10 Surprising Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

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An organized home is a happy home.

So real talk…how did your 2016 resolutions go? It’s that time of year again when we break out the running shoes, eat healthier for a couple of weeks and pledge to get our lives more organized. However, how are we supposed to eat healthier if our pantries are over flowing or be inspired to hit the pavement every morning if we are looking at piles of clothes? To lead a more organized and inspired life in 2017 the clutter around you must be cleared. It’s simple, if your home is organized your mindset will be too.

A clean and balanced home is actually a launching pad for all of your other resolutions. So if you are already starting to fail at your self-resolutions try this home resolution – find more space in your home by clearing out the clutter. Follow these ten tips and I promise you it will inspire you to complete your other resolutions and lead you to a more organized, happier year!

1The pantry. Create room by removing the large and awkward food packaging. Purchase clear, air-tight containers, take the box of your food item, and cut out the product name, nutritional facts and expiration date. Tape them to the inside of your clear container and then seal the food.

2. The pantry shelves. Arrange the food on your shelves to help keep your resolutions. Make “first choice” shelves for the food that you want to stay on that diet. Make shelves that are for the kids snacks or foods that you’re just not going to have on a regular basis anymore… You get the idea –some shelves are just for the once a week treat. Some are for every day.

3. The pantry. If you like to buy in bulk, put the bulk of your paper goods in another location, perhaps a closet or the garage, and place only what you need in your pantry— restock as needed.

4. The kitchen. When storing pots, pans and other durable items, stack them on their sides like files. This simple step not only creates more room, it also allows you to see exactly what you need. Caddies or sorters from a shelf or container store are great tools for vertical organizing

5. The dresser. Place clothing in drawers vertically (not the traditional horizontal piles) because it not only maximizes space, it allows you to find items more quickly. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer.

6. The closet. If your shoes don’t have a place they end up in a pile taking up valuable space. Place shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see everything and tape their photo to the inside of their container with photo facing out. This little step gives you triple duty: more space, you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…

7. Use color to keep it straight. Organize your closet and drawers dark to light. It can be great way to find out that you really have way too many black blouses… and you can keep your resolution of being a kinder gentler you by donating the extras!

8. The kids’ rooms. Purchase bed raisers for under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room.

9. The baby’s closet. Is there room to add another bar? Take advantage of the fact that baby clothing is smaller and if you can, add an additional bar to hang the clothing to maximize space. You can purchase premade closet organizers that you can customize to make the most out of baby’s closet.

10. The best trick to more space in your home, less is more! So if you find you have extra things laying around, throw a reverse housewarming party! You will be starting a new party trend. Set aside your unwanted items and instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, they are to pick one of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with friends, find your unwanted things a good home, and de-clutter all at the same time!

Now that the clutter around you is cleared your mind will be clearer to meet all those 2017 goals!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services

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4 Easy Holiday Home Fragrance Ideas

orange and clove

Scrambling for the perfect holiday fragrance to accompany your awesome décor this year? There’s still time to create your own custom blend! Avoid chemical filled plug-ins and toxic sprays, and be inspired by pine, cinnamon and orange. Your guests will love these ideas and the happy holiday memories will be that much sweeter.

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Christmas Potpourri

Gather dried fruits, pine cones, flower petals, and place everything in a bowl for a lovely and inviting centerpiece. Bonus: wrap in a pretty baggy with a ribbon and give away the goodness.

Festive Oranges

Grab whole oranges and cloves to create artsy and sweet attention grabbers. Use ribbon for additional flare.

Jars of Spice

I’ve seen these DIY gems everywhere online this year! Grab a pint jar or a pan, and your favorite fruits, spices and herbs. Combine with water and safely heat on the stovetop for an amazing aroma throughout your home.

DIY Scented Candles & Logs

Why buy something when you can easily make your own? Take any unscented candle and place a drop of your favorite fragrant oil right next to the wick. You can also use essential oil on your logs for the same effect next time you use your wood burning fireplace.

