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23 05, 2014

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect The ‘Mood’ Of Your Home

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect the 'Mood' of Your HomeWhether you’re sprucing up your house to sell or simply looking for a color to bring out the beauty of your home, it’s imperative that you do your homework.

Before you head off to your local DIY store with a paint sample in one hand and a wallet in the other, you need to ensure that you’re picking the colors that are right for your home and your personality.

It is true that you can never go wrong with a neutral, but you can also go so much more right with the correct color in the appropriate space, whether it’s a neutral or not.

Give The Buyers The Blues

Blue is a great calming color and has even been known to lower blood pressure. When a person walks into a blue room they feel tranquil and at peace.

Blue is also the color of trustworthiness and dependability, so if you are selling your home, or if you just want to make your guests feel welcome, put a blue paint color on the walls of your front hall or foyer.

Eat Your Heart Out Red

Red is a high-energy color and it has been proven to stimulate the appetite. This makes it a perfect color for a kitchen. An accent wall splashed with a deep, rich red can bring interest and vibrancy to an ordinary kitchen. Be sure not to overdo the red though; one wall or a back splash is enough to get the point across without becoming garish.

Approach Yellow With Caution

Yellow is one of the most difficult colors to pull off correctly in a home. The light plays tricks with it, and what you thought was a sunny yellow in the store might become a sallow jaundice on a cloudy day.

If you must paint with yellow keep it very pale and keep it in a less used room. It can be a soothing color but it’s best to leave it out of the main rooms.

Give Green A Go

Green is said to be the most restful color on the eyes. Certainly, when we think of green, we think of the outdoors. Experts say the color green taps into our need for balance and makes us feel safe and at home.

With all that going for it, the color green is an ideal choice for any room in your house; especially a master bedroom where the restfulness of the color invites you to climb into bed and have lovely dreams.

Visions Of Violet

Purple or violet is often a favorite color of children. As we grow older, we tend to forget about this under-used color. The truth is, however, it can be an absolutely stunning color in a family room or living room.

Although we associate purple with children, a deep royal purple can give your room a regal look, which is perfect if you have high or vaulted ceilings. If you want to give your home a feeling of luxury with a bit of decadence, then violet or purple is the color for you.

No matter what colors you choose in your home, if you’re looking to resell it’s a good idea to consult an expert to ensure that your colors are compatible with one another. There’s nothing worse than a house that has a chopped-up effect due to its rooms being painted a myriad of different colors.

16 05, 2014

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just A Few Hours Work

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just a Few Hours WorkHomeowners who want to increase the appeal of their residence before putting it up for sale can, within a few hours and with a little elbow grease, perform some do-it-yourself (DIY) kitchen upgrades that are sure to pique the interest of would-be buyers.

Many people either have or are in the process of listing their home, so it makes sense to do as much as possible to attract the interest of prospective purchasers.

It need not cost a proverbial arm and a leg to boost the selling price of a home. Here are three DIY kitchen upgrades that will help homeowners gain a competitive advantage in the real estate market and get attractive offers for their residence.

On-The-Cheap Cabinet Upgrades

For a DIY upgrade project that won’t cost much money and won’t take much time, homeowners should consider revamping their cabinetry, as long as the cabinets are structurally sound. After cleaning them and, if necessary, sanding down any rough spots, homeowners can apply a coat or two of paint and, after the paint dries, install new knobs or handles to finish off the project.

The end result will be a totally transformed kitchen that likely won’t require more than a can of paint, sandpaper, some cleaner and some knobs or handles.

Upgrade Your Countertops

It’s amazing how much of a difference an upgraded countertop can make to the overall look of a kitchen. Homeowners who believe that a new countertop would definitely transform their kitchen have a number of options at their disposal such as buying a new one, tiling over the existing one or repainting the existing one.

Often the easiest of the three options is repainting, since this simply involves sanding the surface, priming it, applying the paint and then applying numerous coats of polyurethane to safeguard the finish.

Transform Your Kitchen Backsplash

While a nice-looking kitchen backsplash can be a plus for would-be home buyers, the fact of the matter is that an ugly backsplash will definitely turn off prospective purchasers.

A cheap and relatively quick way to give a backsplash a new lease on life is to use so-called tile decals that, because of the adhesive they contain, can be pasted over top of existing backsplash tiles.

There many different options in terms of styles, colors and concepts, so homeowners will be able to find the perfect option to make their backsplash look as good as new.

Preparing to list a home and get acceptable offers involves ensuring that your home will stack up nicely compared to other homes up for sale in the area.

As it turns out, doing some quick and relatively simple kitchen upgrades will help to attract prospective buyers. Tips for performing any of these DIY upgrades can be found either at neighborhood big-box stores or online.

For more information on the real estate market or to get more information on any related topics, call your trusted mortgage professional today for a no-obligation consultation.

2 05, 2014

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your Mood

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your MoodBelieve it or not, paint colors can affect your mood. When remodeling your home, the color you use on the walls can end up being just as critical to the thematic consistency of your home as the furniture you use to decorate it.

Before you slap any old color on the walls, take some time to consider what mood you’d like each room to inspire.

Red, Yellow And Orange: The Colors Of Excitement, Hunger And Happiness

Ever wonder why the dining rooms, kitchens and entertainment rooms you see in magazines always seem come in every shade of red? It’s because these rooms are dedicated to eating and leisure time. Shades of red, especially bright, vibrant reds, have been linked to increased appetite and increases in energy levels.

