Your Spring Cleaning Checklist for a Summer Ready Home

Whether spring-cleaning is an ongoing ritual for you or a once-in-a-blue-moon struggle, the spring months are an ideal time for a home scrub down. From the standard deep clean to the budget review, make sure these seven tasks are on your spring-cleaning checklist for a summer-ready home.

1. Embark on a Deep Clean

It wouldn’t be a true spring-cleaning without a full house sweep. From dusting the fans to scrubbing the oven, deep clean your home at least once a year. Make this easier to manage by creating a checklist for each room. Which rooms need the carpets vacuumed and scrubbed or the floors mopped? Are there blinds and fans that need dusting or mirrors and windows that need washing? Along with cleaning, clear out closets, cabinets, and pantries. Toss expired food and anything broken, and donate gently used furniture and clothing you no longer need.

2. Dust Off the Air Conditioner

After months of hibernation, inspect your air conditioner to make sure it’s working efficiently. Run the unit and listen for strange sounds like squeals or rattling, which may indicate a part is wearing out. Test its efficiency by running it ten degrees below the outside temperature for ten minutes. Then place a refrigerator thermometer inside one of the air conditioning air ducts, as well as in the return air duct, to check the temperature. Lastly, look at the air filter and clean or replace it if it’s clogged.

3. Feed Your Greenery

With spring comes new growth, and with summer, rising temperatures. Make sure your yard is ready for the changes. Fertilize the lawn for a boost of nutrients and use a turf builder to fill in any barren patches of grass. Make sure to use a metal rake to first dethatch any dead grass and clear out twigs, leaves, and dead branches. If weeds start rearing their ugly heads, using a weed killer during a string of dry days will help it work better. You may need to apply it a few times to clear out more stubborn weeds.

4. Scrub the Grill

Your grill and outdoor furniture likely haven’t seen much use these past few months. Give them a thorough scrub down so they’re ready for beautiful sunny days. To clean a BBQ grill, heat it at a high temperature for ten minutes, which will make it easier to scrape off any built-up grease or food residue in the cook box. Just make sure to let the grill cool before cleaning the grates, burners, and drip tray.

5. Reconsider Your Subscriptions

Along with cleaning your home, tidy up your subscriptions. You may find that you aren’t using all of them. Do you really need Hulu and Netflix, or can you cancel one? Are you still reading those magazine subscriptions arriving in your mailbox every month? By adding up the amount you spend each month on recurring subscriptions, you may be surprised to see just how much you spend. Play with your budget to see how you may be able to save by condensing or cutting back on your subscriptions.

6. Review Your Bills

While you’re reconsidering your subscriptions, run through your credit card statements and bills—from utilities to cable services—and make sure you’re being correctly charged. Reviewing your bills also helps you catch any subscriptions or services you forgot you had. This is also a good time to research comparable services and companies, as you can often save by bundling or switching carriers. For example, if you live in a rural area, check your internet plan to see if the speed you’re experiencing matches the plan you pay for. You may find that satellite internet offers higher speeds than your other options outside of cities.

7. Conduct an Energy Audit

With summer comes rising energy costs. Beat the heat money-wise by assessing your home’s energy efficiency. While you can pay for a professional assessment, you can easily perform your own DIY home energy audit. Start by assessing major energy drainers, including air leaks from gaps along the edge of flooring, windows, or doors. Next, check ventilation near appliances and insulation in your walls and ceiling. You can make several small fixes too, like swapping inefficient light bulbs with LEDs and installing a smart thermostat.

Now is the season to get your home ready for summer so you can relax and enjoy the sun and warm weather. Tackle these tasks all at once or spread them out over the next few weeks. Either way, your future self will thank you when you can fire up the grill and kick on the AC.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.


Tips for Redecorating on a Budget

Most homeowners have a desire to decorate in a manner that suits personal tastes while also being visually appealing. All those home magazines make it look so easy, but can also come with steep prices. When you are limited to a budget that’s somewhat smaller, you can still achieve the look you desire without breaking the bank.

Reuse

Before you start buying new furniture, bedding, and fixtures that will quickly eat through your budget, start by taking an inventory of what you already have. Think about ways that things can be reused. Simple furniture pieces can be painted or even just have the hardware changed out that will change the way a piece looks.

Many types of furniture can serve a different purpose. An unused dining table can become a desk. That old sofa table can be used as a mobile bar if wheels are added. Even a broken dresser can be salvaged and transformed.

