10 Things to Never, Ever Show When Staging Your Home


Selling a home is all about presentation, which is why home staging is such a big deal. A vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit—such details can really draw buyers in. And yet on the flip side, certain items lying around your home can kill any potential for a sale.

While you might think common sense would prevail and prompt people to hide this stuff, we think it’s worth reminding y’all, just in case. Before showing off your home to buyers (or any guests for that matter), make sure to stash these 10 things out of sight.

Watch: 5 Things You Should Definitely Hide Before Selling Your Home

Drug paraphernalia

Let’s state the obvious, shall we? Even if it’s legal in some states, not everyone approves of marijuana. Get your 3-foot bong off the coffee table and into storage, clean out the ashtrays, and stash the rolling papers. Now is also a good time to remove the “Yes we cannabis!” posters and your stack of “High Times” in the bathroom, too.

Mousetraps and roach motels

There’s no better way to say “This place is crawling with critters!” than to display these sure signs of aggressive pest control. Just tuck those items underneath the fridge, and pray the things they’re trying to catch don’t scuttle out when prospective buyers walk through the door.

Cameras by the bed

If you and your partner like to make your own private videos, more power to you. Just remember to move the camera.


Any kind of sex stuff, honestly

Personal massagers, oils, condoms—pack ’em up in a box and stick it deep in your nightstand or closet. Yes, it may sound obvious, but we’ve all stumbled across these items in someone’s home at some point. Awk-waard!


We understand hunting is a hobby, and we’re not here to judge you (not much anyway). But multiple animal heads on the wall and an upright stuffed badger chillin’ in the parlor can give an otherwise great-looking room a creepy or foreboding vibe.

For buyers, a new home often means the start of a new life, or an infusion of new possibilities. Dead animals, well, they can impose a feeling of dread that can linger throughout the entire showing (and perhaps long after). And those buyers who straight-up hate hunters may make a snap judgment not to deal with you. So even if you stuffed the beloved family pet, just keep it out of sight.

Firearms and other combat weapons

If you’re a gun aficionado, make sure your rifles are tucked away in a safe. For other weapons—like combat knives, throwing stars, swords, great axes, spears—try and clear them from view, or at least put them behind glass. Preferably in a cabinet that locks.

Creepy collections

Rooms stuffed with porcelain dolls, celebrity shrines, human skulls, a vast collection of disturbing cinema—these are things that could put buyers off. Way off! You want them to envision their own lives and family in the house; showcasing a collection of something that could be in a museum of medical oddities will only make people think of “Silence of the Lambs.”

Anything political

With a particularly contentious political season in full swing, you should get rid of any kind of party affiliation or presidential endorsement. The last thing you want to do is bring politics into a home sale, or have that topic come up at closing. Do a political purge, and get rid of any party signage.


You’re great, really. But when you’re showing your home, you need to make yourself scarce. Seriously. It’s something real estate agents really hate.

The departed

Not the movie—we’re referring to your loved ones. An urn carrying ashes of the deceased framed by family photos is a touching tribute, but unfortunately not something a lot of buyers want to see. You don’t have to sweep your loved one under the rug, but you may want to temporarily relocate them when home buyers come around.

Create An Inspiring Home Workspace in 6 Steps

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DIY Projects,Home Life,Decorating


Living in an apartment isn’t always easy. It requires careful and strategic layout planning, streamlining and updating. Fitting everything you need into a smaller space is a challenge, and when you finally succeed in creating a functional (and beautiful) space, it feels like a major victory (and a little more like home).

Case in point; after several years (yes, years) in the same apartment, I finally created a functional, bright, inspiring workspace. I was tired of using the old dining room table as a desk, sitting on a pillow on the chair and working in a dark corner.

So how do you do it? You downsize, invest in some new décor, personalize and you’re ready to work (and rock).