If all else fails and there’s just no time, a tasty batch of baked cookies also does the trick. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

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How to Winterize a House: Tips to Prevent Ice Dams, Drafts, and More

winterize-house

When the weather turns chilly, your house needs to button up, too. And the way to do that is to learn how to winterize your house. No, not once the snow starts falling, but now. Trust us, you’ll want to nip any issues in the bud before the temperature drops too much.

Here’s a handy list of things to check on your house to keep it cozy, save on energy bills, and prevent a nightmare’s worth of damage you’ll have to tackle come spring (or even worse, in the dead of winter).

Conduct a pre-winter inspection

First, size up how prepared your house is for winter by taking a walk around its perimeter and eyeballing these features, says Bob Hanbury, a Newington, CT, builder for 40 years and a board member of the National Association of Home Builders:

  1. Check the ground to make sure it slopes away from your house, which helps prevent melting ice and snow from seeping into your home.
  2. Look for gnawing marks on vents and trim, which signal that critters are trying to make their winter home in your attic. If you see teeth marks, patch holes to discourage unwelcome visitors. The animal type, that is.
  3. Inspect caulking around doors and windows to make sure it’s not cracking or peeling, which will let cold air in and heated air out, increasing winter energy bills.
  4. Check roof shingles, and replace any that are curled or missing.
  5. Cut back tree branches overhanging the roof, which could cause damage during storms.

How to prevent ice dams

Those darn ice dams.

Ice dams, however lovely they may sound, are ice mounds around the edge of your roof created when melting snow can’t drip into gutters, through downspouts, and away from your house. Ice dams are not your friends.

If any of those exits are blocked with leaves or ice, then water stays on your roof and continually melts and freezes, causing dams that push water under eaves and into your home.

Adequate and properly installed insulation helps prevent ice damming; so does making sure gutters and downspouts are in good shape and unblocked by leaves, bird nests, and other debris.

If ice damming has been a past problem, you can increase your odds of a drip-free winter by laying heating cables along the edge of your roof, in gutters, and down spouts, which will keep ice from forming. Cables typically cost $200 to $400, depending on the size of your house.

How to protect pipes in winter

Mother Nature laughs at the calendar (true) and can create a hard frost weeks before or after you expect. So it’s a good idea to protect outside garden hoses by detaching them and turning off the water to outside spigots by Thanksgiving.

After you shut off water valves, open spigots to let water drip out and prevent freezing, which can burst pipes.

And while you’re disconnecting garden hoses, hold them waist-high as you’re coiling them. That will let water drip out, keeping your basement dry if you store hoses there in the winter, or prevent cracks from frozen water if you store hoses in an unheated garage.

How to save on energy bills this winter

Another essential aspect of winterizing is making sure your home keeps heat in and cold out! Here are some ways to make that happen:

  • Clean or replace filters: Before temperatures drop, make sure your furnace is blowing hot air. Clean or replace filters, “the most important piece of preventive maintenance you can do for your furnace,” says Mike Clear, vice president of operations at American Home Shield, the country’s largest provider of home warranties based in Memphis, TN. Also vacuum burners to remove dust and debris, and be sure drapes and furniture don’t block floor vents. It’s also a good idea to hire an HVAC professional to oil the furnace blower motor annually.
  • Seal leaks: Sometimes stopping hot air from escaping your home is as easy as stuffing a draft snake (a tubelike cushion) under doors. You can make your own by filling a knee sock with dried beans or popcorn kernels. Other ways to stop air leaks are to replace weatherstripping around windows, replace door and window screens with storm doors or windows, or replace old door sweeps on exterior doors.
  • Cover water heaters: If your water heater is located in a garage, attic, or other unfinished space, cover it with an insulated water heater blanket that will help prevent heat loss.
  • Maintain fireplaces: If your wood-burning fireplace is just decorative, plug and seal the chimney flue to make sure heated air doesn’t, literally, go up the chimney. If you still burn wood, close the flue when you’re not making a fire.

 

4 Reasons to Buy Your Dream Home This Winter

4 Reasons to Buy Your Dream Home This Winter | Keeping Current Matters

As the temperature in many areas of the country starts to cool down, you might think that the housing market will do the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are 4 reasons you should consider buying your dream home this winter instead of waiting for spring!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.3% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Projected to Increase

Your monthly housing cost is as much related to the price you pay for your home as it is to the mortgage interest rate you secure.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are currently at 4.08%. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.