Simple Appearances

Bigger is not always better. Sometimes a few simple changes can make a big impact, with minimal expense. Updating paint colors or just adding an accent wall is one way. You can also change out throw rugs and light fixtures. A small thing, like changing lamp shades or the glass covers on your ceiling fans or overhead lighting, can have a big visual impact as well.

Add covers to pillows and duvets to bedspreads. But what is a duvet? Think of the duvet like a pillow case for bedspreads. You can put an existing bedspread inside the duvet and create an entirely different look. Duvets and pillow covers can be purchased in a variety of patterns and colors, but you could also make your own if you want something more custom.

Thrifty Shopping

If you still plan to make some purchases, consider used pieces. Second-hand or thrift stores are often great places to buy décor items without spending a fortune. Wholesale, liquidation, and salvage places can also help save some money. Remember to consider possible alternate uses for items as well.

Keep your eyes open for things that people are trying to sell, too. Visit yard sales and flea markets. You can find a wide variety of items that people are selling for low prices. Swap meets are also good places to locate what you might need, while giving you the opportunity to get rid of something that no longer suits your tastes or needs.

Artwork

An alternative to pricey reprints, or even more expensive originals, is to create your own artwork to display. Try your skill at painting or decoupage. Frame your child’s latest art piece. You can even find free artwork to print and use at home. Spruce up some old wooden frames. Things like foiling and sponging can help you turn drab frames into decorative displays.

One at a Time

The most important thing to remember is to take it one step at a time. Try not to redecorate every room at the same time. You may need to divide your budget into chunks for each room that you want to redecorate. If you go room by room, you may find that you have some money left over that can be used for other rooms. By going one room at a time, you can avoid getting overwhelmed because you have taken on too much at once.

There are numerous options for redecorating on a budget, regardless of how small that budget might be. In your redecorating efforts, you can make huge changes just as easily as you can make small ones, both impacting the final result of a room. In the end, your home can be a display of the things you enjoy in an atmosphere that best suits you.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

5 Ways to Make Your Backyard Look Amazing

You have your dream house and it even has a nice backyard, yet you aren’t quite sure how to make your backyard stand out. You’ve thrown around a couple of ideas but none of them have really stuck. This is normal and it takes some time to figure out what you want to do to make your backyard a place of refuge and enjoyment. Depending on your lifestyle and your dreams, the perfect backyard will look different for different people.

 Here are five ideas that could be added to your backyard to make it look fabulous:

Patio

This can be a win-win situation because you get a great patio and you don’t have to water or take care of that part of your lawn anymore. A patio does require some upkeep, but it isn’t as intense as keeping a lawn looking pristine. A patio is a great place to invite friends over and have great late night evenings or afternoon tea outdoors.

If you have no idea where to start, let alone how to decorate it, there are a lot of patio ideas out on the internet to get your creative juices flowing.   

Garden

If parties with friends every night isn’t really your thing, consider starting a garden. If you enjoy being out in the yard surrounded by nature and getting a little dirty, a garden could be perfect for you. There are a lot of benefits to having a garden because it provides you with fresh food that is straight from your own backyard.

Having a garden in your backyard is a beautiful way to give your yard some color. You can have a flower garden, a produce garden, or maybe even an herb and succulent garden if that is more your speed. Whatever you decide on, make sure it is something that is appealing and fun.

Barbeque

Bring the outdoors and camping to your own backyard with a barbeque or a barbeque pit. You can spend your summer grilling away and trying new recipes, letting you bring the camping food home without having to plan a camping trip and worrying about traveling. You can also enjoy the company of your friends as you host a summer barbeque. This is a great way to expand your cooking skills and add grilling to the list. You can try a variety of recipes and the list of foods to grill can seem endless.  

Pool

Who doesn’t want a pool in their backyard? When taken care of and when it is well-maintained, pools can be a great way to beat the heat without having to go to the local swimming pool. There are a variety of pools that are made for each specific individual and their needs. Custom pools can be built by companies and will blow you out of the water with how gorgeous they look. 

Having a swimming pool in your backyard saves you time and the stress of loading family members up into a car every time they want to go to the pool. You and your kids can have the freedom of going to the pool whenever they want on a daily basis with a swimming pool in your backyard.

