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5 Alexandria Restaurants for Healthy Dining

Alexandria Restaurants

If healthy eating is one of your New Year's resolutions, adjusting your daily eating habits can be the hardest part. However, when you live in a great place like Alexandria, it's actually very easy to dine out and eat healthy at the same time. There are many local health-focused restaurants where you can find delicious food that's in line with your goals. Here are some of our Realtors® favorite healthy dining destinations.

  1. Salad Station - 3220 Jackson St, Alexandria, LA 71301
    Looking for the best salad bar in Alexandria? You'll find it at Salad Station. With dozens of ingredients, including proteins, veggies, fruits, legumes, and dairy, you can create the perfect salad that matches your diet. Plus, all ingredients are fresh and high-quality. Living near Salad Station makes healthy eating easy! 

  2. The Main Dish - 5821 Provine Pl, Suite C, Alexandria, LA 71303
    The menu at The Main Dish features several health-focused entrees. We recommend Helena's Chicken, which consists of seasoned grilled chicken breast topped with grilled onions, white cheese, and a side of veggies. There are also several healthy and delicious salad and soup options, as well as a seasonal menu. After your meal, be sure to swing by one of these Alexandria open houses, which are just a short drive away.

  3. Alibaba Mediterranean Grill - 3613 Jackson St, Alexandria, LA 71303
    If you're in the mood for some high-quality, fresh, and authentic Mediterranean cuisine, Alibaba Mediterranean Grill has got you covered. Traditional Mediterranean entrees, wraps, salads, soups, and more -- you can eat healthy without sacrificing flavor. They also have some of the best gyros in town!

  4. Word Of Mouth Cafe - 918 Foisy St, Alexandria, LA 71301
    With fresh, healthy food, homestyle cooking, and a charming atmosphere, Word Of Mouth Cafe is one of Alexandria's best-kept secrets. With some of the most delicious hot-pressed sandwiches in town, a wide selection of wraps, and great soups, it's one of our favorite places for lunch. This restaurant can strike the right balance between health, taste, and freshness. Also, you can expect friendly service at this neighborhood restaurant.

  5. Pho U - 4722 Jackson St, Alexandria, LA 71303
    Pho is not only delicious, but it's also very healthy, and Pho U is an excellent place to order it. With 16 different varieties of pho, plus vegetarian, rice platters, and noodle dishes, there is a lot to choose from on this menu. Our favorite is the Pho Tai, which is a broth with round-eye steak, rice noodles, onions, scallions, basil, bean sprouts, lime, and jalapenos. 

With so many healthy restaurants around Alexandria homes for sale, you can stick to your goals without forgoing the wonderful dining scene Louisiana is known for! Contact us today for information on the local area and on life in the Alexandria area.


Exhibits at the Louisiana History Museum

Alexandria Museum

Louisiana has a long and rich history. If you recently moved to the New Orleans or Alexandria area, you might enjoy learning more about that history. It's no secret that the state has many fantastic museums worth visiting! If you want to stop by a local museum offering insight into Alexandria's history, check out the Louisiana History Museum. This museum, located in downtown Alexandria, has a lot of interactive exhibits, making it a great place to visit with family. Here are the key facts our Realtors® feel will be helpful to know before you visit.

  • Location and Hours
    The Louisiana History Museum is located at 503 Washington St., Alexandria, LA 71301. This is right in the heart of downtown Alexandria, not far from some awesome Alexandria homes for sale. There are also plenty of restaurants nearby if you want to grab a bite to eat before or after your visit.

    The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10 am - 4 pm. It is closed on Saturday and Sunday. 

  • Building History
    The building that the Louisiana History Museum is located in used to be the local public library. It has a brick facade like most buildings from this era. Since 1907, it has been a valued structure in the community. 

  • Admission
    The Louisiana History Museum does not charge an admission fee. You can visit for free, and you can even arrange for a guided tour if desired.

  • Museum Overview
    There are more than 50 displays inside the museum, so you could easily spend a few hours browsing. If you're a reader, you may even be able to fill a day. You'll find relics from the early days of Louisiana history, books about the region, and even profiles on authors and poets who have called Alexandria home over the years.

    If you're interested in genealogy and have had family in the area in the past, consider browsing the museum's genealogy files. You may discover some new insights into where your family came from. 

  • Key Exhibits
    One current exhibit worth seeing is the Brasher Plumbing Neon Sign, made by the Craig Sign Company. Read about this historic sign, how it was made, and the company's role in Louisiana history. Guests also enjoy the Newcomb Photograph Collection, which features nearly 700 photos. They all depict Central Louisiana in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

    If you enjoy more interactive exhibits, check out Red River, a replica of a stern wheel ship that traveled down the Red and Mississippi Rivers in the 1900s. You'll learn a lot about how these ships worked and also about living on the river in this era.

    Another current exhibit, Central Louisiana in Postcards, displays over 250 postcards from the early 1900s. Each one shows an image of Central Louisiana at that time.

If you choose to visit the Louisiana History Museum, we hope you have a great time. We love the Alexandria area, and we think you will, too. Contact us if you're still looking for a home nearby. Our agents would be happy to help.


Alexandria Holiday Shopping Guide

Alexandria Holiday Shopping

Alexandria's merchants have something for everyone on your shopping list. Whether you prefer to shop online or in person, use this guide from our Realtors® to find all the holiday gifts you need from small businesses right here in town.

  • Alexandria House of Flowers - 2203 Rapides Ave., Alexandria, LA 71301
    The gift of flowers never goes out of style, and with some help from Alexandria House of Flowers, your gift is sure to be a hit! Shop their selection of seasonal favorites, or check out their bouquets and arrangements specifically made for the holidays. Another option is to sign up your loved one for their floral subscription service, which allows you to give the gift of local flowers for months to come! Choose how many months you'd like these flowers to be delivered, and the florists will send a unique arrangement.

  • Addie's Boutique - 4002 Jackson St. Unit A, Alexandria, LA, 71303
    Whether you want to gift clothing and accessories this holiday season or are shopping for yourself and looking for a new outfit to impress at holiday festivities, Addie's Boutique has you covered. This boutique offers personal styling tips along with your shopping experience that helps ensure you'll love what you get from this local store. Browse their selection of clothing, shoes, accessories, and gifts online or at their Jackson Street location. 

  • Toy Zone - 3437 Masonic Dr., Alexandria, LA 71301
    There's something extra special about a toy store during the holiday season! Shop for the kids on your list when you stop by the Toy Zone. This store has two locations in Louisiana, with the Alexandria location housed in the Alexandria Mall. Stop in to browse their full selection or order from their convenient website. Stock up on toys for everyone you need to shop for and enjoy free shipping when your order is over $50.

  • Day's Southern Pecan Company - 727 MacArthur Dr., Alexandria, LA 71303
    Few things please a crowd like candy! And Day's Southern Pecan Company has a huge selection to choose from. Their online shop offers treats like pecan brittle, mini pecan pies, and chocolate-dipped pecans. Or opt for their plain pecans and let your giftee decide how they'd like to use this delicious ingredient. Gift tins are also available so you can give a selection of favorites for the holiday season!

  • River Oaks Square Arts Center - 1330 2nd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    Give truly one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season when you stop by the Gift Shop at River Oaks. Located in downtown Alexandria, River Oaks Square Arts Center features a gift shop with unique finds sourced from resident, local, regional and national artists. Their selection is always changing! Other gift ideas that support this center include gifting a membership or attending their 2022 Porch Sale.

Alexandria's small businesses are already thriving, and with support from people like you, they'll continue to grow and expand. Why not get closer to the action? Contact us today, and let us show you a few of the beautiful Alexandria homes for sale that we have available in the area. Or stop by our Alexandria open houses. We know we'll find you a place you'll fall in love with. 


Alexandria Outdoor Adventures

Alexandria Outdoors

Louisiana offers endless possibilities for anyone with a taste for adventure and a love of the outdoors. Here in the Alexandria area, our Realtors® are proud to live in a region with such a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

From lakes and bayous to parks and trails, there are countless ways to spend time in the great outdoors in and around Alexandria. If you're in town checking out Alexandria open houses, be sure to also visit some of these great outdoor attractions!

  • Alexandria Levee Park Recreation Area - 300 Oak St, Alexandria, LA 71301
    Stretching along the banks of the Red River just minutes from Downtown Alexandria, the beautiful Alexandria Levee Park Recreation Area is a great close-to-home resource for spending time outdoors. The park includes walking trails with a great view of the river, plus picnic areas with barbecue grills, fishing access, and a three-lane boat ramp. It's also a perfect jumping-off point for paddling trips on the river and is within walking distance of many Alexandria homes for sale.

  • Hayes E Daze Ranch - 1313 Upper, Boy Scout Rd, Forest Hill, LA 71430
    There's nothing quite like exploring the Louisiana countryside on horseback, and Hayes E Daze Ranch is a great place to do just that. Located about a 30-minute drive south of Alexandria, Hayes E Daze Ranch offers riding and horsemanship lessons, as well as guided trail rides through the wild landscape of neighboring Kisatchie National Forest. Guided trail rides range from one to three hours, and options are available for riders of all experience levels, from beginners right up to advanced equestrians. 

