My First...

There is something special about a 'first'... your first date, a first kiss, a babies first steps. All an occasion for joy and celebration. As agents, we are lucky enough to be a part of a huge 'first' for several of our clients.. their first home! 

Each month we will sit down with someone near and dear to chat about a few of their 'firsts'. First up, Erica Baker, one of our own agents here in the Root office. 

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What is your first memory of 'home' as a kid? 

I remember the day that my baby brother came home from the hospital. We had just moved out of base housing into a home in Riverside. I was four years old... all the sudden I had a new room, then all of the sudden there was a crib in it. But the moment he came home, I was hooked. My parents would let me sleep in the crib with him.


When was your first time moving out of your parent's home? 

I was 21, and a girlfriend and I found a rental literally one street over from my parent's house. It was a cute little two bedroom, one bathroom in Riverside - we would hit up yard sales and resale shops to decorate it. We had a lot of fun making it our own. 

When was your first big trip away from home? 

When I was 17 I went to California and spent a week in LA with a group of friends. We did all of the typical and quintessential tourist stuff. It was great, but what I realized was that I tend to get homesick when I am not around things or people that are familiar. I wasn't necessarily homesick for a place, but homesick for that feeling of comfort and belonging. I've traveled countless times since that first trip, and it really depends on who I am with and the energy we have together, whether or not I get homesick.

What is your dream First Home? 

I would have a hard time picking between Riverside or a place at the Beach! I know I would never want a lot of land, just a small yard for the dog. Pretty much anything by Joanna Gains, honestly, would be a dream come true.

Thanks for sharing a few of your firsts, Erica! 

Summer time, and the home buying is easy

Summer is here!  Sunshine, the beach, and frosé may come to mind, but did you also know that this is the busiest season in real estate?  Here are a few tips to help our summertime (and anytime) home buyers:


Tip: Get excited! This process can be stressful and hard at times, but at the end of it you are a HOMEOWNER.

After you do your happy dance, it’s best to find a realtor and commit to them. Your agent will take time to learn what you are looking for and dedicate their time exclusively to your wants and needs, so it’s essential to have a working relationship with someone who understands what you are looking for, as well as the market.  

Tip: Talk to a lender.  

Not sure who to contact?  We have recommendations for you!  We’ve worked with many a lender and have narrowed down the best + brightest to share with you.  Once you find the best fit, it’s time to get pre-approved.

Tip: Be an educated buyer.

The web can be a good resource, but your greatest resource is your agent.  We use MLS for accurate information about listings and have experience to help guide you through this process.  Please use the internet to learn everything you can (the more you know!), but please rely on + trust in your agent’s expertise.

Tip: Get a home inspection.

We can’t stress this enough.  Once you go under contract, get an inspection by a licensed home inspector (we have recs for those too).  This is likely to be your biggest investment, so you need to know what you are buying!

Tip: Get home insurance.

Shop around to find the insurance company that fits your needs.  Your lender will require this plus it’s beneficial to you to protect your home. And are you surprised to hear that we have recs here as well?  

The Root Path to Home Ownership

The Root Path to Home Ownership

Client Spotlight: Lori and Warren's Mid-Century Modern Bungalow

Lori and Warren purchased their home in Jacksonville last year and and have carefully curated a beautiful space of mid-century modern design. They kindly let us take a look and shared a bit about the individual pieces, upcoming projects, and their neighborhood. 

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What drew you to mid-century design?
We became interested in mid-century design when we purchased our first home in St Petersburg.  The house is very small and we had to make the most of our space.  Before we purchased the house, we really didn't have a style, just a lot of our old furniture from our single days.  This was our first chance to combine our styles and get items that we picked out together.  Mid-century fits well in a small space and we really fell in love with the clean lines and bright colors.    

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Which is your favorite room in your house? 
The living room is our favorite room.  We spend the most time there and it feels very bright and happy.  It is also a very comfortable space for us to spend time with our dog.   

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You have done a fantastic job of curating every piece in your home. Which are your favorite items? How did you acquire them? 
The teak china cabinet from my grandmother is the most special piece to me.  It is filled with memories from my childhood as it was in her home, in the same spot until she passed.  I suppose that very piece might have been what drew me to mid-century from the beginning.  It's such a classic MCM piece and I'm lucky to have so many memories attached to it.  The dining room table is also one of our favorite pieces.  It is a double drop leaf table with 8 legs, very unique.  Again, it has the very classic MCM style that we love.  My grandmother owned and operated a thrift store for years and continued to operate it until she became sick in early October last year.  She was 91 and still opened the store almost every day and dining table came from her store. The bottoms of the dining chairs have the furniture store name, a date of 1961 and a price of $45 per chair in pencil, cursive writing.  All we had to do was give the table a good cleaning and reupholster the seats.  

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What will your next home project be?
We are very excited to create a living space in the back yard.  We have a good size yard that really gives us a blank slate to work from.  We know that we want an outdoor dining area and a fire pit but not sure what else yet.  

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What do you appreciate most about you’re your neighborhood, Glynlea? 
The neighbors are the absolute best part of this area.  Most have lived here for 20+ years and were so welcoming from day one.  It is a very safe, clean and friendly community.

