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Best Home Improvement Ideas for Good ROI

ROI is an important part of your house‘s value- it’s beneficial to know the things you can do that could improve it the most.

  • Replace your front door. Old front doors can be a source of home energy loss, and they can be eyesores as well. Replace your door for a new steel one that’s painted an attractive color.
  • Install a new garage door. This will make for better curb appeal, as well as good ROI.
  • Replace old windows. These are good investments, especially if you get a brand-name instead of an off-brand; If they need replacing in the future they will still be made by the company.
  • Install new siding. There are different kinds that have varying pros and cons. Vinyl is a good choice- it’s not expensive, it’s durable, and it’s easily installed.
  • Add a deck or patio. Be sure to pick a material that best matches your region’s climate.
  • Add in kitchen upgrades. It’s not always the cheapest renovation, but it brings in good ROI. Updated kitchens are a big selling point for buyers. Stainless steel appliances are a good investment, especially if they’re all the same brand.
  • Turn an attic into a bedroom. You’ll have to check your local building codes first, but renovating an attic into a bedroom is usually a good investment.
  • Remodel your basement. Make sure there’s enough light there (artificial or natural) so that it seems even bigger, and generally has a better ambiance.
  • Replace your roof. Make sure you get the right material.
  • Remodel your bathroom. This generally has better ROI than a bathroom addition.
  • Add a fence. Having a fence is a selling point for some people with dogs and kids. However, you may want to steer clear of chain-link varieties.
  • Add in smart technology. If it’s energy efficient, like a programmable smart thermostat, many people will spend more. Which brings us to the next point.
  • Ensure energy efficiency. Many people will pay more for certifications like Energy Star, since they know these will save them money on utilities over time.
  • Plant trees. Probably not what comes to mind, right? Trees (correctly spaced around your house) save you energy costs, prevents erosion, and makes your home seem more attractive.
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Elements of Home Decorating in Summer

Do you think of light breezes, sunshine, and family time when thinking of Summer? Here’s how you can decorate your house this season to reflect those things.

  • Add accents of color, like in fun patterned throw pillows or pieces of art. Colorful art pieces are especially good to hang on walls that are darker hues; it will brighten them up. Nothing says “summer” better than fun colors and patterns.
  • Create a drink station (even if it’s not with alcohol). Lemonade, mojitos, mai tais, tea; whatever you provide, there’s nothing better than sipping on a cold drink in hot weather. Rolling bar-carts and tabletop trays are great options you can move around.
  • Put something in your fireplace since you won’t be using it for a while, like candles, decorations, etc.
  • Create or freshen up an outdoor space. Spruce up your patio, deck, and yard so you’ll have a great place to spend time outdoors this summer. Re-paint outdoor furniture light or vibrant colors. Add in a fire-pit for a great evening hang-out spot. Set up a table for al fresco dining. the possibilities are limitless.
  • Add in some summer-y decorations. Think vibrant colors, tropical, nautical, or botanical patterns, and natural elements (or faux-natural). Your tables are a good place to showcase summer-y place settings, dishware, and accouterments like drink pitchers and decanters.
  • Sprinkle in flowers and potted plants around your house. Wildflower bouquets are especially summer-y, and so are flowers that are warm-colored. Succulents in large seashells are also unique and on-season.
  • Have airy, white (possibly semi-sheer, gauzy) curtains hanging up. Add a canopy to a bed, complete with these airy curtains.
  • Paint dark wood a lighter color, like white or off-white. Whether it’s your staircase, furniture, ceiling beams or something else, this can really lighten up a room.
  • Use complementary colors, like an aqua blue paired with a coral.
  • Hang mirrors to draw in more light, and to make the space seem bigger.
  • Switch out your home‘s scents for more summer-y ones.
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How to Stage Your Home for Maximum Appeal

To sell your home, you need to stage it. Doesn’t it make sense that buyers can picture themselves in a clean attractive space, over a dirty, crowded one?

