Which Weekend Projects Have the Biggest Return on Investment?

These DIY home improvements could help your home sell faster – and for more money!

The following is a guest post by Erin Vaughan from Modernize


Lace up your work boots, weekend warriors—it’s time to get busy! If you’re looking to improve your home’s value or make money back when you resell, you’ve come to the right place.

You’d be surprised at how much you can boost your ROI just by choosing the right kind of home improvement project. Unlike what you may have heard before, there’s no need to go for a full kitchen remodel or an addition when trying to boost your home’s value. There are plenty of improvements out there that could return nearly all of the money you put down when you resell—without having to pay a contractor first. So get out your drill, saw, and calculator and get started with one of these projects that you can have on the books in a mere 48 hours or less!

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Kick Tired Outdoor Decor to the Curb

As the first thing buyers see when you sell, exterior decor ranks high on any homeowner’s list of improvements. In fact, many landscaping projects will return you over 100% of your investment.

Adding a new stone or brick patio, lining a pathway with pavers, or even just buying some brightly-colored planters and trimming the hedges all add significantly to your home’s desirability quotient. Even your greenest home repair newbies are well-equipped to handle most landscaping jobs!

Clean work, checking the energy efficiency of their house by measuring the thickness of fiberglass insulation in the attic

Fluff Up Your Attic Insulation

It’s easy to get wrapped up in projects that deliver instant results—but buyers will be looking at more than your home’s aesthetics. Your property’s internal systems, like your plumbing and heating, will all be on the line, too.

Even if you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, there are a number of different updates you can DIY for long-term energy savings on your utility bills. Specifically, many older homes can benefit from attic insulation projects, which you can tackle yourself after learning the ropes.

Improving your attic insulation can net you an energy savings of anywhere from 10 to 50 percent. In older homes, builders often used insulation with an inadequate R-value, or they left attics unconditioned with no insulation at all. Considering that energy-efficient homes tend to have higher property values, particularly in locations where electricity costs are high, upgrading to an R-value of 30 to 60 is definitely a project that gives back—both in terms of finances and through a cozier home!

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Give Drafts the Cold Shoulder

A great project to pair with your insulation upgrade is an attic floor sealing update. In fact, many parts of your home can probably benefit from air sealing, which keeps conditioned air from slipping through cracks and gaps in the walls and floors. In the attic, pay particular attention to the gaps around holes for wires and pipes, recessed lights, and your furnace flue or duct chase way.

Make sure to head downstairs and check for cracks that may have formed in your window caulking. Some 40 percent of heating and air conditioning may be lost through a home’s windows, so even minor updates here can make a real difference. Be sure to use silicone caulking, which is water resistant and won’t shrink as much as acrylic will over time.

If your windows are badly warped, drafty, or show signs of condensation between the glass, it may be time for a full window replacement. You’ll probably need to engage a contractor for that—but there are many energy efficient windows available today that can keep your home snugly fit—especially since you won’t be worrying about your utility bills.

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Front-and-Center Upgrades

Front door replacements have some of the highest ROIs of any home improvement project out there—the overhead is low, since your average steel entry door costs between $200 and $500. But the returns are high. In fact, in some regions, a new front entry door can net over 100 percent of your initial investment!

The beauty of this project lies in how simple it is. No matter your skill level, you can probably wrestle a door off its hinges and install a new one—and it won’t take you a whole weekend. A door can easily be dressed up with an eye-catching coat of exterior paint or some flashy hardware. Plus, if you’re replacing a hollow-core door, you’ll see some energy savings as well, since solid models are much more energy-efficient.

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Lighten Up a Little

Anything you can do to brighten up darker rooms will add lots of appeal to your home. In particular, homebuyers have been drawn lately to bright, open interiors that offer plenty of options in the lighting department.

Painting is one of the cheapest ways to get there. At $40 per gallon, you’re definitely not going to break the bank with this project. If you think you might put your house on the market soon, go for a neutral tone that will appeal to a wider audience—but don’t think you have to stick to just plain old whites and beiges. Many designers now consider light blushes, pale blues, and silvers as part of the neutral palette, and these colors will open up darker interiors as well. That’s one way to let in the light—without weighing down your credit card bills!


