May 23, 2017
How To Prepare Your House For Sale:
Hero Images/Getty Images
Time Required: Seven to 10 Days
- Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.
- Say to yourself, "This is not my home; it is a house -- a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.
- Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
- Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!
- Say goodbye to every room.
- Don't look backwards -- look toward the future.
Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can't see past personal artifacts, and you don't want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here."
People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven't used it in over a year, you probably don't need it.
- If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
- Remove all books from bookcases.
- Pack up those knickknacks.
- Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
- Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
- Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.
- Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.
Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:
- Alphabetize spice jars.
- Neatly stack dishes.
- Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.
- Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
- Line up shoes.
- Rent a Storage Unit.
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don't want buyers scratching their heads and saying, "What is this room used for?"
- Remove/Replace Favorite Items.
If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it. Once you tell a buyer she can't have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.
- Make Minor Repairs.
- Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
- Patch holes in walls.
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.
- Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.
(Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home as "the house with the orange bathroom.")
- Replace burned-out light bulbs.
- If you've considered replacing a worn bedspread, do so now!
- Make the House Sparkle!
- Wash windows inside and out.
- Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
- Clean out cobwebs.
- Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
- Clean out the refrigerator.
- Vacuum daily.
- Wax floors.
- Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
- Bleach dingy grout.
- Replace worn rugs.
- Hang up fresh towels.
- Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.
- Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.
- Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
- Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
- Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
- Make sure window coverings hang level.
- Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?
- Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You're almost finished.
- Check Curb Appeal.
If a buyer won't get out of her agent's car because she doesn't like the exterior of your home, you'll never get her inside.
- Keep the sidewalks cleared.
- Mow the lawn.
- Paint faded window trim.
- Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
- Trim your bushes.
- Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
March 2, 2015
Laura J. Leppard
May 27, 2014
Laura J. Leppard
Clean your Kitchen fast!
1. Clear the counters. Cooking is your kitchen’s top priority right now. So stash mail, school schedules, and that rarely used juicer elsewhere. (Just don’t lose any bills in the process.) Then pull out the trash can and toss bags or boxes of unwanted edibles sitting out. Squirt cleaner (Mr. Clean Multi-Surfaces has done well in GHRI tests) around what’s left on the counter — canisters, the toaster. Wipe and let dry.
2. Purge the fridge. Pull the trash can over and dump lingering leftovers, spoiled food, and open bottles of condiments, like grill marinade from last summer. You could remove all the glass shelves and bins and wash them — or give them a fast once-over with a wet cloth or sponge. Don’t forget fingerprints and splatters on the door front and handle. A fresh box of baking soda absorbs odors, too.
3. Skip the oven. If it’s dinner party day already and you haven’t run the self-cleaning cycle, now is not the time to commit to this hours-long task). Spot-clean dead-giveaway grime — stovetop spills, grease on the door handle or inside the glass door — with your sponge and a dash of baking soda (it’ll rinse off easier than a sudsy cleaner, FYI).
4. Think sink. Stop pretending you’re going to rinse those dishes piling up on the counter, and load them in the dishwasher (or if not, at least stack them neatly in the sink). Run some water over drippy detergent bottles, then stick those, pot scrubbers, and rubber gloves under the sink. When all has been relocated, run a sponge around the bowl of the basin and over the faucet if you’ve splattered water in your speediness.
5. Mop stop. Before collapsing onto the sofa, use a sweeper with disposable cloths, like Swiffer, to pick up crumbs, dust, and hair from the floor. Pro tip: Keep a damp paper towel in one hand to zap stains so you don’t have to stop as you go. Throw the used Swiffer sheet and towel in your trash bin. And look — there’s the company.
Clean your Windows:
Give dirt the brush-off. We know — going at the glass with the cleaner is the most satisfying part. But before you squeeze that trigger, pull back the blinds or curtains, open the window, and inspect its sill, frame, and tracks for obvious crud and cobwebs. Sweep out debris using the small-handled brush that comes with your dustpan. (Skip this step, and you risk a mess later, since the loose dirt can stick to your wiping towel and smear the glass.) Also handy: a cloth-wrapped screwdriver for flicking out dead bugs or hard-to-reach gunk.
1. De-grime the screens. If you leave yours in year-round, give them a once-over now — otherwise, all that dried-on dirt may blow into your house the first time you open the windows for ventilation. The good news: You don’t need to take down the screens and hose them off. Just run your vacuum with its dusting-brush attachment over the side that faces in. (Side to side, top to bottom is the speediest method.)
2. Make the glass gleam. For windows that tilt in, washing both sides is a cinch. Spray your cleaner on the inside of the glass until it’s heavily misted but not drippy. Then, with a clean lint-free cloth, wipe horizontally until dry. Tilt the window the other way; repeat on the outer panes, but this time wipe vertically (cleaning in opposite directions makes streaks obvious and easier to zap). For double-hung windows that don’t fold in, slide the bottom pane up about eight inches — so you can reach out and up. Clean what you can; then slide down the top panel to get it from above. Windows crank out or don’t open at all? Clean the insides, then rinse the outsides with a hose.
Get those Light Fixtures Sparkling!
1. Wipe out webs. Dust and cobwebs seem to disappear when it's dark, so to nab the pesky problems, turn the lights on before you start cleaning. Either use a long-handled duster or make one: Wrap a yardstick or broom handle at the end with a dampened dusting cloth or old sock; secure with a rubber band. Starting with your hanging fixtures, run your duster around each light's ceiling attachment and along the chain. Next, carefully work the duster through the fixture to catch any webs dangling inside. For less-intricate globe overhead lights, a gentle whisk around the glass cover should nab any dust or debris.
2. Get crystals (and bulbs) clear.Taking down and hand-washing chandelier crystals one by one is the definition of chore. Instead, give yours this speedy, two-fisted approach. For the low-hanging dining room fixture, arm yourself with a microfiber cloth in one hand and a premoistened glass-cleaning wipe in the other (or make your own by spritzing a paper towel with glass cleaner). Turn the lights off, since liquids plus electricity equals a bad idea, then wipe and dry each crystal from the top of the fixture down, so you won't smudge already-clean crystals by reaching over them. To avoid damaging the cord and connections, don't spin the chandelier; instead, move yourself around it. If possible, push the table out of the way or use a step stool for better access. Next, the bulbs: Using your microfiber cloth, wipe each one, giving a gentle twist to be sure it's secure in its socket. When using your step stool, you'll need to reposition it a few times to work your way around — or, if you don't see any burned-out bulbs to replace, just skip the high-wire act entirely and do your best from the ground with your long-reach duster.
