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Do’s and Don’ts of Decorating

When you’re decorating a space, you probably know there are certain things that can make a room less appealing than others. Here are some easy do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during the decorating process.

Do:

  • Have a trunk or ottoman that doubles as a nightstand or end-table
  • Use the space on or in your coffee/end table to your advantage by placing baskets or organizers there
  • Use trays to better group and organize your items
  • Add in baskets and shelves that look good and are functional
  • Have some sort of texture, including pillows, rugs, throws, etc.
  • Include neutral or muted colors alongside pattern/s
  • Include different types and sources of lighting

Don’t:

  • Have TOO many throw pillows
  • Have too many objects and decorations that take up all the space
  • Too many things filling up your bookshelves
  • Too many prints and patterns in one area
  • Too many seats or sofas that aren’t even comfortable
  • Paint rooms in loud colors
  • Have white walls or floors if you have kids and/or pets
  • Make every single thing in the room symmetrical in shape or in arrangement
  • Ignore the scale size of the furniture vs. the room
  • Scatter knick-knacks all around the room
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Check For These Potentially Needed Home Repairs

It may be easy to become overwhelmed by all of the things that could go wrong around your house. However, if you tactfully and systematically check for necessary home repairs from time to time, and stay aware of them, then your home should be in tip-top shape.

Problem:

  • Loose/Wobbly Handles or Hinges on Doors, Furniture, & Cabinets: Usually the screw just needs tightening.
  • Loose/Wobbly Toilet Paper Holder or Towel Rack
  • Squeaky Door Hinges: Squirt W-D 40 in them
  • Squeaky Floor Boards
  • Rusty Valves: Wipe them down with W-D 40
  • Blistered/Peeling Paint on Ceilings Above Showers: Start using the bathroom vents if you don’t already. Scrape off the paint and re-paint with an exterior paint

Pay Attention To:

  • Clothes Dryer Vent: Disconnect your dryer’s lint pipe from the wall and vacuum lint out of it every now and then.
  • Hoses: Check out your dishwasher, ice maker, and washer for any leaks or cracks.
  • Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors: Replace the batteries in all of them at the same time of year so it’s easier to keep up with.
  • Kitchen Stove Exhaust Filter: Wash it ans get rid of the grease every so often
  • Electrical Cords: Check them out for damaged plugs or any brittleness.
  • Outlets: You’re supposed to test them fairly often, but let’s be honest, who does? Well, you can at least test them sometimes!
  • When It Rains: Look at your gutters to make sure they’re not overflowing. Check the direction of where the water is going outside (or if it’s coming inside). Check all around your house for leaks, including your basement, attic, foundation, windows, and doors.  home repairs home repairs home repairs 
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Easy-to-Miss Design Elements

There are so many details that go into making up the “perfect home” that it is sometimes easy to miss certain do’s and don’ts of design elements. 