About the Writer

ErinHS

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

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Housing Report: Spring Selling Season

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Coldwell Banker agents share the top spring selling season trends they’re seeing in their markets.

Spring selling season is in full swing, and everyone knows that means real estate markets are heating up all over the country.  But what does that really mean — and how do these trends vary from market to market? We turned to those who know best – Coldwell Banker agents, of course – to see what type of activity they’re seeing in their areas. Here’s what they had to say:

“Buyers are better prepared and have more knowledge of the market to make a quick decision. Inventory is picking up for the spring selling season. Smart homes are becoming a norm.” – Lev ShalomayevColdwell Banker Kueber Realty in Glendale, NY

“Even though the weather may not be hot and may not feel like spring yet, our market is crazy hot! Things are selling in days of being listed, with multiple offers!” – Brandon Grass, Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty in Kelowna, BC

“It’s important now, more than ever, to have your buyers truly qualified. With more competing offers than I’ve seen in my whole 8 years, sellers want squeaky clean schedules with as few conditions as possible. So I try to confirm that they can (where the risk is low) go in with no conditions at all.” – Melissa Mummery, Coldwell Banker Coastline Realty, Port Dover, ON

“The market is very healthy at all price points. If you price it to sell, it will. Properties under $1 million are going under contract in 7 to 21 days. In our luxury market, listings over $2 million have had recent success. Multiple sales over $5 million are averaging around $8 million.” – Chris McDonnellColdwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Vail, CO

“Our market is smoking hot! Day on market is lowest we’ve seen in quite some time, and we’re seeing a lot of multiple offers.” – Pamela Smith, Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, Kitty Hawk, NC

So there you have it! If you’re considering putting your house on the market or looking to buy this season, head to coldwellbanker.com to find a Coldwell Banker agent in your area.

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Garden Ideas That Can Sell a House

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Find out which garden ideas can increase your home’s value. Know what garden and landscape upgrades can be done on your own and which may necessitate a professional’s input. Learn how good landscaping can win buyers.

A tantalizing garden and an immaculate landscape prove time and time again to attract potential home buyers to open houses like organic magnets. If you’re on the brink of selling your DFW home, refining and redesigning your landscape can pad your profit, as well as your yard — these upgrades can add as much as 20 percent to a home’s value. Given this, choosing the right garden ideas before hitting the market can mean the difference between a green payday and silent tumbleweeds when you open your home’s doors to buyers.

Do-It-Yourself Garden Upgrades

Great garden ideas are a natural combination of aesthetics and practicality. Before picking out eye-popping blossoms and lush greenery, consider their intended placement within your garden’s space. Ensure that any trees and greenery won’t present structural problems for your house or its nearby edifices in the future. Gift potential buyers with the ability to envision years of hassle-free plant and tree growth. Make allowances for the knowledge of experienced gardeners: buyers with green thumbs will be able to tell if your landscaping was done with foresight and care. Keep in mind that the only aspect that decreases a home’s value more than a lack of landscaping is poorly planned and shoddy yard work.

If you’re on a budget, you can give your landscape a quick face lift by mowing and maintaining your existing shrubbery and trees. Prune vegetation that obscures windows to add a sun-soaked view. Opt to dot your yard with hardy, native plants and other greenery that’s easy to maintain. While exotic plants may be beautiful, they can also present the unwelcome specter of difficult yard work, which can translate into a disadvantage for busy families or professionals.

Strategize with Professionals

Should gardening and landscaping prove to be a daunting task, think about hiring a landscape designer. These professionals can help you choose the right combination of plants, trees, and shrubs. They’ll consider your garden’s design when selecting plant sizes and species — all elements that buyers consider when assessing the attractiveness of a landscape. Since Dallas is susceptible to dry weather, they may rightly suggest plants and greenery that are drought-resistant or have reputations for thriving in the region like the Purple coneflower or Perilla.

