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St Augustine

More than 2 million visitors make their way to St. Augustine every year, and many are drawn to the city by its long, fascinating history. The city is home to unique historic architecture, the legendary Castillo de San Marcos fort, and outstanding museums, all of which have earned the area a place on the top 10 US cities for history buffs in a recent ranking. Our real estate agents have more details on why St. Augustine is such an amazing destination for history buffs.

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Florida Retiree

Florida has become one of the most popular places for people to retire. This state has a lot to offer to people of all ages, but retirees, in particular, enjoy the year-round warm weather and planned communities. Our real estate agents have helped many clients find their dream home in Florida. Here are some tips and tricks they've picked up along the way. 

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sunflower fields

Florida is known for its beaches, but the state has plenty of inland delights as well. Our real estate agents love the breathtaking sunflower fields that are conveniently located close by in every direction.

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By now, most of you have heard of shiplap and you may even ascribe Joanna Gaines from HGTV's Fixer Upper as its discoverer, however the concept of shiplap goes back way farther than the modern-day farmhouse aficionado. Like, at least 1,700 years – around the time of the Vikings! 


SHIPlap derived its name from… well – ships. An ancient boat unearthed in northern Europe more than a century ago is the earliest example of clinker construction that used overlapping wood planks called lapstrakes – shiplap's precursor – to create a watertight seal. The boat was the Nydam ship from Denmark, a 24-meter-long rowboat with 15 sets of oars that was built c. 350-400 CE, around the time that Constantine was Roman emperor. 


In the centuries that followed, the practice of overlapping wood planks to eliminate moisture evolved and shiplap was born, eventually making its way from boats to exterior siding for barns and sheds and subsequently found its way indoors. A non-decorative element as it was never intended to be exposed, it was placed over a home's framing to create a smooth backing for wallpaper and other wall coverings. The rough-sawn boards were first covered with cheesecloth or muslin to hide the seams and give the wallpaper grip on which to adhere.  


Fast-forward to the year 2013 when Gaines exposed shiplap during Fixer Upper's inaugural season where she told her clients that she could limit renovation costs by painting the shiplap instead of covering it with drywall. With that, a modern-day farmhouse aesthetic was launched, and she became known as the "Queen of Shiplap" as she used it in subsequent episodes. People who owned houses without it raced to their nearest home improvement stores to buy it in bulk and created accent walls, headboards, fireplace surrounds – people even installed it on their ceilings! 


In interior design, shiplap – also known as nickel board – is customarily painted white and mounted horizontally, but it can be painted any color and mounted vertically, as well. When placed horizontally, shiplap makes a room feel larger and when it's installed vertically, the space grows taller. These visual tricks are one of the reasons why designers and homeowners love it, but its true defining characteristic are its rabbets: step-shaped recess cuts in the edge of the board that, when met with the next board, create a "shadow-effect," providing a stunning touch.  


But to many, shiplap evokes a coastal vibe which will remain timeless for those of us who live near the beach and there's a reason for that: historically, it was used in seaside cottages to keep wind and water out of the house. Oh, and yes – it was used on boats!   


So, enough of the history lesson, read on for tips and ideas on how to install your very own shiplap feature wall! 


First: Pick Your Feature Wall 

The wall you choose to highlight should ideally be the space to which your eye is first drawn when you enter a room. Walls with fireplaces or existing design features like mantelpieces also work well. In the living room you might choose to highlight the wall behind the sofa; in the bedroom, the wall behind the bed. But once the shiplap is installed, avoid obscuring the wall with too much furniture as the aim of a feature wall is to guide the eye towards a room's best assets and design features without overwhelming or cluttering. 


Next: Measure Your Space 

You've no doubt heard the old adage: "Measure twice, cut once" and that applies here! Carefully measure your wall's height and width in order to figure out how much shiplap you need. There are shiplap coverage calculators online which will make this step a no-brainer and a good rule of thumb is to allow for human error by ordering an additional 10% more than you need. 


Note: You can purchase MDF shiplap that has an almost "perfect look" – straight lines, very smooth surface with no knots or wood grain, but for a more authentic feel, purchase reclaimed or new wood shiplap. There are even articles online that show folks using strips of plywood or standard pine boards in order to cut costs, placing a nickel in between to create slats, but for purposes of this article, we'll talk about wooden shiplap boards with pre-cut rabbets. 