  • Kees Park - 2450 LA-28, Pineville, LA 71360
    Located in Pineville, just across the Red River and about 5 minutes from Downtown Alexandria, Kees Park is the perfect place to spend a quiet, restful day in the outdoors. This park has a lot of great features, including a splash pad, playground, walking trails, picnic area, and pavilion. But it's best known among local disc golf aficionados for its 18-hole disc golf course. The course features 9 wooded holes and 9 more open holes and offers plenty of challenges and obstacles for disc throwers of all skill levels. 

  • Juderman's ATV Park - 6512 Shreveport Hwy, Pineville, LA 71360
    If you're looking for a place to get a little mud on the tires, be sure to check out Juderman's ATV Park. The park spans 200 acres and includes 5 miles of marked forest trails with plenty of bogs, mud pits, and creek crossings to keep things interesting. Juderman's ATV Park is just 15 minutes outside of Alexandria and also includes shared picnic and barbecue areas.

  • Indian Creek Recreation Area - 100 Camp Ground Rd, Woodworth, LA 71485
    Located just 20 minutes from Alexandria on the shore of Indian Creek Reservoir, Indian Creek Recreation Area is a major hub for outdoor adventure in the Alexandria area. The recreation area provides fishing and boating access on the 2,250-acre reservoir, where anglers commonly catch largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. Camping is also available for both tents and RVs, and visitors can explore a beautiful network of nature trails that wind through the woodlands overlooking the lakeshore. 

Contact us today to learn more about life in Louisiana! If you're looking for your dream home, our team is dedicated to helping you find it in the Alexandria area.


Best Plants for Your Home Office

Office Plants

Whether you work from your home office every day or just on occasion, keeping plants in your office can have important benefits. Not only are plants favored by interior designers for improving the decor, but they also have been shown to have some major psychological benefits that can help you while you work, such as reducing stress and depression and improving memory and focus.

If you don't have a particularly green thumb, however, you might find the thought of caring for plants to be a little intimidating. Not to worry! Our Realtors® have compiled a list of easy-care plants that will be perfect additions to your home office.

  • Cacti
    Cacti do well in natural light, so if you have a sunny window in your home office, that'll be a perfect place for your cactus. Beware of overwatering, as that can kill them. Cacti usually only need to be watered once a week in the warmer months, less in the fall and winter.

  • Succulents
    Much like cacti, succulents typically like natural light and little water, as they store water in their leaves. There are some kinds that do well in low light, so be sure to read care instructions and find one that will work well for the conditions in your home office. Because of their easy care and popularity, they make popular plants for staging, and you'll often see them in the kitchen window in Alexandria open houses.

  • Philodendron Green
    These leafy, vining plants are common plants and even more common office plants, partly because of how easy they are to care for. They do well in indirect or low light, only need to be watered once a week, and feature a trailing vine that looks great on bookcases. Keep them out of reach of pets, however, as they are mildly poisonous.

  • Spider Plant
    Spider plants are another popular office plant that you've probably seen before. They do well in indirect to low light and prefer their soil to dry out between watering, so they thrive easily in an office environment. They're often seen as hanging plants but also do well on the corner of a desk or on top of a bookcase, where their leaves can hang down freely.

  • Snake Plant
    The snake plant is another that does well in low light with infrequent watering, making it a perfect office buddy. With their tall, vertical leaves and spiky appearance, they're also a less common office plant if you want your home office to feel a little more unique. Be sure not to water them too much, only once every couple of weeks, as they also like their soil to dry out between waterings.

  • ZZ Plant
    This plant prefers drought-like conditions, so you can let its soil dry out between waterings. It likes moderate light best but will do well in low light too, so it's perfect if your home office is located in the basement or on the north side of the house.

In addition to being good for maximizing productivity and minimizing stress, plants are heavily favored by decorators, so don't be surprised if you're asked to include a few when staging your home for sale. Easy care is important for plants in Alexandria homes for sale, too, so you may find the above list helpful. To get started staging and listing your home for sale, contact us today.


Historic Hotels Near Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge Hotels

The rich history surrounding Baton Rouge homes for sale extends to many of the local hotels. Whether you're a resident or just visiting, immerse yourself in the city's fascinating past with a visit to one of these great hotels recommended by our Realtors®

  • The Heidelberg Hotel - 201 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    While it no longer bears its original name, the Heidelberg Hotel still plays a significant role in Baton Rouge's history. Built in 1927, the hotel gained fame as a favored hangout of Huey P. Long, one-time governor and U.S. Senator of Louisiana. Ironically, the Heidelberg became the de facto state capital for Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr when Long tried to serve as both governor and senator simultaneously. Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the Heidelberg underwent a $70 million restoration in 2006, when it reopened as the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center

  • Watermark Baton Rouge - 150 Third St., Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    As the city's first skyscraper built in 1927, the Watermark Baton Rouge was a giant step toward creating a modern urban setting. At the time, the Watermark was home to the headquarters of Louisiana Trust & Savings Bank. In a nod to tradition, many locals still affectionately refer to the hotel as the Old Louisiana National Bank building. Celebrate special occasions at The Gregory, the elegant on-site restaurant at the Watermark and one of Baton Rouge's more popular dining destinations. The restaurant is named after local artist Angela Gregory, whose exquisite murals adorn the walls of the dining room.

  • Dauphine Orleans Hotel - 415 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70112
    Discover the many attractions of the iconic French Quarter during a stay at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. The cottage-style guestrooms are located in three historic buildings, including Hermann House, the one-time home of a wealthy New Orleans merchant, and an 18th-century carriage house. Even though you're just steps away from the French Quarter and right down the street from New Orleans homes for sale, the luxurious rooms provide a peaceful oasis where you can relax and recharge. 

  • The Southern Hotel - 428 E. Boston St., Covington, LA 70433
    For much of its existence, dating back to 1907, the Southern Hotel has been deeply woven into the community around Covington homes for sale. The charming hotel has been the site of many special occasions, from wedding receptions and honeymoons to birthday and anniversary parties. Furniture, paintings, and other works by local artists are prominently displayed throughout the building. 

  • The Hotel Bentley - 200 Desoto St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    The Hotel Bentley was built in 1908, but its philosophy is to "remain faithful to the past while keeping an eye on the future." Legend has it that founder Joseph Bentley, a wealthy lumberman and noted eccentric, built the hotel out of spite when he was refused a room at the Ice House Hotel. The location, just minutes from Alexandria homes for sale, provides convenient dining opportunities at the Bentley's three upscale restaurants.

Touring Baton Rouge open houses? There's no better reason to enjoy a stay at one of these special hotels. Contact us at Latter & Blum for more information.


Spend the Day in Downtown Alexandria


Looking for a great place to spend the day in Central Louisiana? Whether you're shopping for Alexandria homes for sale or just visiting for the day, you're sure to find plenty to love about downtown Alexandria. Our Realtors® have all of the details on some of the best attractions to enjoy while spending the day in downtown Alexandria.

  • Alexandria Museum of Art – 933 2nd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    The Alexandria Museum of Art is the perfect place to start your journey because it combines art and history to showcase the best of downtown Alexandria. The museum is located in the Rapides Bank Building, which was constructed in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum itself was founded in 1977, hosting 5 to 7 unique exhibitions each year that showcase both historic and contemporary art. It's also a popular place for special events, with everything from yoga classes to lectures on the schedule.

  • Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center – 1202 3rd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    Do your artistic tastes lean more towards performance arts? Then the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center is sure to have a show with your name on it. The venue seats more than 600 guests for live performances, including plays, concerts, recitals, musicals, ballets, and performances from the Rapides Symphony Orchestra. While it was built in 2004, the venue features the ornate, elegant atmosphere of a historic theater.

  • Arna Bontemps African-American Museum – 1327 3rd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    The Arna Bontemps African-American Museum is dedicated to the life and work of poet Arna Bontemps, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance who was born in Louisiana. Located in the home where Arna Bontemps was born, the museum highlights his literary legacy, cultural significance, and early life in Alexandria. There are frequent events here throughout the year, and the museum is also part of the Louisiana African-American Heritage Trail.

  • Louisiana History Museum – 503 Washington St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    Interested in learning more about the history of downtown Alexandria? The Louisiana History Museum is dedicated to sharing the history of both Alexandria and Louisiana as a whole. It's home to one of the largest collections of historical artifacts in Louisiana, with more than 50 exhibits and displays for you to explore. Guided tours are also available, and admission to the museum is free.

  • River Oaks Square Arts Center – 1330 2nd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
    Another hub of the arts in downtown Alexandria, the River Oaks Square Arts Center hosts more than 30 resident artists and offers the unique experience of being able to watch those artists as they work. You can also enjoy a wide range of lectures, workshops, special exhibitions, and events here throughout the year.