In a similar vein, we have shades of yellow. Typically, yellow hues have been known to encourage feelings of happiness and joy.

That said, it’s a good idea to steer clear of especially bright shades of yellow that can be harder on the eyes, as they can foster feelings of frustration and an inability to concentrate.

Orange, like red, provides a great way to bring up energy levels, but like yellow, is prone to cause irritation when used excessively. People are more likely to be excitable and show more enthusiasm in rooms that incorporate this color. In order to reap the benefits of orange without causing irritation, restrict your use of it to the odd wall here and there.

Blue, Green And Purple: The Colors Of Restfulness, Peace And Serenity

It’s no surprise that blue is the color of calm and relaxation. For bedrooms and bathrooms, blue hues are ideal for inspiring restfulness; however, this color’s calming influence makes it a poor paint color choice for high traffic areas where high energy levels are necessary. 

Occasionally, overusing this color – especially in darker shades – can bring moods down beyond calmness and into sadness and depression.

Green is yet another color that inspires peace and restfulness. The advantage of green is that the serenity it brings on is accompanied by feelings of rejuvenation and replenishment. Think of green spaces as places where you can gather yourself and quietly rebuild your energy levels.

Purple is often associated with lavishness and luxury in deep, rich hues that spark creative thinking. In lighter shades, it has the same calming influence of blue but, thanks to its red undertones, none of the sadness that blue can often have.

Making The Most of These Colors: A Little Goes A Long Way

It’s unlikely that you will be painting any of the rooms in your house in a single shade of any of these colors. Experiment with different shades and work with colors that inspire similar emotions to break up the visual impression of the room.

You can use neutral paint colors like brown, black and white to bring depth to room, or to suppress the harsh tones of brighter colors like yellow and orange.

Psychologists have long known that colors affect mood, and in recent years, the interior design world has caught on as well. Now that you understand how paint colors can alter your mood, it’s important to paint your walls wisely.

18 04, 2014

Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your Home

Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your HomeWhen people purchase their home, one of their common requests is “plenty of light.” And for good reason! This is a critical factor for enjoying your home, and when designing your interior, you should pay special attention to just that: your sources of light.

See them not only as a way to brighten up your room, but also as an opportunity to infuse your home with a fashionable design and aesthetic appeal. You’d be surprised at how much lighting can dramatically enhance any given room in your home.

Here are our six favorite lighting installations that are bound to give you and your home that “wow” factor.

The Chandelier For Pretty Places

Chandeliers provide arguably the prettiest and most classic fixtures possible, and they are a growing trend right now in interior design.

Acting as the “centerpiece” if you will to any room, chandeliers offer the perfect amount of brilliance and light, while instantly multiplying the room’s feeling of warmth and appeal. Create a pretty place you won’t be able to resist; hang a modern crystal chandelier above your dining room table or a bright pendant chandelier in your master bedroom.

Quirky and Contemporary Ceiling Lights

To achieve the same sense of fashion-forward style for your home’s decor but in a more practical way for the tall folks, consider a close-to-ceiling light fixture in its many different quirky and contemporary styles. You can also opt for the bright, patterned pendant style, or get a wide crystal embellished highlight for your ceiling lights.

The Demure Brilliance: Recessed Spot Lighting

For the most demure, nearly hidden brilliance, opt for recessed spot lighting. These light installations typically offer dimmer switches and provide the perfect ambiance for any space, especially kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms.

Perfect Pendants For Closer Lighting

Perfect hanging pendants come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be hung in a row for horizontal spaces like your kitchen’s eating bar. They can also be hung at varying lengths to achieve a tasteful fashion statement.

Instant Modernity: Arc Floor Lamp

The arc floor lamp, which typically rests in one corner of the room and reaches over in an arch for center lighting in a sitting area, is a growing trend in home decor. You can find these floor lamps in virtually any style, ranging from textured, retro versions to sleek, contemporary styles.

Matching Shades: Table Lamps

To tie your room together in its design aesthetic, the most perfect – and most simple – option may be matching table lamps. Perfect for your side tables in your living room, or the nightstands on either side of your bed in your master bedroom, matching shades can be a quick fix to a room that needs more brilliance and a more cohesive look.

Whether you already have plenty of natural light flooding your home, you can never have enough brilliance to rely on when the sun goes down. So take a look at these six light installations that will instantly enhance your living space, and infuse your home with the light it deserves.

11 04, 2014

Green Living: Water Saving Tips For Spring

Green Living: Water Saving Tips for SpringWater is the planet’s most precious resource. Access to clean water is a privilege that, unfortunately, many people still take for granted.

By utilizing new water efficiency technologies and age-old conservation methods, we can help preserve the water supply for future generations. Cutting down on consumption whenever possible is something that everyone can do to live a little greener.

Making Sure Your Home Holds Water

The first stop on your journey to save water is to ensure your home is free of water leaks. Make your way through your home, and properly shut off the water at all fixtures and faucets. Air-cooling systems and other devices that use water should also be shut of.

Read your water meter, wait two hours (without using any water), and check it again. If your water meter gives you two different readings, you are losing water somewhere, and the problem needs farther investigating.

If you find yourself flooded with problems, it may be time to call your local real estate professional. Most issues are easily repaired or upgraded, but sometimes a fresh efficient start may be a simpler solution.

Air It Out And Get In the Flow

Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads reduce their usage by half. These contraptions are inexpensive and easy to install. By injecting air into the water flow, you keep the same water pressure, but use less water.

