long-term option for a multitude of reasons (check out a recent post here).

Renting has all the comforts of homeownership, plus some surprising benefits. Our Clearwater Creek community truly feels like home.

Renting has all the comforts of homeownership, plus some surprising benefits. Our Clearwater Creek community truly feels like home.

The National Apartment Association notes that by the year 2030, a majority of the estimated 22 million new U.S. households will be renters, not buyers. These combined articles suggest that perhaps the future is dim for homeownership but, as the old adage goes, where one door closes, another opens.

We’re constantly improving at 1st Lake Properties, from updating apartment communities to adding seasonal landscaping and so much more. We’ve recently built new communities, too, like our Bella Ridge property in Elmwood with luxury units that have all the comforts (and more) of any standalone home. An on-site dog park, gorgeous pool, and state-of-the-art fitness facility are all worthwhile additions we’re so pleased to be able to deliver to our residents.

What’s more, our improvements aren’t limited to actual buildings – we’ve added helpful assets on our website like our apartment moving checklist designed aid residents during transitions from one 1st Lake Community to the next.

Renting Vs. Buying: Why Renting Wins

“The housing bust taught us to be wary,” says the Washington Post in a recent article about falling homeownership rates – rates that are expected to continue to fall until the amount of renters exceeds the amount of homeowners in the United States. “Viewed another way,” the article continues, “a big surge in renters is coming.”

With the housing market still in a state of flux, many Americans have chosen to forego a mortgage and take solace in the ease of renting a place to live.

Renting has all the comforts of homeownership, plus some surprising benefits. Our Clearwater Creek community truly feels like home.

Renting has all the comforts of homeownership, plus some surprising benefits. Our Clearwater Creek community truly feels like home.

The National Apartment Association notes that by the year 2030, a majority of the estimated 22 million new U.S. households will be renters, not buyers. These combined articles suggest that perhaps the future is dim for homeownership but, as the old adage goes, where one door closes, another opens.

Home lending regulations have become much more restricted since the collapse of the housing market, and many people don’t want to deal with the hassle and red tape involved in taking on a new mortgage. In addition, young people are increasingly wary of laying down roots in a particular area. Because of this, the flexibility of renting has become more attractive due to the short term options of a lease.

If renting and buying battled it out in a boxing ring, they’d be well matched. There are many benefits to buying a home, of course, but recent research shows that renting is a viable option that can leave you with more money in your wallet – money you can put toward retirement, stocks and bonds, and more.

More People Choosing To Rent

In 2014, CBS News honed in on an obvious misconception. According to their article, “the vast majority of homebuyers say thought bought because they thought their home was a great investment. But, in many cases, they could have done far better investing in a diversified portfolio.”

One study performed by Hart Research Associates found that 57% of adults believe buying a home is less appealing, 54% prefer apartment renting to home ownership and 45% of surveyed homeowners expressed interest in returning to apartment renting.

Among the key findings in the National Apartment Association survey:

  • Leasing rental property perceived as more favorable to holding a mortgage: 76 percent of adults feel that there are advantages to renting vs. owning in the current real estate market, an increase of 5 percent from 2008. 64 percent cited having no responsibility for major repairs or maintenance as the primary reason, followed by 50 percent who cited financial reasons such as not being impacted by an unpredictable real estate market(33 percent – an increase of 1 percent from 2008), and not being susceptible to foreclosure (tied at 33 percent).
  • Renters are not eager to make a change this year: 60 percent of renters plan to continue renting their current residence or rent new residences within the next year. 12 percent of renters said they have plans to buy a new home this year and only 14 percent believe that buying a house is preferable to renting given the current state of the market.
  • Homeowners tied down and staying put: 71 percent of homeowners will stay in their current home over the next year, mirroring almost exactly the response from 2008 (72 percent).
  • Adults continue to experience economic backlash from the foreclosure crisis: 93 percent of adults feel that the financial security of homeowners is more or equally affected by the current state of the housing market – no change from 2008 – illustrating that the economic impact of the foreclosure crisis has not shifted or improved.
park oaks pool

Lush landscaping and sparkling pools are just a few of the many benefits of renting vs. buying.

Renting Means Extra Money You Can Invest

Putting your hard-earned money toward a hefty mortgage means you won’t have anything left over to invest in the stock market even IRAs. Renting gives you the option to upsize or downsize based on your needs and financial position in accordance with your budget: if you choose a company like 1st Lake Properties, your options for renting are practically endless, meaning you can rent an apartment home that’s right for you and use your extra income more wisely.

Renting Offers Flexibility

Moreover, HelloWallet found that the average homeowner moves within 9 years. That sounds like a long time, but when you’re tied to a 30-year mortgage, you end up paying more of the money to interest rather than principal. On average, “households would build 50 percent more wealth over a 10-year period by renting,” according to HelloWallet.

The takeaway? Renting and investing the difference helps you stay comfortable in the present – thanks to lush amenities like pools, gyms, and balconies or home offices – while also contributing to your future.

Here are a few other reasons to rent:

Credit

A home mortgage is sometimes not an option for those of us with less than great credit.  It’s interesting that apartment renting can actually build up poor credit and should be considered an investment in your credit rating.

Location, Location, Location

Purchasing a home in a city like New Orleans is incredibly pricey, but renters get the advantage of unbeatable proximity without the high monthly mortgage and insurance. Many of our properties are just a quick drive to sought-after areas like the French Quarter and the Central Business District without the high price tag.

It’s More Affordable

In addition to providing money up front for a down payment, when you buy a home, you’re also responsible for a monthly mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and even the possibility of homeowner’s association fees. Plus, you’re responsible for maintenance and repairs, water, utilities, and trash. It adds up!

Apartment Amenities

It’s unlikely your home will include a full house of amenities like resort-style pools, an attached covered garage, backyard cabanas, and a state-of-the-art fitness facility – but these are all a reality when you rent from a 1st Lake Property (like Bella Ridge, for example).

Free Up Your Free Time

No yard work. No maintenance. When you rent, all these annoying chores are taken care of by professional staff at a moment’s notice. If something breaks in your apartment, just contact our main office. We’ll take care of the rest.

There’s no better time to make an apartment rental your first choice.

Even if you plan on eventually becoming a homeowner, renting is a great way to become acquainted with the responsibilities of living on your own and the flexibility of a lease can allow you to wait until the perfect time to buy a home of your own.

We’re constantly improving at 1st Lake Properties, from updating apartment communities to adding seasonal landscaping and so much more. We’ve recently built new communities, too, like our Bella Ridge property in Elmwood with luxury units that have all the comforts (and more) of any standalone home. An on-site dog park, gorgeous pool, and state-of-the-art fitness facility are all worthwhile additions we’re so pleased to be able to deliver to our residents.

What’s more, our improvements aren’t limited to actual buildings – we’ve added helpful assets on our website like our apartment moving checklist designed aid residents during transitions from one 1st Lake community to the next.

Consider being in that growing number of apartment renters and check out all of our New Orleans area apartments for rent.

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Related posts:

First Apartment Essentials: Checklist and Guide To Finding and Moving Into Your First Apartment

Moving Tips: 5 Apartment Search Considerations

1st Lake Moving Tips: Renting a Moving Truck

Moving Tips: How to Save Money With A Moving Company

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