Five Steps For Organizing Your Garage

For many people the garage is the place you mindlessly store stuff just to get it out of the way, and before you know it, you’ve got a cluttered mess on your hands. Here are five steps toward organizing your garage for good.

Make a plan: What do you want you garage to be? Is it a workshop, a storage space, or a nightly place to park your car? Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, decide on a plan for your garage’s primary use, and prioritize around that goal.

Be vigilant with clutter: There might be items in your garage that you haven’t touched in years—you’ve probably even forgotten they’re in there. It’s easy to justify keeping items when you’re in the moment, but look a the big picture. If you can’t remember the last time you used an item, it’s probably ready to be thrown out, recycled, donated, or sold.

Make use of vertical space: Garages often have space in the ceiling where you can hang your gear or even store some boxes. Store the rarely used items—like holiday decorations—higher up and out of the way.

Keep common items accessible: On the other hand, you don’t want it to be a hassle to get to the things you use often. Create a specific place for each item that is easy to reach.

Stay vigilant: Now that you garage is properly organized, be more mindful of what you’re adding to it. If there’s something new that’s important, choose a specific place for it. If it’s just junk, go through the extra effort to just get rid of it!

The Difference Between Home Warranty & Home Insurance

When purchasing a new home, it’s important to do in-depth research on all facets of the homebuying process. One thing you’ll need to understand is how to best protect yourself and your investment if anything were to go wrong. Check out the information on home insurance versus home warranty below to educate yourself on your options.


Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however, damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered. It also covers the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. According to American Home Shield, the average annual cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000 and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.


Home Warranty

A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fail or break due to age and wear and tear. This includes but isn’t limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer and dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year-round, even if you do not use it, and it won’t cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster.

Ideas For Accent Walls

An accent wall can totally transform a room, taking it from boring and drab to bold and exciting. Accent walls create a new focal point for your space, add liveliness and contrast, and are typically a very inexpensive DIY project.

The starter accent wall
You can easily add an accent wall to your room in one afternoon by applying a new paint color. Deep blues and bright oranges are common choices for accent walls, but choose a color that will complement your existing decor and overall design aesthetic.

Interesting textures
Bright, contrasting paint is a good starting point, but there are other options for accent walls that are even more eye-catching and distinct. Floor-to-ceiling wood planks can make your home seem both rustic and modern all at once and provide a natural, outdoors-inspired feel. It’s more work than simply painting a wall, but it’s still relatively inexpensive. You can source the wood from pallets on Craigslist and stain it yourself before attaching it to your wall. It takes a little extra elbow grease, but it’s worth the effort.

Patterns, murals, and more
Paint and wood are bold enough on their own to transform a room, but they’re still pretty subtle compared to other accent wall options. A chalk paint accent wall is a creative idea for any room and makes for some fun moments when you’re entertaining. There are also endless options for wallpaper and stenciling if you want some patterns or you can get really bold with a mural or oversized art print.

Maximizing Your Outdoor Space

You’ve found the perfect home and it has everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Spacious, modern kitchen. Gloriously open floor plan. Giant bedrooms. Great location and neighborhood. The only downside is the backyard is slightly smaller than you’d hoped. But no reason to stress. There are many ways you can optimize your outdoor space to make it feel much larger! Check out our favorites below.

Separate Your Space

Breaking up your outdoor area into separate spaces or nooks can help make your backyard feel larger. Place items like planters, small walls, or outdoor light fixtures in between the spaces or separate them by installing different ground surfaces, such as decking, gravel, grass, and concrete.

Use Plants Creatively

Place plants throughout your backyard to help open up the space. Use plants with larger leaves to create depth, place warm-colored plants, such as red, yellow, or orange, near the front or in the center of the yard to catch attention, or install a trellis or plant taller plants to draw the eye upwards.

Incorporate Strategic Decor

Use big structures like pergolas and arbors to frame your outdoor space and give it a grander feel. Add a large sculpture or water fixture in the center or towards the back of the yard as a focal point, then arrange your furniture around it. Finally, hang large mirrors with steel, stone, or wooden frames to reflect light and trick the eye.

By using these techniques and more, you can alter perception and make your small yard feel like the large one of your dreams.

Feng Shui With The Best Of Them

Feng shui is the Chinese tradition of balancing your home to achieve benefits and advantages associated with your health, finances, career, relationships, and more.

There are many ways to create good feng shui in your home, starting with your bedroom. Open up the room by moving the bed so that both sides are away from the wall and the headboard is against it. Feng shui best practice also suggests placing it where you will have a clear vision of the door, but never directly in line with it. Next, introduce symmetry into the room with artwork, bedside tables, lamps, and pillows to reflect the balance you want in all areas of your life.

Apply feng shui to the entryway of your home to welcome your guests and allow positive energy to flow in. To do this, commit to keeping it clear of shoes, packages, bags, etc. and use a mirror as décor to open the space and indicate you are expanding opportunities in your life. Additionally, consider purchasing and placing a water fountain in the foyer. Flowing water is known to represent wealth flowing in and diffuses negative ions in the air.

Decluttering is key to implementing feng shui in your home and allowing energy to flow freely. Donate clothing that is not often worn and empty drawers and shelves of things you do not need to rid yourself of the old and make mental room for new things in your life.

These steps are just the starting point for bringing good energy into your home and making it evolve as you do. Happy harmonizing!