Build Upon Interest with Landscaping Architecture

One of the best ways to increase a home’s value is to invest in the art and science of garden architecture. Enticing extras like lighting, garden paths, and ponds placed in just the right areas can add rhythm and harmony to your home. For the ultimate impression of style and symmetry, consider making your landscaping choices an extension of your interior design. The result can add dimension to home buyers’ perceptions: Your house will appear as if it has more space for them to enjoy.

Edge Your Way Into a Home Buyer’s Pocketbook

Perfect edges bordering your landscaping or yard will have potential buyers positively lining up to see the inside of your home. This simple landscaping technique gives a neat and orderly appearance that home buyers appreciate and equate with quality. If you’ve opted for budget-friendly landscaping upgrades — such as planting inexpensive flowers, pruning trees and digging up weeds — adding edges around your existing greenery will have potential buyers bordering on an enthusiastic and profitable sale.

 

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Who Cares if a Real Estate Brand is Influential on Social Media? One real estate brand knows more about engaging buyers on social than anyone else.

 

To answer the question above, no one cares…until you’re selling your home and you realize your agent works with a company who has no social prowess. “Oh, but that doesn’t really matter”, you say. You’re right, it doesn’t ­­– until you realize your agent has no idea how to promote your home for sale on Facebook.

“But a real estate brand like Coldwell Banker isn’t really helping me promote that my home is for sale, right?” Actually, we are. Not only do we promote a feature home every week in our Home of the Week video series, but we’re also showcasing selections from our amazing roster of listings on Instagram, Pinterest, and through social advertising across Facebook and Twitter. We’re educating our real estate agents and companies across the globe on how to use social ads in their local markets, to mirror the success the brand has found in promoting videos of homes on Facebook for less than a penny in terms of cost per view. Yes, less than a penny. The only way we could do better is if Mark Zuckerberg starts paying us to run ads.

You shouldn’t care if the real estate agent you’re using to sell your home isn’t with a real estate brand that knows what they’re doing on social media – unless you care about promoting your home to more people, through targeted advertising, that can reach a qualified audience and increase the share-ability and marketing exposure of your property.

But your agent probably has some great marketing tricks up his or her sleeve… like baking cookies for an open house.

To find a real estate agent that works with the most influential real estate brand on social, visit coldwellbanker.com.

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How to Pet Proof Your Home and Yard Pet

Pet Proofing 101

As you may have guessed from our latest ad “Somebody to Love” we truly believe that a pet makes a house a home. Because our pets are so important to us ensuring they are safe is crucial. We reached out to our friends at HomeAdvisor to see if they had any tips to do so and as usual they came through with paw-sitively awesome advice.

When pet-proofing one’s home and yard, it is important to look at items from a pet’s standpoint and consider what things they are likely to play with, chew, or otherwise get into. If these items can hurt or even kill, then they should be removed or relocated into an area that the animal cannot access. Pet-proofing a home can take time and even some research so that it is done properly. Pet owners should also take into consideration the damage that a pet can cause to their personal belongings and take steps to prevent that as well. Ideally, pet-proofing should occur before bringing a new pet home; however, it can be done during a home improvement project or at any given time.

Bathrooms and Laundry Rooms

Toilet bowls are filled with water and often tempt pets to drink from them. This can cause a pet to drown, or it may poison them if toilet bowl cleaners are inside. The bathrooms and laundry room of a home are filled with a number of other items that are toxic to pets. Medications, both prescription and otherwise, are often kept in a bathroom, as are things such as bathroom cleaners, chemical drain openers, and deodorizers. Sharp items such as razors are also kept in bathrooms and can cut and seriously injure a pet that plays with or swallows them.

Laundry rooms are also a place where chemicals such as bleach and detergent are stored and regularly used. Fabric softener sheets may seem harmless; however, they are often impregnated with chemicals. Open dryers are tempting to pets that may climb inside to sleep, stay warm, or hide. This can be dangerous if the door is accidentally shut and the machine turned on.

  • Place any medications into a medicine cabinet and keep it closed.
  • Close the doors to the washing machine and dryer when not in use.
  • Check inside the washing machine and dryer before starting, particularly if it was left open and unattended.
  • Store laundry and bathroom cleaners and other chemicals inside of a cabinet. If a pet can nudge open a cabinet, use child locks or higher cabinets.
  • Close the lid to the toilet when not in use.