If you are in the market for a new toilet, complete your water saving bathroom makeover with a low flow, water efficient model. These toilets can save about 9,000 gallons of water a year.

If a new toilet is not in your near future, a simple homemade contraption can cut down on water being flushed away. Fill a water bottle with some pebbles so it sinks, and fill the rest with water. Place the bottle in the cistern of your toilet. By displacing some of the water in the tank, you can save around 500 gallons of water a year.

Obtain A Lush Lawn With Less Water

Over-watering your grass is wasteful and counterproductive. Watering your lawn two times a week is better for grass than daily sprinklings. Giving your lawn a good soaking with an inch of water every few days will keep it lush and save water. You should also avoid over-mowing.

Grass is happiest at two to three inches tall. Over-mowed grass tends to have weak roots, and requires more water to keep it growing strong. Let Mother Nature take care of the watering on occasion, especially during the spring.

Mulch Landscape To Lock In Moisture

Mulch around the trees and shrubs in your yard. Mulch holds in moisture, and will keep the water in the ground longer. There are also water bags on the market that do a great job of keeping young trees hydrated.

Make sure your sprinklers are putting water where it is needed, and not unnecessarily watering the sidewalk. When the sidewalks and patios need a sweeping, make sure you reach for the broom and leave the hose on standby.

By making a few informed decisions to cut down on water consumption, you can feel good knowing you are doing your part to conserve. When water flows freely, it is easy to forget how precious it is.

Remind yourself that water is a resource that needs to be saved, and should not be wasted. Access to clean water is something no one wants to see lost. 

4 04, 2014

Give Your Home An Instant Facelift, Wallpaper Is Back!

Give Your Home an Instant Facelift: Wallpaper Is Back in a Big Way, Baby!Though it can be an entirely different story for a trend shift in the opposite direction, which then requires you to get out the soaking bucket and scraping tool, wallpaper coming back into style is a home décor blessing for many.

Wallpaper is back in – in a big way! – and it’s making your dreams of accomplishing a fashionable living space come true much faster and easier than you could have imagined.

Quite frankly, wallpaper can do the “fashionable home” trick to virtually any room in your house, adding that touch of warmth and personality you’ve so far only seen in show homes. It’s time to get with the trends, and give your home a quick and easy facelift!

A World Of Design With Wallpaper

Let’s face it: wallpaper can achieve a world of options that paint simply never could! Now that wallpaper has come back in to style, we are seeing plenty of homes being “glammed” and “dolled” up accordingly.

With many patterns and styles available, suddenly your home’s imperfections can easily be hidden. You can give the small room in your home a facelift with a wallpaper pattern with vertical stripes, instantly making the room feel larger.

Or you can suddenly have the accent wall you’ve always dreamed of but have been to afraid to commit to, creating a focal point behind the bed in your master bedroom, or behind the sofa in the living room. Or if you’re an artsy person, you can add more art to your walls without lifting a nail – instead just install some patterned, decorative wallpaper.

Modern Innovations: Digitally Printed Wallpaper

Wallpaper is certainly back in style, but not without new and creative innovations since its last time around. Now, homeowners can get ultra creative and get personalized wallpapers for their homes with the technical innovation that allows for digitally printed wallpaper designs.

Do you have a specific wall or room in your house that you want to transform for a particular theme? Do you have a photograph that you’d like to use as the inspiration for a one-wall mural in your living room? Well, with customized digital printed wallpaper, you’re in luck.

Vinyl Wallpaper: Easy Installation And Removal

Now that wallpaper is back in style, more innovations have been made in terms of how it is installed and removed. Luckily, for us wallpaper fans, we will no longer have to struggle when we choose to put it up or when we decide to take it down! Now there are many vinyl wallpapers that are self-adhesive and very simple to install.

They are also available in a range of textures and finishes, and make use of eco-solvent inks. Easy to install, easy to remove, and cleanable with simply a damp cloth, a vinyl wallpaper print might be just the key to your home’s quick and easy facelift.

Whether you opt for the vinyl or digitally printed innovation of wallpaper or choose to stick with the good old paper version, you’ll have your home beautified in no time. There’s no need to worry about changing trends either; regardless of what you choose, advancements in the modern return of wallpaper mean that less rigorous activity will be required should the wallpaper trend go back “out.”

So take advantage of this practical design trend, and give your home the facelift it deserves! And of course you can always contact your trusted real estate advisor for design tips or places where you can get your show home inspiration. 

28 03, 2014

Get Your Lawn Ready For Spring

Get Your Lawn Ready For SpringIf you live in a climate where your yard has been hibernating for months, then you’re probably ready for warmer weather and a hint of green outside your kitchen window.

So, in preparation for children running on lush grass through spritzing sprinklers, use the five tips below to get your lawn ready for spring. It will reward you with picnic perfect grass all summer long.

1. Clean Up Winter’s Clutter

Take a rake and remove all of the dead leaves and debris left over from the winter months. Leaving a layer of last-year’s foliage on the ground can smother your grass and hinder your lawn’s growth.

Once your yard is clear, spread a thin layer of compost to enrich your soil and provide nutrients for when you grass is ready to sprout.

2. Aerate Your Yard

Compacted soil makes it hard for roots to grow and water to drain and distribute throughout your yard. So rent an aerator. It uses steel tubes to take plugs from your lawn. These holes will allow air and water to penetrate your soil, which will create healthier and lusher grass. 

3. Check Your Soil’s PH

Most grass and plants grow best when your soil’s pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0. Some plants like a little bit more acidic soil, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. Plants grown in soil with their proper pH level are healthier and more resistant to disease. You can buy soil test kits at local garden centers.

