Setting Up a Home Office That Works for You
Whether you’re paying a few bills or running a small business, a stylish, comfortable work space will help you stay focused and inspired.
In recent years, the line between working and living in our homes has become blurred. More people want a home office, whether it’s a simple space for taking care of household matters, a spot for the inevitable papers and projects that make their way home from work, or a dedicated area for a full-time business.
For a few minutes a day or 40 hours a week, working at home is always more fun in an area with loads of function — and some personalization, too. Here’s how to create a snazzy home office space that will make you look forward to clocking in.
Some experts have said there are only two essentials for a functional home office: a comfortable chair and a door that closes. Most people, however, probably have a few more requirements.
Basic elements of designing a room include smart space planning, adequate lighting and sufficient storage. When setting up your home office, also consider functionality and comfort.
Start with your work surface. Stock desk units come in a variety of materials, but may be difficult to fit in with your room. Modular office furniture is more flexible and comes in many styles.
Or look to repurposed furniture. With some judicious changes, you can turn flea market finds and antiques into acceptable home office elements. Don’t hesitate to make a piece your own with a simple coat of paint in your favorite color.
Take a Seat
Chairs need to be functional, but an office chair isn’t your only choice.
If you’ll be spending a lot of time working in the office, consider including a lounge chair or chaise. It will make a comfortable spot for reading or coffee breaks.
For your desk, choose a chair with an adjustable seat and armrests to protect your spine and help reduce aches and injuries. To personalize it, add a throw pillow to coordinate with window coverings or other decorative elements in the room.
Make a list of everything you need, from pencils and paper clips to research materials and file folders. Pick a color scheme and purchase the necessities in your favorite palette.
Measure all the electronic equipment you’ll require to determine where it will fit best. And make sure you add some favorite framed photos or artwork to inspire you.
To create softness and texture underfoot, layer on an area rug to anchor your space.
Natural light is great, but you’ll need ambient and task lighting as well. Here is another opportunity to add a bit of personal style to your space via lamp shades, crystals and fixture finishes. Watch out for the possibility of glare, especially when finding a place for your computer screen.
If your office space doesn’t have a door, you can establish a sense of privacy by the way you orient your work surface or by using a screen or file cabinets to mark off the area.
Share your favorite ways to spruce your office space — we can’t wait to see what you come up with! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
7 Handy Ways to Improve Your Home in 2018
If you let a lot of home improvement projects slip by without taking action in 2017, take heart. 2018 is here! You’ve now got an entire year to jump on those big household tasks. It’s time to seize the day, the month and the year.
Not sure what to put next on your to-do list, or do you even have a list at all? Take a look at this list for inspiration along with a selection of How To articles. Gathered here are everything from quick tweaks like setting your thermostat just right to big jobs like switching locks, doorbells and light switches.
We’ve even got downright messy but critical assignments such as cleaning dryer vents and gas cooktops. There’s bound to be a must-do task below for you, no matter how skilled or experienced you are.
1. Set your Nest right
Dive a little deeper into your Nest thermostat settings. You’ll be able to issue it voice commands though Alexa or the Google Assistant. Other tips are how to have it control humidity, work to save you money, and make it stop acting crazy when it’s on automatic.
2. Make multimeters your friend
If you have no clue what a multimeter is or you own one that’s gathering dust, this guide is for you. We take a quick look at how multimeters are versatile, flexible home DIY tools every homeowner should have.
3. Tend to your gas cooktop
Cooktops, stoves and ranges need regular attention and TLC. If they don’t get it, they won’t serve you well. Treat them right by keeping them spic and span, with all burners ready for action. Both you and your house guests will appreciate the sparkling new look of your tidy appliance, too.
4. Goodbye, blah light switches
Don’t hang onto old, boring light switches just because they happen to be three-way. Use this guide to help you overcome your fear. With a little care and caution, you’ll be swapping in fancy new dimmers in no time.
5. Ditch the keys for convenience
Physical keys are so medieval. Your front door should rock a sleek, electronic lock like it’s 2018. These gadgets are flexible, motorized, and look great. Take a gander for yourself and see just what we mean.