  1. Offload your big furniture. This will make a big difference and take your space from awkward to inviting. Donate your oversized furniture or sell it. Craigslist has been the go-to option for years, but new mobile-friendly apps like Offer Up are simple and extremely helpful.
  2. Find space-saving new (or refurbished) furniture. Once you’ve offloaded your old furniture, find something new (or new to you). You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the look you want. Stuck in a corner like me? Go bright with a white desk and shiny accents.
  3. Dust off your stored artwork and décor.I’m a fan of typography art, and after I put together my new white desk, I immediately unpacked my art to hang it on the wall. This simple update energized the space, personalized it and made it more welcoming.
  4. Recycle unnecessary documents and paperwork. There are certain things you probably shouldn’t get rid of (tax files, birth certificates, etc.). But if you have a pile of pay stubs from several years ago sitting in a drawer (guilty here), scan and shred them. Online storage options like Google Driveand external hard drives have encryption codes and security settings that help keep your files safe and secure.
  5. Get creative with your storage. Downsizing your furniture may make it tougher to easily keep things stashed away. So if you still have stuff, take a trip to a local shop like The Container Store and get stackable storage blocks with stylish drawers. Or install floating shelves for books and décor. Use your wall to your advantage!
  6. Add a pop of color. I needed a new chair and I figured more light might help the dark space. Grab a seat in a vibrant color, and get a contemporary and fun lamp or other accessory for extra desk flair.

Even if you can’t throw fresh paint on the walls, or you don’t have an awesome view, you can still create a workspace that energizes, inspires, and helps you stay on track. Now have fun, and get to work!


Buying a New Construction? Why You Need Your Own Real Estate Agent

Image result for pictures of new construction homes

 | Jul 12, 2017

When you’re house hunting, the allure of new construction is undeniable. You get to be the first to live in the pristine home—one untouched by grimy hands or muddy shoes. It’s full of brand-new appliances and the finishes and treatments that you picked to fit your aesthetic. And you won’t have to worry about making any cosmetic or structural upgrades for years.

If you are interested in buying a new construction, the builder’s agent will be ready to help you with the process. But make no mistake: You need your own real estate agent from the get-go. Even if it seems like plug and play to sign up with the builder’s on-site agent, you’re going to want someone representing your side of the deal.

What is a builder’s agent?

When you buy a new construction, the home’s builder is considered the seller, and the agent representing the builder is called the builder’s agent.

“The builder’s agent will always have the builder’s best interest in mind,” says real estate agent Jason Walgraves, with Re/Max Advantage Plus, in Lakeville, MN.

After all, the job of the builder’s agent is to get the highest price for the homes the builder is selling so the agent is not going to be as eager to negotiate down.

Why you should hire your own real estate agent

It’s a good idea to have your real estate agent accompany you on your first visit to the new construction. Why? Because the builder (aka the seller) will be responsible for paying the commission, and needs to know if you’ll have a real estate agent representing you. So bringing your agent to the first visit will make it clear that the builder’s agent will be on the hook for paying commission. Some builders might even refuse to pay your agent a commission if you don’t register the agent the first time you visit the home on a new construction site.

“Your real estate agent’s job is to help you get the most value for your money, with the least hassle and frustration,” says Patrick Welsh, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, in Houston.

When buying new construction, here’s what your real estate agent will help you with that you might miss out on if you stick with the builder’s agent:

  • Negotiating extras: Want upgraded counters or appliances in that new home? Your agent can help you with all those extra perks, amenities, and upgrades. “We can often negotiate with the builder on things like paint color or even the style of garage door, especially if the housing development is in the beginning stages,” Walgraves says.
  • Recommending financing: A builder typically will have a “preferred” lender that it will try to steer you to, but your real estate agent can help make sure that you’re getting the mortgage that works best for your situation. Shopping around is always wise, and you don’t want the builder’s agent pressuring you into using their suggested professional unless it’s right for you.
  • Overseeing a home inspection: Tempted to forgo a home inspection in new construction? Don’t do it, advises Welsh. “The number and severity of new-home defects often rival resale home problems,” he says.The builder’s agent is unlikely to push for or offer up an inspection, so it’s up to you and your real estate agent to make it happen.