3. Fix a shady situation. For pleated shades on floor or table lamps, grab a clean paintbrush to quickly whisk dust from inside each pleat, working from top to bottom all the way around the shade. Run the same brush over the bulb and the wire that holds the shade in place. Nonpleated shades don't gather as much mess, so a once-over with a duster, microfiber cloth, or even a lint roller should do it. Use a duster or microfiber cloth to spiff up the lamp's base.
Banish old Carpet Stains:
1. De-grit dirty doormats. Interior doormats stop dirt from being tracked inside, but only if they're kept clean. If the care tag allows, you can rid mats of loose soil by tossing them into the washer and dryer — short, gentle cycle on warm; tumble-dry low. Otherwise, for best, non-washing results, use a vacuum. Quickly go over the top of each mat, flip it over, and vacuum the back, even if it's rubber or plastic — this loosens any embedded dirt. Then, lift the mat, and vacuum up the grit that came out. (Our bet: It's no small amount.) If you're truly time crunched, however, simply take the mats outside for a good shaking, beating with your hand or a stick a few times on each side.
2. Clear the path. If your carpet has a gray, matted trail from your couch to your kitchen or any other well-worn route, yep, you've got a traffic aisle. Since there are still a few more months of winter to go, save the heavy cleaning (with a rental machine or by a professional) for spring. Instead, hit the dingy path with a powdered carpet cleaner, like GHRI favorite Resolve High Traffic Granules Large Area Carpet Cleaner ($6.25). Sprinkle on the powder, then work it in with the included brush. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, and then vacuum. In GHRI tests, dirty rugs were noticeably brighter.
3. Get the spots out. During the holidays, everything from red wine to gravy to good old mud can find its way onto your rugs. Here's the method our GHRI experts have found works on most dried-in blotches: Take two empty spray bottles, and fill one with cold water. In the other, mix 1/4 teaspoon plain dishwashing liquid and 1 cup warm water. Spray the detergent solution onto an absorbent cloth (not the carpet — you don't want to wet it too much), and dab, don't rub, it on the spot. As the stain dissolves, blot with a clean section of cloth. Keep applying and blotting this way until the stain is gone. Spray another cloth with the cold water, and use it to rinse the detergent solution from the carpet; blot again with a dry cloth. Then, pile on a stack of white paper towels, and place a heavy pot on top; leave overnight to soak up any residual staining deep in the carpet. In the A.M., remove the pot and toss the paper towels; fluff the fibers with your fingers and allow to air-dry.
Speed clean your washroom!
Probably the busiest spot in your house, the bathroom is also the place almost every guest visits. So if you start sweating whenever someone asks, "Do you mind if I freshen up/use the toilet/secretly judge your cleaning skills?" just relax. These tricks will get the room looking freshly scrubbed in 15 minutes or less.
1. In the bag. To start, hang a plastic sack on the doorknob for tossing the cleaning cloths you're about to use and emptying the wastebasket — the easiest insta-tidy trick.
2. First, flush. Next, grab some bleach. Pour a cup into the bowl; brush around the sides and under the rim. Then move on to the next task for five minutes.
3. Quick shine. While the bleach is working, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar (or better yet, keep a bottle stored nearby for just this occasion). Spritz onto paper towels or a microfiber cloth, and zero in on those telltale soap drips and toothpaste spatters on faucets, mirrors, countertops, and in the sink — a definite dirty-bathroom giveaway. Optional (and only if you really care what your visitors think): Give spotty shower doors the same spray treatment.
4. Wipe control. Flip over one of those same vinegar wipes and run it across the back of your dusty toilet tank, then over, under, and around the seat. Flush the bleach that's been sitting in the bowl, toss the wipe into your doorknob bag, and move on.
5. Towel trick. Instead of scooping up all the used bath towels, just put out fresh hand towels — those are the only ones short-term guests use anyway. Leave the others on the bar; just straighten them. If you have linen spray, mist the towels. If you don't, a light body spray or perfume will do the job.
6. Exit strategy. Now it's time for the floor. Shake out your rug or bath mat to fluff it up so it looks recently vacuumed. Next, with a dampened paper towel, swoosh the corners of the room, where most of the hair and dust collects. And don't forget to take the plastic bag with you when you leave!
February 17, 2014
Fresh Home Interior
Encompassing a number of the trends in 2014, the above image includes turquoise, light wood tones, floral influence, outdoor furniture inside and a little hair on hide.
Two thousand and fourteen; it sounds so futuristic, but here it is, right on our doorstep. In this article, we’ll delve into what we believe will be the heavy hitting trends in interior design in 2014. Admittedly, some of these ideas are not ‘fresh’ in the literal sense of the word, some are, but as with anything, ‘there’s a time an a place for everything under the sun’, so here’s what we at Freshome believe will shine in 2014. Don’t just take our word for it, take a look at the Google trends graphs for all of the trends and you’ll see that they are on the up.
1. Merging Indoors & Out
You’ll be wondering whether you’re indoor’s or out with this trend, where we’ll see more designers and manufacturers creating outdoor designs for inside the house. Not only that, we’ll see bespoke designs using extravagant ideas which’ll literally cause a ‘wow’ reaction to guests. Again, a trend which I’ve seen at November’s Grand Designs Live show which I hadn’t seen as much in previous years. You’ll be so confused at the end of the year, you’ll be lugging in a few of those deck chairs in your garden and arranging them in your living room.
An extravagant example of bringing the outdoors within.
2. Ethnic Prints
Ethnic fabrics, upholstery and prints look like they will be a popular trend this year. Adding a fresh pizazz to your home from far off exotic lands can break up boring bland interiors and if authentic, can be fantastic conversational pieces. So if you see a cushion, print or covering which is oozing with culture this year; don’t shy away.
Ethnic designs on pillows bringing the couch to life.
3. Beige, Be Gone
Beige is one of those color palettes which has been a favourite for years. It is a safe color, it’s timeless and it works well as a base color for exciting plashes of color accents. It doesn’t have the edge it once has and its popularity has been waning over the past few years. I as well as countless other designers share the sentiment that the popularity of beige will continue in its demise. It’s one of those which will stay around in some form of strength but it’s lost its lustre. This year we will see a continuation of the unwinding of a strong but sterile trend.