6. See who’s there from anywhere
Know who’s at your doorstep before they press the buzzer. Find out if anyone has their paws on your packages. A sweet video doorbell can help with all those things. Read on to learn how to hook one up yourself in a flash.
7. Don’t neglect that dryer vent
As the saying goes, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. I’m talking about your home’s dryer vent. If you don’t take time to clear it out every year, it can quickly become a dangerous fire risk. Bite the bullet with this deep dive into dryer vent hygiene.
How are you making home improvement a priority in 2018? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
5 ‘Must-Do’ Home Resolutions for January
Happy New Year! January is the month to take stock and plan ahead. That’s why these five “must-do” projects for January include everything from adopting some home-focused resolutions to storing holiday decorations and getting snow-ready.
1. Make ‘energy savings’ a resolution to keep
This year, as you make your New Year’s resolution to spend less, go on a diet, join a gym, learn a new skill or perhaps find more time for yourself, consider adding another goal for 2013 — putting your house on an energy diet.
Just like taxes and death, you can be sure that energy and utility costs will continue to take a bite out of your home operating budget. How big of a bite is within your control. That’s why it pays to do everything you can to keep your home as trim and fit as possible. After all, sometimes even a seemingly modest change in your home (or change in your personal habits) can make a dramatic difference over time.
For example, there’s been plenty written about energy-efficient light bulbs, but have you put that information into practice? If not, make it a goal this year. If every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star-certified variety, we would conserve enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year (equivalent to the amount produced by about 800,000 cars), according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
RELATED: How To Hack Your Electric Bill
And if you’ve turned a deaf ear to that dripping faucet or runny toilet, you can be sure that your water company hasn’t. If you know that there’s a leak, fix it. It may require something as simple as tightening a valve or replacing a worn washer or ineffective flapper, all simple repairs you can take care of yourself. If the leak requires replacing the faucet or toilet altogether, call in a professional and choose a fixture bearing the WaterSense label. And the next time you flush, consider this: If everyone in the U.S. flushed the toilet just one time less per day, we could save the equivalent of a lake full of water about 1 square mile and 4 feet deep every day.
Looking for more ways to conserve and save this year? Seal those drafts, make sure your home is well-insulated, install low-flow shower heads and change furnace filters.
2. Pack up the holiday decorations
As fun as it is to unearth boxes of holiday decorations in November, there is nothing enjoyable about packing them all away again in January. Big-box stores will be happy to sell you bins and containers geared specifically toward holiday-related storage, but with a little planning and ingenuity, you can create your own DIY solutions that will work just as well. A piece of cardboard with slots at both ends is ideal for wrapping string lights, while those inexpensive, 6-ounce plastic party cups are the perfect individual holders for fragile ornaments. And if you have a real tree, consider bringing it to a treecycling location, where it will be chipped into mulch for beneficial use.
3. Get snow-ready
Take time now to make sure you are prepared for snow. Snow shovels, snow blowers, salt or sand should all be at the ready. If you haven’t fired up your snow blower since last winter, you might want to do so now.
Consider some routine maintenance like changing the oil; replacing frayed or cracked belts; tightening nuts, bolts, and screws; and lubricating drive and chassis. Also, watch for the formation of icicles along the eaves as snow begins to melt. They can create ice dams and serious damage to the roof if left unattended. A roof rake is a great way to pull the snow from the eaves to lessen the problem.
4. Employ some countertop TLC
Perhaps never before have there been so many enticing countertop options to fit every budget, decor and culinary need. But all countertops are not created equal. So what’s the best way to keep yours in peak condition? You can start with some pretty basic “do’s and don’ts,” such as cleaning often with a sponge or soft cloth and mild, non-abrasive detergent, or by practicing caution when using sharp knives and hot cookware. If you have granite or marble, be sure to use a good sealer, which will help prolong the life of the stone and provide a barrier of protection against staining. Wood countertops should be rubbed with tung, linseed or mineral oil anywhere from monthly to quarterly, depending on usage. The same mineral oil can be applied to soapstone to provide a protective coat and rich, dark color. For stained laminate, try a homemade paste of baking soda and water. For tips on caring for concrete, stainless steel, quartz, solid surfaces and ceramic tile, visit Countertop Care 101.