Stage Your Living/Family Room

  • Use throw pillows and blankets to accentuate the room with color and character.
  • Use the rule of symmetry, with throw pillows.
  • If you’re changing slipcovers, curtains, or whatever else, make the new alternative light and airy.
  • Remove a piece of furniture (or more) if you need to to give the room a bigger, more open feel.
  • Arrange your furniture to have purpose; direct chairs to face each other for ease of conversation.
  • Add lamps for a calm ambiance.
  • Clean up your fireplace and mantel, including the screen if need be.

Stage Your Kitchen

  • Clear the countertops, except for possibly a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers.
  • Wipe away any food, stains, or fingerprints from all surfaces.
  • If needed, re-paint or re-stain your cabinets.
  • Take about half of your food out of the pantry and cabinets. They will feel more spacious. Also, organize the food you do have left.
  • Clean the insides of your cabinets.
  • Take away the refrigerator decorations.
  • Empty trash and move it out of the line of sight.
  • Set each place at the table with attractive place settings, and a pretty center piece such as flowers. You can do this in the dining room as well.
  • Pack up all the dishes, glassware, cookware, and flatware, except one attractive set of each.

Stage Your Bedrooms

  • Hide your valuables away.
  • Make the master as gender-less as possible.
  • Remove some things from each bedroom. Less is better than more.
  • Pack up last season’s clothes to make your closet seem bigger. If you have a bunch of mismatched, eyesore hangers, then take out every other kind except for the most attractive, and only display those.
  • If you have an extra bedroom, you can turn it into a room with another purpose, like an office, crafts room, or rec room.

Stage Your Bathroom

  • Scrub down every surface- especially if there’s grout that looks dingy; if necessary, re-grout any parts.
  • Get streaks off of the mirror, faucets, and hardware
  • Fix anything that needs it, like loose towel racks, leaky faucets, etc.
  • Remove clutter-anything with brand labels on it, or that distracts the eye from the rest of the bathroom.
  • Add in some “spa-like” qualities, like candles, baskets, plants, and more.
  • Spray your bathroom with a scent, or light a candle, beforehand. Sometimes we go “nose-blind” to things that we smell every day.


  • If needed, re-paint a wall that’s dark and/or stained.
  • Fill in patches and holes in walls.
  • Wash your windows on the inside and the outside.
  • De-personalize your home; take down family pictures and other personals so that buyers can picture themselves living there.
  • Be sure to create nice curb appeal for your house.
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How to Personalize Your New House

“Making a house a home” is a concept for a reason; there’s something to be said for truly feeling like you belong in your new house.

  • Change out the numbers on your mailbox or house.
  • Clean the whole house. It will smell like the products that are already familiar to you, and make you feel more at home.
  • Add more of your favorite familiar scents with candles, room sprays, or wall plug-ins
  • Paint the front door the color of your choice. You’ll feel truly welcomed every time you enter.
  • Paint a wall, or all of them. There are so many ways to personalize through this.
  • Wallpaper a laundry room or half-bathroom. You can truly personalize it, since there are infinite choices of wallpaper.
  • If you have hardwood stairs, change them up. You could put a runner down, or paint them white with a color on top.
  • Change out window treatments. Especially if the style of your decor is a lot different than the previous owner’s.
  • Change out hardware. This will be especially beneficial if the previous hardware is on the older side.
  • Change out light fixtures. Occasionally, a previous owner might leave behind an old chandelier from the eighties, or something of the like. Replace it with something that fits in with more of your style for the new house.
  • Hang personal photos. There’s nothing more personal than pictures of your past memories.
  • If you have anything with monograms, decorate your home with it.
  • Hang up your favorite art.
  • Place fresh flowers or potted plants around your house. There’s nothing better than having something of beauty in each room.
  • Put rugs down on hardwood floors. Your feet will definitely feel right at home.
  • Place your favorite throw pillows on your sofas and chairs. Feeling comfy in your own home is a must.
  • Have blankets close at hand to make you feel extra cozy in your new house.
  • Decide where to put organizers that will benefit your daily life the most. Whether it’s having wall hooks for jackets, keys, or bags, or if it’s having lots of shelves in your family room, customize your storage to truly benefit you.
  • Display your family heirlooms, or even antiques you’ve bought yourself.
  • Present all your favorite bathroom amenities in a designated spot, arranged attractively to invite you to use them.
  • Display your DIY‘s, or make some.
  • Display your hobbies and/or collectibles.
  • Spend effort on bettering those places that you’ll spend the most time in, whether it will be alone, or with family or guests.
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June Events in Cobb County

With the start of Summer on June 20th, there’s a lot going on in Cobb County to take part of and experience with your family.