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The 2016 Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide

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We’ve laid out a comprehensive smart home gift guide for this year’s holiday season and everyone who will be gathered in your home.

The holidays are right around the corner. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have time to get something special. For the second year in a row, we’ve put together the Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide for everyone on your list.

For the one selling their home: Smart Home Staging Kit

Smart Home Staging Kit

According to a Coldwell Banker survey this year, 71 percent of Americans want a move-in ready home and of them, 44 percent believe move-in ready means the home must have smart home technology. That means that people serious about selling should seriously consider “smart staging” their house. This kit has it all, including a Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, Nest Cam, August Smart Lock, August Connect and a Lutron Caseta Lighting Kit. You can even opt-in for professional installation. The kit is offered at a promotional rate of $999 for clients of Coldwell Banker affiliated agents.

For the one buying a home: A Vivint Complete Smart Home Package

vivint smart home complete

The package is perfect for new homeowners who want to keep their home safe! The Vivint Complete package comes with home security, smart home technology, data storage and installation. Vivint’s smart home pros are also available to help monitor their home 24/7, 365 via their mobile app or customer service. Prices vary by location, but you can request a quote online.

For the forgetful friend: August Locks

August Smart Lock

Got any friends who always lose their keys or lock themselves out by accident? An August lock will ensure they never call you to borrow that set of spare keys they’ve asked you to hold on to. The device is placed on the inside of their door and allows users to open doors with their smartphones. Don’t worry, traditional keys work too (in case they also forget their phones)! The price starts at $299.

For the chatty friend: Amazon Echo

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You already know who the chattiest person at your holiday party will be. This holiday season, introduce them to the gadget that will satisfy their chatting needs and talk back to them. The Amazon Echo is the hands-free speaker they can control with their voice. The voice inside the Echo is named Alexa, and she can do just about everything from turn on the lights to buy more detergent. Amazon Echo products start at $179.99.

For the sleep and nap aficionado: Beddi Smart Alarm Clock

beddi smart alarm clock

This device won’t comb out their bed-head, but it will make sure they wake up on time and peacefully. The Beddi Smart Alarm Clock uses their favorite Spotify playlists, soft lighting and various other functions to ensure a smart (and timely) start to their morning. It can even charge their phone overnight and tell them the weather as soon as they wake up. Prices start at $99.

For the one who is always cold (or always hot): Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermo

Never again will they gripe about the house being too hot or too cold – it will be just right. The Nest Thermostat allows users to control their home heating and cooling remotely from their smartphones to ensure their home is the perfect temperature upon arrival. The Nest is also intuitive, so it will learn their tricky heating and cooling preferences. The best part? It can save them money on heating and cooling. The Nest Thermostat is priced at $249.

For the one who is always on the go: Chamberlain MyQ Garage

chamberlain myq

Have a relative who’s always running around town? The Chamberlain MyQ Garage sensors connect with their smart phones to ensure their garage opens and closes without wasting any of their precious travel time. The starter kit is priced at $129.99 and additional sensors can be purchased for an added $37.

For the safety-first folks: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Nest Protect

The Nest Protect is a two-in-one alarm that tests for smoke and carbon monoxide. It also tests itself automatically and lasts for up to a decade without having to change the batteries. Your safety conscious relative will receive alerts from the Next Protect to their phone and they can also disable the alarm remotely. The Nest Protect starts at $99.

For the grillmaster: Lynx Smart Grill

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Chilly temperatures may drive us inside but the grillmaster always is thinking of their next summer barbecue. The Lynx Smart Grill comes in various shapes and sizes, but the coolest part is how it uses voice activation. The Smart Grill prompts users on what to do and when to do it, for example, “Flip the burgers in two minutes”.

For the savvy crockpot-er: Belkin WeMo Smart Slow Cooker

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We all know someone who swears by the crock-pot! This crock-pot is like any other except users can control it directly from their phones. That means that their delicious eight-hour roast can go on when they get to the office and be ready by the time they get home from work. Plus, this gift guarantees they’ll invite you over for dinner! The product is priced at $129.99.