Treehouse

This is a perfect idea if you plan on having a family or if you have small kids. Treehouses are a fun way to add character to your backyard. Your kids or yourself can have the joy of decorating and painting the inside (or outside) of the treehouse. This will give your kid priceless childhood memories of being outside and enjoying something that is a somewhat rare find in backyard’s today. You can build one yourself or hire someone to build a treehouse for you.

It’s time to turn your backyard into your dream backyard. 

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Neutral To Sell Your Home, But Color To Live In It

When it comes to home décor and interior design, there is one thing that pretty much everyone agrees on: you should keep it neutral.

It's true. The experts love the idea of neutral. As if stripping every last bit of originality out of your home is a good thing.

Make it cookie cutter. Make it safe. Make it the same as next door, down the street and halfway across the country. Don't even think about offending anyone with a brightly painted wall, or, even worse, a bold backsplash (how dare you!).

Nope. You need a drone house. With robotic colors and textures (but not too much texture). And by all means, keep the personalization to a minimum, would you? Don't even think about hanging any family photos - now you've gone too far.

The idea is that if you go too bold or too bright or too you, potential buyers could be turned off by your home. When you sell. If you sell.

But should we really be living our lives and enjoying our home - or maybe not so much enjoying our homes - according to when and if we might decide to offer it up to a new set of owners (who will then have their own wrestling match with neutral)?

While it's true that none of us knows what the future holds and surprises happen every day, designing, decorating, renovating, and inhabiting your home while waiting for a "what if?" is as depressing as your beige walls.

It's the whole idea of neutral. Neutral is a bad word.

"You heard it before and you'll hear it again - stay neutral to sell your home. If you're painting your house to get it ready for the market look at neutral colors so that you'll attract the most potential buyers. In a world where it's common to try to please everyone, this can work. There are, however, reasons why you shouldn't make everything neutral," said The Home Funnel.

"It has been proven time and time again that bright colors can lift your mood. You would think that a person that is walking in your home would be affected by the colors that surround him and will react to them. Therefore, you want to make sure that you can lift a buyer's mood by offering some bright colors without overdoing at. You don't want buyers to feel humdrum about walking through your home and seeing neutrality almost attacking them."

No one wants to be attacked by neutral. But the safer choice is bland over bold.

Should you be safe? If you are actually planning to sell soon, yes. The choices you make can have a profound affect on how and when your house sells, and for how much. If you're making updates before you list, you should know that blue is the new red. That quartz is the new granite. That wood-look tile is the new hardwood.

But if you're just moving in or planning to stay awhile, how about this: do what you want.

That doesn't mean laying 70 square feet of fluorescent pink countertops - you still want to use some sense. But refinish your bathroom cabinets in that dark gray you love. Hang that bold wallpaper you're coveting. Put in that super modern crystal light fixture you've been eyeing for your entry.

Express yourself. If you can't do it in your own home, where can you do it?

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Preparing to Buy a House: What You Need to Know

Buying a new home is an investment in your future, but is it right for you right now? There are a few things to consider before taking the real estate plunge. This is a large investment, and it should never be rash.

Location! Location! Location!

Be sure to look into the local school district. If you have children, it goes without saying that the quality of the school is key to your child's educational experience. The school evaluation, however, also includes the quality of the grounds and facilities. This is a major structure in the neighborhood and its condition can affect the surrounding property values. For childless homeowners, the school districts are still a factor. Because the school quality influences home buying decisions, it has a direct effect on resale and property value.

 Proximity is not just about schools. Consider how close you need to be from modern conveniences like the grocery store, freeway entrance, the mall or a local watering hole. For prospective homeowners that prefer a rural lifestyle, this might not be important. However, urban and suburban areas have a lot of consumer choices for all markets, and it is a factor.

Financial Commitment

Purchasing a home is one of the largest decisions that most people make. It was once expected that nearly every individual buy a home, but today, that isn't necessarily financially feasible. Real estate is a long-term investment and your timeline must be considered. If you are moving within a few years, you might want to rent. Although real estate is a great investment, it is not a short-term investment. Having your money tied to property might affect your liquidity when you need to move.

If you are moving into an unfamiliar area, you might not want to buy immediately. Taking the time to look round, gives you the opportunity to learn about neighborhoods and community points of interest that will drive your property decisions.

Running the Well Dry

Most spend every penny to get into a new house, especially first-time buyers, but this is not the best practice. Be sure to have a contingency fund for all of the unexpected costs. Although the home warranty covers most of the house, most operate on a pre-payment reimbursement plan. But warranty aside, other costs will arise. For example, most power companies require a deposit. If you have money set aside in your home fund right from the beginning, you can add to it as you go for post-warranty work.