How the builder’s agent can help you

All that said, the builder’s agent can be a valuable resource for learning about your potential new home.

“They are knowledgeable about the construction and available amenities, as well as the housing development and general community vibe,” says Walgraves. You can rely on the builder’s agent for background information—just don’t make this individual your sole point of contact on the buying and selling process.

Everyone wants to walk away from buying a home—whether it be a new construction or not—with peace of mind. Having a real estate agent in your corner will help facilitate that.

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9 Indoor Plants to Help Your Small Space Feel Like Home


DIY Projects,Home Life,Gardening,Decora


In the apartment community I live in, I have a neighbor who happily sits outside every few weekends, working on the flowers he planted in the small patch of land adjacent to his window. The landscapers take care of everything on the property, and the grounds are clean and beautiful. But pretty flowers are sparse, so I was happy to see this man take the opportunity to make at least a small part of the property look that much more vibrant.

There’s something about plants and flowers, how they brighten a living space, add to your decor and lift your mood. Like many who live in apartments or condos, I can’t exactly have a huge garden with veggies and pretty colors. If you’re lucky, you can take part in community garden projects. But if you don’t have that option, here are some great ideas for indoor plants (even if you lack a green thumb).


  1. Succulents – My niece has a thing for tiny succulent plants, and has scattered several throughout her apartment. They’re easy to take care of, come in all shapes and sizes, and (bonus) some, like Aloe Vera, even purify the air.
  2. Ivy – Want something with a little more drama? Devil’s Ivy (Golden Pothos) and English Ivy are both beautiful options, and like many indoor plants, help clean the air.
  3. Cactus – I’m a big fan of the desert, so it’s nice to bring it home. Want a pop of color? Try the Moon Cactus (Grafted Cactus).
  4. Moth Orchid – This is a gorgeous plant that’s easy to take care of. My trick? Whenever the moss is completely dry, give it a little warm water directly on the roots/moss until it’s soggy. They like warm areas but keep it out of direct sunlight.
  5. Ferns – They aren’t as generic as you might think, and come in all shapes and sizes. Try a Crocodile Fern for a touch of interesting texture.
  6. Ficus – Got a bit more space to spare? This small tree loves sunlight, and you can even braid its stems.
  7. Shamrock Plant – Feeling lucky? This charming little plant has cheery white flowers and is easy to take care of.
  8. Palms – Ready for a challenge? Bring the beach inside with smaller indoor palms, like the Areca Palm and the Sentry Palm. They’re a bit tougher to care for, but are worth the extra effort!
  9. Bonsai – Create a tiny work of art with your favorite Bonsai tree.

Once you dive into the world of plants, start your own small veggie garden in the kitchen! Fresh tomatoes; need I say more?

Deer-Resistant Shrubs

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List of Deer-Resistant Shrubs or Bushes

Burkwood Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie')
 Deer pests tend not to eat daphne. Andrey Zharkikh/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

Deer-resistant shrubs aren’t Bambi’s preferred snacks, although he’ll eat most any plant when really hungry. Consult this list of bushes if your landscaping budget isn’t big enough to feed Bambi.

Deer-Resistant Shrubs That Are Evergreen:

I often take bike rides in the Lyme, Connecticut (U.S.) area and observe people’s landscaping while I’m at it. One shrub I see a lot of in the landscapes there is boxwood.

One reason why, no doubt, is that this classic plant for hedges is a logical choice, aesthetically, in an area of upscale residences.

But there’s more to it than that. Lyme disease, an illness spread by a deer tick(Ixodes dammini) is named after this town, so you know that lots of Bambi’s relatives frequent the region! Homeowners here have figured out that Bambi tends to leave boxwood alone more often than not.

Boxwood is an example of a broadleaf evergreen. Among the needled evergreens, junipers make for some of the best deer-resistant shrubs. It’s understandable: Juniper’s texture is bristly (not exactly a treat for the tongue). Blue Star juniper is a small, slow-growing, rounded bush that’s a good choice in beds where a bluish accent is needed. Meanwhile, Blue Rug juniper serves as a ground cover; you’ll often see it growing on hillsides.