  • Wrong Paint Color: Paint that is too dark or too dark can really change the look and feel of a room. This is why you should test the paint out on a swatch of your wall, and let it dry completely before you fully decide to go with that color; the hue can change. If you messed up and painted a room too dark, you can paint a sheer glaze over it to lighten it up a bit, or create stripes or designs. Don’t forget to prime your walls with latex paint, especially if the previous color was more saturated.  Also be sure to check for paint blobs, drips, and runs while the paint is still wet.  Next, rooms that are each a different color might be too much. If you want different colors at all, it’s better to smoothly transition from room to room by having only a slight variation in hues.
  • Messed-Up Wallpaper: Wallpaper that is hung crooked, or is peeling, stained, etc. needs to be fixed when you can.
  • Messed-Up Grouting: Clean it if it’s dirty, but if there are chunks missing, then you need to re-grout. 
  • Unnecessary Holes in Walls: Spackle them up!
  • Leaky Toilets, Faucets, or Shower-heads: Replace; But if you already have, the leaking may be due to the existence of old sealing materials.
  • Wobbly Ceiling or Light Fixtures: Your appliance might be too heavy; build in extra support for it if that’s the case.
  • Flimsy Hardware and Doors: Heavy solid-core doors and door handles hold up better than hollow-core doors
  • Too Tall or Short Counters: They should be at a height that is optimal for their use.
  • No Built-In Storage: If you’re in the process of finding a house, then be sure and mentally accommodate for all of the things you need stored. If you’re already settled in a home, then consider adding open (or closed) shelves. 
  • Wrong lighting: Layer lighting: have more than one light source in every room; Try and put them at varying heights and levels of brightness to get the best array of lighting. 
  • Crammed-In Furniture: Give your furniture some room to breath. Don’t over-clutter your furniture.
  • No Focal Point: Make a focal point in each room. It doesn’t have to be overtly obvious, but something that the eye will naturally be drawn to is the best.
  • Too Much Clutter: Try and keep as many clean lines as you can. Also, narrow down the number of decorations and collectibles you have all over your house. Chances are, if you feel like there are too many, there probably are. Experiment with scale size of decorations and objects to make clutter even less monotonous.
  • Too Theme-y: Don’t make it seem like a theme just threw up onto your living room. It’s better to be able get the jist of the room without it being shoved in your face.
  • Too Bland: Give the room some life and personality, (especially if the room is mostly decorated with neutral or muted colors) whether it be in the form of an antique, a quirky piece of art, a colorful pillow, or a plant.  design elements design elements  design elements 
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Features Considered When Buying a House

There are a multitude of things to look at when you are in the process of buying a house: the architecture of the house itself, the details, the updates and renovations, and more.

  • Location: Where your house is located is important; just as important are the features shared about its location. Some buyers might be looking for public transport. Some might want great parks, nearby restaurants, or shops. Most buyers will want to find a good neighborhood. Whatever the case, buyers need to know everything there is to know about where the house is located, because different buyers want different things.
  • The Lot: Lot size is usually pretty important to buyers, but lot steepness is just as important. Would you be able to add on to your house if you wanted a patio or deck in the future? Would the level of steepness ever affect water runoff in your yard, or the house’s foundation? Another thing buyers might consider is the house’s position on the lot in terms of direction it’s facing. The lighting and bills for heating and cooling will all be affected by this. Last, the proximity of the house to the ones next to it will play into buyers’ decisions.
  • Driveway Dimensions: Buyers need to know if their car will even fit in the driveway and the garage before they buy the house. Some buyers also have multiple cars they need to fit on the driveway, so driveway size may be an important factor. Another factor is the availability of street parking, especially if the driveway is smaller than desired. Some neighborhoods and communities may have strict rules about this.
  • Senior and Handicap Friendly: Many Baby Boomers are currently down-sizing, and looking for one-story houses that would allow them to age with the house. Some buyers need wheelchair access for when their friends or family visit, and maybe a bedroom on the main floor. These things are important to list if you’re selling.
  • Stair Size: Steepness and length of stairs are to be considered by buyers. No one wants stairs that are hard to climb.
  • Storage and Organization: Buyers look for storage space, especially if they are moving from a smaller house into a larger one. Basements, garages, attics, closets, pantries, and spare rooms are important for storage needs. On the same hand, these same buyers will look for built-in shelves, closets, renovations, and generally anything that would easily allow them to have improved and better organized storage.
  • Size of Rooms: The room’s defined purpose is key here (and we already know that if you’re selling it’s important to have clearly defined room purposes), so there might be a difference between labeling something as an office and labeling it as a spare bedroom. Buyers will mentally place their furniture in the rooms to see if it fits beforehand. Following this same point, if you’re selling, the layout and flow of your rooms can have a big impact on potential buyers. They will at least subconsciously realize if there’s a “flow” to the rooms or not; the easier the rooms are to walk through on a normal path, the better. Buyers also will look for how easy the flow is of going from an indoor space to an outdoor one.
  • Height and Type of Ceilings: Some of this depends on each individual buyer; some like high ceilings, or vaulted, or maybe tray. Ceilings are especially important to consider if you or the buyer has a tall person who will live in the house.
  • Size of Windows: Some people like and look for big windows more than others, but everyone likes at least some natural lighting.
  • Bathroom Numbers: This will probably be a very important factor in buying a house. Even an extra half bath on the main can be a determining factor in buying a house.
  • Kitchen Characteristics: Many buyers will look for an updated kitchen. If you’re selling, or will in the future, your kitchen is one of the best rooms to update in terms of return on investment. However, some things are sought after depending on personal taste, such as stainless steel, double ovens, and granite counter tops.
  • Location of Laundry: Laundry is a common and necessary occurrence, especially for bigger families. Convenience of the laundry room location will most likely be important for buyers to consider.
  • Heating and Cooling: Is the house’s system up to date and running smoothly?
  • Energy Efficiency and Eco-Friendliness : Since some buyers look specifically for these, they’re important to mention if you’re selling. buying a house buying a house
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Ways You Can Use Leftover Tile