Staging Strategies For Your Home

Staging your home is all about putting the best foot forward for potential buyers. By highlighting its most desirable features, you can draw more interest for your home and leave a lasting impression that is sure to help you sell it more quickly. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you prepare for your next open house or viewing!

Help them visualize it as their own. Make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves making your house their home by removing personal memorabilia, knick-knacks, and photos. Instead replace them with simple décor, such as paintings, nature images, and plants.

Think sleek instead of comfy. Modern-day buyers are leaning toward modern, crisp, clean interiors over comfy, homey looks. When staging your home, keep a minimalist mindset and incorporate bright colors and metal accents.

Deep clean the small spaces. It’s obvious to say you should clean your home before viewing, but don’t forget to cover your bases by deep cleaning the small spots. Take time to scrub porous areas like grout that may hold on to stains and baseboards where small pet hairs and dust love to cling.

Spruce up your landscaping. The first impression of your home gives to potential buyers is its exterior. Ensure you have a freshly mowed lawn, neat hedges and shrubbery, bright flowers, and a clean driveway.

Set the mood. A home is so much more than just the way it looks, so you need to appeal to the other senses. Prior to having potential buyers over, set the mood by burning delicious smelling candles and selecting an upbeat, happy soundtrack to play in the background.

How To Decide If It’s Time To Replace Your Windows and Where To Get Started

Before you dive into replacing your windows, the first step is to carefully evaluate the pros and cons. Replacing your windows is no small investment. The average cost to replace the windows in a home is in the five-figure range. Even if replacing your windows results in huge energy savings, it can take years and years for the investment to pay off.

If you’re truly ready to replace them—whether it’s for energy and comfort, an aesthetic upgrade, or your current windows are simply beyond repair—here are a few things to keep in mind.

Pick the right materials
Window materials include vinyl, fiberglass, composite, wood, and aluminum. There are several factors that should go into deciding on the best material for your home, such as durability, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, and even the style of your home. Some materials look great on one architectural style, but totally clash with others.

Carefully consider add-on features
Beyond choosing a window material and style, you’ll face another series of choices for add-on features. There are impact-resistant windows, extra panes, gas-filled windows, climate control coatings, and more. Most add-ons will significantly increase the price for each window, and in many instances, the long-term savings don’t justify the extra cost. Do the math and consider how long it will take for the extra features to pay for themselves.

Spice Up Your Kitchen With A Pop Of Color

In the past few years, the biggest kitchen trends revolved around stainless steel appliances, bright white or light gray cupboards, granite countertops, and minimalist decor, maintaining a clean, sleek look. And although this style maintains its popularity among homeowners, color is creeping its way back to the forefront. But it is definitely not how you’d expect.

Introducing the rise of colored appliances. Consumers have been asking and kitchen appliance manufacturers have listened. Instead of your standard white, black, and stainless steel, these companies are now producing baby blue ovens, green vent hoods, pink standing mixers, teal grills, and more. Some of these companies have produced specific color lines while others are going above and beyond, offering the ability to match any color swatch or metal treatment you wish.

On top of these pops of color, according to BHG.com, consumer research indicated a 150 percent increase in interest in shades of metallic, including brass and copper, and a 364 percent increase in interest in gold cabinetry.

However, a brand new appliance may be outside your budget, especially if you are a new homeowner. Not to worry! There is always the infallible accent wall, counter base, or pantry door. This cost-effective, do-it-yourself option is an easy way to refresh the look of your kitchen. You can also consider bringing in bright-colored stools or chairs or introducing bold tiles into your backsplash.

Create A More Energy-efficient Home Without Breaking The Bank

Many homeowners would love to invest in making their property more energy-efficient. Going green can save you a lot of money over time and is great for the environment, but the up-front costs can be significant. Fortunately, there are some energy-efficient changes you can make to your home without draining too much of your bank account.

Seal air leaks: As much as 20 percent of the energy used to regulate temperature in a home can be lost to air leaks. You can seal doors and windows with weather stripping and the project will usually cost less than $200.

Smart thermostats: Older thermostats are usually inefficient because they only have a few settings. A smart thermostat like Nest can be programmed to reduce heating/cooling when you’re not at home or during the hours when you’re asleep. The energy savings you will see usually equal the cost of the thermostat after a year or two.

Change your light bulbs: LED light bulbs are expensive, but require just a small percentage of the energy incandescent bulbs require. A cheap incandescent bulb uses about $15 of electricity a year (if it lasts that long). An LED bulb costs $25, but uses less than $5 worth of electricity per year and will last up to 11 years.

Reliable Tactics For When The Appraisal Is Low

Few things in the home buying process are more frustrating than having your offer accepted, only to have the appraisal fall below your offer. But all is not lost! If the appraisal comes in below your offer, there are several tactics and strategies that can lead to a happy solution.

Get A Second Opinion

There’s no need to take the appraiser’s estimate as fact. You can pursue a value appeal, or you can discuss a second appraisal with your prospective lender. Sometimes you can even get the seller to pay for the second appraisal, because they will be motivated to complete the sale. Your real estate professional should be able to help you through the process of an appeal or a second opinion.

Renegotiate For A Lower Price

Unless the market is extremely hot, there’s a good chance the seller can be talked town to the appraised value. Sellers often prefer to complete the deal, rather than putting the property back on the market.

Resist The Urge To Pay More

Sure, paying more in cash to cover the difference between the loan amount and the agreed upon sale price is tempting. Buying a home is an emotional experience, and you may think that this particular home is the only one that you’ll be satisfied with. Take a step back and consider searching for another property.