Living Rooms

In the living room, there are numerous items that are a threat to one’s pet. Unstable or top-heavy furniture can fall if jumped on or if bumped hard by a playful animal. Many types of potted house plants are known to be toxic if chewed or swallowed. The cords to drapery and window blinds are a choking hazard if they accidental loop around a pet’s neck, while electrical cords, if chewed on, can shock or electrocute one’s pet or start a fire.

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Certain items need to be protected so that pets do not damage or knock them over. Candles, for example, can either catch a pet’s tail on fire or may be knocked over and start a fire. Furniture and toys must also be protected, as they risk damage from chewing and scratching or they may cause a pet to choke. Certain items that contain batteries can be swallowed and will poison a pet or cause internal burns.

  • Move or cover cords and electrical wires so that they are not easily reached or cannot be chewed on.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Place a fire screen in front of fireplaces that are in use.
  • Keep a toy chest for children’s toys and put them away when they are not being played with.
  • Properly dispose of old batteries and keep all others in a closed drawer or cabinet.
  • Check what plants are and are not poisonous to the type of pet in the home. Only purchase plants that are not toxic.

Kitchens

Kitchens are an overall dangerous place for pets to be. Jumping pets have access to countertops and tables, while all animals can easily get to anything that’s within their reach, such as kitchen trash cans or food on the table. When it comes to threats, food is the most obvious culprit, as certain items, such as chocolate and raisins, are toxic while others represent a choking hazard.

Kitchen cleaners such as liquid soap and bleach are also poisonous. Curious animals may crawl into a small space under and around the refrigerator or oven, while others may actual climb into an opened dishwasher and could be trapped within if someone closes it without checking it.

  • Only use garbage cans with secure lids, and ensure that they are closed at all times.
  • Keep cleansers locked away in a cabinet with childproof locks.
  • Block access to small spaces that lead behind the refrigerator or other appliances.
  • Put food in covered containers instead of leaving it exposed on a counter or table.
  • Keep utensils in a closed drawer, and push breakable china back on counters where it cannot easily be knocked down and broken.
  • Consider installing a safety gate to keep pets out of the kitchen while cooking.

Bedrooms

Although the bedroom may seem like an overall safe place for pets, it is the unexpected, little things that can prove problematic for pets. Electrical cords are dangerous to pets that are chewers, and small items such as earrings and hair pins may also be chewed or swallowed. Discarded shopping bags are a suffocation risk if a pet sticks its head inside and is unable to shake it off. Moth balls in closets or drawers are toxic, as are certain house plants that may be kept in the room.

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  • Keep windows closed, particularly on the upper floors, to prevent pets from falling out.
  • Check that all windows have screens that are secure and in good condition.
  • Place mothballs in a location where they cannot be reached. If there are cats, keep the mothballs in a container.
  • Use containers or jewelry boxes to store jewelry or hair pins.
  • Cover cords or keep them out of reach.
  • Check closets and drawers before closing them to ensure that kittens or other small pets are not hiding inside.

Garages and Basements

Garages and basements are two areas where a pet will likely spend the least time. Unfortunately, they are both areas that are highly dangerous no matter how much time a pet spends there. Because these are areas outside of the main house and protected from the elements outdoors, they are places where deadly chemicals and other potentially lethal items are stored.

Toxic items that are commonly stored in garages and even basements include antifreeze, which is sweet-tasting but can cause a cat or a dog’s kidneys to fail if consumed. Motor oil, gas, battery acid, and car wax are just a few other dangerous car-related items. Additionally, pesticides, rat poison, paint, and paint thinners are examples of items kept in either location that can be lethal to a pet. Sharp and small items can cause injuries if stepped on or if swallowed, and even machinery, including one’s car, can be lethal.