Beige: Works but waning in pizazz.
4. Brass is Class
Brass has the ability to look ludicrously luscious or tantalizingly tacky. A number of years back I was taken around a designers showroom in China who specialised in brass-ware; it looked tacky and clichéd. It’s important to inspect designs which are executed poorly, to determine what mistakes to avoid. When done right, brass looks classy, it’s timeless, it’s also a trend which has been gathering steam over the past year. In 2014 we foresee a rise in the popularity of brass, particularly in the kitchen, bold brass bathtubs (as per the image below), lamp stands and other ornamental pieces.
Don’ think trousers (pants), think settee’s (couch)! Many designers are bringing corduroy into their focus this year, utilizing this velvet alternative to great effect. We are seeing bold statements in upholstery, wide audacious bands of cord. A growing trend which will definitely gain momentum in 2014 and 2015. Let’s get this train moving; and who knows, in time it could become a speeding locomotive.
Adventurous wide bands on the corduroy couch.
6. Fiber-art & Macramé
Inexpensive and accessible to most, as long as you can find a supplier, fiber-art and macramé is arty, creative and takes the edge off of plain walls and rooms. It’s definitely a micro trend at the moment, but should continue to snowball over the next couple of years. It can be used instead of fine art, expensive wall paper and other more expensive wall pieces, and it’s for these reasons why I and many other designers believe this will be a successful, growing trend in 2014.
7. Floral Influence
Floral designs and chint textiles, as per the picture below, is a growing trend, not only in the interior design world, but also in other markets such as fashion. When there is a lap over of a particular trend in more than one vertical market, in this case floral, the trend has a tendency to have staying power; the perfect storm one might say. This will be a strong trend in 2014 that you’ll see popping up everywhere, from billboards, shop windows, interior designs and commercials. Floral textiles are a great option for any new designs.
This is all about creating mood. Huge expanses of plain white, lifeless walls will be replaced with interest, mood and character. Think daring and valorous, making a statement with every element of the design. Interesting and metallic accessories will be the perfect accompaniment; supplementing, complimenting and adding to the glam. A weaker trend for 2014, but still growing at an increasing rate.
9. Hair on Hide
No longer is hide doomed to reside on the floor. Now in 2014, we’ll see this hair on high. Off the floor and promoted onto couches, settee’s, consoles, tables and cushions. We’ve seen a lot more of hair on hide in the Grand Designs Live exhibition, which has caused our mental faculties to be alerted to this trend across the internet. Natural is best, but also comes with a level of controversy. There are big voices out there who cry out against using animal skin, however there are now humane ways of obtaining the hides, hides which would have been otherwise wasted (sadly enough).
Controversial but growing: Hair on hide chairs adding flavour to the room.
10. Compatible Colors & Accents
In 2014 there’ll be a move towards versatility. Instead of having one set look, we’ll see a base hues enlivened with accents of color which’ll bring a monotonous box into a fresh lively room. We’re talking bright chromatic splashes over unsaturated undertones. It’s a fresh and lively trend which invigorates the senses and perks up the spirit.
11. Lighter Colored Woods
Light, fresh looking, honey toned woods look to be in this year. The overzealous use of rich, deep toned woods which has been popular in design over the past 5 years could be the catalyst for this honey-fresh movement. Oak and cherry are both fantastic options here; both in design, durability and aesthetic appeal. Go for high quality, don’t be stingy with the cost as it’ll be an elegant and exquisite show piece for generations to come. This trend has been growing steadily over the past 5 years and is continuing to take ground.
12. Myriad of Blues
Blue is without a doubt a massive trend this year. We at Freshome are seeing it everywhere, from home design exhibitions to the catwalk. It’s all about blue, and don’t be shy about sticking to one shade either. Different shades of blue rolling back into each other in the same room will ignite the senses. Azure, beryl, teal, cobalt, sapphire; a cerulean of blue, folding back into themselves in an ocean of electric design. Apart from turquoise which I cover in a later point, the other shade of blue which has gained popular traction is navy. A calming, shade which commands authority without appearing desperate; easy and pleasant on the eye, this is one you can’t go wrong with in 2014: Navy is vogue. Use it in accessories, soft furnishings, couches, cushions, cupboards, walls and anywhere else you can imagine it. We’re seeing it everywhere, We’re seeing it in the design sphere: Blue will be big in 2014.
Blues being effectively implemented in kitchen setting.
13. Parisian Soft Black & White
It’s been a staple in interior design over the years, but now we’re seeing a shift to softer tones of black and white, taking that harsh edge off of the contrast. The softer tones are easier on the eye, they’re comfy and relaxing, yet they don’t take the edge off the swank. This is a trend which has been evolving over the past couple of years and evidence from the design hemisphere shows a continuation in strength over 2014. An almost timeless trend that will look good for a long time to come.
Parisian soft black & white: Very cosy!
14. Piquant Pineapples
This is one of those very specific trend predictions that is far from vague and generalized. Pineapples; we are seeing them on the cat walks, design, prints and home design exhibitions. Whatever it is about this delicious delectable treat; it’s made it onto our tables in a different form which certainly isn’t edible. Keep your peepers open in 2014 for this one. A trend which will be restricted in its scope, but a feisty one nonetheless. Take a look at the adorable pineapple candle holders on the kitchen counter below.
Modern yet reminiscent of timeless designs; people are flocking back to those immortal traditional designs and have been for a few years. When done right, it is safe and will stand the test of time. In an economy where keeping up with the Jones’s may not be financially feasible, going with something that is never going to drift out of fashion is a secure strategy.
November 1, 2013
In Style Modern
We ran across this infographic by In Style Modern analyzing the benefits of hiring an interior designer, versus the benefits of redesigning a home for yourself. According to the photo below, some of the main advantages of DIY are flexibility to change, easy plan adjustments, budget control, family time, trying out new experiences and of course, satisfaction for doing things for yourself. On the other hand, if you do decide to hire an interior designer, you can just sit back, relax and watch a person with an expertise do the rest.
An interior designer has the ability to envision a full picture, has plenty of contacts in the industry (which leads to efficiency) and makes use of state-of-the-art methods for planning a room. The infographic also presents some interesting facts. For example, did you know that 47% of Americans haven’t updated their interior decor in the last five years, while only 20% of Americans are actually happy with their home design?