4. Prevent Weeds From Growing

Once you’ve aerated and only if you’re not planning to plant new grass seed, then distribute a chemical weed preventer, which can be found at any home improvement store. When watered, it creates a barrier on the soil to keep weeds from sprouting. 

5. Have Your Lawn Mower Inspected

Your lawn mower has been sitting idle all winter, so give it a tune-up before those first blades of grass get too long. Take it into a local service shop to have the carburetor and fuel lines cleaned and the blades sharpened. This will make it run more efficiently and put out a little less pollution. 

Even if you live in a warm climate and your flowers have been blooming all year, spring is the perfect time to do an annual assessment of your yard.

21 03, 2014

It’s Almost Spring Cleaning Time! Kick Clutter to the Curb With These Home Cleaning Tips

It's Almost Spring Cleaning Time! Kick Clutter to the Curb With These Home Cleaning TipsSpring is around the corner, and it’s time to get your home in order!

Spring cleaning can be fun and easy if you follow some general guidelines, which are sure to get your home ready for the nice weather and looking as beautiful as the weather is about to. Kick the winter clutter to the curb with these spring cleaning tips.

Start With The Closets

Spring is here, and winter wear is no longer needed! It’s time to box up all of the winter boots, jackets, gloves, and scarfs until next season.

Starting your spring clean with your closets is a good tip, and will get you prepared for the rest of the process while creating more space and organization in the bedrooms of the house. This is also the perfect opportunity to create a “give away” box full of clothes that are no longer being worn.

Reorganize: Bookshelves, Countertops, And Desks

Reorganizing is the perfect way to prepare your home for the spring and summer. Good clutter is common in many homes, like useful books that are interesting for guests to read or decorations that offer a sense of warmth and character to the home.

So pick up the fallen and leaning books on the bookshelf, reorganize your kitchen countertops, and de-clutter your home office. For busy home offices, purchase organizational tools like additional shelving units, compile and file away old bills and receipts, and toss anything else that is no longer needed or of any use.

Get Scrubbing: Removing Stains And Odors

Getting ready for spring means removing the stains, dirt, and odors that accumulated in your home over the colder months. First, you should start with wiping your painted walls with a wet cloth to remove scuffmarks and dust.

If the water doesn’t do the trick, you can try mixing a little dishwashing soap in with the bucket of warm water. You may even want to repaint certain high-traffic areas, like entrance halls and the baseboards around the front door.

Next, you can go for the floors. Having a fresh carpet cleaning is sure to kick-start your spring cleaning; this may be something that you wish to have done by a professional. To make the most out of your carpet cleaning, have it scheduled for when the kids are out of the house for a while, and wait until the worst of the weather is over.

Make sure the kids take their shoes off inside, but get them to leave their socks on to avoid natural oils from getting into your freshly cleaned carpet. Vacuum area rugs in the same fashion, and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors at the same time you clean your hardwood floors.

Give the showers, bathtubs, and toilets in the house a good scrub. In the kitchen, empty the fridge and freezer of their contents, and give the inside a good scrub down as well.

Once the tidying, de-cluttering, and scrubbing are done, you will get to enjoy the fun part of spring cleaning: spring decorating! And while you’re at it, why not buy yourself and your home some spring flowers for a job well done.

If you’re doing a big spring clean this year because you’re looking to sell your home, these tips will get your home ready for any buyer’s eyes. Contact your mortgage professional today to get more tips on buying or selling a home.

 

14 03, 2014

Make Your Home Green This St. Patrick’s Day

Make Your Home Green This St. Patrick’s DayYou’re ready to make some changes to your home, but you want to be smart with your money and see a positive return on your investment.

While most homeowners don’t see that return until they sell their home, you can start seeing the benefits now through conserving energy by making your home green.

So in honor of the upcoming green holiday, stop searching for that pot of gold. Get inspired by St. Patrick’s Day to go green to cut your energy costs with the environmentally friendly renovations below. You’ll soon see the savings building up at the end of the rainbow.

  • Use Reclaimed Wood For Flooring
  • Instead of chopping down more green for your floors, reclaim wood that’s already been cut. While prices vary depending on they type of wood and how it was transformed, you can get a unique look and conversational piece that no one else will have.

    Just think, you could be standing on the Jackson’s old barn or a dismantled ship.

  • Green Your Latrine
  • Install a low-flow toilet, which according to www.ConsumerReports.org could save you money. Older toilets use about 3.5 gallons per flush, while newer low-flow toilets can use less than 1.3 gallons.

    If you don’t want to dish out the dough for a new toilet, then add pebbles or a sealed water bottle into the back tank to displace water and reduce consumption.

  • Install A Programmable Thermostat
  • This is something you can easily do on your own. Purchase a programmable thermostat at any home improvement store for around $50, shut off power to the room you’ll be replacing it in, unscrew your old one and connect the wires to the new one.

    Finished! Now you won’t have to worry about remembering to turn the air down at night and you’ll save money monthly.

  • Replace Old Kitchen Appliances
  • If your refrigerator or dishwasher is more than 10 years old, then consider replacing them with newer energy efficient models. Look for appliances that have Energy Star labels, as these machines have passed strict energy requirements.

    While this upgrade might cost you up front, you’ll quickly be saving energy and leaving more green in your bank account. Don’t get pinched this St. Patrick’s Day! Instead of just wearing green, surround yourself in it by making environmentally friendly renovations.