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Where is your favorite place to spend time in Jacksonville?
We have only lived in the area for a little over a year now so we still enjoy exploring Jacksonville.  So far, we really like San Marco and Riverside as it reminds us a little bit of St Petersburg.  We are big on breakfast dates and love Metro Diner and Beach Diner but our favorite dinner spot so far is Black Sheep.  

Thank you Lori and Warren for opening your home to us!

-Heather De Laurentis

Murrary Hill Gem

Murray Hill has recently taken off as one of the hottest neighborhoods in Jacksonville! Over the past couple of years, amazing restaurants, successful small businesses, and newly renovated homes have brought historic Murray Hill into the spotlight. One family-owned business, Faith Jewelers, has called Murray Hill home for over a decade, and paved the way for local entrepreneurs in this unique area.

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I met with John Strickland, manager of Faith Jewelers, to learn more about the jewelry store and his family!

How did you decide to get into that business?
I’m not sure that there was a conscious decision on my part to become a jeweler. I’ve been around the jewelry business for most of my life! When I was a kid, my mom worked at her best friend’s jewelry store in downtown Jacksonville. I would go there after school and clean and polish jewelry for customers.  Years ago, just after her friend passed away, Mom decided to open her own jewelry store in Murray Hill. So I’ve been here in some capacity since the beginning, except for the time that I was a student at Florida State.

When did your business first open?
Mom opened Faith Jewelers on November 2, 2004. It’s easy for me to remember because November 2nd is election day. We’ve been here for almost 13 years now.

Is there a story behind the name of your business?
8 out of 10 small businesses fail within their first year, so opening any business can be a risky endeavor. That’s especially true when opening a fine jewelry store, because it costs so much money to stock the merchandise that people expect—gold chains, diamond engagement rings, birthstone jewelry, etc. My grandfather put the idea in my mother’s head about starting the business, but she was scared to death about finding the capital to open. My family isn’t rich, and at the time my dad (who was a K9 officer for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office) was the only source of income for our family. She put a lot of thought and prayer into the decision, and in the end, she decided to “step out on faith” and open the store. They mortgaged the house, and trusted the Lord, and that’s why she named it Faith Jewelers.

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Gwen and JR Strickland- Owners of Faith Jewelers

What is a fun fact about your business?
We are masters of affordable customization. Speaking as a millennial, millennials LOVE having custom jewelry made, because we are all very special snowflakes, and each of us is unique among other snowflakes. So when it comes to a jewelry item that you wear every day—like an engagement ring—you really want it to speak to your own personal style.

The problem with custom design is that it’s typically very expensive, because you’re paying a person to design the jewelry item, then carve a wax model of it, then use the wax model to cast the jewelry item in gold or silver, and then they have to set all of the stones into it by hand—diamonds or whatever gemstones you choose.

We can do that the old-fashioned way, but my favorite thing is customization rather than custom. One of my favorite lines that we carry—Ever & Ever—allows us to take a ring that you like, and change the design online in real time (set different shapes, sizes or colors of stones, add or takeaway design components like halos and filigree, change the finish, you name it…) to make an end product that you absolutely love. The difference in cost is pretty remarkable, too. About $600-$1000 to the customer for a setting that would otherwise cost thousands.

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A handful of the incredible custom diamond rings Faith Jewelers has made

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?
Jewelry is special. If you think about many of the important moments in your life, jewelry is often involved. An engagement ring is probably the most ubiquitous example, but there are others: a mother’s ring or pendant for your wife after the birth of a child, a strand of pearls or a watch for someone who is about to graduate from school, or handing down a special heirloom when a loved one passes away. I think what is most rewarding is that I’m always getting to meet new customers, and they often wind up being friends because I catch them right before or right after some of their more meaningful milestones. It’s a special bond. I’m reminded of a customer that I had at the beginning of the year. It was a 94 year old woman who brought in an inexpensive Star of David pendant in sterling silver, that was set with marcasite stones. Her grandmother wore it when she came to America from Austria to flee the Holocaust. It had already been passed through three generations of women in the family, and she wound up giving it to her granddaughter that weekend when she turned 18.


John showing me the process of buffing, polishing, and rhodium-plating my rings!

What is your favorite local Jax restaurant?
Oh that’s a tough one. Can I pick two? I love the pork chop at Orsay, but the chicken and waffles at Moxie is pretty life changing, too. Okay, three. M Shack.

What is your favorite thing to do on a sunny Saturday?
Well, the jewelry store is open on Saturdays, so my weekend starts on Sunday. I usually roll out of bed, go to church, go eat somewhere, take a nap, wake up got to the Y (maybe), then head to the Dreamette for a birthday cake-dipped ice cream cone. And then it’s Netflix. Right now I’m watching Stranger Things.

What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy Saturday?
I’m kind of a nerd, so I usually like sitting on the front porch with a good book. 

How long have you lived in Jax?
Pretty much my whole life. I went to FSU, so except for the few years that I lived in Tallahassee, and my first job after college in Charlotte, NC, Jacksonville has always been home.

What part of town do you live in?
Not quite Riverside, not quite Ortega. I think the official name is “Fairfax Manor?”

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I am treated like family every time I walk into Faith Jewelers! The warm smiles, customization, and attention to detail make this gem of a store stand out. Be sure to stop by and say hi next time you’re in Murray Hill!


Faith Jewelers – 1165 S. Edgewood Ave. Jacksonville, FL 32205 – (904) 388-3340