There’s a reason why there is a season for deep cleaning (Spring Cleaning). A tradition for so many generations: after spending so much time indoors during the winter, there’s more than the usual amount of clutter, mildew, dust, dirt, pet dander and holiday leftovers that need to be addressed.
Cleaning and organizing room-by-room is the most efficient strategy – and will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do. Other suggestions for speeding up the work and staying motivated include:
- Get the other members of your household involved, even if just for a small task. Having the help of another person is not only a good way to reduce the amount of work, it’s also a good motivator.
- To start, give yourself a small goal that will get the process rolling. For example, set aside just 15 minutes to deep-clean one corner of the kitchen. Or, tell yourself all you need to do is organize one drawer in your dresser. When the task is small, you’re far more likely to do it. And once it’s done, you many very well feel like continuing. If not, set another small goal for the next day.
- To avoid becoming distracted, turn off your cell phone and the TV. And when you come across photos, books or periodicals that catch your interest, set them aside for enjoying later.
- Track your progress. Creating to-do lists can be disheartening. But tracking your cleaning accomplishments is motivating.
- Kitchen: Start with the refrigerator (the most used appliance in the house). Take everything out and clean all the nooks and crannies of the interior. When putting things back in, be very selective about what makes the cut.
- Bathroom: Mold and mildew are recurring problems in most bathrooms. There are a number of spray-on/wipe-off products that do a good job of eliminating these tough buildups. However, to keep from returning, consider installing a vent in the bathroom door to make your bathroom fan more effective at exhausting steam and moisture.
- Bedrooms: Most closets have clothes that doesn’t get worn anymore. Spend part of an afternoon trying everything on and bagging up those items that don’t fit, are out of style, or just don’t look good anymore.
- Living Room: Cleaning the living room windows inside and out will make the whole space seem fresher and brighter. However, you need to also focus on a deep clean of the window coverings (or replacing them if they’re sun-bleached, stained or tattered).
- Dining Room: If your dining room table has any water marks, fold a cloth in half and place it over the wood stain, heat your iron to the lowest setting, then place it over the cloth for 5-10 seconds. Repeat until the mark disappears. If that doesn’t work, buff the water right with a clean cloth and denatured alcohol.
- Storage Areas: Give your adult children a firm deadline for removing the things they want from your storage area. Whatever they don’t want – and whatever you haven’t used in years – can be donated, sold online or offered for sale via a consignment store. And instead of storing all those keepsakes and family heirlooms in boxes, select a few small things that are meaningful, display them in a shadow box (lots of sizes and styles are available at craft stores), and offer the rest to collectors.
- Garage: Bicycles can take up so much valuable floor space in a garage, while tools seem to pile up on every work surface. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of smart storage solutions for these and so many more garage staples. You could even consider hiring a professional organizer to help you figure it all out.
Source: Windermere Home Update
The Latest Interior Design Trends
Deciding on the latest interior design trend can feel a bit overwhelming. It takes a bit of daring to try an all-new design idea, especially if it’s a trend that you haven’t seen your friends or family implementing. In my experience, though, it’s always worth the extra effort. For many homeowners, starting small is the key to success. For example, you could take the latest fabric trend and simply incorporate it with a single throw pillow. Another option is to stick to the trends designers predict will be in vogue long-term. The following insights are safe bets with wide acceptance among the design community. Give some of these a try and let me know how it goes!
Corduroy – First velvet became popular, now corduroy is the on-trend darling of interior designers. Both are soft and durable with a highly tactile texture that’s warm, comfortable, and very visually appealing.
Mixed Materials – Design trendsetters are now mixing and matching mediums like metal, wood, glass and fabric, as well as incorporating stones and other natural materials, to create settings with more variety and a modern sensibility. Gone are the days of buying a matching collection of furnishings. Today, you can combine a sofa with exposed metal framework with side tables made of distressed wood.
Neon Signs – Light up a room, a window, or a dark basement with this bold home-design trend. Neon glass artists can create just about anything at relatively affordable prices. Have your favorite inspirational phrase turned into a neon statement. Get funky with a fun neon icon, or a completely abstract neon design. Even commercial neon signs have a place in this trending design movement.
Textile Art – Incorporating woven fabrics is one of the best ways to soften many of today’s hard-edge interiors and add new pizazz to any design concept. It’s easy to imagine pillows and throws, but the trend goes so much deeper than that. There are textile wallpapers, wall hangings, sculpture, room dividers, even framed textile art.
Vertical Garden – With all the emphasis on preserving the natural environment today, it was only a matter of time before the green movement moved indoors. In a twist on the traditional potted plant, vertical gardens (also known as living walls) are the new trend. Small ferns and plants with trailing outgrowths (like philodendron) look especially good in these wall-hung planters. But because living walls use little soil, watering needs to happen more often and plants require special care.