    By taking your home green, you’ll reduce your energy usage and see savings in your monthly bills!

    7 03, 2014

    How To Add Color To Your Home Decor Without Going Overboard

    How To Add Color To Your Home Décor Without Going OverboardThere is a fine line between adding color to your home décor and using too much color, so that you feel like you are living inside a rainbow.

    A little bit of color will add a lot of fun and interest to your home design, but too much color can be overwhelming. How can you achieve that perfect balance?

    Here Are Some Tips To Keep In Mind For Using Color In Your Home In A Subtle And Balanced Way:

    • Use Color Schemes

    Before choosing the colors for your décor, do a little bit of research into color schemes and how they work, so you know how to combine colors harmoniously.

    For example, you can choose a complementary color scheme with shades that are across each other on the color wheel – such as blue and orange or purple and yellow.

    Or you could try an analogous color scheme, which is a scheme where the colors are next to each other on the colour wheel – such as blue, green and purple.

    • Use The 60/30/10 Rule

    This is a rule that interior decorators use in order to use colors in a balanced way. Use the dominant color on 60% of the room, so that it will create a unifying look.

    Then, use the secondary color on 30% of the room in order to add visual interest. Lastly, use an accent color for 10% of the room to add that little extra.

    For example, you might use the dominant color for the walls and carpet, the secondary color for the upholstery and the accent color for some pillows, a wall hanging or a throw rug.

    • Try An Accent Wall

    Perhaps you have found a gorgeous paint color, but it’s just a little too bright and overwhelming to use for all four walls of a room.

    In this case, you can simply paint one wall with the color and the other walls with a neutral tone, so that you can enjoy the shade without it being overpowering.

    You could also simply use the color in one aspect of the room, such as the baseboards or the door jams.

    These are just a few of the ways that you can incorporate color into your home design, without it being overpowering. For more information, call your trusted mortgage professional.

    28 02, 2014

    How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A Budget

    How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A BudgetHave you been looking through home décor magazines and gazing with wonder at the gorgeous homes inside? Do you want to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home, but you are on a tight budget?

    No need to worry, there are many ways that you can make your home look like a million bucks, without actually having to spend a fortune.  

    Luxury Home Decor Ideas

    Here are a few great ideas that don’t have to cost a lot, they just require a little bit of planning and some elbow grease and they will take your home from ordinary to luxury.

    • Mount your curtains at ceiling level rather than the top of the windows. This draws the eye upwards and gives the illusion of high ceilings.
    • Paint your interior doors a sleek and shiny shade of black. This looks very modern and sophisticated and is much cheaper than buying expensive doors.
    • If your home doesn’t have crown moulding, paint a white band around the ceiling to fake the look.
    • The little details can make a big difference when it comes to making a home look elegant and luxurious. Add in finishing touches such as a beautiful glass vase, a stack of coffee table books, fresh flowers or a piece of artwork.
    • Remember, less is more and a cluttered house will not create the impression of luxury. Eliminate as much clutter as possible, making your home seem more spacious and sophisticated.
    • Lighting can also have a big impact on how luxurious your home appears. Invest in a few beautiful and stylish lamps, or a chandelier, and you will transform the entire space.
    • When choosing fabrics for accessories and upholstery, go for fabrics that have a luxurious texture such as velvet, satin or fur. They can be faux to make them cheaper, but they will still add to the luxurious look.
    • You can take simple and cheap accessories such as a candle holder or a vase from the dollar store and then paint them with gold paint. They will have a luxurious look, for much less than the real thing!

    These are just a few ideas that you can incorporate into your home décor of your home in order to make it look and feel more luxurious. For more helpful information, contact your mortgage professional.

    7 02, 2014

    The Low Down On Heating And Cooling Your Home

    The Low Down On Heating And Cooling Your HomeIf the temperature in your home is too hot at night, then you can’t sleep. If it’s too cold during the day, then you have to wear excessive layers.

    Everyone has his or her own idea of the ideal temperature, but to keep it on that perfect number can get expensive. So, below we’ve outlined five ways you can take care of your heating and cooling system and help it run more efficiently.

    1. Set It And Forget It

    To maximize the effectiveness of your heating and cooling systems, you need to program your thermostat and refrain from changing it. Adjusting the thermostat makes your system work harder.

    The best way to avoid tempting temperature changes is to choose a thermostat that fits your schedule, such as one with 7-day, 5-1-1, 5-2 or 1-week programming options.

    2. Clean The Air Ducts

    Even though your air filter catches most dust, over time debris can build up. The accumulation of dirt can restrict airflow throughout your ducts and even start blowing particles out of your registers.

    Check inside the ducts and if there is any mold, dead insects, rodent feces or a thick layer of dust, then consider hiring a professional to do a deep cleaning.

    3. Put Your Ceiling Fans To Work

    Ceiling fans can help with heating and cooling by distributing the flow of air throughout your home. Most fans are reversible, which means they can push air down in summer to create a nice breeze and pull air up in winter to aid in circulating the heat. To change the direction of the fan’s rotation, look for a switch on its base.

    4. Replace Your Air Filter

    It’s standard to change your air filter every 90 days. However, you should take a peek at it every month. If it looks grimy and clogged, then go ahead and change it.

    Also, consider investing in high-efficiency pleated filters. They have an electrostatic charge that grabs onto even the smallest dirt specks.

    5. Consider Booster Fans

    If one room in your house is always warmer or colder than the rest of your home, it might not be your HVAC system. It could be the ductwork. The twists and turns of air ducts, especially in older homes, can reduce airflow.