For a totally different look, try the Pfitzer Chinese junipers that have been trained into pom-poms.

Flowering Deer-Resistant Shrubs:

You get a 3-for-1 deal with arrowwood viburnum. This deer-resistant shrub bears colorful fall foliage and berries, to boot, in addition to blooming in spring.

Andromeda (Pieris japonica) is multidimensional, as well.

I could just as easily have listed it among the evergreens. But unlike boxwood and the other evergreens mentioned above, this bush is also grown for its blooms, which give off a powerful smell in early spring.

Bluebeard (Caryopterisblooms in late summer, at a time when relatively few bushes are flowering. It would be difficult to choose between this desirable tardiness of bloom and the beauty of the flowers when deciding upon the plant’s outstanding feature. In addition, bluebeard is drought-tolerant. Like bluebeard, Russian sage (a sub-shrub, technically) has bluish flowers with silvery-gray foliage and is drought-tolerant. But it blooms earlier and for a longer time than bluebeard.

Don’t dismiss all types of Buddleia as being invasive plants for all regions. First of all, Buddleia is invasive in some regions, while in others, it is not; do your homework before planting to determine its status in your own region. Secondly, as I point out in my article on ‘Blue Chip’ butterfly bush, the word is that this promising new cultivar is non-invasive.

More Deer-Resistant Shrubs:

While the search for a non-invasive butterfly bush has apparently ended with success, I’m still waiting to be convinced when it comes to another invader, barberry.

I’d stay away from planting this one for now. That’s too bad. With its sharp thorns, it’s easy to see why barberry is a deer-resistant shrub.

“Bayberry” may be only one letter off from “barberry,” but they are miles apart in other respects. Bayberry is a native of eastern North America, a shrub you’re more likely to see in the wild there than in people’s yards. It’s the fragrance of bayberry that deters our cloven-hoofed garden pests from eating it.

I’ve saved ‘Carol Mackie’ daphne for last because I could almost have put this variegated bush into either of the two categories above. While not technically evergreen, daphne is virtually so, being leafless for but a short span of time. And its fragrant flowers are one of the true delights of the spring garden.

Read about other classes of deer-resistant plants here (trees, perennials, ground covers, bulbs, ornamental grasses).

8 Things Realtors Do to Earn Their Keep


Have you ever wondered what on Earth your real estate agent is doing behind your back?

No, we don’t mean anything underhanded, naughty, or downright felonious—far from it, in fact. So relax. What we’re talking about is a mystery: In the sometimes confusing, occasionally hectic, and always stressful world of buying and selling, what are your agents really doing behind the scenes?


We’re here to shed some light! For every hour an agent spends in your presence, he or she will spend an average of nine hours out of eyesight working on your behalf. Why? Because agents don’t get paid if they don’t close the deal! Unlike lawyers who bill by the hour, agents won’t receive a penny until (or unless) a sale comes through. It’s all a gamble, in which they could shoot snake eyes and come away empty-handed. This is the business.

So if you’re wondering what agents do to earn their paycheck, we’ve compiled a list of things they do when you’re not watching (or should be doing—if they’re not, maybe you need a different agent!).

They shop property online

Don’t we all? And yet, their real estate research goes beyond oohing and ahhing over a few photos on a Saturday night. Darbi McGlone, a Realtor® with Jim Talbot Realty in Baton Rouge, LA, estimates she spends about two hours each day researching potential properties.

“This could include looking up flood zones, previewing the homes for out-of-state clients, or any number of specific things,” she says.

Plus, listings come and go fast in the real estate world, so agents need to check their multiple listing service database constantly, or else they’ll miss out. Sometimes the process of matching up properties with clients can take a very long time.

“I have a client who wants a Mid-Century Modern house in Carlsbad, but there aren’t many there,” says Rachel Collins Friedman, a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty in San Diego, CA. That means that she’s been searching the database regularly for that particular kind of property for three years (here’s hoping all that patience pays off).