September 20, 2013
10 Effective Ways To Choose The Right Floor Plan For Your Home
Posted: 20 Sep 2013 04:42 AM PDT
10 effective ways to choose the perfect floor plan
One of the most exciting times in your life can be choosing a home! From what city you will live in to what neighborhood you decide to raise your family – the right home is a major decision. Even more importantly is how you and your family will use your home and ensure it fits with your lifestyle and the right floor plan can shape how you experience your home. From the size and shape, to where the rooms are located in adjacent to each other can make or break your home experience. Before you get overwhelmed, look at these 10 effective ways to choose the right floor plan for your home.
1. Decide what size of home will best suit your family
Every family doesn’t need a sprawling estate and every family won’t feel comfortable in a small two bedroom home. Choosing a floor plan first should start with how large a home will fit your lifestyle. Assess how many bedrooms you will require for your children and how many bathrooms are enough for you and visiting guests. The size of your home should be the first consideration.
Decide on a floor plan that fits your design style
2. Choose a floor plan based on your design style
Everyone homeowner has their own design style and choosing a floor plan that meets your needs is essential. Are you more traditional and prefer a compartmentalized floor plan where walls separate rooms or do you have a more modern style where an open floor plan concept would suit your needs better? Think of your furnishings and how you will decorate your home when choosing a floor plan. Flowing and coordinated colors are most important when designing an open floor plan – so keep this mind when choosing a floor plan style.
3. Decide what type of dwelling type fits your location
Depending on where you live could dictate what type of floor plan will best suit your family. Dwellings such as single-family homes give the ability to have outdoor space for a yard and backyard and provide more space to spread out in. An attached home similar to brownstones or condos in a urban area could also meet your “single family home” needs but divided amongst a multi-level floor plan. Split-level floor plans means your entire floors are split to separate levels and don’t consume the entire footprint of your home. Decide which of these types are found in your city.
Understand the pros and cons of the floor plan you choose.
4. Understand what the pros and cons are of your floor plan
There isn’t a perfect floor plan. There will always be pros and cons and you will need to decide what are your priorities and what can you learn to live with or without. A large living room window wall that lets in gorgeous natural light may also make your energy cooling and heating bills higher. A floor plan that is open and spacious could make it hard to concentrate in your adjacent home office as your kids are watching tv in the living room. Weigh the pros and cons when looking for the right floor plan.
5. Make your decision based on the layout not the finishes
When choosing a floor plan ensure you are basing your decision on how the home flows and feels functional for your daily activities. Don’t get wowed by the upgraded floors, countertops and appliances in the model home, imagine the home in a “stripped down” state and form your opinion from there. A floor plan shouldn’t feel good because of the nice carpet that could go in the living room, it should feel right because the living room is a welcoming room off of the kitchen and foyer area for guests and family members.
Don’t base your judgement on the finishes and materials in the home
6. Ask a real estate or design professional for guidance
While you may know what you want in your future home, a design professional or realtor could help you consider factors that aren’t tangible to the eye and touch. Factors such as energy savings/costs, possible affordability of mortgage payments, location to local resources like schools, churches and stores, and maintenance experience are all factors that a professional can give their guidance on.
7. Trust your instincts on what “feels” right when choosing a floor plan
All of us have the ability to “feel” when a space feels comfortable and able to fit their needs. Take these instincts into consideration when touring different floor plans. You will be surprised how many styles of plans there are to choose from. A family with small children may love the ability for the master bedroom to be housed amongst the other bedrooms. On the other hand, a family with teenagers could prefer for the maser bedroom to be separated by public spaces such as the living room and kitchen instead. Listen to what speaks to you when choosing a plan.
When looking at rooms – listen to your feelings and “gut” reactions
8. Determine if you will need to use existing or buy new furniture
While you may only be thinking about the rooms and layout of your floor plan, choosing furniture is a major investment and emotional challenge if you aren’t careful. If you decide to use your current furniture in your next home, ensure you measure it and take this into account when reviewing floor plans. If you will buy new furniture you will still need to have an idea when shopping on what pieces will fit into what rooms. Be careful of “space eating” over-sized furniture that will make your rooms feel smaller than they are.
Determine if you will use your current furniture or need to buy new
9. Know your budgetary limits before choosing a floor plan
Let’s face it; there is always the fantasy side of us that wants to go bigger and better than our wildest dreams. Before getting your heart set on one type of floor plan – know what the costs are associated with the layout. Ask a contractor or builder to help you determine costs as you narrow down to the floor plan that fits within your budget.
10. Understand that floor plan modifications could be an option
While it would be nice to have the right floor plan appear before your eyes, remodeling and modifying a floor plan can be a viable option. Removing a spare closet to make more room in your kids’ bathroom area or opening up a wall to let in natural light could make your floor plan even better. Keep this in mind when looking for a floor plan that is right for you.
Freshome readers tell us what considerations you think of when narrowing down floor plan options.
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July 23, 2013
What’s Hot in New Home Trends for 2013?
Green, cutting edge, technological, luxurious, and entertaining are adjectives that best describe where housing trends are heading. While the word trends suggest a fleeting fancy, the forecast suggests that we are on the cutting edge of some fantastic innovations that are not only here to stay, but will continue to grow and evolve, influencing potential future home trends.
Building trends are showing scaled down, smaller homes. Gone are the days of superfluous, excessive and opulent. Newer homes, as well as designs within are much more streamlined. Even the furniture industry is showing simpler, more scaled-down models. The oversized, “fluffy” couches are being replaced by models that are more minimal in style and feel, with a very mid century influence. As a result of these smaller-scaled homes people are making much more efficient use of their space.
Large home offices are no longer sought after. Pocket offices are one of the top trends in home design, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The rising popularity of several generations living together under one roof may have helped to fuel the trend. Unused spare bedrooms were turned into home offices. These home offices are being converted back into bedrooms to accommodate grown children that are returning to the nest, or elderly parents needing to be looked after.
This certainly is not a trend. Green is most definitely mainstream. It’s not going anywhere as it’s here to stay and we will see a rise in all things green, environmentally friendly and sustainable from building materials, paints, windows, floorings, windows, countertops, plumbing and electrical. There is an increasing demand for eco-friendly paint and adhesives. Home furnishings and accessories are following this path.