Searching for a home close to all of these amazing attractions and so much more? Our local real estate team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Alexandria, LA area.


Visit the Alexandria Zoological Park

Alexandria Zoo

The Alexandria Zoological Park (also known as the Alexandria Zoo) has been one of the city's top attractions since it first opened in 1986. Its popularity hasn't waned in the more than 30 years that have passed. 

Our real estate agents know there are many family-friendly places located near Alexandria homes for sale

Let's take a closer look at this zoo to discover what makes it so special. 

Animals and Exhibits

The Alexandria Zoo showcases a wide variety of mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians for the city's residents. Animals are grouped according to habitat in spacious walkthrough exhibits decorated with themed objects to complete the guest experience. 

You'll find most of the classic zoo animals here, including lions, kangaroos, and small monkeys. However, it's the unusual animals like the maned wolf, capybara, and Brazilian tapir that many guests fall in love with during their visit. Visit the zoo's world-class Brazilian jungle habitat to see all three!

The zoo's birds are arguably the highlight of their animal exhibits. Their enclosures contain elegant herons, striking cranes, and rosy pink flamingos, among many others. The zoo also keeps flocks of parrots of every color, including endangered species like the yellow-headed amazon and the umbrella cockatoo. 

Finally, the zoo also contains an impressive collection of frogs and fish, including the eye-catching red-eyed tree frog and the distinctive blue tang and clown anemonefish. It may be hard to spot some of these creatures up close in the zoo's massive naturalistic habitats, but that makes the thrill of spotting one all the more enjoyable.

Zoo Amenities

Beyond its amazing animal exhibits, the Alexandria Zoo is also equipped to provide guests with everything they need during their day of fun.

If you get hungry during your visit, you can stop by the zoo's restaurant for a bite to eat. This small casual eatery serves staple foods like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fries, as well as snack-friendly favorites like soft pretzels, ice cream, and lemonade.

Events and Education

The Alexandria Zoo takes pride in its role as an educational resource and conservation leader in the state of Louisiana.

Each animal has its own profile on the zoo's website, where guests can learn about the animals they are observing, what makes each of their habitats unique, and what is being done to help preserve their populations in the wild. The zoo also distributes useful information on how to implement conservation efforts within your own home. 

If you visit the zoo on certain days, you may also get to take part in some of the institution's special events. Their yearly events include an Earth Day celebration, a Mardi Gras Party, the Zoo Boo Halloween event, and the Holiday Light Safari. They also host a special after-hours party for members of their FOTAZ (Friends of the Alexandria Zoo) program once a year, usually in the late spring. 

The Animals Await

The Alexandria Zoo's wholesome educational activities offer fun for the whole family, and it's far from the only exciting attraction in the area. Contact us today to learn more about the area or visit one of these Alexandria open houses


8 Tips for a More Organized Kitchen

kitchen tips

The key to a functional, inviting kitchen is organizing it well. A well-organized kitchen will be an enjoyable space, whether you're cooking, snacking, entertaining, or just hosting a no-frills evening at home with your family. Do you feel like your kitchen is a cluttered and intimidating place to cook or relax in? Here are a few tips from our real estate agents for making this space more organized.

  1. Tackle Problem Areas
    What areas of your kitchen seem like they lack organization the most? For many people, frequently used areas like junk drawers, countertop clutter, and the pantry pose the biggest problems. You may also find while you're cooking that it's hard to locate and access the pots, utensils, or small appliances you need. Once you determine what needs your attention the most, you can start there.

  2. Purge What You Don't Need
    Before you get started, go through your cupboards and ruthlessly get rid of any food that's expired, small appliances you rarely use, and dishes or equipment you don't need. It's easy to forget what's in the dark recesses of your cabinets. But if you don't even remember what's in there, chances are you don't need it.

  3. Make a Plan for Traffic Flow
    For your kitchen's organization to make sense, it should prioritize anything that you access more frequently. For instance, many people choose to keep glasses near the sink, spices and cooking oil near the stove, and pots and pans under or above counter spaces that are frequently used for food prep.

  4. Prioritize Frequently Used Items
    Similar to thinking of the traffic flow in your kitchen, make sure that your most often used items are easy to access. For instance, even if you don't keep your coffee machine on the counter, if you use it daily, it should be kept someplace easy to access, such as in an appliance garage or a cabinet near where you plug it in.

  5. Utilize Storage Bins
    Don't forget the power of corralling smaller items in a bin. For instance, clear, stackable storage bins for the fridge and pantry make it easier to organize and find small items like spices and kids' snacks. Fabric or plastic bins or woven baskets enable you to organize in style in readily visible places like open shelves or on top of the fridge.

  6. Make Items Accessible
    If your cupboards are full of deep, dark recesses that are difficult to access, or if you forget what you have hidden back there, consider upgrading your cupboards. Modern pull-out cabinet drawers enable you to utilize all of the cupboard space available to you while making the "back of the cupboard" items easy to access.

  7. Invest in Custom Storage
    Things like coffee makers, crockpots, and stand mixers make our lives easier, but they also cause a lot of countertop clutter. Consider investing in custom cabinetry such as appliance garages and pop-up appliance shelves to keep them out of sight when you don't need them but still readily accessible when you do.

  8. Add More Storage
    Walking through Alexandria homes for sale, you'll notice some creative solutions for kitchen storage. Pot racks, magnetic knife strips, and open shelving on available walls all provide ways to add additional storage.

Have you outgrown your current home and its kitchen? The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your house because of how much waking time you spend there. If you're ready to upgrade your home, contact us today, and we'll help you get your search started.


5 Outdoor Kitchen Trends for This Summer

Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is an excellent addition for maximizing your home's exterior spaces. Our real estate agents know that an outdoor kitchen is also an attractive feature to potential homebuyers. Here are a few outdoor kitchen trends that we expect to see take center stage this summer. 

  1. Larger Outdoor Kitchens
    Outdoor kitchens will continue to increase in size and incorporate more appliances and cooking equipment. For example, a few years ago, an outdoor kitchen might have a basic grill, a small prep area, and a sink. Now, an outdoor kitchen will have a grill with multiple cooking options, outside cabinets, an area for beverages (like a wine cooler or outside fridge), and more specialized cooking equipment (such as a pizza oven or smoker). 
  1. Multifunctional Pieces
    Pieces that can serve multiple purposes are a popular trend in outdoor kitchens. Not only does this allow you to maximize the amount of space that you have for your kitchen, but it reduces the number of pieces that you need to purchase. A firepit can be used for roasting s'mores or adding ambiance, but with a tabletop cover, it can also function as a table for eating. Your grill isn't just for grilling; it also has burners for warming sides and sauces and cabinets and shelves for storing grilling accessories. A combo grill allows you to cook with different fuel sources, eliminating the need for multiple kinds of grills.
  1. Pieces with Counterbalance Hinges
    More furniture and cooking equipment are using counterbalance hinges to optimize their functionality. Counterbalance hinges offer better support for the heavy lids and doors often associated with outdoor equipment. These hinges also make it easier to maneuver lids, counters, and doors. For example, when you open a grill with counterbalanced hinges, the lid will remain in the same position. You can tilt an outdoor countertop with a counterbalanced hinge into an upright position if you need to create more space or need a temporary walkway. Pieces with counterbalance hinges are generally ergonomic and add more flexibility to an outdoor kitchen. 
  1. Hidden Cabinets and Fridges
    Outdoor kitchen owners are embracing pieces with hidden cabinets and fridges for a few reasons. Items with hidden cabinetry and a hidden fridge tend to have a more streamlined design that's aesthetically pleasing, regardless of your stylistic preferences. Pieces with hidden cabinets utilize a design that hides the hinges. This prevents the hinges from being continuously exposed to the elements and prematurely wearing out. 
  1. Smart Home Technology
    For a homeowner who's ready to add their home to the list of Alexandria homes for sale, we know that having updated smart home technology makes your home more appealing to potential homebuyers. The popularity of smart home technology also extends to outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchen appliances, like grills, pizza ovens, and smokers often include smart technology that makes it easy to monitor the cooking progress of your meal. Smart lights, speakers, and TVs are easy to control and operate using your smartphone or virtual assistant and offer endless opportunities for outdoor entertainment. 

Ready to purchase a home with additional space for your outside kitchen? Contact us today to get started!


Alexandria Gardening Stores and Greenhouses

Alexandria Gardening

With spring finally here, it's time to start choosing plants and items like edging and fountains to spruce up your garden. You'll be able to find the items you're looking for - along with expert advice and excellent customer service - at Alexandria gardening stores and greenhouses.

Our real estate agents suggest shopping at the following locations for your gardening needs:

  • GibKo Landscaping - 110 Evergreen St., Bunkie, LA 71322
    Whether you'd like to buy a new potted plant to spruce up your porch or want to overhaul your entire garden, GibKo Landscaping is a go-to destination. They receive new plants each season, with ferns, geraniums, and vegetable plants, among others, arriving in early spring. In addition to plants, you'll also find plenty of pots, patio furniture, and other decor to help complement your outdoor space. You can buy the items you need and do the work yourself or hire GibKo to install landscaping and even water features.

