Start fresh this spring. After a long year – or at least a long winter – it is healthy and uplifting to start over and make your home feel like new again. There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. For many people, the pleasure comes only after the work is finished while come enjoy the actual work itself. Your spring cleaning may never become effortless, but you can make the project more manageable- and even enjoyable. Our advice to you is to make spring cleaning something to look forward to... View it as a privilege to have a chance to start over. Open up the windows, let in the fresh air, and give your home a deep-down spring cleaning that will make life new again.
We realize that spring cleaning is quite the task. It takes time and patience. Create a realistic schedule to keep yourself on track, bear in mind that a single weekend won't suffice, as you'll need several days for more involved projects, such as shampooing carpets and organizing closets. Whether you prefer to proceed from the attic to the basement or start outdoors and wind your way inside, be sure to focus on one task at a time. It will simply be finished faster if you check off your list in order instead of halfway finishing a task with plans to return later.
Another suggestion we have is to enlist your family to help tackle spring cleaning with you. You might find that making it a friendly competition could create a completely different and exciting atmosphere for your spring cleaning week – especially if you have younger children in the house. Assign a task to them and have them compete to see who can clean the best. This is a fun and an easy way to get the job done in a timely manner.
Spring cleaning does not have to be a burden and it is an incredibly great way to bring light and happiness to your home. This Spring Cleaning Checklist is extremely helpful in making sure you cover all areas of your home!
Click the image to find the printable version!
Checklist found at http://www.cleanmama.net/2014/03/free-spring-cleaning-checklist.html
What's the difference between a house and a home? A house is a structure you live in that provides for your basic needs and safety. A home is a place that provides you mental and emotional support, a place you look forward to being in to get away from the outside world. Do you feel that way about your home? If not, follow me...
Let's look at some things that can often get overlooked when creating a home — things that not only create a kind of sanctuary for you, but are also easy, free, and within your grasp.
Letting Go: It's possible to focus so much on decor, design, and picking the perfect furniture to reflect your personality and interests that can turn your house into a place of stress. How about taking a quick breather and
switching gears for a sec and not allowing that stress to enter your home? Trust it will all eventually come together and just let it all happen when it does. Try cherishing your home in all its different quirky stages. Your mind and wallet will thank you for it in the end.
Make It a Refuge: Do you have a place you go to in your mind that's a
no-stress zone? A place that you sneak away to that just calms you down and clears your mind? For me it's when I step into a yoga studio — the
outside world just seems to melt away. Now wouldn't it be incredible if that place was your home? How can you make that happen for you? Maybe try taking a few deep breaths before you open the door, or leaving all the
negativity outside on the front steps. What can you do to eliminate stress and worry from your house and make it a peaceful, happy place?
Spend Time There: This seems like a no-brainer, right? But it's not all that easy. How much time do you just spend in your home enjoying it? Do you hang out there and get to know it better? Or do you run out every chance you get? The more time you actually spend in your house, the more you may grow to love it. Even if it's not your ideal space, you can start to
appreciate it and make it work for you.
Share It: Do you share your home with others you love? Do you have friends over often for dinner or a movie? Or do you very rarely invite guests over because your house isn't perfect? The more happiness and laughter that enters your house, the more it is going to feel like a home.
Make Memories: This is a direct result of the previous tip. If you fill your home with people and laughter, you will be making memories all along the way. Filling your house with memories will quickly turn it from a mere dwelling into a home. You may not look back and remember this house for its amazing picture windows, or french doors, or balcony to the pool, but you will remember the birthday party where your best friend baked their first three layer cake and then the dog promptly knocked it off the table
resulting in impromptu ice cream cookie sandwiches with candles stuck in them.
Found At: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/cant-buy-happiness-5-
In the spirit of new beginnings, HGTV consulted the experts and to come up with some resolutions that will make your home a more beautiful, efficient, clean and green place in the coming year. Here are their five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:
1. Streamline the stuff
Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)
This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green. "Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken.”
2. Make it safe and sound
Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they're not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.
First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there's no reason not to get right on that.