    Booster fans are easy to install and do exactly what their name implies. They boost the flow of air to the part of your home in need of more heating or cooling. 

    31 01, 2014

    3 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Plumbing

    Get The Most Out Of Your PlumbingEveryone wants their pipes to last as long as possible, but there are a couple of simple problems that might be sucking the life out of your plumbing. Long-term stress is the enemy when it comes to your water system.

    The three most common enemies are high water pressure, mineral-laden hard water, and grease. Avoid these three mistakes, and your water system will last years longer.

    Take The Pressure Off Your Pipes

    You might enjoy high water pressure when you’re taking a shower, but your pipes aren’t enjoying it at all. Over time, this high pressure stresses your plumbing system and can lead to leaks.

    Is your high-pressure shower worth an expensive plumbing leak? To test your water pressure, you’ll have to hire a professional. Proper pressure should be somewhere between forty and eighty pounds per square inch.

    To have a plumber reduce your water pressure should cost no more than about three or four hundred dollars. That sounds expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than a leak.

    Soft Water Is Good Water

    If your water has a lot of minerals dissolved it, then it’s known as hard water. If you don’t already have a water softener you should consider it, because over time, those minerals will build up in your plumbing.

    Eventually this will lead to a leak, so nip the problem in the bud, and look into getting a water softener. A good water softener should cost around five hundred dollars.

    Hard water also makes soaps and detergents less effective. Soft water will get your clothes, your dishes, and even your hair cleaner.

    Cease The Grease

    Don’t ever pour cooking grease down the drain. It might be liquid when you pour it, but after a while, it will cool and solidify in your pipes. This won’t break the plumbing and cause a leak, but it will clog it all up.

    The water that goes down afterward won’t do anything to wash away the sticky grease. You don’t want your pipes backing up, trust me. That is one messy problem.

    Instead pour your grease into containers and throw it away in the garbage. Even better, go ahead and save it in the pantry and cook with it later.

    Indoor plumbing is one of the most convenient technologies we have. So don’t take it for granted. Take care of your plumbing, and get the most out of it.

    Avoid excessive water pressure, get a water softener, and don’t pour any grease down the drain. A little care now will go a long way. No one wants to deal with a plumbing leak. They’re expensive and a huge hassle.

    24 01, 2014

    Dine In Style, Kitchen Design Dos And Don’ts For 2014

    Dine In Style, Kitchen Design Dos And Don’ts For 2014The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of your home. It is where you prepare all of your meals and it is often a hub of family activity. When you host a party, the action often ends up in the kitchen.

    Where drinks and snacks are enjoyed into the early hours of the morning. It’s crucial that your kitchen functions well because you will use it every day, but you also want to make it beautiful and stylish.

    Renovating and decorating your kitchen can also be one of the best ways to increase the resale value of your home. If you are planning on a kitchen makeover:

    Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts To Keep In Mind:

    • Don’t forget to consider the proportions of everyone who will use the kitchen. Don’t choose kitchen stools that are too high for your kids to sit on, or cabinets that your wife cannot reach.
    • Think carefully about storage space. What do you need to store and how much room do you need? You might want to store away your blender and toaster and other small appliances as well, so that they don’t have to clutter up the counter all the time.
    • One of the hottest trends of 2014 is a simple and elegant white and cream kitchen. A neutral color like this can be accented with vibrant splashes of color, such as a bright fruit bowl or a wall hanging. If you are selling your home, a neutral tone will appeal more to the majority of buyers.
    • Another popular trend is green and environmentally sustainable elements within the kitchen. Recycled, renewable and energy-efficient products are in abundance at the moment and these options will not only save you money, they will be much better for the environment.
    • Instead of placing your microwave on the counter, it makes a lot more sense to fit it in seamlessly with your cabinets. This will allow you to free up counter space in your kitchen.
    • Be careful not to over design – it’s a common decorating mistake. Keep things simple and know when to stop, so that you don’t have a kitchen that looks overwhelming and cluttered.

    These are just a few tips to keep in mind if you are giving the kitchen of your home a makeover for 2014. For more helpful tips and information, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

    23 01, 2014

    Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air Quality

    Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air QualityHouseplants are great for decorating. They can brighten up any room. Plus, houseplants can increase the air quality in a room. That makes you happier, healthier and reduces stress.

    Speaking of stress, these plants won’t create any at all. All of the plants on this list are great at producing oxygen and require very little care.

    10. Heartleaf Philodendron

    A tough plant that’s a good filter for toxins like formaldehyde, Heartleaf Philodendron makes a great houseplant. The only downside is that it’s toxic to eat, so it may not be the best choice for those with kids or pets. But if you can control your appetite, the Heartleaf Philodendron is an excellent indoor houseplant for air quality.

    9. Snake Plant

    Also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the Snake plant thrives in the bathroom. It loves the steamy conditions and can do without much light. It’s a great air filter as well.

    8. Bamboo Palm

    It thrives indoors and requires little maintenance. The Bamboo Palm even produces flowers and berries.

    7. Red-edged Dracaena

    Another great air filter, the Red-edged Dracaena is interesting because of its size. It can grow all the way to the ceiling. This beast of an oxygen-producing plant makes a great addition to the living room.

    6. Chinese Evergreen

    This is one of the prettier options. With interesting leaf colorings as well as berries and blooms, the Chinese Evergreen will contribute to your décor as well as your air quality.

