Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your Space

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your SpaceMany people look at a smaller living space and think that there are a lot of limitations imposed. However, a more miniature home can offer up the opportunity to be inventive with design and get creative about your abode. Whether you live in small apartment now or are thinking of downsizing in the future, here are some ideal ways to make the most of your pint-sized pad.

Invest In Multi-Functional Pieces

It may be nice to have a stylish bar cart or a hefty china cabinet for your space, but there are certain kinds of home items that only serve one function and this is not necessarily useful with limited capacity. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try purchasing items like a folding table tray that can serve as a coffee table or a bookcase that can hold dishes, books and other household items. This will enable you to maximize the space you have and create a uniquely modern design aesthetic.

Maintain An Organized Space

Every home has a little bit of clutter, but nothing will fill up a comfy space like having a lot of knick-knacks all over the place. Instead of making your home look smaller, ensure that you have vertical storage or closet space that can be effectively used for items that might often be left out. An organized space will not only make for a cleaner, more effortless looking apartment, it will give the allusion that you’ve got a few more square feet than you actually do.

Stick With Neutral Colors

It can be tempting to go with a bright color for an accent wall, but this can actually work against your space and make it look a lot smaller. Instead of something vibrant and eye-catching, stick with a neutral palette and go for shades like white, light grey and light brown so they can naturally expand your space. You can still choose to accent with bright colors, but you may want to leave them to your pillows or a vase so that they don’t take over your space.

It might seem like there are many limitations imposed with a smaller living space, but with so many people downsizing there are a variety of great design possibilities for a less sizeable home. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to put it on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Let’s Talk Closets: How to Organize Your Closet Spaces Without Breaking the Bank

Let's Talk Closets: How to Organize Your Closet Spaces Without Breaking the BankThere is a particular pleasure in a well-organized closet; not to mention the space and energy-saver that it becomes! And the best part is that you don’t need to spend tons of money to get a dapper closet space. A lot of the work is just thinking outside the (clothing) box.

Plan The Closet First

Before anything else, sit down and plan out your closet. Measure it so you know the exact dimensions (if you need to grab a rod or drawers, you’ll know what size fits). Clean out your closet (to get a better idea of its contents and space), then plan out what you want it to store. Having a clear idea of how you want to organize the space will prevent impulse purchases and conflicting organizational strategies.

Optimize The Contents

Your closet is essentially a functional space, so treat it that way. Think about what you want to have easy access to, and what can be rotated into storage. (Bulky winter coats, for example, can be stored elsewhere until winter rolls around). Once your closet is pared down, look for items that you can donate: think anything you haven’t worn in a year or more.

Optimize The Space

Even if you have a small closet, it can be a mighty space. Optimize what you have by using the walls and the door for hanging storage, and by stacking items. Wire shelving is cheap and easy to install, and is great for seeing at a glance what’s there. A movable closet rod (for hangers) can be pushed up for more storage, and pulled down for easy access. And what about the double-hanger trick; hooking one item’s hanger off another’s? This way you can pair items that go together to save time and save space. Or use shower rings on hangers to store scarves; multiple scarves looped on one hanger; and hang baskets under shelves to maximize space.

Organize The Space

Experts say that organizing items by color is not the most efficient method; instead, group items by activity or function. Pants are with pants, dresses with dresses. Use labels to make access and maintenance easy. Put the most frequently used items in the center and at eye-level, and make sure drawers are slightly below eye-level for the easiest perusal. Finally, think creatively: use hanging shoe bags for other items, hang jewelry off spruced-up paint stir sticks, store entire sheet sets in their pillowcases.

If you have questions or need input, contact your local real estate agent. After all, they have closets of their own. Who knows what organizing expertise they can share?