Have some leftover tile from a previous project? Don’t waste it, because after all, you liked it for a reason. Here are some appealing ways to use it.

  • Make coasters: you can glue all the tiles to each other, and/or you can use Modge Podge to put pictures or designs onto the tiles.
  • Make magnets: glue tiles on top of small magnets
  • Framing: there are so many things you can frame with tiles: mirrors, art, tables, your fireplace
  • Back-splash: consider re-designing your back-splash for an easy and fresh change
  • Cover a planter
  • Cover a small end-table
  • Cover a tray
  • Cover a vase
  • Make a cheese board
  • Make art using the tiles, and frame it
  • Make an outdoor walkway, a stepping-stone, or artful design in the ground
  • Cover side paneling: like on a kitchen island
  • Make jewelry
  • Napkin-holders (if the tiles are big enough)
  • Cover a lamp
  • Cover the side of your bathtub/shower
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Easy Ways to “Make Over” a Room

Feeling tired of the same old, same old in your house? Even just a subtle difference in one room, or a few, can make all the difference. Don’t worry about making drastic changes if you want to “make over” a room; instead, save time, money, and energy, and go for changing some seemingly more subtle things. 

  • Create collections: They don’t have to be matching things, but they should go together well. You can group porcelain objects, small figurines, etc., and put them in places such as your dining room table, mantel, and more. Another way to utilize this is by covering a wall with plates; its has the same feel as one big piece of art.
  • Put rugs in your hallways: This might be better with hardwood floors, but either way, it’s a sure way to dress up and make over your halls.
  • Add pops of color or pattern: You can do this with pillows, figurines, tablecloths, etc. to draw attention to certain areas of your house. You can also use color in open, neutral-colored shelving for a fresh look; either use a bold-colored object, or paint/wall-paper the wall behind the shelf. You can add a patch of wallpaper to smaller areas like bathrooms.
  • Mix elements together: If you have one steady theme in a room, such as traditional or modern, then add in an element of another theme for a fresh vibe.
  • Play with paint: You can liven up your walls by painting only halfway up the wall, or by painting a pattern such as wide stripes. There are many ways you can implement paint patterns. You can also paint the floor of a small room.
  • An extra interior curtain: This can separate a room into two sections to conceal, or simply divide. A great use for this is in a smaller kitchen, separating the prep area from the breakfast area.
  • Change up furniture: Use old curtains to reupholster chairs. Mix and match furniture pieces. Paint a piece of furniture white- chairs, tables, you name it. White furniture looks very airy and elegant, and “fits” in almost any room.
  • Rearrange your furniture: Move furniture away from walls, and be sure to account for the natural flow of traffic in the room. Also, arrange the furniture to allow conversation between people.
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Tips to Help You Sell Your Home

Sometimes it may be hard to look at your home objectively- like an outsider, someone who doesn’t have time and cherished memories invested in the house. However, anyone viewing your house for the first time will see things about it that you probably don’t. Here are some ways to spruce up your home and to give attention to those things your normally might not.