5. Make a better fire
While many of today’s homeowners opt for the convenience of a gas fireplace, the traditionalists among us may always prefer the smokey smell, crackling sound and tactile ritual of fire building. While there is an art to making a fire, it all begins with the right choice of wood. Every species has its own set of burning characteristics. Some species — oak, for example — offer a very slow burn and hot fire, while other species like fir provide medium heat with less ash. You’ll also want to make sure the wood you use is properly seasoned and stored in a well-ventilated outdoor area, protected from the elements.
What 2018 Home Resolutions have you made? We want to hear from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
8 Things Interior Designers Notice the Instant They Walk Through Your Door
If an interior designer were to walk through your front door, like, right now, what would this professional think of the place you call home?
We’ll tell you right now: plenty. And that’s even before you’ve given the pro the grand tour. Interior designers, with their sharply honed sensibilities, can take in a space in seconds. In fact, these pros can’t help but make a ton of snap judgments—and typically these first impressions aren’t all that good.
In case you’re curious about what jumps out at interior designers when they first enter a home, here’s an unsettling glimpse. But don’t beat yourself up if you recognize your home in some of these scenarios; these flaws are common and entirely fixable. Read on for an inspiring home decor wake-up call.
1. A Wonky Flow
Does the furniture placement in your home promote good flow of traffic? Most living and family rooms have a focal wall that’s anchored by a fireplace or television, which means the chairs and couch should be arranged to face this point without causing you to walk awkwardly around them.
This can be a challenge with an open floor plan, with pieces defeating the whole ‘open’ idea.
The solution: Less is more. Remove extraneous chairs and side tables to create a natural path in and out of the space.
2. Poor Lighting
The wrong lighting can ruin even the best interior design.
If the overall look of your home is dark and drab it’s usually because there’s not enough of the right kinds of light.
Of course, we can’t all be blessed with a flood of natural light, but you can install what you need rather easily. Sit in each chair or section of the room, and determine whether you can read easily. If not, add in the missing table or floor lamps; don’t rely on one big overhead light. And opt for bulbs that boast a more natural feel.
3. Insane Clutter
Interior designers dream of a streamlined, junk-free look, which means their eyes will immediately come to rest on the hot mess that is your bookshelf.
Good rule of thumb… just because you have it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display. Pick and choose a few sentimental or interesting pieces to show off and put the rest away.
4. A Lack of Theme
Style continuity is a big one for design pros. If your pieces don’t work well together or there’s no unifying color or theme to the rooms, the whole look can feel off.
This seems to come from a lack of understanding of the style elements and characteristics of the pieces in the room. Too many colors, in particular, can create a sense of disorder. Make it better by choosing a neutral palette and then introducing just a couple of coordinating hues.
5. That (Ahem) Smell
Interior designers make snap judgments not just on what they see, but also on what they smell. As a homeowner, you’ve become inured to your own odors, but an outsider can nail a scent right away.
Pets are the most obvious offenders, followed by cooking smells and odious candles. Fortunately, the remedy is an easy one; open the windows as often as you can to air out stale spaces (especially in bedrooms and the kitchen).
6. The State of Your Loo
The hard truth: Your bathroom must be pristine!
Interior professionals (and potential buyers) will look with a critical eye at every bathroom in your home, and a dirty one will convince them that the entire home isn’t clean, even if it is. Towels must be fresh, grout should be clean, and definitely clear your counters of personal items (makeup, hair dryer, toothbrush).
7. No Sense of Scale
We’re talking tiny lamps on huge tables, or king-size beds squeezed into too-small rooms.
Layout and scale is more noticeable than you think. Sometimes it’s a result of buying a whole package at the furniture store instead of choosing complementary items in the correct sizes for your home.
To fix this, try to mix and match your styles and the stores where you shop. You’ll end up with a more interesting, inviting space.
