Twelve Days of Holiday Safety Tips

Tips from the Red Cross

Having a busy time getting ready for the holidays? While you are shopping, baking, gift wrapping, decorating and going to parties, the American Red Cross has holiday safety tips to help keep the season safe, happy and bright.

• Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Build an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, and a tow rope.

RELATED: How To Winterize Your Car

• Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm. If you must travel, let someone know where you are going, the route you’re taking to get there, and when you expect to arrive. If the car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along their predetermined route.

• Help prevent the spread of the flu. Stay home if you’re sick. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Learn more about preventing the spread of the flu.

• Follow Santa’s fashion lead – dress in layers. When it’s cold outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.

• Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed and monitor safe play. Some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.

• Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• Be a lifesaver during the holidays. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should take first aid and CPR/AED training.

• Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.

• When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms.

• Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned and change the filters. Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking the heat vents. Close off any rooms not in use and turn off the heat in those rooms. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.

• Home for the holidays? Travel safely. Check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid. Be well rested and alert. Give your full attention to the road – avoid distractions such as cell phones. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

• (Bonus!) Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year. Get ready now in case you or a member of your household faces an emergency in 2015. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

YOUR TURN

Have holiday safety tips to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or Instagram Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

When is Black Friday 2017? It Depends.

Perhaps you’ll snag major deals on Black Friday, but don’t let that stop you from finding deals any time of year. Depending on what you’re looking for, Black Friday might not be the cheapest day to shop.

Websites BlackFriday.com and Rather Be Shopping looked at historical data and announced sales to determine the best dates to score deals from now until Christmas.

And if you’re looking to avoid crowds, cross that information, which follows below, with intelligence from Foursquare on the days of the week and times when stores are the least busy, broken down by product category. Generally speaking, Monday, Thursday and Friday are the best days to shop, based on foot-traffic data from the app’s users.

Mondays are good for buying cosmetics (around noon, to be precise), clothing, jewelry and candy. And Monday evenings are ideal for purchasing booze.

Thursdays are great for books, beer and building supplies.

Shopping for kids? Friday is the best day to hit up big box stores like Target, Walmart and Big Lots. It’s not just about good deals, but accessibility. Friday evenings are the slowest at stores, especially supermarkets where grocery aisles are the easiest to navigate.

Sundays are the best for buying gifts at department stores, craft stores and electronics merchants. Again, evenings have the fewest crowds.

Shopping by Product Category

What many retail shoppers and online shoppers don’t realize is there are optimal times during November and December to be buying certain products. Again, based on data, consider the following:

Dec. 4-25 – Jewelry and Wedding Bands

December is the most popular time of year to get engaged, according to wedding resource The Knot. Baubles also make great holiday gifts.

Jewelry promotions are in heavy rotation from Dec. 4 through Christmas Day, according to BlackFriday.com.

Dec. 9-11 – Name Brand HDTVs

Electronics are Black Friday favorites, but that doesn’t end after Cyber Monday.

Prices stabilize a bit following Cyber Week, but there is renewed promotional activity the second weekend in December.

Look for deals of 30-40% off on big brands including Samsung, Sony, Vizio and Panasonic, according to Rather Be Shopping.

Dec. 10 – Fitness Gear and Equipment

Dec. 12 – Stocking Stuffers and Small Gifts

Dec. 13 – Laptops

For the past three years, Dec. 13 has yielded online coupons from Dell.com and HP.com including $500 off a top of the line unit and budget models for less than $250, according to Rather Be Shopping.

Look for more of the same this year.

Dec. 14-17 – PlayStation and Xbox Consoles

Video games and consoles are big sellers in December and these are the best days to get a discount, according to BlackFriday.com

Dec. 14 – Tools and Hardware

Home improvement stores aren’t to be left out of the holiday sales rush and Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware and Harbor Freight will have offers of up to 30% off.

Still, Father’s Day brings better deals, so for those self-gifting tools and supplies, it pays to wait until Spring.

Dec. 15 – Toys

Both BlackFriday.com and coupon site Rather Be Shopping agree that this is the absolute best day to buy toys this month at big retailers such as Toys R Us, Target, Amazon and Walmart.

This is when retailers reach crunch time for toy sales and the incentives are aplenty in order to cash in on those “semi” last minute shoppers.

Dec. 16 – Apparel, Shoes, Accessories, Winter Clothing and Kitchen Gear

The absolute best prices on these goods before Christmas is Cyber Monday, but the next best opportunity is the Friday otherwise known as ‘Free Shipping Day.’

