5 Ways to Ease into Minimalism at Home

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By Zoe Eisenberg

Many of us may wish we could minimize our belongings, the clutter in our home, and the overall expanse of our possessions. But becoming a minimalist at home can feel overwhelming – where do you start? Consider the following transitional tips.

Write it down. Why are you attracted to minimalism? Do you like the idea of living lightly? Of contributing less to landfills? Of saving money by purchasing less or saving time by having less to clean and declutter? Writing these things down can fortify your mission to become a minimalist, and it will reinforce your ability to move onto the next suggestion.

Get your family on board. You’re fighting a losing battle if only one person in your household wants to minimize. Chat with your spouse, kids or roommate about why creating a minimalistic home space is important to you, and see if you can get everyone on board.

Go room by room. Now that you hopefully have your household on your team, go room by room and itemize your belongings. Don’t feel pressure to slog through this in one weekend. Choose one room a month, even, take stock of your furniture and possessions, and ask yourself the following questions:
– Does this have a purpose?
– Do you use it?
– Does it make you happy?
If you answer no to any of these questions, selling or donating the item is a no-brainer.

Ditch the duplicates. Ridding yourself of duplicate items is an easy first step to purging. Do you need five extra sets of linens? All of those extra dishes in the cupboard? That backup fridge in the garage? Someone else may get better use of the things collecting dust in your cabinets.

Aim for dual function. When deciding what to keep, sell, donate, or purchase in the future, consider the function of said item. Can you use it in more than one way? Can you snag a piece of furniture that doubles as a storage unit? A kitchen island with a wing that opens into a dining room table? These are true minimalist gems.

A Safety Plan for Losing Power

Tips for Finding the Perfect Paint Color

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Redoing your home or room? A paint job is an easy, inexpensive way to totally remake the way your space looks. But with thousands of colors of paint available, how do you decide? Below, the experts from Freshome weigh in.

Pick your textiles first. Freshome notes that textiles are usually considered a finishing aspect of the design, but an easy way to make sure your paint coordinates well with the rest of the room is to use fabrics as your design inspiration and move from there.

Work in surrounding spaces. Paint can be a unifying element for neighboring spaces, says the Freshome team. The colors should work in harmony. While this tip is especially important to follow when working with open concept spaces, the effect a color has when transitioning between more traditional rooms should also be considered.

Look at lighting. Your paint color will look different depending on the way your room is lit. Once you have a color in mind, Freshome suggests you ask to have a sample made up for you at your local home improvement store. When you take it home, paint a few small sections of paint on each wall. Then, check in on them throughout the next day. If you’re happy with how the color looks in both natural and artificial light, you’ve found a winner.

Focus on the finish. According to Freshome, many people tend to overlook the fact that paint color is about much more than the shade itself. Finish is another component that can alter how your finished product looks. Be sure to take this into account before making your final decision.

Source: Freshome

A Homeowners Guide to Spring-Cleaning

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By Haley Kieser

It’s right around this time of year that homeowner’s take on the task of deep cleaning their homes. Use this guide to start making a checklist of this spring’s priorities.

Declutter

Before you dive headfirst into deep cleaning your home, it’s important to take careful inventory of your belongings and declutter. Go through each room and discard any thing broken or worn out. Go green; send less waste to the landfill and repair and recycle whenever possible. Any gently used clothing, furniture, appliances, and housewares that you no longer want can be easily donated. If you are having trouble deciding on some items, put them in a box and store them away for a month. This can help you determine how you feel about these objects over time. You may even forget about them, which means you can feel secure in letting them go!

Vacuum

While vacuuming your carpets and rugs is a fairly routine chore, other parts of your house don’t get the same kind of consistent attention. Use the attachment pieces on your vacuum to rid your vents, furniture, closet corners, windowsills, window screens, baseboards, mattresses, and any other hard to reach areas of dust and build up. Don’t forget to check behind the fridge!

Replace Filters

Replacing filters not only increases the efficiency of your ventilation systems, it’s also an essential habit for a healthy home. Make sure you replace the filters on your heating and cooling systems, as well as your kitchen hood vent. These should be checked every three months! Similarly, you should clean and refresh faucet aerators and shower-heads, especially if you’re in an area with hard water deposits. The build up is a perfect place for bacteria to flourish if not maintained consistently!

Cabinets, Walls, and Backsplash

Over time, the cabinets, walls, and backsplash in your kitchen will develop a layer of build up from cooking and everyday activity. Use regular dish soap to help break down the grease and stains to make your kitchen look good as new!

Windows and Mirrors

Use an all-natural window or glass cleaner to buff up both your windows and your mirrors. Be sure to do both sides of the glass – inside and out. This is a chore best done on a cooler, cloudy day so that the cleaner doesn’t dry before you’ve had a chance to wipe them off and leave marks. If you’re uncomfortable on a tall ladder, clean the windows you can reach and have a professional window cleaning service take care of the rest. [Ask us about our preferred vendors!]