8. A Lack of Personal Style
Let it shine! A lack of personality in a home means your space will appear boring or sterile. Even worse is a look that’s been copied directly from a catalog. A designer can certainly help you develop a style, but you can also jazz up your abode with art you love, mementos from a faraway trip, or a collection that has special meaning.
What’s your biggest interior design challenge? What have you completely aced you’d like to boast about? Share your comments and pictures on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn, or on our Instagram feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Mega Tips for a First-Time Home Seller
Homeowners don’t generally think about filling the shoes of a first-time home seller until they decide to buy a new home. Usually, the motivating factor is the need to move — due to work-related issues or the needs of a growing family — and that generally involves buying another house. It’s when the homeowners stop to consider the move that it may dawn on them, yes, because they need to sell, they are now a first-time home seller.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide
Selling a home is very different from buying a home. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling a home typically centers on what listing agents like to call maximizing profit potential.
Here are the key steps to keep in mind as a first-time homeseller to sell your home fast and for top-dollar:
1. Price Your Home Accurately
To price your home accurately you need the assistance of a reputable Listing Agent. This is not the time to choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You’ll fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who sells a fair number of listings, preferably in your neighborhood.
RELATED: What’s My Home Worth? Find Out Now!
Your Agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. It is OK to use real estate websites to get an idea of this figure, but you’ll soon learn the variances your agent will point out because your they have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value.
2. Prepare Your Home For Sale
Ask your Listing Agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you’ve done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal.
Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Don’t let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.
3. Be Flexible with Showings
If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet.
Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference
4. Allow An Open House
Not every home is a viable candidate for an open house. If your home is located in an area close to major traffic, that is generally indicative of a reasonable expectation that the open house signs will pull in visitors.
Ask your Listing Agent if they advertise the open houses online. Many a home buyer has had no desire to buy a home until she spots an open house and subsequently falls in love.
5. Review Your Listing Online
Look at your home listing on various websites to make sure the information conveyed is accurate. Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent and ask for an inclusion.
6. Try to Respond Promptly to A Purchase Offer
Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counter offer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different when you are a home buyer yourself.
7. Line Up Your Movers Early
If you are thinking about moving during the summer, for example, which is a very busy time of year for movers, you might find it is impossible to locate movers for the day you want. You can start packing before your home hits the market, which will give you a head start on the process. It will also give you peace of mind to be prepared. Selling can be stressful enough.
Are you a first-time home seller? What tips do you have to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
How to Remove Stripped Screws, Fill Nail Holes, and Other Home Hacks
Our homes are full of small, but mind-boggling challenges, such as: Is there a way to remove stripped screws? Or eliminate those water rings on your coffee table, or those divots where your table once sat on your carpet? If you’re looking for answers to common conundrums you might encounter, a new book can help: “Tidy Hacks: Handy Hints to Make Life Easier.”
Written by home hack expert Dan Marshall, this modern-day maintenance manual is geared to people who have no time for home maintenance. The fix-its that it recommends are insanely easy to accomplish. And since we’re all about making home management easier, check out a few of these genius tips below.
How to remove stripped screws
Can’t put in (or take out) a screw because that X-marked divot is too worn to turn with your screwdriver? Place a flat rubber band over the top of the screw head, and insert the screwdriver so it pins the rubber band in place. The rubber band will give you enough grip to remove the screw with ease.
How to shine shoes with a banana
The combination of the potassium found in bananas (which is also an ingredient of shoe polish) and the natural oils in a banana peel makes a great natural leather shoe polish. So, when your shoes need shining and you’re in a pinch with no shoe polish around, reach for the next best thing: a banana. Rub the inside of the peel on your shoes to buff away the scuff.
How to organize cleaning supplies
Get your cleaning supplies out of that awkward low cabinet under your sink. If you hang up a shoe organizer in an area that is easy to reach, like the back of your laundry-room door, you can store them handily, without turning yourself into a pretzel. The best part? Close the door, and you won’t have to look at the bleach and Windex until it’s time to start cleaning.
