5 Ways to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

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An earth-friendly approach to your home isn’t just good for the environment. Making minor adjustments with sustainability in mind can enhance your enjoyment and comfort while reducing expenses related to energy consumption.

Harness the sun’s rays. There’s a reason bright rooms with plenty of natural light tend to be warmer: that light carries heat. Although the effect is less in the winter than in the summer months due to the sun’s position in relation to the earth, those rays can help warm a room. Throw back the curtains and let the light stream in. Not only will you capture some natural warmth, a bright, airy room requires less electric light, so you’ll save on electricity, too.

Swap out cleaning products. While daily cleaners are often top of mind when considering your health and the environment, don’t overlook other types of cleaners, such as your laundry detergent. An option like all Free Clear Pure Liquid Detergent is 99% bio-based and provides a plant-based clean. It’s hypo-allergenic, which makes it a good option for sensitive skin, and is from the makers of the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin. Learn more at all-laundry.com.

Get smart about technology. Not only do smart devices add convenience to your home, they can be highly effective tools for helping manage energy usage. Programmable thermostats are especially useful because you can set them to automatically adjust temperatures when you’re away from home, but other devices like smart lights can also be programmed to recognize motion or adjust at certain times of day to reduce energy consumption in unused spaces.

Manage water usage. Many people don’t realize how much water they’re wasting at home. Consider that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates about 30% of each household’s water goes to the toilet and chances are good you’re literally flushing away that natural resource. Manage your water usage by only running full loads of dishes and laundry, eliminating leaks, reducing shower times and switching to a low-flow or other eco-friendly toilet.

Improve air quality. It may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to clean air, but your flooring plays an important role in your home’s air quality. In addition to improving ventilation and opening windows for natural air circulation, you can take other steps to naturally boost your air quality without relying on energy-dependent filtration systems. The carpet in your home can contribute to poor air quality, so be sure to vacuum frequently to minimize dust, dander and other allergens.

Simple adjustments can make a big impact on the earth and your monthly energy expenses. Start with an audit of your home so you can begin taking steps toward an eco-friendly environment.

3 Tips for a Healthy, Sustainable Home

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Wellness and sustainability are two of today’s biggest buzzwords and when it comes to luxury real estate, they often go hand-in-hand. A healthy living space tends to be one that has little impact on the environment, which is good news for anyone who strives to embrace these two concepts. If you want a home that promotes wellness for you and your family without causing harm to the planet, here are several ways to make that a reality.

Organic Cleaning Products
The majority of cleaning products that we use in the home are full of harsh chemicals that are bad for people, pets and the environment. Aerosol spray cans, for example, are known to release harmful gasses into the atmosphere, but they can also introduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home. Detergents, dishwashing liquid and chlorine bleach are just a few other products that are commonly made with chemicals that take a toll on both your well-being and mother nature. That should be reason enough to opt for organic cleaning products throughout the house. Natural ingredients are just as effective at doing their job, yet far gentler on our planet and the people in your home.

Two Types of Ventilation
Proper ventilation is key to ensuring that your home has good indoor air quality and can also reduce your carbon footprint. For instance, a home that’s designed for natural ventilation will be comfortable without air conditioning during the warmer months, because the breeze passes through and ceiling fans keep the air circulating. Thoughtful landscape design might also include plenty of trees to keep the home in the shade, as well as absorb carbon in the atmosphere.

Nonetheless, sometimes you simply have to put the air conditioning on to be comfortable. These days, homes are designed to tightly seal the air inside and reduce the loss of heating or air conditioning, which is good for the environment but bad for your air quality, as it can become stale and stagnant. If that happens, you may want to consider installing a ventilation system that can bring fresh air into your home while sealing in the heat or air conditioning.

Vegetable Garden 
These days, it’s all too common for produce to be grown using pesticides that are bad for the environment and our health. By starting your own vegetable garden, you can ensure that your family is eating truly organic veggies that are free of all the toxic chemicals. Furthermore, you’re eliminating the need for fossil fuels to transport food from the farm to your table.

Simple Home Staging Tricks to Incorporate Into Everyday Life

When selling your home, there’s no doubt that making the space look appealing can go a long way when it comes to landing a deal. When you are looking to sell, it’s worthwhile to invest in a home stager whose trained eye will ensure your home puts its best features forward. However, that’s not the only time you can benefit from a home stager’s expertise. Borrow these tricks from the pros so that you can enjoy your home even more in your everyday life.

Rearrange or Rehome Your Furniture
The more furniture in a room, the more it tends to look cluttered and small. Home stagers look at your room’s potential and arrange the furniture accordingly. Maybe you don’t really use that extra side table on the end of your couch, or if you move your small kitchen table against one wall, you can open up more walking space and visual separation between your dining and living areas. Play with your furniture with fresh eyes, and don’t keep anything you don’t use. Even if it’s “conventional” to have a pair of side tables, the space you gain from nixing one may be worth it.