Loving Your Space

Your new home is more than indoor living. Your surrounding outdoor space will provide hours of entertainment for your friends and family. Landscaping the front yard for curb appeal is important. If you are not the hands-on type, you might want to consider a home with a functional landscape. Regardless, the front yard adds aesthetic value to the home's appeal.

But let's be real, the backyard is where the entertaining happens. If the home you are considering needs more zip, consider installing a pool or hot tub to guarantee hours of family fun. Try looking up some great pool ideas that will fit your backyard. Also, having a barbeque area with dedicated conversation space, a kid play area, or a fun space for the dogs are all things to consider when looking at the perimeter areas of a home.

Untapped Potential

Visualizing beyond today is also key. If the area has undeveloped or underdeveloped land in the surrounding areas, research the community master plan or land ownership. It would be unfortunate to buy a beautiful home and have an industrial area built too close. This also goes the other way. Taking a risk on an older property with older buildings that are ripe for repurposing might be a smart investment too.

Whatever you decide when looking for your new home, be sure to think about what works for you. This is your investment. Are you ready to invest in your future?

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

April showers bring May flowers!

April showers bring May flowers!

And I’m not just talking about the daffodils in your garden or the petals falling from your dogwoods! No, I’m also talking about your blossoming opportunity to realize your dream of buying or selling your home this May.

Spring is always a robust time in the housing market, and 2019 is proving to be no exception. As winter is left in the dust, both buyers and sellers are becoming more and more motivated to achieve their goals. This means that nationwide, there is an increased sense of competition and urgency. But don’t lose your cool even if both the weather and the market are heating up. Sales on new homes rose in February, meaning those looking to buy a never-lived-in property should be ready to duke it out with fellow buyers. Meanwhile, good news for sellers—even though the market has slowed compared to last year, home prices have reached record highs. You’ll still be able to get a price that leaves you smiling.

Spring is well underway and there’s no better time to throw open your windows and post that for sale (or sold!) sign in the yard. If you’re ready to take steps down that sunshine-filled path to buying or selling your home, contact me today! I’m ready to get you started.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

15 Ideas for Home Projects on a Budget

Here's a list of simple projects you can tackle to improve the look (and value) of your home.

Projects Under $100

1. Rearrange Furniture. Pull furniture away from the walls and position it at new, more inviting angles. You’ll change the look and dimension of your room.

2. Paint Walls. Choose one wall to paint in an accent color. Select a hue that’s already a part of the décor, one that complements and highlights your pieces.

3. Get Plenty of Greens. Lush broad-leafed plants are easy to maintain indoors and add some life to any room. If you don’t have a green thumb, opt for silk plants instead.

4. Accent Floors. A new rug is the perfect accent. Look for one that has colors that reflects your décor, and then angle it under a coffee table or dining room table.

5. Frame It. Use multiple frames that are of a similar style to create a framed picture collage on the wall. If frames don’t match, faux finish them for a complete look. . Lighting dictates the mood of a room. Mix and match lamp bases and shades to create new looks. Looking for another bright idea? Add recessed lighting.

6. Light Up Your Room.

7. Go Faux. Create a whole new look with faux finishing. Washing, leafing, marbling and stripping can be used to change walls or make furniture look fresh.

8. Update Cabinets. New hardware can transform a kitchen. Select matching sets of knobs and pulls to completely change the look and feel of your cabinets.

9. Wallpaper. Wallpaper doesn’t need to go wall-to-wall. Use it with paint to accent borders or choose a single wall to express your style.

Projects Under $500

10. Update Fixtures. New fittings, a fresh vanity and new toilet can completely change the appearance of your bathroom. Choose sets that work well together.

11. Add Moulding. Crown moulding adds a touch of luxury. To install it yourself, buy extra moulding and practice your miter cuts before beginning.

12. Update Flooring. New flooring gives a room a boost from the bottom. Try a natural-looking wood laminate. It’s simple to install and yields extraordinary results.

13. Install a fan. A large, decorative ceiling fan with a light fixture can brighten a room and create a comfortable climate
that you control at the touch of a button.

14. Organize Closets. Less clutter will make your entire home feel more spacious. Maximize storage with new shelving and wire organizers so everything is neat.