Appliances

Give your appliances a little love! Scrub your refrigerator exterior until it shines, and then dive into the interior drawers and shelves. Make sure to throw away any expired food and old condiments for a refreshed dining experience. Next, use vinegar and baking soda to freshen up your washing machine. Over time, build up in your machine can cause mildew, which could ruin your laundry in a heartbeat! Similarly, treat your dishwasher with dishwasher cleaner to remove any bacteria-harboring build up.

Carpets and Area Rugs

Take extra time with your carpets and rugs. Be sure to thoroughly vacuum each room, including the cracks along the base of each wall. Spot treat any stains, and steam clean! There are local services that will come and do this for you, or you can rent steamer from your local super store if you’re on a budget. [Ask us about our preferred vendors!]

Bookshelves and Knickknacks

Lastly, take the time to dust and reorganize any bookshelves, antique displays, photographs, and knickknacks. Take out each individual item, wipe it down, and empty and dust the shelves completely before returning objects to their spots. You can organize bookshelves alphabetically by author or title, or by subject. If you have a large shelf with an aesthetic feel, you can organize the spines by color to add extra flair to the room. Remove any framed photographs or artwork from the walls and dust off frames before replacing them. Remember, part of spring cleaning is to clear out any unwanted items, so be sure you want to keep everything before returning it to its place in your home!

If you’re looking to sell your home this spring, get in touch to see what other ways you can spruce up your home for the competitive spring market!

Using the Light Approach to Sell Your Home

Tax Refund on the Way? Invest It in Your Home

If you’re fortunate enough to have a nice windfall coming your way in the form of a tax refund, there are lots of ways you could spend that money, from a much-needed vacation to a shopping spree at the mall.

But a better idea might be to multiply those dollars by investing them in a home improvement project that will not only enhance your living space and lifestyle, but also increase the value of your home.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, the five projects with the greatest return on investment (ROI) in the mid-range cost category are:

Manufactured Stone Veneer –  94.9 percent ROI
Minor Kitchen Remodel – 80.5 percent ROI
Deck Addition (Wood) – 75.6 percent ROI
Siding Replacement – 75.6 percent ROI
Entry Door Replacement (Steel) – 74.9 percent ROI

If your refund isn’t sizeable enough to fund this type of large-scale remodel, a smaller improvement can go a long way in terms of adding value to your home. Consider:

  • An exterior paint job. Not only will this protect your home from the elements, it will also work wonders in terms of modernizing your home and adding curb appeal.
  • A landscaping update. Need a couple of trees removed—or added—or a manicured garden bed? Put your refund toward planting season, and watch your dollars grow.
  • A smart upgrade. Smart home technology—like thermostats, cameras, lighting, and more—is a great way to instantly upgrade your home’s value
  • A kitchen or bath enhancement. If you can’t afford to remodel the entire kitchen or bathroom, tackle one key component instead. Replace the countertops, add new cabinets or invest in new fixtures or appliances. Upgrading one feature will add value to the entire room.

Treating yourself with your tax refund is tempting, but treating your home to an upgrade will pay dividends long term.

Call Pilmer Real Estate, Inc. at 630-897-3211 for referrals to contractors or vendors who can help with your home project(s).

Show Your House Some Love This Month

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By John Voket

February is here, and along with the feeling of love that’s currently permeating the air, it’s important to remember that just because it’s the middle of winter doesn’t mean you can’t give your home a little love, as well.

Let’s start inside with projects that can be done right now.

The folks at lunchboxarchitect.com suggest sprucing up your bathroom vanity with a glossy granite vanity top that will cost you as little as $150. Or, spend less than $50 installing lamp dimmers to give you full control of the brightness in any room.

Moving along to the laundry room and kitchen, a recent Maytag survey found that 44 percent of millennials and 41 percent of parent homeowners plan to remodel these spaces this winter (compared to 29 percent of all homeowners).

So what are a few practical laundry room spruce-ups you can easily knock out this February?

The experts at constructionresourcesusa.com say that if you have front loading appliances, adding a countertop above them will help create the illusion of a larger space, while at the same time providing a smooth, flat surface for doing your folding. .

Not sure where to start? Miranda Benson at dolly.com offers up these tips:

– Avoid shelving that can make an already cramped laundry room feel claustrophobic. Instead, try hooks to hang your ironing board, or a pegboard if you need space to hang clothes.

– Save even more space by mounting a fold-out ironing board with an upper shelf to store your iron higher up on the wall. Just make sure it has room to cool down.

– Further expand your drying space by attaching drying racks to your walls that fold out when needed.

– Get even more space by installing a tension rod just like you would use to hang a curtain. Leave your hangers on the rod while your clothes wash, and when they’re dry, you can easily hang them and transfer them back to your closet.

– Eliminate wasted space by installing pedestal drawers directly underneath your washer and dryer for cleaning supplies, extra towels, or anything that can get a little warm from the dryer.

Finally, how about adding some tile? The team at fireclaytile.com says that not only is tile durable and easy to clean, it will also give your laundry area a clean and fresh look when it’s incorporated on almost any surface, including walls, backsplashes, floors and countertops.