Opt for a Large Area Rug
A small area rug in the center of your room may seem cost-saving, but it will visually shrink the space. Spring for a large rug that creates a minimum border of uncovered space, the last thing you want your decor to do is make your usable living space feel smaller. Investing that extra cash will be worthwhile.

Avoid Dead Space
While a minimalist design can help your home feel larger, you still want to avoid dead spaces that feel unwelcoming. Keep all corners and nooks of the home alive with an additional light source, like a floor or wall lamp, wall art or even a plant. This is especially helpful at the end of hallways or other small nooks within the home. Brightening these spaces can ensure that every inch of your house feels cozy and welcoming.

Why It May Be a Good Idea to Have Multiple Savings Accounts

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A savings account can help you save money for a goal, such as a down payment on a house, a vacation, or an emergency fund. Many people have multiple goals that they want to save for at the same time. In that case, having a separate savings account for each objective may be a better strategy than having a single account.

Know How Much You Have Saved for Each Goal
If you’re saving for two or more goals and putting money into one savings account, that can make it hard to know how much you have saved for each purpose. You may see a large account balance and think you’re doing a good job, but that may not be true.

If you have a separate account for each goal, you may realize that you need to step up your savings in one area to meet your target. Being able to easily monitor your progress in multiple areas can help you stay on track and make adjustments when needed.

Avoid Temptation to Spend
If an account is clearly earmarked for a specific goal, that may make you stop and think twice before you use the money for something other than its intended purpose.

Reasons to Open Savings Accounts at Different Financial Institutions
Many banks and credit unions offer bonuses as an incentive for new customers to open accounts. You may be able to receive hundreds of dollars simply for opening an account and maintaining a minimum balance. If you open several accounts at different institutions, you may qualify for a bonus with each account. That can help you save at a faster rate with little additional work.

Another benefit of having accounts at different financial institutions is that it can make it harder to spend money on something other than its intended purpose. You will be able to link your accounts and make bank-to-bank transfers, but those typically take a few business days to be processed. Having that roadblock may help you stay on track. If you’re forced to wait to spend money on something it’s not meant for, you may decide that the thing you wanted to buy is less important than your long-term goal.

Consider Automating Your Savings
Setting up automatic transfers can help you save money for each of your goals. You can schedule transfers to your savings accounts each time you get paid. You will be able to choose the amount and frequency so you can save for each objective at a pace that is comfortable for you.

Having money automatically moved to other accounts can help you avoid the temptation to spend it on other things. If the money isn’t in your checking account, it will be a little harder to access, which can help you stay focused on your goals.

5 Tips for More Dramatic Lighting in Your Home

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Though often overlooked, lighting is one of the most complex elements of interior design. It can set the mood, illuminate a workspace or put the spotlight on your favorite work of art. So, if you want to add a touch of visual drama to your home, the lights are always a good place to start. Here are several ways to make your home stand out after the sun goes down.

Artistic Chandeliers
From classic to contemporary, a chandelier can instantly become the focal point in any space. Rather than simply illuminating an area, they are also exquisite works of art that provide the perfect combination of form and function. Often seen in great rooms, foyers and dining rooms, an ornate chandelier is sure to make a statement in your home.

Hidden LED Lights
Because they can be installed in unexpected places, like bookshelves, under kitchen cabinets or on the steps of a staircase, it’s easy to get creative with LED lights. When they’re hidden from view, there’s an exciting visual effect that adds a thoughtful touch to your interior design. They’re also great for lining hallways with soft lighting at night.

Antique Fixtures
Whether you live in a new or historic home, antique light fixtures can add character to any environment. A nod to old-world craftsmanship, these salvaged pieces often have a story to tell and have proven their ability to stand the test of time. For a timeless treasure, check out Warehouse 55 in Aurora, IL.

Bedside Pendants
In bedrooms, the most common lighting solution is to have recessed lights above and lamps on either side of the bed. However, by replacing the lamps with low-hanging pendant lights, you can create a unique display that feels decidedly modern. Minimalists, in particular, will be sure to love the clean lines and extra space on their bedside tables.

Introduce Color
A touch of color can go a long way in your home’s lighting scheme. From tinted lampshades that warm up a room to smart lighting systems that can be programmed to a wide range of colors, you can transform any space with a tone that meets the mood.

4 Tips for Creating a Timeless Kitchen

3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is One of the Best Careers for Women

By the Experts at Real Estate Express

While many careers force women to choose between working in a caring capacity and creating a solid financial future, real estate is broad enough that you can find roles encompassing both goals.

There are specific ways these elements work together to make real estate one of the best careers for women who prioritize meaning and well-being in their jobs.