Despite the downsizing of the family home there are certain luxury items that are in demand. Saunas are once again becoming popular and are being added to master bathrooms and pool areas. Media rooms have been on rise for some time. With more families staying home, vacationing less and spending less on entertainment venues, these homeowners are investing their money in rooms designed for specifically for multimedia entertainment devices, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Consumer Reports states that home elevators are on the rise, especially in well to do and multi-generational homes where elderly relatives may have a harder time with the stairs. Multi-generational living is also driving force behind basement conversions. Basements, once a place for the young to hang out and entertain, are now being reconfigured to create separate living spaces for in-laws complete with kitchens, bedrooms and a separate living space.
Homeowners are moving outdoors, especially those who are spending more time at home. Porches, patios, decks, terraces and verandas are no longer just outdoor spaces; they have become outdoor living areas where homeowners go to relax, spend time with their families, dine or entertain guests. We are also seeing an increase in outdoor kitchens for cooking and dining. These kitchens are equipped with built-in grills, sinks, storage, refrigeration, countertops and beer taps.
These outdoor cooking areas are being designed to resemble the indoor kitchens. High end appliances, movie screens, outdoor furnishings, fireplaces and fire pits, as well as television and audio systems are rising in popularity. Reflective of our interest in the environment and our health, outdoor vegetable gardens are also in soaring in popularity.
Clean up outdoors
Following hot on the heels of outdoor dining and entertaining is the outdoor shower. Outdoor showers, and outdoor bathrooms in general are quickly gaining popularity. With creative landscaping a sense of total privacy can be achieved. 50 years ago it was uncommon for a single-family, 3 bedroom home to have more than one bathroom, now it is the norm. The outdoor bathroom too will become commonplace one day. These outdoor bathing areas are far from rustic, to the contrary, they are eco-friendly luxuries.
Homes are getting smarter
Technology is becoming more and more affordable and more and more commonplace. A new type of generator, created by General Electric, can be monitored and activated from a smart phone, giving an out of town homeowner peace of mind. Touchscreen deadbolts, and thermostats that can be programmed remotely will one day be commonplace. The rise of smart appliances that are focused on energy savings will eventually make way for more affordable models thus being more readily available. At this point they are still quite cost prohibitive.
Kitchens and bathrooms are getting more stylish
No matter the size of the house, stylish kitchens and bathrooms remain at the top of many wish lists. Many homeowners are remodeling their homes instead of building on to them. The latest trend in kitchen design is the transitional look which is a combination of both traditional and contemporary design.
Because so much time is spent living, not just eating, in the kitchen, these rooms are being redesigned to accommodate the events that take place in the kitchen, from homework, to socializing to cooking and eating. Kitchens are designed for larger crowds, even putting its chef on display with plenty of seating for the viewers. The rise in popularity of gourmet kitchens with upscale appliances, top notch lighting show no sign of slowing down.
July 9, 2013
1. Breaking the news
Breaking the news of your move can be one of the most critical moments of the entire process. Use the first announcement to explain to your kids how you think the move will benefit the whole family. You’re going to want to bring the kids in on the moving process by having them help out, but don’t cross that bridge just yet — leave this for after the initial talk. If you have more than one kid, address each of them later in private once they've had some time to let it all sink in. Express to them personally what you’re expecting. Kids are aspirational, and if you make it clear to them that you need their help as part of the process, they’re more likely to step up and help out. Being as open and clear about what moving entails will always be better in the long run. With young children, don’t assume that they'll have a good grasp on what it all means right away. Patience is the key.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
Take the time to talk to your kids about the move. If applicable, ask them what room in the house they'd like, or how they want it to look. Use these conversations as an opportunity to explain the things you think they'll like about the neighbourhood you’re moving to. Take your children seriously and listen to their feelings and concerns even when you can’t address their desires directly. Sometimes, more than anything, children just wants to know that they've been heard, even if they can’t have their way.
Moving by Marco Varisco
3. Out with the old
This part of the process will depend a lot on the temperament of your kids, but it's time to pare down the household and make room for the new. Getting rid of old stuff can be a pain, or it can be a fun family activity (and as a bonus, you can have a garage sale at the end of it!). It can be tedious and time-consuming to try to go through your child’s things, having to ask them piece by piece what they want to keep or give away, but if you get the kids excited with the prospect of a garage sale, then the kids will do a better job sorting than you ever could. Margaret, mother of two, has another take:
We have moved back when I was still expecting. The only thing that we learned from the experience is to unpack things only as they are needed: emotional mementos and actual necessities. This way, whatever is still in boxes after 60 days can be easily disposed of.
Paring down can be some of the hardest work of moving, so make it easy on yourself.
4. Timing is everything
If you can, try to time the move around the more stable periods in your kids’ lives. Moving during the school year can be disruptive and make integration into the new community and school environment much more difficult.
5. Take advantage of relatives and friends
If you have small children, every minute they can be in another’s care will make the moving process that much easier. If your kids are a bit older, these can be opportune days for them to say their prolonged goodbyes to their friends in the neighbourhood. This will also allow you to space out the packing process a lot more.
6. Pack small boxes of the kids' things last
Go through the contents of these special, easy-access boxes with your kids item by item, and label them well! Don’t make the mistake of packing a favourite toy, book, or videogame too soon. When you arrive at the new place, you likely won’t have the luxury of friends and family that can entertain the kids while you sort through your new life, so you’ll want to have the kids entertain themselves for a time while you get to sorting through boxes. Jennifer, mother of two, also advises:
Make sure vaccination cards, medicine, any prescription they may have and medical insurance papers are readily available and not stuck in some anonymous package.
These are not the sorts of items you don't want to have to hunt around for should the need arise in a new place.
Empy Apartment by Matt Biddulph
7. Saying Goodbye
You’re likely leaving a lot of people behind that you and your children had relationships with. A goodbye party can be a great way to bookend your time with the old place. If you can, though, have your neighbour or family member host the event. This can double as a goodbye present and will also save you the nightmare of planning a party in a half-packed house.
8. Familiarize your family with the new neighbourhood
Research the opportunities and activities that are close to your kids' hearts. Don’t just tell them about it; show them! It can be easy to be a bit of a hermit when you’ve just moved to a new place and don’t know anyone, so your kids might just need a push in the right direction. If they’re teenagers, mind that you don’t push too hard, but letting slip about the local youth culture and music scenes in the early days can pay later.
9. Keep the familiar that works
Routine can be very comforting in new environments and can help children deal with separation anxiety. Do your best to keep important family times and activities the same as soon as you can after arriving at the new house. Family meetings, dinners, weekly traditions — try to keep these consistent or go out and find a new local equivalent to meet your needs. Modifying old traditions in this way can also allow you to bridge the gap between the old and new and make the new place feel like home a lot quicker.