They go prospecting

Of course, there’s nothing like seeing a house in all its brick-and-mortar glory, which is why most Realtors worth their salt spend tons of time driving around checking out new listings. In Friedman’s San Diego area, they call it “caravan day.”

“It’s a good way to preview properties, and it’s a good time to network with other agents and talk up your listing,” she says.

They attend pitch sessions

Agents don’t spend all their time sizing up homes. According to Friedman, they also spend tons of face time with other pros at pitch sessions—gatherings of local agents at cafes where they swap listing info in order to spread the word about your property if you’re selling, or to find the house that checks every box on your wish list if you’re buying.

They spend their own money on marketing

In addition to not getting paid until a deal is done, selling agents also spend their own money on marketing: magazine and newspaper ads, fliers, hiring a photographer, glossy prints, and premium placements on listing sites.

“Agents can spend thousands marketing a property,” says Friedman.

They write up offers and counteroffers

Offers and counteroffers are an extremely important part of the transaction, as they can save or net you thousands of dollars on a sale. Yet getting to the right price requires written offers and counteroffers every step of the way.

“It’s time-consuming to be writing them up, explaining to the client how to counteroffer and the ways to do so, and just keeping track of it all,” Friedman says.

They stick around for inspections

You might not be present when it’s inspection time, but a good agent will be. This gives the agent an immediate knowledge of what’s going on. Anything from termites to an iffy foundation can be relayed to the buyer immediately, according to Friedman. McGlone estimates inspections take roughly two hours.

They smooth bumps in the road

Not every sale goes smoothly—buyers and sellers get difficult all the time—but good agents try to shield their clients from the high drama unless there’s a reason to fill them in.

“It’s called putting out fires,” says McGlone. “It’s just fixing issues that a lot of times buyers and sellers never needed to be made aware of.”

They keep you calm when the pressure’s on

Good agents don’t just hand you a house. They can also act as a therapist, making your sale much less stressful.

“People get emotional. You have to be a problem-solver and keep a positive approach and come up with a positive solution,” Friedman says. “It might not take a lot of time, but it takes emotional energy.”

Tell that to your therapist.

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8 Great Front Porch Decorating Ideas That’ll Have Guests at ‘Hello’

By  | Jul 4, 2017

What is your front porch saying about you? If you’re like a lot of people, it’s probably not saying a whole lot. All too many homeowners slap down a welcome mat and call it a day, neglecting to give the space the design consideration they’ve given to the rest of their home.

But here’s the deal: Your front porch is one of the key elements that contributes to the curb appeal of your home and gives people a first impression, whether they’re driving by or walking up to ring your bell. Plus, when the weather is just right, it can be a great place to hang. So why not pep it up a bit?

“The closer people come to your home, the more they should get a sense of your taste and lifestyle,” says Donna Garlough, style director for Wayfair and Joss & Main. “A great porch will set the tone for what guests will encounter when they get inside—playful or formal, grand or family-friendly.”

Here are some tips and tricks to help you maximize your front porch’s potential.

1. Pile on the plants

“Every porch needs greenery,” says Lisa Melone Cloughen of Melone Cloughen Interiors in Morristown, NJ. She suggests mixing a variety of urn and planter-style containers and using a variety of plants in different colors, textures, and dimensions.

“Consider mixing taller plants with ivy and moss spilling over the sides,” she says. “Bold color combinations, such as orange and purple, look really great too. Perch a mix of succulents on a table or chair to add to the visual interest of the space.”

Photo by Glenna Partridge Garden Design – Plants placed at different heights will add dimension to your porch.

2. Shut the front door

Love color, but don’t want to go crazy on the interior? Your front door is a great place to play with paint. Christopher Grubb, president of Arch Interiors in Beverly Hills, CA, says while black and red are always good go-tos, other unexpected colors are more than acceptable. “Why not express yourself with a navy, deep burgundy, or a bold green? It immediately makes a statement.”