  • Store screws and nuts in jars with lids.
  • Install cabinets to store chemicals, and keep them closed when not in use.
  • Verify the safety of any plants kept in the room.
  • Regularly check the floor of the garage for spilled or leaked antifreeze. Clean thoroughly as soon as possible.
  • Always check for cats or kittens in the car engine by banging on the hood prior to starting the car.
  • Unplug electrical tools and store them where they can’t fall.

Yard

Often, pets such as dogs and even cats like to go outdoors for a little playtime or to bask in the sun. Nature, however, represents numerous threats to pets as they spend time in the yard. Gardens, weeds, and other naturally occurring plants and flowers can all seem appealing to a cat, dog, or other outdoor-venturing pet.

Certain items that are used on the lawn, flowers, and plants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, mulch, and compost, may contain chemicals or elements that a pet should not eat, drink, or lick. Cocoa mulch, for example, is toxic, yet the smell is tempting to animals, and compost may contain food items that pets can choke on or that is toxic to them. Care must be taken to also protect pets in yards with fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, pools, and ponds.

  • Install a fence around the yard to keep stray animals out and pets in.
  • Remove poisonous plants from the yard, and check with a knowledgeable nursery before planting anything new.
  • Put a barrier around gardens to keep pets out.
  • Never leave pets alone when a fire pit is in use.
  • Add fencing around pools to keep unaccompanied pets away.
  • Use an enclosed shed to store chemicals, or keep them in a cabinet in the garage.
  • Consider creating a fenced-off area specifically for a dog to play in when outdoors.

This content originally appeared on HomeAdvisor

 

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How to Buy a House: The 5 New Rules That Can Make or Break Your Offer

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The rules on how to buy a house have changed, folks—so if you’re serious about becoming a proud homeowner in the near future, you’ll want to read this first!

So what’s changed the most in the traditional home-buying process? For starters, prospective buyers should brace themselves for steep prices and stiff competition. Data on realtor.com® show that the nationwide median home price has pushed above $250,000 for the first time ever, 8% higher than a year ago. Plus, total inventory remains much lower than it was a year ago, falling well short of buyer demand. The result? Despite rising home prices, properties are “flying off the market,” says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI.

Altogether, “it’s a hot seller’s market,” says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA. While it’s good news for sellers, buyers will need to take some extra measures to compete with other house hunters.

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To nail a perfect home in today’s housing market, follow these five new rules.

Rule No. 1: Prepare for a marathon house hunt

With today’s low housing inventory and strong buyer demand, it might take you three to six months to buy a house—and maybe even up to a year in some of the country’s tightest markets. Prepare accordingly.

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You’re more likely to encounter a multiple-offer situation today than in years past, says Sanderfoot, vastly complicating many negotiations. So don’t presume you’ll be moving any time soon. If you do have a fast-approaching deadline for moving, you’d better get started on your home search. Like, now.

Rule No. 2: Secure financing before you start shopping

Gone are the days when you’d waltz into home showings without securing your financing first. If you need a mortgage to buy a home, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a home loan before you set foot in a home.

The reason: Without a lender’s pre-approval letter in hand, buyers will have a hard time getting sellers to take them seriously. Your offer, though sincere, could easily fall through for lack of funds. We told you it’s a competitive market, right?

To survey your mortgage options, meet with at least three lenders—which could be banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, or any combination thereof (you can get recommendations from your real estate agent). You’ll want to get a good-faith estimate, which breaks down the mortgage’s terms, including the interest rate and fees, in order to make an apples-to-apples comparison for the best deal. Here’s more on how to shop for a mortgage.

Rule No. 3: Don’t lowball your offer

Bargain hunters, beware: If you’re making an offer on a home that’s priced to sell—meaning it’s listed at, or slightly above, fair market value—“you should present your best offer right out of the gate,” says Peggy Yee, supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA.

In other words, you need to wrap your head around the idea that you’re more than likely going to be offering full list price. Although that can be tough for bargain hunters, “it’s the reality of many markets,” says Yee.

All that said, real estate markets vary by area, so look to your agent for advice on how much to offer. You can also check particular neighborhoods on realtor.com/local to get a base line for median home prices and more.

How long a house has been on the market can make a difference, too. If a home has been listed for more than 30 days, that might mean it’s overpriced—and that means you might have a little room to negotiate on price.