Prepare the Space 

Once you have your shiplap, it's important to let it sit for 48 hours in the space where it'll be installed to allow the wood to acclimate to humidity and moisture. During this time, clean up and empty the area to give yourself ample working room, wipe down your walls and baseboards, and remove wall plates and outlet covers. Set up your "workstation" with saws, tools, etc. in a garage, side patio, or adjacent room where you're not afraid to make a mess. Lastly, and this is a personal preference, I recommend removing the baseboard as opposed to installing the shiplap above it. Remove it carefully so you may reinstall it once the shiplap is hung. 


Next, you'll want to make sure you have the proper tools and materials to install the shiplap. 


Tools and Materials: 

  • Wooden Shiplap Panels 
  • 2" 18 Ga. Straight Strip Brad Nails 
  • Pneumatic 18 Ga. Finish Nailer with Air Compressor 
  • Extension Cord 
  • Adhesive Glue (like Liquid Nails) 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Caulk 
  • Wood Putty 
  • Ladder 
  • Measuring Tape 
  • Hammer 
  • Stud Finder 
  • Pencil 
  • 48" Beam Level 
  • Vertical Chalk Line Marker (optional) 
  • Jig Saw 
  • Circular Saw or Chop Saw 
  • Table Saw (if you have one) 
  • Primer (if your boards are raw wood) 
  • Paint – color of your choice 


Mark the Studs  

Find the studs using a stud-finder and mark them on the wall with a pencil. Most studs are placed 16" to 24" apart. After you identify the studs, use your beam level with pencil or a chalk line to mark the studs vertically along the wall. This will be your guide to know where to nail the shiplap. 


Cut and Hang the Panels 

Measure each board and cut with a chop-saw or circular saw. Start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up as this will make it easier to ensure straight lines. Cut around electrical outlets and vents using a jigsaw. Run a bead of adhesive glue along the back of each board before you nail it in. Important: Nail at a slight angle into the rabbet (at the joint) and not directly into the face of the board and make sure your air-compressor is set at a level that you countersink your nails just under the surface of the rabbet.  


Each shiplap panel should securely fit into the last panel, making this easy to install. Continue to use your beam level to ensure you're keeping the boards level and even throughout the installation. 


When you get to the final board at the top, you'll more than likely need to run it through a table saw to rip the board to the width you need. If you don't own a table saw, use a circular saw or a jigsaw, very carefully. If the cut isn't perfectly even, that's okay as a nice bead of caulk will smooth out any imperfections and once you paint, you'll never notice.  


Finally, reinstall your baseboard trim (if you removed it), fill any nail-holes with wood putty, and caulk all seams. 


Prime and Paint 

If you bought pre-primed boards, go right ahead and paint, but if your boards are raw wood, you'll need to prime them first (unless you plan to keep the wood raw or stained). As noted above, shiplap is often painted white for a farmhouse aesthetic, but there are no rules. Be brave with your paint colors. If your room is already a neutral color, choose a strong contrasting shade to give the space instant drama and depth. A rich black shiplap wall in a room with lots of natural light and clean, airy colors would be a knockout… just sayin'. If your walls are already painted a bright hue, try a complementary color a few shades darker or lighter or simply leave the boards unpainted, stain or clear-coat them for rustic warmth or pair with metal to create an industrial vibe. Going coastal? Paint them a rich, navy blue! 


The best thing about this project is that the sky is the limit! Decorating is no longer about following rules. Be creative with your paint colors and remember to HAVE FUN 


It may be a perfect time if you are interested in purchasing a home this year.  Despite all the challenges in the market, it may surprise you to learn that there are ample opportunities to buy your dream home.  We can confidently tell our borrowers and clients that it is an excellent time to buy because Watson Mortgage Corp. has developed a collection of products to help people.  We work closely with Realty to understand how to serve our area and improve the buying process.  Let's take some time to break down a couple of massive mortgage product offerings and how they will help Floridians buy a home in 2022.