  • HomeBase - 515 MacArthur Dr., Alexandria, LA 71303
    has everything you'll need to improve your garden, including fountains, ponds, edging, pavers and stepping stones, raised gardening beds, garden fencing, and more. They carry a small selection of succulents, so the store is mainly a place to find everything else related to gardening. If you'd like to scout out items online before browsing in the store, you'll be able to see how many of each item are in stock.

  • Petrus Feed & Seed - 2914 N. Bolton Ave., Alexandria, LA 7130
    Petrus Feed & Seed
    is a family-owned business that was first started in 1926. Farmers and homeowners alike now shop at its locations, which carry a large selection of lawn and garden products, vegetable plants, seeds, and more. Their knowledgeable, helpful staff can assist you with everything from choosing plants and seeds to recommending the best fertilizer for your soil type. And even after you've bought your plants and seeds, they'll continue to help by diagnosing and treating any issues in your yard and garden if you bring in a sample.

  • Holloway's Nursery - 11528 Highway 165 S., Forest Hill, LA 71430
    Holloway's Nursery
    has been in business for over 50 years, and over the years, it's grown into an establishment that provides plants, trees, and shrubs to gardeners nationwide. It's hard to imagine that the shop won't have the plants you want since they have millions in stock, many of which you can view on their website under the "Our Stock" tab. You can choose to have your plants delivered or pick them up, depending on what's more convenient for you.

  • Michael's Nursery - 546 Hwy. 113, Glenmora, LA 71433
    Michael's Nursery
    aims to provide quality plants at reasonable prices, along with personalized service and reliable delivery. You'll be able to choose from a large selection of evergreen shrubs, perennials, roses, flower bulbs, seeds, and ground covers as well as plants in the "Southern Living" collection. The vast majority of the plants are grown on-site at the nursery's two locations, each of which is surrounded by about 15 acres of land.

Contact us if you're looking for a home to buy and would like to see Alexandria homes for sale. We've been helping people in the Gulf South buy and sell real estate since 1916 and understand that finding the right home is much more than a business transaction. It's an essential part of having a happy, prosperous life, and we'd love to help you find the right home for you.


Kisatchie National Forest Outdoor Adventures

 Kisatchie National Forest

Are you ready for an outdoor adventure you won't forget? Our real estate agents have a suggestion!

One of the many reasons Alexandria homes for sale are so in demand is because of their proximity to the Kisatchie National Forest. Kisatchie is the only designated national forest in the state of Louisiana. It sprawls across 604,000 acres, with forested pine hills set across seven different parishes.

Things to Do in Kisatchie National Forest

With so much space to explore, just about any outdoor activity you can name is provided for within the bountiful nature of Kisatchie. It has a blend of developed and backcountry areas for you to choose from. You could spend weeks there and only see a small fraction of what there is to experience.

Let's take a closer look at what you can expect in and around the forest:

Camping Opportunities

There are no cabins anywhere within the Kisatchie National Forest. However, camping is welcome and encouraged. There are campsites for RVs and tent camping. Some tent camping sites are designed for groups of 10 or more. Finding the right campground for you may take some planning!

The area is divided into five ranger districts, and each one has its own campgrounds. There are dozens of different areas where camping support is provided. Bear in mind that some are intended for daytime use only. Before you visit, find the district closest to your entry point and decide on a site.

Because there are so many campgrounds available, reservations are not taken for the majority of sites in Kisatchie National Forest. However, you can call ahead to the ranger station to inquire about RV camping since RV hookups are in limited supply.


Kisatchie Bayou fishing is one of the biggest attractions and draws anglers from all around the region in the spring and summer. Kisatchie Bayou stands out for its white sandbars, its rocky outcroppings, and even a number of pristine waterfalls. Fish you can encounter include bream and bass.

Other bodies of water throughout the Kisatchie are home to catfish and crappie. The most popular of all fishing spots within the forest is Saline Bayou, which crosses 20 miles of hardwood bottomland. You may also find dozens of other ponds and streams, many of them undisturbed throughout most of the year.

129-mile long Dugdemona River is a great starting point for most anglers. A popular place to gather is Beaver Dam, which you'll find along the upper shore of Caney Lake. No matter what you choose, it is sure to be exciting.

Other Water Sports

Various ponds and rivers throughout the National Forest support kayaking. Beware that not all channels are navigable. Watch out for posted signage about entry points and proper equipment before you begin.

Hiking and Trail Riding

There are many different trails winding their way through the Kisatchie, such as the 36-mile Sandstone Trail winding through the Kisatchie Hills. You'll find hundreds of miles of marked trails. Markers include information on trail length, terrain, difficulty, and estimated time of completion.

Altogether, there are trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicles, and horse riding. Be advised that the ranger station has designated some trails as "sunrise to sunset" only, so it is crucial to plan out your journey to return before nightfall.

There is so much to see and do throughout Louisiana. Contact us to learn more or get started with Louisiana real estate.


Aquariums to Visit Around Louisiana

Aquariums in Louisiana

Louisiana is a pretty wild place. From the Gulf Coast to the Bayou Country, it's a state filled with all kinds of unique plants and animals. Many of the most fascinating live below the water's surface, and you don't have to go deep into the wilderness to see them. 

Louisiana is home to numerous world-class aquariums and marine life exhibits where you can see sea creatures from all over the world, and from right here in Louisiana. Our real estate agents are excited to share some of their favorites.

  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - 1 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
    Regularly ranked among the best aquariums in the United States, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is offers a truly remarkable array of marine life. Located alongside the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter and convenient to many New Orleans homes for sale, the aquarium is home to more than 250 species of animals ranging from sharks and stingrays to otters and sea turtles. The African penguins are the undisputed stars of the show, and you can observe the penguin feeding at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm daily.

  • Barn Hill Preserve - 11342 LA-955, Ethel, LA 70730
    The Barn Hill Preserve isn't exactly an aquarium, but one of its animal attractions is so unique that we just couldn't leave it off our list. After all, there aren't many places where you can swim with otters! The preserve houses a group of Asian small-clawed otters who reside in a climate-controlled pool, and visitors have an opportunity to swim with them daily from 2 pm to 5 pm (reservation required). Barn Hill Preserve is located just minutes from these Ethel homes for sale

  • Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery - 615 South Dr, Natchitoches, LA 71457
    While many aquariums display sea creatures that are unique and exotic, the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery focuses on aquatic life that's a lot closer to home. The hatchery raises native fish species like alligator gar to help reestablish wild populations, as well as more common fish like largemouth bass and blue catfish for sport fishing. Located just a few miles from many Natchitoches homes for sale, the hatchery also includes a large aquarium exhibit where you can observe some of Louisiana's most fascinating native fish, reptiles, and amphibians. 

  • Blue Zoo Aquarium - 6401 Bluebonnet Blvd Suite 1123, Baton Rouge, LA 70836
    The main thing that makes Blue Zoo Aquarium stand out is that it offers more than a chance to merely see some interesting sea creatures. The zoo creates an immersive, interactive experience in which you can touch and feed stingrays, birds, and other animals. It's a thrilling experience for kids and adults alike, which makes Blue Zoo the best aquarium near these Baton Rouge homes for sale. The zoo includes dozens of interactive attractions and exhibits, and annual and daily passes are available. 

  • Alexandria Zoological Park - 3016 Masonic Dr, Alexandria, LA 71301
    Originally founded in 1923, the Alexandria Zoological park has been one of Louisiana's top animal attractions for nearly a century. Located a stone's throw from these Alexandria homes for sale, the zoo is home to over 500 animals, including birds, reptiles, mammals, and, of course, fish. Keep an eye out for clownfish—you might recognize them from 'Finding Nemo'—and alligator gar, perhaps Louisiana's most impressive native freshwater fish species. The zoo also includes five species of alligators and crocodiles. 

Contact us today to learn more about life in Louisiana. From amazing animal attractions to the wild landscape all around us, it's a truly one-of-a-kind place to call home. 


ATV Trails to Explore Near Alexandria

ATV Trails

You can tear up some trail any time in Louisiana, but fall is a particularly great time to be out ATV-ing. 

Here in the Alexandria area, we're lucky to have truly awesome ATV trails right at our doorstep. We asked our real estate agents to share their favorite places to go off-roading in the Alexandria area, and these are their top picks:

  • Calcasieu Ranger District (Kisatchie National Forest) - 9912 LA-28, Boyce, LA 71409
    The Calcasieu Ranger District of Kisatchie National Forest offers a lot of great options for ATV enthusiasts. The district is a mix of woodlands, swamps, and creeks and is home to a vast network of trails known as the Claiborne Multi-Use Trails. These trails total about 70 miles, looping through upland pine forests, and are open to ATVs, motorcycles, and horseback riding (hiking and mountain biking are also permitted). 