    5. Peace Lily

    The Peace Lily only needs water about once a week. This is a great houseplant for air quality, and it’s easy to care for.

    4. Devil’s Ivy

    This air purifier looks great in a basket. Try hanging it in the garage.

    3. English Ivy

    English Ivy is an excellent filter plant. It’s been shown to filter out formaldehyde, which can be found in some cleaning products, and it even filters fecal matter particles (I bet you didn’t even know there were any of those in your house). English Ivy is an invasive species though. It’s fine to keep inside as a houseplant, just make sure it doesn’t end up in the yard.

    2. Weeping fig

    A type of Ficus, this is a great houseplant for air quality. It’s a bit bigger than the others though. It would fit best in the living room.

    1. Spider Plant

    The Spider plant is nearly impossible to kill. Even if you’ve been a plant murderer in the past, try this one. It will do wonders for your air quality, and I promise you won’t kill it.

    Houseplants have been shown to reduce stress in the home. Combine that with higher air quality and your quality of life can be greatly improved with the help of a new green friend.

    Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can take care of these. These are great houseplants for air quality.

    17 01, 2014

    The Simplest Ways To Lower Your Home Heating Bill This Winter

    The Simplest Ways To Lower Your Home Heating Bill This WinterWhen the holiday season starts and the winter chill comes around, the heating bill at your property will naturally increase as you keep yourself warm and cosy. However, if your home is not being heated efficiently, you are essentially letting your hard earned dollars escape into the air as wasted energy.

    What are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can cut down your heating expenses this winter and save yourself some money?

    Only Heat The Rooms You Are Using

    If you work from home and are spending eight hours of the day sitting in your home office, there is no need to keep the rest of the house toasty warm. If you have heaters that you can turn on and off for each room, you can direct the heat to the room that you are using.

    0If you have a spare bedroom, you don’t even have to heat it at all unless a guest is coming to stay over.

    Change The Air Filter On Your Furnace

    If the air filter on your furnace is getting old and clogged up, it will block the airflow from the furnace itself which is a huge waste of energy. This will mean that your furnace works less effectively and it will also reduce its lifespan. It will only cost you $20 to change the air filter, but this little fix will make a big difference in the long run.

    Turn On Your Ceiling Fan

    You might think that turning on your ceiling fans in order to save money on heating makes no sense, but hear me out on this one. When you turn on your fans in reverse, they will actually draw the warm air throughout the house – helping to circulate it and keep it warmer.

    Dress Warm At Home

    If you live in a cold climate and you can walk around in your house in a t-shirt and shorts comfortably, you’re wasting money! If you wear warm clothing indoors during the winter, you will be able to keep your thermostat several degrees cooler and you will save yourself a lot of money over the winter.

    These are just a few simple ways that you can reduce the heating costs for your property this winter. For more helpful tips and advice, feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional.

    10 01, 2014

    Build A Home Gym For Your New Year’s Resolution

    Build A Home Gym For Your New Year's ResolutionWhile many people claim every January that they are going to exercise more, a lot of them give up after the first couple of months. It takes a great deal of effort to make it to the gym before work or have the energy to go afterward.

    So don’t make a New Year’s resolution you know you won’t keep. Set yourself up for success by bringing the workout to you. Build your own home gym.

    Designate A Space

    The ideal situation would be to dedicate an entire room to your new home gym. That way you can close the door, crank up the music, block out the children arguing and focus on you.

    However, a section of your garage or the back of your basement will also work. You just need enough room for a set of weights, a mat, a bench and a cardio machine, if you have one.

    Prepare The Area

    Put down a rubberized floor, especially if you’re in a basement or garage with concrete surfaces. You can purchase them pretty cheaply in foot-by-foot interlocking squares. Then hang mirrors.

    This is important so you can watch your form when lifting weights. Also, you might want to put in a stereo system and TV for when you want to listen to music or watch instructional videos.

    Decide How Much To Spend On Cardio Equipment

    Cardio machines can get expensive and there are many types to choose amongst. If you’re a marathon runner, then you’ll probably want a treadmill. However, you can choose as many or as few as you want, such as an elliptical, stair stepper or stationary bike.

    If you don’t want to break the bank for a fancy machine, then a good old jump rope will do the trick.

    Choose Your Weights

    You can go with a barbell weight system with resistance pulleys or just a set of dumbbells. Make sure you get a bench, so you can vary your lifting routine and properly stabilize yourself for certain exercises.

    Make Space For Your Yoga Mat

    Yoga mats are great for padding your knees, hands and back when doing abs and stretching — or for actually practicing yoga.

    Many people don’t take the time to stretch after a workout, but it’s extremely important in order to improve flexibility, correct posture and prevent injuries. If you create a defined plan to limber up, then it’s more likely to become a regular part of your routine.

    3 01, 2014

    5 Ways To Use Your Dead Christmas Tree

    5 Ways To Use Your Dead Christmas TreeThe holiday season is coming to an end. It’s time to pack up the stockings, and take the ornaments off the tree.

    That tree was a beautiful Christmas decoration, but now that the evergreen is turning brown, and its needles are falling all over the carpet, you realize it’s time to get it out of the house.

    But don’t just throw it away. You have several options. Here are five interesting ways to use your dead Christmas tree.

    It’s For The Birds

    Keep the tree in its stand and set it outside. You can put some birdhouses in it, or surround it with bird seed. The birds will appreciate your Christmas tree long after you’re tired of looking at it. Take off the tinsel first!