How to fill nail holes
For many people, hanging a picture or a piece of art isn’t an exact science, and it often involves a certain amount of trial and error. If you happen to hammer a nail into the wrong spot on the wall, grab a crayon that matches the color of the paint and draw on the hole until it is filled. Wipe away any excess wax with a clean cloth.
How to get rid of a water ring
How dare your guests ruin your beautiful wood table with their damp drinking glasses? Don’t lose your head, though, because you have this ingenious trick to remove the liquid stain. Turn a hairdryer on high heat and hold it close to the water mark. It will start to disappear before your eyes! Keep the heat on the ring until it’s completely gone.
How to get rid of dents in the carpet
Rearranging the furniture in your bedroom or living room can be an exciting way to reinvigorate your home decor, but a heavy table or armoire is sure to leave unsightly dents in your carpet. Believe it or not, the secret of getting rid of those dents is hiding in your freezer. Simply place ice cubes along the indents, leave them there until the ice has melted, and then vacuum over the area to fluff up the fibers.
Do you have any ingenious Home Hacks to add to our list? Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
How to Keep Your Home Cool in Summer Without AC
Ah, air conditioning. During the dog days of summer it’s easy to deem air conditioning as one of humankind’s greatest inventions. Unfortunately, it just so happens to be an energy-intensive one, which can lead to high energy bills. What’s more, many older homes don’t have central air installed, especially in more temperate regions. This may be fine when the thermostat only clocks in at 60, but it can be painful when it soars into the 90s or above.
Thankfully, there are plenty of energy-efficient ways to keep your home cool in the summertime without the help of AC.
Let’s take a look at just a few…
1. Shading Your Windows
One of the best things you can do to keep your house cool without even thinking about AC is shading your windows. There are a number of ways to do this.
Roof overhangs and awnings. A roof overhang is a type of roof that extends further than a typical roof, providing shade for the part of the house it covers. An awning provides a similar function, and can be added to any window, whether on the first floor or second, even after a roof has been installed. For maximum cooling, you’ll want to invest in protecting your western and southern windows from light, as this is where they’ll prove most necessary and effective. However, if you’d like to benefit from passive warming in the winter, overhangs and awnings are likely too permanent of a solution. Instead, you’d be better shading your windows with one of the removable and retractable options below.
Automated blinds. A good pair of thick blinds can do wonders when it comes to keeping your house cool, especially if you keep them closed during the warmest parts of the day. Due to their construction, honeycomb blinds in particular can be effective at absorbing heat, but any thick blind will do. An automated pair of blinds that open and close on a schedule and that can be controlled from afar can help you maximize cooling throughout the day when you’re gone. Whatever kind of blinds you choose, these are a good solution for southern facing windows since they can be raised in the winter when you might need warmth.
Other window treatment options. Of course, there are many other kinds of window treatments that are great at blocking out light. Shades are particularly effective if mounted closest to the window to reduce heat gain. Medium-colored drapes with a plastic backing can reduce solar gain by as much as 33%. Pro tip: dip your drapes in water or wash them the night before and let them dry as they hang for even more cooling. Tightly woven bamboo screens, whether placed inside or outside of a window, can also prevent as much as 80% of solar heat from passing through the window.
Trees. Planting trees around your house — but not so close that they become a fire hazard — is a beautiful and natural way to shade your windows. Again, don’t do this on the south facing side if you’d like passive heat in the winter. Opt for a variety that’s known for its shading, like a species of maple or river birch.
RELATED: How to Hack Your Electric Bill
2. Insulate Your Home Well
We often think of insulation when it comes to keeping our houses warm, but it’s just as important in keeping the house cool. You’ll want to insulate ducts to prevent any leakage, as well as your attic and walls. Spray foam, rigid foam boards, and batt insulation are all effective at regulating your house’s temperature.
RELATED: Green Your Home
On a similar note, if you are currently designing or remodeling your home, now is the time to choose materials that have a high thermal mass, which means that they store heat. Such materials include brick, cement, rammed earth, stone, and ceramic tiles. If you’ve got a finished home, even covering a wall that receives a large amount of sunlight with a material like brick can help to absorb heat.