15. Care For Your Landscape. Add new hedges in the front, trees in the back and flowers that complement your home’s exterior. Little outdoor projects like these can really make you feel more settled in.

These ideas are provided as a service from Lowe's, the Original Home Improvement Warehouse. Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please read our terms of use.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

6 Ways to KonMari Your Junk

You don’t just have a junk drawer; You have a junk garage or basement or backyard or spare room. The thought of getting in there and clearing it out and organizing the space is so overwhelming that you just end up letting it sit month after month or maybe even year after year.

But getting rid of all that stuff is easier than you may have thought. You just need to know where to look, so you can dive in and get through the mess. These tips will get you on your way.

Hire a junk removal company

1-800-GOT-JUNK and Junk King are two of the largest junk removal companies but there are a ton out there. The benefit to using the full-service junk removal option is that you don’t have to do a thing other than point to the stuff that needs to be hauled away.

It’s important to know that in general, “their services and service models aren’t often well suited for picking up one or two items,” said Dolly. In addition, there is typically a minimum cost, so you’ll want to make sure you ask know what you’re getting into ahead of time so there are no surprises later on.

Search on Nextdoor

If you do only have a few items or you want to do some price comparisons, check out local resources on Nextdoor. Never underestimate the power of a couple of high school kids and a truck!

Pay attention to local events

In our city, you can “Chunk your junk” a couple times a year. This free event allows you to get rid of everything from refrigerators to household chemical waste to outright trash. Be sure to check the rules for your particular area; cities often have specific requirements about what you can and can’t bring, and how some items, like medications, have to be treated for disposal.

Arrange for large item pickup

Your local trash removal company may have a large item pickup service separate from their regular trash pickup. In some cases, this is offered as a free service on a monthly basis. Be sure to ask about limitations in terms of what they will pick up and how many items you can put out at once.

Rent a bin

Many junk removal companies also offer self-service trash bins. They drop them off empty, you toss all your trash in it, and they haul it off.

Call a donation company

You likely have several things you can donate within your piles of stuff. Just because they are no longer useful to you doesn’t mean someone else won’t want them. And, you’ll be doing a good deed at the same time.

“Salvation Army and Goodwill may even pick up the stuff if you also have furniture included," Felice Cohen, a professional organizer based in New York City, told U.S. News. "You receive a tax write-off, and while it's not the equivalent of what you spent on those items, you're not going to make the money back from selling it at a yard sale."

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Turn Empty Rooms Into Useful Spaces

What Kind of Room Do You Want? Use your imagination. Create a multipurpose room and make it as informal or as formal as you want. Here are a few ideas:

Den/Guest Room

Turn the room into a guest room, reading room or den.

A den can be a small, comfortable version of a living room. Family and guests can play games or watch TV while everyone else relaxes in the more formal living room.

A reading room allows you to close the door and read in peace and quiet. Use task lighting in the room for different activities.

To create a guestroom, simply add a twin or double bed to your den or reading room. Turn the bed into a comfy reading area by adding pillows. Your guests will be more relaxed having their own room and your family will have privacy when visitors spend the night.

Hobby/Craft/Storage Room

Sewing room, craft room or indoor potting area? Any of these (or a combination) would make a great addition to your home.

For the creative side in all of us, wouldn't it be great to have a room dedicated to crafts? The room should be complete with a worktable and should be multifunctional for activities throughout the year. During the holidays, use the room as a gift wrapping station.

If collecting is your hobby, turn your spare space into a memorabilia room. Let your friends get the full effect of the extent of your collections. All of your items can be neatly arranged and protected in one room.

More storage space, we all need it. Organize your spare room using the many storage systems available. Storage boxes combined with wire shelving will leave your home clutter-free.

Bring your favorite outdoor hobby indoors for the winter. An indoor potting room allows you to re-pot your overgrown plants and keep the re-potting mess out of the kitchen. Make sure your floors are water and stain-resistant.

Home Office

Convert the entire room or just the closet into an office.

Now is your chance to move the computer out of the kitchen and into an office. Whether you work from home on a daily basis or you just want a quiet place to work on occasion, a home office is a nice addition.

Use stock kitchen cabinets to create lots of storage space for your home office.

Be sure to add a comfortable chair and an appropriately sized desk or table. For more information, check out Setting up a Home Office.

Recreation or Music Room

A recreation room is a great place to entertain. Add a bumper table, beanbag chairs, and a small refrigerator. Decorate the walls with your favorite posters and neon lights for the ultimate party atmosphere.

