Home Design Trends Taking Bethlehem by Storm

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 4, 2017


We are loving some of the classic, yet modern, home designs that the Tuskes Homes design team and homeowners have been bringing to the table in Bethlehem recently. If you’re thinking about investing in a new home, or simply looking to upgrade your current home’s style, check out a few of these trends that have caught our eyes.


This yoga loft in our Hanover Oaks model home is looking good!


    1. Add a touch of tranquility with a yoga loft. If you have an extra bedroom or other space you’re not using, take a few easy steps to transform it into a serene room for yoga. Just add a yoga mat, a speaker for some peaceful music, and set up a small table for your favorite scented candles or aromatherapy. For a little extra décor, visit some of the shops in Historic Downtown Bethlehem and look for antiques, sculptures, or wall art to add to your personal sanctuary.

We can’t get enough of these Saratoga Farms homeowners’ gorgeous black and white design concept for their new home.


2. Keep it simple with classic black and white. Having trouble deciding on a color scheme for your new home? Black and white is a classic combination that never goes out of style. Plus, if you decide to add colorful decorations later on, it’ll be easy to find something to go with this neutral color scheme.

Brightly colored shutters add a unique touch to this home in Bethlehem’s Maple Shade community.


3. Give your shutters a pop of color. Bethlehem is a colorful city, so to give your home an equally vibrant personality, consider opting for colorful accents. Bright reds or blues look amazing against more a more neutral background. Choosing unique shutters is a great way to add some character to your new home!

Add a few rocking chairs and you can sit and admire this stylish blue door all day long!


4. Or, pick a colorful front door. One popular trend in Bethlehem right now is a pop of color on the front door. Choose a shade that stands out from the rest of your home and expresses your personality, rather than a color that matches your shutters. A colorful front door will make your home’s exterior as individual as you are, and your new home will feel uniquely yours!

These homeowners in Hanover Oaks added incredible landscape lighting to their home’s exterior.


5. Light up your landscape. You’ve worked hard for the home of your dreams, so why not show it off day and night? Add some lighting around the outside of your home to highlight the landscaping and facade even after the sun goes down. Not only does the extra lighting look fantastic, but it’ll also make pulling into your driveway late at night much easier and safer.

This two-story stone fireplaces adds a rustic, warm charm to this Maple Shade home.


6. Add a stone fireplace for a rustic, chic flair. Everyone loves to curl up by the fire on a cold winter’s night, and Bethlehem certainly has its fair share of those. Give your fireplace a bit of style with a stone surround. Mount your television above the hearth, or simply place candles or vases on top of the mantle. Stone fireplaces look especially beautiful extending to the ceiling of a two-story great room.

This farmhouse sink is the perfect combination of functionality and style.


7. Upgrade your kitchen with a new sink/faucet combo. Especially trendy in Bethlehem right now are farmhouse sinks, which feature a deep basin with an apron front, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. When paired with a modern, classy chrome or stainless steel faucet, this is a kitchen design choice you’re sure to love. Add some under-cabinet lighting to accentuate your beautiful new sink!

Pendant lights complement the spectacular island in this open-concept kitchen.
8. Bring in some elegant pendant lighting. Bethlehem homeowners love putting pendant lights above the kitchen island in their homes. Not only does it add some sophisticated style, but it makes your kitchen warm and welcoming, perfect for entertaining–and we know Bethlehem likes to entertain! From modern to rustic, there are endless styles and several beautiful metallic finishes from which to choose.

Choosing the Right School District – Before Your Move.

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 3, 2017

Finding the right home in the right neighborhood is always a challenge for a homebuyer. Parents with school-age children have even more to consider when it comes to picking “Location! Location! Location!”

When you’re moving within your own region, you already have knowledge of the school district’s reputation. If you’re moving farther, you need to take the time to consider various factors when choosing a school. Here are some questions to ask yourself and the schools.