    It’s For The Fish

    If you (or your neighbor) has a pond, just drop the tree overboard and give it a proper sailor’s burial. A dead Christmas tree is the ultimate home for fish.

    The fish can sleep easy behind the branches, and you can sleep easy, knowing your beloved tree is still getting some use. It’s a big help to those trying to keep a pond stocked for fishing.

    It’s For The Plants

    A dead Christmas tree can be an excellent gardening tool. Cut branches and place them around your perennials to help keep them warm. If you’ve been vacuuming up all those fallen needles, spread them around the garden.

    They make great mulch. Better yet, rent a wood chipper, and chop up the whole tree. That’s even greater mulch. If you’re not a gardener, there are several organizations that will accept your tree as a donation.

    Burn Baby Burn

    Another option is simply use your tree as firewood. Evergreens are great for bonfires and outdoor fireplaces. They ignite really easily. But don’t burn them indoors! The creosote buildup can be dangerous.

    Get Crafty

    If you’re craving a more creative approach, there are several great dead Christmas tree craft ideas out there. Some people chop up the trunk and use cross sections as planters.

    You can also paint a coat of polyurethane on some small sections, and use them as coasters. You could even attempt to make some homemade potpourri. The possibilities are endless.

    The fate of your dead Christmas tree is in your hands. You can burn it, make a habitat for animals, make some mulch, or even make some coasters.

    The important thing is not to let it end up in a landfill. These dead trees have so many better uses than rotting with the trash.

    27 12, 2013

    How To Build An Outdoor Fire Pit

    How To Build An Outdoor Fire PitWith most of the country easing into full-on winter weather, last-minute outdoor projects need to happen soon. And what better way to enjoy a cozy holiday season than by drinking hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows at your very own outdoor fire pit.

    In one weekend, the steps below can help you build an outdoor fire pit and get you fired up about the cold!

    Determine The Size And Location

    The first order of business is to choose where to build your outdoor fire pit. You want to make sure it’s not too close to the house or overhanging trees.

    Once you’ve found the spot, lay out a ring of stones and mark it with a shovel before you dig the hole. You’ll want it to be between 35-45 inches in diameter. This will allow a roaring fire, but it will also feel cozy and intimate.

    Dig The Pit And Make A Trench

    Make a hole six inches deep within the circle your marked using your stones. You want the sides to be straight and the bottom flat. Then dig down an extra six inches around the perimeter.

    This trench should be wide enough to fit a ring of stone blocks that will be the base of your wall. Fill the six-inch deep trench with drainage gravel until it’s level with the center of your pit.

    Lay The Stone Blocks

    Lay out the stone blocks on top of the gravel. Place the first one and use a level to make sure it’s sitting squarely. Set the second block next to it and so on. Use a level to ensure everything is even.

    For the second layer, squirt masonry adhesive in a snaking pattern and center a block on top of the seam of the first layer. Build up the wall until it’s about one foot above ground level.

    Finish It Off

    Fill the pit with gravel until you reach ground level. The gravel will help the base of the walls set straight. If you want to cover the outside of the pit walls with stone cap pieces, then try to fix them together like a puzzle using masonry adhesive.

    Then you can either build a fire on top of the gravel or insert an iron campfire ring into the center. Once you’re finished, then it’s time to bundle up and get those marshmallows roasting!

    24 12, 2013

    5 Tips On Safely Hanging Those Christmas Lights

    5 Tips On Safely Hanging Those Christmas LightsChristmas lights can be the most festive of holiday decorations, but actually putting them up can be a huge pain. With these easy step-by-step instructions, you can safely hang Christmas lights outside your house in no time. That way you can get back to what’s important, family time.

    Buy Your Lights

    You’ll need Christmas lights of course. There are a lot of options. You can get colorful lights or classic white lights. There are icicle lights, blinking lights, classic large bulb lights, and more. Just pick whatever looks good. Remember that consistency is important.

    Pick one or two types and stick with them. Also remember to measure your roof, bushes, trees, or whatever you plan to cover with lights. Without proper measurements you won’t know how many lights to buy.

    Test The Lights

    Be sure to test the lights before you hang them up. Nothing is more frustrating than hanging up all the lights and finding that they don’t work. There are several testers that you can buy or you can even make your own, but I recommend simply plugging in each strand individually before you hang them up.

    Get Some Clips

    You’ll also need clips to help attach the lights to the roof or the gutter. I recommend buying the more expensive clips. The cheap ones break, and cause more frustration than they’re worth. Make sure you measure the thickness of your gutter as well. The clips come in different sizes.

    Automatic Timers Are Your Friend

    Finally, you’ll need surge protector with a built-in timer. It’s important to turn off the lights during the day to save energy and keep your bulbs from burning out, but unless you want to be plugging and unplugging your lights all the time, get a timer. They’re cheap, easy to use, and convenient.

    Find A Friend

    Hanging lights by yourself is a bad idea. It requires a lot of climbing up and down the ladder and that can be dangerous. Have someone else hand you the lights up the ladder, and hold it steady so you can focus on clipping on the lights.

    Also, hang them up during the day. They might look prettier at night, but you can wait. Putting them up at night can be a risky venture.

    Christmas can be the happiest time of the year, and the lights and decorations are a big part of that. Don’t think of hanging lights as a chore. Get the whole family involved and make it a Christmas activity.

    Just be sure you have all your materials ahead of time, you’ve measured out how much you need, and you’ve got a timer to turn them off and on for you. That way when it’s time to hang up the lights, it will take no time at all.