For your four legged friend: CleverPet

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Who says your pup doesn’t want a smart home too? Get your furry friend a CleverPet, a feeding bowl that teaches them sequences and memory games. The device has touchpads that your pet can tap for food and brain games. Plus you can track their progress and schedule playtime from your phone while you’re away from home. Hey – every smart house has to have a smart dog! Prices start at $299.99.

Whether you buy these gifts for others or keep them to yourself, it’s clear to see that smart home products are not only great to put under the tree, but also a great investment for the home!

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5 Top Home Improvements that Pay Back When You Want to Sell

Entrance of a luxury house. Exterior design.

When renovating, it’s important to consider resale value. Here are five top home improvements with the highest return on investment according to Renovation Magazine, and where in the country to implement them for the biggest resale boost.

Whether you’re renovating to sell, or plan on enjoying the results for years to come, you may want to consider which upgrades will give you the greatest return in terms of resale value — which may change depending on where you live. Here are five top home improvements with the highest return on investment according to Renovation Magazine, and where in the country to implement them for the biggest resale boost.

1. Attic Insulation

While arguably not the most exciting upgrade on the list, boosting the R-value in your attic through some extra insulation has the potential for a huge return — earning back on average 117 percent of the cost to install across the nation — and who wouldn’t want to be up money at the end of the day?

Attic insulation plays a huge role in your home, from preventing ice dams in the winter to keeping your home cooler in the summer, which is why it can garner up to a whopping 144 percent return in very hot or cold climates (think New England or the Gulf Coast). But, no matter where you live, if you’re looking for a renovation that will impact your comfort and resale value, this is the one.

2. Stone Veneer

Since first impressions are so important in real estate, it’s no surprise that three of the top five renovations on the list have to do with ramping up the curb appeal of your house. Manufactured stone veneer is generally used to replace the bottom third of siding on a home’s exterior to provide an earthy, modern touch. Though it is a good bet no matter where you are, with a 93 percent return on average, homeowners right up the Pacific Coast could make back more than the cost of the renovation come selling time.

3. Garage Door

Whether you’re going for a traditional, carriage house feel, or sleek and modern, a new garage door is a fantastic upgrade, which will garner a nearly 92 percent return on investment nationwide. There is really no area of the country where a new garage door is an ill-advised renovation; however, homes in colder climates would benefit from an insulated door, versus their Southern counterparts.

top home renovation garage door

Image Source: StockSnap.io

4. Steel Entry Door

Upgrading your front door is one of the fastest ways to increase curb appeal and create an inviting entrance to your home. It’s also a great investment with an average return of 91 percent. If your home is already equipped with a steel entry door, consider new hardware and a fresh coat of paint to create a budget-conscious version that will create similar results.

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel

If you were wondering when we’d get to what is widely considered the most important room in the house, you’ll be happy to know that spending money on a minor kitchen remodel will actually produce a bigger return than a major overhaul, with an average return of 83 percent versus only 65 percent for a major upgrade. What’s more, if you live in the Pacific, or South Atlantic regions of the country, you will earn even more for your kitchen reno — up to 103 percent in fact, which will help you enjoy the fruits of your labor even more. Keep in mind, that a minor kitchen remodel is defined as using the existing cabinets, but replacing cabinet fronts and facings, hardware, appliances, sink, and floors.

kitchen renovation

Regardless what you choose, keeping an eye on resale when you renovate, even if you don’t plan on moving, will protect your home as the largest investment you will likely ever make — and ensure that the payback for these top home improvements is there for you when you need it.

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The 7 Do’s of Holiday Decorating When Your Home Is for Sale

You can still be festive. These tips will help you celebrate — without alienating would-be buyers.

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Houzz Contributor, Neila Deen

Selling your home through the holiday season can certainly come with a few challenges. Chilly, wet weather and falling leaves in November and December might mean more raking and shoveling to keep your home pristine. However, the damp weather and dark skies don’t have to squelch your holiday spirit. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to showcase the warmth and character of your home to prospective buyers.