While we're on the subject of deadly gas, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.
3. Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)
The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home: Remember your mom's advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night. Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads. Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them. Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use. Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary. Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.
4. Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean
Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco.
Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night - no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.
Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips: Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths - in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It's faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that's done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
5. Get your place ready for entertaining
Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update? You don't have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick. One easy update that makes your home seem more "finished" is the addition of plants, she says. "They bring in new energy and help clean the air," she says. "And it's a great way to decorate if you're on a budget."
Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.
Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.
Written by Leo Babauta
Many days, I try to humble myself and hold a 2-minute gratitude session. I simply sit or kneel, with no distractions, close my eyes, and think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for. I don’t do it every day, but let me tell you, on the days I do it, it makes me very happy. Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I’m grateful for make such a big difference in my life?
Just a few reasons:
Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life. It makes you
happy about the people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some ways.
Because it turns bad things into good things. Having problems at work? Be grateful you have work. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges. Be thankful they make you a stronger person.
Because it reminds you of what’s important. It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that your children are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over paying bills when you are grateful there is a roof over your head.
Because it reminds you to thank others. I’ll talk about this more below, but the simple act of
saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you. Just taking that minute out of your life to tell them why you are grateful toward them is important to them. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you little, but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will make you happy.
How to Live A Life of Gratitude
The thing is, simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much (especially once you get over the initial discomfort some people feel with thanking others). But they can make a huge difference.
Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. Perhaps you remember during your gratitude session. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person, just to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. Takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them or if they’re on your route. Almost as good is a thank-you email — keep it short and sweet.
Give thanks for “negative” things in your life. There’s always two ways to look at
something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad,
unfortunate, difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to be creative.
Learn a gratitude prayer. There are many prayers, religious or not, that can remind you to be grateful. Find one you like, and print it out or make it your desktop wallpaper. You can find many others on the Internet, or write your own. If you’re not religious, make one that doesn’t include the concept of God.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Hill Realty Team!!
Found at foxnews.com
Written by Laura Gaskill
If you are planning to put your house on the market this summer, it goes without saying that you are hoping to sell your home as quickly as possible and get close to your asking price. Set the stage for success with these 21 tips for styling and upgrading your home, and see results – fast.
1. Boost Curb Appeal. This is something you always hear, and with very good reason. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. Make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers with these tips:
· Power wash siding and walkways
· Hang easy-to-read house numbers
· Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery
· Mow Lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
· Wash front windows
· Repaint or stain the porch as needed
2. Welcome visitors with an inviting porch. Even if you have only a tiny stoop, make it say “welcome home” with a clean doormat, potted plants in bloom and – if you have room – one or two pieces of neat porch furniture. Keep your porch lights on in the evenings, in case potential buyers drive by. Illuminating the front walk with solar lights is a nice extra touch, especially if you will be showing the house during the evening.
3. Get your house sparkling clean. From shining floors and gleaming windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout, every surface should sparkle. This is the easiest (well, maybe not easiest, but certainly the cheapest) way to help your home put its best foot forward. You may want to hire pros to do some of the really tough stuff, especially if you have a large house. Don’t skimp – this step is key!
4. Create a gender-neutral master bedroom. Appeal to everyone with a clean, tailored master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. You can’t go wrong with clean, crisp linens, tasteful artwork, and a blanket folded at the foot of the bed.
5. Open those closets! Open-house visitors will peek inside your closets. Closet space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers, so show yours off to their full advantage by giving excess stuff the heave-ho. Again, this is really important, so even if you need to store a few boxes elsewhere, it’s worth it. Aim to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of spaciousness.
6. Clean up toys. Of course there will be families with children looking at your home, but just because they have kids too doesn’t mean seeing toys strewn everywhere will sell them on the place. When people are house hunting, they are imagining a fresh start. Show them that in this house, it is possible to have a beautifully organized kids’ room, and they might be swayed.
7. Use “extra” rooms wisely. If you have been using a spare bedroom as a dumping ground for odd pieces of furniture and boxes of junk, it’s time to clean up your act. Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Whether you buy inexpensive furnishings, rent them, or borrow some from friends, making a real room out of a junk room will have a big payoff.