Have you always wanted to have your own personal space to practice your music? With your own music room, you can have privacy and isolate the noise.

Here are a few tips for inexpensively absorbing sound in a recreation or music room:

Use heavy carpeting and padding in the room to help keep sound from escaping through the floor. If you have hardwood floors and don't want to cover them, add rugs to absorb sound.

Pad walls with blankets, 1/4" thick carpet (applied with mastic), heavy fabric or self-sticking cork tile squares.

If you don't like the idea of hanging blankets or fabric on your walls, plain fabric wallpaper or heavy wallpaper will help to absorb some sound.

If possible, install and weatherstrip a solid wood door.

Planning and Arranging

When you've chosen the type of room, go through the design process and choose everything you want to include in the new room, from paint to light fixtures. Planning ahead will save you money in the long run.

Changing the color of a room can give it a facelift. If you aren't adding sound-absorbing material to the walls, paint the room a color to fit the atmosphere. Choosing the color scheme may be one of the most important decorating decisions you make.

Use one of the many faux painting techniques for a textured look and to hide minor damage to the walls.

Determine the focal point of the room. Find the dramatic element that draws your immediate attention. No matter what type of room you choose to create, there will always be one central focus. Whether it’s a bed in a guest room or a desk in a home office, these items define the space. Arrange the furniture based on the focal point.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

DIY Abstract Art

Some of us are DIYers and some of us need to smash our thumb with a hammer a few times or fall off a ladder and sprain our ankle to realize that we’re…just…not. But just because we clearly shouldn’t try to take down a wall or install a floor or even put together a bookcase by ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t have some personal influence over our space. Let’s start with the walls.

Yes, you can scour the internet for abstract art in every color, shape, and size, and you’ll pay a pretty penny for a lot of it. Or, you can D-I-Y your A-R-T. It’s easier than you think to create something that looks like you dropped some serious cash to dress up your walls, and you might even have a good time while you’re at it. Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing.

Create dimension

Ever see those abstract paintings that have texture and dimension and wonder how they got such a layered look? This tutorial uses a clever trick to approximate the look of “elevated brush (or painting-knife) strokes”: tissue paper! Who ever thought an item you use to blow your nose could be so beautifully useful.

Get the right tools

You’ll need a canvas, some paint, and at least one paintbrush, obviously, to make your art. But incorporating some other tools can give it a unique, professional look. Drywall spatulas give this painting its textural flair without the brush strokes. Varying the usage and pressure of the spatulas and paint brush allow you to create as much—or as little—texture as you want.

Pass the alcohol

The alcohol inks, to be exact. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s about to become your favorite craft item. “Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces,” said Create for Less.

While the finished product of this abstract art looks complicated, it’s actually a simply process, and one that creates cool-looking art that can be done and hung in a matter of minutes. Watch the tutorial to see how easy it is, but beware: You’re dealing with fire here, so, if you’re accident prone, you might want a chaperone.

And more alcohol

Using rubbing alcohol to blur the lines helps create the “splash effect” on this painting. It looks like fluffy clouds to us. One thing is for sure: No one will ever know you did this yourself!

Go all Jackson Pollock

Your masterpiece may not end up in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but it’ll sure become the centerpiece of your space! Get your splatter on and create a piece you’ll love. This tutorial shows you how. (It also shows you how to create your own canvas, but, unless you’re super keen on this part of the DIY experience, you can save yourself some time and hassle, and maybe even an injury, by picking up a finished, framed canvas at a store like JOANNs, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby.)

Don't restrict yourself to just paint

Can’t find the perfect shade for your art? Tint it yourself! This dreamy abstract painting is part paint, part food coloring!

Think outside the lines

Animal print is the inspiration for this spotted art. Black and gray paint on a white background keeps it neutral, and the gold-sprayed framed provide a pop. Do like the artist and use watercolors to “vary the depth of the spots to make it look more natural.”

Make it fancy

A little touch of metallic takes this art to the next level. This cool painting uses golf leaf, but you can also experiment with metallic paint if you’d rather.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Your "Moving Into A New House" Checklist

You're finally in escrow, packing up your stuff to move it into the home of your dreams, and the excitement is palpable. But before you step foot in your new house, there are a few important things you should take care of.

1. Change your address

You'll have to stop into your local post office or visit the United States Postal Service's website to change your address at some point. Doing it early ensures that your mail will make as smooth a transition as you do. A side benefit to changing your address is the coupon package that comes with the form. That 10% off Lowe's discount will surely come in handy in a new home.