Leigh Meadows-McAlpin, a designer with Dwelling Interiors and Design in Charleston, SC, says that beyond color, you should also make sure the front door style is consistent with the architectural style of your home, and in good condition. “Make certain that the paint or finish is not peeling or chipping. Check the hardware (knobs, knocker, mail slot, hinges) to see that it all coordinates and is properly polished,” she says. “Great door hardware can really make a grand statement, for not a lot of money.”

Photo by Moderna Homes, Inc. – Fancy the idea of a bold color in your house but don’t have the guts to paint an entire wall? Try it on your front door!

3. Rugs, rugs, and more rugs

Many of the designers we spoke to suggested rugs as a way to brighten up porches.

“We can’t overemphasize how much of a difference a rug can make on a porch,” says Deborah Holt of Sunnyland Patio Furniture in Dallas. “It complements patio furniture, it feels great on bare feet, lets your guests know you’ve got it more than pulled together, and it’s a great way to hide any scuffs or scratches your porch might have,” she says.

Photo by Bountiful – Be sure you purchase an outdoor rug made of materials that can stand up to the elements.
And don’t forget that welcome mat, either. “A clean, well-kept mat makes the porch feel like part of the residence rather than the outdoors,” Garlough says. “I like a classic monogrammed mat made of coir (coconut fiber). Not only does it look crisp, it helps to brush dirt from your shoes as you step into the house.”

4. Light it up

Beyond its utility, lighting on your porch is also a design element you can play with to show off your home’s aesthetic. “Options include gas lanterns flanking your front door, copper pendant lights hanging from the porch ceiling, or architectural stair lighting,” Meadows-McAlpin says. “These all add a warm, welcoming glow to your front porch façade.”

Photo by Atlantic Archives, Inc. – While we can guarantee the appeal of porch lights, we can’t say they’ll make finding your keys in your bag easier.

5. Take a seat

Make the porch a place to linger by adding a comfortable place to sit and enjoy conversation. Depending on how much room you have, options may include a small bench or two, rocking chairs, or a porch swing. “Be sure to add a couple of side tables or garden stools for a place to put your favorite book or a glass of lemonade,” Meadows-McAlpin says.

Photo by Historical Concepts – Weatherproof pillows will make your swing comfortable enough to lie in all day.

6. By the numbers

One thing people seldom think about changing are the actual numbers on their house—most still display the original ones the builder installed! But new numbers can contribute a lot of personality with minimal effort.

“I like to pick styles that reflect the age and style of the home, such as crisp sans-serif numerals on a midcentury house, or a traditional post-mounted mailbox in front of a colonial home,” Garlough says. “I live in an 1860s Victorian row house, so we went with gold house numbers on the windows and an ornate iron mailbox that gives the front stoop a very vintage feel.”

Photo by Tongue & Groove – Don’t underestimate the power of bold house numbers.

7. Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas

Wreaths with mixed foliage—from faux boxwood and magnolia to twigs and cotton bolls—can be kept on your door all year. “Of course, it’s nice to change your wreath out once or twice a year for variety, or you can just add a few seasonal garnishes, like faux flowers in the spring or shiny ball ornaments come winter,” Garlough says.

Photo by Jeffrey Dungan Architects – A rustic wreath—sans holly—is an ideal year-round adornment for your front door.

8. Keep it neat

Once you decorate your porch, make sure you don’t forget about it, and regularly clean the furniture and items that are left out to endure rain, wind, and other rough weather. Christina Kretschmer of K+V Homestacking puts it simply: “Dirty furniture is not inviting.”

And as with most things in life, moderation is key. “Keep the focus on the entry, and avoid overwhelming your porch with too many miscellaneous accessories,” says Meadows-McAlpin.

Your long-neglected porch might just become one of your new favorite spaces.

