As we approach the New Year, I’m sad to see the holiday season come to an end. It’s such a beautiful sight to see all our neighborhoods lit up and decorated to celebrate this season. One Montclair block in particular, the cul-de-sac of Potter Ct, where the homes (mostly 1940s side hall colonials) are as quaint as the block itself, embraces the season with their very own tradition. Each year the residents of Potter Ct replace their flagpole (in the center circle of their cul-de-sac) with a tree. The neighbors come out and join together to trim and light the tree and have a little party. There is food, fun, and hot cocoa. Kids play in the street and all are reminded of neighborhood friendships and the beginning of the holiday season. It’s a celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas, and most of all, neighbors.
Stories like this one are why I really love Montclair. As a mother it’s incredibly important to know my neighbors and expose my children to the people around us, people we may not otherwise have the opportunity to know. Getting outside of our homes builds a stronger, safer, and happier community. And I’m happy to live in a place where the residents are not only friendly, but a place where they reach out and come together to establish new traditions. Thank you Potter Ct for sharing your story, your photos, and most of all, for making our town and our holiday a little bit brighter. I hope everyone reading has a wonderful New Year!
Happy Monday! As we feast on leftover candy (yuck), eyes blurry from parties and falling back in time, bellies bloated from too much pizza and beer and sweets, I will leave you with some images from around town this Halloween weekend. If anyone has some great photos, I will be happy to update this post. There was too much spookiness and fun to capture all that this town had to offer this Halloween weekend. Festive doesn’t even begin to explain how much we love our holidays. And a holiday for children of any age, is simply the best, and it’s another reason why I love Montclair!
There is no question that the town of Montclair is filled with beautiful homes. These homes are a reflection of the town’s history, charm, pride, and personality. But with the majority of Montclair’s homes built in the early 1900s (some even date back to the 17 and 1800s), home renovations have become part of our culture and a form of art and creative expression. That’s a nice way of saying Montclairians are proud of our homes and obsessed with home renovations and decorating. I personally believe this is because we have such interesting and beautiful homes to begin with. Our homes may be older, but they are filled with charm and unique features. So with a little sweat, paint, and decor, you have a space that is beautiful, unique, and makes you want to spend time in it. And in such a sought-after town like Montclair, a well thought out home renovation can be a very smart investment.
The home in this renovation story is a 1919 Center Hall Colonial located on a quiet street just steps from Brookdale park and blocks from Watchung Plaza. The home is in an ideal location for anyone who wants to take advantage of Montclair, without getting in their car. By putting money into their home, this family not only invested in a Master Bathroom, they invested in a tree-lined street, a walkable neighborhood, and a one of a kind town.
When I shop for homes with my clients, most of them want something that is already updated. But there are some people, like this family, who wanted to customize their home to meet their specific taste and needs. They are creative by nature and profession, so buying a home with more dated features gave them a chance to get creative and update the home in exactly their style. The original master bath in this home had a lot going for it. The space and layout were quite good for an older home, but the tile, tub, vanity, and fixtures were in need of an update.
Master Bath Before the Renovation:
Master Bath After the Renovation:
Claw Foot Tub with black underside and gold faucet
Black and White Painted Cement Tile
More Gold Fixtures & Accesories
With cement tiles and gold fixtures, this renovated Upper Montclair bathroom is truly custom and one of a kind. It blends old and new and makes me want to take a long soak (alone and kid free) in the claw foot tub (glass of wine in hand).
The banners of Montclair, much like banners found in small towns across the United States, hang from our vintage style light posts and flank the streets of our town. They are charming, they are advertising, they map neighborhoods, they communicate, and they display local pride. I love these banners because they display artistic flare and are created to be visually appealing. The eye-catching logos inspired me to start photographing them over a year ago. I originally thought this would be a photo only post, but the more I thought about and researched the role of banners in our community, the more I realized the importance of them. Banners play a vital role in the movement to support small businesses and revitalize small towns in the US. They help bring us together through advertising community and small business events. And as Jay Jensen points out in his article “A New Era of Street Pole Banners,” they have the unique ability to merge old with new and historic with modern (another theme emerging in my blog posts), by displaying hashtags, wifi hotspots, and other forms of modern communication.
So why are banners important and why do they work in Montclair?And most importantly, why on earth am I writing about them? Well, I find these banners to be just one more ingredient that make this town beautiful and unique. They are particularly important to our town because they advertise local events and label each neighborhood on the bottom of each individual banner. The neighborhood labels tie into the purpose of this blog; to explore our neighborhoods and how each area has it’s own unique vibe within the town of Montclair . The Montclair Film Festival banners are displayed all over town right now, but if you look closely you will find, ” Montclair Center,” “Uptown,” “South End,””Watchung Plaza,” and “Walnut Street” marked at the bottom of each banner in that neighborhood. Our street pole banners are helping to define our neighborhoods and reflect the uniqueness of each individual section of town. They reflect our local pride and draw locals and visitors to participate in town events, to shop at local stores, and to eat at local restaurants. Street Pole banners are particularly effective in Montclair because our town has so many walkable commercial areas and our community enjoys being on foot. Art, charm, celebration, and community are what I think of when I walk down the streets of Montclair and see the most recent event advertised on a light pole. I hope you enjoy these photographs and the next time you walk through town, stop to take a look.
One thing we all love about Montclair is it’s close proximity and easy commute to New York City, so it’s no wonder that many of it’s residents are transplants from Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. And many of these transplants choose to rent homes and try out the area before they commit to the suburbs. I get a lot of questions from clients about the rental market here in town and one thing pretty much remains consistent; there usually aren’t very many rentals on the market and even fewer single family rentals. Every once in a while there are furnished and short term rentals (usually 3-6 months), like this fully furnished single family home on Grove Street that is available until the end of August.