2. Update your contact info

Change your address online with creditors, financial institutions, schools, publications, and anyone else that is important. Your change of address form from the post office will forward your mail but going right to the source will ensure your new address is on file.

3. Tell your mailman and say "Thank you"

A little consideration goes a long way when it comes to forwarding mail.

4. Change the locks

How many of us have moved into a new place and used the same locks and keys that were provided to us?

"You really don't know who else has keys to your home," said HouseLogic. "That ensures you're the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.

5. Get the house deep cleaned

The previous occupants probably cleaned the house or had it cleaned when they left. But is it up to your standards? Get a crew in there before you move in. It'll be money well spent.

Make sure the crew also gets inside the closets, cabinets, and drawers. You don't want to start your new life with someone else's crumbs and dust bunnies.

6. Clean the carpets too

This is another area where you will probably want to focus a little energy—unless you're a fan of "germ hotspots," said Huffington Post. The blog reported that carpets are "botanical and zoological parks…that can be 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat," said microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno, according to Men's Health. Let that set in for a moment.

7. Call an exterminator

Nothing ruins your first night in a new house like critters scurrying across the floor.

8. Research utilities

The current providers might be the best (or only) options...but they may not be. Deregulation in some areas means competitive rates for utilities that can pay off for you. Be sure to ask about any new user discounts for cable or satellite, and, also for bundling packages that might be available.

9. Shut off the utilities on the house you're moving from

Sounds like a given, but it's one of the most common errors people make when moving—an error that can turn out to be costly when you're paying double utilities.

10. Alert your service providers

Let your gardener and anyone else that services your home regularly know you are moving early on. Details like this can be easily overlooked during a move, and giving ample notice will allow them time to try to replace the business if you're moving out of their service area.

11. Pare down your stuff

The only thing worse that having boxes of stuff you don't use and don't need crowding your space is carting them from house to house. Days disappear quickly when you're packing and preparing to move. If you are at all concerned you won't have time for a garage sale or even to drive to the local donation spot, take advantage of charities that will come to your house and do a pick up. Then all you have to do is haul the stuff to the front porch and bring in your tax receipt once they're done.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Prepare Your Kitchen for a Home Sale

Redeveloping a kitchen can be very expensive, and you might not get back all the money invested in selling. Instead of redoing everything, you can make small changes to get your kitchen up to date. Opt for a new painting rather than new closets and change your appliances. If the equipment is really old and you decide to replace it, do not necessarily choose the most upscale. A clean, fresh and bright kitchen is enough to attract buyers, without having to leave all your savings. Here are some tips for preparing your kitchen before selling your home.

Define your goals

Rearrange your kitchen by clearly defining your different goals.

A well-organized kitchen:

---> Must be clean and smell good.

---> Must look spacious and unencumbered. There is enough space in the drawers and cupboards.

---> Must be tastefully decorated: there must be no ugly or dated objects.

---> Must be welcoming: the buyer must be able to easily imagine using it and appreciate the space.

---> Must be alive without being messy.

Have your kitchen cleaned by a professional

Having your kitchen cleaned by a professional is a very good investment if you plan to sell your house. Sure, you could just as well do it yourself, but would the result really be so good? A kitchen is at its best when it is sparkling.

Be very sensitive to odors

Be sure to remove all trash cans, recycling bags and pet accessories before making visits, and be sure to clean the inside and bottom of the bins. Spread a lemon under your trash. There is nothing worse to let a potential buyer spin than a bad smell. The refrigerator is another place to be attended to - refrigerator odors oftentimes carry far past the kitchen. Repair Aid, a professional appliance repair company, advises on how to solve this problem in this post.

Remember to redo the paintings

Outside the household, you will get your money back if you redo the paintings. Spend a new layer in your kitchen, with a hue in harmony with the color of your closets and worktops. If you have a doubt, go for white. Even if your kitchen is new, look carefully at the walls and ceilings, and make the necessary adjustments, even the small ones.

Organizing your kitchen is the first step to move on, which is not always easy. If you are preparing your house for sale, it is time to no longer think of it as your home, but as a property about to be sold. This preparation, if done well, can make your home more attractive and speed up your sale. It is even sometimes possible to obtain more than originally hoped for. It is better to make the best possible impression from the beginning so that you do not have to endure the incessant visits. Keep this in mind during your preparations.