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8 Tips and Tricks to Get More Storage From a Small Closet



Get ideas for arranging your clothes closet with 8 combinations of shelves, hooks, rods and drawers.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

Large, luxurious walk-in closets may be the stuff dreams are made of, but they are not always the reality. If the closet space you have to work with is on the petite side, there’s still plenty you can do to make the most of it. From ultraslim shelving to wall-mounted storage, here are steal-worthy ideas from eight closets that put every inch to work.

1. Dresser + hanging rod + curtains. Replacing the closet doors with curtains has freed up some much-needed space in this small bedroom, allowing access to every inch of the reach-in closet. Inside the closet, a high shelf holds baskets (perfect for storing less-used items) over a hanging rod, with a dresser below. The dresser top is put to work too, with a wire storage basket and space for a few pairs of shoes.

Best for: Reach-in bedroom closet.

See more of this bedroom

2. Tall bookcase + hanging rods + wall hooks. A tall, shallow bookcase anchored to the wall provides ample storage space for folded clothes and accessories in this petite closet. Opposite the shelving, rods hold hanging clothes and a set of wall hooks provides a handy drop spot for scarves and jackets.

Best for: Narrow walk-in closet.

3. Shelves under eaves + short hanging rod. Shelves in graduated sizes make the most of this space beneath a sloped ceiling. Two wide drawers hold folded clothes below, and a short rod provides space for hanging items.

Best for: Bedroom with sloped ceiling.

4. Wall-mounted shoe rack + hanging rod + high shelf. A slim wire shoe rack mounted on the wall holds plenty of pairs without taking up precious floor space. At the back of the closet, two high wire shelves over the hanging rod hold luggage and other infrequently used items.

Best for: Deep, narrow closet.

5. Shelves + crates + lidded boxes. A simple setup with wall-mounted shelving is made more functional with the addition of crates to keep bulky items from toppling over. Wall hooks hung both low and high keep bags and belts neatly stowed, and lidded boxes provide a spot for stashing small accessories.

Best for: Small closet with more folded than hanging clothes.

6. Hanging rod + high shelf + floor basket. An easy setup for a petite closet, this allows room for hanging items on the single rod, with a storage shelf above and a basket on the floor to hold accessories (or clothes to be dry-cleaned). If your closet is a bit wider, add shelving to the wall opposite.

Best for: Small closet with more hanging than folded clothes.

7. Extra-high hanging rod + step stool. Take advantage of a space with a high ceiling by hanging a second rod extra high, and use it to store off-season or less-used clothes. This frees up the lower portion of the closet for shelves, with wire baskets to keep small items and accessories neat. Be sure to keep a step stool handy to reach the upper rod.

Best for: Petite closet with high ceiling.

8. Shelves + drawers + dressing table. With shelves on one side, a short hanging rod on the other and dresser drawers in the center, this petite closet fits in a little bit of everything. The mirror against the back wall turns the drawer unit into a dressing table with room for jewelry, perfume and other getting-ready essentials. Open bins on the highest shelves keeps less-used items out of the way but still easily accessible.

Best for: Small reach-in closet with mostly folded clothes.

Tell us: Do you have a small closet? Share a photo in the Comments!

More: Professional Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Closet

Related Reads
Curtain Rods to Replace Closet Doors
Store Clothes in a New Bookshelf
More Small Bedroom Ideas


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What Successful Home Sellers Need To Know

 Image result for pictures of sellers and houses


I just heard from my longtime friend, Paul, who shared the news that he and his wife had just sold their beautiful house and would be moving in a few weeks. I was surprised to hear this because their sweet little craftsman was their empty-nester home, the smaller place they’d down-sized into after their kids had grown and gone and begun families of their own. Plus, Paul’s green thumb had turned the yard into a real standout. But things change and now, to be closer to the grandkids, a move was in order.

I’m thrilled for my friends, of course. In our red-hot real estate market they got multiple offers and, no surprise, sold for over-asking. I expect there’ll be an invite to a housewarming party soon.

Whether they’d planned to or not, Paul and his wife were part of an annual ritual: the spring/summer selling season. That’s the time of year when flowers start to bloom and for-sale signs sprout on front lawns everywhere – even your friends’.