3. Install and Use Fans Strategically
Fans are an effective and cheap way to move air around your home, but that won’t do you much good if you’re just circulating hot air. Placing a fan in a window will allow you to suck cool air in at night. In corner rooms, placing another fan in the opposite direction will pull hot air out of your house, while that cooler air is sucked in through the opposite window.
Ceiling fans placed throughout the house can work great, especially if they’re made to spin counterclockwise to create a wind-chill breeze effect. And if your house has a cool basement, a ventilator fan will push that cold air up into your house.
4. Say Goodbye to Incandescent Lights
Incandescent lights are known for being energy inefficient, but did you know how they waste so much energy? By giving off heat, of course! In fact, they lose about 90% of their energy that way. Opting for more energy efficient choices like compact fluorescent bulbs for lamps and overhead lighting and LED bulbs for under cabinet kitchen lighting will save you on your lighting bills and keep your house cool at the same time.
As you can see, there are many excellent, energy efficient ways to keep your house cool without even having to glance at the price tag on an air conditioning unit. Of course, your best strategy is to use a combination of these techniques together for maximum effectiveness. So ditch the ice pack this summer, and make your house the coolest on the block.
Do you have tips to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds or on Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Home Staging Ideas for the Kitchen to Make Buyers Bite
If you’re selling your house, staging—the mysterious practice by which you prep and prettify your home before its debut—can make a huge difference in catching the attention of buyers and ultimately reeling in an offer. And the room you’ll really want to focus on here is the kitchen: After all, it’s the crown jewel that buyers ooh and ahh over—except when the counters are packed with stacks of mail, near-empty boxes of Cheerios, and a hulking Cuisinart you rarely use.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide
To make sure this critical area is perfectly poised to woo buyers, try these home staging ideas for your kitchen and get some offers cooking.
1. Clear off counters
Put it away—put it all away. We’re looking at you, coffee maker, blender, knife block, standing mixer, and toaster oven. “nd don’t forget the top of the refrigerator. Home staging in this room is all about making your kitchen look bigger, cleaner, and more streamlined. Sometimes you become accustomed to your own clutter, so much so it may become invisible to you.
And while you’re in purge mode, remove every bit of paper and those souvenir magnets from the refrigerator and cabinets. The only thing you should keep on the counter is a pop of color, such as a pretty bowl of bright green apples or lemons.
2. Scour for hours
Well, no one’s actually logging the time spent, but cleanliness is critical here. Not only must you clean the countertops, but the grout, faucet, and grimy drain rim, too.
Try CLR (calcium, lime, and rust remover) on the faucet to make sure water flows through it smoothly. Clean cabinet fronts to remove dust and grime, and scrub greasy spatters on the stove and backsplash with a vinegar-water solution.
And if you have a stovetop with burns or food rings, remove them with a soft soap product and a razor blade—it’ll look almost like new.
3. Light it right
Let as much natural light into the space as you can, by either opening heavy drapes or replacing them with sheer panels. Have a kitchen that looks out to a patio or deck through glass doors? These must sparkle in order to illuminate the space.
And if you don’t have under-cabinet lights—get them. You can purchase battery-powered puck-shaped lights for very little money and stick them under the cabinets (it adds that extra glow that every cook covets).
4. Organize the insides
Potential buyers are going to open the fridge and pantry, so don’t neglect these spots when you’re staging the kitchen. People who are looking for a new home will imagine how their pots, pans, and food items might fit into your cabinets.
Consider stacking cookbooks or displaying clear storage containers to drive home the kitchen’s function. Plus, clear containers take up less space visually.
5. Set the scene
Some experts recommend setting the table with colorful plates and napkins to give the kitchen a homey feel.
Consider presenting a picture of everyday life by having a unique planter on the countertop wit blooming flowers alongside a carafe of orange juice for color and a rolled-up newspaper.
Are you selling or have you recently sold your home? How did you make your kitchen the WOW factor? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds or on Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
9 Decluttering Projects You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less
Facing a cluttered space can feel disheartening – who has the time (or frankly, the desire) to spend all day clearing clutter? But the thing is, making progress toward a clean, clutter-free space doesn’t have to be something you devote an entire day to. Instead, by carving out bite-size chunks of time to work on clearly defined tasks, you can get the serene space you deserve in a way that also works with your schedule.