  1. What type of learning environment is best for my child? No one knows your child better than you. Determine whether she will thrive in a small or large classroom, needs a particular type of curriculum (structured versus non-structured, liberal arts, faith-based), or would benefit from a school that offers bilingual education.
  2. Does the town support the school? The town’s annual report will show how much of the tax dollars are spent on education. Look at the spending per pupil to determine how deeply the town is committed to education. A properly funded school will have up-to-date computers and technology, a library of diverse resources, proper sporting equipment, and a well-maintained campus.
  3. What services are offered? A school that employs a full complement of staffing—including on-site nurse, resource officer, librarian, and guidance counselors—is better equipped to provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment.
  4. What extra-curricular programs are available? The classroom is just one part of the overall education experience. Extra-curricular programs, like clubs and sports teams, provide valuable learning for young people. If your child is an avid lacrosse player, for example, and the school you’re considering doesn’t have a team, then you might want to look elsewhere for the right school.
  5. Does the district offer school choice? Having the ability to choose from more than one school for your child is a benefit. Some districts have a lottery where a certain number of students can attend a different school that better suits their needs. If you have a child who is musically inclined, the possibility of enrolling him in a magnet school for the performing arts may be just what you want.
  6. How does this school’s rating compare locally, regionally, and nationally? Visit to view a detailed report on the schools in the area you’re considering, including parent reviews. Keep in mind that all schools whether they are rated highly or not as a whole often have tracks for either highly skilled students or those that have special needs that are excellent. Don’t let a single score scare you from making the best choice for your children.

Once you have done all of this advance research, you can take the extra step and schedule a tour of each school to see and sense the environment for yourself.

How to improve indoor air quality in your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 27, 2017

You might think that the air outside is harmful, but did you know that your indoor air is often more polluted? Pollutants are brought in—through vents and windows, in cleaners and air fresheners, and on clothing—and can stick around when there’s no place for them to go. The chemicals found on new carpet and furniture and a fresh coat of paint on the walls contribute to indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde is used in a wide range of products, from pressed boards to drapery fabric. Any area with standing water—like a leak under a sink or a damp basement—creates an environment for mold and mildew to grow.

Children, elderly, or people with asthma are particularly sensitive to allergens and pollutants. Make the air safer to breathe. Here’s how to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

  1. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter, rotating brushes, and strong suction to get rid of pollen, dust mites, pet dander, lead, and even toxins like fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs). At least twice a week, vacuum the floors—including edges—baseboard, trim around doors and windows, upholstery, and walls. Clean the HEPA filter frequently.
  2. Mop after vacuuming. It sounds like double-duty, but a good mop can pick up a lot of dirt and dust that your vacuum misses. Dampen the mop with water only—not cleaners.
  3. Put a mat at every entry. Wherever people are coming into your home, be sure you have a sturdy floor mat to catch some of the dirt and pollutants on their shoes.
  4. Leave shoes at the door. Leave a place by the door for people to take off their shoes, so you can minimize anything they could track into your home.
  5. Manage the humidity. Mold, bacteria, and dust mites thrive in a moist environment. Use a dehumidifier to remove dampness from the air, and empty the drip pan frequently. You can also reduce humidity by running the exhaust fan in the kitchen when you’re cooking, and in the bathroom during and after each shower. Vent your dryer to the outside, fix plumbing leaks, and avoid giving your indoor plants too much water. Aim for a humidity level below 50% in your home.
  6. Avoid artificial fragrances. Everything from air fresheners to launder detergent and household cleaners includes synthetic fragrances that emit chemicals and gasses into the air. Instead of air fresheners, use sliced lemons and baking soda to add a pleasant scent to the air.
  7. Bring in purifying houseplants. Certain plants actually remove indoor air pollutants, like formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Bring in aloe vera, azalea, Boston fern, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, English ivy, ficus (weeping fig), Gerbera daisy, heart leaf philodendron, mother-in-law’s tongue (also known as snake plant), peace lily, rubber plant, and a spider plant. If you have children or pets, check to make sure the plant is safe for them.
  8. Open your windows. Welcome fresh air into your home and let the bad air out. When weather permits, open your windows for at least 20 minutes a day.

Earth, Wind & Sun – Which Direction Should Your New Home Face?

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 20, 2017

Once you’ve decided to build on your lot, it’s time to decide how to position your home on the property. Siting is critical to making the most of the homesite’s positive features. Factor in these considerations when siting your home.


A lot that faces north-to-south in relation to the street enables you to site your home facing the road and capture the desirable southern light. If your home will be located in a region of warm climates, you might prefer more windows on the north side, to avoid too much heat from the sun.

With an east-west facing lot, you’ll position your home to get the more abundant southern light. With the front of your home not facing the street, you’ll have some choices to make about the entry.

By carefully planning the window placement, you can harness the sunlight to conserve energy.


What type of earth will you be excavating? The difference between solid rock and sandy soil (and everything in the middle) will affect your bottom line for excavation, foundation, and drainage. The type of soil can vary from neighboring homesites, and even within your own property lines. Even an experienced builder can unearth surprises when the excavation begins, so keep this in mind when estimating your construction budget.