If you’ve already got the basics of staging under control — meaning you’ve pared down, freshened up and added a splash of color — you’re ready to follow these seven do’s to create an appropriately festive home for sale.

M&S Christmas 2014

1. Do choose appropriately sized holiday decorations. Be thoughtful about the size of decorations you use. A good question to ask yourself is whether the piece helps to positively showcase the space, light and charm of the room. Or does its large size detract from the best features? Your goal is to be festive while honoring the value of your home.

Autumn Decor

For example, displaying a large multipiece holiday installation might be a family tradition for your living room, but doing so won’t highlight the value and space of that room. Perhaps find a new home for this piece on the front porch, or display only a smaller portion of the installation on a table.

Traditional Living

Similarly, you might have to trade in that huge fresh evergreen tree that you look forward to every year for a slightly smaller version. Large trees and decorations, while festive, may make the room look smaller. Choose an oversized tree only if you have a really large room.

Hill Section Residence

2. Do mind the light. Be sure your holiday decorating efforts don’t block any natural light from windows and doors. Though this may be a common sense tip, it may not be as easy to adhere to as you’d think, since windows are one of the most common places to place holiday decor. Just think of what you see when driving through your neighborhood during the holidays: Many residents affix decorations directly to the windows, place large, brightly lighted trees directly in front of them or install candles or figurines on the windowsill. We just love to showcase our holiday spirit to the world.

Christmas Trees

For the selling season, try placing your holiday pride far from the window. You might put decor outside your front door or, if inside, in an unobtrusive corner. If you absolutely must locate decor near a window, then place it far enough away that the natural light still flows in. Otherwise, by reducing the natural light, you’ll detract from the value of the room.

Scandinavian style on a budget in a small city apartment

3. Do coordinate with the colors of the room. Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your room, think twice about using those specific pieces. Fortunately, there are tons of creative ways to add holiday accents without throwing off your palette.

Home for Chanukah

Metallics are one nonintrusive way to add a little festive holiday flair. Gold, silver or copper holiday accents pair well with almost any color scheme. White is also a peaceful, festive, yet still neutral accent color for almost any holiday decorating effort. Try replacing multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights to give your room a more elegant feel.

Winter Holiday Decor

4. Do keep movements and sounds to a minimum. Moving parts, loud noises and even festive music will be a distraction for potential buyers. So please don’t welcome buyers with a singing toy soldier or dancing snowman. But if you must have those items on your mantel, then be sure to turn them off during showings. The same goes for flashing lights. Opt for simple white static lights that cast a beautiful glow, creating a neutral holiday feeling for many buyers.

Stoll Christmas House

5. Do decorate to showcase your home’s architectural features. Holiday decorating can give you a brilliant opportunity to highlight your home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights.

Christmas Decorating

Be mindful not to cover up any valuable structural details such as a beautiful wood floor or crown molding. Remember, less is more when staging, even when decorating for the holidays.

Christmas Holiday Decor

6. Do use exterior holiday decorations to add curb appeal. Holiday decorations are a fantastic way to spruce up the exterior of your home and add some color. Wreaths, thoughtfully lighted shrubs and the occasional ribbon or bow on a mailbox can be tasteful ways to deck the exterior for the holidays. These elements will certainly add curb appeal and pleasantly welcome your potential buyers.

Holiday decorations

While a frenzy of flashing lights and rooftop ornaments might be fun and playful, try not to embrace your inner Clark Griswold. (“National Lampoon” movie-fest, anyone?) Your goal is to sell your house, not distract or even turn off your buyer by creating a neighborhood spectacle.

A perfectly pale interior with Nordic influences

7. Do celebrate the holidays and create a warm, joyful feeling. There’s an advantage of offering your home for sale — and decorating it — during the holidays. If you strike the right balance, your residence will exude a positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home. Happy holidays!

More
The First Rule of Home Staging: Less Is Always More
Help for Selling Your Home Faster — and Maybe for More

Related Links
How to Sell Your House in Winter
Welcome Potential Buyers With a Merrily Dressed Front Door
Less Is More When It Comes to Showing Off a New Mantel

 

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