Let’s Talk Cabinets: How to Match up New Kitchen Cabinets With the Rest of Your Decor

Let's Talk Cabinets: How to Match up New Kitchen Cabinets With the Rest of Your DecorRenovating your old cabinets can be one of the best ways to instantly improve the look of your kitchen, but it can be confusing for the layman to go about making this renovation. With all of the options for cabinetry and the need to match your design aesthetic, it can seem quite easy to make a mistake. If you’re currently wondering how to properly renovate your kitchen cabinets to enhance the overall look of your home, here are some helpful tips you’ll want to consider.

What’s Your Cabinetry Style?

There are a number of cabinet types and details that may instantly appeal, from glass-doored cupboards to more ornamental styles, but certain cabinets will complement the look of your home more effectively. While you may want to experiment with your cupboards and build from there, it’s better to have something a little more streamlined that you can work with so they will adapt to a changing space.

Choose A Neutral Tone

Bright colors can be a great option for small appliances, but when it comes to cabinetry a flashy tone can completely overpower your room and clash with the rest of your home décor. Instead of choosing something bright, stick with shades that are neutral, like gray or white, so they will mesh well with any kitchen additions. Beyond their adaptability, shades like this also have the added benefit of retaining their modern look a little longer.

Consider The Handles

It’s easy to be taken in by a stylish cupboard handle, but high costs can come along with something that’s striking. In addition, they can also clash with the rest of your kitchen if they’re of a completely different style. Instead of going for contrast, consider the kind of pull that will tie in with the rest of your kitchen decor, whether it matches the color of your oven or your countertop tile. This will make for a classic look that still manages to provide cohesion.

There are so many varieties of kitchen cabinetry to choose from that it can be hard to know where to begin with making a choice. When renovating this part of your kitchen, it’s a good idea to be aware of what will work best for your space so that it can retain a customizable and classic look. If you’re renovating in preparation to sell, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Goodbye, Curtains: Try These Fun and Fashionable Ways to Dress up Your Windows

Goodbye, Curtains: Try These Fun and Fashionable Ways to Dress up Your WindowsWindows can add a lot to the look of your home, and this means that dressing them up properly is an important key for aesthetic appeal. While draggy, neutral-colored curtains can be one of the less exciting aspects of decorating your home, here are a few ways you can adorn the most basic of home fixtures and turn your windows into something truly unique.

A Reconstituted Valance

A short curtain can be a nice, less fussy way to adorn your windows, but if you have a kitchen space in need of warming up, try a piece of wood or metal painted with a color or texture of your choice. Whether it’s covered in words or you stick with a neutral paint color, it can easily add texture and character while letting a lot more light in.

Stylish and Singular Shades

If you want something that will cover the window without getting in the way, you may want to opt for window shades that you can pull down or pull up at your leisure. While this might sound like a pretty tame option, shades are available in a variety of shapes, colors and motifs that are sure to add spark to your room.

Frosted Glass Find

If you want to forego having blinds altogether but you have large windows that need to be covered, you may want to try installing frosted glass in order to maximize the available light. Not only can this be a means of maintaining your privacy at any hour of the day, it will also leave your room feeling airy, well-lit and open well into the evening.

Parade Of Plants

It may seem like a strange solution to the traditional curtain, but a row of plants placed on the window ledge can add a lot to your frames while limiting the need for curtains. While this trick will work especially well for kitchen windows and other areas where you can use smaller plants, you can always try mixing it up to create a different effect.

The idea of long, white curtains isn’t necessarily something that will work for every room, but there are plenty of ways you can dress up your window frames without having to reach for a piece of fabric. If you’re looking for new design tips because you’re considering a move in your future, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

3 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More ‘Pet Friendly’

3 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More 'Pet Friendly'Whether you’re moving to a new home or you have a new family pet, it can be a struggle to make the place a little friendlier for them. From the garbage can to the cupboards and doors, there can be a lot of dangers that have the ability to hurt your furry friend you might not be aware of. If you’re looking for some simple ways to make their life a little easier, here are a few things you can do.