8. Try a pedestal sink to maximize space. If you have a small bathroom but a huge cabinet-style sink, consider swapping it out for a simple pedestal version. Your bathroom will appear instantly bigger.
Among everything there is to do in December, decorating your home for the holidays is sometimes the most difficult task to accomplish as everything else takes priority. Even if you have the time, all the Christmas shopping can make budgeting for seasonal decor tough on the wallet. Fortunately, there are a myriad of ways to inject some holiday spirit into your home, even when you're short on time and money! We've asked some of our favorite decor bloggers for their Christmas decorating tips to help make your holidays less stressful and more enjoyable!
Hang Some Holiday Sparkle
An easy, yet splashy holiday decorating tip is to hang baubles at various lengths from your chandelier for extra bling. I like to use iridescent ribbon cut in varying lengths and inexpensive Christmas balls in an assortment of colors and finishes to give my chandelier some extra holiday sparkle.
Simplify The Season
Offset the hustle and bustle of this year's parties and potlucks with a pared back approach to holiday home decor. Soft lighting and sparkling mercury accents offer just the right note of seasonal charm and will look just as stunning in the New Year. Achieve the look effortlessly with a simple grouping of candles and flowers set in glistening votive holders and vases. Or, for a truly sensational vignette, fill mercury glass globes with strings of miniature lights and watch the magic unfold.
Instant Holiday Style
Decorating the house for the holidays is always fun and doesn’t have to break the bank. Adding ornaments, pinecones or winter floral to everyday bowls and vessels instantly creates holiday style. I especially love white pinecones in polished silver bowls or an ornament-filled tall vessel. I also love incorporating fresh winter floral like paper whites, white amaryllis or hydrangeas with magnolia leaves throughout the house.
Serve Up Sparkle And Shine
Repurposing everyday objects is one of my favorite decor tricks. Create a simple but stylish look for the holidays using a tiered serving tray. I like to pile it high with shiny ornaments in tones of gold, bronze, and white mixed with rustic pinecones for a look that is textured and unexpected. Top it off with a pearl-like strand of beads, throw in some crystal baubles and you have a quick and easy project that amps up the glamour factor of your holiday decor!
Keep It Green
Decorating with fresh greenery is the easiest way to bring a festive mood into your home. I love the simplicity of an unadorned, square boxwood wreath especially when layered in front of a mirror. Add a ribbon in a vibrant color (such as pink, tangerine or turquoise) and you have holiday decor that is unexpected and elegant, but not overdone.
A Vintage Display
I love to group a few treasured vintage pieces together in something unexpected like an old soda crate to create an impromptu tableau. Simple things like using old canning jars to display cherished ornaments or small items is a quick way to add a holiday touch. Acorns dipped in white paint are an easy DIY project. Combining vintage and handmade pieces into your holiday decor adds soul.
Fun, Festive And Affordable
One of my favorite holiday decorating tips is to use common objects from around the house. The challenge of finding suitable items and using them creatively is what makes it fun. This year, I’m loving the simplicity of red and white and decided to decorate the dining room sideboard in this color palette.
I started by filling a set of mason jars with objects found around the house - red and white candy, white pompoms, and red beads. Then I decorated some plain white plates from a dollar store using a red Sharpie to draw simple Christmas designs and holiday text. Finally, I used twine and cardboard to make rustic letters that spell 'JOY'. That’s it - our sideboard decorated with things from around the house. Simple, affordable, fun, and festive!
Colorful Christmas Cheer
I love getting down the big boxes marked 'Christmas stuff' and pulling out all the wreaths and ornaments like, well, a kid at Christmas! My decorations are a real mixed bag of sentimental things I had growing up, new items I seem to pick up every year, and handmade ornaments from my little ones.
I love a true berry red and I try to tie all the various bits together by using a consistent red throughout my holiday decor. I find it such a bright and cheery color in the dreary winter, and having punches of it everywhere always puts me in the festive mood. Year after year I never tire of it, and it also helps keep me in line when tempted by all the pretty decorations out there.