Here are 9 quick ways to get started:
1. Edit one bookcase.
If you have a large book collection spread throughout the house, sorting through all those books at once may not be practical. So start with something more doable instead – like one bookcase. Keep an empty box or shopping bag by your side, and fill it with books you no longer want or need. When you’re done, immediately carry the bag (or bags) to your car and make a plan to drop them off to donate or sell.
2. Clear the kitchen counter.
The kitchen counter is such a common dumping ground for all sorts of stuff: school notices, rubber bands, shopping bags, receipts, to-do lists and on and on. Set your timer and get to work – recycle unneeded papers and put away items that belong elsewhere. If you need a drop-spot on the counter, make it a clearly defined zone to prevent clutter sprawl in the future: Try a bowl for pocket change and a tray or basket for mail.
3. Make space under the kitchen sink.
When was the last time you really looked under your kitchen sink? This area tends to become a storehouse for random cleaning products, plastic bags and jumbled tools. First, pull everything out and give the cupboard itself a cleaning. Next, replace only the items that you actually use, that are full and in good condition. Recycle empty containers, bring bags to a plastic bag recycling drop-off (available at many markets) and move less-often used tools elsewhere. Consider bins, rods and baskets when reorganizing your now clutter-free space.
4. Make your bedside table an oasis of calm.
Why make a cluttered nightstand the last thing you see before bed and the first thing you lay eyes on in the morning? Clear away the toppling piles of books, scribbled notes and old water glasses, and wipe away the coffee rings. Replace only your current reading, a journal and pen, and perhaps a candle or a small vase with flowers.
5. Winnow your wardrobe, one drawer at a time.
Rather than attempting to tackle your entire closet in one go, set your timer for 30 minutes and start with a single drawer. Keep working your way through your clothes, one drawer at a time, until the timer goes off. Keep two empty bags or bins by your side as you sort, placing quality clothes in good repair in one bag to sell (or donate), and worn-out clothes in the other bag (drop these in a textile recycling bin).
6. Simplify the linen closet.
Do you know how many sets of sheets and towels you own? If you’ve been accumulating linens for years without purging the old ones, chances are your linen closet is full – or overstuffed. Take this 30-minute session to sort out your household linens, pulling your least favorite (or most frayed) sets to bring to a textile recycling bin or a charitable donation center. If you hope to donate your old linens, be sure to check with the donation center first, because guidelines on acceptable donations can vary widely.
7. Sort out the toy chest.
Half an hour isn’t nearly enough time to go through a child’s entire room, but it should be adequate for clearing out one particularly messy toy chest or bin. First, remove all the toys to an area where you have some room to spread out. Put toys that obviously belong elsewhere back in the right spot (for example, return stray pieces to the puzzle box) and toss or set aside broken items for repair. Fill a bag with unloved toys and put this immediately in the car – otherwise, the toys are likely to migrate out of the give-away-or-sell bag and back into the toy chest!
8. Remove worn and outgrown children’s clothes.
Working through one drawer, shelf or hanging rack at a time, pull out any of your child’s clothes that are too small, or too damaged, to wear. If you plan to save items for a younger child, neatly fold them and place in a bin labeled with the size (for example, 2T) in a storage closet. Place any clothing that is too worn or damaged to keep or sell in a bag destined for your closest textile recycling bin.
9. Clear your desktop.
The next time you find yourself procrastinating instead of getting your work done, step away from aimless social media scrolling, and set the timer for a desk-centered clutter-blasting session instead. Sort and file important papers, shred and recycle unneeded documents, test the pens in your pen cup, and clear out the drawers.
What would you declutter in 30 minutes or less? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
7 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget to Do
When you’re selling your home there’s so much to do: find a Real Estate Agent, do touch-ups, get that balky air conditioner fixed, look into staging… It’s no wonder that sometimes things fall between the cracks. Big things. (We’re not pointing fingers, promise!)