  • Make your curb appeal appealing: It’s your home’s first impression after all. Trim hedges and bushes, weed your yard, and add flowers. Also, give your front door a fresh coat of paint if needed, and buy a new mailbox if it’s necessary.
  • Clean until it’s spic and span: Both in the obvious and not-so-obvious, overlooked places such as the tops of high surfaces, baseboards, and by wiping down appliances and hardware. Clean your carpets (especially if you have pets), and if you have hardwood flooring underneath, then feel free to remove the carpeting.
  • Be conscientious of smells: You might be “nose-blind” to your home’s normal yet unique smell, but be aware of cooking anything extra aromatic before you know someone will be coming inside your home. Also realize that pets may add their own smell to your home that others may be more aware of than you.
  • Check for scuff marks, stains, discoloration, etc.: Check your walls, moldings, doors, outlets, etc. for these. Paint them or replace them accordingly.
  • Neutral is best: Speaking of painting, stick with neutral colors. If you have any “loud” or generally unappealing-colored walls in your house, you might want to think about repainting them to appeal to the tastes of buyers. Neutrality also applies for decorations; anything that is too eccentric or strange might turn people away.
  • De-clutter: Anything that deflects from all of your home’s nice features is unnecessary to have in sight. This also goes along the lines of having too many personal items around, such as pictures and monogrammed decorations; buyers want to be able to picture themselves living there. Also, get rid of, or put away bulky furniture that takes up too much space. This will make any room look much bigger. It will also improve the natural “flow” of the room, the walking pathways.
  • Organize: Closets are an important thing you should organize. Buyers will want to know how much space they will have to work with. Buy some organizers, dividers, etc.; anything that will save you space and make the closet look better. You can also remove some clothes and put them in storage temporarily, so the closet looks less full and more organized.
  • Natural is key: Let light inside your house as much as you can; natural lighting is better than any other kind. Having more light is also better, so use lamps to light up darker spaces. Another natural element you can use is plants. These can give a breath of fresh air to a room, fill in empty spaces, and make for great decorations.
  • Improve outdoor spaces: Your deck, porch, patio, and any other spaces outside you could spend time in are important. Place some plants around, clean off the grill and outdoor furniture, and clear leaves and debris off.
  • Make your bathrooms really nice: Think of a spa or a nice hotel; roll and stack some washcloths and towels. Add candles, flowers, and coordinating mats, towels, and curtains. Replace your toilet seat, and also lower it. Also, re-grout if need be.
  • Replace hardware for an updated feel: This is an easy, inexpensive task, but it can make a big difference in the general look of the room.
  • Make rooms purposeful: If the buyer can picture a clear use for each room, then it will make them feel more confident about buying. 
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Common Home-Buying Mistakes

There are some common mess-ups that occur during home-buying. Whether these mistakes be emotionally-based, financially-based, or just from lack of knowledge, they can still be nipped in the bud before they occur.