Thank you to the Style At Home Bloggers at styleathome.com for these wonderful ideas.
If people stop dead in their tracks to admire your residence, your house has curb appeal. According to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal sells more than half of all houses that go on the market. At the very least, it makes buyers take notice, gets them across the sidewalk or yard and inside the front door.
Real estate agents say that when you couple curb appeal with pricing the house appropriately, that figure climbs to 90 percent. What kind of property it is has a bearing on how it is perceived, but generally, the tidier, fresher and cleaner it looks, the more curb appeal it has. And painting is key. Sure, choices and tints can vary from region to region, but a spanking-new paint job that's crisp and fresh can really reel them in no matter where you live.
Painting can be very expensive, but it is the least expensive way to get the biggest return on your investment. Because painting is a maintenance issue, you can't say to a buyer, “Well, I spent X amount on painting.” But the expense of painting definitely will be reflected in the quality of the buyer's offer.
In the new-home market, exterior coloration is both art and science. For years, builders felt comfortable choosing exterior colors. However, in the last 10 years, the architect, designer and, in some cases, the land planner are being brought in early on in the process to choose exterior coloration.
While this kind of input consumes time and money, the rewards are huge. The new-home market is highly competitive. If the colors strike a chord with buyers, customers will beat a path to the builder's door.
Sometimes, the type of construction can limit the choice of paints and the surfaces to be painted. For example, townhouse communities don't give buyers much flexibility in exterior coloration. Generally, the builder determines the color of the siding and the trim, in consultation with the designer and architect. Buyers are given a half-dozen front-door colors to choose from. Single homes have much more flexibility in color, but there have to be limits. Builders tend to limit choices, and homeowners associations and civic groups tend to enforce those limits long after the builder has sold out and moved on. And for good reason. How other houses in a neighborhood are painted has a real impact on how your house is perceived by a buyer. If the house next door is loud and unpleasant-looking, it will affect both how well your home will sell and the price.
Do-it-yourself guru Bob Vila said he always tries to encourage consumers to ``be kind to their neighbors when picking color schemes. ``If you aren't sure what to paint your house, hire a consultant. That will save you money and aggravation in the long run.''
Even when no one is telling you what to paint your house, the colors you choose for your house will elicit an emotional response in the buyer. But what will turn a buyer on? If you're a procrastinator, you can try not painting your house and pray that prospective buyers will see past it. That’s not a good idea. Most buyers can only see what is in front of their faces. They can't see one color and change it in their mind's eye to something they might want. Then there is the 5 percent who can see past years of neglect.
What are people finding personally satisfying? According to a national survey by Sears Weatherbeater Paints, more than 37 percent of all Americans (23 million households) would choose white as the primary color in painting the exterior of their houses. In order of preference, the choices are white, gray, blue, tan and brown, cream, beige, green, yellow and, finally, red, Sears said.
Color is a funny thing. If I were choosing a color for resale, I'd go conservative. Still, lighter colors work better. A house that is dark isn't appealing. But bold colors are a risk. In older neighborhoods, a subtle brick red, a Williamsburg blue and hunter green on a stone house appear to be good choices. By and large, though, you'll see white and creams, especially on the trims, with a deeper color for the door. People want the feel of the old, and traditional colors are nice and soothing. In newer houses, the move is toward the neutral. Off-whites and clays are popular for trim. Front doors seem to be the focus of colors, even in houses other than townhouses.
Whatever your personal preference, you should always keep resale in mind. If you go off the deep end of the color spectrum, you could affect not only the value of your house but that of the entire neighborhood.
Written by Money Crashers
If you've had your home on the market throughout the spring and summer seasons and it still hasn't sold, you might be starting to sweat. The heat and pressure are on, and it's probably hard to believe that fall is already here. Once the cold sets in, the number of buyers out there starts sinking like a weight in water. Most people just don't want to shop for a home when it's 10 degrees out.