This is traditionally the day when retailers offer guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, for free.
A large majority of online sites like Gap.com, Lands’ End.com, American Eagle, Macy’s and Old Navy will have fantastic coupon codes to go along with their free shipping offer.

It’s also a great day for kitchen and home goods.

Dec. 21-24 – Big Ticket Items

Retailers begin panic discounting on gift items the closer we get to Christmas, but they also begin clearing out the year’s models on appliances and furniture, but the deals get even better the day after Christmas.

Additional Ways To Save

Online shoppers would be silly not to take advantage of eBates.com. No tricks, no gimmicks, no forms to fill out.  Ebates makes earning cash back easy!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Here’s how it works:

1. Shop  First, start your search for the retailer where you wish to shop at eBates.com. They are partnered with hundreds of thousands of retailers, it would be extremely rare that whatever you want is not there. Then, be sure to click on any Ebates link to the store you’ll shop with before you make your purchase.

2. Validate When you click an Ebates link, you’ll see a pop-up confirmation letting you know you’re ready to shop and earn Cash Back at that store.

3. Purchase Complete your purchase as you normally would. This will also complete your Shopping Trip.

That’s all you have to do.

That’s it.  And every quarter you get a check in the mail.

YOUR TURN

Do you have any secret holiday shopping tips to share? Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Power Outages: Be Prepared

Your electric service is generally very reliable; however, extreme weather conditions and other factors can lead to a temporary loss of power. To keep your family safe and comfortable during an outage or other emergency, it’s important to be prepared.

power outage

Here are some tips:

• Create an emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
• Maintain supplies of healthy and filling snacks that don’t require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts and protein bars.
• Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
• Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
• Learn about the emergency plans established in your area by contacting your state or local emergency management agency.
• If you rely on anything that’s battery-operated or power dependent, such as a medical device, have a backup plan.
• Maintain backup generators according to manufacturers’ recommendations and store an adequate supply of fuel in a safe place.

During an outage, monitor local radio stations or online sources for reports about power restoration. Disconnect or switch off appliances and electronic equipment that were running when the power went out. Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers to save cold air and preserve food longer.

Staying safe

Follow these measures to ensure the safety of you and your family during and after an outage.

Generators. Operate backup generators safely by following manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t attempt to connect your generator to the electrical system; it can backfeed to outdoor utility lines and injure or kill utility service personnel. An automatic transfer switch—installed by a qualified electrician—will help to ensure safe operation.

Refrigerated foods. Discard any perishable items in your refrigerator or freezer that may not be safe to consume. A refrigerator keeps food at a safe temperature for up to four hours during a power outage if it remains closed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends discarding foods such as meat, poultry and eggs if they’ve been above 40°F for more than two hours.

YOUR TURN

For more tips and resources, see Power Outages from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Like Patrick Parker Realty on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

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.

Interior Design Tips

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.

RELATED: 9 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do in 30 Minutes Or Less

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.

YOUR TURN

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.

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

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

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

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 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

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.

YOUR TURN

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.

YOUR TURN

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.

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.

kitchen-under-sink-organization

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.

YOUR TURN

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 Quick and Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

A kitchen of any size can feel roomy if you know a few tricks. Sticking to white cabinets and walls is a good start, but there are many other ways to create extra room in your kitchen, or create the illusion of a bigger space than you have, all without sacrificing a sense of personality.

Here are 7 ways to balance storage, style and long sight-lines to get a functional layout with a spacious vibe:

1. Consider shallow cabinets.

Here’s some outside-the-box thinking: Not all of your lower cabinets must be the standard 24-inch depth. Most cabinet lines (even stock cabinets from big box stores) also come in a 12- or 15-inch depth usually used for upper cabinets.

Using slimmer lower cabinets for one area has its advantages. It opens a bit more floor space, which can make a big difference in a tight kitchen.

It also reduces your storage slightly, but often the backs of deep cabinets are hard to reach anyway, so the shallower cabinets can be just right for everyday items.

2. Reduce your hardware.

It’s a no-brainer that eliminating counter clutter is important for keeping a kitchen looking open and breezy, but you can take this a step further by removing the hardware.

Using cabinet doors with touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls reinforces the clean lines of your kitchen, which subtly helps it appear bigger. It also gives you fewer little items to bump into, so the space will feel easier to move in too.

3. Mirror your backsplash.

When you’re tucked into the kitchen working away on dinner, that’s when the space usually feels the smallest.

Using a mirror for the backsplash opens up the sightlines, making the room seem much bigger, especially from close up. For a smart, moodier effect, use a tinted glass so the reflection is subtler.