As I’ve gotten to know and love this community I believe this may be a trend that stays consistent for years to come. First off, many of Montclair’s residents work in Manhattan for bi-coastal companies. This creates the opportunity to work and travel for long periods of time. Many residents are also in Entertainment and Journalism, which give way to a more adventurous way of living and opportunity for travel. And in order to keep their mortgage paid and their homes warm, residents are renting out their houses for the short term. Tamima Friedman, a colleague of mine at Keller Williams NJ Metro Group recently helped a client rent her condo in the Siena that is fully furnished, for over list price. Tamima said, the landlord (owner of the condo) was taking a few months to test out another city and be foot loose and fancy free. The cost of doing that and maintaining her condo was high, so she decided to see if she could rent it out for a few months and cover her costs. The family that rented it were being relocated to another city and needed a short term furnished situation while they shipped their belongings south. I also had a client last year that rented her home to a woman who needed to stay local while doing renovations to her own home.
Whether it’s a decision to stay local during a renovation or a chance to get a taste of life in Montclair, short term rentals can be a great opportunity for both landlord and tenant. It’s a wonderful way for residents who want to spread their wings to come back to this town and community they love and call home.
Happy Valentine’s Day! One of the things I LOVE about Montclair is the fact that I don’t have to leave town to shop, eat, or play. One of my very favorite stores for both gifts and practical cooking needs is Olive That and More in Upper Montclair. I never thought I would actually crave olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but this store has me hooked. This store is family run and the owners will inspire you to try their products in new ways. I will be dipping some strawberries in their chocolate balsamic today for sure! If you like to cook or even eat, this store is essential. It was recently voted Best Storefront/Window for 2015! in the Best of Essex poll and the interior of the store is equally inviting. When I think of an artisanal food store, I don’t always think kid-friendly, but the store owners of Olive That and More have young children themselves and will welcome your whole family when you come in the door. They even have a toy bin for the kids and a bench for parents to sit and take a breather. It’s a great place to pop into when you’re getting off the train or shopping in Upper Montclair.
I also have to say that a huge part of the charm of this store is that it’s family run and owned by Jennifer and Steve, individuals who not only want to sell their product, but bring the community together. They host events, cooking workshops, and recently even a chocolate tasting at their store. Montclair draws such warm, interesting people, said store owner Jennifer, we enjoy getting to know everyone. People are drawn to olive oil for very different reasons, it may be a memory of home cooked meals, but it can also be for healthful benefits, weight loss, or incorporated into beauty routines and daily care. People are always coming in to share their personal stories with us about friends and family. When I asked Jennifer why they chose Montclair and their Upper Montclair neighborhood for the store she said, So many of the residents of Montclair are self-proclaimed foodies, home chefs, and have a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and shopping local, it seemed like a perfect setting. After visiting several locations around Montclair, karma took over and we were presented with our current location – The Garden Shop at 246 Bellevue Avenue, the aesthetic created by the previous shop owner provided inspiration for the store’s decor. Close to the train station, Valley Road, Bellevue Theater, and Anderson Park, we couldn’t have designed a better spot for a store that invites individuals to come in and taste the flavors of the world. We always wanted the store to be an extension of our home, from the bench out front, to the dining room table as the centerpiece, complete with a toy chest for kids–we wanted you to feel comfortable here, an invited guest. In addition to that, we wanted Olive That and More to be a place where you might want to gather with friends and share stories that you would share over good food….travels, recipes, health, history.
Happy almost Valentine’s Day Why I Love Montclair followers! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a perfect day for sharing love. I think about my love for this community all the time. I think about how fortunate we are to have this place and this community. I think about how many other blogs there are about this area and how I love reading them. I think about how lucky I am when I’m getting coffee at Montclair Bread and run into someone I know, or when I see an amazing film at the Montclair Film Festival, then walk to Pig and Prince for excellent food, drinks, and ambiance. I could go on and on, but that’s what this blog is for. Each post will feature something I love from a Montclair Neighborhood. Each post will include a description of the neighborhood in the title. There will also be at least one photo or video to accompany every post. I really hope this can be a place for people who don’t live here to see and feel our town, for those who do live here to embrace it, and for those who once lived here to become nostalgic for it. I know those are some big goals. I hope to eventually build separate categories for each neighborhood to really get a feel for the town and all of it’s parts. When you have a town that is so special with such a sense of community, it’s difficult to summarize what it’s all about it in one word, so I asked some citizens of Montclair (on a town social media page) to describe what they love about our town in one word. Here are some of the responses. Thank you so much for all who contributed. I was truly blown away by the number of amazing comments (165 and counting)!
Here is what Montclair residents said they love about Montclair:
“spectrum, urban, community, food, restaurants, location, art, people, eclectic, bikeable, walkable, village, visually appealing, open-minded, welcoming, commute, diverse, parks, beautiful, kid-friendly, possibilities, home, liveliness, Victorians, history, memories, Eagle Rock Reservation, EVOO, culture, swagger, pride, real, cosmopolitan, friendly, dynamic, shopping, energetic, hip, cool, sidewalks, smart, accepting, substance, artsy, intelligent, quaint, friends, classy, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (this was one of my favorites), activities, Mommies, integrity, voice, enlightening, entertaining, variety, creative, family, pleasant, architecture, Je-ne-sais-quoi, trees, amusing, soul, inclusive, developing, depth, possibilities, collaborative, optimism”
– 165 Citizens of Montclair
I leave you with some LOVEly Montclair storefronts.