You still have some time, but you can't ignore the fact that the clock is ticking. Don't waste these days. You need to take advantage of this last buying hurrah before winter sets in, and a major part of your strategy should be to stage your home effectively, regardless of whether you're using a real estate agent or selling your house yourself by owner.
Follow these top five staging tips for autumn planning:
1. Focus on Fall Curb Appeal. When your house is on the market, your top priority should be your home's curb appeal. Unfortunately, however, keeping an attractive-looking yard gets tougher in the fall. Your summer flowers will have already come and gone, so make sure you dress up your front steps with pots of brightly colored mums, and a few pumpkins as soon as they're available.
You'll also want to make sure your yard and beds are kept clean of falling leaves. Keeping up with falling leaves can be a chore, especially when they start falling during peak season. Raking is no job for a
perfectionist, and a few leaves here and there are okay. Overall, however, you need to be sure that
potential buyers see your yard and home, not dim shapes covered up by three inches of leaves.
Lastly, realize that as your lawn plants, shrubs, and trees start to go dormant for the winter, paint chips and dirty siding will become even more noticeable. You don't want these little issues to become big
problems, and you definitely don't want to do repairs in the colder months. It's a good idea to pressure wash your home before it gets too cold.
2. Don't Go Overboard. Now that we've covered priority No. 1, remember the importance of
moderation. As important as staging is, the key to success is to keep yourself in check and know when to stop. You don't want to break your personal budget, and you don't want to over-decorate your home.
Between the weather, fall sports, and holidays, autumn is full of tempting reasons to decorate too much.
It's easy to go overboard, and plenty of people will make this mistake. Don't be one of them. Put a simple wreath on the door, grab a few potted mums for inside, and leave it at that. Remember, you want your buyers to remember the house, not your great fall or Halloween decorations. You just want some accents that make potential buyers realize what they could do if they owned your home.
3. Focus on Comfort. As the days get chilly, we all want to be in a cozy home. Once you've drawn potential buyers in, make them realize how comfortable they'd be during fall--and year-round.
Highlight the coziness of your home. Stack firewood in the fireplace so it's "ready to go," at least in your buyers' minds. Add some comfy touches like laying out your favorite blanket (e.g. drape lush
afghans over the side of the couch). Put out a few decorative candles, but don't light them. Remember, some potential buyers might have allergies or dislike certain smells.
Set up a small table with hot coffee and fresh-baked cookies, cider donuts, or any other local treats that will warm up your home and stick in buyers' minds. Finally, make sure every room is very clean.
4. Brighten up Your House. Autumn days get shorter and shorter, and the early sunset can weigh down emotions and lead to some tired house shoppers coming to your home experiencing seasonal affective disorder symptoms. So brighten your home, and their day.
Make sure you have bright, warm light bulbs in all of your lamps and fixtures. If it's even a little dark outside or getting slightly dim in a room, turn on your lamps. If you have a room that gets strong
afternoon sun or has a great angle at sunset, make sure the shades are wide open at the right time. No matter what time it is, your home should look bright, clean, and open.
5. Change Your Bedding. Don't let the warm and cozy theme stop on the main floor of your home. Your shoppers will be upstairs checking out the bedroom, so make sure it's just as cozy as every other room - if not more.
If your quilt is old and battered, change it for a new one. You can still sleep under your favorite quilt, but show off with a thick and luxurious one, even if it's just temporary. The bed is the focal point of the room, and the comforter sets the tone and establishes how the room will feel. It's crucial for you to make it warm, relaxing, and inviting.
Final Thoughts. It's a special time of year, and it's especially challenging for home sellers. You may have a distinct advantage, however, when you list in the fall. You'll probably be competing with fewer other homes on the market. And while it's tough to combat falling leaves and do repairs on chilly days, you have the benefit of wonderful fall foliage to make your home look picture perfect.
Fall is a season of change, and if your home is still on the market, it just means you need to switch up your plan. Change the feel of your home by making it feel warm and cozy for the fall season, and you'll be more likely to draw interest from potential buyers. Give the professionals a call at Hill Realty to seek further advice in putting your home on the market as we end the final quarter of 2014.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.