Moving by Pawel Loj
10. Remember your own needs
You’re doing a lot of work to make your kids comfortable with the move and you’re doing your best to make the process as painless as possible for them. You know it will be better for them in the long run, but sometimes that still won’t mean they understand right away. It’s okay. In all of this, remember to treat yourself with as much consideration and kindness as the rest of the family. You’re doing your best and a lot is counting on you. It's okay to make mistakes, and moving is stressful business. Relax. Breathe. It’s going to be great.
May 16, 2013
In a declining real estate market where supply outstrips demand, a person can generally sell a house faster by lowering the price. But there are other ways to enhance a home's attractiveness besides lowering the asking price. If you're looking to sell your home in a cooling real estate market, read on for some tips on how to generate interest and get the best price possible.
Tutorial: Exploring Real Estate Investing
Differentiate From the Neighbors
In order to attract attention and to make your home more memorable, consider custom designs or additions, such as landscaping, high-grade windows or a new roof. This can help improve the home's aesthetics, while potentially adding value to the home. Any improvements should be practical and use colors and designs that will appeal to the widest audience. In addition, they should complement the home and its other amenities, such as building a deck or patio adjacent to an outdoor swimming pool.
However, while it can pay to spice up your home, don't over-improve it. According to a 2013 article in Realtor Magazine, some renovations, such as adding a bathroom or putting new shingles on a roof, might not always pay. The data suggests that the nationwide average amount recouped for a bathroom remodel is about 58%. For a new roof, it's even less. If you're going to invest in home improvements, do your research and be sure to put your money into the things that are likely to get you the best return. In addition, if you have added any custom features that you think buyers will be interested in, make sure they are included in the home's listing information. More than ever, in a down market you should take every small edge you can get.
Clean the Clutter
It is imperative to remove all clutter from the home before showing it to potential buyers because buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space. This might include removing some furniture to make rooms look bigger, and putting away family photographs and personal items. You may even want to hire a stager to help you make better use of the space. Staging costs can range from a couple hundred dollars for a basic consultation to several thousand dollars, particularly if you rent modern, neutral furniture for showing your home. Many people feel that stagers can make a home more salable, so hiring one deserves some consideration.
Sweeten the Deal
Another way to make the home and deal more attractive to buyers is to offer things or terms that might sweeten the pot. For example, sellers that offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs, or offer to pay closing costs entirely will in some cases receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feel they're getting one.
Another tip is to offer a transferable home warranty, which can cost $300 to $400 for a one-year policy and will cover appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, that fail. Depending on the policy, other appliances and house gadgets may be covered as well. A potential buyer may feel more at ease knowing that he or she will be covered against such problems, which could make your home more attractive than a competing home.
Finally, it's important to note that some buyers are motivated by the option to close in a short amount of time. If it is possible for you to close on the home within 30 to 60 days, this may set your deal apart and get you a contract.
Improve Curb Appeal
Sellers often overlook the importance of their home's curb appeal. The first thing a buyer sees is a home's external appearance and the way it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. Try to make certain that the exterior has a fresh coat of paint, and that the bushes and lawn are well manicured. In real estate, appearances mean a lot. What better way to set your home apart than to make it attractive at first glance?
Get Your Home in "Move In" Condition
Aesthetics are important, but it's also important that doors, appliances and electrical and plumbing fixtures be in compliance with current building codes and in working order. Again, the idea is to have the home in move in condition and to give potential buyers the impression that they will be able to move right in and start enjoying their new home, rather than spending time and money fixing it up.
Pricing It Right
Regardless of how well you renovate and stage your home, it is still important to price the home appropriately. Consult a local real estate agent, read the newspapers and go to online real estate sites to see what comparable homes are going for in your area.
It's not always imperative to be the lowest priced home on the block, particularly when aesthetic and other significant improvements have been made. However, it is important that the listing price is not out of line with other comparable homes in the market. Try to put yourself in the buyer's shoes and then determine what a fair price might be. Have friends, neighbors and real estate professionals tour the home and weigh in as well.
The Bottom Line
Selling a home in a down market requires a little extra work. Do everything you can to get the home in excellent shape and be prepared to make some small concessions at closing. These tips, coupled with an attractive price, will increase the odds of getting your home sold.
September 6, 2012
Laura J. Leppard
So you've finally done it! You've decided to list your home! What's your first step? Your first step should be to find a realtor. Your realtor will help you with all the major decisions. Is now a good time to sell? Are your expectations realistic? What renovations will increase your listing price or justify the price you would like to acheive? What small things can you do to create a better impression of one your biggest, if not the biggest assets you own. Once you have your most valuable tool in place - your REALTOR - it's time to get your house in shape for showings.
How to Prepare Your Home For Sale
1) Make a List of All of the Major Furniture in Your Home (an inventory)
You might be surprised at what you have. The trick is to de-clutter and depersonalize your home. You want everyone that walks in to be able to visualize themselves with their furnitre and their treasures in your home. That's hard to do if everywhere they turn there are personal photos or trophies or the like.
The best way to do this - organize your belongings into piles starting with furniture and moving down in size to knick knacks, clothing etc.
Pile 1 - KEEP/Treasures: No questions asked these are items you cannot live without. (After you have done your main sort you can decide if these same items should be on display or packaged carefully until you move)
Pile 2 - DONATE/Sell: if you haven't used in a year and it is in good condition and you can't think of when you might need it again it belongs here.
Pile 3 - TRASH: Not worth keeping not worth giving away. If an item has been broken for 3 months or longer and you haven't gotten around to repairing it, it certainly won't happen when you are trying to sell your home, find a new one and pack. Ditch it. This also applies to partiallty finished projects you have started. If you really feel that you will get to these lost souls, keep 3 and reevaluate your likelihood to complete in 6 months. Chances are they will be in the same state that you left them.
Pile 4 - OUTDATED: That commodore 64 in the basement? 13 cell phones in ever increasing sizes? Make a trip to your local e-waste depot and recycle.
This is the time to create those wide open spaces you love so much in show homes and magazines. Eliminate clutter, small objects that serve no purpose and knick knacks. Reduce, reduce reduce. This does not mean your beloved items need to be thrown away, they can just go on a vacation in a storage box for a little while. Remember all these things add up to added perceived value in your home.