4. Use shelf uppers.

In a small kitchen, removing all the upper cabinets may not be a practical option, but you can always use as much or as little as you like to house just your most attractive everyday items.

A few open shelves on one wall will perfectly hold daily-use tableware, storage jars and bins, and cookbooks, and give the room a much more open feel. It can also give a beautiful window a little more space to breathe so the whole room feels less stuffed.

You don’t even have to fully commit to shelf uppers. Try simply removing the doors from a cabinet to simulate this breezy look. You can always put the doors back on later if you want to.

5. Add glass door cabinets.

Here’s another way to lighten your uppers, but without actually changing your storage. Switch out typical solid cabinet fronts to doors with glass inserts to make the look much airier.

Use this cabinet to display attractive drinkware, or use frosted glass so you only get a faint peek at the mishmash of items stored within.

6. Install cabinet lighting.

The importance of good lighting cannot be stressed enough, and in kitchens especially the lighting is often insufficient, coming just from ceiling fixtures in the center of the room. Add lighting under, above and even inside the cabinets to make the room feel much brighter and bigger, as the dark shadows around the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.

For a quick fix, add plug-in LED strip fixtures or battery-powered tap lights under the cabinets for extra brightness.

7. Unwrap your hood.

You may not want to eliminate any true upper cabinets, but the partial cabinets that wrap around a hood fan usually have little function other than hiding ductwork. Choose a beautiful range hood that is meant to be seen, and let it create a little visual break from the upper cabinets. Even this small bit of depth can make a kitchen feel less claustrophobic.

YOUR TURN

What tricks do you use to create a visually larger kitchen? Did you recently remodel and use any of the tips above? What do you recommend? 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.

 

12 Money-Saving Secrets Appliance Stores Don’t Want You to Know

Let’s face it, shopping for appliances is rarely as fun as, say, a weekend in Vegas. Has anyone ever experienced any kind of high-roller exhilaration from splurging on a washing machine?

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Of course not! That’s because home appliance shopping usually happens when one of your workhorses is on its last legs or, heaven forbid, completely busted. And, if you’re not careful, a savvy salesperson will spot that sweat of desperation. Suddenly, you’re leaving the store not just with a new appliance but also a sad, empty wallet.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you’re buying an appliance in a store or online, we know a few tricks of the trade to keep money in your pocket…

1. Look beyond advertised prices
Have you noticed that when you shop for appliances online or look at store circulars, all the prices are pretty much the same? That’s because big manufacturers dictate the minimum prices stores can advertise. But that doesn’t mean the actual cost is the same across the board.

They can sell it for less, but they can’t advertise it for less. That means if you just do something – such as click a button online or approach a sales associate in a store – you can often buy the product for less. Sometimes a lot less.

2. Time your purchase right
The right time to buy appliances can vary depending on whether you’re buying online or in store. But there’s one common denominator: The best time to shop is when retailers need your money more than you need that appliance.  Let’s break it down…

If you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, these are the best times to buy:

• September, October, and January, when manufacturers roll out new appliance models and retailers are desperate to get rid of last year’s fare
• The end of each month, when stores are trying to meet monthly quotas
• Holiday weekends (No, retailers aren’t tricking you with bargain prices – they promote heavily and stock for greater sales during those periods.)
• Off-season (For instance, force yourself to think about buying an outdoor grill in January or an electric fireplace in July.)

If you’re shopping online, these are the best times to buy:

• November
• Thursdays (the day retailers are twice as likely to reduce prices)
• The fourth or fifth day of the month, when buyers are flush with paycheck money
• 3 p.m. (Yes, 3 p.m.)

3. Use a shopping cart—and then walk away
We’re talking about the online kind. If you’ve had your eye on an appliance but wish it were just a smidgen cheaper, try putting it in your cart. Then walk away (so to speak). If you leave it there for a few days, a retailer might send you a coupon to entice you to close the deal.

4. Decode the price tag
Some price tags have a “secret code” that can help you determine how much a store is discounting an item – and whether there’s room for a bigger cut.

Here’s a handy chart that reveals what certain numbers and symbols mean at several major retailers, including Home Depot, Costco, and Target. If this looks like information overload, remember this: If a price ends in any number other than 9 or 99, you’ll know you’re getting less than full retail price.

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5. Embrace your inner snoop
You can’t always get to a store during a big sale. But if you peek into the metal price stand next to an item, you might be able to preview the cards behind the one displaying the current price – cards that might reveal the date and price of the next sale.

6. Ask repair people for bargains
When a repairman arrives to fix a busted appliance, ask if he knows of warehouses selling almost-new appliances for deep discounts. This is what we call insider info! You just might get a brand new wall oven with a tiny dent on the side that nobody will ever see.