Take Care Of The Trash

The image of dogs sifting through the trash is common for a reason, so it’s important to guard your animal against the dangers of the dustbin. In addition to taking out any perishable goods on a consistent basis, it’s a worthwhile investment to purchase a tougher trash bin that your animal can’t get into. This will ensure they won’t be able to get at foods like fruit pits, coffee grounds and chocolate, which can be very harmful to their system.

Pick The Right Flooring

If you have the choice, ceramic tile or hardwood can be a great way to alleviate the tidy-up of having a live-in pet since you can easily wipe or sweep away the damage. If this isn’t possible and carpet is your only option, stick with something that closely matches the color of your pet. As well, if you’re letting your pet on the furniture, it’s worth investing in materials like leather and suede that are more durable and easy to clean.

Give Them Their ‘Space’

You may not have to worry about cleaning up after your pet as much if you can provide them with a space that’s all their own. While it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or sprawling, providing a comfortable bed where they like to nap and a water bowl or selection of toys will do the trick in making them feel right at home. It may also have the added benefit of keeping them away from the family couch!

Many homeowners are so pre-occupied with making themselves comfortable in their family home that they forget about the animal in the family. While it won’t necessarily take much to please your pet, watching the waste and giving them their own comfortable area can go a long way in making your home pet-friendly. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, contact our trusted real estate professional for more information.

Winter’s Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

Winter's Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other LandscapingFrom the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It’s important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you’re wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It’s just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it’s a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in. If you happen to have plants that won’t last through the winter, you’ll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it’s also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you’ll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they’ll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it’s important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring. If you’re currently prepping your yard for a spring home sale, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Five Unique Renovations That Can Make Small Living Spaces Feel Bigger

Five Unique Renovations That Can Make Small Living Spaces Feel BiggerJust because you live in a small space doesn’t mean your home needs to feel cramped. There are several renovations that are popular among interior designers to make a space feel larger. Incorporate them into your own home to give it a more open, spacious feel.

1. Crystal Clear

Glass is an absolutely phenomenal way to make a small space feel larger as it removes visual barriers to show off additional square footage, making it seem as though it’s part of the room. Whether you choose a glass railing for a staircases or room divider or incorporate a glass shower into a small bathroom, glass can help your home feel more spacious.

2. Make The Most Of Mirrors

Similar to glass, mirrors can make a small space feel big as they add an illusion of depth to a room. Try installing a large mirror on a wall in lieu of paintings or other decor if you’d like to make a room seem larger than it is.

3. Goodbye Island

If it’s your kitchen that’s feeling cramped, consider removing the island. Islands can add value to a home, but if your kitchen is small enough that it shouldn’t have been there in the first place then getting rid of it will create a much more functional space. Consider whether you’d still have ample counter space and storage without your island, and if the answer is yes it may be time to say goodbye to your island.

4. Tear Down The Walls

Creating an open concept floor plan is a fantastic renovation for a small home as it removes barriers between several small spaces to create one larger open space. Do you really need a wall between your kitchen and dining room? How about between your dining room and living room? If there’s a wall that simply isn’t necessary, it may be time to tear it down.

5. Keep It Light

A very quick and easy renovation to help open up a small space is to paint the walls in a light color as it will reflect more light than a darker shade, making the room feel airy rather than cozy. If you’re considering re-doing the floors, choosing a lighter color can further contribute to the feeling of a larger space.

Small spaces don’t have to cramp your style. In fact, they offer unique design opportunities and can make wonderful living spaces. If you’re looking for more homeowner advice, get in touch with your local real estate professional today.

Let’s Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your Home

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we’ll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn’t the easiest job. For most basements, it’s a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you’re not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you’re going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you’ll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you’ll use the space, you’ll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue — especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you’ll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you’re just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you’ll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you’ll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you’ll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you’re all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home’s equity, give us a call.

