Category Archives: Quick Home Improvements Guidelines

Small Upgrades That Go a Long Way

 When it comes to making home upgrades, it’s important that sellers remember to go for simple, clean improvements that make homes look more modern and elegant.

No one wants to spend a fortune when it comes to selling a home, but most want to spruce up a few areas to make their property more appealing to potential buyers. There are several types of small improvements individuals can make that can transform the look of a home without forcing them to break the bank.

New Countertops

One of the first areas sellers often focus on when making improvements is their kitchen, and rightly so. Buyers may examine a kitchen space more closely than bedrooms and bathrooms because this is the area where a family will spend the majority of its time. However, unless there is significant damage to the room, sellers may not need to renovate the entire kitchen. Instead, small changes, such as replacing the countertops may be enough to give the area a newer and fresher look. Owners should consider using materials that are common in neighboring homes. A buyer may be less likely to purchase a home with tile countertops when the surrounding homes on the market all feature granite or marble.

New Doors

Many homeowners overlook the appeal of new front, back and side doors, but these features are some of the first that buyers see when they pull up to a home. Adding a new door or painting the current ones to make them stand out can make the home feel more welcoming. In addition, adding new handles and locks can make buyers feel more secure. Doors are relatively inexpensive, and can be installed by the owners themselves with little effort.

Replace Hardware and Fixtures

Old, ruddy cabinet handles, kitchen spouts and light fixtures can be a turn off to buyers and make the home seem outdated. Replacing these fixtures with modern, top-of-the-line hardware is a simple and affordable solution that can be done quickly. Most home improvement stores carry a variety of fixtures and hardware, and owners can compare costs easily by doing some research online.

While homeowners are seeking out new fixtures, they may also examine paint samples to freshen up the colors in their home and make it more inviting.

Need Advise…Call The MashTeam. Corinne and Linda are here to help. #cbrmr

The Best in Smart Home Security

Check out the latest from top smart security brands Honeywell, Ring and Vivint

Angel Piontek visited three of the top smart security companies while at CES to learn more about how these products can help improve her clients feel secure both at home and away. Check out her favorite products from Honeywell, Ring and Vivint and why she thinks they stand out.

Like what you see from Honeywell? Enter to win one of four Honeywell Smart Security products by following the contest guidelines found here! #CBRMR

The Best Ways to Store Fruits and Veggies

How do you store veggies and fruits? What can stay out on the counter and what needs to go in the fridge

Guest post by Jennifer Tuohy

To keep your food fresh, it’s important to know how to use the crisper drawers of your refrigerator properly. Follow the tips below for the best way to store fruits and vegetables both inside and outside of your refrigerator.

In a Cool, Dark Place

Never store these items in the fridge. Your pantry is a great place for these fruits and veggies, which do best out of the sunlight:

Veggies:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Fruit:

  • Melons

On the Counter

These items will do fine on the counter for three to five days, if you leave them whole. Put any produce that needs to ripen in a brown paper bag for a few days to speed up the process. For longer storage, transfer produce to your fridge’s low-humidity drawer.

Veggies:

  • Asparagus and celery —Stand these up in a shallow glass of water.
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kale, collards, and chard — These also do well in a shallow glass of water.
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes

Fruit:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits — Keep these in a bowl with plenty of air circulation.
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Pineapples

 

In the Low-Humidity Drawer

Produce that can dry out a little should go in this drawer, with the humidity slider open. This drawer is one-step removed from the main fridge, slightly less chilled but still dry. Store any cut or sliced fruits and veggies here. Place these types of produce directly into the drawer:

Veggies:

  • Corn — Leave it in the husk.
  • Peppers — Store them in a plastic bag.

Fruit:

  • Apples — Store them here if you like them cold.
  • Ripe stone fruits, such as peaches and plums — Leave them in the drawer as-is.

In the High-Humidity Drawer

Produce that needs a moist environment goes in here, with the humidity slider closed so that water vapor is held in the drawer to keep things fresher for longer. Fruit does not keep well in a high-humidity drawer.

  • Beets — Cut off the tops, then store the beets in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans — Keep these in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach — Wash and dry them thoroughly first.

In the Main Fridge Compartment

  • Fresh herbs — Store them wrapped in a damp paper towel in an airtight container.
  • Mushrooms — Keep them in their packaging or a brown paper bag.
  • Berries and grapes — Store them unwashed. Wash them just before you’re ready to eat them.

One of the best advantages of storing fruits and veggies in their proper place is that you are far less likely to end up with a crowded crisper drawer, which leads to soggy forgotten food. Your crisper drawers are indispensable for keeping produce fresh, but only if you use them correctly. Also, if you keep lots of produce sitting out on the counter, you could find yourself and your family reaching for it more often than bags of chips in the cupboard. #cbrmr

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

While you’re packing, consider throwing out these household items and give yourself a fresh start in your new home.

Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.

1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.

If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.

If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.

2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.

Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.

3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.

Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.

Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.

4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.

I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.

Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.

Read more about which papers to toss and which to keep

5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.

I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.

Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes. #cbrmr

How to Hide Unsightly Blemishes Around Your Home

Here are 10 clever ways to disguise your home’s flaws.

Guest post by Michelle Lee

What makes a house a home? It’s a hard question to answer, but a large part of it is the years of memories you’ve made in it. Oftentimes that includes the blemishes, flaws and dents on the walls and furniture that serve as lasting impressions of cherished moments and fun times. However, whether you’re selling your home or just making it presentable for guests, there are times you’ll want to camouflage them up. Read on for 10 clever ways to disguise your home’s flaws.

Create a Gallery Wall

Put your inner art connoisseur to work to blend random light switches or bulky thermostats into your design. Strategically place similarly sized artwork around switch plates, outlet covers and wall gadgets to distract the eye. If you want to cover it entirely, mount a canvas painting over it or hang art from a swing arm so you can reach behind it when necessary.

 

Hang Long Drapes

Window treatments are generally used for, you guessed it, windows, but they certainly aren’t restricted to other uses. Drape big and breezy curtains above to disguise unsightly wall features or awkward off-center windows. Off-white and cream shades are perfect to use now and throughout winter, such as the one seen in this Swedish bedroom that cleverly conceals the radiator and window when pulled closed.

 

Paint the Wall

This is probably one of the most obvious solutions to drywall chips and paint scratches, but here are some guidelines to help you get it right. Stick to one matte color for the walls, ceiling and trim to downplay the lines between and blend them together. Remember, the glossier the paint finish is, the more it will highlight imperfections.

Consider chalkboard paint for a non-glossy texture and an ever-changing wall feature. You can create your own design and erase it as your style evolves or use it to jot down lists and reminders.

Add wallpaper. Use wallpaper to inject personality and fun into any space. Choose from subtle designs to a dramatic mural or anywhere in between. Keep optical illusions in mind when picking patterns. For example, a striped design can make a small space look taller or wider.

 

Cover it With Clothes

If you have a scratch on your bedroom wall that just won’t go away, play fashionista and move a shop-style clothing rack in front. Showcase some of your most stylish garments or everyday staples on the rack to lighten your closet’s load.

 

Lay Down a Rug

Roll out a gorgeous area rug over all the nicks and notches on your floor from moving furniture or dropping heavy items. Especially great for renters, rugs come in a variety of styles, colors and price points to fit your personal preferences without committing to a permanent change.

 

Rethink the Fifth Wall

This is a bit of a heavier project to take on, but perhaps most rewarding for those left with an infamous popcorn ceiling. Upgrade overhead stucco for a beautiful new feature with paint or paneling. Try white beadboard or wood slats for irresistible rustic charm.

 

Work Around Wall Vents

Air vents are necessary for cooling, heating and any other home circulation systems, but can be quite unattractive. Conceal them with slotted laser-cut screens that add texture and visual interest. In this D.C. living room, the revamped air return works double duty as a display shelf.

 

Choose Your Switches Wisely

Light switches and power outlets are must-haves in every home and there’s often no easy way around them. Wherever possible, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, group your electrical outlets together and shop for new switch plates that complement the existing wall. You can blend them into an existing pattern, as seen here, or make them a fun feature with vibrant colors and textured materials.

Embrace imperfections. After all, they’re what makes your house so special. You can capitalize on the look and help them blend in by investing in distressed furnishings, such as rustic coffee tables or stained wood floors. You won’t have to worry too much about future drops or spills and they instantly add built-in age and character to any space. #cbrmr

Smartest Home Improvements for 2018

Smart home improvements good for the body, mind and soul.

 

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show was one for the books. This was my fourth year going and my biggest takeaway was that smart home tech is evolving at break neck speeds. The smart home show floor was massive and each category from security to entertainment is getting saturated with truly amazing concepts and products. Here were some of our absolute favorites in case you missed them…

In addition to all of the awesome items mentioned above, here were even more of our favorite smart home improvements…

Improving Your Smart Home’s “Brain”

What is the biggest downfall of smart home tech? To me, it is often the lack of one streamlined operating flow. With a ton of different apps and operating systems sometimes smart home tech can actually feel a little dumb.

The good news? At this year’s show it seemed like almost every single product integrated with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home product. So the first smart home improvement you should make is picking one of these systems and finding products that sync with them. Which one is better? According to Forbes, Amazon is winning the race.

Improving Your Garage (and mental health)

Did you shut it?

Did you?

I can’t remember.

I’m pretty sure you did.