  • Trying to find a house by yourself: An agent knows what they’re doing; it’s their job. They can find you the best houses based on your price point, pros and cons, and the comps around the area. Of course you’ll probably still browse Trulia, Zillow, etc., but never let those be your only way to find houses. Let your agent also be your go-between with the listing agents you might come in contact with. They will know how to negotiate strategically, should you decide to place an offer.
  • Keep your cool: Both sides of the spectrum are no-nos: acting out of desperation or hesitating too much. Don’t talk yourself into buying a home impulsively that isn’t completely right for you, or that is too expensive for your budget. But on the other side of this, you also don’t want to wait too long because of fear or unreasonable uncertainty. Also, be sure not to get TOO attached to a house before you buy it. Try to find a few houses you like so that if you lose one you won’t be devastated. Also, if you happen to find a house you like and get caught up in a bidding war, do not overpay for what the house is actually worth. You’ll regret it in the long run. 
  • Check out neighborhood by-laws and HOA fees: There might be some unexpected and unwanted rules and HOA fees. 
  • Understand the current housing market: Ask your realtor about things you don’t understand about it, to get a better grasp of monetary figures you’ll be presented with. 
  • Be sure your finances are in order: Saving enough for a down payment is awesome, but you also probably need to have saved two or three months of mortgage payments. Account for unexpected emergency expenses, closing costs, and property taxes as well. Next, make sure you’ve been pre-approved for a loan by a lender in order to be taken seriously. Also, know the expected price of your homeowner’s insurance before home-buying. 
  • Get a home inspection on the home you’re buying: This is good in case the seller doesn’t disclose everything, and also to know what you can ask the seller to fix before you close on the house.

Happy home-buying!

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Common Home-Selling Mistakes

There are some common mess-ups that occur during home-selling. Whether these mistakes be emotionally-based, financially-based, or just from lack of knowledge, they can still be nipped in the bud before they occur.

  • Not understanding or improving your home‘s first impression: First, make sure your house looks good from the first appearance- the outside. Trim bushes and shrubs, mow the grass, freshen up the pine straw and mulch, and make sure the paint looks fresh enough. Next, when anyone sees your home, they want to be able to picture themselves living there. Take down the pictures, personalized plaques, and anything that is just too much. Remove any clutter, and be sure and clean and tidy up your house. 
  • Attempting to go the for sale by owner route: since it’s “low-cost” it may seem more tempting to do. However, this is the worst mistake you can make. Real estate agents generally know what they’re doing, and they can help you with the buyers’ end of things, the contracts, real estate jargon, and so much more. The stress, time, and confusion are not worth having in the long run; hire a realtor.
  • Find a qualified agent: Research your agents beforehand. Usually, the ones who know the area and the comps surrounding your house are better qualified. The best ones are also expert negotiators, and will host open houses if you ask them to.
  • Disclose everything: To avoid lawsuits, disclose everything you’re supposed to. Be upfront about the condition of your house; most things would be found in a home inspection anyways.
  • Make a fair, reasonable, price: Know the comps directly surrounding you. These are important for knowing the right price point for your home. If your house is more renovated than the ones around you, don’t set your expectations too high for how much you will make back. 
  • Don’t be too picky with the first offer: Remember that offers are negotiable, so the potential buyer will most likely put theirs in lower than they are actually willing to pay. Another way to make up for a low offer is to request the buyer pay for repairs or closing costs. Listen to your agent as well; they will probably know the right price, and if you’re expecting too much.

Happy home-selling!

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How to Increase Home Curb Appeal During the Holidays

Curb appeal is an important part of real estate any time of the year. However, knowing how to strategically decorate your home for maximum curb appeal during the holidays can be hard. You may be under the impression that having any decorations at all is a no-no, but there are ways to go about decorating your home that give the cozy holiday feel without being too much. 

  • Don’t be overly kitschy: Try and steer away from the giant inflatable penguins and crazy-colored lights. The home‘s best attributes will be amplified more when they have a chance to shine through.
  • Add some light: White lights are best if you decide to decorate using string lights. These have an elegant, classic feel. A well-lit entryway is also key, both outside and right inside your home. If you have a wreath on your door, you could even place a spotlight shining on it.
  • Welcome: Speaking of wreaths, they’re a great welcoming touch. There are a variety of ways you can make it your own, and something that portrays your home’s personality. You could also put some live miniature Christmas trees at either side of your porch stairs for a more minimalist yet refined touch. Also, have a fragrant seasonal candle or room spray to maximize the cozy factor when people come inside your home. 
  • Less is more: During the holidays and throughout the year, less is always more. Try and limit the amount of knick-knacks you have on display for the holidays.