Smyrna Rotary: Meets at Brawner Hall every Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. for one hour of fellowship, info about great service projects in Smyrna, nationally, internationally, and excellent speakers. Upcoming speakers include Judge Ann Harris, Bob Barr, Otis Brumby, and Ron Fennel. Smyrna Rotary is made up of neighbors, community leaders, and global citizens who unite for the common good, and with a passion for community service. To attend a meeting, contact

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays: at Taylor-Brawner Park (3180 Atlanta Road, Smyrna, 30080)  from 5:00 -9:00 p.m. The City of Smyrna, Georgia Power, and Cobb Travel & Tourism have powered up to bring you this event, along with lots of entertainment and fun. Visit for latest news, and weekly lineups.

Tween Time at Smyrna Public Library: Every Tuesday through June and July at 6 p.m. in the meeting room. Tween Time activities are designed for children 8-12. Each child must have a responsible adult who remains inside the library for the duration of the program. Sponsored by the Smyrna Public Library and the Friends of Smyrna Public Library.

Smyrna Business Exchange: At Smyrna Community Center every Thursday from 7-8:30 a.m. It’s Smyrna’s premier close-contact networking group that represents over 30 local businesses and growing. It has met weekly for almost a decade, and its members pass business referrals to one another over a light continental breakfast. If you have any questions or would like to RSVP for a complimentary visit, contact current President Jeff Smith at

Smyrna Fresh Produce Market: In the Smyrna First Baptist Church parking lot (1275 Church Street, Smyrna, 30080) on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon. It’s a local farmers’ market where you can stock up on all your fresh fruits and veggies. To participate as a market vendor, contact Keep Smyrna Beautiful at 770-431-2863.

The Marietta Square Farmers Market: Gathers an average of over 60 vendors on Saturdays and over 25 on Sundays, offering a variety of fresh, locally grown, seasonal produce, and garden products. The Marietta Farmers Market is open every Saturday April through December from 9 a.m.-noon, and on Sundays May through October, from 12-3 p.m. For more information, visit their website at: or their Facebook page at or call (770) 499-9393.

Marietta Square Art Walk: (formerly the First Friday Art Walk) The Art Walk is a free, self-guided tour showcasing local original art. Enjoy late-night shopping, patio dining, fine art and live music around every corner. Local artists are hosted by Marietta Square area restaurants, galleries, museums, venues and boutiques; participating venues display an official Art Walk banner in their window. Takes place in historic Marietta Square on the first Friday of each month from March to November (June 3rd this month). 5-9 p.m., rain or shine. For more information, please visit or call (770) 429-1115.

Dixie Highway Yard Sale: At the Marietta Museum of History, June 3rd and 4th from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be books, home décor, vintage items and more. Everything will be priced to sell and the Museum loves to play “Let’s make a Deal!” The Marietta Museum of History’s mission is to preserve, provide, promote and partner with our community to make it a desirable place to work, live and play. Included in this year’s sale will be items that have been removed from the collection that do not fulfill our mission. All proceeds from this year’s sale will benefit the direct care of the Museum’s permanent collection.

Mable House Complex Food Truck: At the Mable House Arts Center (5239 Floyd Road, Mableton, 30126) June 8th and July 13th, from 5-8 p.m. Presented by the South Cobb Alliance. Enjoy great food, entertainment, and the arts. For more information, call 770-819-3185.

Smyrna Summer Concert Series-The Retreat: At Village Green Circle, Smyrna, on June 11th from 7-10 p.m. This band has entertained audiences across the Southeast with a unique, organic take on the hits of yesterday and today. Whether it’s a DMB-style sax solo on “Some Nights”, a punk-rock singalong of “Country Roads”, a raucous bluesy take on “How Sweet It Is”, a dance floor-shaking rendition of “Get Lucky”, or unexpectedly awesome mashups like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “With or Without You” or “Wagon Wheel”, “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Cruise”, it all still sounds like the Retreat.