I am turning around…I have to check.

Have you had this conversation with their significant other or perhaps even yourself about your garage door? We have it at a few times a month at my house. That is why the Roost Smart Garage Door Sensor made my list. With a combination of home protection and peace of mind, this WiFi connected door sensor sends you a notification telling you if your door in open or closed. The biggest drawback though? If you did leave it open there is nothing it can do for you. Still a great product for those who get open door anxiety like me! Roost also has some other cool smart home devices you can learn about here.

This will be available sometime in the spring and will be priced at $40.

Improving The Safety In An Elderly Person’s Home

I believe there is no price you can place on the safety of a loved one. Especially when it comes to the safety of an elderly parent. If you

Improving Your Home’s Cleanliness

Over the past few year’s robo vacuum cleaners have gained popularity with products like the Roomba. If you enjoy having one (or have one on your wishlist) I have a feeling you’re also going to love the Cop Rose Window Cleaning Robot. Window cleaning is a tedious task and if you have pets or small children, it can feel like a never ending chore with little hand and nose prints everywhere you turn. This smart window cleaner will keep windows, as well as other vertical surfaces, in tip top shape with a touch of a button from your smart phone. It can also be used floors and walls.

At $150, this product is a great way to avoid one of most dreaded household chores. More information here.

Improving Your Home Gym

Peloton has already built a cult like following around their bike product and and now they’re hoping to do the same around their new treadmill called the Peloton Tread. The fancy treadmill is equipped with a 32 inch touchscreen display that allows the runner to stream classes in a studio like setting from NYC’s best instructors.

The Peloton Tread comes with a hefty price tag at $4,000 PLUS an additional $39 monthly fee for live classes. It will start shipping this fall but you can reserve one now.

 

Bonus Product: Improving Your Kitchen Gadget Collection

While this isn’t technically a smart home improvement I couldn’t help but share one of my personal favorites from the show which was the Coravin Model 11.  Have you ever wanted to drink just one glass of wine but passed because you didn’t want to ruin the bottle? The model 11 allows you to enjoy a glass without ever removing the cork or damaging the wine itself. This “first ever” fully connected automatic wine preservation opener works by placing a super thing needle through the cork. Check it out:

Like the Peloton Treadmill, this item comes with a large price tag at $1,000 but if you are serious about your wine then this is totally worth it splurge. #cbrmr

Want even more smart home goodness? Check this out.

How to Achieve Modern Minimalism

Modern minimalism is evolving to incorporate color and evoke a calm, homey feel. Here are six minimalist techniques to try at home.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee

When we think of minimalist style, blank white interiors similar to hospital rooms are often what first come to mind. However, this style is evolving to incorporate color and evoke a calm, homey feel. It doesn’t require throwing away all of your possessions or taking a bucket of white paint to everything in sight, but rather choosing things with meaning and honing in on nature’s beauty. Here are six minimalist techniques to try at home.

Selectively Cut Clutter

Decluttering is always a hard process and you’ll often find sentimental reasons to keep everything, but press further. Ask yourself what you really need and love. Keep things that have practical use value, then tackle the rest by digitizing old photos and oversized mementos, donating unwanted hand-me-downs and engaging the entire family in a whole-house decluttering effort.

Choose a Neutral Color Palette

Black and white are some of the most popular colors seen in minimalist spaces, but you don’t have to limit yourself to the two ends of the spectrum. Welcome muted shades, such as cream, beige, brown and gray, into your palette and layer them for depth. If you can’t paint your walls, incorporate these colors with decorative accents and furnishings, like the rug and pillows seen here.

Embrace Mother Nature

A key element of minimalist style is to connect with the outdoors as much as possible. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows are common in minimalist rooms and capitalizing on any and all natural light sources are crucial to getting the light and airy look.

Bring nature indoors too with fresh flowers or indoor plants to add a pop of color and life. Also consider organic and natural materials for your decor, like handmade wooden tables or linen bedding.

Go for Sharp, Straight Lines

Straight lines have the power to capture one’s eye immediately. Minimalism usually maximizes on this idea. From windows and doors to bed frames and even sofas, you should be able to easily spot crisp edges everywhere. The idea of straight lines is not limited to rectangles and squares, but can be angled to create cool geometric shapes and patterns.

Make a Statement With a Few, High-Quality, Large-Scale Pieces

The famous saying “quality over quantity” really comes into play here. You’ll often see only a few furnishings in minimalist spaces, such as one ornate chandelier in the center of a room or one big painting on a wall, rather than several smaller ones. These pieces are chosen with intention and speak volumes by themselves. Put a lot of thought into every purchase to achieve this modern look.

