How to Simplify Home Buying

Only You Can Prevent Appliance Fires

4 Ways to Transform Your Kitchen Without Remodeling

This gallery contains 4 photos.

By Haley Kieser

The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in your home. It’s where you cook, eat, and hang out with your friends and family. Because of all the time that’s spent in this room, it’s only natural that one would want to make sure that it looks amazing and well-put together. This means having the right colors, the best kind of design elements from the type of counters you have to the type of curtains you use for the windows and having the right kind of layout that’s most beneficial for your home. Many homeowners who go looking for a brand-new kitchen typically turn to remodeling to get their dream kitchen, and it’s understandable why they would go to remodel first: you get exactly what you want and your kitchen comes out looking brand spanking new.
However, remodeling is an option that can turn out to be incredibly expensive and time consuming and, if you live a very busy life and you’re on a budget, that option might not be possible. Or perhaps you love your kitchen’s foundation and you just need some final touches in order to find your dream kitchen. Either way, there are quite a few ways to transform your kitchen without having to dump thousands of dollars into a massive kitchen remodeling project.

1.  Painting your cabinets

A fresh coat of paint never hurt anybody. Rather than go through the trouble of completely replacing your kitchen cabinets and cupboards, why not paint them? If your cabinets are still in good condition, why not try revitalizing it with some paint? The process to painting the cabinets is fairly straightforward: select your paint system (primers, colors, topcoats, etc.), prep your surface by thoroughly cleaning it and even sanding it down so that you can have a smooth application, and come in with your coating system. If you don’t have time for a do-it-yourself job, no worries! There are plenty of professional services that are available if you have room in your budget. If you’re planning on selling your home, go for gray, white, or another neutral color: neutrals typically have the best resale value.

2.  Switch up your color palette


Never underestimate the power of a color palette. It’s widely known that color can affect a person’s psychological state, and this can be used to your advantage when remodeling your kitchen. The best way to go about this is by keeping your kitchen primarily neutral and adding pops of color, whether the color shows up in our dishes, curtains, or your tea towels. You can also use fruit bowls or even a stack of colorful cookbooks to help add color to your kitchen. It helps to make sure these accent pieces are small because that makes replacing them when they get stagnant a little more manageable.

3. Update your lighting system

Often times, having older lighting in your kitchen contributes to making it look old and dated. Simply changing your lighting will have it looking brand new. It’s also worth noting that lighting possibilities don’t stop at switching out the one single large fixture in your kitchen. Try adding more light sources; if you have a bar/island area, try installing hanging light fixtures. Adding working lights in your cabinets also add a more modern vibe to your kitchen. If you want to explore your options furthermore, try looking at lights that change colors. That way, you’ll be able to create any kind of environment simply by changing the color of your lights. With excellent lighting, anything is possible.

4. Try adding stick-on tiles

Just because you aren’t committing to a full remodeling job doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have a gorgeous backsplash. These types of additions are small and are easy to apply. Stick-on tiles for your backsplash are great alternatives because you’re given the freedom to remove them and switch it up if you want something new. Furthermore, they’re a great way to help you visualize a certain look in the event that you save up money and decide to actually get a more permanent installation done. One of the biggest benefits from this is that the value if your house increases because of these small, but effective, additions.

A Guide to Getting Rid of Pet Odors in the Home

By Haley Kieser

Getting rid of pet odors is more than an arduous task – it flat out stinks. Bad pet smells can linger for months, embed themselves into the walls and carpets of the home, and can severely affect the value of the property to potential buyers.

Preventing pet smells is of course the optional course of action, but if you are looking to sell or buy a home that has lingering odors from furry friends, here are 5 best ways to get rid of the bad smells in your home, and what to do with items that are too odorous to stay in the home.

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum

It might seem obvious, but vacuuming the home is the first thing you should do when tackling pet odors. Pet hair, mud from outside, traces of feces and urine, and other things pets leave behind naturally cause the majority of pet smells in the home and are mostly picked up by a vacuum cleaner.

Vacuuming should be a regular part of your cleaning routine when you own pets. Hair and dander can build up over time if not properly dealt with every day.