Rule No. 4: Curb the contingencies

When buyers make an offer, they can tack on contingencies—terms that must be satisfied before a deal goes through. For instance, you might require that the place pass a home inspection to ensure that it doesn’t need tons of repairs. If you’re getting a mortgage, your lender will require you to include an appraisal contingency where an appraiser makes sure the house is worth what you’re paying.

All in all, contingencies protect buyers, but sellers don’t always like them because they insert many “what ifs” into the deal, which might mean it falls through.

Since this is a seller’s market, buyers can stand out by attaching fewer contingencies to the deal. Not the biggies, of course, but ones that don’t really matter to you. For instance, you might want to consider letting go of a lead-based paint inspection since you can clean up this problem yourself. Or, many buyers may include a contingency that they have to sell their own home before the deal goes through; consider waiving that if you can.

Rule No. 5: Move fast

There’s no time to waste. In many cases, “a seller will list their house on a Friday, do a couple open houses over the weekend, and then review all offers on Monday,” says Yee. That could mean you have just a few days during which to view the property, confer with your agent, and submit an offer.

Given the time crunch, Lejeune says he asks buyers a simple question during his initial consultation. “I’ll ask, ‘If I show you the perfect house today, at a price that you can afford, are you ready to make a full-price offer right now?’ That question gives me a good barometer of how ready you are to buy a home.”

So if you’re serious about buying a house, you need to be ready to pounce.

Selling a house as well? The rules have changed there, too. Come back tomorrow for more advice on acing this end of the deal.
Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
Related topics: home buyinghome priceshousing marketMortgages

 

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Add a Pop of Seasonal Color to Catch a Buyer’s Eye

A touch of color can go a long way in making your home standout.

The following is guest post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. All photos are example of design and staging work by PJ & Company Staging. 

If you’re getting your home ready to sell this spring, it’s the perfect season to add pops of trending colors to attract buyers and help your showing stand out from the competition. The following are some of our favorite tips for introducing colorful accents that will grab buyers’ attention and make them feel welcome from the moment they step foot on the front porch. And once they become engaged with the property, they’ll be more inclined to make an offer!

Front Porch
After cleaning up winter debris from the yard, a great way to attract buyers past the front door is to create an inviting porch with plenty of curb appeal. The easiest way to give a quick facelift for the season is with bright accents such as a beautiful welcome mat, floral wreath, colorful pillows placed on a bench or chair and potted seasonal flowers and greenery.

Entry

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Once the buyer steps into the home, create a welcoming entry with an eye-catching hallway runner in a bold patterns and colors. Pair the rug with an adjacent console table vignette using floral or grassy arrangements, a beautiful lamp and hanging mirror to set the inviting tone for the rest of the property.

Family Room/Living Room

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After freshening walls with neutral colors for a soft back drop, add dimension with colorful wall art that not only complements the rest of the room’s décor but enhances the room’s unique features.
Bring new life to sofas and chairs by adding accent pillows in trending spring colors and bold prints such as coral, turquoise, and green. Don’t forget to layer with a soft throw draped over an armrest that complements the color palette and adds a feeling of warmth and luxury.

Fresh Bedding

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An easy way to embrace the spring season in your bedrooms is by putting away heavy bedding and adding a white duvet or coverlet. Layer with accent pillows, shams, and a cozy throw in fresh hues such as floral prints in soft blues, greens, corals and yellows for a spring-like, peaceful feel. To complete the fresh look of the room, pair bedding accents with nature-inspired botanical wall art in complementary colors.

Inviting Touches in the Bathroom
To create a welcoming, spa-like ambience in the bathroom, our go-to accents include layering fresh, fluffy towels on countertops and racks, hanging a fresh shower curtain with bright patterns and hues and finishing with a plush bath mat to match. Other favorite touches are silky florals in creams, green succulents, colored glass vases or bottles, liquid hand soaps, candles and of course wall art.

 

patti-sternPatti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or visit pjstagingdecorating.com.

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7 Things Worth Saving Space for in a Small House Include these elements to make your compact space comfortable, functional and stylish.