7. Combine discounts
Think of how much you can save if you shop for appliances during a Black Friday sale, pay with a gift card you bought online for a discount, and add a 20% coupon to the mix. The dollars simply melt away.

And sign up for eBates. Always. It couldn’t be easier, they are partnered with 10’s or thousands of retailers and offer cash back bonuses on your purchase both in store and online. Your cash back goes in your eBates account and each quarter your mailed a check. It really is that easy.

8. Don’t be afraid to haggle
Never be afraid to ask salespeople, cashiers, and store managers if they can do a little better on the price. In fact, research shows that nearly all people who haggle over appliances are successful at least once – and save an average $200.

In fact, you can take this one step further. Call stores in advance and say, “I’m shopping around for this appliance and will buy from the place that gives me the lowest price. What’s the best price, including delivery and install, you can give me?”
Independent stores, rather than chains, are really set up for this.

9. Re-evaluate the extended warranty
Extended warranties can be a good idea. But if you’re not careful, they can also drain your bank account unnecessarily. Consumer experts say extended warranties often cost more than they’re worth – in other words, you’ll spend less on a potential repair than you will shelling out for the warranty in the first place. We won’t tell you to skip it, but you should do the math and proceed with caution.

10. Send in your rebate
We know it’s a pain to keep track of your receipt and send it to a manufacturer or store. But isn’t it worth five minutes of your time to get a bargain? Keep receipts in one place, and put together your rebates while you’re bingeing on Netflix.

YOUR TURN

Do you have tricks up your sleeve when it comes to appliance shopping? Let us know! Sound off on our 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.

6 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look High End

Your home’s appearance is a reflection of you and what type of person you are. Living on the Jersey Shore you’ll find diversity among décor.

The coastal themes of the water and the contemporary art remain strong when it comes to making a home look high end. With a few good tips you can walk with pride by creating a high end home, even when you’re on a budget.

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Here are a couple of considerations that may peak your curiosity:

1. Pastel Paints
You can see heads nodding to the interior design trends for 2017. Pastel paints mixed with natural pieces of furniture and sleek industrial accents. This look is easy to achieve by replacing your ivory white walls for more subdued colors like yellows, blues and greens. Bright colors, browns and boring neutrals are out when it comes to making a home look more Chi-Chi.

2. Abstract Art Piece
Add a touch of nature with a vase, abstract art piece or some other type of organic flair to the room. On the flip side try adding metallic finishes such as copper and silver to accent these rooms. You will find this look across the board in magazines such as Coastal Living.

Do-it-Yourself Wainscoting, Chair rails, Board and Batten are all excellent weekend projects that can enhance the way any room looks. Just be sure to do your painting first and look in places like Pinterest for additional DIY ideas.

3. Wooden Valances
Wooden valances are easier to create than most people think and are a welcome addition to any window treatment. Paint these wooden boxes to either match or contrast the walls and you’ve got a look that is stunning in just about any room.

4. Kitchen Tile Blacksplashes
The kitchen can be updated by adding things like a DIY tile backsplash that extends from countertop to cabinets. This will make even the most outdated kitchen look new again. One major trend that we are seeing a lot of this year is the ‘subway’ tile look. This is a clean, simple look that will match in a multitude of decorative applications.

TIP: Don’t forget the laundry room! Many people are taking the time to give this room some love and attention by placing backdrops behind the ole’ washer and dryer. They are using ‘neat freak’ solutions to storage and really creating a welcoming invitation to this area.

5. Backyard / Outdoor Living Spaces
Backyard living spaces are huge now. Many families find themselves enjoying their porches and patios more than ever before. When you live in a place like the Jersey Shore, you’ve probably got a deep love for being outdoors. Your home will be upgraded by taking the time and investing in making this gorgeous area. Things like plants, fire pits, decorative stones and waterfalls can add to the ambiance and the value of the home. Places like Houzz.com are an excellent resource for other decorating ideas for these outdoor spaces.

6. Curb Appeal
Entryway and curb appeal are important to beautifying your home and should be given special attention. You don’t want to spend your time grimacing and wincing each time you pull into your driveway. Paint the exterior in a pleasant color that’s complimentary of the surroundings.

RELATED: The Importance of Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Use art instead of plants as a focal point. Garage doors need to be updated and todays newer selections are not only inexpensive, they’re super modern.

YOUR TURN

No matter if you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been in your place for years, there are a lot of things that you can do to make your place look like a million bucks with spending a fraction of that amount. Do you have something to add to our list? Sound off on our 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.


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