Make sure each room has a theme and a purpose. No, I'm not suggesting cheesy hotel theme room style. If it's a spare bedroom don't have extra sports equipment, a desktop computer, your keyboard and your rowing machine all in the same room. If possible give each room a purpose and remove and store unwanted items that don't fit the purpose of the room. Think of the old Sesame Street adage "one of these things is not like the other". It works.
De-personalize: You want the people viewing your home to imagine them and their belongings in your space. The best way to do this is to create a "neutral environment". Remove collections, family photos, etc. While you might love your Hummel collection it may be the very thing that turns someone away from your home. You have no idea what someone else may have an aversion to. PLUS it keeps your special, irreplaceable objects safe from damage.
Pack: Anything you aren't likely to use for 6 months or more that you still want to keep - pack! Closets will seem more spacious, cupboards more organized and give an overall impression of more sqaure footage.
All those little things that bug you about your home on your to-do list? They'll bug prospective buyers as well Try doing a walk through of your house with "fresh eyes". From the curb on through. Fix all those tiny things (or not so tiny things) that need attention. When viewing a home prospective buyers make a mental checkmark every time they see something that needs repair, and that mental checkmark often means money they deduct from their perceived value of your home, and believe me, the price reductions are not usually in proportion with what the actual repair would cost. This does not mean RENOVATE. In some instances a renovation will re-coup the costs or save you money, for example - a roof. A roof in need of repair scares most buyers away. Almost all other renovations (other than fresh paint which really lies between repair and cleaning) are simply a waste of money at this point in time. If something desperately needs to be done, reduce your price accordingly. There are only 3 reasons why a home doesnt sell - PRICE/LOCATION/CONDITION.
Cleaning your house for sale goes well beyond dusting, mopping and vacuuming. You must clean it like you mean it. You must minutely examine every square inch of your house and restore it to near-new condition. Consider the harsh reality: if something appears dirty or smells bad to you, it will be revolting in the buyers!
The good news is that, as you've decluttered your house, you will find cleaning not nearly as laborious. But just in case, you may want to stock up on your back-pain medicine. Put on some good music and clean like your mother-in-law is coming for a month, or the queen, or a VIP guest. Just DO it!
An advantage of a well-cared-for house is that you're less likely to receive a low offer. When buyers can't find faults they focus less on how much money they can squeeze out of you and start thinking that the house is right for them.
If you don't have the time to clean then you should hire a professional. It's a smart investment. This includes WINDOWS. Nothing negates the care and cleanliness of a house like looking through dirty windows. Clean inside your cabinets - people look! Vacuum (yes vacuum) your fridge. It gets all those little bits and pieces out. Cleanliness is key. Don't leave damp laundry in your laundry room - prospective buyers smell the damp and think you are disguising water issues. Wash the front of all your cabinets, dust lightbulbs, remove cobwebs, wipe door frames and handles. Everything makes a difference.
This the step that isn't a renovation, its a REJEUVINATION. Replace all burnt out light bulbs and if possible update light fixtures. Make sure all your switch plates and electrical out let covers a) exist b)match. Are you cupboard knobs outdated? While a kitchen reno is costly something as simple as switching out the hardware can give a whole new appearance. Check your furniture for scale. If it's too big remove it. It can cost your valuable visual sqaure footage. Replace outdated curtains. Clean window blinds. Tidy up flower beds and lawn. Have good towels in the washroom, with pleasant smelling soaps. Ditch the silk flowers - trust me.
You've done everything! You're ready for showings! But how do you LIVE in your home and keep it ready to show at a moment's notice (ish)?
Make lists: weekly
Last Minute Before You Leave the House
If you have pets, please take them with you. Not everyone likes, cats, dogs, snakes or rabbits. it's stressful for your pets and it may cause a poor impression on the buyers.
Follow all of these steps and you will be sure to have a successful listing!
September 6, 2012
Royal LePage Marketing Network
Seven Ways to Set Up Your Bedroom for Better Sleep
Your home is your haven, and your bedroom is your retreat. At the end of a busy day, you want to be able to forget about the outside world and focus on getting a good night’s sleep. Does your bedroom beckon you with a restful and relaxing ambiance? If not, here are some simple ways to create a bedroom that is comfortable, peaceful, and perfect for catching quality zzz’s.
1. Clean and de-clutter
Clean your bedroom to help clear your mind. Tidy away clothes, papers, dishes and anything else that is not conducive to relaxation. Get into the habit of hanging clothes in the closet or putting them in the laundry basket rather than heaping them on the nearest chair. Now all you have to do is vacuum, dust or polish, and you’ve made a great start.
2. Decorate for relaxation
Keep the colours in your bedroom neutral using soft, light tones. If you prefer a little more colour, you can contrast the walls with deeper, dramatic shades in your accessories, such as pillows and throws. Add some greenery – a healthy plant can act as an air filter and absorb potential toxins from furniture or carpets.
3. Create a breeze
Consider installing a ceiling fan in your bedroom. Ceiling fans can add an attractive decorative touch while providing a soothing breeze and ventilation. Ceiling fans are also great for muffling external noises, so you can drift away to sleep uninterrupted.
4. Lose the lights
Exposure to even moderate levels of light at night can throw off the body's internal clock. Consider room darkening shades or curtains to help keep the light out while you rest. When adding light is necessary, use soft white lights or candles to help create serenity.
5. Play some soft sounds
Classical music can set a tranquil mood. A CD of natural sounds (waves or rain), or even a small water fountain in your room can provide a calming effect and quiet an active mind. Some people find a white noise machine to be comforting as well.
6. Keep distractions out
Keep the computer, T.V., and PDA out of the bedroom. Stimulating the mind before trying to get a good night’s sleep is counter-productive. Electronic devices can be very distracting. It’s important to make a mental separation between your bedroom and the outside world so you can concentrate on sleeping.
7. Set up snug bedding
There’s nothing more inviting at the end of a day than falling into a comfortable bed with a good quality mattress, clean sheets and plump pillows. Cool cotton sheets are lovely to slip into in the summer, while flannel provides winter warmth and jersey knits offer a happy medium, cozy without being too heavy, suitable for the spring and fall.
Now all you have to do is keep the temperature just right. Most people sleep best in a slightly cooler room. Adjust the windows and/or thermometer to find the optimal temperature for you. Sleep tight!