Advice for decorating a small home is often about eliminating and deciding what to compromise on. But there are some things every home should have. Here are seven essentials that are always worth making room for.

1. A landing pad. You may not have a grand foyer, but you deserve somewhere to decompress for a moment when you arrive home.

Take a little bit of space by the front door to include somewhere to drop your coat and keys, as well as a seat for quick moments such as when tying a shoe. A mirror and a glass table will open up the look of the space, and a bouquet of flowers will provide a welcoming touch.

See more on maximizing storage space in small entries

2. Color and pattern. Sure, using lots of white and neutrals will make a small space look as big and breezy as possible. That doesn’t mean that all color and pattern should be strictly forbidden. Embracing some drama will make the look personal and inviting.

To get the best of both worlds, fit color into high and low places and keep the walls neutral so the main sightlines are still clear.

Try using a fun paint color on your ceiling, or go for a low-slung sofa or other piece of furniture, so it pops without overtaking the natural field of vision.

Ceiling paint (similar): Your Majesty, Benjamin Moore

3. A real dining surface. In a small home, you rarely find a dedicated dining room. That doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate somewhere for a proper sit-down meal that isn’t at your desk or in your lap. Try pushing a small dining table up against a wall or window to seat just two diners.

If you don’t have room even for a small fixed table, try using a fold-down table with stackable seats that can be pulled out when needed, or a convertible coffee table that can be raised to dining height so you can eat at the sofa in proper comfort.

4. A truly comfortable place to sit. While it’s often tempting to try to stuff many compact pieces of furniture into a small home, you shouldn’t skimp on a full-sized place to sit.

Including a truly comfortable sofa or lounge chair, rather than many tight modern seats, will make the whole home much more satisfying. To fit in occasional extra guests, have compact side chairs on hand that are only meant for sitting in for a few hours while someone visits, or you can even use a plush ottoman.

5. Great lighting. In a small space, the lighting is often inadequate, as it tends to be assumed that a single fixture can properly light each area. In reality, good lighting can never come from just one source, so it’s always important to include a diverse palette of fixtures.

To save room while adding a lot of light, choose a plug-in sconce with multiple bulbs, like the one here. It will brighten the walls in a rich way without taking up any square footage from your floor plan or table surfaces.

6. A living plant. Speaking of your floor plan, now that you’ve saved a little space with a great sconce, why not use that square footage for a healthy living plant?

Including an element of living greenery will make the space feel more human and welcoming, bringing a sense of the outdoors in.

See the perfect houseplant for people who kill houseplants

7. Space to breathe. Lastly, when decorating your small home, don’t forget to leave room for one very important thing: empty space.

Filling every square inch of your walls and flooring with decorative baubles and unneeded furniture leaves the space feeling cluttered and cramped. Let some walls remain empty, and keep lots of circulation space open so you can move about freely and really enjoy the great pieces you have.

More
10 Things You Didn’t Think Would Fit in Your Little Kitchen
9 Design Tips for Entertaining in a Small Space

Related Reads
Smart Solutions for a Nonexistent Entryway
Try a Bar Table in Small Spaces
Kick Back on a Stylish and Soft Sofa

 

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What to Consider Before Buying a Beach Home

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Sea, surf and sand. Consider more than just those elements before buying a beach home.

Dreaming of a home on the beach? The rhythmic sound of crashing waves, a sweet, salty breeze, and bright sunny days make living by the shore an appealing spot to call home. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 16% of all homes bought nationwide last year were vacation homes. Of those, 40% bought in beach communities.

But, before you consider making your home along the coast, there are a few things to keep in mind. From location to amenities and of course, budget, there’s a lot to think about when buying a vacation home at the beach. Jessica Edwards with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, NC shares her tips for what to consider before buying a beach home in this segment which first appeared on NBC Open House.

If you’re ready to pack up and head to the beach, visit coldwellbanker.com to find your escape.

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5 Reasons to Grow Vegetables in Raised Beds Home Depot breaks down the big advantages of planting your produce in a raised bed.