Use a Blacklight to Find the Sources

After vacuuming, use a blacklight on the carpet, walls, corners, furniture, and everywhere your pet regularly spends their time. Urine, feces, saliva, and other body fluids show up extremely obviously when this is shined on them, showing you the exact areas in the home that you need to focus on when continuing with cleaning.

Be sure to shine it in areas you wouldn’t normally look, like in corners, behind furniture, and other hidden areas.

Deep Clean Carpets

After finding the sources of pet odors, you can begin to tackle them one by one. For carpets, you have a few options, some natural and some chemical.

The easiest route is to rent or buy a specialty carpet washer and, as you would with a vacuum, use it over all the carpeted floors of your home. This can be a long process of washing and drying and so on, but it is a nearly guaranteed way to clean your carpets.

If you would prefer not to rent a deep cleaner and use solution and use a natural method instead, mix vinegar and water in equal portions in a spray bottle, and soak the areas you located with the blacklight in this solution. After scrubbing the area, pour baking soda onto the wet spot and leave it until it dries completely; you can then vacuum it up.

Wipe Walls and Floors With Solution

Similarly to washing your carpets, you can use store-bought products or natural home solutions to clean your walls and floors. There are plenty of products to choose from in stores and online, and pretty much all of them will get the job done.

If you want to try to make a solution at home to use instead, use a similar method to cleaning carpets naturally and make a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Wipe surfaces down with a sponge and dry. Use a higher vinegar concentration for particularly stubborn smells and stains.

Wash Pillows, Pet Beds, and Furniture

If your pets are allowed on furniture, on your bed and couch for example, you will want to wash them thoroughly. If your pet has its own bed, pillows it lays on, or other soft items such as toys that they use constantly, you will need to wash these as well. Washing pillows, pet beds, and toys is no hassle, as you can simply throw these into your washer and dryer.

Large furniture, like sofas, should be vacuumed first, then have baking soda sprinkled over it. Let it sit for a few minutes, or longer for strong odors, then vacuum again. For leather sofas, use a damp rag and soap to wash the surface. This generally gets rid of odors, but use a specialty cleaner if smells linger.

What to Do With Waste

If after going through this list you still have some items that cannot be cleaned to a satisfactory level, make sure you dispose of them in the correct ways. In many states, leaving large items of trash by the dump or on the sidewalk with no scheduled pick-up is illegal and classifies as illegal dumping.

Sort through your waste, figure out what can be recycled, and bring that to your nearest recycling center. Large furniture should always be picked up by either the city garbage service or a local junk removal company. You don’t want to get fined for something as simple as an old couch.

Good luck!

How to Brighten a Dark Room

Will your Trees Survive a Storm?

Quick and Cheap Bathroom Updates

Fast and Affordable Ways to Change up Your Bedroom

Taking on a DIY Home Improvement Project? Read This First!

From painting the den to remodeling the bathroom, many an ambitious homeowner will be embarking on a DIY home improvement project in the coming months. In fact, according to the recently released Coinstar® Do It Yourself (DIY) Home Improvement Survey, 65 percent are tackling a home improvement project on their own in order to save money, and nearly three in five respondents believe it will increase the value of their home.

Projects homeowners plan to take on range from painting a room to a major remodel of a bathroom or kitchen. Regardless of the type and magnitude of the project, nearly nine out of 10 homeowners agree that they feel a sense of pride when completing a DIY activity, and three in four see their home as an extension of their personality. What’s more, nearly half said fulfillment in doing it themselves was the main motivating factor in initiating the project.

If you’re among the ranks taking on a project yourself, follow the example of the majority of survey respondents, 70 percent of whom will create a budget and use cash on hand to pay for projects, as opposed to the 30 percent who say they’ve left a project incomplete due to running out of money. According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents plan to spend $500 or more on a home-improvement project this year.

More than two-thirds of homeowners typically perform DIY projects with someone else in the household, like a family member or significant other. If you’re also teaming up with a partner, beware—65 percent of respondents say they got into a disagreement related to the project.

Maybe those disagreements arise over how to get the job done—more than one quarter of homeowners surveyed consider themselves unskilled or under-skilled when it comes to home improvement projects. Regardless of skill level, the majority of DIYers learn how to tackle a project by learning online through YouTube videos and using search engines to locate how-to answers. Nearly half (45 percent) report they teach themselves through trial and error, and owner’s manuals are still a viable tool with nearly 60 percent of homeowners saying they always read the manual.