  • Juderman's ATV Park - 6512 Shreveport Hwy, Pineville, LA 71360
    Offering 200 acres of woods, meadows, and mud pits, Juderman's ATV Park is one of the best places around to go get some mud on the tires. The whole property is crisscrossed by a meandering network of ATV trails. They also have some great picnic spots and a secluded campground for overnight guests. The park is open every weekend, but arrangements can also be made for weekday riders. Juderman's ATV Park is less than 15 minutes from these Alexandria homes for sale and offers affordable daily rates for ATV riders and campers. 

  • Catahoula Ranger District (Kisatchie National Forest) - 5325 LA-8, Bentley, LA 71407
    Comprising a huge tract of land completely separate from the aforementioned Calcasieu Ranger District, the Catahoula Ranger District of Kisatchie National Forest offers some great riding trails of its own. Just 20 minutes from Alexandria, this district is home to the easy-to-moderate Little Creek Loop Trail, which traverses a wide variety of terrain, including bottomlands and upland forests. The nearby Hickman Trail Loop is slightly more difficult, including some solid hills that will keep you on your toes. The two trails are connected, and ATV riders can tackle them both as one long, continuous loop. 

  • Sandstone Multi-Use Trail (Kisatchie National Forest) - Forest Hwy 59, Provencal, LA 71468
    The 36-mile Sandstone Multi-Use Trail is located within the Kisatchie Ranger District of Kisatchie National Forest. The area is known for having some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alexandria area, and ATV riders on the trail can expect amazing views of the rugged countryside. Meandering through hilly terrain and vast stands of longleaf pine, the trail is mostly packed sand and clay with a few stream crossings. The Sandstone Trail is also open to motorcycles, horseback riding, hiking, and biking and is closed to motorized use from January 1 to May 1. 

  • Louisiana Mudfest - 12220 LA-8, Colfax, LA 71417
    Louisiana Mudfest is one of the largest mudparks in the south and a great place to ride. Located on a bend in the Red River just north of Alexandria, Louisiana Mudfest is open to ATV, OHV, dirt bike, and motorcycle riding and also has a campground and marina. 

Contact us today to learn more about life in Louisiana. It's a great place for anyone who loves the outdoors, whether your activity of choice is hunting, fishing, hiking, or ATV riding. 


How to Prepare for an Open House

Alexandria Open House

When you list your home for sale, an open house is a traditional activity that boosts the exposure of your home. Before you set a date for your open house, there are some preparation tasks you should know about. Our real estate agents recommend the following tasks to help your home make a lasting impression during your open house.

  1. Clean and Declutter
    An open house is a fantastic opportunity to show off your home to potential buyers, but you only have one chance to make a stellar first impression. Make sure that you've thoroughly decluttered every inch of your home and deep cleaned every room. When you clean, clean in a circle to make sure you don't miss any spaces. You should also clean from the top of the room to the bottom to ensure you don't have to clean any areas more than once. Try to remove half of the things in your home, and store them off-sight in a storage unit or friend's garage. The less stuff you have in your home, the larger it will seem. It's also easier for buyers to take in a home's features when it isn't overwhelmed with too many things. On the day of your open house, stash any personal belongings (like shoes, pocketbooks, backpacks, and coats) out of sight. Vacuum or sweep the floors, and see that all the beds are made. Don't forget the outside spaces! Use your leaf blower to quickly rid your deck, porch, and driveway of dirt and leaves. 
  1. Accomplish Any Maintenance Tasks on Your To-Do List
    Perhaps you've been meaning to refresh your living room paint or fix that noisy faucet. Any repair or maintenance tasks should be completed before your open house. Check that all your lightbulbs work and that your heating and cooling system has a fresh, dust-free air filter. If buyers notice that routine maintenance tasks are past due, they may assume that you haven't properly cared for your home. This leads them to assume that the home needs work and can result in a lower offer price. 
  1. Have a Plan for Your Pets
    Even homebuyers that adore animals tend to view homes with pets as less appealing. Individuals with allergies or high standards for cleaning are even more likely to forgo a home with pets. When it's time for your open house, get your pets out of the house until it's over. You should also remove any obvious pet gear, like litterboxes, toys, beds, and food and water dishes. 
  1. Depersonalize Your Home
    It's hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in a home when personalized items decorate a space. Remove any pictures of your family and friends, and see that you grab any piles of homework or bills lying around.
  1. Embrace the Fresh Air
    Fresh air makes any space feel more inviting. If the weather permits, open the windows to freshen the air in your home. This helps remove odors and "stale" air in rooms that you don't frequently use. 

    Want more info about selling your home and listing it among the other Alexandria homes for sale? Contact us today!


    How to Keep Pests Away from Your Home

    Remove Pests From Home

    Is there anything more challenging to Louisiana homeowners than the ever-present war on pests? No one wants to see a six-legged uninvited guest crawling across the carpet, least of all when invited guests are present! If you look into some of our beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, you might want to take note of some of the pest control measures the owners have taken. With this multi-pronged attack, you may be able to claim a permanent victory, even during the warm summer months.

    • Put Them Under Siege
      Take away their access to food inside the house. Not only are cardboard boxes ineffective against insects, but some of the more offensive varieties will also actually make a meal of them. Transfer dry goods whenever possible to sealed canisters or plastic storage containers. Clean up food debris immediately. Don't invite bugs by leaving them crumbs to eat. Wash dirty dishes immediately. Take the trash out daily. Garbage containers left inside are a call to arms to hungry pests. Feed pets on a schedule, avoiding leaving pet food on the floor. Free feeding of your dog or cat means free feeding for ants, as well. Outside the house, make sure that leaves and debris are cleared away, as they are breeding grounds for bugs. Some of the worst culprits are newspapers, boxes, and paper bags.
    • Remove Access to Water
      Did you know that a roach can live without food for a month but only a week without water? But they don't need a lot to quench their thirst. Make sure to keep sinks clean and dry by fixing all leaks, keeping the sink free of soaking dishes, and using garbage disposal frequently. Clean up spills on counters immediately. Inspect dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters for leaks. Continue your inspection under all sinks in the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen. Don't over-water plants or leave excess water in planter saucers. Eliminate standing water outside the house by draining rainwater away from the house. Keep gutters and drainpipes running freely.
    • Block Their Entrance
      Inspect the exterior of the house for cracks or holes that would allow pests access to the inside. Besides sealing cracks, you need to pay close attention to entry points for pipes and wiring. Caulk and silicone work well. Both have formulas specific to indoor and outdoor use. Another material that offers excellent results is expanding foam. It's a versatile option for both small gaps and larger holes and very easy to use. Inside the house, seal gaps along baseboards, around windows, and behind sinks. Keep screens in good repair. Don't bring pests inside with boxes or bags. Replace weather-stripping around doors and windows annually. Trim trees and shrubbery so that branches are not allowed to offer bridges for pests. 
    • Call in the Experts
      Once you've done your part, call in a professional by scheduling an exterminator for regular inspections and treatments. Professional technicians have the tools and the expertise to handle the pests you can't. They will inspect for termites and make recommendations to help you maintain a pest-free home.

    Contact us if you're interested in buying or selling a Louisiana home. Our real estate agents will be happy to help. 


    Take a Walking Tour of Alexandria, LA

    Walking Tour Alexandria

    Alexandria is a city where history awaits you around every corner, and local organizations place a high priority on historic preservation. Many of the city's most fascinating historic sites have also been repurposed as museums that showcase the art, history, and culture of Alexandria, along with the stories of prominent residents who helped shape the city into such an amazing place in the present day. Our real estate agents are here to help you get to know the city, starting with our guide for a historic walking tour of Alexandria.

    • Hotel Bentley – 200 DeSoto St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      A gorgeous, elegant, historic hotel that is still in operation to this day, Hotel Bentley is one of the most fascinating historic places near Alexandria homes for sale. The hotel represented the height of luxury when it was first established in 1908, and has carried that reputation forward for more than a century. Today it's a popular place for glitzy events, elegant nights on the town, and travelers who want to visit Alexandria in style.

    • Alexandria Museum of Art – 933 2nd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      Housed in the historic Rapides Bank and Trust Co. building, the Alexandria Museum of Art is a wonderful place to learn about the work of artists from Alexandria and beyond. While the Alexandria Museum of Art has updated the look in some ways, you can still experience so much of the building's history as you explore the inspiring work on display within the museum.

    • Louisiana History Museum – 503 Washington St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      The Louisiana History Museum is located in the historic location of the original Alexandria Public Library, which was built in 1908. When the library closed its doors in 1971, the museum took over the space. Learn more about Alexandria history, and trace your own family's history in the area at the museum's genealogical library.

    • Arna Bontemps African American Museum & Cultural Arts Center – 1327 3rd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      Literary master Arna Bontemps spent a number of years living in Alexandria, and the Arna Bontemps House has since been converted into the Arna Bontemps African American Museum & Cultural Center. When you visit the museum, you can learn more about the work of Arna Bontemps, his history in Alexandria, and the many ways that African American residents have helped shape local history.