Is your homesite flat or sloped? Property with an incline is beneficial if you plan on including a walk-out basement, but it comes with a cost, depending on the steepness of the slope. When you site a home on a slope, you will need to determine how the drainage will be engineered. Pumping sewage and drainage uphill is more costly than the other direction; however, if you live in an area with heavy rains, you don’t want the water rushing to your basement.


How does the wind impact your property? Where does it hit with the most strength? Winter winds normally come from the north. Position your home to avoid the strongest gusts—particularly with relation to outdoor living spaces and structures—and plan to add trees and tall hedges as windbreakers.

Your architect and engineer work with you to achieve energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, and curb appeal.

5 Outdoor kitchen trends for 2017

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 13, 2017

Outdoor living spaces have evolved dramatically in the past decade. The backyard grill has transformed to an outdoor kitchen, complete with everything you need to prepare, serve, and clean up after full-course meals.

Thinking of updating your al fresco culinary space? Here are the latest outdoor kitchen trends for 2017.

Expand the function. A kitchen requires more than a grill and a prep area. This year, homeowners are adding refrigerators, ice makers, sinks, dishwashers, side burners, smokers, and pizza ovens, so they can handle all the kitchen tasks outdoors, and avoid running in and out of the house. They’re installing more elaborate cabinetry for the added storage they need in the expanded outdoor kitchen (powder-coated metal cabinets offer style with durability). They’re adding or upgrading countertops, with materials like granite, soapstone, concrete, and stainless steel. Quartz, although a popular choice for the indoor kitchen, doesn’t stand up to direct sunlight.

Hatch an egg. The Kamado-style grill—like the Big Green Egg—has caught on in recent years, but the concept has been in use for thousands of years. These versatile ceramic grills can be used as a smoker, grill, and even a pizza oven. The design enables a broad range of cooking temperatures, from low (for smoking) all the way up to 800°.

Entertainment is a bigger priority than ever. You’ll be spending more time in your upgraded space, so your outdoor kitchen might include a separate bar or drink station, a large-screen television, wine cooler, and keg.

Fan the flames. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit add form and function to your outdoor living space. Cook over the open flame. Cozy up by the crackling fire. Mount your outdoor TV above the fireplace mantle. What better place to enjoy football games in the fall?

Chandeliers have stepped outside. While you’re installing or expanding the electrical wiring in your outdoor living space, now is a great time to change your exterior lighting. Chandeliers have found their way outdoors, and enhance the aesthetics.

Most commonly overlooked home maintenance chores

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 6, 2017

Owning a home comes with lots of responsibilities. In addition to paying the bills, you also need to keep up with the upkeep. There are some basic, routine maintenance chores that will increase your peace of mind while also decreasing the repair bills that come with neglect.

Here are the most commonly overlooked home maintenance chores.


Gutters. Dirt and debris builds up in your gutters and prohibits the flow of rain and melted snow. If the water backs up, it can cause damage to your home. Clean your gutters in both the spring and the fall.

Exterior dryer vent. You might remember to clean the dryer’s lint trap after every load, but don’t forget that lint is also collecting in the exterior vent. A clogged dryer vent is a fire hazard. Have your exterior vent checked and cleaned once a year, or when you notice that your laundry isn’t drying properly.

Refrigerator coils. Dust collects on the coils on the back of your refrigerator, reducing the appliance’s efficiency. Twice a year, summon up your courage and go where very few people ever venture.


Curled or damaged roof shingles. Twice a year, inspect your roof as a proactive measure. Replace any shingles that aren’t in stellar condition, because ignoring this task could lead to leaks.

HVAC filters. A dirty filter makes your air conditioner and furnace work harder, which not only boosts your energy bill but reduces the air quality and the life of your HVAC system. Replace the air filtert monthly.



Water heaters. Sediment—sand, grit, and other minerals that haven’t dissolved into your water—collect at the bottom of your water heater. By flushing the water heater once a year, you enable your system to function at its best.

Outdoor faucets. Water expands when it freezes, and this ice can lead to burst pipes. Before the cold winter arrives, turn off the shut-off valve and drain any water remaining in the line.


Water pressure. Excess water pressure can burst hoses (e.g., washing machine). Low water pressure causes that rush of cold water in the shower when someone flushes a toilet. Use a simple pressure gauge to check your water pressure once or twice a year, or when you’re experiencing water flow issues.

Invest a little time in your home to keep everything working safely and efficiently. After all, you’ve invested so much in it already.

Best plants for container gardens

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 29, 2017

Container gardens provide a great way to add natural color wherever you want it. Perk up your curb appeal by placing colorful container gardens by your front door, along the walkway, or around the yard. Dress up your outdoor living spaces. Add a dash of seasonal color.