September 6, 2012
Royal LePage Marketing Network
Drive Up Your Curb Appeal
Is your home’s first impression being hindered by a bland driveway, or an eyesore of a walkway? If so, it might be time to kick start your curb appeal with a few upgrades. From repairing to repaving, a little attention to your home’s entryway can go a long way when it comes to wowing visitors, not to mention potential home buyers.
Revitalize with Repairs
The easiest way to enhance your walkway and driveway is with some simple repairs and resurfacing. Repair cracks with rubberized asphalt crack filler or pourable grout. When dry, pour water over the surface to ensure it is angled in such a way that the water runs off, as standing water is the most common cause of cracks. Once complete, coat with an appropriate sealer and your driveway will look like new again.
Pave the Way to Wow
An asphalt driveway is relatively inexpensive and is less prone to cracks and heaving than concrete. Add eye-appeal to an asphalt driveway by lining it with a row of trees, shrubs or other greenery, or by adding a decorative lamp post for aesthetic appeal day and night.. Alternatively, a brick or cobblestone driveway costs more, but can add a lot of elegance to your home’s entryway.
Go for Gravel
If paving isn’t in your plans, adding crushed gravel to a dirt driveway is always an option. Gravel is great for bringing definition to your driveway, especially if you change its contour by adding an inviting curve. For a more formal appearance consider coloured gravel: blue-grey, red or white. Edge a small stone gravel driveway with bricks for a finished look.
Talk with Your Walkway
If the entryway to your front door could speak, it should say “welcome”. Transform it with stained or stamped concrete pavers, stone, flagstones or brick. A curved walkway provides a natural, meandering feeling while a straight one is more directional. Embellish a short straight walkway with a row of bricks or pavers on either side and soften with groundcover overflowing the edges or line with low lying, attractive plants.
Neat and Tidy Gets Noticed
No room for a driveway or walkway renovation in your budget? Keep things looking good by removing unsightly weeds. Trim grass edges for a neat, cared-for appearance. A couple of large pots, overflowing with bright flowers leading up to your front door creates a pleasing, welcoming feature.
Curb appeal is paramount for showcasing not only your property’s individuality, but to tell prospective buyers that your home is as well-maintained inside as it is outside.
April 4, 2012
Laura J. Leppard
Little Green Thumbs: How to Create a Children’s Garden
Most kids love to dig in the dirt and play with water. Why not foster this natural curiosity to create a beautiful – and potentially edible - children’s garden. Creating a children’s garden is a great way for kids to build self-confidence, feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments, and practice patience, while enhancing your home’s value and curb appeal at the same time. Here are a few ways you can get your kids involved:
Choose a Plot or a Pot
Stake out an area of your garden for your child and encourage a sense of ownership. A couple of large pots or an old sandbox on a balcony or patio can create the same impact. Provide your child with tools of the trade. A plastic garden spade, a small watering can, gardening gloves, and plant markers are a must.
Plan for Plantin’
Take your child to the nursery garden to choose seeds. Fast-growing plants will hold their interest: zinnias and “mammoth” sunflowers add dramatic colours and grow to over 3 metres in height. Black-eyed Susans are a great flower choice as they are relatively self-sufficient and have bright yellow flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and birds, which will surely indulge your little gardener’s curiosity. Plant vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, carrots, spinach, and zucchini, which all sprout fairly quickly, are relatively easy to grow, and add greenery to your garden. Bright red cherry tomatoes are a particularly good option for planting in pots on a balcony or patio. Growing vegetables together should encourage the little ones to eat healthy too.
When the seeds are planted and marked it’s time to water and indulge your child’s interest in worms, bugs and the nature of things. A terrific way of keeping plants insect-free is to attract frogs or toads to the garden. Providing a water source is a good start. If you don’t have a garden pond, a shallow bowl with a large stone or log is a good alternative.
Add a Child’s Touch
A boulder rock with the child’s name marked on it is a great way to make the small space feel special. A tiny well-placed gnome or fairy that peeks behind flowers and vegetables adds a sense of enchantment. When interest wanes, construct a funny scarecrow or set out a birdbath and enjoy the spectacle and sound of our feathered friends.
Relax & Enjoy
Gardening is a great way to convert a picky little eater. When it’s time to harvest your veggies from the kiddie garden, throw a blanket on the grass and enjoy a tasty picnic lunch. Relax with your “little gardener” and enjoy. There’s nothing quite like literally consuming the fruits (or, in this case, vegetables) of your labour!
April 4, 2012
Laura J. Leppard
The Three "Rs" for Living Space Improvement
Think your living space is too small, lacks lighting, or simply doesn’t work for you anymore? It may be time to rethink your living space. Looking for more efficient ways to make use of your space and improve your home isn’t as difficult as advanced calculus, you just need to follow the three “Rs”: remove, repurpose, revive.
One of the easiest methods of making a space appear larger than it actually is, is to stick to the 'no clutter' rule. To help remove clutter make use of the backs of cupboard and wardrobe doors that are out of sight, install under shelf storage to store things in wire trays and baskets, and make use of ‘dead space’ with vertical storage solutions.
Decluttering not enough? Consider removing a wall to turn two cramped rooms into one open area with better lighting, and a more spacious feeling. Consult a professional to establish if it’s a load bearing wall, and if it carries wires, pipes, or heating ducts.
Rather than accepting designated room labels, perhaps it’s time to consider your family’s lifestyle and needs and tailor your home to meet them.
A formal dining room can be made part-library for book lovers. Adding bookshelves and a comfortable chair invites the readers in your family to sit and relax. If book shelves don’t work in your dining room, move them to the back foyer; it’s often an underutilized space that can also be used for storage, with hooks, shelves, and cabinets.
If your living room is doing a lot of multitasking as the televison, computer, games, and homework spot, consider sub-dividing it into two separate areas. Bring in a casual dining table or desk for the work area, and make use of a sectional, carpet, or even a bookshelf to divide it from the relaxing area.
Your space may simply need sprucing up to help revive its look. Paint is the number one way to freshen and change the whole look of a room, even if it means painting one wall to contrast the other three. Complement new paint with new cushions or an area rug that fits your colour scheme.
To dress up and soften the windows, add a ready-made panel curtain over the blinds, then tie it to one side. And to really lighten up a room, add recessed lighting such as downlights or floodlights that don’t take up extra space.
Make your space enjoyable by removing, repurposing, and reviving, and you’ll fall in love with your home all over again!