Structure Rooms With the Right Layout

An essential rule of minimalist style is to create a sense of openness with the least amount of furniture and decor. After you’ve bought your key pieces, browse different layouts before placing them in a room. A good practice to follow is to group pieces in a corner or against a long wall, rather in the center. Leaving big, open spaces in common areas and hallways helps achieve the ideal sense of spaciousness.

Green Cleaning Tip: A Greener Cleaner!

Photo

Why spend money on commercial cleaning products when equally effective, more natural cleaning supplies are probably already in your kitchen cupboard?

1. For a multi-purpose, everyday spray cleaner that’s effective, economical and safe around kids and pets, simply mix one part white vinegar with nine parts water in a spray bottle or bucket.

2. Create a streak-free shine with your own window cleaner. Pour one cup rubbing alcohol plus one tablespoon white vinegar into a spray bottle, spray on windows and wipe away with paper towels or yesterday’s newspaper.

3. A box of baking soda goes far in the cleaning world. Some suggestions: Use it on a damp sponge to clean sinks and scrub BBQ grates, freshen upholstered furniture and carpets by sprinkling it all over before vacuuming, and add a cup to your laundry to brighten clothes.

 and to make your home healthier try these tips. Contact me for the recipes. 

4. Use woolen Balls in your dryer instead of dryer sheets.

5. Make your own Non-Toxic Powder Laundry Detergent. All you need is baking soda, washing soda, Borax, Epsom Salts, Sunlight Bar Soap, Oxi-Clean and essential oils such as lavender or lemon.

6. Make your own deodorant.

7. Make your own face cream.

8. Make Your Own Lip Balm.

 

 

First Impressions

PhotoCan you sell a home by its cover? If your home features a well-presented home exterior, it’s certainly a possibility.

Today’s many exterior refinishing options provide ways for your home to stand out, increase its perceived value and capture the eye of the right buyer, no matter what your budget. Re-facing the outside of your house can be as simple and cost-effective as repainting it, or as involved as applying new brickwork. Here are just a few of the options available.

Paint: The least expensive option, a fresh coat of paint can instantly brighten and freshen your home’s exterior.

Siding: Vinyl siding is lightweight, inexpensive, easy to install and can cover a multitude of sins from flaking paint to uneven wall surfaces. Wood and brick siding are more expensive, but can create a richer impression.

Stone Veneer Siding: Boasting the luxury look of full stonework but with a much easier installation and substantially lower cost, stone veneer is becoming a strong contender in the home upgrade market. Whether you’re refacing for your own benefit or for curb appeal, it’s worth noting the return value of your investment: the annual Cost vs. Value Report, reported in Remodeling Magazine, affirms an 89.4 percent return-on-investment for manufactured stone veneer.

Stucco: Attractive, low-maintenance, and available in a variety of textures and colors, stucco can add warmth to the exterior appearance of your home. Before installation, however, be sure to investigate its practicality for the weather in your region.

Is Your Home Affecting Your Health?

Your home is a safe haven. But, there are ways your home can damage your health.

A healthy home is a happy home. What do we mean? Well, did you know about these seven home hazards that could be affecting your health? Not to worry, our friends at Home Advisor tackle how to identify them as well as how to fix them.

#1 Mold, fungus and mildew

Aside from their smell and unsightly nature, mold, fungus and mildew can pose a serious threat to your health. If you notice any signs of these hazards (especially mold and mildew), have them removed immediately.

#2 Water-borne pollutants

Public water supplies are generally kept to a very high standard. But, it’s impossible to eliminate all water contaminants. If there is a failure in any part of your purification system, your water supply could contain dangerous pollutants. Replace your purification system to ensure your water is clean.

#3 Carbon monoxide

In sufficient quantities, carbon monoxide can kill. Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect because of its odorless and colorless nature. Address any carbon monoxide problems by ventilating your impacted space. For a long-term solution, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

#4 Lead

Lead causes memory loss, muscular issues and dementia. Make sure to check your paint and plumbing for lead if your home was built before 1975. If you find lead in your home, have it removed immediately.

#5 Home chemicals

Most of us have potentially harmful chemicals in our homes. These include:

  • Detergents
  • Cleaning agents
  • Bleach
  • Nail polish
  • Pesticides

Most of these substances can be replaced by safer, organic products. If not, keep your toxic chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

#6 Dust

Dust can irritate your respiratory tract. Clean any obvious dust using a damp cloth or an electrostatic wipe. Regularly vacuum curtains, upholstery and carpets. Make sure you use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner. Less efficient filters allow too much dust to escape back into a room.

#7 Dampness and leaks

Moisture encourages the growth of molds and other harmful microorganisms. Eliminate any leaks in your plumbing or roofing to avoid mildew and mold problems.

Conclusion

If you feel unwell in your home, you may be suffering from a home hazard. Tackle any health problems in your home to stay healthy.