Make the windows

Clean the windows, both inside and out. If your windows are equipped with awesome curtains, consider removing them, or at least making sure they are well drawn during the visits.

Make a clean space on the worktop

A toaster and coffee maker are the only things you can stay on the counter. Everything else must be tidy.

Arrange closets inside

Potential buyers will look inside your closets. And if they are overloaded, it will give the impression that there is not enough storage space in your kitchen. Remove any excess, or mismatched items, and anything that does not make a good impression. If you still need these items, keep them in a box that you place at the top of a shelf or cupboard during visits.

Store the pantry

Reduce the contents of your pantry until there is empty space on each shelf. Arrange this leftover in matching boxes or baskets. It may be necessary to remove food, but remember that a well presented kitchen is not necessarily a practical kitchen. As with the objects in your closets, keep the extra items in a box that you will hide for visits.

Organize your wall shelves

People have a special relationship with wall shelves: we love or hate. They can be very beautiful, but are a real challenge when it comes to keeping them in order. If you have some in your kitchen, your goal will be to show visitors that they can be useful and beautiful. Leave some empty space on your shelves and expose only the matching dishes you use every day. The best option is once again the white dishes and the transparent glasses.

Put nice soaps and dishwashing liquids in a tray

Dispose of old sponges and dishwashing liquids, and replace them with an original soap, a nice dishwashing liquid dispenser and a lotion, all well presented on a tray.

Make the tap shine

A clean and bright faucet always makes a good impression. Also be sure to repair any leaks.

Accessorize your cooking plates

A nice cookie or kettle on the hobs is a welcoming touch. Just make sure that what you choose is in perfect working order and without any scratches.

Add new tea towels

New tea towels are at the top of the list when you want to present your kitchen. They are an inexpensive way to add some color and pattern, especially in an all-white kitchen that might otherwise look bland.

Buy fresh fruit

Everything that is ripe and pretty will do the trick. Choose beautiful fruits and arrange them in a basket, a salad bowl or in a cake dish.

Add fresh flowers and other green plants

Just like the fruit basket, freshly cut flowers, branches or aromatic plants in jars bring life to your kitchen. No need to spend a fortune: in this kitchen, for example, sunflower-style flowers, cheap, have been arranged in a transparent vase, and a row of lemons rests on a white dish. This arrangement is easy to achieve, inexpensive, while being the most beautiful effect.

Exhibit your finest cookbooks

Cookbooks are an accessory that makes cooking attractive and useful. But think of sorting in your books: keep a single row, taking care to choose books in good condition. If you do not have a shelf, you can have a small stack on the worktop.

Copyright © 2019 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Hello Spring

Spring has sprung!

It’s official: we’ve made it out of winter! Ahead are warm winds, leaves blooming, and flowers bursting to life. It’s the season of new beginnings, and there is no better time to take your dreams of homeownership and turn them into a reality.

Throughout 2018, we saw frequent rises in home prices. This rising trend is continuing into 2019, but I’m expecting it to slow down as the year goes on. What this means if you are looking to buy: slower rise in prices gives you a little more negotiating power, especially since overall buyers are putting in fewer offers. You’ll still want to move fast when you find the property right for you, but we may soon be seeing some ease in competition. For sellers: this may sound like bad news, and you may be worrying that you won’t get a satisfying price for your home. But never fear. I’m here to work with you to find a price point to tempt buyers and leave you smiling this beautiful April.

Summer will be here before you know it! So while you dust those rafters, air out those curtains, and spring-clean your way to a spick-and-span home, keep your eye on the prize and give me a call today. You can be in your next home in time for summer vacation!

Hello March

Spring is on the way, even if it may not feel like it quite yet! We’re all ready for the warmer weather to get rolling. But amongst all this winter, your goals of homeownership might be the last thing on your mind, no matter where you live! But there’s no better time to get this ball rolling than this March!

If you’re looking to sell this spring, this is the time to start the process. Sales pick up as the weather improves, and now that the holiday season has passed it is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for your property. The same goes if you’re looking to buy—typically, competition increases during the warmer months as more people head out to find their new home-sweet-home. Sellers may be more willing to negotiate this time of year than in a month or so. It’s a great month to hit the ground running, no matter what your goals include!

So while you wade through the final snows of winter, give me a call today! Spring is about to have sprung, and I am standing by to help you buy or sell your home in this dynamic market.