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Growing vegetables in raised beds can produce a bountiful harvest in the fall. That may be reason enough to consider raised bed gardening, but there are plenty of others, as well.

Here are the five best advantages to planting your produce in a raised bed:

1. You can garden anywhere. A raised bed is a frame that contains soil. That means you can orient it to take full advantage of the sun and move it around the yard to find the best location. Pre-made beds come in a variety of sizes, which means you can place them close to the house for convenience. If you don’t have a lot of yard space, you can place your bed on your deck or patio—but if you do, be sure to build or buy a bed with a bottom and legs to keep it raised above the hard surface and allow for proper drainage.

2. You have complete control over the soil your vegetables grow in. Unlike a traditional garden where you start with the soil that is already there and work it to get it to an acceptable level, a raised bed lets you start with a blank slate. You determine the type of soil that is best. Basically, you want soil that contains a large amount of organic matter and drains well. The depth of the soil depends on the depth of the raised bed and the vegetables you will be growing, and whether the bed is open to the soil below. Just be sure to give the roots plenty of room.

When it is time to prepare the garden for winter, add a layer of compost to the soil. If you don’t have compost, use shredded leaves and grass clippings or rotted manure. Many gardeners add compost in the spring, which is fine, but adding it in the fall gives it more time to decompose in the soil. Simply till the organic matter into the soil with a garden fork.

Replenishing the soil is especially important for raised-bed gardens because they lose soil over time, and like any container, repeated plantings drains the soil of nutrients. Many people simply replace the soil in a raised bed and start over in the spring. That is not necessary. By adding organic matter, you will replenish the soil and keep the container full. Rotating the crops you plant also helps preserve the nutrients in the soil.

3. Raised beds produce higher yields than traditional gardening. Raised beds are not planted in the same manner as a traditional garden. Rather than planting a row of plants with a walkway separating the rows, the plants in a raised bed can be planted block style. In other words, plants are spaced an equal distance in all directions, creating a block of plants that are all spaced equidistance from one another. In a publication for the Colorado Master Gardeners program entitled “Block Style Layouts in Raised Vegetable Gardens,” the authors stated that this method of planting yields five times that of a traditional garden.

This approach is similar to the one found in the book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Bartholomew starts with a square raised bed and then divides it into one-foot squares. Each square is planted with a different type plant. The number of plants in each square will depend on the size of the plant.

These methods result in larger harvests because more plants are put in the ground in a smaller space and the plants are spaced closer together than they would be in a traditional garden. Or, sow seeds by following the “thin to” spacing found on your seed packets. Because gardening conditions vary, experiment with different spacing. This is where a garden diary or log can help. Experience will help you determine the right plant spacing for your garden.

Because you don’t walk on a raised bed, there is no fear of compacting the soil, which can harm growing plants and reduce the overall yield.

4. Raised beds require less work than traditional gardens. Because plants are close together in a block layout, weed growth is discouraged, meaning you won’t need to weed often. And if the bed is deep enough and contains a ledge, you can sit and rest on the edge while weeding, trimming or watering. You also won’t need to bend down to reach your plants.

Watering a compact raised bed is easier than watering a large row garden. You can use a hose with a wand shower attachment, but soaker hoses or drip-irrigation systems are more efficient. Once they are set up, they deliver water directly to the base of the plant. Attaching a timer to the system is even more efficient.

Raised beds are easy to cover to provide protection from the sun or insects. They are also easy to fence in to keep out animals who may raid your garden.

5. Raised beds may be planted earlier than traditional gardens. The soil in a raised bed will warm up sooner than soil in the ground, so you may be able to get your veggies and flowers planted earlier in the growing season than you would with a traditional garden. The beds are also easy to cover if the forecast predicts a spring frost or heavier-than-usual rains.

Planting your garden in a raised bed will allow you more control and ease of use. They make it easy to get the garden you dream of with little work and a longer growing season.

Fran Donegan is a DIY home and garden writer who provides advice to homeowners for Home Depot. Fran’s tips on the advantages of raised garden beds are designed to help you obtain a bountiful harvest this growing season. To research a variety of raised garden bed materials, you can visit the Home Depot website here.