Clay & Terracotta – From floor tiles to flower vases, painted walls to potted plants, the burnt-orange look of clay and terracotta has gained a strong following in the design community. Known for its timeless appeal and rustic charm, the rich, earthy red and brown tones are easy to incorporate into most any setting.
Storage – As many Americans choose to live in smaller homes and make the most of every square foot, storage is now trending as a design element, as well. Instead of stuffing items out of sign in storage chests and closets, many designers are now opting for “display storage,” such as open shelving, display cases, exposed racks and clear cases. Another element of this trend: orienting storage spaces vertically to free-up more floor space.
Multi-Functional Furniture – Another space saver trending in design circles is furniture that can be used for more than just one thing. Examples include wall beds that transform into home office spaces, beds with storage drawers underneath, desks with built-in shelving, and more.
Source: Windermere Home Update
The best way to make your guests feel welcome and relaxed at this time of year is to create an indoor setting that emphasizes cozy seating, laid-back ambience and interactive group experiences. This Home Update will help you to create a holiday home by applying some of the same principles that luxury hotels are famous for that encourages everyone to relax, gather, interact and have fun.
Hot Drinks: Welcoming your guests with cups of hot cider or mulled wine will let the know that right away this gathering is going to be relaxed and cozy.
Holiday Decorations: For added color, and to put your guests in a festive state of mind, decorate select interior walls, shelves and tables with a few Christmas ornaments, wreaths, pine cones and garlands. Choosing carefully and limiting this decor to just a few areas helps keep the look tasteful and relaxing.
A Roaring Fireplace: Nothing exudes warmth and ambiance like a live fire. Children and adults alike can’t resist gathering around a fireplace, especially during the holidays. If you don’t already have a fireplace, an attractive, remote-controlled, gas -fired unit can be affordably installed in most any exterior wall without the need for major remodeling.
Floor Pillows: Oversized pillows arranged on the floor create a more intimate and relaxed gathering space that’s perfect for gift opening and younger guests.
Blankets for All: Be sure there are more than enough blankets and throws for your guests. There’s something about being warmly snuggled beneath a blanket that makes a person more willing to share stories, listen to the tales of others, laugh more and linger longer.
Small Seating Arrangements: Arranging the seating for your guests into small clusters encourages them to have deeper conversations with each other and bounce between groups (two accomplishments that would make any host proud).
Candlelight: Flickering candles not only create a relaxing, romantic visual, but they can also be used to punctuate the air with pleasing scents. Candles in containers are the safest option, especially for areas you can’t monitor closely.
Background Music: One of the best ways to establish the mood for a gathering is with music. If you have the time and inclination, consider changing the genre, style and tempo of the music throughout the gathering to create variety and manage the energy level of your guests.
Games: Games bring people of all walks together and give them a reason to interact. Video games are always an option, but traditional board games and other group games allow more people to play at once and bring players face-to-face for a more memorable personal experience. Choose games that are easy to catch on to and don’t require a long time commitment.
Puzzles: While jigsaw puzzles may seem old-fashioned, adults and kids alike can easily get hooked once they’ve found success fitting a few pieces into place. Plus, the solo nature of puzzles can be a nice complement to group activities. Look for holiday- themed puzzles that aren’t too difficult, and get it started before guests arrive.
Books and Magazines: For long-term guests, you’ll want to have a selection of books and magazines available to keep them entertained. Make sure the magazines are recent and try to match the subject matter to your guests’ interests.
Include the Kitchen: At holiday time, the kitchen is usually the primary focal point for much of the action. So be sure to outfit it with candles, music and holiday decorations, as well.
As an added bonus, create a Holiday Beverage Station! You know you’re going to be serving drinks at the holidays, so make the process more fun and festive. Once you’ve established a festive drink station, you can redecorate it for any holiday. Offer guests a variety of festive items they can use to self-garnish their drinks, let everyone choose a drink charm to mark their glass, use a specialty tray to create fun-shaped ice cubes, weave garland around the edges of the station, decorate with ornaments and get to mixing!
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update
It’s unfortunate, but studies show that burglaries and other property crimes increase around the holidays – for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, lots of options are available today for protecting your possessions from some of the most common types of holiday crime. Following is a summary of the solutions that have proven the most effective to help keep your home secure at the holidays.
The Best Defense
Studies show that professionally installed security systems with 24-hour monitoring and guard-response are still the best against home burglaries. When an intrusion is registered, these systems send a real person to personally inspect and assess the situation. That’s what makes them so effective. Whole-house alarm systems without the guard-response feature are also very effective. Some, like the model from SimpliSafe, are wireless and easily self-installed. If the cost is holding you back, check with your property insurance company about discounts they may offer for protecting your property with one of these systems.