Our arsenal of experts—aka real estate agents who have worked with many home sellers—identify the to-do’s that sellers typically overlook. We promise you, these tasks are well worth the time it will take to complete them (which isn’t very long at all).
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home
Heed this sound advice, and there’s a good chance selling your house won’t be nearly as stressful as everyone tells you it is.
To-do No. 1: Google your address
Not all sellers scour the Internet to find out what’s being said about their property, but they should. Nearly all buyers – 90% – search online during their hunt for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. You should be aware of what your online listing looks like, since it will influence the kinds of impression, questions and concerns buyers will have.
For example, Google Maps’ street view of your property may not show improvements that you’ve made, so you’ll want to be sure to include those updates in your listing.
To-do No. 2: Account for improvements and issues
If you’ve owned your home for a while, make a list of all the problems you’ve solved while you’ve lived there. This could include chimney fires, water damage, or a flood in the basement. Whether you solved the problem or not, you should disclose this information to the buyer so you don’t wind up in a lawsuit after the sale. Disclosing “invisible improvements” that you’ve made, like re-grading or adding a French drain system, can also be a great source of comfort for buyers.
To-do No. 3: Check your real estate agent’s references
An agent’s bad behavior or incompetence could cost you time, money, and peace of mind, so it’s well worth taking extra steps to find the best real estate agent for you. Ask friends for recommendations and check online reviews.
RELATED: Read Patrick Parker’s Online Reviews
Check that the Agent’s you’re considering have a current real estate license – with no complaints filed against them. Meet with the Agent and reach out to a few of their references directly.
Real Estate Agents should be happy to provide a number of references for a new client to call. As far as talking to your friends about a Real Estate Agent recommendation or reading online reviews, here are some things to look for:
• Did you have confidence in your Real Estate Agent?
• Do you think he/she had good knowledge of the local market?
• Did your Agent communicate well and keep you informed during the entire transaction?
• Do you think that he/she negotiated well on your behalf?
• Did your Agent have good vendors who could assist you?
• Did your Agent return calls/emails in a timely fashion?
• Would you recommend this person? Why? (Or why not?)
To-do No. 4: Insist on social media marketing
You staged your home beautifully, picked a competitive price, and listed the property, but there’s something else you’ll need to prepare before you’re fully ready to sell – a social media marketing plan. Video tours, floor plans, and photo galleries promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are must-dos.
You want to make sure that your Agent is using all avenues to attract the right buyer for your home. Make sure your home has a presence on your Agent’s website, their agency’s website, and is promoted on various sites that will market the home and give information about open houses.
To-do No. 5: Make sure the doorbell rings
Ah, attention to detail. It’s those little cosmetic repairs that could cost you your home sale. If buyers see that you can’t even be bothered to repair a busted doorbell, they’re automatically going to think about what else may need fixing and view the home negatively.
First impressions make all the difference. A well-kept home, starting with the view from the curb, gives the perception that the seller has great pride in the home and has taken good care of it – which translates into less energy and costs for the buyer as they prepare to move in.
To-do No. 6: Clean inside everything
Storage is a huge selling point for homes. So be warned: Buyers are going to poke around inside closets, drawers, cabinets, ovens, refrigerators, and even the dishwasher, whether they’re cleaned or not—so you’d better make sure they are clean.
Spending the money on a service to deep-clean your home will come back to you at least 10 times in your sales price. Even if you’ve swept up and scrubbed all surfaces to a shine, you’re not done until dust, crumbs, and creepy crawlies are cleaned out from within the small spaces too.
To-do No. 7: Clarify which items are not included
You don’t want a buyer to fall in love with your house because of the custom window treatments and then rescind their offer when they find out the curtains aren’t for sale.
The law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer unless specifically excluded in the contract. If you want to take your flat-screen TV, chandelier, or custom pot rack, be sure to label it as soon as the house goes on the market, so that buyers don’t bank on owning that item and wind up disappointed.
Are you a recent seller who with items to add to our to-do list? Are you a buyer with feedback for sellers on how their property could have further won you over? We want to hear from you! Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
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