Kaiser Permanente Free Movie Series at Mable House Ampitheatre: At 5239 Floyd Road, Mableton, 30126 on June 17th; doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the movie Hotel Transylvania 2 begins at dusk. Rain or shine. Bring your own food or purchase from concessions. Free event!

Glover Park Concert Series: Enjoy music under the stars, and be sure to bring a picnic and blankets or set up your lawn chairs after 4 pm (no tarps or tents). Takes place on the last Friday evening of each month from April to September (June 24th this month). Personal tables can be set up in the street on North Park Square after 6 p.m. but not in Glover Park. The free outdoor concerts take place at 8 p.m. rain or shine. June 24th show: Sons of Sailors, a Jimmy Buffett Tribute band. For more information, call (770) 794-5601.

Movies by Moonlight: At Taylor-Brawner Park (3180 Atlanta Road, Smyrna, 30080). On Saturday, June 25th will be Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. For more information, call Parks and Recreation at 770-431-2842. cobb county cobb county cobb county  cobb county cobb county cobb county cobb county 

Courtesy of Our Town Monthly magazine, June 2016 edition

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Your Summer Home Checklist

Summer officially begins June 20th. Start it off right by maintaining your home, both inside and out.

  • Clean and check your grill. Make sure there’s enough propane in the tank if necessary, and charcoal if you use it.
  • Add or change outdoor lighting. Check for burnt-out bulbs, nearly-used up candles, and check the effectiveness of your motion sensor lights.
  • Clean and repair outdoor furniture. Make sure nothing is rusting on it, the joints are sturdy, bugs are off of it, etc.
  • Check your hose and sprinkler system. Make sure your hose doesn’t have leaks, and that the fittings are still good. Make sure your sprinkler system doesn’t have leaks or other issues.
  • Check up and fix yard and power tools. Get a tune-up for your lawn mower, and have the blades sharpened.
  • Get your air conditioning system serviced. This is especially good if it’s older. It might also save you money in the long run.
  • Schedule any outdoor projects, including gardening or landscaping.
  • Plan your watering schedule.
  • Check your roof. This should be an annual event.
  • Clean your gutters after the flowers, seeds, and blossoms are done blowing off in late spring.
  • Check your windows. The sealants are important for energy conservation.
  • Wash your windows.
  • Pressure wash your house, driveway, and walkways if you need to.
  • Maintain your pool, if you have one.
  • Take precautions against pests, both outdoors and indoors. Have citronella candles, bug zappers, etc. near your outdoor space.
  • Clean or change out your doormats.
  • Check your insulation. It’s just as important in the summer months as it is the winter ones in terms of energy efficiency.
  • Organize your kids’ things. Artwork, prized assignments, books, etc.
  • If you go to the pool, set up a place for wet towels and bathing suits.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
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How to Pack for Your Move to a New House

Moving can be stressful; it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, there are some ways you can pack that will make the process easier to handle.

  • Sort out what you want to bring with you, give away/donate, and throw away.
  • Pack an overnight bag with your essentials
  • Pack the things you’ll need first in a clear plastic bin. You’ll be able to differentiate it from the cardboard boxes, and also see what’s in it.
  • Wrap delicate breakables in clothing, blankets, and towels to save on bubble wrap, and as an easy way to “pack” clothes. Pack drinking glasses and other small breakables in socks.
  • Label each box (preferably on more than one side) with what’s inside, and which room it needs to be placed in. An option is to color-code each box based on where it needs to go. You could also number each box, so that you’ll know if you misplaced or lost any of them in the moving process.
  • Place a cotton ball or cotton pad in powder makeup so they won’t crumble.
  • Cover the openings of your toiletries with saran wrap and close them so they won’t leak.
  • Pack plates vertically so they’ll break less easily.
  • Keep your dresser drawers full, and cover with Press ‘n Seal wrap so they stay in place. You can also use this for your jewelry displays.
  • When you have to dis-mantle electronic cord connections, screws, hooks, etc., put them in individual plastic bags and label what they go to.
  • Take pictures where the cords connect to your electronics to recall how to put them back together.
  • Pack empty suitcases, bins, hampers, baskets, trunks, ottomans, etc.
  • While your clothes are still hanging, put a trash bag around their bottom to carry them easier. You won’t have to put the hangers back in them, and they’ll be grouped just like they were before.
  • Vacuum-seal off-season clothing to save space.
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How to Not Get Scammed by a Home Contractor

The majority of contractors are good, honest people, but there are a few bad apples in every crowd. Here’s how to weed out a bad contractor from the good.