  1. Watson Cash AdvantEDGE – If you have attempted to buy a home with multiple offers and lost, we have a solution. Watson Cash AdvantEDGE allow borrowers to place their offer in cash.  This drastically increases your chances of getting your offer accepted when bidding on a home with multiple offers.  Sellers like cash offers because it provides confidence in the buyer and reduces possible contingencies required to close the loan.  If you would like more information, contact a Watson Representative to see how you could offer cash for your next home purchase.


  1. Hometown Heroes – In June 2022, Florida rolled out its Hometown Hero mortgage program to a select group of mortgage companies across the state. Watson believes that front-line workers deserve the opportunity to own a home, so when this program rolled out, we jumped at the chance to be involved.  Front-Line Workers may be eligible for down payment assistance and better market rates.  If you believe you work an occupation that qualifies, please CLICK HERE and contact and mortgage advisor.


  1. The Opportunity LoanThis loan program is entirely exclusive to Watson Mortgage Corp., which provides 100% financing and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to qualified borrowers interested in purchasing a home in a Majority Minority area (Identified by Census track data in certain counties in Tampa and Jacksonville). In addition to being 100% financed, borrowers may be eligible for down payment assistance. If you would like to learn more about which areas are eligible, and if you qualify, please do not hesitate to reach out.


Watson Mortgage and Realty want to invest in our borrowers and clients to help facilitate the dream of home ownership. These exclusive mortgage products are an excellent opportunity to begin your home buying journey.  We believe that everyone should be allowed an opportunity to buy a home.  Homeownership is the foundation of our neighborhoods, communities, and cities, and we are committed to investing in people so we can continue to grow together.


Hiking Trails

Florida's Space Coast is known for its beautiful views of the ocean and beaches. You can stop to admire water birds, mangrove trees, sea turtles, and various other creatures. One of the best ways to see the Space Coast is by hiking. Luckily, there is no shortage of hiking trails for every skill level. Here are a few of the top trails our real estate agents recommend exploring.

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Jacksonville is quickly becoming a popular destination for locals and tourists alike and it's easy to see why. "The River City" packs a lot of fun with an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, miles of sandy beaches, vibrant museums, a wide-spread artist's community, and glorious state parks – there's truly something for everyone!

Jacksonville also happens to be ideally located in terms of its proximity to the various neighboring gems, including everything from national seashore beaches populated by wild horses to ancient natural springs. There are so many different places to visit within a short drive, which makes day trips a marvelous idea in your staycation or weekend itinerary. You'll find that it's easier (and cheaper) than ever to enjoy Northern Florida's stunning attractions within the space of a day.

Here are eight great daytrip excursions: all you have to do is pick a day, pack a small bag, and go!

1. Blue Springs State Park

One of the most beautiful stretches of the St. John's River, the turquoise waters of Blue Springs State Park span an impressive 2600-acres of sparkling, tranquil landscape. The springs are also home to West Indian manatees that are visible during manatee season. While the ocean waters turn cold in the winter, the springs maintain a steady 72° all year long, so as the air turns cold, hundreds of manatees seek the warm spring waters. So, if you want to see the manatees, wintertime is a great time to come. But no matter the season, Blue Springs is a great place to spend a day swimming or kayaking, walking the boardwalk, or embarking on a guided tour throughout the area.

Find more information here: Blue Springs State Park

2. Amelia Island | Fernandina Beach

A quick hop, skip, and a jump away from Jacksonville (more specifically, about 30 miles) lies the serenely beautiful Amelia Island – an Atlantic barrier island with white sand beaches and a lush, vibrant interior sprinkled with marshlands. The Fernandina Historic District area of the island offers art galleries, historic saloons, and a mellow, small-town atmosphere. The island also boasts a collection of beaches, upscale resorts, and great golf. You'll find popular festivals ranging from music to foodie throughout the year.

For more information, visit Amelia Island

3. Palatka

For a fascinating insight into a historic Floridian settlement, make the one-hour journey to the city of Palatka, where you'll find old-town charm coupled with beautifully preserved and restored historic homes and churches dating back to the 1800's. A visit to Palatka feels like you've stepped back in time, and boasts a thriving art scene with galleries and street vendors alike. Enjoy a nice lunch followed by the Palatka Mural Tour or, for a more nature-focused outing, venture out to the Ravine Gardens State Park, home to two ravines and lush gardens galore!