Before you embark on your home improvement project, make sure you’ve budgeted correctly and you’re well prepared on the ins and outs of your project.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

For more real estate information, including a FREE Home Market Analysis, please contact us at or call our office at 630-897-3211.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Sell Faster in 2018: Design and Staging Tips

By Alethea M.

Selling your home can often be stressful as you live life in limbo. Once the house is listed, you want to receive a good offer as quickly as possible. Here are tips for staging and upgrading your home for a faster sale in 2018:

Start With the Basics
Buyers are going to be turned off if they see a leaking roof or furnace on its last leg. It’s not going to matter how impressive your kitchen is if your home has major issues. While new siding isn’t glamorous, the improvement can return nearly 92.8 percent of your investment, according to Remodeling magazine. Window and roof replacements also return a high investment of around 80 percent.

Cleaning Your Home
Getting every nook and cranny clean is the cheapest way to increase appeal. Potential buyers need to picture themselves living in your home. Dirt, grime and disrepair can distract them from the highlights of your home. Make sure your home is spotless for each showing, vacuuming floors and double-checking surfaces for streaks before leaving.

Hiring a professional to deep-clean and get into the crevices may not be a bad idea. You won’t want dirty dishes or laundry sitting around, so make sure they are either done or taken with you during the showing.

Photogenic homes are more likely to excite buyers and get them placing bids faster. Here are a few ways to make your home Instagram-worthy:

  1. Dramatic Color Accents: Purple is a big color for 2018. Update your home with trending accents. Lavenders are projected to be a popular decorating color and Pantone announced Ultra Violet as the 2018 Color of the Year. Using jewel tones in your floral arrangements, including mixed metal decor and choosing the right faux fur throw can help modernize your house to appeal to buyers.
  2. Light and Bright: If at all possible, brighten your spaces with natural lighting from windows, unique light fixtures and bright walls. Brighter interior spaces are easier to photograph.
  3. Moody Interiors: If natural light isn’t readily available, dark charcoals and navy colors can exaggerate the furniture and room features; however, buyers can be easily scared off if they feel like they need to repaint the walls. While moody can be a big payoff for the right house, it can be a devastating choice for the wrong house.
  4. Two-Tone Cabinets: Finishing upper and lower cabinets differently can create an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. A HomeAdvisor survey says the national average cost of refinishing cabinets is $2,600. Bleached wood lower cabinets can be contrasted with a vibrant paint color on the cabinets above.

All clutter has to go. If you have to rent a storage space offsite to house your items until you move, then do it. Clear clutter from your closets, cupboards and garage, as well—buyers are going to be looking at the storage spaces in your home. If you really can’t move the clutter to another site, box it up and put it in the garage or attic until moving day. You want everything looking move-in ready and showing off what your home has to offer.

Staging the Home
Set up every room to show off how it can be used by the new buyer. Even though a spare bedroom might feel larger if it’s empty, adding a bed and dresser that fit the space can make it more inviting to a potential buyer. Photographs, memorabilia and themed rooms, like Disney princess or a favorite sports team, should be swapped out for decor that keeps a personal touch without feeling exclusive.

Curb Appeal
When potential buyers arrive at the home, what kind of first impression is your home presenting? Curb appeal is typically a low-cost upgrade that can lead to faster sales. Make sure the exterior is clean by power washing the siding, driveway and walkways. Keep the lawn mowed, bushes trimmed and trees pruned back from the house. Keep the gardens free of weeds, mulched and edged. Spruce up the entrance with potted flowers or cute furniture that makes the space feel inviting and inspiring. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and hang house numbers that are visible from the street.

Selling your home can be a very stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be! Follow these tips and up your chances of having solid offers come in quickly.

Alethea M. is a freelance writer from Indiana with a background in advertising and marketing. She spent years at non-profit companies working as a copywriter and graphic designer. She now spends her time as a wife, mother and writer.

For more real estate information, including a FREE Home Market Analysis, please contact us at or call our office at 630-897-3211.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.