  • Be wary of door-to-door solicitations. Sometimes contractors will walk door-to-door and claim they see things wrong with your house that they can fix. This works all too often, and it sometimes includes the spiel in which they tell you they were working on a home in the neighborhood and have extra materials they can sell to you cheaply.
  • Be wary of limited-time deals. It’s okay for them to offer deals to you, but it’s not okay for them to pressure you into deciding on them right on the spot.
  • Research your contractor before hiring. Don’t just ask your neighbors, friends, and family for references, but use resources like Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List too.
  • Make sure they can provide references.
  • Check for proper licensing and insurance coverage.
  • Get at least three in-home estimates. And if a contractor refuses to see the project in person, that’s a red flag-it’s nearly impossible to get a good feel for the project‘s extensiveness over the phone. Also, be careful if the prices of the various estimates are all over the place, or if one of them is vastly under the rest.
  • Always have a contract before they start any work. Anything that’s agreed upon verbally should also be put in writing, even if it’s something that crops up in the middle of the job.
  • If the work requires a permit, be wary if they attempt to have you retrieve it from the county. Actual contractors do this themselves.
  • Be cautious of “unforeseen problems” that now happen raise the cost of a project. these could be legit, but sometimes they aren’t. Make sure the contract has a procedure for this. You can get a second opinion from an inspector, etc. as well.
  • Don’t pay in full up front. It’s normal for them to request for you to pay some of the total ahead of time, but usually not much of it. You’ll then most likely pay in phases as the work gets completed. If subcontractors are involved, make sure they’re getting paid by the contractor, or else they could come after you.  Have the contractor list each of the subcontractors, how much and when they’ll be paid, and proof of payment afterwards. Last, don’t pay for materials that haven’t arrived yet.
  • Be careful if they ask you to pay them for the materials instead of the company supplying them.
  • Be wary if they try to sell you something that you already have that’s in good condition.
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How to Avoid Homebuyer’s Remorse

The magnitude of buying a house and considering all the choices involved in the process can be overwhelming. Avoid homebuyer’s remorse with these tips.

  1. Before you buy, consider these things to avoid homebuyer’s remorse in the future:
    ~The space that you need and want in a home. Think about which rooms you’ll actually use. It may seem like a formal living room is nice to have in theory, but if it’s just another room to clean that you only use once a year, you may want to re-consider. Before you buy, think about the amount of space you can realistically clean, cool, and heat. Also, figure in the size of your furniture and how it will fit into those rooms.
    ~If you can expand that house if you’d want to one day. If that’s even a remote option for the future, then make sure that house’s architecture even makes that possible.
    ~If you will grow tired of stairs (or vice versa). Will you eventually dread carrying your laundry down two flights of stairs to the basement?
    ~If you actually want that kitchen island. Some people physically work best when they’re unimpeded by that barrier in between their two counters.
    ~If there’s anything missing. Did a previous owner take something out that would normally be present? Is the bathroom missing a tub, and would you miss it if it is?
    ~If you’ll really still like that home trend a year or two from now. Don’t buy a house based around its trendy style, since trends come and go.
    ~If you’ll still be happy with that pool in the future. Pools are expensive to maintain, and they’re also time-consuming due to maintenance and cleaning.
  2. If you find a home you’re interested in, ask yourself these things to avoid potential homebuyer’s remorse:
    ~Does it include the most important things on the top of your wish list?
    ~What qualities made the house stand out from the others you looked at?
    ~Did you find other houses that met your needs, or was this one an outlier?
    ~Is it realistic to think you can find a “better” house?
  3. If you go under contract on a house, stop looking at others. You might have found things that are different from yours, but maintain your perspective of why you initially chose yours. Remind yourself of what was special about the house a few days ago, and ask yourself what has really changed about it in that short of a time.