The container can be anything that will hold soil and plants, and provide sufficient drainage. From a ceramic pot to a watering can, birdbath, wheelbarrow, and even an old chair, you can get creative with your container garden ideas.

Now, what do you plant in it?

For a pleasing blend of colorful blooms and foliage fillers, here are ideas for the best plants for container gardens.

Begonias are hardy plants that produce colorful blooms, and require only partial sun without much watering.

Coleus is a favorite among gardeners because of the wide variety of colorful foliage. Depending on your choice, it can range from drought-tolerant to needing shade.

Osteospermum is also known as a “Cape Daisy”, and it does indeed look like a daisy. You can choose from a spectrum of bloom colors, from white and pale yellow to vibrant orange, pink, and purple.

Pansies and violas produce perky splashes of color and they will continue to bloom into the fall.

Pentas—aka “Egyptian star flowers”—are a great addition to a container garden. Pentas don’t require much care, other than the occasional feeding and good drainage, and the tiny flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Petunias thrive in containers, from hanging baskets to pots. They beautifully cascade down the side of the container. Their big blooms do well with sunshine as long as they can escape to a little afternoon shade.

Verbena produces dense clusters of flowers throughout the summer and into the early fall. This annual doesn’t require a lot of water.

Yucca has long, sword-like leaves that add height and interest to your garden. The plant welcomes sunlight, and this perennial has a long life.

Flowering vines, like the moon flower, morning glory, and passion flower are a natural choice for a container garden because they add color, volume, and shape.

If you want to attract butterflies, plant cosmos, bachelor’s buttons, and dahlias.

No matter what you plant in your container garden, start with good soil and drainage. If necessary, add more drainage holes to ensure the soil doesn’t stay so wet that it leads to root rot. Blend in fertilizer and feed your garden regularly. Also, be sure your plant choices can thrive with the amount of sun and shade you’ll be offering them.

Fireworks and Festivities to Light Up Your Independence Day

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 28, 2017


Looking for somewhere to celebrate Independence Day this year? Your neighbors at Tuskes Homes have a few local favorites we’d like to share with you. Whether you’re in the Lehigh Valley or Northeastern PA, there are plenty of fireworks and festivities nearby that are perfect for celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends.


For those celebrating in the Lehigh Valley…

Allentown Independence Day Celebration and Street Festival  This annual festival is a local tradition, offering live music, delicious food, carnival rides, a petting zoo, and, of course, a stunning fireworks show. Held on July 1st in the J. Birney Crum Stadium and along Linden Street in Allentown, this unique celebration will offer fun for the whole family, and admission is free!

SteelStacks Independence Day Celebration  Another Lehigh Valley favorite, SteelStacks in Bethlehem will be hosting a spectacular celebration from July 1st-4th. This event offers three days of music and patriotic programming, plus backyard games and a pie-eating contest! On July 4th, enjoy a free concert by the Allentown Band, along with a breathtaking fireworks show.

“Fourth on the Field” at Coca-Cola Park  Coca-Cola Park’s fourth annual “Fourth on the Field” Independence Day event will feature a massive fireworks show—three times larger than the park’s post-game fireworks displays! Visit the home of the IronPigs, and enjoy patriotic live music, family fun, appearances by all of the IronPigs mascots, and tasty food options from the park and local food trucks.

Heritage Day in Easton  This popular festival celebrates Easton’s role in the founding of the United States in 1776! Heritage Day features historic reenactors, musical performances, and a beautiful fireworks display over the Forks of the Delaware River. There will be plenty of activities for kids, including pony rides, face painting, and puppet performances. Watch history come to life this Independence Day with Heritage Day on Saturday, July 9th!


For those celebrating in Northeastern PA…

Wilkes-Barre’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration  This famous celebration is a Luzerne County favorite, drawing a crowd of hundreds each year. With live music, amusement rides, and food and craft vendors, this event offers fun for all ages. The festivities will conclude with a performance by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and a magnificent fireworks display over the Susquehanna River.

Broad Street Pocket Park Fireworks and Viewing Party On July 3rd, head over to downtown Hazleton’s Pocket Park at the corner of Broad Street and Laurel Street for an Independence Day party! Enjoy a live music performance by Northeast PA’s own Kartune, plus food and drinks from local vendors. Children can also take a look inside a new police car, firetruck, and snowplow. At the end of the night, you’ll have a perfect view of the city’s exciting fireworks display.