For more information, visit City of Palatka

4. Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area, Ocala

Another pristinely beautiful escape from metropolitan life comes in the form of the sun-drenched region of Ocala, featuring mile after mile of untouched natural reserve – the most attractive of which is the Ocala National Forest. Here, you'll find a mixture of narrow valleys adorned by weeping willows, and tranquil springs of clear waters. Juniper Run and Silver Glen Springs are particularly popular for swimming and tubing routes, while the Silver Springs State Park offers land activities such as horseback riding and picnicking.

For more information, visit Explore Ocala

5. St. Augustine

We would be sorely remiss if we didn't include the infamous St. Augustine in the list as this is a major bucket-list Floridian destination. The oldest city in the United States, let alone Florida, is a delight for those with an interest in history, architecture, good food, interesting museums, or simply just appreciating a unique, old town. Spend hours walking the cobblestone streets, shopping in the cool boutiques and kitschy tourist shops, dining in some fabulous farm-to-table restaurants or visiting some of the tourist landmarks like the Alligator Farm, Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum, the Fountain of Youth, or the centuries-old Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest still-standing masonry fort in the United States. Take in some breath-taking views of the town, then climb atop the St. Augustine Lighthouse, where you'll take in a breathtaking view of the city in all its glory. But whatever you do, wear some comfy walking shoes, make sure you allot a good amount of time, and, most of all – enjoy!

For more information, visit City of St. Augustine

6. Ginnie Springs

Dubbing themselves "A Slice of Pure Florida," Ginnie Springs is known for the clarity of their waters, making them particularly popular with snorkelers and divers alike. From inner-tubing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply swimming, there are so many ways to enjoy these glorious springs. And just like Blue Springs, their crystal-clear water stays at a perfect 72° year-round, so come and dip your feet in January or February while wearing a cozy sweatshirt. Ginnie Springs also offers a large network of subterranean caverns under the surface that are exhilarating to explore… so grab your bathing suit and some towels and get ready to have a swimmingly good time!

For more information, visit Ginnie Springs Outdoors

7. Cumberland Island, South Georgia

Yes, you read that correctly: South Georgia! Jacksonville is 30 miles from the Georgia state line, so this excursion does indeed fall into the day-trip category and is a beautiful attraction. Board a ferry at St. Marys, GA to get to the island and be sure to have your phone or camera ready to capture Cumberland Island's most intriguing feature: its herds of wild horses roaming free along the beaches and tree-lined paths. Enjoy biking, take a guided tour, or simply hang out on the beach, but whatever you decide to do, don't forget to pack a water bottle, food, bug-spray, sunscreen, and an extra layer of clothing!

For more information, visit Cumberland Island

8. Big Talbot Island State Park | Blackrock Beach

On the Northeastern edge of Jacksonville, you'll find a surreal setting, one that features marshlands populated by wild birds and a boneyard of sorts full of sun-drenched, bleached tree "bones" that have been preserved by nature, aptly named Boneyard Beach. Enjoy a picnic in one of the pavilions on the water or avoid the crowds and come early to catch the sunrise and hike the half-mile trail through hammock forest and coastal scrub. Be sure and keep an eye out for turtles, beautiful birds, and bald eagles along your way and make the most out of your visit by packing plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, bug-spray, beach gear, towels, and $3.00 (cash only) for parking.

For more information, visit Florida State Parks Blackrock Beach

Well, there you have it! A list of some amazing daytrips that are a quick stones-throw away! So, whether you're in the mood for a tranquil getaway, a beautiful beach experience, or more of a shopping and dining excursion, you can't go wrong with any of these trips. Just remember to do a little research, pack accordingly, and most of all enjoy fun close to home!


Florida Architecture

If you're planning on buying a Florida home or upgrading to a different Florida property, you'll find that there are a lot of architectural styles to choose from. Our real estate agents understand that having so many options can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren't sure exactly what you're searching for in a home.

We recommend learning about the different architectural options so that you feel more comfortable when you're shopping for a home. Here are some of the most popular Florida home styles. 

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