Doorbell cameras have become one of the most popular alternatives to traditional alarm systems, thanks to their low cost, easy installation and robust smart-phone compatibilities. Any time someone comes within range of the doorbell, you’re alerted via your smart phone, allowing you to easily see and speak to the person.
Sliding Door Security
Many homeowners have a high-security deadbolt installed on their front and rear entry doors, but their sliding doors are secured with nothing more than a standard hook latch. To better guard these entry points, consider placing a thick wooden dowel (custom-cut to the correct size) between the door frame and the slider when it’s not in use to prevent the door from being forced open or easily pulled off it’s tracks.
Secure the Garage Door too
Getting into most garages is as easy for a burglar as sliding a wire through the gap at the top of the door and unlatch the emergency release lever. Once inside an attached garage, they can not only steal what’s stored in there, but also gain entry to the rest of the house (and be protected from view the whole time). To guard against this, secure the garage door emergency release with zip ties, which can be cut or broken in an emergency. Also, carry the remote with you instead of leaving it in your car where it can be stolen and used to gain access to your home. And make sure the entry door between your garage and your home is solid (not hollow-core) and always locked.
Make your Home more Visible
While we all value our privacy, making your yard too private can attract prowlers. Instead, keep your bushes trimmed back and install low fences. The more exposed your home, the harder it is for a burglar to force open a door or window without neighbors or a passerby noticing and calling police.
Encourage Nosy Neighbors
Having a neighbor help watch over your home is another very successful strategy. Let your neighbors know when you’ll be on vacation, when you’ll be having contractors work on your home and when out-of-town visitors will be staying with you. That way, they’ll be much more likely to recognize unusual activity.
Put the Spare Key in a Lock Box
If you want to leave a spare key outside your house, install a lock box (like real estate agents use). Keys left “hidden” in the fake rock, under the doormat, on a ledge, or in a planter are easy to find for even amateur burglars.
Resist the Urge to Post Travel Plans
Wait until you return from your travels to post about them on social media – even if your account is in private mode. Criminals can use those online insights into your personal life to their advantage.
Source: Windermere Home Update
If you think it’s okay to let your roof languish, know this: Doing so could nullify your homeowners insurance coverage. If your roof is nearing or past its expiration date – or if you’ve notice leaks, water stains on the ceiling or other telltale signs of a possible leak – no is the time to take action.
Inspect it before winter
It never pays to wait and see if a worn roof still repels the rain. So make time in the fall, before winter kicks in, to ensure it’s fit for another winter. The safest way to assess its current condition is to use binoculars to look for curled shingles, cracks, loose or missing shingles, moss growth and other signs of damage. If you have access to the attic space, check the underside of the roof for water stains, especially around chimneys, vents and roof valleys. If you find signs of leaks or serious wear, ask for evaluations from a couple of reputable roofing companies – or an independent certified maintenance professional. I’m happy to provide a referral if you need it.
Determine the number of layers
If you currently have just one layer of asphalt shingles on your roof, and they need replacement, you may be able to simply add another layer. However, if there are already two layers, you must remove both before installing new. A roofing contractor can assess the situation and explain your options.
Stick with the style you have
Switching to a different roofing styles can be an expensive, involved process. Before considering such a radical change, take a look at the options available for the style of roofing you already have.
Higher quality is your best option
The most expensive aspect of a roofing project is the cost of labor. so it’s to your advantage to choose higher-quality, longer-lasting materials – which will allow you to rest easy knowing you won’t have to re-roof again for decades.
Keeping cool with better venting
When heat gets trapped in your attic during the summer months, it prevents the interior of your home from cooling down, even after the outside temperature has dropped. To keep that heat blanket from forming, consider installing more roof and attic venting – especially if you’re having a new roof installed.
New gutters are optional
If your gutters are damaged or of poor quality, it’s a good idea to replace them when the house is re-roofed, but it’s not necessary. Your gutter system is separate from the roofing system, and both can be repaired or replaced independently, by different companies.
Also not included…
Don’t expect roofers to make chimney repairs (that’s a job for a mason). The roofers also won’t paint the trim around your roofline, prune overhanging branches, or perform other maintenance chores around the upper areas of the house.
Alert the neighbors
Be proactive and tell the neighbors about your roofing plans. Depending on the space between homes and the access required, your roofing contractor may need to get their permission before setting ladders and other equipment on their property. Even if that’s not the case, your neighbors will no doubt appreciate the notice.