Yes, You Can Sell Your Home in Winter

No doubt, you’ve heard that the best time to put your home on the market is spring. And while there is certainly a lot to be said for selling your house in the springtime, there are, in fact, many benefits to selling your home right now. That’s right—in winter! Here are some tips for putting your market on the home this season.

Pay attention to holiday décor. While a few tasteful and neutral holiday decorations such as glowing white lights, fragrant evergreens and elegant metallic touches can really make your home glow and sparkle, remember that less is always more. And be sure to pack up those decorations as soon as the holidays have passed. Marketing your home with holiday lights on Feb. 1 will not play in your favor.

Price it right. While there might be a smaller pool of prospective buyers in winter than spring, you will most likely be dealing with more motivated buyers. If they are looking for a home during the holidays or in the dead of winter, there is a compelling reason for doing so, which makes your pricing strategy critical. Talk to your agent about arriving at a price that factors in fewer (but more serious) buyers.

Make accessibility a priority. If snow and ice is a factor for you in winter, you will need to be fastidious about removal. Make sure driveways and walkways are clear at all times. Invest in a plow service and stay stocked up on salt.

Keep things warm. Nothing will turn buyers off faster in winter than walking into a cold house, so make sure your heating system is operating at full capacity. And make sure that’s the case for every room in the house. If there’s one bedroom that tends to be drafty, now’s the time to find out the cause and resolve the issue.

Provide visuals of your home in summer. One thing buyers might not be able to get an accurate picture of in winter is your outdoor space, so make a poster board with photos of your backyard, patio, porch, pool, garden beds…whatever you feel is worth highlighting. Or prepare a slideshow for your agent to display on his/her iPad. This could really seal the deal for winter-time buyers.

Following these strategies will help you take advantage of the market right now and beat the competition to the punch come spring.

Decking the Halls? 10 Safety Tips

Decorating your holiday tree is a time for festive family fun. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday trees, lights and candles increase the risk of home fires during the holidays, and Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the top three days for home candle fires. To help, the American Red Cross offers the following 10 tips.

– Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.

If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.

– If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.

– If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.

– When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.

– If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.

– Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.

– Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.

– Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.

– If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

Source: The American Red Cross

Four Tips for Making Your Home Company-Ready This Holiday Season

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By Haley Kieser

Having company over during the holiday season is a time-honored tradition among friends and family. Whether this will be the first time a guest steps into your home or the hundredth time you welcome them through your doors, it’s important to always strive to leave a good impression on your visitors.

Making your home ready to host company for one night or for many nights doesn’t have to be a complicated and drawn-out task. By simply cleaning up a little, organizing your rooms, and making a few accommodations for guests, you’ll have a home dressed to impress and a comfortable space to spend a few hours with your friends and family.

1.     Clean and then clean again

It might seem obvious, but you should make sure your home is as clean as possible. Clean the areas that your guests will spend most of their time in and then walk slowly back through the house looking at your space through the eyes of a guest.

Consider how you react when you are a guest at someone’s home and they haven’t cleaned properly. Putting your best foot forward and leaving a good impression means breaking out the deep cleaning supplies and dedicating a few hours to making the place spotless. The great thing about cleaning is that it can be done well in advance to the party.

2.     Organize the home

A simple reorganization of the furniture in your rooms can help accommodate guests and make the space feel more welcoming. Start by assessing where you think guests will be spending the most time – usually the living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathrooms. Think about how many guests you will be having over for the holiday season celebrations and if your space will comfortably seat them for at least a few hours.

For example, if your dining room has a small table with four chairs and you are expecting much more, consider having food and drinks outside in the garden or pull up some extra chairs from around the house. If people will be bringing food and drinks to the party, make sure you reorganize the kitchen and fridge to hold them. As for the living room, rearrange the TV and entertainment setup so all guests can enjoy watching movies and listening to music equally.

3.     Consider special accommodations

Be sure to make your home as accommodating for guests as you can. Coat racks are essential in the winter time for people’s heavy clothing. That being said, consider moving your own belongings from your coat rack or closet so guests have as much space to store their coats and jackets as possible.

If your guests are from out of town, they may need a ride to the gathering. Or a ride home for some! If you’ve offered to pick up your guests from the airport, make sure you clean out your vehicle beforehand. You don’t need a fancy vehicle to impress your guests, instead make a statement by making room for their luggage and a water to enjoy on the ride home. For those needing a cab afterwards, Uber or Lyft are both great options. Otherwise, drive them yourself to squeeze out a couple extra minutes together.

4. Prepare food ahead of time

It’s often recommended to freshen up your home by lighting candles, incense, or infuse fragrance into the air some other way. Instead of making the house smell artificially comforting, why not have the food do the job for you? A holiday roast, a tray of stuffing, or a slow-cooked broth will thicken the air with their delectable juices and water your guests’ mouths before they’re able to take their coat off. Regardless, you should begin preparing your food long before anybody arrives.

The purpose of a gathering is to have a good time with those in your life that you love most, so clean your vehicle, organize your kitchen, and serve up a delectable meal to ensure a warm and inviting holiday season!