Deciding to sell your home isn’t a choice you make lightly. In addition to knowing exactly why you want to move, you need to find a broker, prep and primp your home for sale, and understand who today’s buyers are and what they’re looking for so your home can showcase  it and make it stand out from the others on the market .

If that all sounds like a lot to consider, well, it is. But the process of selling a home is much easier when you know what to expect.

Here is a checklist to help get your home ready to sell for top dollar.

winter home maintenance checklist

I’m just a phone away call Leslie 253.312.0447

email:   leslieSwindahl@HawkinsPoe.com



What Is a Good Credit Score? The Number You Need to Buy a Home


What is a good credit score—and why should you care? Simply put, no number is more important to prospective home buyers than their credit score. These three digits are a numerical representation of your track record paying off your debts, from credit cards to college loans. If you’ve applied for a mortgage to buy a home, lenders check your credit score. If it’s high, getting a mortgage will be a breeze; if it’s low, you may struggle.

So now that we’ve got your attention, the question remains: Exactly what is a good credit score? What number are we talking about here?


Watch: What Is a Good Credit Score?

Here’s the deal: A perfect credit score is 850. But all scores 760 and above are considered to be in the best credit score range. Since this means you’ve shown an excellent ability to pay off your past debts, mortgage lenders want your business—and will try to entice you by offering loans with the lowest interest rates, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

A good score is from 700 to 759; a fair score is from 650 to 699. Since a lower score means you’ve had some late payments or other dings on your credit history, lenders see you as more likely to default on your home loan. They may still give you a mortgage, but at a higher interest rate, says Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com.

Credit scores below 650 are deemed poor, meaning your credit history has had some rough patches. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t qualify for a loan, but it may be tough, and you’ll pay a higher interest rate for the privilege.

How credit scores are calculated

Three major U.S. credit bureaus track and tally your scores: ExperianEquifax, and TransUnion. Their scores should be roughly similar, although each pulls from slightly different sources (Experian looks at rent payments while TransUnion checks out your employment history). But by and large, here are the main variables that determine your score, and to what degree:

  • Payment history (35%): This is whether you’ve made debt payments on time. If you’ve never missed a payment, a 30-day delinquency can cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop in your score.
  • Debt-to-credit utilization (30%): This is how much debt you’ve accumulated on your credit card accounts, divided by the credit limit on the sum of your accounts. Ratios above 30% work against you. So if you have a total credit limit of $5,000, you will want to be in debt no more than $1,500 when you apply for a mortgage.
  • Length of credit history (15%): It’s beneficial to have a track record of being a responsible credit user. A longer credit history boosts your score. CreditKarma.com, a credit-monitoring service, found that its members with scores above 750 have an average credit history of 7.5 years.
  • Credit mix (10%): Your credit score ticks up if you have a rich combination of different types of credit accounts, such as credit cards, retail store credit cards, installment loans, and a previous mortgage.
  • New credit (10%): Research shows that opening several new credit accounts within a short period of time represents greater risk to the mortgage lender, according to myFICO.com, so avoid applying for new credit accounts if you’re about to buy a home. Also, each time you open a new credit account, the average length of your credit history decreases (further hurting your credit score).

How to check your credit score

You can check your own credit report—and should, because it will help you pinpoint areas for improvement. Even if you’re fairly sure you’ve never made a late payment, one in four Americans finds errors on his credit report, according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission survey. Errors are common because creditors make mistakes reporting customer slip-ups. For example, although you may have never missed a payment, someone with the same name as you did—and your bank recorded the error on your account by accident.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your full credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Keep in mind, the report does not include your score—for that, you’ll have to pay a small fee. You can also check with your credit card company, since some (like Discover and Capital One) offer free access to scores and reports.

If you discover errors, take these steps to get them removed from your report. Or, even if your credit report does not contain errors, if it’s not as great as you’d hoped, you can raise your credit score. Just keep in mind, you won’t improve a credit score overnight, which is why you should check your credit score annually—long before you get the itch to start house hunting.

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
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