    • River Oaks Square Arts Center – 1330 2nd St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      The River Oaks Square Arts Center is located in the James Wade Bolton House, which was home to one of the city's most prominent banking families for decades after it was first purchased in 1899. After it was remodeled in 1911, the building has remained largely the same into the present day. The Arts Center features a variety of workshops for artists, along with exhibits that display the work of resident artists.

    • Rapides Parish Library Main Branch – 411 Washington St., Alexandria, LA 71301
      The Rapides Parish Library Main Branch is an example of more modern history in Alexandria, having been built in 1965 in a different style than many of the older historic buildings in the city. Constructed in the Mid-Century Modern architectural style, the building's quartz facade and tall, vertical windows create a unique look. The library itself offers tons of fun community events, classes, and a spectacular selection of media to take home.

    Ready to write the next chapter of your own history in Alexandria? Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Alexandria, LA area.


    Bidding War Tips: What to do

    Bidding War

    As the housing market continues to be competitive due to high demand and low inventory, many buyers are forced to act quickly and pay top dollar to secure the house of their dreams. As sellers continue to select the highest and best offer, it's all too common for bidding wars to break out between prospective buyers.

    If you're in the market for a new home, it's important to prepare yourself for a potential bidding war when making an offer. Our real estate agents have extensive experience when it comes to creating compelling offers, and we've compiled some things to know if you're trying to secure a new home in this market.

    • Get Your Preapproval Letter First
      Depending on your lender, getting preapproved for a mortgage can often take a couple of days, which is precious time in this market. To be competitive, you'll need to be ready to make an offer as quickly as possible. Talk to your lender about getting preapproved before you start shopping. Your lender will ask for bank statements, W-2 forms, pay stubs and will also pull your credit report. After reviewing your financial documents, your lender will issue a preapproved letter that serves as a signal that you're in the market and prepared to make an offer.

    • Determine Your Maximum Purchase Price
      Before making an offer, you need to determine the maximum amount you're comfortable paying for the home. You can then work with your real estate agent to include an escalation clause in your offer that essentially increases your bid by a specific amount over the highest bid but not to exceed a defined limit.

    • Forget About Adding Contingencies
      Under normal market conditions, buyers have more leverage and can often request that their offer be contingent on certain conditions, such as leaving certain furniture and appliances or making repairs. In a seller's market, it's best to forget about contingencies. When you're in a bidding war with other buyers, dropping all contingencies is a smart way to make your offer stronger.

    • Work With An Experienced Agent
      The key to winning a bidding war without exceeding your budget is to work with an experienced real estate agent. A good agent can get the inside scoop on the number of offers a seller has received. He or she should also know the proper way to execute an escalation clause and can advise you on the best strategies for putting forward a compelling offer. Because homes are going quickly, your agent should be a good communicator and available to draft an offer letter when you're ready to do so.

    If you're thinking about purchasing one of these beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, make sure you're working with an agent who can help you create a compelling offer. Contact us today. 


      5 Tips to Get Your Patio Ready for Summer

      Patio Tips

      With the weather warming up, it's time to start thinking about reclaiming your home's outdoor spaces. If you spend a lot of time on your patio every summer, this might just mean sprucing up your existing patio after a winter of neglect. Even if you don't already have a great patio setup, it's never too late to get started! Plus, outdoor living spaces help homes sell better, so start thinking now about staging your patio before listing it among other Alexandria homes for sale. Here are five tips to get you started.

      1. Clean it up
        Winter winds and precipitation leave behind a lot of soil and debris, making your outdoor spaces look dingy and neglected. Before spending time on the patio or listing your home, our real estate agents recommend taking a weekend to clean up the patio. Get out your hose or rent a pressure washer, and wash the grime away from concrete, stone, decking, and patio furniture. You'll be amazed by how much brighter your patio looks afterward!

      2. Check for Necessary Repairs
        Winter rain and wind can do a number on your patio and anything left on it over the winter. Take this opportunity to check your patio furniture, sun shades, fencing, and gates, ensuring that everything is in good working order. Repair or replace anything that has become broken or worn down.

      3. Freshen up
        Once you've made sure everything is clean and in good repair, it's time to start freshening up. Usually, adding a little color will make a world of difference. If the patio furniture is looking dingy or faded, paint it. Outdoor cushions may need to be replaced since they normally don't last more than a few years outside before starting to look the worse for wear. Don't forget about what goes under your feet, and consider a bright outdoor rug to tie it all together.

      4. Make it Grow
        Don't forget that part of the appeal of spending time in your outdoor spaces is the relaxing connection with growing things! Take this time to tidy up your surrounding landscaping, weeding, pruning, and getting your flower beds ready for the growing season. Don't forget to add pots and planters to your patio area, softening the abruptness of all the flat surfaces with flowers and greenery.

      5. Add Light
        Just like inside your home, it's important for your outdoor spaces to be welcoming and well-lit. During the daytime, your patio should have plenty of natural light, even if it's a shaded area out of the sun's direct rays. For nighttime enjoyment of the space, make sure your patio is well lit with various lighting, from mood-enhancing lanterns to trendy strings of bulbs. A bright overhead light is also useful, but make sure it can be turned off independently of the others.

      A comfortable, attractive patio can be your haven as a homeowner or a selling point for your buyer. For more information about the role outdoor living spaces play in today's real estate market, contact us today.


      Get an Organized Kitchen with These Tips

      Organized Kitchen Tips

      Even the most up-to-date kitchen can get cluttered! Not only is kitchen clutter unsightly, but it can hinder your cooking and food prep. How about taking fearless stock of all that stuff on your countertops and reducing it by half or more? Give it away; recycle it; sell it in a garage sale. Before listing your home among the Alexandria homes for sale, make sure your kitchen is neat and organized. Follow these tips.

      1. Declutter Your Counters
        Put away pots and pans, dishes, boxes of tea and cereal, all those things you think you need to sit on the countertop so you can get at it quickly. Fill up a couple of boxes with the excess, then give it away to a local nonprofit. Haven't used those old mugs or extra salt and pepper shakers in six months? Say farewell. 

      2. Take Stock of Your Pantry
        Check the expiration date on your pantry items and toss away all expired items. Organize the remainder. Put items that insects can invade in plastic containers, marking them clearly with name and expiration date. You might try adding some organizers to hold small items or hang a shelf rack on the door to make more room in the pantry.

      3. Organize Cleaning Cloths
        Toss any old, worn out, or stained cleaning cloths and rags. Organize those you want to hold onto in a container, making sure they are clean and folded for easy use. Be sure to use these rags as often as is appropriate so you can cut down on paper towel use.

      4. Stack Cookware
        Instead of giving each pot or pan its own individual space in the cabinet, use a stacking system, separating pots with pot protectors. These will prolong the life of your cookware.

      5. Consider Your Workflow
        Maybe the blender and toaster should go next to each other instead of being stowed away in the cabinet. Or, your favorite knife could be affixed by means of a magnetic strip to the wall in the back of the stove. Perhaps the flatware should go in a caddy (organized by kind), so it's easy to grab and set the table. Rethink your whole kitchen as if you were a time/motion expert, and you're seeking to maximize space and the effort you put into kitchen tasks.

      6. Clean Your Fridge
        It's easy for things to get out of hand in the fridge. To keep clutter down, check every day for food that's no longer usable and toss it or put it in the compost pile. Avoid just shoving jars or containers with aging contents back to the back and then forgetting about them. Take them out, and get rid of the contents without delay. You'll find you always have more room and can organize your fridge better if you do this daily. 

      Our real estate agents have many tips to help you get your house ready for listing. Contact us today. 


      Best Paint Color Options for Your Home Office

      Home Office

      Choosing paint colors for your home office is about more than just aesthetics and interior decor. The colors you choose can actually have an impact on your work habits. Whether you spend just a few hours a week in your home office or work from home regularly, set yourself up for success with the right decor. Here are a few common home office colors we see in Lafayette homes for sale and how they can benefit your work habits.

      1. Blue 
        Blue is famous for being a soothing color, so if you struggle with anxiety during your workday, try combating that with lots of blue. The shade of blue you choose can range from a low-distraction blue-gray to an intensely introspective dark blue. Choose a shade that works well with your goals when you work from home.

      2. Pinks and Reds
        You may have heard that red is an energizing color, but the truth goes somewhat deeper than that. They may seem like an unlikely choice for your office walls, but shades of pink, coral, peach, and red can boost creativity. If you work at a creative job from your home office, painting your walls in one of these shades may lend energy and inspiration to your day.

      3. Yellow 
        Another color that seems unlikely due to how bright it is, yellow can actually help you work by energizing you. Yellow is a cheerful color that may help to brighten a difficult workday or invigorate your work mood. Yellow also comes in various shades, from colors so pale that they're almost cream to bright, bold tones.

      4. Gray
        If staying focused is your struggle, opt for a soft neutral such as gray. Grays can lean toward bluish tones, which will also help to soothe, or brighter grays for energy, depending on the mood you want to strike in your home office. Gray is also a great neutral color, which our real estate agents recommend if you are planning on selling the house soon.