A final note for prospective sellers
If you’re thinking of selling your home anytime soon, you’ll want to be sure to tackle any necessary roof repairs before the inspection. For other pre-sale preparations tips, contact me.
*Source: Windermere Home Update September 2018
Fast Fixes That Sell Homes
If you’re planning to put your home up for sale this spring (one of the best times of the year), you probably already know that any deferred maintenance issues need to be addressed beforehand, clutter needs to be swept away, and the property needs to look its best inside and out. Here are nine industry secrets that will help you shape up your home faster than you ever thought possible:
Focus on the Entry – Your front door, and everything surrounding it, make a big first impression on potential buyers. Ideas for improvement include: repaint the steps and porch; buy a new door mat; update the address numbers; put out potted flowers; replace the mail box and/or porch light; or replace your whole front door with something more modern, attractive and/or secure.
Say Hello To The Sun – Buyer’s especially young buyers, want to see interior spaces filled with natural light. Trim any trees or shrubs that may be blocking windows. Wash the windows inside and out. Replace the window coverings, if necessary.
Consider A Hanging Fixture – Changing a plain, ceiling-mounted light fixture for a hanging model with character can transform a blah room in no time. Before making the switch, ensure that the ceiling wiring is designed to support the weight of a hanging fixture.
Remove Scuffs And Coffee Rings – The “magic cleaning sponges” that are made by several manufacturers let you wipe away stubborn marks from hard surfaces like countertops, floors, walls, grout, appliances and more, all without harsh chemicals. They are abrasive though, so avoid using them on fine furniture or surfaces where the lighting spotlights your scrub marks.
Install New Hardware – To update the look of built-in cabinets without repainting, install new hinges, handles and pulls.
Keep Insects At Bay – If ants and other insects typically get active around your home once the warm spring weather arrives, be proactive by hiring a professional pest control contractor now.
Restore Old Hardware – To remove layers of old paint from door hinges and other metal hardware, uninstall it, place it in a crock pot (one no longer used for food) with a teaspoon of dish soap, and set it on low heat overnight. The next morning, you’ll be able to easily scrape off all the old paint.
Swap Something Old For Something New – Installing a modern, digital thermostat is an easy way to give your old heating system a new-and-improved look. Swapping an old toilet seat for one that’s shiny and new can make the whole bathroom look better.
Learn Even More Industry Secrets – These are just a sampling of the ideas that can quickly make a home more desirable and sellable. Contact me, and I’ll be happy to share more.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update
Safely Storing Your Holiday Décor
In this issue of Home Update we will discuss holiday decorations and how they are some of the most difficult things to store. Fragile, easily damaged, oddly shaped and typically stored for most of their life, they pose a considerable challenge to even the best organizer. However, once you know the secrets for safely tucking these joyful items away, the frustration of packing and unpacking them will disappear, and you can be confident your home will looks its best when it comes to put them on display again.
The trick to keeping holiday lights from tangling is to wrap them around something . For shorter strings, try wrapping them around a clothes hanger, an empty shipping tube, even a flat piece of cardboard. Then secure the ends so things don’t come unwound. For longer strings and bigger bulbs, use one of the many extension cord holders available at hardware and home-improvement stores.
FRAGILE TREE ORNAMENTS
By far the best way to store your Christmas tree ornaments is in a large plastic storage bin with two or three layers of divided spaces. There are a variety of these “ornament storage bins” available at retail. Or, you can make your own: Fill the bottom of a storage bin with plastic drinking cups, place an ornament or two in each cup, lay a sheet of cardboard on top of that layer, and add a new layer of cups and ornaments.
Many of us display nativity scenes, chimes, candle holders and more on our mantles at the holidays. Some of these items are even heirlooms. To keep them safe throughout the rest of the year, fill a storage bin one-quarter full of foam packing pellets and gently lay your maple displays to bed there. Then fill the bin halfway full, and lay down another layer of these fragile decorations. Leave that layer exposed (and add no more foam pellets), and you’ll find it far easier later to unearth all the different pieces without making a mess.
Store your candles in the refrigerator and you’ll find they last longer, maintain their color and scent, and even burn more slowly. A good alternative to refrigeration is to wrap each candle in cellophane (not plastic wrap) and store them in a cool, dry place.
If your wreath is shipped to you, save the box as a storage container. Otherwise, a hat box can be used safely to hold and protect two, if not three, wreaths. Another option, place the wreath in a plastic bag to keep it from getting dusty, then hang it in the attic, the basement, or the back of a closet.
THE NEED FOR MORE STORAGE SPACE
Many homeowners say they don’t have enough room to store their holiday decorations and other belongings. If that’s true for you, let’s talk. Maybe it’s time to consider a bigger home.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update.