Do You Own an Income Property? Here Are Four Tips for Finding Great Tenants

Do You Own an Income Property? Here Are Four Tips for Finding Great TenantsTrusting another individual with your property can be nerve-wracking because it’s difficult to gauge how well they’ll care for their home from a viewing and rental application alone. However, there are several steps you can take to help ensure that you select responsible tenants that will take good care for your property while they live there.

1. Make Your Home Desirable

When creating your rental listing, show your property at its absolute best and list its attractive features. The listing should be well written with proper capitalization and full sentences, even if it’s only going on Craigslist. Include plenty of photos that are staged nicely to show the full potential of the home both inside and out.

If you want the best applicants, strive to be the best property! You need to attract tenants who are looking for a home rather than a crash pad.

2. Have A Thorough Application Process

Don’t be afraid to ask for in-depth information from your applicants. The more you know about them the more you can assess what kind of a tenant they’ll be. An application should ask for:

– full name
– the applicant’s job & their supervisor
– their income
– current address
– government identification (i.e. a photocopy of their driver’s license)
– next of kin or an emergency contact
– previous landlord references
– any additional info you think is necessary

3. Check References

One of the most important things you can do when choosing a tenant is check their references. At least one reference should be a past landlord, and it’s great to contact a current employer as well. Favor applicants who can prove they’ve been a good renter in the past and who seem to have reliable employment.

When calling references have a prepared list of questions. For past landlords you’ll want to ask about their cleanliness, if there was any damage to the property, noise complaints, or missed rent. When speaking to an employer, make sure to ask how long they’ve been working there, whether they’re a reliable worker, whether they’re respectful, and if they can see them continuing to work there for the long-term.

4. Meet Them!

Always meet potential tenants in person. See if they have a pleasant demeanor, if they’re easy to talk to and are polite to you, and whether they seem to take care of themselves. Trust your gut, if you have a bad feeling about someone then it may be best to keep looking.

Need more advice on income properties? Contact a your trusted real estate professional today.

Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving Tips

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving TipsDo you believe that humans are changing the climate? As of today, the debate over carbon dioxide and climate change continues to rage. But regardless of your political standpoint, there’s always a case for reducing electricity use. Because who doesn’t like saving money, right?

Let’s explore a few ways that you can save energy while reducing your home’s carbon footprint.

Leverage The Power Of Automation

The technology behind home automation is improving at an amazing rate. Thermostats from companies like Nest make home heating and cooling simple. They learn from your use to automatically set temperatures up and down as needed. Going to be home late from work? No problem — you can use your smartphone to ensure your heat doesn’t come on until later.

Wash Cold, Hang Dry

You might not be aware of this, but cold water washing makes sense. Most washing machines and detergents are just as efficient with cold water as hot. So it makes sense to switch to washing in cold, especially if you have a newer washing machine.

To cut back even more, hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The technology behind clothes dryers hasn’t improved much over time. They still rely on warm air, forced ventilation and spinning around. All of which use a lot of energy.

Note: if you have to use your dryer, add a clean, dry towel to each load. Adding a towel will help your clothes to dry faster, thus saving you both time and money.

Modernize Your Home Lighting

Have you made the switch to power-efficient LED light bulbs yet? This one change can save an immense amount of electricity depending on the size of your home. And you can take things a step further by automating your home lighting as well. Systems from companies like Philips allow you to turn lights up, down and off as needed. You can also control these from your smartphone.

Kill Off The Vampires

Finally, watch for appliances and accessories that draw power when they’re not in use. ‘Electricity vampires’ like smartphone chargers, laptops and televisions can draw power 24/7. It’s a bit of a pain to have to unplug everything all the time. Instead, consider having these appliances plugged in to power bars. When you’re finished using them, you can switch the power bar off and go on with your day.

The above are just a few ways that you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. If you’re interested in upgrading to a power-smart home, talk to your local real estate agent today. We’ll be happy to recommend local homes that are high-value and low-carbon.