Pergola particulars: How to pick yours perfectly

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 22, 2017

A pergola creates an outdoor room without walls, the perfect addition for the back yard. The feature—constructed of pillars, beams, and cross-beams—can provide a cozy oasis or a place to host your outdoor party. Before you start building your pergola (or having a professional builder do it for you), consider the pergola particulars, so you know how to pick yours perfectly.

How will you use it?

Will your pergola be a garden feature, something to add vertical interest with trailing vines along the beams and pillars? Are you thinking about this space as a peaceful oasis where you can escape with a good book, a cup of coffee, or just your thoughts? Or will your pergola be entertainment central, with an outdoor kitchen, furniture, and lighting? Determine how you need your backyard pergola to “perform”. This will help you determine the size and other features.

What style do you like?

Pergola design ranges from rustic to traditional to contemporary. Decide on the style that suits you. An arched pergola is ideal for a garden feature, where the flowers and vines grow along the curves in a naturally-looking way. Choosing straight lines gives a clean style that can be adapted to your taste by choosing the wood type and stain you like, or opting for maintenance-free vinyl in white or black.

How much shelter do you want?

A pergola is an open space, but if you’re leaning toward more shade or shelter, you have options. Install roof cladding for the most protection from the elements, or acrylic panels to keep out the rain. A pergola canopy or shade cloth adds color and the soft draping of fabric. You can also construct your pergola with the beams placed more closely together, which can provide a surprising amount of shade.

Do you need lighting?

Picture your pergola lit up at night, a place to enjoy stargazing or extend your entertainment into the evening hours. Solar lighting will offer soft illumination, or you can hire an electrician to wire your pergola for lighting and other electrical uses.

How big should your pergola be?

Size is relative. A pergola should be sized to scale with other outdoor structures. If you’re placing it near your pool, make sure that the pergola isn’t dwarfed by the size of the pool, and vice versa. Consider future uses for your pergola. If you plan to eventually add an outdoor kitchen, build a pergola that will grow with your vision.

The Best Local Places to Celebrate with Dad this Father’s Day

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 15, 2017


Looking to start a new tradition with Dad this Father’s Day? We at Team Tuskes know just how special this day can be. To celebrate, we put together some of our favorite Father’s Day traditions—both old and new, across the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern PA!

If you’re in the Lehigh Valley…

IronPigs Baseball: Take Dad out to the ballgame!

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs will be playing at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Enjoy the stadium’s tasty (and dad-friendly) ballpark snacks, like roasted corn from Aw Shucks, or pizza and other favorites from Pig Stop. To really show Dad he’s super, celebrate at “Superhero Night” on Saturday, and enjoy a special fireworks show at the end of the game. If you’re bringing Dad to the park on Sunday, don’t forget your baseball mitt—the field will be open to the public for fans to play catch after the game, just for Father’s Day.




Lehigh Valley Zoo: Explore your wild side!

Dads are sure to have a wild time at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, located in Schnecksville, where they’ll receive half-price admission this weekend! The zoo will be full of fun Father’s Day activities, like animal-themed craft stations where kids can make gifts for Dad. Enjoy the zoo’s Wonders of Wildlife shows, where you’ll get up close and personal with some of your favorite wild animals, and bond with Dad while interacting with animals from across the globe.




SteelStacks Grand Prix: Start your engines!

Race down to Bethlehem this Father’s Day for the first-ever SteelStacks Grand Prix! The Lehigh Valley Grand Prix and SteelStacks have teamed up to plan an action-packed afternoon of fast-paced go-kart racing and exciting family activities, perfect for Father’s Day. Racing teams, sponsored by local businesses, will zip down a half-mile track at up to 40 miles per hour. Spectators can watch from the grandstands and cheer on their favorite teams, free of charge. Then, check out the car show presented by Chevy 21, enjoy a snack from one of the event’s many food vendors, or compete in a virtual go-kart race in the Mario Kart Tourney at the ArtsQuest Center. The action kicks off at noon!




If you’re in Northeastern PA…

Sand Springs Golf Course: Hit the green!

There’s no better tradition than a round of golf on Father’s Day. Luckily, our Sand Springs community in Drums, PA is tailor-made for a perfect day with Dad! In addition to our homes, Sand Springs has an 18-hole championship golf course and a wonderful restaurant, bar, and grill. To celebrate Father’s Day, Sand Springs is offering 18 holes of golf with cart, a hot dog, and soda for just $32. Or, make a reservation for the Father’s Day FEAST—a buffet on the patio serving all of Dad’s favorites. For more information regarding tee times and buffet reservations, call 570-788-5845 today!



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