1. A flexible schedule allows for community participation.
Even though real estate is a demanding career, you have the option to set your own hours.

Not only does the flexible schedule allow you to be there for the people you love, but it also helps you participate in your community by giving you the freedom to volunteer and engage in community events that might be impossible with different work hours.

If you’re already in real estate, it can become easy to let your schedule be overtaken by urgent demands and ongoing work. Remember, you’re in charge. What priorities do you want to pursue that would make your flexible schedule meaningful? Challenge yourself to schedule these first next month.

2. Personal growth targets expand your potential.
Your potential in all areas of your life is wide open when you pursue a career in real estate. Instead of limiting your focus to one segment, real estate’s fluidity allows you to respond to what you’re passionate about right now.

Even though real estate is one of the best careers for women who want to grow in all areas of their life, you have to be proactive about making it work for you. If you want to maximize your potential, sit down with a planner and set process goals that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Pro tip: Do this once a quarter.

3. Constant learning allows you to continue to hone your skills.
Real estate has learning built into the career. In fact, you’re required to constantly be educating yourself. This is great for women with big goals because it means each year you get the chance to learn about a different aspect of the business and continue to hone your skills.

Choose courses for your continuing education hours that inspire you and open up new pathways for your business. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing each year.

Real estate is one of those careers where you get out of it what you put in. Women with a strong work ethic will benefit from this aspect of real estate and be able to shape their real estate career to make it work for their goals.

For more information about a career in real estate click here.

6 Things Interior Designers Say It’s Time to Toss

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Times change, and in a busy world with packed schedules, most of us don’t spend much time looking at ways to modernize our living spaces. But it doesn’t take much effort to make a few upgrades that create a fresh, new look.

Interior designers suggest these six things to switch out and update to enhance your home’s ambience.

Matching sofa pillows – Pillows that match your sofa, including any that came with it, can dull the look of your living room. Designers suggest playing with color, texture, fabric and design, choosing pillows that add liveliness and interest.

Harsh white light bulbs – Replacing the cool whites in your floor and table lamps with soft, warm white bulbs can instantly add the warmth of candlelight or a fireplace to your room.

Sun-blocking drapes – Natural light brightens a room and makes it look larger, designers note, so it’s time to get rid of window treatments that block sunlight. Replacing heavy window treatments with sheers is an option. If you need more privacy, layer different window treatments, like curtains over sheers, to help manage light and privacy.

Stained wood accent walls – Once considered stylish, those dark wood accent walls and dining room chair rails above a paneled wall now just make a room look dark and heavy. Lighten up the space and create a decorative focal point by using pieces like art, mirrors and even plants.

Builder-grade tile and backsplashes – Those basic white or beige tiles typically used by builders for backsplashes, showers and tubs are totally lacking in personality, designers note. Replacing them with materials in different colors or designs are a sure way to update and add interest to kitchens and baths.

TV above the fireplace – Once a popular option, many designers today consider this a design no-no today, pointing out that a fireplace should be the focal point of a room, encouraging sociability and the enjoyment of a moment by the fire without the distraction of a screen.

This flooring material may increase the value of your home!

Which Renovations Add Most Value to Your Home?

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Renovations can make you happier in the place you call home, and that’s reason enough to invest in them. But some remodels are pricier than others—so it may be helpful to know, before you invest, which updates are apt to add more value than others when the time comes to sell or refinance.

Results of the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine as well as independent surveys of real estate professionals, indicate five of the mid-priced projects likely to deliver highest returns:

  1. Manufactured stone veneer – Adding stone veneer to replace the vinyl siding on the street-facing wall of your home, such as the entryway area, is an eye-catching cosmetic improvement that experts say will recoup 95 percent of its cost—likely around $10,000 for an entryway project.
  2. Garage door replacement – Another curb appeal enhancer, a good-looking garage door will get you back around 95 percent of the approximate $3,000 to $4,000 you spend for a handsome door with a motorized garage door opener.
  3. Minor kitchen remodel – A minor remodel, including energy-efficient appliances, refaced cabinets, new countertops, new flooring, and a new sink and faucet, creates a modern, functional kitchen that will boost your enjoyment of cooking and sharing meals. You’ll likely spend close to $25,000 for the pleasure. But experts say you will recoup 77 percent of that when you sell, because buyers see the value in it.
  4. Window replacement – You could recoup around 72 percent of the cost to replace your current windows if you install low-E, simulated-divided-light vinyl windows with a custom-color exterior finish. (Low-E means low emissivity, an energy saver.) Average cost: about $17,000.
  5. Siding replacement – Vinyl or fiber-cement siding replacement, costing between $15,000 and $17,000 for a 1,250 square foot home decidedly freshens a home’s exterior—and estimates are you will get back about 75 percent of the cost at sale time.