      5. White
        While it might seem overly sterile in the rest of the house, white can actually create a better workspace by minimizing distractions around you while you work. It also mimics the feel of a corporate office, helping you stay focused and providing a place to put whiteboards and other tools to aid you in your work. This is also a good neutral tone to use if you're planning to sell the house soon.

      The color you paint your home office walls can impact how you work, but it can also affect how your house sells, so it's important to know your goals before picking up a paintbrush. Buyers tend to gravitate toward neutral tones because they can more easily imagine themselves living in a home that isn't decorated with someone else's favorite colors. For painting tips and other easy ideas for making your house stand out, contact us today.


      The Do's and Don'ts of Making an Accent Wall

      Accent Wall Tips

      If your home's decor feels a little generic or looks too sparse for your tastes, consider painting an accent wall. An accent wall lends a pop of color to your space and helps you customize the style of your home. Our real estate agents know that an accent wall is often beneficial for staging your home when you put it on the market. Follow these do's and don'ts when adding an accent wall. 

      1. Do Embrace Bold Colors
        Since an accent wall is meant to stand out, it's best to utilize a bold color. Even if you prefer neutrals or are trying to stick with colors that will appeal to homebuyers looking for Alexandria homes for sale, it's fine to embrace a darker hue. Just make sure that the color you select will complement the decor and furnishings in the room. 
      1. Do Pick the Right Wall
        Before you buy your paint, make sure you pick out the best wall for your project. In general, you'll want to avoid areas with a lot of windows, a door, or a large fireplace. These items tend to "cut" your accent wall, making it look choppy and disjointed. The wall needs to be large enough to stand out so that it appears like a purposeful addition to the room. 
      1. Do Choose a Shade That Compliments Your Other Walls
        As you peruse potential shades for your accent wall, check that your hue suits your other paint colors. Otherwise, you risk picking a shade that's too "warm" or "cool" for your other walls. An accent wall often compliments walls painted in light or medium hues the best. 
      1. Don't Limit Your Options
        Don't feel like your only option is to paint an accent wall. There are multiple gorgeous alternatives for your space, including wallpaper, tile, stone, or painted shiplap. Just make sure that whichever material you select looks cohesive with the rest of the room. 
      1. Don't Be Afraid to Get Creative
        Can't pick out the right wall for your accent wall? Make your ceiling your accent wall! Painting your ceiling an eye-catching color is a trendy way to incorporate an accent wall into areas with minimal wall space. Should you opt to paint your ceiling, consider adding crown molding to the room. This will help break up the ceiling from the walls and even make the room appear larger. 
      1. Don't Pick a Room That's Already "Busy"
        If a potential room already has a lot going on, you may want to forgo an accent wall. The addition of an accent wall can make the space look busy and cluttered. For this reason, it's tricky and incorporating an accent wall into a kitchen, just because this space already has a lot of things in it.

      Interested in a home with more space? Contact us today to start your search!


      6 Ways to Improve Your Home Theater System

      Home Theater System

      With all of the streaming options these days, people are making trips to the movie theater less often. Instead, it's common to have a media room or home theater and enjoy the big screen experience with all the comforts of home. Home theaters are a nice feature that we sometimes see in Baton Rouge homes for sale. Here are six tips for improving your home theater system.

      1. Arrange for a dedicated space.
        Many homes have a family room or media room that might be set up with a big-screen TV and surround sound, but the best home theaters our real estate agents see are the ones that are located in a dedicated space for minimal distractions. This might be a finished basement or even a spare room, as long as all the other requirements are met. 
      2. Install comfortable seating.
        Trying to recreate the movie theater experience is a lofty goal, but with seating, you actually have the ability to go above and beyond what you'd get at the theater. Sofas and reclining seats can be much more comfortable than at a true theater. If you plan to have two or more rows of seating, be sure to choose something with low backs or even consider building risers for the back rows.
      3. Minimize distractions.
        Everything about your home theater should be designed around limiting distractions, from the location to the design of the actual room. For instance, your home theater will be best located away from all the foot traffic and noise of the home. A finished basement is excellent for this reason, plus it'll block some of the noise and sound from the outside. Insulated curtains will also help. Also, consider little touches like dark paint colors and avoiding shiny fixtures.
      4. Non-intrusive lighting.
        Lighting is very important in your home theater. Dimmer switches will allow you to set the lights at whatever level you want them. Recessed lighting and soffits are a couple of options that are ideal for a home theater since they won't shine directly in the viewers' faces.
      5. Invest in superior sound.
        Now consider the sound. It's not enough just to get a big-screen TV or projector. A big picture needs a big sound to go with it, and a soundbar just isn't going to cut it if you're going for the full experience. A high-quality surround sound system will do the best job of mimicking the immersive movie theater experience.
      6. Hide cords.
        Finally, remember to make the most of the "magic" of your home theater by hiding the cords that make it all possible. You can get pretty creative about how you hide cords. There are easy DIY kits you can use to hide your cords in the wall, for instance, so that a wall-mounted big-screen TV doesn't have a bunch of ugly cords dangling from it. Hiding cords will give your home theater a finished, professional look.

      Of course, the best reason to install a home theater is so that you can enjoy it yourself, but if you're handy with DIY projects and have the time to invest in it, a well-planned home theater can generate interest with buyers who love the features but wouldn't want to put one in themselves. For more information about the draw of a well-executed home theater system or other home improvement projects, contact us today.


      5 Tips for Getting Your Home Ready for Spring

      List Your Home This Spring

      Spring, being the time of fresh starts and renewal, just seems like the right time to clean up the home and grounds and get ready for a bright new beginning.

      Plus, if you are getting ready for a new beginning and listing your home for sale, spring is a great time to do so! 

      Here are some tips to help you spring forward as you get ready to list your home among the Lake Charles homes for sale.

      1. Clean your rain gutters.
        Rain gutters on Lake Charles homes get plenty of use with our heavy annual precipitation, so homeowners should make sure those gutters are free and clear of leaves and other debris. If you don't have guards on your gutters, you definitely need to see about a spring cleaning. Even with guards, animals can make nests, and other debris may clog them up as the fall and winter pass. If you clean gutters yourself, you'll need a tall ladder and someone to hand things to as you clear them out.

      2. Clean the yard to prepare for spring gardening.
        Curb appeal is extra important in the spring, so don't slack on your post-winter clean-up. Clean up around your air conditioner compressor, clearing weeds, leaves, and other debris, in preparation for turning it on as the humidity and temperature rise. Clear flower beds of dried plant stalks, then add compost and mulch in preparation for planting. Prune summer-blooming flowering shrubs. Inspect trees and shrubs for any winter or wind damage and trim it back.

      3. Check the HVAC system, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
        Spring is a good time to change your HVAC filters. Dirty filters can slow down your HVAC and make it run inefficiently, leading to higher bills and HVAC breakdowns. Make sure vents are free and clear of obstructions such as furniture and rugs. Schedule a preventative maintenance visit for your air conditioner. Also, test your smoke and CO alarms to make sure they are in good working order. Check wires or change batteries if needed.

      4. Check for dampness and mold.
        In our climate, mold and excess humidity are problems every season, but more so during spring rains. Always check your house for signs of moisture from roof or plumbing leaks, window condensation, plugged air conditioner condensate drain, or moisture from the ground seeping into the home. Check fixtures such as toilets and faucets for leaks and repair them or replace them as needed. If you don't fix problems as soon as you find them, moisture and mold may damage drywall, wood, and flooring, so that you need to replace them.

      5. Inspect and clean windows.
        Moisture, high winds, and UV rays can be hard on your window treatments. Inspect your windows, and if need be, repair crumbling caulk and worn-out weatherstripping to keep conditioned air inside and unconditioned air out. Clean your windows inside and outside with a solution of vinegar and water to get them bright and shiny for spring.

      Our real estate agents have many more spring tips to get your home ready to list. Contact us today.


      How to Keep Your Pet Safe During Renovations

      Renovation Tips with PetsChange is frustrating for everyone, and our pets are no exception. The turmoil of construction can be terrifying to them when they just can't understand what's happening! Since our real estate agents may recommend some renovations that will increase the value of your home, we want to provide you with some tips to make your animals more comfortable with the process. 

      1. Make Introductions
        While cats may be warier of strangers than dogs, both will benefit from brief interactions with workers who will be in and out of the house. Allow them to experience the scents and sounds of new people to help put them at ease. Your pet will see that you are not concerned by the visitors, which will help alleviate their stress. 

      2. Secure Your Pets
        Pets who are used to the comforts of a crate are rarely concerned when they are locked in briefly for their safety. This keeps them out of harm's way and still lets them see what's going on around them. If this isn't an option, consider putting them in a room with the door closed so that they are not underfoot of the workers. Cats tend to search for the safety of a confined space. A large cardboard box in the room might be just the sanctuary they are seeking. Be sure you leave them with plenty of water and food and check on them as often as possible.

      3. Keep Them Occupied
        Providing your pets with toys and treats will provide welcome distractions from unusual sights and sounds. Soothing music diminishes the intensity of loud noises they find upsetting. Treats help communicate the affection you hold for them, reassuring them that you have not abandoned them. Whether it be a large bone for your dog to gnaw or a catnip mouse for your feline friend, a treat can help them pass the time more comfortably.

      4. Take Them Outdoors
        They may be most comfortable in their own backyard. If this is an option, spend as much time as you can playing with them outside. Long walks or trips to the dog park are pleasant diversions that will remove them from the property for a time. 

      5. Hire a Pet Sitter
        Local pet sitters offer various services, from walking and drop-in visits to caring for your pet in your home and boarding them overnight. Many people avoid such options, assuming the cost is prohibitive, but with a little research, you will be pleasantly surprised. If your renovations are extensive and will last several days, this option may mean the best care for your pet with the least trauma. 

      6. Inform Everyone Concerned of the Plan
        Whatever you decide to do to keep your pet safe, share the information with everyone in the home. Take particular care to make sure that younger members of the family understand what you are doing and why. Otherwise, they may make decisions that can endanger their furry friends. If the animal is to be kept on the property, be sure to warn workers so that they do not inadvertently release your pets or leave dangerous items in their reach. 

      If you are preparing your home for the market or buying a new one, contact us at Latter & Blum for expert assistance with Alexandria homes for sale


      Using a VA Loan this Year? 2021 Changes to Know About

      VA Loan Louisiana

      If you're thinking about buying one of the beautiful Baton Rouge homes for sale, a VA loan is a great option! These loans come with excellent benefits. They offer flexible credit underwriting and low-interest rates. In addition, buyers using a VA loan won't have to come up with a down payment or carry mortgage insurance (PMI).

      A portion of these loans is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA). However, the loans are issued by mortgage lenders and banks. Our real estate agents regularly meet with lenders to learn more about any updates to loan programs and how they could impact their clients. 

      There have been some changes to VA loans that go into effect in 2021. Here's what you need to know. 

      Benefits for National Guard Members

      The biggest change affects National Guard members. Previously, VA loans were not available to members who did not have at least 90 days of active service.

      Beginning in 2021, all Guard and Reserve members who have at least 90 days of service are eligible for a VA home loan, even if the service wasn't active. However, there is one caveat. At least 30 of the days of the service must be consecutive. 

      Increased Loan Limits

      As of 2020, service members with "full entitlement" are not subject to a VA loan limit. You'll have full entitlement if you've never used a VA loan benefit, have paid off a VA loan and then sold the property, or had a foreclosure or short sale and repaid the VA in full.

      However, if you have "remaining entitlement," you are subject to a limit. This can occur for several different reasons. The most common is that you have an active VA loan, they're still paying back.

      The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the upper limit for their loans was increasing in 2021. VA loans follow these guidelines, so all VA loans closing after January 1st, 2021 also have increased loan limits. The new limit for a single-family home located in the lower 48 states is $548,250. This is an increase of 7.4% compared to 2020. 

      In Alaska or Hawaii, the upper limit is now $822,375. If you're buying a home in a high-cost county, you might also have some extra wiggle room. These areas will have their own limits, which are set on a local basis. This limit may be anywhere from $548,250 and $822,375. 

      Explore Baton Rouge Homes Today! 

      Whether you're planning on using a VA loan or another type of financing, now is a great time to buy a new home. There are many beautiful options on the market, and we would love to help you find the perfect one. Contact us today to get started! 


      Get Fit on These Alexandria Walking Trails

      Alexandria Walking Trails

      For many of us, two of the most important personal goals are to work on fitness and spend more time enjoying the outdoors. So why not accomplish both goals at once? The parks and trails around Alexandria are just waiting to be explored, offering outdoor fun for all ages. Our real estate agents have all the details on 6 great walking trails around Alexandria where you can get your steps in this year.

      1. City Park Trail – 1903 Babe Ruth Dr., Alexandria, LA 71301

        City Park Trail 
        is one of many fun trails located close to Alexandria homes for sale, and it's a great choice if you're planning to take your kids along for your walk. This park features a variety of outdoor playgrounds and play structures, perfect for keeping your little ones entertained while you enjoy a walk. There's also a large, covered pavilion in the center of the park, where you can set up a family picnic after exercising.

      2. Green Belt Trail – 1011 Jackson St., Alexandria, LA 71301

        For a longer walk that will take you around many of the sights of the city, try a trip to the Green Belt Trail. This trail loops around downtown Alexandria, and features ample lighting so you can use the walking trail at night. The Green Belt Trail connects with many landmarks around Alexandria, so it's a fun choice when you want to explore the city.

      3. Bayou Rapides Trail – 300 N Bolton Ave., Alexandria, LA 71301

        Traveling along Bayou Rapides and featuring waterfront views, the Bayou Rapides Trail is a great option when you're in the mood for a scenic walk. This trail runs for about half a mile and includes a fishing pier so you can drop some lines in the water after your walk.

      4. Levee Trail – 1 Johnston St., Alexandria, LA 71301

        Take a trip along the levee and enjoy some time in nature when you walk the Levee Trail, which is located on the edge of the Red River. This trail is a bit more out of the way than some of the others on our list, so it's the perfect pick when you're in the mood for a little solitude and tranquility with your walk.

      5. Frank O Hunter Park Trail – 2399 Willow Glen River Rd., Alexandria, LA 71302

        Frank O Hunter Park is the home of high school football in Alexandria, and the Frank O Hunter Park Trail allows you to see one of the city's favorite parks from a new perspective. The entire park was updated in the 2010s to include a brand new football field, along with expanded walking trails.

      6. Compton Park Trail – 4300 Wakefield Alexandria, Alexandria, LA 71303

        Located at one of the most beautiful and widely used parks in Alexandria, the Compton Park Trail is one of the longer walking loops in the area. This park features ample green space, with multiple walking trails that include interpretive signage, as well as decorative walls that help protect the trail from damage. Along the way, you can stop at the observation deck to enjoy gorgeous views of the local wetlands.

      Outdoor adventures are never far from home when you live in Alexandria, and our team would love to help you find your next home in the area. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Alexandria, LA area.


      Helpful Tips for Hanging Your Wall Art

      Hanging Wall Art Tips

      Does it feel as though hanging wall art takes as much talent as actually creating the art itself? Don't be intimidated when decorating Alexandria homes for sale and other houses. Use these valuable tips from our real estate agents to hang wall art like a pro.

      1. Location, Location, Location
        The #1 rule of real estate also holds true when decorating. Determine where you'll place each piece of art by considering room functions, existing furniture and accessories, and sizes and shapes.

      2. To Thine Own Self Be True
        Shakespeare's words are always good advice, including when it comes to choosing artwork. Don't be guided by trends or the need to impress others. A single picture you truly cherish is worth more than a museum full of masterworks.

      3. Don't Look Up
        According to design experts, hanging a piece of art too high is the most common decorating mistake. People shouldn't have to strain their neck, admiring the artwork in your home. The rule of thumb used in museums and galleries is to place the center of a wall hanging 57" above the floor, which equals eye level for most people.

      4. Strike the Proper Balance
        Wall hangings and furniture should neither fight for attention nor drown each other out. When proportions are correct, both elements create a sense of harmony. Aim for an artwork or grouping that's approximately two-thirds the length of adjacent furniture, with the bottom of the art no more than a foot above. If you're working above a fireplace, go with a piece that's slightly narrower than the mantle but slightly wider than the fireplace opening.

      5. Bigger Is (Usually) Better
        When in doubt about size, err on the side of bigger. An oversized piece of art can serve as a focal point, while one that's too small comes off as an afterthought and adds absolutely no interest to a room.

      6. Blend Form and Function
        "Art" doesn't have to be rigidly defined as something created solely for visual appeal. There's a wide range of shelving, storage units, and other organizational items that offer equal parts style and substance. Incorporate these "wall hangings" for some great multitasking design elements.

      7. Consider a Gallery Wall
        Grouping several small and mid-sized pieces can tell a striking visual story. When you have an even number of pieces similar in size and appearance, a grid arrangement works well. Another option is using several pieces of varying sizes, shapes, and mediums, placing them in a carefully-drawn "random" arrangement. 

      8. Measure Twice, Hammer Once
        "Measure twice, cut once" is a popular saying applied to home improvement projects that's easily adapted to hanging wall art. If you're using more than one piece in a specific area, place a piece of butcher paper on the floor and test different arrangements. Once you've found the right one, trace the outline of each piece and mark the spot of the hanger to create a handy template.

      9. Use Alternative "Hanging" Methods
        Maybe you want a more casual, contemporary look, or you just don't want any hardware on your walls. One popular option used by many designers is simply leaning a piece of art against the wall. Larger pieces can rest on the floor, while smaller ones can be placed on a side table, bookcase, or floating shelf.

      Home, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. Contact us today and let Latter & Blum guide you on the journey to find your perfect house in Alexandria. 

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